About That Libya Question In Last Night’s Debate

What's the truth about last night's debate exchange about Libya?

As I noted in my debate wrap-up this morning, perhaps the worst exchange of the night for Mitt Romney came in response to an audience members question regarding the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. In retrospect, it should have been a fairly easy exchange for Romney to handle. After all, this was one of the most unfortunate foreign policy developments of Obama’s Presidency, historic in the sense that it was the first time an American Ambassador had died in service since 1979, and the Obama Administration’s own response to the event has been muddled, befuddled, and downright confusing. It was also, quite obviously, a question that President Obama came prepared for, as we can see by actually watching the exchange:

Romney clearly seemed a bit dumbfounded by the President’s claim to have recognize the attack on the consulate as a terrorist attack from the beginning, and I have to admit that I was too because it simply doesn’t comport with reality. For at least two full weeks after the attack, the Obama Administration pushed the narrative that the attack was a spontaneous action brought about by protests over an obscure YouTube film that had started in Cairo earlier that day. On the Sunday following the attack, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on multiple news shows pushing exactly that line. While that line was being pushed in public here in the U.S. the President of Libya and other Libyan officials, were saying that the attack was a pre-planned terrorist attack. Moreover, as we learned more about what happened the night of September 11th in Benghazi., it began to seem as though calling it an spontaneous event rather than a pre-planned attack simply made no sense. It wasn’t until two full weeks later that the White House said on the record that the attack was terrorist attack and by that time we were beginning to learn additional details which seemed to suggest that, behind the scenes, they knew the real story behind the attack. Finally, just last week, the State Department reported that there was no protest in Benghazi at all on the day of the attack, thus completely undercutting the original narrative behind the attack.

So, what exactly, was Obama referring to when he claimed that he had called the attack an act of terror the day after it happened? He’s referring to this speech he made in the Rose Garden on September 12th:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation.  Often, they are away from their families.  Sometimes, they brave great danger.

Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith.  We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed.  And today, the American people stand united in holding the families of the four Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We’re working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I’ve also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.

(…)

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

You can read the full text of  the speech at the link and you can watch the video on YouTube.

Reading the speech, I can see why Obama’s people thought it provided him with a convenient out for the charge that Romney made, but I think it misses the mark. Obama’s sole reference to terrorism is a generic reference to “acts of terror,” at no point during the speech did he call the attack itself an act of terror. And, in fact, his Administration conspicuously avoided using that word or anything similar to it for a full two weeks afterward. At the best, the Rose Garden comments are ambiguous, which is actually a pretty apt description of the Administration’s entire response to the Benghazi attack. It’s also worth noting that on September 25th, some two weeks after the attacks, the President specifically refused to call the Benghazi attack terrorism in response to a direct question. This was several days after Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center said during Congressional testimony that the attack was indeed a terrorism.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler makes this observation about the controversy:

What did Obama say in the Rose Garden a day after the attack in Libya? ”No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this nation,”  he said.

But he did not say “terrorism”—and it took the administration days to concede that that it an “act of terrorism” that appears unrelated to initial reports of anger at a video that defamed the prophet Muhammad.

Politico’s  Mike Allen agrees:

And, after the debate, even Candy Crowley herself conceded that Romney had a point:

Crowley has a point here. Romney made a mistake by focusing on the “terrorism” issue, instead, he should have made note of the fact that the President’s response to the question that was asked about the Libya attack completely failed to address a far more important issue than whether a certain word was used. Romney could have  pointed out that, notwithstanding this one use of the word “terror” in one speech on September 12th, the Administration continued to push on the public and Congress a narrative that the attack was the spontaneous result of protests over a movie that we now know, and knew relatively early on according to the information that has come out over the past month, that there was no protests in Benghazi last night. He could have asked the President why his Administration was pushing a palpably laughable version of events rather than being honest with the American people.

That, however, isn’t where Romney really messed up last night. To see where that happened, let’s take a look at the question that actually started this whole exchange:

Q: This question actually comes from a brain trust of my friends at Global Telecom Supply in Mineola yesterday. We were sitting around talking about Libya, and we were reading and became aware of reports that the State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans. Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?

This question was the center point of last week’s Congressional hearings. We learned from those hearings that there had been several requests for additional security at the diplomatic compounds in Libya, including a request mere weeks before the attack that a special enhanced team of security personnel that were scheduled to leave the country on August 31st be permitted to stay. Those requests were either denied or outright ignored. Additionally, we know that Ambassador Stevens himself had expressed considerable concern about the security situation in the country in his communications with Foggy Bottom, but apparently the people who received those communiques determined that no additional action to protect American diplomats was necessary. The President completely failed to answer the question that was posed to him last night, and Romney let him get away with it.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, National Security, Politicians, Terrorism, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Cycloptichorn says:

    Obama’s sole reference to terrorism is a generic reference to “acts of terror,” at no point during the speech did he call the attack itself an act of terror.

    This is absolutely ridiculous, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for pushing this BS.

    Parsing the words ‘acts of terror’ versus ‘terrorism’ is about the dumbest thing I ever heard. What exactly do you think Obama was referring to, when he said ‘acts of terror,’ in a speech about what had happened the day before?

    I think you are really grasping for straws here.

  2. pylon says:

    “Obama’s sole reference to terrorism is a generic reference to “acts of terror,” at no point during the speech did he call the attack itself an act of terror. “

    Oh, come on! The speech was in response to the attack. It references the specific attack before and after the sentence . To suggest it was “generic” is total spin, and you should know better. BTW, he said the same thing, even more specifically the following day as well.

