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thanks to the reclisted diary "So That's What McCain Wanted" by susan from 29 (by way of huffpo's ryan grim), we know what john mccain really wanted from the benghazi hearings: a top-ranking committee seat to extend his expiring tenure, or in short, uninterrupted power and relevance in the next congress. here's the letter reid sent mccain:

HARRY REID, NEVADA, MAJORITY LEADER

UNITED STATES SENATE
Washington, DC 20510-7012

November 16, 2012

The Honorable John McCain
Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator McCain John:

I am writing in response to your suggestion that the Senate establish a Select Committee to investigate the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. I refuse to allow the Senate to be used as a venue for baseless partisan attacks.

Examining the events in Benghazi is an imperative of the utmost importance. As you know, several committees in both the House and Senate have already committed to undertaking investigations and hearings, and the Obama Administration has already provided numerous briefings and more than 3,000 pages of documentation to committees as part of their reviews. In addition to the investigations currently underway in both houses of Congress, there are multiple investigations being undertaken by the administration at this writing.

I am concerned that a Select Committee, as you propose, would duplicate and, ultimately, undermine the numerous investigations into the attack that are already proceeding in the Senate committees of jurisdiction, and may serve to further politicize an issue that has already been manipulated by Members of both the House and Senate in service of partisan agendas.

You already have the opportunity to engage more fully in the fulsome and ongoing investigations into the events in Benghazi currently being conducted by the Senate committees of jurisdiction. For instance, on Wednesday, Senator McCain failed to attend a classified briefing held by the Senate Homeland Security Committee on this very issue.

To quote Senator Collins, the Ranking Republican Member on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which hosted the Benghazi briefing that Senator McCain missed, "I do not see the benefit of creating a brand new committee when we already have the Senate's chief oversight committee, plus the Intelligence Committee, examining this very important matter."

Senator Collins's assessment is apt. The best way to proceed on this issue is to support the extensive efforts currently underway, and support the Members of the Senate and our national security community as they conduct them. As former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said, "It's easy to try and jump to conclusions about what might have happened here. It's probably better to let the relevant bodies do their work."

Unfortunately, the approach taken by many Republican Members has been the opposite instead of "letting the relevant bodies do their work," many Republicans have undermined and complicated their efforts. In the weeks following this terrorist attack, members of the Republican Party in both the House and Senate have misrepresented the facts as presented in numerous briefings by the United States Intelligence Community through a constant stream of falsehoods, exaggerations, and leaks of sensitive national security information. I am shocked that Senators and Representatives would deliberately distort or ignore facts that they received in classified settings and worse still, openly discuss these matters in public. Revealing classified information can literally put lives at stake.

One of you, Senator McCain, has gone so far as to make the outrageous claim that this event was "worse than Watergate" — despite the fact that there is no evidence that any crime was committed, no evidence of any cover-up, and no evidence that the administration has characterized the incident in any way that has not been consistent with the Intelligence Community's contemporaneous assessments.

In the House of Representatives, Chairman Issa has undertaken a deeply flawed and partisan investigation with a clear intent to politicize this tragedy. While the hearings his committee conducted — by all accounts — shed no new light on the incident in Benghazi, they did succeed in exposing sensitive and potentially classified information, as well as grossly misrepresenting the facts.

I also find it troubling to discover that a senior staff member for Representative Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was actively working for former Governor Mitt Romney's campaign at the same time that Representative Rogers was launching partisan attacks against the Obama Administration on this issue. Many of Representative Rogers's comments not only misrepresented the facts, but also may have exposed classified intelligence provided to his committee as part of its oversight responsibilities.

The elections are over; it is time to put an end to the partisan politicization of national security and begin working together to strengthen our efforts to dismantle and destroy the terrorist networks that threaten us.

I believe deeply in the Senate's constitutional responsibility for oversight of the executive branch, and I am confident that committees of jurisdiction will examine this incident with the rigor and integrity that we expect from them. I believe with equal fervor, however, that partisan politics has no place in the Senate's oversight of national security and intelligence. The intentional politicization of this national tragedy over the last several weeks risks undermining the proud tradition of nonpartisanship that the Senate's national security committees have sustained over many decades.

The most important task facing us at this juncture is to make sure that we collect the facts in a clear-eyed, nonpartisan fashion, and take whatever action they merit. Your considerable experience in these matters would be an enormous asset to this effort, if more judiciously deployed. I know that, as members of multiple committees of jurisdiction, you understand as well as I do the importance the Senate's longstanding tradition of nonpartisanship in national security oversight. I therefore urge you to join me in working in a bipartisan manner, in line with the proudest traditions of the Senate, to support the men and women of our national security and intelligence community, conduct the Senate's oversight activities in a fair and responsible manner, and help restore the longstanding commitment to nonpartisanship in the Senate's national security committees.

Sincerely,

HARRY REID

CC:

Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Senator Lindsey Graham, Senate Armed Services Committee Senator Kelly Ayotte, Senate Armed Services Committee

edit: updated salutation to reflect the fact that, as can be seen in the linked pdf, in the original letter reid had struck out by hand the standard formal greeting "senator mccain" and written in simply "john" -- making this truly a "dear john" letter! i guess that was the uppercut to follow the cross ...
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