Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Something More Important Than "Benghazi"

A few days ago political scientist Jonathan Bernstein made a great point about why the Benghazi hearings are worse than just a waste of time.  They distract Congress from doing the very job of finding actual malfensence in government:
What’s a shame is that while there may not be any real massive conspiracies and cover-ups, there very well may be real instances of administration errors and worse throughout the government. There always are! But uncovering them requires hard work, and might only turn up low-level malfeasance in agencies that most Fox News viewers have never heard of and don’t care about. So House Republicans, who have the position to investigate real wrongdoing, don’t bother. Finding out that some low-level appointee did something real but relatively minor might result in better government, but it’s not guaranteed to get mentioned by all the conservative talk radio hosts. So: Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, and never mind whether the government is actually functioning properly or not.
I couldn't agree more.  Indeed most of the testimony in today's Benghazi hearing was stuff we already knew.  It was just told in a more dramatic way by someone who was there. 

Ironically, while GOP Congressmen are grandstanding about Susan Rice and Mike Huckabee is predicting that Obama will be impeached (over what Huckabee never really explains) the AP published a report about an grave problem that Congress could have been investigating over the past seven months: namely that some of the people in charge of our nuclear missiles are terrible at their jobs.  As the AP put it:
The Air Force stripped an unprecedented 17 officers of their authority to control — and, if necessary, launch — nuclear missiles after a string of unpublicized failings, including a remarkably dim review of their unit’s launch skills.  The group’s deputy commander said it is suffering “rot” within its ranks.

“We are, in fact, in a crisis right now,” the commander, Lt. Col. Jay Folds, wrote in an internal email obtained by The Associated Press and confirmed by the Air Force.
Got that?  17 officers in charge of controlling, and perhaps firing, weapons capable of destroying nations and killing tens in not hundreds of millions of people are bad at their jobs, so much so they had to have their clearances taken away.

This of course is exactly the kind of issue Bernstein was talking about and it raises all sorts of other questions about the military.  Are the other three branches of the "nuclear triad,"  Air Force bombers and Navy nuclear submarines, suffering similar problems?  How long has the problem been going on?  Is the problem a lack of money?  Poor training?  Are the best officers treating Air Force Global Strike Command as a back water and going into other parts of the Air Force?  I have no idea, it would be nice in Congress could work to find out.

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