    As for not answering the exact question posed, well, welcome to debate land. The same can be said about almost every question and response: Question: What is Romney’s position on pay equity for women? Answer: Well, he hired women once (Actually he lied about the facts in answering, but what else is new?)

  3. Modulo Myself says:

    This is Romney’s fault. He sat around spouting really butch rhetoric about weak cowardly liberals, then the weak cowardly liberal who happened to kill Bin Laden burned him.

  4. mantis says:

    Romney clearly seemed a bit dumbfounded by the President’s claim to have recognize the attack on the consulate as a terrorist attack from the beginning, and I have to admit that I was too because it simply doesn’t comport with reality. For at least two full weeks after the attack, the Obama Administration pushed the narrative that the attack was a spontaneous action brought about by protests over an obscure YouTube film that had started in Cairo earlier that day.

    So terrorist attacks cannot be spontaneously arranged? Interesting…

    Obama’s sole reference to terrorism is a generic reference to “acts of terror,” at no point during the speech did he call the attack itself an act of terror.

    The reference is clear:

    No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.

    “No acts of terror” and justice for “this terrible act” one sentence apart. Anyone who thinks this wasn’t referred to as an act of terror is pushing a fact-free agenda.

    It’s also worth noting that on September 25th, some two weeks after the attacks, the President specifically refused to call the Benghazi attack terrorism in response to a direct question.

    He said they were still investigating. He didn’t say it wasn’t terrorism.

    But he did not say “terrorism”—and it took the administration days to concede that that it an “act of terrorism” that appears unrelated to initial reports of anger at a video that defamed the prophet Muhammad.

    It took them a while to say that it wasn’t related to the video. It did not take them a while to say it was terrorism. That happened on day one.

  5. Jr says:

    Obama’s sole reference to terrorism is a generic reference to “acts of terror,” at no point during the speech did he call the attack itself an act of terror.

    Your better then this Doug………

  6. Geek, Esq. says:

    I guess we need to fact check Doug here:

    reports that the State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya

    1. The refusal was for security for the embassy in TRIPOLI, which is 1000 KM away from Benghazi.

    2. There is no embassy in Benghazi, only a consulate.

    Obama’s sole reference to terrorism is a generic reference to “acts of terror,” at no point during the speech did he call the attack itself an act of terror. And, in fact, his Administration conspicuously avoided using that word or anything similar to it for a full two weeks afterward.

    Wrong again. Per Josh Rogin:

    But on Sept. 13, at a campaign event in Colorado, Obama again used the phrase “act of terror” and this time tied it directly to the Benghazi attack.

    “So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America,” he said.

    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/16/obama_did_call_benghazi_attack_an_act_of_terror_in_colorado

    So, you and Romney are incorrect x 2 on this.

    3.

    Moreover, as we learned more about what happened the night of September 11th in Benghazi., it began to seem as though calling it an spontaneous event rather than a pre-planned attack simply made no sense.

    Let’s check what actual reporters who were there have to say:

    To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck the United States Mission without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video. That is what the fighters said at the time, speaking emotionally of their anger at the video without mentioning Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or the terrorist strikes of 11 years earlier. And it is an explanation that tracks with their history as members of a local militant group determined to protect Libya from Western influence.

    “It was the Ansar al-Shariah people,” said Mohamed Bishari, 20, a neighbor of the compound who watched the assault and described the brigade he saw leading the attack. “There was no protest or anything of that sort.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/world/africa/election-year-stakes-overshadow-nuances-of-benghazi-investigation.html?pagewanted=all

    Sorry, Doug, but the facts are not on your side on this one. Not your best work.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    Doug…that water you are carrying weighs about 8# per gallon.
    And the anger and the hate you harbor towards Obama also takes a lot of energy.
    You must be a very tired person.
    No wonder you keep writing the same post over and over again:
    “…I hate Obama, still…”

  8. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Cycloptichorn:

    Not only that, but Obama referred to it as an “act of terror” the very next day, September 13, in Colorado.

    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/16/obama_did_call_benghazi_attack_an_act_of_terror_in_colorado

    But on Sept. 13, at a campaign event in Colorado, Obama again used the phrase “act of terror” and this time tied it directly to the Benghazi attack.

    “So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America,” he said.

  9. @Geek, Esq.:

    I meant to use a different phrase other than “embassy” a correction will be forthcoming.

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    David D Kirkpatrick yesterday:

    To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video. That is what the fighters said at the time, speaking emotionally of their anger at the video without mentioning Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or the terrorist strikes of 11 years earlier. And it is an explanation that tracks with their history as a local militant group determined to protect Libya from Western influence. (bold mine)

    Was it spontaneous?

    Other Benghazi militia leaders who know Ansar al-Shariah say it was capable of carrying out the attack by itself with only a few hours’ planning, and as recently as June one of its leaders, Mr. Zahawi, declared that it could destroy the American Mission.(bold mine)

  11. David M says:

    Here’s the thing, the “Obama didn’t call it an act of terror” argument is profoundly stupid, it’s a meaningless, superficial complaint that doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. But as that’s how Romney chose to make his point, he ended up making a claim that was not true. Romney said:

    I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

    Obama called it an act of terror on 12th in the Rose Garden, and then again on 13th:

    Let me say at the outset that obviously our hearts are heavy this week — we had a tough day a couple of days ago, for four Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Libya. Yesterday I had a chance to go over to the State Department to talk to friends and colleagues of those who were killed. And these were Americans who, like so many others, both in uniform and civilians, who serve in difficult and dangerous places all around the world to advance the interests and the values that we hold dear as Americans.

