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Does Benghazi Rise To The Level Of A “Scandal?”

Benghazi-Consulate

To listen to conservatives, yesterday’s testimony before the House Government Oversight Committee on the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi last September was the beginning of the major unraveling of a scandal that they have been asserting existing virtually since the moment we heard about the attack. Now, they say, we have proof that the Obama Administration perpetuated a false narrative about the motivation for the attack, blaming it on demonstrations related to an obscure YouTube video rather than the work of an organized terrorist group as embassy employees on the ground, and the government of Libya, recognized it to be. They failed to adequately secure the consulate beforehand, and then failed to send in the forces necessary to defend both it and the CIA annex when the attack happened. All of this happened, the narrative contends, because of a conscious effort on the part of the White House to ensure that the attack didn’t disrupt the narrative of the Obama re-election campaign regarding the President’s success against al Qaeda.

So far, though, Republicans have had trouble making this narrative stick anywhere outside their own echo chambers. The Romney campaign made a mostly half-hearted attempted to bring it up during the campaign and it went nowhere. The House and Senate both held hearings on the matter earlier this year before Hillary Clinton left office as Secretary of State and it failed to generate any real new information. Indeed, yesterday’s hearings didn’t seem to generate much new information either despite all of the insistence from conservatives that it did. Instead, as Mark Ambinder notes, we’ve got a situation where there’s a story without a scandal:

One of the reasons why Americans aren’t outraged about Benghazi is that the event is a series of tragedies in search of a unifying explanation, and one that “Obama is evil” doesn’t cover. Because really, to suggest that the Pentagon or the White House would deliberately — and yes, this is EXACTLY what Republicans are suggesting — prevent special operations forces from rescuing American diplomats BECAUSE they worried about the potential political blowback because they KNEW exactly who was behind it (al Qaeda) is —well, it is to suggest that Barack Obama is simply and utterly evil.

The umbrage that State Department officials who were in Libya take at the response of the bureaucracy is well-grounded. But I wonder what it feels like to have their understandable ire, their mourning and grief and anger, be harnessed to a partisan political gladiator fight that’s aimed at a person who isn’t even running for president yet.

So here’s another absurdity. There is no way on God’s warming earth that the White House could have possibly “covered up” the fact of al Qaeda involvement had it been established early on and presented as a fact by the intelligence community. Republicans got briefings, classified briefings, attesting to the evidence that al Qeada-linked militants were ready to strike. The sources for that intelligence were sensitive at the time. But no matter: The briefings were accurate. Republicans knew. And indeed, they began to speak out almost immediately. And the White House, whatever it did and didn’t do, was forced to clarify very quickly what it was able to say about the incident. Where is the means and opportunity for a cover-up?

This is really where the “Bengahzi as scandal” meme falls apart for me. At most, the concentration on the idea that the attack was the result of a demonstration about a film that got out of control was only part of the “official” narrative for about a week in September, if that. Fairly soon after that, the White House clarified it’s position and the intelligence communities interpretation, which blamed the attack on one or more of the al Qaeda linked and/or inspired militias that dominate the area in and around Benghazi. This same information was shared with the bipartisan heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as required by law and, presumably, was included in the daily intelligence briefings that Mitt Romney began getting shortly after officially winning the Republican nomination. More importantly, what exactly would the Obama Administration have had to gain by not doing everything possible to stop the attack on September 11, 2012 while it was still going on? Indeed, not acting would have been the greater electoral risk given how close we were to the election. Moreover, the whole idea that action was not taken when it should have been runs headlong into the fat that the closest American assets were, according to the testimony of  Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey, some twenty hours away. Indeed, yesterday, there were many Congressman yesterday concentrating on the supposed availability of F-16’s at Avigno Air Force Base in Sicily. The only problem? F-16’s are air superiority fighters, and don’t have any capability to make ground strikes. Thus they would have been largely unable to do anything to effect the situation on the ground in Benghazi. This is the thing about conspiracy theories. In order to believe in them, you have to believe that people would act in completely illogical and nefarious ways and that they’d be able to keep all of it a secret in today’s hyperpartisan environment where leaks flow as freely in Washington, D.C. as the Potomac River.

As James Joyner noted this morning, the more plausible explanation for what happened in Benghazi is one that focuses on incompetence rather than evil doing. Through a combination of bad security, the probably unwise decision to keep the Benghazi consulate open notwithstanding the deteriorating security situation in the city, and possibly missed opportunities on the day of the attack itself, a tragedy occurred. After the event, the Administration seemed confused about what it’s message was in the early stages. The CIA and the State Department continued to pursue the argument that the attack was the result of an action by an active Benghazi terrorist cell and yet, somehow, the nonsense about the YouTube video got stuck into official talking points some five days after the attack. Those constitute mistakes, though, not malfeasance, and trying to find a political scandal where none exists is really just going to be a waste of time.

