A PCTC Classic: With 11 Embassy Attacks Under Bush, Why Wasn’t the GOP Upset?

This morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is having to go before the Republicans in Congress and help them in their grandstanding efforts with regard to the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. It’s the second set of hearings on this issue; the first round happened just before the election, when several Republicans thought they could help Willard Romney win the election by making Obama look bad. These hearings, on the other hand, are an attempt to make themselves look important, because we all know they’ll probably be no more productive than they were during the last session of Congress.

This morning’s pageant has featured Rand Paul suggesting that Mrs. Clinton would have been fired if he was president, an occurrence that, thankfully, will never happen. He also cited the Benghazi attack as the “greatest tragedy since 9/11.” Apparently, losing a few thousand troops in an unnecessary war in Iraq wasn’t a tragedy to him, but ask the families of the soldiers about that.

But the best exchange of the morning – the one that shows just how shallow and pointless these hearings are, came when Secretary Clinton schooled Senator Ron Johnson on what really matters here. He was all over the Republican talking points, all of which have been shown to be false. He starts with Susan Rice supposedly lying on “all the talk shows,” which has been proven wrong. After Secretary Clinton explains the State Department’s priorities in the wake of the attacks, Johnson then proffers the “simple phone call” talking point. AFTER she had explained why she did what she did. She thought getting medical help for the injured and letting the FBI investigate first was more important. and she’s right. Four people are dead, and even now, no one knows everything that may have happened. It often takes years to sort these things out. To imply that the State Department should have known every detail within days is ludicrous. It’s the Republican Party attempting to score political points and nothing more.

Here is the exchange between Secretary Clinton and Sen. Johnson. It’s so obvious he’s thinking of his party first:


We have to be sick of this by now, don’t we?

It is morally and ethically repugnant that a major political party would use such an attack to score political points against the other party. This is the United States of America, and they work for us.  As Secretary Clinton said, there are ongoing investigations. When problems are found, we should address them, so that we can prevent it from happening the same way again. But as of this date, no one really knows what happened, and they certainly couldn’t have known within the first few days. One or two people who happened to be there cannot tell you everything that happened. One hundred people can see the same event and give one hundred different accounts. That’s why we investigate things. These Senators who think they know what happened, and can speak about it authoritatively are lying. 

To make political hay out of such a tragedy is about as low as politics can go. To turn the tragic deaths of brave men and women working in service of their country in order to score a few political points is despicable.

It’s also unprecedented.  Has a major political party ever used something like a terrorist attack on a US Embassy as a political football, and use it to gain political power?  Such a thing used to be unthinkable. Even after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, we saw Bush’s approval ratings go into the 90s, and everyone supported the guy. That is how rational people react to a national tragedy.

Did you know there were eleven such attacks during George W. Bush’s term? It’s true. And Democrats didn’t hold hearings, to gain political points. Surely, if one embassy attack in four years is a sign of “weakness” on Obama’s part, one would think the eleven embassy terror attacks on American embassies while Bush was president should make Republican hypocrites sick to their stomachs. Four of them occurred during his first term alone; one would think they would have tried to prevent his reelection. Rand Paul certainly should have been upset about it, one would think.

Here are the eleven terrorist attacks on US Embassies and other outposts for American diplomats and others working in service to their country. And in eight years,  there was no reaction from a Democratic politician expressing anything but sorrow for the loss.

(I’ve seen several versions of this list, but a lot of them are incorrect. I’ve corrected errors and provided sources for each.)

On June 14, 2002, the terrorist group Al Qanoon, which was suspected to be an al Qaeda branch, sent a suicide bomber into the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killing 12 people and injuring 51 others.  Nearly a year later, four were convicted of plotting the bombing, which blew in windows and left body parts all over the sidewalks near the embassy.  (Source)

On February 28, 2003, Gunmen on motorcycles attacked the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killing two police officers and wounding five other officers and a civilian in front of the consulate.  (Source)

Late in the evening of May 12, 2003, gunmen entered Al Hamra Oasis Village in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a compound known to be inhabited by Americans and other Westerners.  (Source)

On July 30, 2004, three suicide bombers targeting the Israeli and U.S. embassies in Taskkent, Uzbekistan managed to kill two and injure nine others.  (Source)

On December 6, 2004, terrorists stormed the heavily guarded U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, occupying it and taking 18 hostages for a time. When the incident was over, they had killed nine people, including four security guards and five staff. (Source)

All of that was before the end of Bush’s first term, yet there are no accounts of John Kerry or other Democrats using the incidents to attack the president, or to suggest the United States was weak, or to insult the dead in any way.

Then came the second term:

On March 2, 2006, just two days before President Bush was scheduled to visit Pakistan, a suicide bomber targeted the U.S. consulate in Karachi, killing four, including a US diplomat believed to be the target, and as many as 50 others. (Source)

On September 12, 2006, four armed gunmen stormed the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria. In the 20 minute attack, they threw grenades and fired automatic weapons at guards. In the end, one person was killed and 13 wounded. (Source)

On January 12, 2007, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the US Embassy in Athens Greece.  Thankfully, it was early morning, and the building was empty and no one was injured. (Source)

On July 9, 2008,  men armed with a shotgun and pistols stormed the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. At the end of the five-minute battle, three Turkish policemen were killed. (Source)

As a side note, I can find no account in which Bush Administration officials referred to these attacks using the terms “terrorist attacks” or “acts of terror.” 

In 2008, there were two attacks on the U.S. embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. The first was a mortar attack on March 18, that missed the embassy and hit a nearby girls’ school, injuring 13. (Source)

But the biggest attack came on September 17, 2008, when terrorists dressed as policemen attacked the embassy with RPGs, rifles and grenades. There was also a car bomb. In the end, 16 were killed and many more were injured.  (Source)

There you have it. Eleven confirmed attacks, and at no time did anyone on the Democratic side treat any of them as anything other than tragedies that took the lives of Americansor people from foreign countries who were protecting Americans. Such attacks are not political footballs, to be used to give yourself an advantage, because you have nothing else.

What’s happened in the wake of the Benghazi incident is nothing short of disgusting, and Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. Diplomats and diplomatic security are there to serve their country and to protect us, not to give Republicans a better chance of winning elections.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 The PCTC Blog


  1. So?
    Hicks, under oath, also claimed that he was forbidden from saying anything to Congress about the attacks. But when he was given the opportunity to say anything he wished to the congresspersons on the panel, he said nothing.
    Do you have a point, besides just insisting you’re right because you’re dumb enough to believe bullshit?

  2. I agree, you’re a moron. THIS attack didn’t include ” the president and state dept. telling any possible military response for help to stand down” either.
    Sorry you’re gullible enough to believe everything your right wing propaganda machine tells you. I prefer rationality, thanks.

  3. NO ONE is this stupid without the intent to be!
    Which of these 11 attacks included the president and state dept. telling any possible military response for help to stand down!?

  4. While I agree that the entire Benghazi issue has degraded into pretty much a political circus, I have to disagree with your statement that they Bush admin did not refer to any of these attacks as “terrorist attacks”. In the source for the March 2, 2006 attack in Pakistan, Bush is quoted as saying “Terrorists and killers are not going to prevent me from going to Pakistan” in response. I now feel dirty and am going to have to go scrub a few layers of skin off for having defended Bush.

  5. I don’t CARE if you’re ” a conservative, a progressive, a libertarian, neutral, whatever.” You’re wrong. You’re making claims that have no basis in reality. Although, your rhetoric comes from Fox, so if I were guess you’re not a progressive or “neutral,” whatever that means.
    And I don’t defend everything any administration does. But I put the good of the country ahead of the good of any party or ideology. Republicans started whining about this within hours of the attack, when NO ONE knew what happened. This is the third set of Issa hearings, and NOTHING exculpatory has even been attempted. Everything about them has been about attacks and smears of good people.
    Look at what you’re defending. It’s disgusting. Good people were killed in service to their country, and the GOP is trying to make political hay out of that. They should be ashamed, if they were capable.

  6. Well, let me deal with that list of yours.
    1 – Please show me where I said we know nothing about Benghazi. You can’t because I never said that. I did say you and I were not there, so neither you nor I can say without doubt that every nugget in the report is true or false.
    2 – I used the Warren Report to show that not every official report brought out should be viewed as gospel and should never be questioned.
    3 – Please show me where I said it was a CYA exercise. You can’t because I never said that. I asked “if” it might be a CYA exercise. Huge difference between asking if something might be, and saying it most certainly is.
    4 – I never insinuated anything about the weight of Hicks testimony. However he was there when it all happened, and you can’t discount his statements because of that reason. He’s an eyewitness. I find it interesting, though, that an eyewitness has issue with the report and you defend the report…not the eyewitness.
    5 – Because it is true. Hicks and others testified that the people there called out to the government for help. For whatever reason, no help was given. The 11 attacks under Bush were quick strikes, so there was no chance for a call for air strikes and such.
    6 – If there is evidence to the contrary, I welcome it as rebuttal.
    7 – So I’m supposed to pretend that Susan Rice did not mention the video when she was on tv that Sunday? And I’m supposed to pretend Obama did not mention that video in his speech to the UN about the protests (long after it happened)?
    I guess I’m done here. You have no idea if I am a conservative, a progressive, a libertarian, neutral, whatever. I never said anything other than wait and see about this whole thing, but you’re a blind hyper-partisan who continues to attack what you wish I said, rather than what I actually said. Apparently you are willing to defend to your last breath everything this administration says and does. Good luck with that.