    And a lot of times their work goes unheralded, doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it is vitally important. We enjoy our security and our liberty because of the sacrifices that they make. And they do an outstanding job every single day without a lot of fanfare.

    So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America.

    Romney and the GOP are pushing an infantile, semantic argument where saying certain buzzwords matters more than actual actions, so if that’s the game they want to play, saying the words “act of terror” is the standard they are setting. And this time their right wing closed information loop bit Romney for the entire debate audience to see.

  12. @Geek, Esq.:

    So the questioner last night used the word “embassy” instead of consulate. So what?

  13. @C. Clavin:

    No, I just don’t like the incompetence I’ve seen from the White House and Foggy Bottom the past month

    Also, did you notice the part where the President completely failed to answer the question he was asked?

  14. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The State department didn’t refuse a request for Benghazi–the request was for a security team in Tripoli, which is as close to Benghazi as Washington D.C. is to Atlanta.

    There is no plausible claim that the security detail that was refused could have done anything to save the ambassador.

  15. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You refer to what they are doing as ‘incompetence,’ but the truth is that perfect security is impossible to maintain. Our embassies and consulates will ALWAYS be somewhat vulnerable to sneak-attacks from local partisans.

    What exactly would YOU have done differently? All you Monday-morning quarterbacks think that everything is so obvious, but it simply isn’t. Having a large security presence everywhere costs a ton of money and also tends to rile up the locals, which was the exact opposite of the point…

  16. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The question about a request for security refused by someone other than Obama, without his knowledge, that wouldn’t have prevented this attack or saved the ambassador had it been approved?

    Or are we in the land where every security request inside the state department crosses the President’s desk and where a security team 1000 KM away would have prevented this attack?

  17. Cycloptichorn,

    The incompetence I refer to has been their response to the attack

  18. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Also, did you notice the part where the President completely failed to answer the question he was asked?

    I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say that we’re all eagerly awaiting your post about how Romney refused or failed to answer almost any of the questions asked of him. He used every question as an opportunity to segue into what he really wanted to discuss….

  19. Billy says:

    Seriously Doug, this is kind of sad.

  20. Geek, Esq.,

    Harry Truman said the buck stopped with him. For Obama, it apparently stops with Hillary. Got it.

  21. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Did you not hear Obama say “the buck stops with me” twice at the debate?

    To put it differently–what did Obama do or fail to do that caused the ambassador to die?

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: For Mitt, the buck doesn’t stop. It just keeps going and going and going and going….

  23. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Also, did you notice the part where the President completely failed to answer the question he was asked? ”

    What he said was it happened on his watch and as president it was his responsibility.

    Perhaps you and the questioner would have liked to see him name some otherwise anonymous functionary in the State Department, then drag him out on stage and beat him. If not, your complaint here makes no sense at all.

    But your obsession with whether or not Obama described this incident in the proper, Doug-approved wording has never made any sense. Of all the things to fixate on, this is perhaps the most meaningless. “Oh, that mean president refuses to use my word of choice to describe the death of a diplomat — we all have to vote tor the incompetent Republican to show him the error of his ways.”

  24. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Be more specific. What about their response has been incompetent and what should they have done differently? And how would that have changed anything, and in what ways?

    See, I doubt you will be able to give a coherent answer to this. Apparently, like putting periods on the ends of your sentences, you’re just too busy to deal with small details like having an alternative plan, instead of just bleating out your criticism.

  25. nightrider says:

    What is baffling here is the notion that any undecided voter in Peoria gives a hoot whether Obama did or didn’t say it was an act of terror after the fact. But they may have an opinion when there are dead American bodies in the streets and the GOP Presidential nominee is trying to score political points over irrelevant semantics. The world wouldn’t be a bit better if Obama had just consistently blamed organized terrorism from the start.

    And I’m sure no one can ever name a single instance when a security threat wasn’t sufficiently heeded during a Republican Administration. It is unfortunate for sure, but mistakes happen. I would be concerned if there was evidence that the State Dept had some unqualified political hack making the decision, but I haven’t heard that.

  26. Cycloptichorn,

    We can start with insisting for two weeks that this had anything to do with a movie when we knew within 24 hours that this wasn’t the case.

  27. pylon says:

    Harry Truman said the buck stopped with him. For Obama, it apparently stops with Hillary. Got it.

    Except for the part where said said, explicitly “Hilary works for me, so I’m responsible”.

    Frankly, this whole exchange showed the difference between a cynical politician like Romney and a working president like Obama.

  28. Geek, Esq. says:

    And there’s the rub–the truth of the matter is that this is not an issue that should or can be exploited for partisan purposes.

    It shouldn’t be a political football, absent evidence of negligence on the part of the President (which we DID see in the case of Bush and 9/11).

    Also, can we please get past the talismanic, Bushian fetish for the word “terror?”

  29. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Are you just totally incapable of answering the question: what would you have done differently and how would that have changed anything at all?

    I think you know very well that calling it an ‘act of terrorism’ and saying that it had nothing to do with the movie – which was always a thin pretense – would have changed NOTHING AT ALL. So, your point is basically meaningless and stupid, and I’m actually really shocked that you’re backing it to this level.

  30. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Epistemic closure isn’t just for the poll skewers crowd.

    To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck the United States Mission without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video. That is what the fighters said at the time, speaking emotionally of their anger at the video without mentioning Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or the terrorist strikes of 11 years earlier. And it is an explanation that tracks with their history as members of a local militant group determined to protect Libya from Western influence.

