Ed. Note: Sometimes it's worth revisiting the past. In light of the ridiculous Benghazi hearing this week, I am rerunning this article from May, 2014 with links to some key players who made this happen. Someone tell me again why they were at all surprised by Kevin McCarthy's confirmation?
Speaker John Boehner announced Friday afternoon that he will appoint a select committee to further investigate Benghazi. Not because there's anything there to investigate, you understand, but as Ed Henry admits in the video, it keeps their base frothing at the mouth.
This is no surprise. It was planned exactly one year ago when narratives were formed in order to push Darrell Issa and John Boehner into appointing a select committee with subpoena power to gin up the base and paper the White House with meaningless subpoenas for the next three years.
One Year Ago, a Groundswell
First up on the agenda was Benghazi, and the question of when they would get their select committee with subpoena power. This was so important to Groundswell's leadership that they forced late-night meetings with John Boehner and Darrell Issa. From the transcript of the recording:
Um, Frank [Gaffney] and I had -- I'm sorry -- Frank and I actually had meetings last night with Speaker Boehner and Representative Issa also. We've been pushing with the support of Congressman Wolf as well as Congressman Gohmert for a special committee. And I think it's okay to share with you, wouldn't you say so Frank, that the Speaker was, I thought he was very coherent last night when we talked about this. And that he believes that the process needs to play out before we get a special committee. His concern is that the media will portray this as just simply an attempt to bring down the Obama administration, until their current committee system plays itself out.
Again, the key takeaway here is we're not backing away from a special committee, we're still pushing for that. But we kind of have a pledge from both, I think Issa and the Speaker, that they want the system to play out a little more before they start to call for that. The Speaker did say he's not opposed to it but he wants to let the committee structure as it stands right now continue until it would potentially merit bringing a special committee.
Then Frank Gaffney chimes in:
So, if they do, then I think one of two things probably happens as a result. An unleashing of the Oversight Committee to do this as an existing standing committee with, you know, subpoena powers and the responsibility for [unintelligible] select committee [unintelligible].
So I'm somewhat encouraged that they're taking this thing very much to heart and we really impressed upon him that there's a lot of restiveness on the part of folks like us and some of their donors as a matter of fact, about what's happening here.
The donors are restless, ladies and gentlemen. Despite what conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court say, what donors want donors get, and what donors really want an angry, restless base so they can elect a few more conservatives, especially to the Senate.
That was a year ago. There was no ideological question about why they wanted a select committee. It was to do as much harm as possible to the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton. Select committees have broad subpoena power. Make no mistake. Darrell Issa and his gang of right wing terrorists now have that power and they're not afraid to use it.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch was also present at the May 8th meeting. Judicial Watch produced the "smoking gun" emails which actually don't represent any kind of smoking gun. Judicial Watch has appointed themselves as a "shadow government" to arm right wing soldiers in their "30-front war" against Democrats and liberals.
Fox News' vested interest in pushing Benghazi
Fox News has been hyping Benghazi like there was an actual scandal there somewhere for a reason. Three Fox News contributors -- Pat Caddell, Mike Huckabee and John Bolton -- serve on the advisory board of a neocon warmongering organization called Secure America Now, which has been amplifying the drumbeat call to turn the tragedy which claimed the lives of our Ambassador and three others into a political witch hunt.
Devon Gaffney Cross, Frank Gaffney's sister, is also a member of Secure America Now. Their spartan website doesn't offer any details, but they exist to stoke Islamophobia and right-wing paranoia.
Restless, restless donors
Secure America Now's 2012 IRS filing reveals some very generous donors indeed. In 2011, SAN received $231,000 in grants and contributions. In 2012, that number leapt to $4.4 million. What did they spend all that money on? Certainly not their website, which is spartan.
They spent $2.8 million on advertising, and around $200,000 on polling.
They also gave away $860,000 in grants. Recipients were the Children's Cultural Center of Philadelphia ($10,000 to Project Hope), and RightChange.com II ($850,000). RightChange.com II is funded and run by North Carolina pharmaceutical magnate Fred Eshelman. A review of RightChange.com II's 2012 report reveals it received donations and grants in 2012 in excess of $6 million, compared to $2.6 million in 2011.
RightChange.com didn't actually make any grants to other organizations, but they did serve as a handy conduit, particularly to online activists and the Religious Right. According to their reports, they sent $1 million to Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, and paid $4.3 million to W3BG, a consulting firm specializing in web design, content management and social media for candidates, a practice which is out of bounds for 501c4 organizations.
