Rand Paul Harshly Criticizes Clinton Over Benghazi

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 11 2013 2:39 PM

Rand Paul: Benghazi Should Prevent Hillary Clinton From “Holding Higher Office”

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Sen. Rand Paul got lots of applause at the Iowa GOP’s annual Lincoln Dinner when he criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

In case you needed any proof that Republicans are getting ready to push the Benghazi controversy all the way to the 2016 presidential elections, Sen. Rand Paul was happy to oblige. And what better place to do so than in Iowa, where presidential dreams are born? Speaking at the Iowa GOP’s annual Lincoln Dinner, the Kentucky senator wasn’t shy about ripping into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and how she handled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. "First question to Hillary Clinton: Where in the hell were the Marines?” Paul asked, according to NBC News. "It was inexcusable, it was a dereliction of duty, and it should preclude her from holding higher office." Criticizing Clinton gave Paul his biggest applause of the night.

Paul also wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Times:

The evidence we had in January already suggested that Mrs. Clinton ignored repeated requests for more security in Benghazi. The new evidence we have today—and that continues to mount—suggests that at the very least, Mrs. Clinton should never hold high office again.
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Democrats continue to insist that after nine congressional hearings and an independent inquiry, there isn’t much more to say about Benghazi. “But Friday turned up the sort of nuggets that feed conservative activists' belief that a major scandal may be at hand,” notes the Associated Press. A group of e-mails disclosed Friday showed the White House was more involved in editing the talking points about the attack on the embassy than they had acknowledged previously.

The e-mails had already been disclosed last month but they got further traction after ABC News released more details Friday, points out the New York Times. At the very least, the e-mails seem to contradict repeated assertions by the White House that the talking points “were a product of the nation’s intelligence agencies and were crafted without political interference,” notes Politico.

Yet it remains to be seen whether the public at large will get outraged over what in many respects seems like insider Washington baseball. The Washington Post highlights that more than anything the e-mails revealed “that an intense bureaucratic clash took place between the State Department and the CIA over which agency would get to tell the story of how the tragedy unfolded.” In the five days after the attacks took place, the two agencies repeatedly argued over how much to disclose about the attack.

For now, it seems clear the debate surrounding the attack isn’t going away anytime soon. “Wherever you come down on the policy debate surrounding the attack, the politics of demanding more information and answers about what happened are an absolute slam dunk for Republicans seeking to show their base a willingness to hold President Obama accountable,” explains the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza. “It’s a sort of perfect political storm for the Republican base.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.