Leave Benghazi in the past

Last week, Congress finished its investigation into the terrorist attack on an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya... again.

This investigation, led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), was the eighth of its kind. However, even after releasing an 800-page report, the most recent investigation discovered no new major findings.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, I must admit, the attack in Benghazi was no small mistake by the U.S. government. The way the attack was allowed to take place was a major failure on many fronts.

First and foremost, the State Department was not able to keep its ambassador safe, leading to the first U.S. Ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. While the buck of course stops at then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, this security failure was also brought about by the draconian sequester cuts put into place by the U.S. Congress, which hampered embassy security. Additionally, the U.S. military was simply unprepared, too slow to mobilize and too far away to quickly respond to an attack in Libya.

However, this sort of nuance feels lost in the political discussion we hear about Benghazi. Instead, the investigation into Benghazi, both within the halls of Congress and the public sphere, has become a witch hunt determined to undermine Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration.

Now, many in Washington push this aside, including Gowdy, saying that the facts speak for themselves, and "ask the American people to read this report for themselves, look at the evidence we have collected, and reach their own conclusions."

Luckily, reporter Jeff Stein did exactly that, and ended up concluding that there was “[n]othing in it [that] convinced me of a devastating scandal. The scales did not fall from my eyes to expose the secret malevolence of the Obama administration [and Hillary Clinton].” Instead, Stein classified the report as “800 pages of people talking past each other.”

While the investigation into Benghazi may have begun with good intentions, it has clearly moved from being relevant to being political theatre. While I am usually not one to complain about lengths of time taken by congressional investigations, since it is usually necessary to paint a complete picture, the time devoted to Benghazi has gotten ridiculously wasteful.

According to the New York Times, "the Benghazi investigation had dragged on longer than the inquiries into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; the attack on Pearl Harbor; and the response to Hurricane Katrina."

This is obscene. Don't get me wrong, the wrongful deaths of 4 Americans is a tragedy, but it nowhere compares to the two largest attacks on American soil, the most damaging natural disaster in U.S. history, or the killing of the leader of the free world.

It has been three and a half years. We know everything there is to know. No one is denying that what happened in Benghazi was a tragedy, but we have to move on.

Our country is built upon dusting ourselves off after turmoil and learning how to be better. We need to stop the mudslinging, the political theatre and the smear campaigns. We need to start listening to one another.

If nothing else, the attack at Benghazi was a failure of communication. To be completely honest, everyone involved, from the Obama Administration to the military to congressional leaders, is at fault. The solution is not to point fingers and try to assign blame, but to hold ourselves in higher regard. We must learn from our mistakes and make sure something like this never happens again.

Mike Smith is a sophomore majoring in economics.

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