NY Times Benghazi Investigation: More Evidence that Frank Wolf's Completely Off the Deep End

Saturday, December 28, 2013

As I'm sure everyone's well aware, often times politicians say things that they don't really believe. In recent weeks, we've had a prime example of that with the announced retirement of Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th, VA), and the praise heaped upon him by Democrats and Republicans alike. For instance, Senator Kaine praised Wolf has having "exemplified the best in public service," while Gov. Bob McDonnell claimed that Wolf has "sought out common ground...has worked across the aisle...has represented the people of this Commonwealth with distinction and with grace."Common ground? Working across the aisle? The "best in public service?" Really? Well, actually...not so much. First off, if you look at Wolf's voting record, he ranks a dismal 390th out of 433 in terms of "progressive score vs. district tilt." In other words, Wolf has been one of the most right-wing members, relative to his district (the 10th CD is a "purple," swing district) in Congress. How far-right is this guy? Well, Wolf's lifetime 7.19% progressive score on "crucial votes" places him further to the right than some of the most extreme members of Congress (e.g., rabid Paul Broun of GeorgiaDana Rohrabacher of California) and on just slightly less right wing than this maniac. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that Wolf has earned horrendous ratings on women's reproductive health and freedom (e.g., ZEROES by NARAL and Planned Parenthood; 100% rating by the National Right to Life Committee); on civil liberties (e.g., ZEROES by the American Civil Liberties Union); on LGBT equality (e.g., a string of ZERO ratings by groups like PFLAG and the Human Rights Campaign; and a 100% rating by the Christian Coalition); the environment (e.g., a pathetic 17% from the League of Conservation Voters in 2012). For good measure, Wolf also received a 100% rating from the fossil fuel/far-right-wing-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, which pushes climate science denial and opposes almost any government regulation - for health, safety, whatever).
So much for Frank Wolf being in any way, shape, or form a representative who has sought out "common ground" or has "worked across the aisle." In fact, behind his generally quiet, reserved demeanor, the guy's about as far right/wingnutty as they come.
But it's not just that Wolf holds hard-right positions on almost all the issues. It's also that he's a big-time conspiracy theorist and a corrosive, negative force in Congress. Exhibit A has been Wolf's obsession with the 2012 tragedy at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. For instance, Wolf has called for a select committee to  "get to the truth once and for all so we can find out what happened" in Benghazi. In that statement, note that Wolf referenced Fox "News" in his assertion that "the direct ties to the Al Qaeda senior leadership undercut early characterizations by the Obama administration that the attackers in Benghazi were isolated 'extremists' - not Al Qaeda terrorists - with no organizational structure or affiliation.'" Wolf also referenced the completely discredited 60 Minutes piece by Lara Logan, which according to Wolf "confirmed what Wolf had detailed on the House floor this past July: 'a quick reaction force from the CIA Annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound, at time running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there.'"
Well guess what? You guessed it: Frank Wolf was wildly, outrageously wrong on basically everything he was hysterically raving about regarding Benghazi. Just today, in fact, the New York Times is out with the results of a months-long investigation into the Benghazi consulate attack. What the Times found was, in sum, that almost none of what Wolf and other Republicans have been ranting about is true. To the contrary:

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO's extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.{...}
The attack also suggests that, as the threats from local militants around the region have multiplied, an intensive focus on combating Al Qaeda may distract from safeguarding American interests...Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests. The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs.
OK, so Frank Wolf was completely wrong, not to mention wildly irresponsible, in his accusations about Benghazi. Perhaps that was a one-time venture into lunacy during a long career in Congress? Sadly, no it wasn't. A few examples.1. GOP Congressman To Participate In Briefing With Notorious Anti-Muslim Group: "Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) is teaming up with an Islamophobic fringe group, the Florida-based Citizens For National Security (CFNS), for a Capitol Hill briefing today at which they are planning to accuse the Council on American-Islamic Relations of 'advancing its agenda of radical Islam' and backing a campaign of 'extortion, intimidation and subversion.'"
2. Wash. Post's Milbank Calls Out Conservative Conspiracy "Lunacy" On Benghazi: "During the event, which was organized by the clownish, conspiracy-prone right-wing group Accuracy in Media and featured Republican congressman Frank Wolf and a panel of experts discussing the terror attack...Clare Lopez, a former CIA officer, who wondered whether the United States has 'flipped our policy' in such a way that it is using its assets 'to help the forces of Islam, of al-Qaeda, of the Muslim Brotherhood, of jihad and sharia.' Milbank reports that Rep. Wolf endorsed Lopez's point."
3. Wolf Statement on 'Cap and Trade' Energy Bill:  In opposing the Waxman-Markey comprehensive energy and climate bill, Wolf cited a supposedly "independent study {which} projects that the 'Waxman-Markey' bill could cause between 2.3 million and 2.7 million net jobs lost annually." In reality, those numbers were/are ridiculous, the product of absurd/worst-case-scenario assumptions in a report "commissioned by {the National Association of Manufacturers] and the American Council for Capital Formation," and pushed by fossil fuel groups like the American Petroleum Institute. In reality, found that "Only the most severely pessimistic set of assumptions produces a predicted job loss similar to the 'up to 2.4 million' figure in the NAM's ad." More likely: "under EIA's 'basic' case, in which offsets are not severely constrained and nuclear, wind, solar and other clean energy technologies are 'deployed on a large scale,' EIA projects 597,000 fewer jobs in 2030 than under current policy...{and} under some of the scenarios analyzed, EIA projected that total employment might increase by a small amount during the early years of a cap-and-trade program."
On and on it goes with Frank Wolf: hysterical claims, conspiracy theories, anti-Muslim bigotry, and a hard-right-wing voting record. Note that none of that even remotely resembles the "common ground"/"worked across the aisle" Frank Wolf portrayed in the statements responding to his retirement announcement.
P.S. Oh, and don't forget, Rep. Frank Wolf said this about raving homophobic bigot Eugene Delgaudio (R-Loudoun County): "No one works harder than Eugene. He is not afraid to make the tough decisions and speak out for what he thinks is right."  Also, in 2005, Delgaudio complained that "Frank Wolf's ringing endorsement will see little ink in area newspapers." Gotta love this "moderate" Republican Frank Wolf, strongly backing homophobic head case Eugene Delgaudio.