There are, as I’ve said repeatedly, legitimate questions that are raised by the events that ought to be answered. As for the Administration’s initial insistence on tying the Benghazi attack to that YouTube video, it’s really quite baffling. It was quite clear at the time that American authorities were still gathering intelligence on the attack, so I don’t see why anyone allowed Susan Rice to do a Full Ginsburg the following Sunday and repeat that line over and over again on national television. It would have made much more sense to just say that we’re investigating the matter and will seek out and find the people responsible. That’s a communications failure no doubt, but as scandals go it just doesn’t seem like very much to me. It certainly doesn’t rise to the level of Watergate, and it also doesn’t come close to Iran/Contra. Conservatives are looking at Benghazi as a partisan tool that they can use to either bring down Barack Obama or poison the well for a potentially Hillary Clinton candidacy in 2016, but the evidence for a scandal just isn’t there. Bad decision making? Perhaps. Bad messaging? Certainly. But those things happen in Washington all the time without much consequences (indeed, Reagan was barely harmed by Iran/Contra). It’s becoming pretty clear to me that they’re going to be pretty disappointed when this doesn’t pan out the way they want it to.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    It’s a tragedy, not a scandal. Hopefully it will force the powers that be to beef up security at diplomatic posts in other sensitive areas, but the fact remains that working at such a place in a foreign country entails no small amount of risk. It’s a dangerous world.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 3

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Like so many conspiracy theories this is much more revealing about the conspiracy nuts than about anything else. They want to believe. They need to believe. Because otherwise they have to live in reality, and in reality the Republican party is crippled and lost, wandering in the woods with tiny little heads stuffed full of stupid.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 5

  3. Tyrell says:

    I have this question. This story shows clear photo of a suspect. Certainly this person could be identified and rounded up . Has this happened yet? If not, why not?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

  4. Mark Ivey says:

    Obama could of saved them with the secret space laser! Or a Stealth Bomber strike! But Noooooooooooooooooooooooo……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  5. Woody says:

    The purpose of BENGHAZI! is to generate new clips for GOP/Fox and try to get the courtier media to push the accusations forward.

    Ron Fournier and POLITICO are pushing like the dickens, but this ain’t a banquet on K Street, it’s a tough slog. Ah, well, they’ve made Drudge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  6. Rafer Janders says:

    Earlier today, commenter TheColourfield posted a list of embassy and consulate attacks during George W. Bush’s presidency (list reproduced below). As he pointed out, if none of these were considered “scandals” (and they weren’t) then why should Benghazi? It’s just one more in a decades-long series of multiple attacks on US diplomatic facilities.

    January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the U.S. Consulate. Five people are killed.

    June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al-Qaida attacks the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.

    October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. U.S. diplomatic offices bombed as part of a string of “Bali Bombings.” No fatalities.

    February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the U.S. Embassy. Two people are killed.

    May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al-Qaida terrorists storm the diplomatic compound killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.

    July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the U.S. Embassy, killing two people.

    December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaida terrorists storm the U.S. Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.

    March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name “David Foy.” This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what’s considered American soil.)

    September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” storm the U.S. Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.

    January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. Members of a Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy. No fatalities.

    March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the U.S. Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits nearby school killing two.

    July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate. Six people are killed.

    September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband (they had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred). This is the second attack on this embassy in seven months.

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  7. Surreal American says:

    @Tyrell:

    Obviously because it’s all part of the Master Conspiracy Plan with its final objective of…something

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  8. Surreal American says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    All embassy/consulate attacks during 2000-2004 occurred under Bill Clinton’s 3rd term. Any acts of terrorism that happened from 2005 onward became Obama’s responsibility to handle.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

  9. Caj says:

    A scandal! Oh give me a break. Mr Investigation Issa and his cronies are stuck on stupid. They are like a dog with a bone, only this bone has no meat and yet these fools keep chewing on it!
    I’m so over Benghazi as I’m sure a lot of the American people are. No matter how many more people they bring in they will NEVER get the answers they want. It’s a pity Democrats didn’t go full steam ahead and investigate the Bush administration over the trumped up war in Iraq because intelligence was ignored over the 9/11 attacks! In 9/11 over three thousand people died and here Republicans are squawking over four in Benghazi. Not that those four lives were not precious as they surely were but what a difference in the number of people who died back then!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  10. The only problem? F-16′s are air superiority fighters, and don’t have any capability to make ground strikes.

    Actually, F-16s are multirole fighters with a variety of ground-strike capabilities, but without forward air controllers, they’re just as likely to bomb a friendly than a hostile, not to mention that a couple 500 lbs bombs dropped in Benghazi probably wouldn’t be met with the approval of the Libyan government.

    In addition, I’m not sure how anyone planned on getting from Sicily to Benghazi and back. An F-16’s combat radius is less than 350 miles, and it’s almost 600 miles from Sicily to Benghazi. If you throw on additional fuel tanks, you lose strike capability. In addition, it would take over an hour just to get from Silicy to Benghazi, plus additional time for a mid-air refueling (assuming you don’t want to the pilot to have to eject even before you get there).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  11. cd6 says:

    I enjoy that Dick Cheney’s corpse arose from whichever undisclosed location its being stored to accuse the Obama Administration for “failing to be prepared for the Sept 11th attack on the embassy.”

    We should all take this criticism very seriously, because Cheney is an expert on being completely unprepared for attacks against America that occur on Sept 11th.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  12. michael reynolds says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Yeah, but you’re just talking facts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  13. Oh, forgot to mention that only in the conservative bizarro world do planes sit in the hangar with bombs on them with a pilot ready to take-off.

    Also, the justified text after the block quote? Annoying!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  14. @Timothy Watson:

    Fair point. You could use an F-16 to make a ground strike, but it would be a highly inaccurate one that would’ve likely taken out the whole neighborhood. Now, if there were A-10’s in area, or better yet some helicopter gunships, we’d be talking a different story.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. @Timothy Watson:

    Thanks for pointing out the text justification thing. Not sure how that slipped in there. Deleted the stray HTML codes and all seems fine now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Latino_in_Boston says:

    If you can’t beat the guy at the ballot box, throw everything you can at him and see if anything sticks. Everyone has an incentive to do it.

    Fox News gets more eyeballs.
    GOP Congressmen can raise more money off of the “scandal” while simultaneously covering the fact that they are incapable of furthering any actual conservative policies.
    Talk Radio can get people riled up until the next big thing that will truly-this-time-we-are-serious lead to an Obama impeachment.
    The Republican base gets to continue with their persecution complex with a side helping of self-righteousness. If only the rest of America was as smart as they are, if they were only as true patriots as they are, Obama would be gone. Hell, that probably even improves their self-confidence because they know the TRUTH that the Lamestream media is hiding.

    And everyone can continue living in their bubble. Reality is just too painful to contemplate. Because, what if they were wrong? and this is not a Marxist usurper? What if this is the future?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  17. @Timothy Watson:

    Oh, forgot to mention that only in the conservative bizarro world do planes sit in the hangar with bombs on them with a pilot ready to take-off.

    These people don’t understand that we aren’t in the Cold War era anymore and that European base alert levels are far lower than they were 30-odd years ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  18. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Agreed, Doug.

    For those who think “We still coulda done SOMETHING… ”

    Well, sadly no. Sometimes a tragedy can’t be helped at that moment.

    (stolen w/o permission from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/09/1208060/-To-Darrell-Issa-Benghazi-is-just-more-theater-but-even-fiction-doesn-t-always-work-on-stage )

    – – – –

    But in Foreign Policy magazine on May 2, Billy Birdwell, formerly a Marine Corps infantry officer, laid out why this was bogus:

    If the Commander of European Command coordinated with his counterpart in Africa Command as soon as the National Command Center informed General Dempsey at 2230 and they diverted a C-17 to Croatia in anticipation, it is still highly unlikely the plane would have been on the ground in Croatia before midnight; it takes an hour to fly to Croatia from Germany and a crew would have had to have gotten ready, briefed, examined contingency plans, and fueled the plane. From Zaton Military Airport in Croatia, it is over 900 miles to Benghazi, which would have taken approximately two hours in a C-17 cargo plane. Zaton is on the coast and it more likely the CIF would have flown out of Udbina Airport, but this is a best case scenario.

    Assuming the Air Force was willing to land a C-17 at the Benghazi airport with an unknown security situation, once on the ground, the 40-man CIF would have then had to have moved to the annex which was 30 km away. Moving such a far distance would have required vehicles. 40 operators can move in 8 HMMWVs, which can fit into one C-17. However, did they have the vehicles with them? Did they have everything on the training mission that they needed to go into combat? If not, it would have taken more time for someone to get everything ready. Maybe the man of mystery is creative and planned on renting cars from Avis (yes, Avis has a location at the Benghazi Airport) and using stealth to get to the consulate in a move akin to the French using taxis to get to the front in order to stop the Kaiser’s hordes back in 1914. Mystery man is really a cook who has never been on a deployment. Strike two. […]

    Even if the CIF was on ready 5 (fully armed, sitting in the aircraft with pilots at the controls) in Sigonella (the closest European base to Benghazi) with advanced warning of an attack but unsure of the time, and they launched at 2232 on only-in-Hollywood orders from someone other than the president, they would not have been able to do anything about Stevens and Smith’s deaths, nor stopped the mortar rounds. Strike three.

    Now… could a tragedy have been prevented?

    Maybe?

    Maybe if conservatives hadn’t cut funding for security… http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/05/05/1964651/lynch-benghazi-budget-cuts/?mobile=nc

    But I guess we won’t talk about that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  19. @Doug Mataconis: Also, who’s saying that there were F-16s in Sicily? From what I can find online, the F-16 squadrons are in northern Italy, at Aviano Air Force Base, and Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily only has support and logistical assets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  20. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    You mean there wasn’t an F-16 ready?? Thanks Obama!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkQxHlr2fXM

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Indeed, yesterday, there were many Congressman yesterday concentrating on the supposed availability of F-16′s at Avigno Air Force Base in Sicily. The only problem? F-16′s are air superiority fighters, and don’t have any capability to make ground strikes. Thus they would have been largely unable to do anything to effect the situation on the ground in Benghazi.

    From the US Air Force:

    The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations.

    USAF F-16 multirole fighters were deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm, where more sorties were flown than with any other aircraft. These fighters were used to attack airfields, military production facilities, Scud missiles sites and a variety of other targets.

    During Operation Allied Force, USAF F-16 multirole fighters flew a variety of missions to include suppression of enemy air defense, offensive counter air, defensive counter air, close air support and forward air controller missions. Mission results were outstanding as these fighters destroyed radar sites, vehicles, tanks, MiGs and buildings.

    The F-16 is a superb ground attack aircraft.

    As for another of your points:

    Now, they say, we have proof that the Obama Administration perpetuated a false narrative about the motivation for the attack, blaming it on demonstrations related to an obscure YouTube video rather than the work of an organized terrorist group as embassy employees on the ground, and the government of Libya, recognized it to be.

    Exactly. Proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Through testimony and documentation. The only correction I would make would be “the Obama Administration deliberately perpetuated a false narrative.”

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 23

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Dude, it was in a city. At very least you’d have needed someone to light up the target with a laser. Was the target stationary? Was it clear of civilians? Given that we were not at war with, and indeed were on the side of, the Libyan government (such as it was) firing missiles randomly into one of their cities might have seemed just a wee bit insane.

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  23. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Proven beyond a reasonable doubt. ”

    To a moron.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  24. legion says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The F-16 is a superb ground attack aircraft.

    Actually, it’s not. I’ve been part of a team running several major multi-service combat exercises. In particular, I’ve run the radio coordination room for the air-ground evaluation team, and I’ve spent numerous hours listening in _exactly_ these kinds of missions. F-16s can _technically_ do the job, but there is no set of circumstances where A-10s can’t do it about 5x better. the problem is that the F-16 is built to be a dogfighter. Even if you put the most advanced air-to-ground weapons available, and have the best observers on the ground directing them, they just can’t fly slow enough or turn tight enough to do the job well. And that’s before you even get to their limited endurance. Finally, all of those drawbacks become vastly more damning in an urban environment than they are in a field/forest battlefield… Against airfields or other large, stationary targets? Sure. Against small, mobile infantry groups in an urban environment in close contact with friendly forces? They literally never would have been allowed to fire a single shot.

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  25. wr says:

    @legion: But…. but… but… Jenos cut and pasted that from a press release touting the plane, so clearly he knows more about it than you do from your silly personal knowledge.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  26. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    Jenos just went limp.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  27. john personna says:

    As for the Administration’s initial insistence on tying the Benghazi attack to that YouTube video, it’s really quite baffling.

    I did not find it so. As I said at the time, I thought the Administration was trying to do education on free speech. Not in the “in your face” way some at OTB suggested, but by quietly explaining that while we disagree with each other, we don’t kill each other over it.

    To some extent “de-coupling” reduced that message, and I’m not sure where the typical (as opposed to extreme) “man in the Mosque” stands right now. I would hope that cartoons on the other side of the world (or videos on YouTube) are not quite the same trigger for rioting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  28. john personna says:

    (At some point the Muslim world will either become inured to YouTube, or they really will wall themselves off behind religiously regulated firewalls.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  29. Lahar says:

    Mike Reynolds,
    Just to correct something you wrote: I spent a month in Benghazi – the American Embassy was not exactly “in a city”. We could have taken any action we wanted with minimal casualties.

    General group.
    I have no idea if an F-16 could have done anything, or if helicopters were available, or if special forces guys could have somehow intervened. Those things, as far as I know, have not been discussed in a public forum and should be. I agree with Kerry, let’s “put this thing to bed”, if that is what it deserves. But it does not deserve partisan politics without these physical details having been discussed. Boehner is absolutely right to request the emails, as they may prove or disprove intent we need to know. Let us let people like Kerry and Boehner dig for data get this off the political landscape, unless of course it deserves to be there. I am sure that the GOP is looking at this as a way to permanently damage Clinton, 4 years before an election. Meanwhile, the Dems are equally aware of that and fighting for the opposite. We poor citizens mostly (with the exception of the more rapid partisans on this site), just want the truth and want to move on. I would rather spend time on our domestic agenda.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

  30. anjin-san says:

    Does Benghazi Rise To The Level Of A “Scandal?”

    No.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  31. MLUdall says:

    @Rafer Janders: @Rafer Janders: You’re a total moron. Nice cut and paste job from Daily Kos. You know the difference between these attacks and Benghazi? 1 American as opposed to 4 in Benghazi, who were Navy Seals and an Ambassador, was killed. All the other numbers are irrelevant since they are not american citizens, military or officials. And the attacks listed were sudden bombings. Not an attack that lasted 7-8 hours where an ambassador was raped before he was killed. And they didn’t have to die. The Clinton State Dept knew the attack would be coming.

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  32. anjin-san says:

    Actually, it’s not.

    My understanding is that the F-16 was developed to be an air superiority fighter. No doubt it can successfully blow things up in an urban setting, but it seems poorly suited to the situation in Benghazi.

    I’m sure in the alternative universe that is wingnuttia, it could have dusted all the bad guys in a single pass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. anjin-san says:

    @ Lahar

    I spent a month in Benghazi – the American Embassy was not exactly “in a city”.

    There is no American Embassy in Benghazi. WFT are you talking about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  34. MLUdall says:

    That you would actually regurgitate the distance too far meme from the mid stream media is an insult to the families of those who were killed. Apparently, you didn’t even watch any of Greg Hick’s testimony where he disclosed that Lt. Col. Gibson had his team ready to go twice. They were in Tripoli, 2 HOURS AWAY and were ordered to stand down and remain in Tripoli to receive wounded who would be coming out of Benghazi. One of the orders came in the middle of the attack the other came toward the end after Hicks team had traveled from Tripoli to Benghazi. The fact that Hicks’ team was able get to Benghazi before the end of the assault strongly suggests that the special operations team could have made a real difference.
    ” There is no way on God’s warming earth that the White House could have possibly “covered up” the fact of al Qaeda involvement had it been established early on and presented as a fact by the intelligence community.”
    God’s Earth is not warming, it’s cooling. That’s a fact jack.
    It wasn’t al qaeda. it was ansar al sharia a group linked to al qaeda based out of north africa. With the help of the media, weak candidates like Romney and bloggers like yourself, Obama WAS able cover it up in time for the election. It was then further covered due to Hurricane Sandy. Then after the election, Newtown.
    You cannot possibly be this naive. If you are this naive to think that there’s no media cover up than I do not know how you possibly could be practicing law.

    “Indeed, yesterday’s hearings didn’t seem to generate much new information either despite all of the insistence from conservatives that it did. Instead, as Mark Ambinder notes, we’ve got a situation where there’s a story without a scandal”

    Wrong. Hearings did produce some new info including the fact that there were TWO stand down orders given. Also new is the revelation that Clinton staff and some in the Obama administration were harassing whistleblowers before meeting with Issa. Most of the hearing simply confirmed old information that was true that all of the media were saying was false. FYI, you may recall after the Boston Bombing many in the liberal media were still running with the “benghazi was a response to a video” meme. Hicks confirmed that was not so and Clinton, Obama, Rice and others all lied when they knew it wasn’t.
    The scandal lies in who gave the stand down orders? Did Obama give the stand down orders since he was the only possibly one with the authority to do so? Why did they blame it on a video? Why was Clinton farming out security of the embassy to an Islamist martyrs group who left the embassy high and dry at the last minute? Where are the survivors and why are they being silenced?
    That’s where the scandals are my friend. this is just beginning. Watergate didn’t just happen over night.
    I’ve enjoyed some of your articles in the past but this is downright shoddy.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 17

  35. Scott O says:

    @MLUdall: The people who told you that the attack lasted 7 hours and that Ambassador Stevens was raped were lying to you.

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  36. steve says:

    Hick’s team was 4 people. You dont send 4 people somewhere unless you are sure they arent getting ambushed and can make a difference.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  37. MLUdall says:

    @Scott O: Yeah okay. Lebanon government reported that. Go back and stick your head up Snopes’ ass. What a jerk. The men who were there said that attack lasted that long. They testified UNDER OATH unlike Hillary.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 17

  38. Surreal American says:

    @MLUdall:

    Lebanon? I guess all those “towel-head” countries are the same to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  39. MLUdall says:

    You’re a punk. Call me whatever you want which is the usual liberal tactic when losing an argument or disagreeing with others and you start hurling out the “phobes” and the “ists” from your piehole, but you’re a disgrace. People were killed and didn’t have to die, Obama and Hillary failed the 3 am test and that’s the bottom line.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 21

  40. MLUdall says:

    To add, if you’re going to go with the meme that is put out there by the lackeys in the Obama administration that “we would’ve never made it there in time” ask yourself this, how the hell does one in the chain of command in Obama’s admin & Dept of State know exactly how long the attack was going to last?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 16

  41. Surreal American says:

    @MLUdall:

    Well Lebanon is a fair distance from Libya, but they both begin with “L”. So by your standards, you must be in the ballpark.

    Kudos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

  42. MLUdall says:

    @Surreal American: Yeah ok go crawl back into your sewer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 14

  43. Rafer Janders says:

    @MLUdall:

    You know the difference between these attacks and Benghazi? 1 American as opposed to 4 in Benghazi, who were Navy Seals and an Ambassador, was killed. All the other numbers are irrelevant since they are not american citizens, military or officials.

    Ah, I see the problem: you’re a moron who can neither read nor count. Here, I’ll cut and paste some of them again, this time with helpful bolding:

    May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al-Qaida terrorists storm the diplomatic compound killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.

    March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name “David Foy.” This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what’s considered American soil.)

    September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband (they had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  44. MLUdall says:

    @Rafer Janders: I did that on purpose because I’ve read that reports of 9 Americans killed were uncertain. I knew your snotty nonsense was coming. In fact, it was never really clear how many died at the time.
    Were those that you cited countries where the government was not toppled ie Libya Quaddaffi? You’re really going to tell me with a straight face that Karachi consulate is considered “American soil?”
    again, those were sudden bombings with no warning what so ever. that’s the point you’re missing. I do not like Bush and I am no defender of his administration, but there was no opportunity for them to send in squads or give 2 stand down orders the way the Obamaians did.
    For a person who probably looks up to a woman who claimed “what difference does it make” it seems these old attacks, which were sudden, you’ve got no problem finding picayunes about them to try and “make a difference”
    Let’s face it, you people are hacks. You’re looking the other way due to your liberal doxies because Obama and Clinton have (D)s next to their names instead of (R)s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

  45. al-Ameda says:

    The question is not whether Benghazi rises to the level of a scandal (it does not), rather it’s “does the Republican House want to go ahead and impeach Obama anyway?” They have the votes and can do so if they want to. They’re malevolent sociopaths so I say that there is currently a 20% chance that they’ll do so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  46. MLUdall says:

    @al-Ameda: It isn’t a scandal yet boy. It will be. If more crap starts coming out about the who, the where, the why and more people step up, Congress won’t need to impeach him. Remember, the big eared dolt brought this on himself. If he wouldve came out at the jump and not blamed it on a video and sought to heal the country and not wake up the next day to go to a fundraiser, maybe this would’ve blown over. But its not going to. It’s just the beginning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 16

  47. David M says:

    @MLUdall:

    Wikipedia could probably help you with your basic lack of understanding of the Benghazi attack.

    Stevens and Smith died in the initial assault, so it’s unclear how a support team could have helped them. The other deaths were from a mortar attack after the support team had arrived, so it’s also unclear how a larger support team would have made a difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  48. al-Ameda says:

    @MLUdall:

    Remember, the big eared dolt brought this on himself.

    Stay classy, boy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  49. Ben Wolf says:

    @MLUdall:

    @Rafer Janders: I did that on purpose because I’ve read that reports of 9 Americans killed were uncertain.

    I suspect “I did that on purpose”, is an excuse this woman has used quite often in her life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  50. slimslowslider says:

    @MLUdall:

    damn, you are really getting schooled, dude.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  51. @Surreal American: But he read it on the internet, so it must be true! And there’s a city named “Tripoli” in Lebanon, just like Libya, so they must be close to one another or even the same place!1!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  52. Rafer Janders says:

    @MLUdall:

    I did that on purpose because I’ve read that reports of 9 Americans killed were uncertain.

    Seriously? You read?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  53. Rafer Janders says:

    @MLUdall:

    For a person who probably looks up to a woman who claimed “what difference does it make” it seems these old attacks, which were sudden, you’ve got no problem finding picayunes about them to try and “make a difference”

    Did anyone order the word salad?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  54. @Rafer Janders: Can’t use the Googles at least.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  55. wr says:

    @MLUdall: “If he wouldve came out at the jump and not blamed it on a video and sought to heal the country ”

    “Heal the country.” Yes, because all of America was one big bleeding wound because four people got killed in Libya.

    “Heal the country.” Because in a time of insane unemployment, rocketing inequality and pointless foreign wars in which thousands of Americans were killed for no reason at all, what really was hurting the American people was the death of a diplomat and three others at a consulate.

    “Heal the country.” And this is exactly how stupid you have to make yourself in order to turn this into an impeachable offense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  56. mannning says:

    It is most certainly a scandal when the President of the United States deliberately lies to the American people about the motives behind the Benghazi attack and the deaths of four Americans a week after the event, as I recall, on September 19th. The real facts were known quite convincingly well before he stepped up to the podium and tried to tie the attack to that Youtube film. In fact, it had been reported to be a jihadist attack on September 12th by the senior diplomat on site, and by numerous others in the intervening period. Perhaps there are those who excuse lying to the public by the President, but I am not one of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 15

  57. Septimius says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    There are, as I’ve said repeatedly, legitimate questions that are raised by the events that ought to be answered. As for the Administration’s initial insistence on tying the Benghazi attack to that YouTube video, it’s really quite baffling. It was quite clear at the time that American authorities were still gathering intelligence on the attack, so I don’t see why anyone allowed Susan Rice to do a Full Ginsburg the following Sunday and repeat that line over and over again on national television. It would have made much more sense to just say that we’re investigating the matter and will seek out and find the people responsible. That’s a communications failure no doubt, but as scandals go it just doesn’t seem like very much to me.

    This ignorance is either willful or the product of your tendency to only get your information from one side of the political spectrum.

    1. Within 24 hours of the attack, U.S. intelligence agencies had determined that it was terrorism and knew that Ansar al-Sharia was involved. That assessment has never changed, nor was there ever any contradictory evidence indicating that it wasn’t a coordinated terrorist attack. This after-the-fact claim that the Administration’s initial insistence on a spontaneous demonstration that got out of hand being the best information they had at the time is nonsense. The best information they had at the time was that it was a terrorist attack. They chose to ignore the best information they had in favor of a false narrative for which they had no evidence to support it.

    2. The initial CIA talking points released internally on Sept. 14 described it as a terrorist attack and mentioned the involvement of Ansar al-Sharia. They also reference CIA warnings of possible terrorist attacks in Benghazi prior to Sept. 11. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland didn’t like the talking points because they “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …” The references to prior CIA warnings regarding Benghazi were then removed; however, Nuland was not satisfied. She wrote, “These changes don’t resolve all of my issues or those of my buildings leadership.” Then, on Sept. 15, a Deputies Committee meeting was held at the White House. Following that meeting, all references to terrorism, Ansar al-Sharia, and prior CIA warnings were removed from the talking points. Aside from some vague concern about “prejudicing” the FBI investigation, no one has offered any plausible reason for why the talking points were scrubbed other than to avoid political embarrasment.

    3. The full Ginsberg does not happen by accident. The full Ginsberg ensures that your message will reach the widest possible audience. This was an effort to flood the news cycle with a narrative that was already known to be incomplete and false for the express purpose of avoiding an uncomfortable political situation.

    Is this a criminal scandal like Watergate or Iran-Contra? No. Is this a case of simple incompetence? No. It’s a political scandal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  58. Surreal American says:

    @mannning:

    Perhaps there are those who excuse lying to the public by the President, but I am not one of them.

    No, you save your excuses for a GOP President.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  59. MLUdall says:

    @David M: Yeah, wikipedia…where the left most likes to cut and paste. Again idiot, how did they know how long the attack was going to last & why did they stand down a team ready to go twice that could’ve been there in 2 hrs. Shameful you are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  60. MLUdall says:

    @wr: You’re right, Obama doesn’t know how to heal the nation. He only knows how to divide it. Asshole, blaming it on a video could’ve made the situation there worse. Yeah I wish he would concentrate on unemployment instead of every left wing pet issue that he chooses to focus on one after the other.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  61. David M says:

    @MLUdall:

    What? At least try and make a coherent point, and whining about wikipedia bias is just sad and pathetic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  62. Rafer Janders says:

    @MLUdall:

    Are you drunk? I hope you are, because if you’re not, you might be in the middle of a stroke. Seek help immediately.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  63. Chris M says:

    Is it also possible that one of the reasons you would be told to stand down is that people above you understand the situation is not recoverable and adding more people to the equation is not going to help anything? If a burning building is collapsing do you just need to send more firemen in or are you just sending more firemen to their deaths?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  64. Lahar says:

    @anjin-san: Anjin-san, do you know the difference between an embassy, consulate, and diplomatic mission, and does it matter when you are in a foreign country and need some help or advice? In my case, the embassy (almost always in the capital of a country) usually matters only in name unless you need to see the ambassador. I avoid ambassadors unless they work out at the same gym as me. I am sorry if you get hung up on semantics. The name of the facility was not the point of my note.

    When I first started going to Libya in 1999 our government did not have any facility. Our representative was a lady who hung out at the Belgium embassy in Tripoli. The diplomatic mission to Benghazi later became a “consulate” in Benghazi and an embassy in Tripoli. I don’t really care. It was simply where I went when I needed something. Does this difference really matter? Not in Libya, unless you needed to see the Ambassador (and I never wanted to).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  65. mannning says:

    @Surreal American:

    A lie to the public is a lie, no matter which party the President is from, it is just as damning.
    It happens that the current President lied to the public, with all deliberation, and for that he should be castigated.

    Deflections of your sort have no place in serious debates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  66. Surreal American says:

    @mannning:

    A lie to the public is a lie, no matter which party the President is from, it is just as damning.

    You’re trying to convince me that you’re an impartial observer about the whole matter.

    Try harder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  67. Steve V says:

    This situation reminds me of the Pat Tillman situation. How did conservatives respond to that? Did Bush consider retiring? Did House Democrats consider impeaching him? I don’t remember what the fallout was from that. Does anybody remember?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  68. Surreal American says:

    @mannning:

    Don’t bother replying. You and the rest of the so-called conservatives have always. always. ALWAYS viewed the truth as situational at best. So you can take your precious offended feelings and shove it up your a$$!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  69. jukeboxgrad says:

    mannning:

    the current President lied to the public

    Only if you also think Nordstrom is a liar. Link.

    And only if you also think this is a lie (link):

    Fighters involved in the assault, which was spearheaded by an Islamist brigade formed during last year’s uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, said in interviews during the battle that they were moved to attack the mission by anger over a 14-minute, American-made video

    And only if you also think this is a lie (link, pdf):

    We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo

    Sorry to confuse you with the facts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  70. mannning says:

    @Surreal American:

    Regarding lies, yes, I am impartial as to which party or President stated one: all lies are bad. You, however, have a poorly disguised and virulent bias, as well as the usual leftist tactic of trying to obfuscate, or as I said earlier, deflect readers from the inherent truth in my original post, which is that Obama lied (yet again!). You seem to believe that you were appointed guardian of the Obama Lies Coverup Team, but in fact you are simply another miserable and frustrated little liberal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  71. mannning says:

    JUKE: Sorry, but it was not the truths buried in various drafts that count, only what was publically announced over the media by the President on September 19th, fully a week plus after the attack: attempting to tie the Benghazi attack to the Youtube show. As was stated by Hicks, the Youtube event was a non-existent factor in Libya.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  72. jukeboxgrad says:

    As was stated by Hicks

    I know what Hicks said. He’s entitled to his opinion, but he was contradicted by Nordstrom (link), and by the CIA memo (link), and by the first reporting from the scene (link):

    Fighters involved in the assault, which was spearheaded by an Islamist brigade formed during last year’s uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, said in interviews during the battle that they were moved to attack the mission by anger over a 14-minute, American-made video

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  73. David M says:

    @mannning:

    Why do you expect the public statements about a CIA operation to be completely clear the first time?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  74. jukeboxgrad says:

    The first time, or ever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  75. Surreal American says:

    @mannning:

    Regarding lies, yes, I am impartial as to which party or President stated one: all lies are bad.

    Maybe true today. Was it true yesterday? Will it be true tomorrow? Who can tell with so-called conservatives.

    You seem to believe that you were appointed guardian of the Obama Lies Coverup Team, but in fact you are simply another miserable and frustrated little liberal.

    You could offer proof of your assertion, but we both know (actually only one of us knows) that proof is an alien concept to the wingnut mindset.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  76. Surreal American says:

    @mannning:

    As for the truth of the Benghazi affair, let facts decide the matter. However if you believe that Issa is a disciple of truth, well then good luck with the whole figuring out reality thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  77. mannning says:

    @Surreal American:

    CNN

    September 20 — President Obama at a town hall meeting organized by the Spanish-language Univision Network, responding to a question about the possible involvement of al Qaeda
    “What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”

    The cover is still being promoted in an Obama speech some 9 days after the attack, which is well after the truth was known. He knew that AQ had been identified way early.

    He is no longer credible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0