Benghazi is no ‘sideshow’
Notwithstanding the passionate protestations of President Barack Obama, it is possible that an issue can be both “politicized” and have merit.
And as we now know, it was the White House and State Department that had politics on their mind during the initial attacks. Why else would they edit CIA Benghazi talking points 12 times – eliminating all references to terrorism – before allowing the American people to hear them? And why else would White House spokesperson Jay Carney claim that there was only a single “stylistic” edit to the document? We know this is untrue. An untrue statement triggered by political considerations.
And here is what President Barack Obama had to say on that Benghazi talking-point issue this afternoon in a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
The whole issue of talking point, frankly, throughout this process, has been a sideshow. We have been very clear about throughout that immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were. It happened at the same time as we had seen attacks on U.S. embassies in Cairo as a consequence of this film and nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days. And the e-mails that you allude to were provided by us to congressional committees. They reviewed them several months ago, concluded that in fact there was nothing awful in terms of the process that we had used. And suddenly, three days ago, this gets spun up as if there is something new to the story. There is no there there.
Almost all of this is untrue or misleading.
Perhaps there is no “there there,” as the president asserts, but there are a few things for certain: The administration, and Obama, took forever to make it “very clear” that the murders in Benghazi were the work of terrorists. Both implicitly and explicitly, they spent most of their media time trying to pin the blame on that preposterous Islam-bashing YouTube video. The administration asked YouTube to take the offending video down.
Despite knowing full well that the Arab Street hadn’t had one of its routine “spontaneous eruptions” of rage, but rather that a concerted terror attack had been to blame, Hillary stood in front of the families of the deceased and said: “We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with. It is hard for the American people to make sense of that, because it is senseless and totally unacceptable.”
Katie Pavelich has an excellent timeline here of various administration officials cynically blaming the video for the death of Americans. An attack on reality (not unusual) and the First Amendment (becoming less unusual). As you know, Hillary doesn’t think it matters very much why the carnage went down.
As a political matter, the administration has done its best to conflate two distinct issues: The attack and the cover-up.
Yes, we should do all we can to find ways to protect foreign service members abroad. Did we do all we could to save them? It seems that’s a legitimate question that hasn’t been fully answered.
Then there is the accusation of a “politicization” of the event. To this charge, Democrats argue: ‘Why would we do it? There is no reason to cover up anything.’ Which is demonstrable false. There are two very good reasons.
1 – There is the political implication of appearing weak during an election. Obama has told is that the ‘Man-Caused Disaster’ problem is almost licked. To have to pop up, and to make Obama engage in a defense of the Libya adventure and revisit the War on Terror. This, weeks preceding an election, would have been bad politics. There was every reason to deflect attention from the root cause.
2 – Then, to a lesser extent perhaps, is the ideological need to blame Islamic terror on our own “hateful” speech, or supposed Islamaphobia. For weeks, the Obama and friends fed that very perception.