    “It was the Ansar al-Shariah people,” said Mohamed Bishari, 20, a neighbor of the compound who watched the assault and described the brigade he saw leading the attack. “There was no protest or anything of that sort.”

    Now tell me again why you know better than the guy who witnessed the assault.

  31. wr says:

    @pylon: “Frankly, this whole exchange showed the difference between a cynical politician like Romney and a working president like Obama. ”

    And the exchange here shows the difference between someone who actually listens to the words being spoken, and someone like Doug who hears only what his preconceptions allow him to believe will be said.

  32. dude says:

    This is one of your worst posts ever, Doug. I rarely comment here, but your post made that impossible today.

    The entire premise of this line of argument is childish. Doug, you are acting like a child. You “feel” very strongly you should be “right” about this… you just aren’t. Reality is a stubborn thing.

  33. legion says:

    Doug, you’re great at legal analysis, but outside your wheelhouse, you often just parrot talking points and stop doing your own thinking. This is absolutely what’s happening here. In absolutely no world other than perhaps a thesis defense for an English major is “act of terror” not going to be considered synonymous with “terrorism”. That’s the entire basis of Romney’s overreach, and Obama let him have it with both barrels. Everything else you’ve brought up – from the gov’t’s response, to who took responsibility when, to how the gov’t could have or should have prevented the attack – is just transparent debating tactics and logical fallacies designed to draw attention away from the point you were originally trying (and failing) to make.

    Romney said stuff – clearly, stuff he had practiced and prepared – that was purely wrong. And he got busted for it, and he didn’t like it one bit. Deal with it & move on.

  34. David M says:

    If there is a serious critique to be made of Libya, Romney certainly can’t make it. Since the attack he has made two completely idiotic attacks over, first with the scurrilous accusation that the Obama Administration sympathized with the attackers, and second with the lie that Obama did not call it an act of terror for 14 days.

    Whether or not you agree with how the Obama Administration is handling this, they are at least taking is seriously, and nothing from Romney has made me think there’s any way he would be an improvement.

  35. KariQ says:

    The reason this was so devastating for Romney is that he showed himself utterly unable to respond when it was pointed out the president had used the word “terror.” He was completely at a loss. He didn’t know what to say or how to react, he couldn’t even seem to find the spot on his talking point. IF he had been able to respond to Crowley by saying “Yes, he spent two weeks talking about a movie…” then it wouldn’t have been so painful. But he couldn’t even manage that.

    I’d also like to understand why your so obsessed by how long it took the administration to say “terrorism” or put the spin on the story you think is correct? Two weeks is hardly an eternity. And, given that we now know that the majority of the people in the facility were CIA agents, don’t you think you ought to at least consider the possibility that the administration was interested in protecting that information and that’s why they were downplaying the possibility of the attack?

    We don’t know the reasons for how security is detailed, given. But then, do you really think it’s appropriate for the government to be giving detailed security information to the public? Seems like that would be a pretty good way to help those who are planning the next attack.

    Really, why are you, and so many on the right, obsessed with this issue? Fast and Furious I understood, it was a colossal screw up and it sure looked like there could be a major scandal there. But this? What do you all think is going to come out here?

  36. G.A. says:

    Can we please change POTUS to LPOS for the remainder of the next three weeks?

  37. Anderson says:

    “Act of terror” vs. “terrorism” … Doug, you really wouldn’t want to have to sell that to a jury if you could help it. Right?

  38. bk says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The incompetence I refer to has been their response to the attack

    You know what’s a better example of “incompetence”? This effing hack job that you refer to as a column. It makes Fox and Friends look like a MENSA meeting. Every time you write one of these piles of crap, there is usually a commenter who says something to the effect of “Come on, Doug – you’re better than this.” I am beginning to think that you aren’t.

  39. J-Dub says:

    Whatever you think of the administrations handling of the Benghazi attack, the fact remains that Romney got bitch-slapped on the topic at last night’s debate by both the President and the moderator and it was a joy to witness.

  40. stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    We can start with insisting for two weeks that this had anything to do with a movie when I knew , through magical telepathy within 24 hours that this wasn’t the case.

    FTFY..

    Doug, this is the most disgraceful piece of hackery you have ever engaged in. I can’t add more to the demolition job carried out by the above posters. You would be well advised at this point to just admit you are wrong about this. The “act of terror” remarks didn’t refer to the Benghazi event, even when the speech was for the purpose of commenting about the Benghazi event? Seriously? Your professors at George Mason would hang their heads in shame that one of their students was pushing that. Logic TOTAL FAIL.

    “Have you no decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”.

  41. dude says:
  42. stonetools,

    Your personal attacks on me mean nothing to me.

  43. Dean says:

    @mantis: “No acts of terror” and justice for “this terrible act” one sentence apart. Anyone who thinks this wasn’t referred to as an act of terror is pushing a fact-free agenda.

    Then Susan Rice who went on the news shows the following Sunday and blamed a YouTube video should be fired for ‘pushing a fact-free agenda.”

  44. reid says:

    Quite sad that Doug is continuing to feed an incredibly weak attempt by Romney and other wingnuts to taint the president with something, anything, to take him down. Too bad for them he’s been too good to give them anything of substance to work with (think Katrina, 9/11, economic collapse; meaty stuff).

