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IssaLeaks: More fallout from the Benghazi killings

Was it a good idea to release a lot of un-redacted State Department memos from Libya? Probably not.

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To be sure, Issa insists he's only interested in the truth, and there's no politics behind his efforts. But the tone of his statements might argue otherwise.

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Staff writer

Dan Murphy is a staff writer for the Monitor's international desk, focused on the Middle East. Murphy, who has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and more than a dozen other countries, writes and edits Backchannels. The focus? War and international relations, leaning toward things Middle East.

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He said in a statement yesterday:

"Obama administration officials and their surrogates are clearly reeling from revelations about how the situation in Benghazi was mishandled and are falsely politicizing the issue in a last ditch effort to save President Obama’s reelection effort. To see such prominent officials as Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Carl Levin, Rahm Emanuel, and Obama Senior Adviser David Axelrod paraded out over to weekend to make false charges about the Oversight Committee putting Libyans in danger only shows their desperation to hide the truth."

Well, "desperation to hide the truth" may be a bit much, but they're certainly engaging in the same political game Issa is playing from the other side. As for Issa's specific point – that it's no big deal that Libyan women's rights activist Wafa Taher Bughaigis was identified as talking privately to diplomats – well, if he says so….

But the criticism of Issa's decision was over the revelation of names in general. While an anonymous "administration official" did single out that particular revelation in a comment to Foreign Policy, that wasn't the point of the commenter or the slew of past and former State Department critics. A number of other Libyans were named as privately talking to US officials, some of whom were providing intelligence. Their names are now available to anyone who wants them.

In a worst-case scenario, that could lead to their targeting by the same sorts of people who attacked the Benghazi consulate. But well short of that, it sends a message to every Libyan that if they talk to US officials, their private conversations could soon end up on the Internet for all to see.

Even when the contents of a conversation with a diplomat are banal, an Islamist militia, for instance, might not see it that way. That's why this was such a bad idea, and merely the latest in a string of evidence that partisan games are being played over Benghazi (including strange semantic discussions of when Obama "knew," that it was terrorism, as if this irrelevant question holds the key to preserving US interests).

All this makes it very hard for people to talk to the US government with confidence, or for US diplomats to do their job with confidence.

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