$4.3 million on web design, content management and social media? Really? Oddly, W3BG's blog only goes through 2010. Their lobbying division was sold to another company, and it's unclear whether they're still in business.
According to RightChange.com II's balance sheet, they spent over $4.1 million on information technology. What did they get for their tax-exempt dollars? Were their expenditures the fuel that drove online narratives with the goal of forcing Issa and Boehner to move toward a select committee? We don't really know, because these reports don't go deep enough into specifics to say for sure.
But what we do know is that there was some sort of common interest with the religious right wing of the party and the neocon right wing agitating for war and impeachment over the Benghazi tragedy, all amplified by Fox News.
There were other players in the background, too. One shadowy policy organization had as much influence over the faux scandal-mongering as the Groundswell group did. In fact, there is enough overlap between this group and the Groundswell online contingent to suggest coordination, particularly with regard to the Benghazi tragedy.
Council for National Policy, aka Right-Wing Policy Cabal
It's established fact that the right wing has many different policy arms, but one in particular operates under the radar and with a great deal of power. This is by design.
The Council for National Policy (CNP) is a longstanding right wing policy group comprised of the movers and shakers among the hardcore conservative right. Their meetings are top secret. No one is allowed without a verifiable invitation.
The only clue outsiders might have as to CNP's membership comes from board members listed on their annual nonprofit filings with the IRS. For 2012, that list read like the membership of the Groundswell email group. Directors included Ken Blackwell, Brent Bozell, Phyllis Schlafly, former Heritage Foundation VP and culture warrior Rebecca Hagelin, Tea Party Patriots benefactor and wealthy donor Raymon Thompson, Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, Colin Hanna, former Lehman Brothers president Joseph Gregory, NRA activist and board member Sandra Froman, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, right wing radio magnate Rich Bott, and investment manager Stacy W. Taylor, who is also a close associate of John Ashcroft. Ashcroft, by the way, is now principal of Ashcroft Group, which specializes in government investigations.
The "outside" project and 501c4 arm of the CNP is CNP Action. In 2012, CNP Action's directors were Gary Aldrich, the Leadership Institute's Morton Blackwell, former California legislator and Religious Right member Ken Campbell, forced-birth advocate Penny Pullen, Phyllis Schlafly, Mike Spence, president of Conservative Republicans for California, Texas-based Heritage Alliance president J. Keet Lewis III and Colorado investment manager Kirk Elliott. Elliott is a new addition to the board, replacing Concerned Women for America's Wendy Wright.
Gary Aldrich is Chairman of the board. He has a clear and direct connection to the Groundswell group via Ginni Thomas, whose organization -- Liberty Central -- he took over after there was an outcry about her activities to repeal the Affordable Care Act at the very same time her husband was hearing a challenge to it in the United States Supreme Court.
Aldrich's organization, The Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, had its tax-exempt status revoked in February because of his organization's attacks on Hillary Clinton.
Finally, CNP Action coordinates with the Conservative Action Project so that all of the right-wing activist groups, think tanks, and policy groups are on board with their agendas. They were responsible for the government shutdown in October, and they are responsible for coordinating the effort to pressure Boehner into appointing a select committee.
So we've come full circle
There is most definitely a vast right-wing conspiracy. We've gotten a look inside their organization and coordinating efforts through the Groundswell emails and recording. They use issues like Benghazi to coordinate in order to energize their base, whether it be religious zealots or "liberty kings." Their network has a clearly defined online component, a broadcast television component, and an allied network of non-profit organizations which are all well-funded by "restless donors" expecting results.
Which donors are responsible? All of them. From Sheldon Adelson to Charles and David Koch to Paul Singer to Richard Mellon Scaife, they're all part of a larger and wider group embued with one purpose and one purpose alone: To take control of government at local, county, state and federal levels in order to serve their billionaires.
"Benghazi-gate" isn't about a tragic death of our Ambassador and three others and it never was. It's about churning up anger and fear among their base voters to elect more conservatives.
There's only one way to defeat them. We have to get out and vote in greater numbers than they do. We have those numbers. When you hear all the noise about Benghaaaaazi, just remember it's intended to line billionaires' pockets. Then find a friend and make sure they vote in the primaries and every single election, but most importantly, in November.