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Is ‘Benghazigate’ Hurting Obama?

Questions about why the Obama administration pretended the attacks on our Embassy in Libya were a spontaneous reaction to a video rather than a coordinated terrorist attack are gaining steam.

At the extreme end, we have PJ Media’s Roger L. Simon absurdly declaring “Benghazi Worse Than Watergate.”

For over forty years now, the Watergate scandal — the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters and the subsequent cover-up by the Nixon administration — has been the sine qua non of American political malfeasance. It has been followed by myriad other “gates” affecting both parties but has never been superseded.

Until now.

Benghazi or Benghazigate, as some call it, is worse. Far worse. Incomparably worse.

Watergate caught numerous public officials lying, including the president of the United States, but Benghazigate has all that and more.

It involves the terrorist murder (not an electorally irrelevant burglary) of government officials, their reckless endangerment, the undermining of the Bill of Rights and free speech by our own administration in response to Islamist threats, and, ultimately, the complicity of that same administration, consciously or unconsciously, in the downfall of Western civilization.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media function as their more-than-willing accomplices in this downfall, in essence as Obama’s court eunuchs.

Simon’s thesis is that the cover-up stems from the administration’s refusal to “name our enemy.”

Oddly, Obama’s court eunuchs are apparently regenerating a pair. At, of all places, The New York Times, which features a news report (not an editorial) from Mark Landler titled “Shifting Reports on Libya Killings May Cost Obama.”

The Obama administration’s shifting accounts of the fatal attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, have left President Obama suddenly exposed on national security and foreign policy, a field where he had enjoyed a seemingly unassailable advantage over Mitt Romney in the presidential race.

After first describing the attack as a spontaneous demonstration run amok, administration officials now describe it as a terrorist act with possible involvement by Al Qaeda. The changing accounts prompted the spokesman for the nation’s top intelligence official, James R. Clapper Jr., to issue a statement on Friday acknowledging that American intelligence agencies “revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.”

The unusual statement was not solicited by the White House, according to Shawn Turner, the spokesman for Mr. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, but it seemed calculated to relieve some of the pressure on the White House for the contradictory accounts given in the two and a half weeks since the attack. It is unlikely to stop questions from the Romney campaign, which senses an opportunity.

“This incident is a hinge event in the campaign because it opens up the opportunity to talk more broadly about Obama’s foreign policy,” said Richard S. Williamson, a former diplomat and an adviser to Mr. Romney.

But the questions are likely to come not just from partisan Republicans. The Benghazi attack calls into question the accuracy of intelligence-gathering and whether vulnerable American personnel overseas are receiving adequate protection. Even allies of the president like Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have petitioned the White House for more information about how the government protects diplomatic installations abroad.

Almost since the smoke cleared in Benghazi, Republicans have accused Mr. Obama’s aides of deliberately playing down the attack. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, condemned the administration’s initial account of the attack as “disgraceful,” saying on CBS that it “shows a fundamental misunderstanding not only of warfare, but of what’s going on in that part of the world.”

While I wouldn’t go anywhere near that far, I’m puzzled by the administration’s seizing so heavily on the “spontaneous response” meme, seeking to blame the attacks on Americans exercising their right of free expression, and continuing to do so even though they knew it was a terrorist attack within 24 hours. One possible explanation:

Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University professor who worked on Mr. Bush’s national security staff, said there was no evidence that the administration was untruthful in its early accounts. But he said it was possible that the White House chose to emphasize certain elements, like the popular outrage in the Arab world against a video mocking the Prophet Muhammad, over other elements, like a possible link between the assailants and Al Qaeda. Such a narrative, he said, would have done less to draw attention away from the uproar over Mr. Romney’s response.

Additionally, I think the administration quite understandably wanted to quell the outrage in the Muslim world over the video and make clear that the anti-Muslim sentiments in it weren’t representative of either US Government policy or mainstream American sentiment. But in doing so it failed at the more important task of helping Americans understand that the outrageous murder of their emissary to Libya was carried out by extremists, not ordinary Libyans. And that, just as kooks making hateful videos shouldn’t be how Muslims see America, neither should anti-American violence be seen as representative of how we’re seen over there.

As to Landler’s suggestion that this may all “cost Obama,” however, I’m deeply skeptical. There’s actually much to criticize here and in his foreign policy in that part of the world in general. But, to the limited extent that Americans decide whom to vote for as president on foreign policy issues, I don’t see how Obama is seriously hurt here. Especially since Mitt Romney didn’t exactly distinguish himself with his early reaction to the same crisis.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Nikki says:

    While I wouldn’t go anywhere near that far, I’m puzzled by the administration’s seizing so heavily on the “spontaneous response” meme, seeking to blame the attacks on Americans exercising their right of free expression, and continuing to do so even though they knew it was a terrorist attack within 24 hours.

    Since the rest of the Muslim world was, at the time, reacting to the insulting film, I think the administration’s initial reaction can be cut a little slack. Sorry, James, but so far, I have yet to see any plausible explanation as to why Americans should care that the Obama administration initially mis-characterized the Benghazi attack. It really is not that important.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 7

  2. Tony W says:

    Obama will be fine, the alternative is Romney

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 7

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Nikki: I have no problem whatsoever with the initial characterization. It was the most plausible. The problem is that, within 24 hours, the evidence was pointing strongly in another direction yet the administration, most notably in the form of Susan Rice, kept banging the “spontaneous response to a YouTube video” drum.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Zombieland wouldn’t know Libya from a woman’s labia. Obviously the likes of NBC, ABC and CBS won’t go into 24/7 high dudgeon mode over it; ergo Zombieland will remain insouciant. Nobody outside of hard core political junkies reads PJ Media. When the NYT of all sources has to be somewhat of a reality check for the media at large the foxes indeed are guarding the hen houses. Perhaps the better analogy is that of weasels guarding voles and voles guiding lemmings. So, no, this fiasco won’t hurt Obama. It’s all part and parcel of the big slide.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

  5. superdestroyer says:

    Since Americans do not really care about things to happen outside of the U.S. and since this election is about entitlements, who pays, and who receives, Obama cannot be hurt by anything that involves foreign relations.

    Maybe in the wonks and wannabes would realize that as the U.S. becomes a one-party-state and that when more than 50% of the voters are automatic Democratic Party voters, that there are a host of issues that just do not matter anymore. Look at how little education, crime, transportation, energy production, for even the future is being discussed in this already over election. The only thing that is being discussed are more entitlements and who pays. Maybe the wonks and wannabes should just admit that David Axelrod is much smarter than they are and has produced the perfect storm for the Democrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  6. Stan says:

    @superdestroyer: Madison Grant again returns from the dead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. jukeboxgrad says:

    Mitt, yesterday:

    There are a wide array of reports about warnings, and were they heeded?

    NYT, 9/10/12:

    On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden … the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it. The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. … the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real. … On July 24, Mr. Bush was notified that the attack was still being readied …

    Mitt’s statement just reminds people about much more important “warnings” that were not “heeded.” Yes, GWB is not running, but Mitt has surrounded himself with the same foreign policy crowd. Mitt’s statement reminds us that we were attacked on Bush’s watch, and had no comparable attack on Obama’s watch. And of course Obama got OBL after Bush failed to do so. The current drama is in the shadow of all that, and is of much less importance than all that.

    And now Mitt is just repeating his earlier blunder, because it’s apparent that he is, again, cheaply politicizing a tragedy.

    There’s another reason why this story has no traction: because Obama had no obvious and major political reason to choose one narrative over the other. Even if there were mistakes or bad judgments no one cares too much because they were not consequential and they were not driven by some craven political calculation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  8. Jc says:

    US intelligence is overrated. I think the public in general thinks that our government knows more than they would lead us to believe, when it is likely that the government has no clue, so they go with their best estimate based on what little they do know.

    Come on, WMD anyone?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. jukeboxgrad says:

    Come on, WMD anyone?

    It might be the case that intelligence is overrated, but that wasn’t a case of the intel being wrong. It was mostly a case of politicians lying about the intel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  10. Fiona says:

    I’m still not sure what the advantage to sticking with the original story was, or for sending Susan Rice out to hang herself. It seems they could have acknowledged that the attacks weren’t spontaneous and bought some time by saying the incident was still under investigation. It disturbs me, but given the alternative is Romney, well, the disturbance isn’t enough to change my vote.

    I doubt it will be enough to cost Obama the election. Elections are rarely won or lost on foreign policy issues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  11. Jc says:

    Maybe their intel from the region in the recent past had been false and they were being cautious? If we had decent intel on the area and the goings on in that area, and we are so up to speed on things why was the ambassador there? So a week later the truth comes out, one week…yeah, it was a huge dropped ball and it looks bad, but I don’t think it is going to significantly sway voters. Again, back to the WMDs, truth didn’t come out until like 6 months after “mission accomplished” and W still got reelected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    As to Landler’s suggestion that this may all “cost Obama,” however, I’m deeply skeptical. There’s actually much to criticize here and in his foreign policy in that part of the world in general. But, to the limited extent that Americans decide whom to vote for as president on foreign policy issues, I don’t see how Obama is seriously hurt here.

    Then you should probably change the headline on this post from the more inflammatory “Is ‘Benghazigate’ Hurting Obama?”, with its phony Cavuto-mark, to “Benghazi Is Not Hurting Obama”, since the latter more accurately restates your position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  13. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: The headline is in the form of a question because there’s an emerging meme, including a New York Times story suggesting that the episode will in fact hurt the president. My thesis is that the administration dropped the ball on this but there’s not much reason to think it’ll matter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    It involves the terrorist murder (not an electorally irrelevant burglary) of government officials,

    Conservatives get that the thing that what distinguishes Watergate was that it was burglary BY government officials, right? That it wasn’t so much that McGovern campaign HQ was burgled, it was that it was burgled by the Nixon administration?

    and, ultimately, the complicity of that same administration, consciously or unconsciously, in the downfall of Western civilization.

    Oh, well that does sound worrisome. At least Nixon never did THAT.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    The headline is in the form of a question because there’s an emerging meme, including a New York Times story suggesting that the episode will in fact hurt the president.

    Respectfully, two points: (a) that’s not what the word “meme” means, and (b) that still doesn’t answer why your headline is in the form of a question, even though you think there is no question.

    The use of a question mark in a title is well known to lead readers to conclude, subconsciously, that the answer is “yes”. It’s a trick that experienced writers and journalists use all the time when they want to implant a suggestion in their audience and yet are not confident enough in their story to really stand behind it in the main body of the article (and it also works because many readers skim headlines and never read down to the last few paragraphs of conclusion).

    Let’s use this example to illustrate: recently, some of the more insane conservatives (but I repeat myself) have invented an incredibly slanderous story claiming that the President’s mother was essentially a prostitute, and this story is spreading through their fever swamps. Which of these two headlines would be better on a post about this:

    “Obama’s Mother Was Not a Prostitute, Despite Claims by Conservatives”, or

    “Was Obama’s Mother a Prostitute?”?

    Like it or not, many casual readers, if they see the second headline, are going to come away feeling that the answer was yes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  16. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    The headline is in the form of a question because there’s an emerging meme, including a New York Times story suggesting that the episode will in fact hurt the president.

    Getting back to this, it’s kind of a hacky trick — far too many hack writers have excused sloppy headlines with the claim that they were “just addressing the controversy” when they know that it’s a fake, ginned up controversy, or one that they know will die out within a few news cycles.

    But, I suppose, accuracy must die on the altar of eyeballs….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  17. john personna says:

    I think this “controversy” taints anyone who tries to make the mole hill into a mountain. There’s no there, there. All it is, all anyone has, is malicious conjecture.

    Anything we know may have a reasonable explanation, including human error, in both the command and response chain.

    We should understand that and forgive the low level people doing the best they can in bad situations.

    Any other time we’d all be patient and let this unroll as time allowed. Any other time we wouldn’t worry that the first public, assessment was not complete nor perfect. We wouldn’t worry that it was “spin” when it explicitly said “what we now know.” And certainly we’d understand, any of us who have worked in large organizations, that it takes much more than 24 hours for a large organization to get on the same page and “know” the same thing.