  7. The people who wrote the repport have no skin in the game. They were very critical. One person can’t POSSIBLY know enough about an event to override a thorough investigation.
    And yes, it’s obvious the GOP is looking to smear Democrats. They started with Obama the day of the attack, then went after Susan Rice, and then were downright disrespectful to Hillary Clinton. It’s obvious they couldn’t care less about facts; none of the questions they ask are about finding facts; they’re all accusatory.
    I am only dealing with facts. OTOH, you have:
    1. Claimed that we know nothing about Benghazi at all. I gave you a link to a report. That you choose not to believe it doesn’t make it less factual.
    2. Compared the Beghazi report to the Warren Report.
    3. Claimed that the report by an independent commission that GOP Majority Congresspeople signed off on, is nothing more than a CYA exercise.
    4. Insinuated that Hicks’ testimony carries equal or greater weight than that of all other witnesses accounts combined.
    5. Claimed that, somehow, the apparent lack of quickness or the Benghazi attack makes it more important or horrific than the other 11 that were pretty much ignored by the GOP, without any factual basis for such a determination.
    6. Claimed that we had no warning for any of the attacks during Bush’s watch, sans any sort of evidence.
    7 Claimed that the Obama/Clinton State Department blamed the impetus for the attacks on “YouTube videos,” when, in fact, intelligence agencies made that connection at first. (Just FYI, Obama and Clinton both called it “terrorism” within 12 hours after the attack.)
    If you’re going to call other people “Captain Strawman” and claim you just want to “stick to the facts,” you might try using a few.

  8. Yes they interviewed Hicks but he has issues with their results. Is his (Hicks) version political BS and the repubs are using it to create early damage to a potential ’16 run by Hillary? Or is the report a result of a lot of CYA and Hicks wants to clear that up? Let’s wait and see. He’s not the only one who wants to testify, so there is more. You present your factual arguments well, and I don’t mind going back and forth on that.
    Then you start acting like you can see into my mind and my heart…and then your factual arguments fade as I feel like I’m talking to Captain Strawman.
    Let’s stick to the facts, and not this impression you are trying to create about me, okey doke?

  9. Do you know why investigations are actually conducted? It’s because no one person could possibly know what happened. The reason you conduct an investigation is because no one person, or two, or three, or twelve, saw everything that went on that night.
    The independent (not government) commission interviewed Hicks as part of the original investigation. Combined with all of the other witnesses and evidence, they concluded there were some flaws, but that no one did anything that would rise to the level of sanctions or disciplinary action. The FBI is continuing to investigate.
    Your attempt to equate this with the Kennedy Assassination and the Warren Report tells me more about how you view this than you probably want people to know.

  10. Now you know what I have read and haven’t read? Seriously…play the lottery! And do me a favor, please tell me what I “believe”. You keep bringing that up, yet you haven’t defined that for me exactly. Which is interesting because I never said I “believed” anything. In fact, the opposite is true with me, I tend to be skeptical of both political extremes. But I congratulate you on your firm belief in official government reports of events.
    (*cough* Warren Report *cough*….scuse me…got a cold)
    You weren’t there, and I wasn’t there. But there is someone who was there, and that is diplomat Gregory Hicks. And that person who was there has issues with that very report you mention. Do you feel that he should be given the opportunity to testify and question that report and the official account of what happened?

  11. You know nothing about what actually happened. You haven’t bothered to read anything but what you choose to believe.
    In the meantime, an independent panel was called, and investigation was conducted, and they issued a full report. http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/12/18/202446.pdf
    Nothing in that report – from people who actually conducted interviews and looked at forensic evidence and various other records – correlates with anything you “believe.” Like I said, you WISH it was as you imagine, but it wasn’t. It’s simply not true that people were calling for help and there was no response.
    What Darrell Issa is conducting now is a witch hunt, nothing more.

  12. I’m glad you can see into my heart. But if you can see that well into things that you know nothing about, looking into my heart is kinda pointless…look into the next lottery numbers! But you have to split the winnings since it was my idea.
    The situations are different. The 11 attacks under Bush were quick strikes that occurred without warning. And Bush and his spokespeople did not go public and blame something obscure, like some Youtube video, for the attacks. There are reports that people in Benghazi saw what was building up and requested help.
    I do know this – neither you nor I know the entire story of what happened because we weren’t there. But based on what we do know, a full investigation is warranted, no matter what our political beliefs are.

  13. Because you want them to be different with all your heart,they’re completely different. In fact, you’re willing to accept complete BS in order to make it so. According to the official report of the investigation, there were no reports that went unheeded.
    What you’re seeing right now is a witch hunt. Period.

  14. Here’s my issue – the 11 attacks that occurred under Bush were quick, unexpected hits where there was no time or chance for a response. And the majority of those killed in those attacks were local guards, not the ambassadors themselves. In Benghazi, the government was told by the people there that they feared an attack was coming and requested help, and that help never arrived. So the situations are not as comparable as they seem.

  15. So basically – before even getting to the core of the article which recounts the number of terror attacks on US embassies and consulates abroad during Bush’s time in office, you turn tail and run because the author dared to express disdain for the way the GOP and the right are shamelessly politicizing the Benghazi incident? That is typical of right wingers – they can see reality and the truth about to burst their insular world and instead of confronting it and dealing with it like adults, they slouch away, hurling invective as they do, because moral cowardice is just the way they roll.

Comments are closed.