Congress Holds 22 Hearings on the 9/11 Attacks, and 21 on Benghazi

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

In our Politics channel, I have a long piece about the Benghazi Committee, and the way its emerging nature as a partisan oppo-research organization has played into a structural weakness in today’s press. You can get all the details here.

In response I got a note from a long time veteran of and scholar about Congressional operations. He adds this point about the proportionality of the Benghazi investigations:

One additional fact demonstrates the skewed priorities of the Republican-controlled Congress.

In 2001-2 Congress created a Joint Inquiry by the House and Senate intelligence committees that held 22 hearings [9 public and 13 closed] into the 9/11 attacks. [See H Rpt 107-792, p. 2]

So far, various panels have held 20 hearings on Benghazi, with the 21st to come on Oct. 22 when Hillary Clinton testifies.

22 to 21 suggests equal significance, doesn't it?

So after an attack in which 3,000 people are killed, followed by wars in which many times more die, the Congress holds a total of 22 hearings. This isn’t what I’ve been calling false equivalence, but it might qualify.

And after an episode in which four Americans are killed, but which there is apparent partisan advantage, it holds 21.

The next time you hear a cable pundit saying that the real problem in current politics comes from “extremists on both sides,” and you’ll probably hear that the next time you turn on the TV, I hope you’ll consider those 22/21 numbers, and others in this latest post.