Milbank: Benghazi, as seen by the grassy knoll dwellers

Why do people claim that the Benghazi scandal is "phony"?

To answer that, let's check in with the people fanning the controversy. They assembled Monday morning at the Heritage Foundation, convened by a conservative group to listen to Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., and several experts on the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in the Libyan city last year.

Some of those onstage posed questions about Benghazi that pointed to serious, if not scandalous, mistakes the government made before and during the attack. But those legitimate questions were undermined by other participants who rolled around the grassy knoll.

The lunacy began when Cliff Kincaid, a leader of Accuracy in Media, the group holding the gathering, suggested that the Obama administration is covering up events regarding Benghazi because the CIA operation there was secretly arming the enemy. "This administration has a policy of supporting al-Qaida, the same people behind the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11," he declared.

One of the panelists, former CIA officer Clare Lopez, picked up the theme. "Have we flipped our policy," she asked, "to where we are placing the power, the influence, the might, diplomatic assets, military assets, intelligence assets, financial assets, at the service of al-Qaida in the Middle East to bring to power forces of Islamic jihad? . . . Are we involved in the Middle East to help the forces of Islam, of al-Qaida, of the Muslim Brotherhood, of jihad and sharia?"

Wolf's reply: "I think Clare makes a very good point." And this is the man leading the effort to create a "select committee" to investigate Benghazi.

So the Obama administration, which dispatched Osama bin Laden and decimated al-Qaida with drone strikes, is now in cahoots with the terrorist network? Sorry, Congressman. I've got an appointment back on Earth.

It's a pity that those seeking answers on Benghazi can't focus on what really matters: Could anything have been done to prevent the deaths of the four men lost in Benghazi that night? And what can be done to make sure such a thing never happens again?

Instead, the Benghazi scandal-seekers are determined to link Hillary Clinton to the inadequate security at the diplomatic outpost (ignoring the obvious fact that a secretary of state doesn't make security decisions for individual facilities) and the bogus "talking points" presented by then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the days after the attack (as though more accurate talking points might have retroactively saved lives).

At least one participant at the Heritage gathering seemed to have the right perspective. Retired Gen. Paul Vallely wasn't concerned about after-the-fact talking points or al-Qaida conspiracies or whether Clinton signed diplomatic cables about security requests. He wanted to know why the U.S. military didn't at least try to get reinforcements to the besieged Americans in Benghazi.

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