Stevens asked for more security; White House disinformation continues
The Heritage Foundation has produced a short but powerful video called “The White House Disinformation Campaign On Libya” that sums up the Administration’s false narrative about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi:
It’s jarring to see so many clearly false statements from Administration officials in rapid succession, and Hillary Clinton’s mewling about that “awful Internet video, that we had nothing to do with” sounds even more pitiful in retrospect. The decaying American hyperpower now finds it necessary to plead with barbarians and make them understand it wasn’t involved in producing a few minutes of cheesy YouTube video.
The 24-hour news cycle has a way of rinsing blunders from the public mind, unless the media chooses to issue frequent reminders – that’s one of the big differences between media conduct under Republican and Democrat administrations. The sort of scandal that would merit days of intensive coverage, followed by weeks of casual references to the story, under a Republican president usually gets mentioned a few times at most, and is then dropped without follow-up investigation, when it hurts a Democrat. The Operation Fast and Furious scandal is one of the paramount examples of the Obama era. It’s simply amazing to watch the press studiously ignore every aspect of it, to the point where faithful consumers of NBC News heard about it for the very first time when Obama claimed executive privilege over documents sought by congressional investigators, only a few months ago.
The Benghazi scandal is playing out a bit differently. The media herd has been dragged into consistent, long-running coverage by the efforts of a few determined reporters, notably Eli Lake at the Daily Beast. On Monday, Lake published his latest story about the Obama Administration’s dereliction of duty in Benghazi, detailing a cable sent by Ambassador Chris Stevens on the day of his murder. This cable discusses threats by local militia leaders to withdraw security forces from the city because they were angry at perceived U.S. support for a prime minister candidate they disliked. (This candidate, Mahmoud Jibril, would go on to win the office, and then lose a vote of no-confidence last Sunday.)
And yet, the Administration reduced security for diplomats in Libya as the local forces continued to demonstrate their unreliability. The newly-unearthed Stevens cable did not specifically request security reinforcements, but it paints a clear picture of a turbulent region, and the House Oversight Committee has received testimony from whistleblowers that increased security was requested by our diplomats in Libya, only to be denied by the State Department. It seems increasingly clear this was a big part of the reason for the Administration’s fraudulent “spontaneous video protest gone wild” narrative over the weeks following the attack. They needed to survive a few news cycles without headline stories of deadly State Department incompetence.
And why did State deny those requests for enhanced security? The more we learn about the situation in Libya leading up to September 11, the more incomprehensible that decision seems. Were they nervous about sending signals that Libya was a mess, this close to the election? Were they worried about producing photos of American troops clashing with Libyan protesters on September 11? Did they underestimate the risks of sending positive signals to the new Libyan government by entrusting them with security?
Update: The media floodgates have really opened on this story. Both ABC and CBS have stories this morning about the State Department’s refusal of requests for enhanced security from the Libyan diplomatic mission: