That CBS’ Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, of all people, nodded in agreement when Rep. Darrell Issa asserted on Schieffer’s Sunday morning show that the administration had engaged in a cover-up regarding Benghazi is a huge sign that this scandal is finally being taken seriously by the most traditional establishment liberal media.

This is bad news for such über-establishment figures as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but they are politicians who come and, alas eventually, though it seems to take forever, go.

More problematically, a permanent organ of our government has been so besmirched by Benghazi it may take years fully to recover, if it ever does — the U. S. Department of State.

By manipulating facts and lying to the American public immediately after the events of September 11, 2012, the State Department has behaved, to its eternal shame, like the propaganda arm of a totalitarian state — and not a very sophisticated one.

This is particularly disturbing since State is — or at least is supposed to be — a non-partisan branch of our government. Members of many administrations co-exist within it to serve our country.

We seem, however, to have returned to the State Department of Alger Hiss’ day — but not, like Hiss’ time, in the form of direct Soviet subversion.  What we have is a post-modern version — a subversion of elitism, self-regard, and, above all, self-preservation.

They lied not for ideals, but for self-interest.  The communists — some of them anyway — at least dreamt of a better world.

From what we know so far, the U. S. Department of State participated in the cover-up of an Islamist terror attack on the brink of  a U. S. presidential election, implying the murders of our fellow citizens were inspired by an execrable video that nobody saw.  I can’t think of anything more despicable and more disrespectful to all of us — and most especially to the families of the deceased.

As of now we don’t know to what degree these State Department officials worked at the behest of the White House in their censorship, but if they were taking orders in all this, they were indeed behaving in the manner of the minions of totalitarian states that have been prosecuted elsewhere as violators of international law.

Yes, there is a lot to unravel here.  We have probably only just begun.

Most recently, we have learned via John Rosenthal, writing in Newsmax, that the State Department hired the February 17th Martyrs Brigade to do their security in Libya, a group that celebrates al Qaeda on their Facebook page. (Yes, you read that correctly.) If true, this is like having the Gestapo act as security for the Nuremburg Trials.

Not surprisingly, they quit only days before Ambassador Stephens was killed.

State clearly understands their reputation has been damaged, although I am not sure they realize how severely.  Their Accountability Review Board and its chair and vice chair (Ambassador Tom Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen) have now relegated themselves to the dustbin of history.  Unbelievably, they never interviewed Hillary Clinton, the woman in charge.  Rumor has it Pickering was terrified. (If you want black comic laughs, you read can still read their final report of December 12, 2012 online here. I guess they haven’t mustered up the nerve to take it off yet.  They better watch out for the Way Back Machine.)

Now an inspector general will examine the ARB.  But who will examine the inspector general? And then where will it lead?

This entire scandal reminds me of the great Italian movie Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion.  Directed by Elio Petri, it won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1971. In the case of the film the citizen in question was the chief of detectives who ended up being found guilty of murdering his mistress.  I wonder who it will be in Benghazi: The Motion Picture.

To be continued…