  45. MBunge says:

    You know, Maddow touched on this a couple of weeks ago on a different topic. Namely, that it’s very hard, if not impossible, to have serious discussions on certain issues because one side (the GOP) is either unwilling or incapable of making serious arguments about them. Doug should be complaining that Romney and his campaign have done such a bad job of holding the President accountable for what’s happened in Libya.

    Mike

  46. Mr. Replica says:

    /Insert picture of Philip J. Fry

    Not sure if Doug is serious…

    or if he is using his brand of satire to increase traffic at OtB.

    Either way. LOL.

  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dean:

    Then Susan Rice who went on the news shows the following Sunday and blamed a YouTube video should be fired for ‘pushing a fact-free agenda.”

    and @Ron Beasley:

    To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video.

    Reading is fundamental.

  48. Modulo Myself says:

    Even if Romney hadn’t stepped in it, it’s hard for a sane person to care. Fourteen days to acknowledge in public that the attack came from Al Qaeda? That’s what–fourteen days of appeasement for the average chair-based Fox viewer? Thirteen point five days longer than it took the Bush administration to connect 9/11 to Iraq? An embarrassment to brand consultancies and publicists everywhere?

  49. rudderpedals says:

    Romney clearly seemed a bit dumbfounded by the President’s claim to have recognize the attack on the consulate as a terrorist attack from the beginning, and I have to admit that I was too because it simply doesn’t comport with reality

    You have two things then in common with Romney in that you both rely on conclusory opinions as facts and are dumbfounded that the rest of the world operates with facts as they are on the ground. Corrections were offered for the myriad times you’ve trotted this story out that might have prevented the puzzlement and helped to inform this and other subsequent Benghazi posts.

  50. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    We can start with insisting for two weeks that this had anything to do with a movie when we knew within 24 hours that this wasn’t the case.

    Sure, we can start there, but we can’t end there.

    So let’s start there: (1) Apparently, the Libyans on the ground thought this had to do with the movie, so we don’t in fact know it wasn’t the case, (2) we don’t and shouldn’t necessarily know all the inner workings of the decision, especially since this was also a CIA facility, and (3) whether it did or didn’t have to do with the movie, so what? Seriously, so what? What’s the consequence?

    But let’s not end there: want to address everyone’s questions about what exactly you think they should have done differently, and why you think it would have matttered?

  51. David M says:

    @MBunge:

    You know, Maddow touched on this a couple of weeks ago on a different topic. Namely, that it’s very hard, if not impossible, to have serious discussions on certain issues because one side (the GOP) is either unwilling or incapable of making serious arguments about them. Doug should be complaining that Romney and his campaign have done such a bad job of holding the President accountable for what’s happened in Libya.

    That’s what is so infuriating about this. Is there even a dumber criticism than “Obama didn’t say it was an act of terror for 14 days”? It’s so juvenile that even if it were true, people with any self-respect should be ashamed to repeat it.

  52. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I absolutely guarantee you that he doesn’t want to address those questions.

  53. Rafer,

    Within a day after the incident, the Interim President of Libya and other Libyan government officials were debunking the movie claim and saying that based on their information it was a pre-planned terrorist attack.

  54. G.A. says:

    If you think that Obama and his clown chairs did not try to run with a narrative to play politics and got caught and then tried to cover it up to save their lying craven ***** and got caught again, your crazy or have an undeniable brain wash or both…it’s that simple.

  55. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    They didn’t debunk, they disagreed.

    It’s clear that there was no protest.

    It is FAR from clear whether the attack was motivated by the video. Welcome to the fog of war.

  56. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Wait, so you are taking Presidents at their word? As long as they are Presidents of Libya?

    lolz

  57. James in LA says:

    Doug, you’ve lost this argument. Geek Esq’s fact-check stands as a complete decimation of your position, which seems to be rooted only in partisanship, an already awkward perch for an (alleged) libertarian.

  58. Franklin says:

    I can’t be bothered to read all these comments, but a certain fact was brought up in one of the other debate threads today: yes, the “act of terror” phrase is a bit ambiguous in Obama’s speech on September 12th. But one day later, he uses the phrase again very clearly referring to the incident.

    While I agree the administration was sending mixed messages, and is responsible through the State Department for the lack of security, but if all this is about a semantic argument, Obama wins. He referred to it as an act of terror twice in the two days following the attack. This nonsense of distinguishing between the words “terror” and “terrorism” is, to put it nicely, imbecilic.

  59. Stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m attacking your LOGIC not your person. Don’t get it twisted.
    Again, I think you would be best served by admitting you are wrong here. There’s no shame in being wrong. There’s no disgrace in admitting you are wrong. All of us are sometimes.

  60. cd6 says:

    I agree with Romney, our future president, and Doug, who is clearly fairly and accurately judging this situation.

    Obama’s response to the Libya incident is clear incompetence. Standing up at a debate and saying “I take responsibility?” Pfffft.

    Obama should take a cue from diplomatic master strategist Willard Romney,
    whose first response to the same incident, just hours after our amabassador was murdered, was to accuse the president of the United States of sympathesizing with the terrorists.

    That’s leadership we can believe in! Take that, libtards

  61. rodney dill says:

    @Franklin:

    This nonsense of distinguishing between the words “terror” and “terrorism” is, to put it nicely, imbecilic.

    Which is obviously why the President himself distinguished between the two designations

    According to Ladka, Obama gave him ”more information about why he delayed calling the attack a terorist attack.” For background, Obama did apparently lump Benghazi into a reference to “acts of terror” in a Sept. 12 Rose Garden address. However, he spent about two weeks holding off on using the full “terrorist” designation.

