Now, with the discovery of the Rhodes email, it appears that the White House did use the instruments of government to aid the president's re-election campaign by deceiving the American people and telegraphing that proposed deception to the president's campaign officials. Using government personnel and assets to coordinate a political campaign, even if done truthfully and above board, violates federal criminal statutes.
As if that were not bad enough, it now appears that the State Department had special operations forces in close proximity to Benghazi, and the White House ordered them to stand down rather than confront the attackers, meet force with force and endeavor to save the lives of the ambassador and others, though at the risk of contradicting the president's political boast.
When the truth -- that the Benghazi attack was an al-Qaida-organized assault complete with military hardware and sophisticated planning -- became known, and when the apparent deception by the president, the White House and the State Department was discovered, Republicans were furious.
Then the cover-up of the cover-up began, as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform learned when it tried to determine who told the U.S. forces to stand down, who dispatched Rice to tell lies, who certified that the Rhodes email did not exist and who then eventually released it. The committee wanted to know whether Rice was duped or was part of a plot to use the instruments of government to lie and deceive and enhance Obama's chances of defeating Romney.
So, the Oversight Committee issued subpoenas and held hearings and concluded -- a conclusion with which even the Democrats now agree -- that the Benghazi attack was part of an organized terrorist assault, and the consulate was undefended.
Then Judicial Watch revealed the reply to its FOIA request of the White House, which included the Rhodes email, and a political firestorm broke loose. Speaker John Boehner addressed that firestorm by asking the House to form a Select Committee -- one whose sole goal is to get to the bottom of this -- and to grant it a serious budget and a full legal and investigative staff, and to set it loose upon the administration's deceivers.
Already, the administration has declared that many of the documents the Select Committee will seek have been classified as top secret, and the president is free to classify any document he wants for any reason he chooses. Legally, that argument is correct. Frustrated congressional Republicans have no one to blame but themselves here, as they gave that legal power to President George W. Bush.
Nevertheless, can the Select Committee subpoena the president and his records to find out where he was during the eight-hour attack, who gave the order to stand down and permit murder rather than suffer political embarrassment, and who concocted the Rice deceptions? Yes. And he will claim executive privilege, and a federal judge will make the call.
And so, here comes Watergate, 21st-century style -- except this time around, innocent people died. This time around, will it have the same outcome?