Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Does this woman look worried to you? No, nor should she


At the close of the first session of the Benghazi hearing, much of it dominated by a debate about emails sent between Hillary Clinton and journalist/activist Sid Blumenthal, Chairman Trey Gowdy announced that Blumenthal would be a primary topic in the second session as well.

It seems fair to ask: What does Blumenthal have do to with what happened at Benghazi, with preventing future such tragedies, with anything within the official purview of this committee? Did Blumenthal play some undisclosed role in the attacks? In the security arrangements?

At one point, Gowdy did attempt to address that question. His explanation was that some emails sent by Blumenthal to Clinton were eventually forwarded to Ambassador Chris Stevens, who later died in the Benghazi attacks. And ...

And there was no "and." Based on what we've seen so far, that extremely strained connection is the only thing linking Blumenthal to the attacks. In a press interview after the morning session, other Republicans also offered that as their only justification for spending so much time on Blumenthal.

The truth is that Gowdy values the Blumenthal emails because he hopes they can be used to embarrass Clinton politically. That is the sole reason why so much time and attention is being paid to them. The complete absence of a link between Blumenthal and Benghazi demonstrates once again why Gowdy's repeated, seemingly pious claims of political disinterest in his handling of this hearing are so outrageously fraudulent.

Everyone knows what is going on. At least don't insult our intelligence by asking us to pretend otherwise.

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U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and other GOP panel members also seem highly agitated by the fact that Blumenthal had and used Clinton's private email address to contact her, while Stevens and other top officials at the State Department were forced to use official State Department channels. That complaint was brought up repeatedly, and it's a peculiar line of attack to say the least.

In essence, Westmoreland, Rep. Martha Robey and Rep. Susan Brooks are attacking Clinton because she FAILED to discuss highly classified material on her private, unsecure email. They are somehow finding fault with her for doing the smart and responsible thing, which was to use secure State Department cables and telephones to conduct her official business.

The suggestion that she should have provided Stevens with her private email address so he could discuss inadequate security at Benghazi and other critical matters over an unsecured line -- it's just nuts. It contradicts the entire line of previous GOP criticism of Clinton.

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Finally, try to imagine Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, etc., sitting alone at a witness table like that, hour after hour, calmly and reasonably addressing issues on their merits before a panel of highly aggressive questioners. Go ahead, try.

Even Clinton's body language is perfect. The placid stare into space, the palm-to-face look -- do you think she practiced that in front of a mirror?  She doesn't exactly give the impression of someone feeling besieged or overly impressed by her opponents.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.