  62. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Uh, Doug, no one’s disputing that Ansar al-Sharia were the ones who carried out the hit.

    The question is why they did.

    The NY Times story from yesterday quotes people on the ground saying Ansar al-Sharia did it, and they did it because of the video.

    You’re proving the theory that evidence disproving beliefs only causes people to dig in their heels and ignore the new evidence.

  63. MattT says:

    Doug and most on the Right apparently refuse to consider that the Benghazi attack might fairly be described as BOTH a terrorist attack, AND a response to the Youtube video that, if not completely spontaneous, was mounted on fairly short notice.

    That’s the conclusion I draw from the various reporting, and I can’t think of a reason to studiously ignore this conclusion other than a partisan desire to find fault with the Obama administration’s response.

  64. Stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    There is really no logical inconsistency between it being a pre planned terrorist attack and it being motivated by the video. Maybe you didn’t see that before. No harm in admitting it now.

  65. Stupid liberals says:

    Stupid liberals failing to recognize that Libya is the biggest disaster for America since the bay of pigs.

  66. David M says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Based on your link and the current reporting, it doesn’t actually appear the Administration’s public statements were objectionable. The Ansar al-Sharia / al-Qaeda link in Eli Lake’s article is more suspect than the claim the attack was a retaliation for the youtube video.

  67. MattT says:

    Also: if we stipulate that the Daily Beast reporting from 9/26 is accurate, and intel and the administration knew almost immediately that this was a pre-planned attack by an al-Queada affiliate… Does the administration have a responsibility to reveal publicly and immediately everything it knows about such an incident? Even while still investigating, and perhaps trying to locate, apprehend or target perpetrators?

    In general the government is too prone to secrecy, and public prevarication is generally a red flag. But the immediate aftermath of a terror attack or military action, when investigation is underway and a response being prepared, seems like one of the few situations where it’s not only forgivable but might be entirely appropriate – as long as the truth is eventually revealed and the right people are held accountable.

  68. cd6 says:

    Obama said “terror” but didn’t say “terrorism” which as everyone knows, is completely different. Romney has a five point plan to say the word “terrorism” at every opportunity.

    I agree with Doug. Obama’s incompetence is disqualifying for the presidency. Not only should he lose the election, but we shouldn’t even wait for the election. I think the house should start impeachment today and then we can send to Obama to jail – where he belongs.

  69. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You can chose to ignore it, but U.S. intelligence knew the basic truth about the attack within 24 hours.

    Doug, what is your point? That US intelligence should be shared with the world immediately? If not, why do you have a problem with the Obama Admin using a cover story, however improbable it may have been? That’s it, you just wish they had come up with a better lie.

  70. cd6 says:

    Let’s review the timeline, and you all will see why Romney is right to criticize Obama here:

    – George W Bush’s policies are responsible for the seal team getting bin Laden
    – Noboama cowardly leads from behind in Libya, where a courageous Mitt Romney would have probably invaded or something else even braver
    – Qaddaffi is overthrown
    – US consulate in Benghazi requests more security. Obama, who personally oversees security requests, DENIED this request, then used the funds for homosexual abortions via Obamacare
    – Youtube video is released
    – Consulate in Benghazi is attacked. Obama SIDES WITH THE TERRORISTS (I can’t share the exact link but we all know he did it). Romney CORRECTLY calls out OBOWMA for apologizing for America AGAIN. This is the only instance of true leadership in this list.
    – Obama calls the attack in Banghazi “terror” but not “terrorism” ipso facto, Obama hates America
    – Doug writes that awesome post about how Obama has abadoned the first amendment or something.
    – Obama and Candy Crawley tag team defenseless Romney, the real victim in this situation

  71. C. Clavin says:

    “…Harry Truman said the buck stopped with him. For Obama, it apparently stops with Hillary. Got it…”

    Clearly you fail to understand the meaning of the phrase.

  72. MM says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    stonetools,

    Your personal attacks on me mean nothing to me.

    Is he just a dumb hick, Doug?

  73. jukeboxgrad says:

    Non-regulars might need some help knowing what you’re talking about.

  74. jukeboxgrad says:

    geek:

    So, you and Romney are incorrect x 2 on this.

    franklin:

    He referred to it as an act of terror twice in the two days following the attack.

    Various people are saying this, that Obama said “act[s] of terror” twice (within a couple of days of the attack). That’s incorrect. He said it at least three times.

    Everyone knows about the Rose Garden statement on 9/12 (“no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation”). And Geek cited a statement Obama made on 9/13, in CO (“to all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished;” link). But Obama also made a statement that evening, in Las Vegas: “no act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world” (link).

    I see various news reports that mention the CO statement, or the NV statement, but I’ve seen no report that mentions both. They are similar statements, so it’s easy to confuse one for the other, but they are separate statements. So Obama used the phrase “acts[s] of terror” on three (not just two) separate occasions within two days of the attack.

    Let’s recall what Mitt said:

    It took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror

    Uh, no. Obama called it “an act of terror” at least three times within two days of the attack.

  75. Buzz Buzz says:

    jukeboxgrad / “TomJ” / “Dave” / “Tom J.” / “slowslimslider” / “firstmate” / “SDSU” / “wingtowing” / etc. :

    Non-regulars might need some help seeing that you’re a known liar who uses a stable of sockpuppets to spread his lies.

    In a healthy community, liars are simply not welcome. Ending the normalization of dishonesty means that liars need to be treated like liars, and all honest people have a responsibility to help make sure this happens.

