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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch - Sleepy Eye, MN
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
May 10, 2013 5:20 p.m.



Once again, I’m feeling out of step with the world because I’m not blind with outrage over Benghazi.

An outraged reader wrote me the other day, asking how I could even think about running an editorial about the Bangla Desh T-shirt factory collapse instead of Benghazi.  A columnist I often run, Deroy Murdock, offered up a piece calling Benghazi “the worst cover-up since Watergate.” I took a pass; the whole notion just seemed silly to me.

U.S. embassies and consulates are attacked all the time; I count 27 such attacks since 1987. I’ve been in some U.S. embassies in the Middle East that are designed like fortresses; we’ve spent billions of dollars fortifying them since two embassies were blown up in 1998. Representing American interests abroad is a dangerous business, especially in a place like post-Kadhafy Libya, especially when a major CIA installation is on the same property as the consulate, as in Benghazi. I regret the loss of life, but Congress isn’t going to write a blank check to turn every diplomatic mission into Fort Knox or station a brigade of Marines around every mission that could be threatened. Did the State Department make a mistake in not seeing this coming? Sure. Do we expect them never to make mistakes?

And Susan Rice lied – under instructions from the Director of National Intelligence. Big deal. The CIA lies all the time. The details are arguable: There really were riots in other countries over the stupid YouTube video, so it was appropriate for both Rice and Obama to address the topic. But of course there was political spinning going on six weeks before the election – by both sides, of course. We should still be outraged by this six months later, not over the threat to U.S. diplomats but about what Susan Rice said on Meet the Press?

What outrages me is the sputtering Republicans make no pretense of being interested in how to avoid another embassy attack.  They aren’t rushing to spend more money on diplomatic security, or identifying vulnerabilities before the next riot outside the walls.  All they do is look backwards. Their political motivation is undisguised: it’s all about inflicting damage on an ex-secretary of state who may run for president three years from now.

Meanwhile, the shameless President Hamid Karzai just admitted that the CIA has been piling millions of dollars in cash on his desk for a decade. And he admits to using it to bribe Afghan warlords to keep him in office. Meanwhile, the UN just reported Afghanistan’s opium crop has risen dramatically for the third year in a row. Afghanistan is now projected to supply 90 percent of the world’s opium and 70 percent of the world’s heroin.

As I say in an editorial running Sunday: “This is the kind of nation we have built, at an enormous cost in lives and treasure: A narco-kleptocracy, fueled by bribes distributed by a president who can rent – never buy – the loyalty of his country’s leaders, and who expects the American taxpayers to foot the bill – in cash.”

Why isn’t anyone else outraged about that?

 

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