For months and months, John Boehner has resisted calls by irate conservatives to establish a select committee to investigate Benghazi because it would be a political freak-show. Today, Boehner decided to let his freak-flag fly and authorize a select committee on Benghazi.
If you’ve completely forgotten what Benghazi was all about, you can reread the definitive report that appeared in the New York Times last December, but the summary is that a mob attacked an American consulate and killed four staffers. American officials originally described it as a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film. Conservatives believe it couldn’t have been a combination of intelligence confusion and hasty decision-making — because that never happens in government — but instead a coordinated plot by the Obama administration to mislead America about the true nature of the attack. In the months since the mainstream media has mostly moved on from Benghazi, it has continued to blossom in the right-wing imagination as a kind of placeholder scandal.
The immediate prompting for Boehner’s decision is a new email in which Obama speechwriter Ben Rhodes said basically the same thing everybody else was saying about Benghazi at the time, because the White House was still basing its assessment on what the CIA was telling it. Republicans called it a “smoking gun.” By this standard of evidence, the odds that the committee produces damning evidence of a scandal are 100 percent.