  76. legion says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You can chose to ignore it, but U.S. intelligence knew the basic truth about the attack within 24 hours.

    Incorrect. You want to parse words like you’re arguing a case?

    Within 24 hours of the 9-11 anniversary attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, U.S. intelligence agencies had strong indications al Qaeda–affiliated operatives were behind the attack

    (emphasis mine)
    US intelligence had reports strongly suggesting it was done by AQ-affiliated operatives. That doesn’t mean it was an AQ operation. That doesn’t mean anyone outside the attackers themselves knew it was going to happen. That doesn’t mean it was even a pre-planned attack; it could still have been an attack of opportunity when they realized the Ambassador would be in a vulnerable position. The important thing here is that these reports could very well have been completely contradicted by other intel coming in later that day or already in people’s hands.

    If Obama had walked out that very moment and said “Yeah – it’s al-Qaida, and we’re gonna go kick their asses!” he could have
    a) been embarrassingly contradicted within hours or days, possibly having already ordered unnecessary and risky military operations to kick off, or
    b) revealed sensitive information about how detailed, accurate, and timely our intel in the region really is.

    Either way, the delay was entirely appropriate – just because _you_ can look back in time and say “we now know X was true – they knew X back then – they should have acted then” in no way grasps the fact that having “X” in your hands doesn’t mean they knew X was the right answer.

  77. Geek, Esq. says:

    But, anything that encourages Romney to litigate this at the final debate is a good thing in my book.

    Romney’s already face-planted twice on the issue of Benghazi. I can’t imagine anyone in America trying to make up their mind cares about the distinction between “act of terror” and “terrorist attack.”

  78. jukeboxgrad says:

    buzz:

    Non-regulars might need some help

    You need to address what I said here. And people who don’t share your obsession with what someone said about me in 2004 will appreciate you placing your response in that thread.

  79. Not Likely says:

    Now that everyone is done dismantling the idea that “act of terror” is not synonymous with “terrorism,” can I address the fact that the idea that Crowley somehow walked back or clarified her statement after the debate is another outright falsehood?

    And, after the debate, even Candy Crowley herself conceded that Romney had a point

    BS. She said the exact same thing during the debate. She both acknowledged that Obama had referred to the attack as an “act of terror” and allowed that Romney’s larger point about the two weeks of confusion was accurate. That was his cue to suck it up and move on. Instead he proceeded to spin in circles asking everyone he could see whether it were really really real that Obama had uttered the word terror.

    Sorry, I don’t need someone that easily flummoxed in charge. He looked like his programming had gone haywire.

  80. Ron J says:

    Well now, after reading all this, I am now definitely convinced that Obama described it as a terrorist attack from the beginning.

    I guess he should have advised his entire administration of that before they all went out and denied a terrorist attack, while putting forth the “civil unrest over a video” theory..

    I also reckon he should have also remembered his initial assessment when speaking at the UN and on all the morning talk shows in the two weeks that followed.

    And lastly, while they were at it, perhaps they should have got us all straight on Pearl Harbor being an unfortunate case of coincidental aviation mishaps occurring while airborne members of the Japanese Navy were on a friendly sightseeing trip over the Pacific. Just as believable!

  81. Dazedandconfused says:

    I think you are missing an essential point in all this Doug, the details are leading you into the weeds, just like they are most of the pundits I see on the TV. They too are missing something about the power of that moment on the stage.

    Before Gingrichian slime-bag politics became the ethical norm, it was considered to be beyond the pale for a political leader to make the accusation against a CIC of being a cowardly and petty, as Mitt was doing. Of being someone who would play games like that with such an incident. If you wanted to do that, you damn sure better do your home-work.

    Witness how Reagan and HW responded to Operation Eagle Claw.

    The Obama team was fully aware that Mitt and his boys were running around saying this stuff, and they had an important detail wrong. They did not correct them. They let it go, their leader reserved the honor of humiliating their boss on the stage for himself.

    Heard a couple pundits point out that Obama never answered the question and never gave a name of someone under his command, concluding wrongly that Mitt squandered an opportunity. What happened is that Mitt sensed, correctly, that there is something horribly inappropriate in the code of ethical conduct he had internalized as a businessman, and as an ambitious politician, something that doesn’t work for these matters. It’s not the one we like to see in an officer and/or a general and a gentleman, however much we forgive it in people who deal with tax codes and the like.

  82. john personna says:

    @Ron J:

    The UN is the United Nations. There were protests in 20 nations. The President made a speech about tolerance to the wider audience, yes using Benghazi as an example of intolerance.

    All that was in our national interest. Repeat, national interest.

  83. Septimius says:

    A terrorist attack or an act of terror implies that the action was premeditated, organized, and committed by a person or persons with a political agenda. Regardless of what President Obama said in his Rose Garden speech, for nearly two weeks, he and his administration implied the opposite: that the Benghazi consulate attack was the result of a protest of a youtube video that got out of hand. To now argue that Obama and his administration was totally clear from the beginning that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack is pure partisan dishonesty.

  84. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Ace of Spades has a fascinating catch: on September 30, David Axelrod was being interviewed and was asked why it took the administration 2 weeks to own up that this was a terrorist attack, and not a response to a stupid video. Axelrod used the same excuse — he did say “terrorism” but didn’t mention that that came up after talking about the first 9/11 attack and is comment boiled down to “terrorism’s bad, mmkay?” — that they’re using now, and didn’t note that the administration spent the next two weeks talking about that YouTube video.

    The interviewer? Candy Crowley.