    This is an absurd snipe during an election cycle. This is the desperate hope that a mountain will be found to defeat Obama. It would be pathetic if it were not already so offensive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  18. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: A meme is an idea, thought, phrase, or the like that spreads through the culture. The idea that there’s some cover-up going here is indeed a meme, having spread from the fever swamps to the pages of the New York Times.

    The purpose of headlines is to describe the story and attract reader attention to it. Is the NYT trying to sabotage the Obama campaign with the headline “Shifting Reports on Libya Killings May Cost Obama”? Of course not. They’re reporting an ongoing controversy, not making a judgment on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  19. Rafer Janders says:

    Here’s a thought: consider that many of the same conservatives who are now criticizing the Administration for not coming out with the real story about the terrorist attack on the Benghazi compound are the very same conservatives who, a short while ago, were claiming that the President should have kept silent about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound until several weeks had gone by. In the one case, “why weren’t we told immediately!”, in the other “why were we told immediately!”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  20. michael reynolds says:

    What john personna said.

    Nothing better reveals the state of the Romney campaign than the fact they think this is something.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    A meme is an idea, thought, phrase, or the like that spreads through the culture.

    Correct, though limited.

    The idea that there’s some cover-up going here is indeed a meme, having spread from the fever swamps to the pages of the New York Times.

    No, it’s a just a story. A story can be, but is not most of the time synonymous with, a meme, otherwise every story that got picked up and reported in multiple outlets would be a meme, and it’s not. A meme is a self-replicating mechanism that propagates through behavior that it induces in its host. Getting rick-rolled, honey badgers, LOL-cats and Gangam style are memes, “Resistance Grows to Obamacare Mandates” isn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  22. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    The purpose of headlines is to describe the story and attract reader attention to it.

    The purpose is — or should be — to accurately describe the story. The story, as you have it, is that Benghazi is not hurting Obama. But your headline implies that it is hurting. Your post and your headline are in conflict.

    Is the NYT trying to sabotage the Obama campaign with the headline “Shifting Reports on Libya Killings May Cost Obama”? Of course not. They’re reporting an ongoing controversy, not making a judgment on it.

    Who says they’re trying to sabotage the Obama campaign? That’s a straw man. What they are trying to do, though, is draw eyeballs through hackery, and I object to their use of it just as much as I object to yours.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  23. bk says:

    Obama’s court eunuchs are apparently regenerating a pair

    To me, this quote spoiled what was otherwise an excellent post. Do you seriously still cling to the belief that the media is in the tank for Obama?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  24. john personna says:

    Reminds me of the time “Fast and Furious goes all the way to the Whitehouse!!!”

    How many meme cycles were wasted on that one …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  25. bandit says:

    Y – the NYT is the Romney campaign. Like Obama said 4 murdered Americans, dragged thru the streets and defiled is ‘a bump in the road’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @john personna:

    I think this “controversy” taints anyone who tries to make the mole hill into a mountain. There’s no there, there. All it is, all anyone has, is malicious conjecture.

    Agreed. Does anyone doubt that if this had happened, say, six months ago, or six months from now, that it would be a one to two day story? It’s being ginned up solely by Romney’s desperate flailing. Any other time the story would die unread on the inside foreign policy pages.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  27. James Joyner says:

    @bk: I think the major media, including the NYT, tend to have a bicoastal elite bias. In that, I agree with their last two public editors. In this instance, though, I’m making fun of Roger Simon’s quote immediately above.

    @Rafer Janders: Fair enough. The existence of memeorandum has likely diluted the concept, since this sort of stuff is regularly on the site.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  28. john personna says:

    @bandit:

    Dude. They were taking the Amb. to the hospital. Not equal to “dragged thru the streets.”

    Tell me, did you get that one from one of the right wing meme machines?

    Very shortly after Mr. Stevens was seen carried out of the window, he arrived at Benghazi’s main hospital, brought by a group of Libyan civilians, according to Ziad Abu Zeid, a doctor there. In a separate interview he said that the civilians did not seem to know that the American they were helping was the ambassador, a well-known and popular figure locally but now covered in dark soot.

    link

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  29. Herb says:

    @James Joyner:

    “My thesis is that the administration dropped the ball on this but there’s not much reason to think it’ll matter. “

    I’m not so certain any ball was dropped. I certainly don’t expect public statements from intelligence agencies to be all that accurate, especially in real time. But then again, that may just be because I’ve been on a John LeCarre kick these last few weeks.

    I do think that those who think this will “hurt the president” should re-examine their motives. If they’re hoping to bolster Mitt Romney’s electoral chances….well, Mitt Romney should be able to do that himself with the merits of his candidacy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  30. john personna says:

    Scanning memeorandum, I notice that this is the top story of the moment, including:

    Rep. Peter King called for the resignation Friday of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice for initially saying that the deadly Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was spontaneous.

    What an ass.

    But what’s really interesting is that there is no authentic Romney initiated nor Romney positive news on the front page. The only real Romney story is:

    Ann Romney: If elected, “mental well-being” Mitt’s biggest challenge

    I haven’t read that one. Too trashy for me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  31. Rafer Janders says:

    @bk:

    I think James was mocking Simon’s language, not adopting it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. Carson says:

    If Egypt is not an ally, why are we going to send them more money?
    What is the status of the Libya investigation? Why has no one been arrested (if they have, I have not heard about it)? Why are our FBI people not being allowed to fully investigate?
    Why so many story changes, subterfuge, answer dodging, and coverups?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  33. bill says:

    it’s all about voting for more money for ourselves- nothing else matters. keep fluffing the economy with fake money and wait for the bubble to burst……….again. then feign surprise and do it all over again.
    but seriously, anyone with a clue could add “9/11” and “muslim attack on an embassy” together- just not our leadership. sure, play up the lame film clip…..really. the world media laughs at us, and they should.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  34. john personna says:

    @Carson:

    The best definition of an ally is someone who will go to war with you. Egypt is not that kind of friend.

    That said, they are a player, and our money does buy something. In the middle ground between ally and enemy some useful deals can be done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @Carson:

    Okay, I’ll bite: why?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  36. miguel cervantes says:

    All good questions, Landler obvious doesn’t know word one, about this matter, and wouldn’t understand the players, if they were described to them;

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/28/intercepts-show-attackers-on-u-s-consulate-in-benghazi-bragged-to-al-qaeda.html

    The administration strategy also has the affect of undercutting the Gibril/Magarief administration, in their rivalry with Bel Hadj’s Al Watan faction, who lost the first round of elections,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. miguel cervantes says:
  38. miguel cervantes says:

    By the way, the Kandil/Morsy administration has shown it’s civility, by releasing the likes of Mustafa Hamza, the mastermind of the Luxor Massacre, I guess he’ll be the next Tourism minister

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. steve says:

    Here is what Rice actually said. It looks to me as though she has it well qualified, claiming that what she said was based upon current information. A statement coming out an hour or two from Libyan authorities blaming it on foreign elements (“hey, it wasnt us”) had not yet been investigated.

    ““Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo,” Rice told me this morning on “This Week.” …

    “We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to – or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo,” Rice said. “And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons… And it then evolved from there.”

    So what the right wants to argue about is how this was announced, which strikes me as only moderately important. What we should be covering is whether the consulate was adequately prepared based on the level of perceived threat and intel we had.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  40. Gustopher says:

    Am I the only one who sees the “-gate” suffix, and thinks that it means “pointless partisan idiocy du jour”? Watergate was major, but since then the suffix has been applied to countless stupid things. Travelgate leaps to mind, but I’m sure that there were frivolous uses against Bush.

    It’s getting to the point where I would dismiss Genocidegate as just another fake story.

    And yes, I assume the Obama administration was deliberately lying to the American people in the first 3 days after the ambassador was killed, but there are lots of reasonable reasons to do so (disinformation to foreign parties, primarily). It’s not like they can wink when they speak and only we would know that this was a cover story.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  41. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    At the extreme end, we have PJ Media’s Roger L. Simon absurdly declaring “Benghazi Worse Than Watergate.”

    Let’s look at that more closely.

    Watergate: no one killed, no one injured, Richard Nixon wins an election he was already winning.

