The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Wednesday, Oct. 7, 3:46 p.m.

Congress’ handling of Clinton questioning was absurd, disgraceful

The U.S. Senate may be so inept that it can’t even pass a budget for four consecutive years, but the American people can rest assured that when it comes to interrogating Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the cover up surrounding the terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the Senate is both thorough and intimidating — that is, if you consider hysterics and fawning over Clinton’s job performance to be an acceptable part of demanding accountability.

Clinton’s testimony about her department’s handling of the deadly attack showed what a hollow shell the American legislature has become. In fact, interrogation is a less appropriate word than adoration for the contents of the proceedings.

Clinton, whose job performance ought to have been marred by a lack of response that led to the death of four Americans, was instead praised by Democrats, who apparently thought odes to her greatness were a more appropriate use of time than questions. Sen. Ron Johnson’s question about the impetus of the attack, which the U.S. State Department falsely classified as protest over a video, was deftly avoided by an impressive display of overwrought emotionalism as Clinton exploded, screaming, “What difference does it make?”

What difference does it make?

The unmitigated arrogance of this response is enough to render the reason dumb.

United States foreign policy is supposed to be an international representation of the values and beliefs of its citizens. For this reason, the American people have an absolute right to know if those beliefs are being attacked by organizations that wish them harm.

Consulate workers and members of the military agree to serve and represent those interests overseas, and frequently do so in dangerous and unstable areas. When Americans are willing to put their lives on the line for their country, it is absolutely shameful that the situation surrounding their death should be met by stonewalling and showboating because officials are unwilling to admit to their negligence.

There’s a world of difference between a mob gone out of control and a coordinated attack on U.S. soil. The latter is an act of war that needs to be answered with swift action, not an increase in foreign aid money. The adjustments that need to be made in security protocols needed to handle each situation is different.

Imagine if, during the Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice had acted with comparable negligence in addressing intelligence from a consulate on the anniversary of 9/11 and it had led to a failure of action ultimately resulting in the deaths of four Americans. Does anyone believe she first could have avoided testimony for over a month and then been met not with questions, but adulation for her outstanding performance?

Of course not — there would have been outrage, condemnation and serious investigations into the procedures and personnel of the State Department. As there should have been.

Questions about deadly attacks on sovereign soil by the elected representatives of the American people deserve to be treated with levity, not met by an exaggerated display of righteous indignation.

Thank goodness, then, for Sen. Rand Paul, who seemed to grasp the levity of the situation. “Had I been president at the time, and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi — you did not read the cables from [U.S.] Ambassador [Chris] Stevens [to Libya] — I would have relieved you of your post,” Paul said, softly but sternly reprimanding Clinton.

If only his colleagues in the Senate would have also behaved as objectively. Maybe the American people would have some answers about the Benghazi attack. As it stands, with Clinton leaving and the Democrats content to gush over her performance, it is unlikely we will ever know how events were handled as the situation unfolded that night.

Katherine Revello is a second-year journalism and political science student