Inside the Beltway: An eye on Benghazi

“Terrorists murdered four Americans, we demand the truth,” reads a terse new petition for White House transparency on the Benghazi attacks, organized by the American Center for Law and Justice and signed by 77,000 people. “President Obama: With continually changing stories and inaccurate accounts, the American people have been misled. Terrorists attacked American soil — our embassy — we need the truth and accountability,” the petition says.

“The Obama administration has been stonewalling and withholding information about this attack from the very start,” says Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the nonprofit legal center. He has notified the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the petition and its rapid public response: 25,000 people had signed it in the past 24 hours alone.

Judicial Watch, meanwhile, has filed not one but three new lawsuits since February against the State Department and the office of the director of national intelligence, seeking access to videos and photographs from the Benghazi facility, records of security guard and patrol services contracts, plus the “controversial ‘speaking points’ memo that seems to suggest that intelligence officials believed from the outset that al Qaeda was behind the attack,” though Obama administration officials said otherwise.

“The only way to get at the truth is to release these records immediately,” says Tom Fitton, president of the watchdog group.

EVOLVING INSIGHT

“The fight is not over what shall be secret, but over who shall determine what shall be secret.”

— Author and foreign policy scholar Michael Ledeen, during a speech at an intelligence forum, May 30, 1989.

“Benghazi showed the world that you can kill an American ambassador and there are no consequences. That’s the way the world looks at us. It’s very simple. Never mind all the complicated tricky questions. They killed an American ambassador and nothing happened. So everybody says, you can do anything you want to the Americans. Anything.”

— Mr. Ledeen, during a Foundation for the Defense of Democracy forum on Jan. 27.

A MEMORABLE PHRASE

“We as conservative Republicans don’t stand for a big government. But we do stand for a big America.”

— House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, to the Ripon Society on Tuesday.

THE PALMETTO OUTSIDER

Look out, now. He’s confident. He’s got plans, “friends” and appears to be positioning himself as an outsider with potential, rather than a politician with a past. That would be one Mark Sanford, who is brimming with positive predictions following his victory over Democratic rival Elizabeth Colbert Busch in South Carolina. But the shadow of his very public extramarital affair and subsequent divorce from longtime spouse Jenny Sanford persists: the new lawmaker had to fork over $5,000 in fees and fines on Wednesday, to avoid a court appearance after he was charged with trespassing on his former wife’s property.

Still, he predicted to NBC that he’ll have “plenty of friends” when he arrives in the hallowed halls of Congress, and he plans to reach out to “Republicans, Democrats, independents — you name it. A whole host of different folks.”

The chastened Mr. Sanford could be transforming into political hybrid who could be useful, though annoying, to “establishment” Republicans as they craft a path to 2014 and 2016. He appears eager to forge alliances. The news media is always curious about the man, and will either celebrate or attack the moment when he marries his mistress-turned-fiancee Maria Belen Chapur. And his outspoken tea party allies can’t get enough of him.

Mark Sanford’s victory is further evidence that the political power balance in Washington has shifted. A strong fiscally conservative candidate, backed by a tenacious community of issue-driven grass-roots activists, can prevail without the traditional power brokers of the Beltway,” observes Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a Washington-based fiscally conservative grass-roots group.

“This is both a victory for Mark Sanford and tea party grass-roots activists in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. We are now looking to carry this momentum into the 2014 election cycle,” says Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, a political action committee.

HOLA AMERICA

Hispanic mothers will gather across the street from the White House on Thursday afternoon, and they are not very happy with President Obama.

“As Americans settle in to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, 1,100 immigrants continue to face deportation each day, many of them mothers and their spouses,” say organizers with Casa de Maryland, a community organization centered on the woes of Central American immigrants living in and around the nation’s capital.

The group will assemble in Lafayette Park to have air their grievances.

“By the end of this month, my three children may face a future without a parent,” says Angie Gonzalez, whose husband is at immediate risk of deportation. “If Congress is poised to resolve this crisis once and for all, why does the president continue to destroy our families?”

POLL DU JOUR

42 percent of Americans say the Republicans Party is best able to deal with the economy; 79 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats agree.

38 percent say Democrats are best able to deal with the economy; 9 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats agree.

42 percent overall say Republicans best reflect their personal views on gun control; 76 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Democrats agree.

39 percent overall say Democrats best reflect their views on gun control; 13 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

38 percent say Republicans are best able to deal with immigration; 69 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats agree.

38 percent say Democrats are best able to deal with immigration; 13 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,504 U.S. adults conducted May 1 to 5.

Sullen comments, clever puns to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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