    Benghazi: Four Americans killed. Two ex-military (and probably intelligence officers), and an ambassador. That would make him the highest-ranking American killed since… man, I dunno. CIA Station Chief William Buckley in Lebanon in 1985? Representative Lawrence McDonald aboard KAL 007 in 1983? Representative Leo Ryan, killed in Jonestown in 1978?

    And let’s not forget Fast & Furious, which is NOT a closed case despite the Justice Department’s whitewashing, which has a body count in the hundreds so far.

    So, why is the Watergate comparison so absurd?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  42. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Oh, and now Ambassador Susan Rice has resigned. I’m assuming it’s to “spend more time with her family” and “pursue other opportunities.”

    I’m certain it has nothing to do with this “nontroversy.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  43. jukeboxgrad says:

    why is the Watergate comparison so absurd?

    Hint: it might have something to do with whether or not a POTUS and his staff deliberately committed crimes for a purely political purpose.

    Rice has resigned

    Citation needed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  44. miguel cervantes says:

    No, there was no protest, the attack was coordinated, and it was not out the question, regarding the date, No she won”t resign, in fact DNI head Clapper has thrown himself under the bus, Ushering the whole CIA contingent out of country,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Rice has resigned

    Citation needed.

    News flash on TV, apparently not confirmed anywhere else as of this moment.

    I’m tentatively retracting that — I very well might have misheard it. But the followup remarks were all past-tense references to Rice, so I’m uncertain.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  46. john personna says:

    Thanks to steve for quoting these words:

    Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present

    The simple test here is who can read those words and then say “she lied, she promised” etc?

    Only a madman. That some elements of the right throw themselves on those words prove that they put the “crazy” in “crazy party.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  47. Rafer Janders says:

    I tell you what, though, this isn’t the way George W. Bush would have handled things. If he’d been president when terrorists attacked a US ambassador in Libya, Bush would have responded quickly and decisively by bombing another country completely unrelated to the terrorist attacks.

    Yes, it would have made no sense. But it would have been bold.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  48. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    I very well might have misheard it.

    I’m pretty sure that what you heard is some version of this: “King calls for Rice resignation.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  49. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You know, with your bungling and comical inability to confirm simple facts, my suspicion that you’re actually a senior Romney advisor has just been confirmed…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  50. john personna says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    You joke, but John Bolton, Romney adviser:

    The US is viewed under Obama as weak, as Sen. McCain said, as declining in influence dramatically in the Middle East, pulling out of Iraq, intending to pull out of Aghanistan, having a limp wristed reaction to the assassination of four American diplomats.

    I hope every libertarian counting the negatives against Obama understands the alternative.

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  51. Bob says:

    And here I thought that, as long as Mataconis had posting privileges, Joyner was protected from having the stupidest post on the front page. I stand corrected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  52. anjin-san says:

    CIA Station Chief William Buckley in Lebanon in 1985? Representative Lawrence McDonald aboard KAL 007 in 1983?

    Good of you to point out that similar tragedies took place during the Reagan administration. Most low information votes are not aware that embassy/consulate attacks took place at the rate of nearly one a year during the Reagan and Bush 43 administrations. I guess you are an exception. No doubt you were calling for Reagan’s scalp in ’83 & ’85.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  53. anjin-san says:

    Oh, and now Ambassador Susan Rice has resigned.

    As the old saying goes, here we have an idiot studying to be a moron. Sadly, the project is not going well…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  54. miguel cervantes says:

    So, KAL 007 was a deliberate attack on a civilian air liner, Reagan didn’t pretend the plane had ‘mechanical difficulties over Kamchatka, there wasn’t a precedent of attacks on that date,

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  55. anjin-san says:

    Reagan didn’t pretend the plane had ‘mechanical difficulties over Kamchatka,

    Yea, Reagan always played it straight – just look at Iran/Contra. Oh, wait…

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  56. Dazedandconfused says:

    Appears to me to be a case of “If the administration had an analysis in their hands which later proved to have been accurate, the fact they did not immediately broadcast it is evidence of a cover-up!”

    Juvenile. This one lacks a readily grasp-able motive as well.

    I suspect the “media” is a bit worried about being flooded with Romney prat-falls for weeks, and were looking for something to “balance” their content.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  57. Rafer Janders says:

    @Dazedandconfused:

    Juvenile. This one lacks a readily grasp-able motive as well.

    That’s what I don’t get. What’s the motive? To my mind, the story that “we let an ambassador get killed by a mob that got out of hand” is as or even more damaging than the story that “we let the ambassador get killed by a carefully planned terrorist attack.”

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  58. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    So I did mishear the story about Rice resigning. My apologies and regrets.

    As far as my earlier examples, I cited specific cases where high-ranking US officials were deliberately killed (if not specifically targeted) by forces clearly against us. The assassination of Ambassador Stevens definitely falls into that category.

    We received far more explicit warnings about the Benghazi situation before it happened than we did about the original 9/11 attacks, but it still went forward and was wildly successful — I’d argue more successful than the original 9/11, because only 3 of the 4 planes hit their target, while the assassination was 100% successful.

    And while it’s now clear that the Obama administration knew that it wasn’t a spontaneous riot but a planned attack (the “riot” they cited actually never happened) within 24 hours, Ambassador Rice was still saying it wasn’t a terrorist attack the following Sunday.

    Americans died, Rice and the Obama administration lied.

    And as I said before, this was the opposite approach to the aftermath of the Bin Laden raid, where Obama went right out and started bragging how he’d gotten Bin Laden.

    If I felt generous, I’d say they learned the lesson there about shooting their mouths off and giving away too much information after a major event.

    But I’m more realistic. In both cases, they took the path that would help them the best politically. Brag about the good news, lie about the bad news.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  59. anjin-san says:

    So I did mishear the story about Rice resigning.

    No, you heard what you wanted to hear – something that would damage Obama. And we all know that means a hell of a lot more to you than the lives that were lost.

    After all, you are the guy who cried endless crocodile tears over Mexicans shot with F&F guns – yet at the same time, you seemed to think Joe the Plumber’s call to build a wall on the Mexican border and start shooting Mexicans from it was really keen.

    What a sad little toad you are. You don’t give a shit about the ambassador who died, and you don’t give a shit about dead Mexicans. You only care about damaging the President, something that is actually kind of bad for the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  60. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: If I thought the moderators of site actually cared to enforce their stated policies on personal attacks in comments, I’d call your remarks to their attention. But they’ve made it clear that they don’t hold their pet leftists to those standards, so why bother?

    Instead, I’ll just point out the sheer contemptuousness of the position you’re taking: you won’t hold Obama responsible for the consequences of his administration’s actions in either Fast & Furious or Benghazi because, to you, his intentions were pure and that’s all that matters. Never mind that the slightest bit of actual thought in either case would have told any reasonable person that those policies were going to get innocent people killed; he shouldn’t blamed.

    And you accuse me of not caring about the people who’ve been murdered thanks to Obama’s policies? That’s pure projection, baby — you get so angry because when anyone brings them up, it reminds you that you yourself don’t care about them at all, except to resent them for besmearing your precious Obama with their blood.

    Here’s the ugly truth you want to wish away, bucko — Obama had better, more actionable intelligence about the 9/11/12 attack than Bush had about the 9/11/01 attacks, and they still happened. And Fast & Furious had less humanitarian aims than the invasion of Iraq. The proof of both is coming out now, and all the insults and scorn you pile on me and those who refuse to keep our heads in the sand next to yours won’t change that one damned bit.

    And man, does that royally piss you off, doesn’t it? You can’t keep shooting at the messengers fast enough, can you?

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  61. anjin-san says:

    Jenos, the only thing you are a messenger of is bone headed stupidity. Are you still celebrating the Rice resignation?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  62. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    We received far more explicit warnings about the Benghazi situation before it happened than we did about the original 9/11 attacks

    Wrong.

    I’d argue more successful than the original 9/11, because only 3 of the 4 planes hit their target, while the assassination was 100% successful.

    In Jenos-land, I’m a “more successful” investor than Warren Buffet. Why? Because I only ever invested in one stock, and that stock went up, so my investment “was 100% successful.” Whereas that loser Buffet has invested in lots of stocks that went down. I’m so happy you think I’m “more successful.” Brilliant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  63. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Congrats on doubling down on stupid. 14 hours after I said I misheard something, you’re still stuck on the initial statement.

    How long should I wait until you catch up to the present?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  64. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: I read that article, and didn’t see a damned new thing in it. Nothing like “Bin Laden’s agents will hijack airliners and crash them into buildings” or “the plan is set for 9/11” or “the terrorists will leave from NYC and BOS in groups of 4-5” or “they are undergoing flight training in FL.”

    On the other hand, “terrorists are planning something big in Benghazi” and “the 11th anniversary of 9/11 is coming up” SHOULD HAVE raised red flags about our ambassador traveling, without benefit of security, to Benghazi.

    But I shouldn’t get too upset. After all, as Obama said, this was just a “bump in the road.” We should just get over it and move on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  65. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    14 hours after I said I misheard something, you’re still stuck on the initial statement.

    No, it’s not a matter of being “stuck on the initial statement.” It’s a matter of noticing that this is typical for you: you invent your own facts, seeing things that don’t exist simply because you wish for them to exist. Part of what makes you a clown is that you do this over and over again.

    Another example is here. In that instance, you never corrected yourself. But it’s never too late to start being honest, so now would be a good time.

    I read that article, and didn’t see a damned new thing in it.

    That’s because your reading comprehension is exceptionally poor.

    Nothing like “Bin Laden’s agents will hijack airliners and crash them into buildings” or “the plan is set for 9/11″ or “the terrorists will leave from NYC and BOS in groups of 4-5″ or “they are undergoing flight training in FL.”

    Yes, and next you’re going to complain because Bush wasn’t handed their exact flight numbers and seat numbers.

    There are plenty of things Bush could have and should have done with the information he was given. Instead, he spent that August clearing brush. The problem is not just that he failed to prevent the attack. The problem is that he didn’t even try, even though he was given a ton of warnings.

    Also, this:

    Nothing like “Bin Laden’s agents will hijack airliners and crash them into buildings”

    Is false. I explained that five years ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  66. anjin-san says:

    A) no one envisioned that terrorists would use airplanes as missiles

    Yes we all remember Condi Rice telling us that no human being had never imagined such a thing – Unless of course, you read Tom Clancy, like pretty much everyone in DC did in the 80’s & 90’s.

    Tom Clancy Bestseller Includes Plane Deliberately Crashed into US Capitol Building’

    http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a94clancybook

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  67. An Interested Party says:

    Here’s the ugly truth you want to wish away, bucko — Obama had better, more actionable intelligence about the 9/11/12 attack than Bush had about the 9/11/01 attacks, and they still happened.

    Next we’ll be hearing that what happened on 9/11/12 is far worse than what happened on 9/11/01…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  68. Outside perspective says:

    Aussie perspective here. We all knew it was terrorist, what fool would believe Obama’s film lie. We view Obama as inept, a player, weak and dangerously feeding power to Islamists at the cost of destroying America. His foreign policy is weak and contemptable. It encourages outsiders to be bolder and disrespect the USA. Weve lost respect for you’re strength. We think the arabs and the brotherhood are running amuk. Obama’s pathetic appeasement has increased world wide unrest about freedom of speech, civil liberties, foreigh aid and religious hatred. Well done to you’re president for causing world wide panic and aggression in response from the usually quiet sector of the free world. As for Benghazi, it’s sickening to read you people don’t see it as a big deal. I wouldn’t fight for you. If Obama serves another term, every one of you will be screaming. From an economic viewpoint to foreign policy, to the American civil liberties, we expect it will be the end of America as we have always known it. You will become a third world country enslaved. No one will come to you’re aid because in the last four years you’re president has betrayed the free world and favoured the muslim viewpoint so outrageously, we are disgusted. God bless America. A country on the brink of death and it’s civillians don’t even recognize it. Blind stupidity. But what do you expect of a country that can’t even defend it’s embassy’s and ambassadors. Burn their flag, stomp on their ideals, demand they pay you aid and laugh at their unbelievable stupidity. What a crying shame.

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