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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

When California Rep. Darrell Issa became chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he openly stated his intention to hold hundreds of hearings in his ongoing effort to prove that President Barack Obama is “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.” Although his first several attempts to take down the administration fell flat, Issa’s initial failures only inspired him to “try, try again.”

The latest witch hunt — peremptorily titled “The Security Failures of Benghazi” — took place on Wednesday, when Issa’s committee held a hearing that sought to prove the Obama administration consciously prioritized politics over security in Libya, leading to the deaths of four Americans in attacks against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11. Unsurprisingly, the hearing was a partisan affair designed to embarrass Democrats rather than seek the truth or defend Americans in harm’s way.

Issa’s key witness was Eric A. Nordstrom, who served as the regional security officer for the American Embassy in Libya from September 2011 through June 2012. Nordstrom testified that the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security shot down his requests to extend the deployment of a military unit based in Tripoli, instead delegating security responsibilities to a mixture of American officers and Libyan militiamen.

“It was abundantly clear: we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident,” Nordstrom said. “And the question that we would ask is, again, how thin does the ice have to get before someone falls through?”

Nordstrom later added that the most frustrating part of his assignment was “dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me. And I added [sic] it by saying, for me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”

Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s undersecretary for management, presented the government case. According to Kennedy, Nordstrom’s recommended security increase would not have prevented the murders at the consulate. As he made his case, he was repeatedly interrupted by Republican members of the committee, who were seemingly only interested in hearing testimony that incriminated the Obama administration.

By the end of the hearing, the committee was no closer to establishing what measures might have prevented the attack.