By G. Michael Dobbs
I don't know about your Facebook news feed, but many of my conservative friends have been posting and re-posting memes about the attack in Benghazi, Libya.
The recent resurgence in questioning Obama Administration officials about the incident in Benghazi that resulted in four American deaths has interesting timing, but let's put that aside for a moment.
Instead let's think about how this is being framed. There are commentators, such as Charles Krauthammer, who last fall have suggested that this attack on an embassy is an event fairly singular to the present administration and its policies in the Middle East.
In June 2002, there were 10 people killed and 51 people injured in an attack on the American consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. In July 2004, there was a suicide attack at the American embassy in Uzbekistan. No Americans were killed, but two local guards did lose their lives.
In December 2004, there was an attack on the U.S. consulate in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. Five non-American consulate employees were killed. The U.S. Embassy in Syria was attacked in September 2006 resulting the deaths of the attackers.
In January 2007, someone fired an antitank grenade into the American Embassy in Athens, Greece, and in February 2008, demonstrators set the U.S. Embassy afire in Serbia. In September 2008, there were 10 deaths – none American – at the bombing of the embassy in Yemen.
So, attacks on embassies did occur during the previous presidential administration.
So what is the controversy here? Is it because there was an attack of this nature? Was it because Americans died? Is it because there were initial garbled communications about the nature of the attack?
Asking questions in an effort to see if such attacks can be prevented in the future is completely legitimate. Providing the checks and balances in government is essential. Playing partisan politics is not acceptable.
Here is something to consider. On Oct. 11, 2012, Sarah Bufkin writing for the Huffington Post reported, "Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) acknowledged on Wednesday that House Republicans had consciously voted to reduce the funds allocated to the State Department for embassy security since winning the majority in 2010. On Wednesday morning, CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien asked the Utah Republican if he had 'voted to cut the funding for embassy security.'
"'Absolutely,' Chaffetz said. 'Look we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have ... 15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, a private army there, for President Obama, in Baghdad. And we're talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces. When you're in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices. You have to prioritize things.'"
The next phase
OK folks, now the issue of casinos in Western Massachusetts will go into its next exciting phase. Residents of Springfield have been spared a veritable steel cage death match between MGM and Penn National by the decision of Mayor Domenic Sarno to forward one plan onto the ballot of the special election.
Frankly, deep in my black journalistic heart I would have loved to have seen what these two companies would have done to win our hearts and minds.
Did the Springfield City Council lose an opportunity to add the transparency of the process by its almost hurried vote to approve the host agreement on May 10?
Although sending the agreement to committee and allowing for a public meeting on it would have been a nice gesture, it was never clear if the council had the authority to amend the document. It could either approve or reject it.
That anyone would have any doubts the measure would be approved misunderstands the level of desperation in the city for the jobs the casino represents. No councilor I could see wanted to be the fly in that ointment.
Now it will be up to Springfield voters to make the final decision. Do you want a casino?
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.