More Benghazi confusion
“Perhaps the chief remaining mystery about Benghazi is why Republicans are still harping on it 19 months after the attack — and why they have been so willing to attack career diplomats, military officers and intelligence officials in their jihad against the Obama administration,” writes David Ignatius at the Washington Post, in an article headlined “Former CIA deputy director rebuts Republican charges on Benghazi.”
In reality, the most recent testimony settled fewer questions than it raised. (Would someone check with the Washington Post’s editors and see if it’s okay to talk about Democrats going on a “jihad,” too? How about Harry Reid’s jihad against the Koch Brothers? Or is that only a term that can be used with reference to Republicans in the Post stylebook?) The Benghazi shuffle continues, as Obama Administration officials unload lie after deception after distortion, and the media concludes each round of malarkey by singing in unison that it’s an old story nobody should care about any more.
Why, Democrats are so interested in putting old news behind us that they’re shopping a new report on Bush-era CIA interrogations to the very same media that can’t figure out why anyone would still be hung up on the Obama Administration sending an American diplomat into a terrorist meat grinder without adequate protection, then lying repeatedly about why he was killed. We have to put Benghazi behind us so we can focus on the burning issue of terrorists getting rough treatment from a CIA program that doesn’t exist any more!
The enduring confusion over Benghazi stems from the refusal of the Administration and its media pals to admit the blindingly obvious truth: a false story about “spontaneous video protests” was deliberately concocted and promoted to distract attention from the appalling State Department lapses of attention that made Benghazi happen, the mind-boggling failure to make contingency plans in case Americans in an insurgent hot zone ran into trouble on the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, the falsehood of Obama’s “al-Qaeda is decimated” campaign plank, and the President’s unacceptable disdain on the evening of the attack. The only real question is whether the false narrative was pulled out of thin air, or by cherry-picking valid but mistaken intelligence reports. Children were caught smashing lamps and vases; the story they invented about masked burglars breaking in and trashing the house grows more convoluted every time they tell it.
Acting former CIA director Mike Morell has since decamped for jobs with CBS News and Beacon Global Strategies, a firm with ties to Hillary Clinton – a detail you can bet your bottom YouTube video would be considered highly relevant by the media, if this was a Republican scandal. His testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday is summarized by Fox News:
Morell, speaking before the House Intelligence Committee, insisted Wednesday he did not “deliberately” downplay the role of terrorists in that attack. He also said he never knew Rice was going to appear on the Sunday shows the weekend after the attack.
But he did confirm that he overruled guidance from the CIA chief of station in Libya that the attacks were “not/not an escalation of protests.”
Morell, explaining his decision, effectively challenged the evidence his chief of station brought to the table in his message, sent via email a few days after the attack. He said the claim that there was no protest was based only on “press reports” and reports from officers who arrived in Benghazi after the attack had already started.
He said that basis was not “compelling” enough.
Still, Morell explained that when he received the email from the CIA chief of station, he recognized the “discrepancy” between what he was saying and what other analysts were saying. He said he quickly had his analysts “revisit their judgment” that a protest was underway — but “based on a totality of the information available to them, they stuck with their initial conclusions.”
The testimony was met with skepticism in some corners. One source who was on the ground in Benghazi that night questioned the claims.
“Why would he ever believe that people who weren’t there hold credence [over] those of us that were…and even his own respected Chief of Station?” the source said. “It [makes] no sense.”
Once again, I invite you to imagine this is a Republican scandal, and the very first testimony from the man in charge of the CIA at the time said people on the scene told him it was a coordinated terrorist attack, not a spontaneous protest… but he ignored them because they couldn’t conclusively prove there was not a protest taking place. (Would sworn affidavits from every one of the attackers, swearing they were not using their precision mortar fire to criticize a movie, have been good enough?) Instead, he listened to analysts who weren’t there, who just happened to be saying what a President worried about re-election wanted to hear. We haven’t heard much in the way of hard evidence to support the video protest theory; it’s always been, at best, a vague supposition based on unrest in Cairo at the time (which also wasn’t really just a video protest – it began as a movement to get the Blind Sheikh, mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing, transferred into Egyptian custody.)
It’s a topsy-turvy world when the people who pushed the story of the mythical video protest are given bottomless credit for their keen judgment, but the people who were actually there and said it didn’t happen are supposed to prove it didn’t happen, even though it didn’t. The whole scandal has been handled by ignoring the Administration’s copious reasons for not telling the truth, and the documented fact that they didn’t tell the truth, to construct elaborate scenarios in which it’s possible they might have been honestly mistaken.
But in order to believe that, you have to forget everything the Administration already knew, and wished to conceal, about the situation in Benghazi. It strains credulity to the breaking point that anyone who knew about security risks in the area, or Ambassador Chris Stevens’ correspondence on the subject, would reach the default conclusions Obama’s team keeps talking about. Your neighborhood has been vandalized twenty times in October, it’s Mischief Night, the tree in your front yard is covered with toilet paper, and you conclude a passing airplane probably dropped a case of Charmin on your property by accident?
We’re also not discussing a set of talking points that led to one or two embarrassing press conferences, followed by swift and conscientious efforts by Administration officials to correct the record. This “video protest” garbage was shoveled out for weeks. Hillary Clinton promised the father of slain former SEAL Tyrone Woods that she would arrest and prosecute the creator of the YouTube video to avenge the death of his son. (And that guy sure did get arrested, which is more than can be said for the actual perpetrators of the attack.)
Another weird passage from the Morell hearings:
Morell said the CIA knew that some of the individuals involved in the attack were Al Qaeda from classified sources, information that couldn’t be included unless it was declassified. The talking points were provided to members of the committee for dissemination to the American people.
Morell said he removed references to the warnings based on previous CIA analysis. Otherwise, he said, the talking points would have been a “way for CIA to pound its chest and say `we warned,’ laying all the blame on the State Department.”
Morell said there would be plenty of time later on to figure out what went wrong.
So now he’s saying they knew al-Qaeda operatives were behind the attack, but he cut all that out of the White House talking points… because he didn’t want to make the State Department feel bad, put Hillary Clinton in the hot seat, or give the CIA a swelled head? And the mainstream media thinks this puts the scandal to bed? It’s okay that the families of the Benghazi dead, and the citizens of the United States, were fed a load of bull as part of an inter-agency turf battle?
It has also been noted that Morell used to claim he wasn’t coordinating his Benghazi talking points with the White House, but now he admits he was. He was complicit in keeping the identity of the talking-point editor a secret, sitting right next to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper when Congress asked point-blank who cut out the al-Qaeda information. Clapper claimed he didn’t know; Morell, the guy who did it, sat there with his lip zipped.
Everyone in this Administration has changed their Benghazi story, over and over again, saying whatever was necessary to slip through the news cycles, until their faithful media lapdogs could whine that that whole thing was old news they were bored of talking about. We know how the people who thought it was an organized terrorist attack came to their conclusions, but years later, we still haven’t nailed down where the “video protest” story came from, what evidence supported the theory, or how the White House came to push it as the sole narrative of the attack… beyond the obvious matter of their political needs. And that’s supposed to be just fine, because they weren’t Republicans. Sounds like another compelling reason to vote Republican for President: when they screw up, and especially when they deceive Congress and the American people, you never hear the end of it.