  85. David M says:

    @Septimius & @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Why defend Romney on this when it’s clear from the transcripts Obama was correct, and Romney’s accusation was not true?

  86. john personna says:

    Why insist that intolerance is in the national interest?

  87. john personna says:

    @Septimius:

    To now argue that Obama and his administration was totally clear from the beginning that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack is pure partisan dishonesty.

    That is the claim that is really bizarre. What you are mistaking is national interest for party interest. You are actually willing to oppose the national interest here, if it helps your party.

    The President’s speech called on all nations to abjure violence and embrace tolerance.

    And you think that was terrible, right?

  88. Not Likely says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The interviewer? Candy Crowley.

    Neat. She acknowledged the same during the debate. Clean out your ears.

  89. Nick says:

    Doug, you are parsing language, but it’s no surprise that you take the “lawerly” approach.

    “Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.”

    So if Obama had simply put “terrorist” in front of “attack,” that would’ve made what he said unimpeachable? What if the attackers were reactionaries or regime sympathizers, would that automatically make them terrorists?

    I like this blog, but you’re going down the rabbit hole with Jen Rubin. Do you really want to be in that company?

  90. jukeboxgrad says:

    septimius:

    Regardless of what President Obama said in his Rose Garden speech, for nearly two weeks, he and his administration implied the opposite: that the Benghazi consulate attack was the result of a protest of a youtube video that got out of hand.

    Consider these two things:

    A) The people who did the attack were terrorists who planned it in advance.

    B) The people who did the attack were aware of the youtube video, and this was an important part of what motivated them to act, or to act at this moment.

    A and B are not “opposite.” There is no opposition whatsoever between A and B. It’s likely that both A and B are true.

    The idea that A and B are “opposite” and mutually exclusive is a form of stupidity. It’s incorrect. But promoting stupid, incorrect beliefs in order to gain partisan advantage is what the GOP is all about.

  91. John Cole says:

    In a long and storied career of being a hack, this may be Doug’s crowning achievement.

    Clearly, the day after an attack in Benghazi, when Obama spoke about the deaths in Benghazi, and said no acts of terror will go unpunished, he was referring to some other terrorist attack.

    How do you tie your shoes in the morning?

  92. Dazedandconfused says:

    @John Cole:

    John,

    I suggest approaching the Libertarians by point out things like this:

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Securityandthe20

    It’s a horrifying video of the guy that Romney sent to debate FP security with someone from the Obama camp. Dov Zakeim. One of the original Vulcans. His wiki-page has been white-washed, but what that guy really is sure as hell shows up here.

    Doug may go over the edge sometimes, but I respectfully suggest it to be unwise to treat the Ronulans like scum. I think most of them are simply ignorant.

  93. angelfoot says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    But let’s not end there: want to address everyone’s questions about what exactly you think they should have done differently, and why you think it would have mattered?

    Precisely.

  94. angelfoot says:

    And let’s not forget that there were protests across the middle east precipitated by the youtube video, which the Obama administration was trying to tamp down.

  95. Lit3Bolt says:

    @John Cole:

    Doug Mataconis: Like Glenn Reynolds, but stupider and more disingenuous.

  96. G.A. says:
  97. Davebo says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Well in fairness Reynolds normally just links to other peoples idiocy.

    Doug’s is original idiocy material.

  98. bill says:

    semantics, we all know the story- that obama (and candy) seemed to think it was a “gotcha” moment was just sad. i’m sure mitt was taken off guard by the moderator actually chiming in…..weak.
    is that when michelle broke protocol and clapped during the debate?!

  99. jukeboxgrad says:

    a “gotcha” moment

    Mitt trying to make a big deal about Obama allegedly failing to say the right magic words isn’t playing “gotcha?” But it’s “gotcha” when Obama points out that Mitt’s accusation is false? Thanks for clearing that up.

  100. Aaron Cunningham says:

    @Jr:

    Are you sure?

  101. mantis says:

    @bill:

    is that when michelle broke protocol and clapped during the debate?!

    Let’s burn her at the stake!

  102. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Yes, this is indeed a fascinating catch. If you’re a moron.

    “Oh, noes, he said acts of terror, not terrorist act. He’s a liar and a Mooslim and a darky. Waaaah!”

  103. BEV TRIGILIO says:
  104. jukeboxgrad says:

    I know this thread is dead, but I need to add something. Above I said this:

    Various people are saying this, that Obama said “act[s] of terror” twice (within a couple of days of the attack). That’s incorrect. He said it at least three times.

    I was saying there are at least three reasons Mitt was wrong to say what he said (“it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror”). I only just now noticed a fourth reason: a statement Obama made on 9/18 (see below for links).

    There are various major ‘timelines’ that have been created by journalists. I’m stunned to notice that all the major timelines I’ve checked omit at least two of the four instances I’m discussing. That is, they are disgracefully incomplete, even though they present themselves as “definitive” (Glenn Kessler’s timeline uses that word in the title, and the original version of his timeline omitted all four instances, and his current version still omits three of the four).

    Here’s a summary of four statements made by Obama (within a week of the attack), where he described the Libya attack as terrorism. 9/12, Rose Garden:

    no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation

    9/13, in CO:

    to all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished

    9/13, in NV:

    no act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world

    9/18, Letterman show:

    extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies

    And it could be there are other statements, too. I haven’t done enough research to rule that out.

    Right now, it looks like this comment is the only place on the internet where all four of these instances are mentioned in one place. You can see this by doing this search. I find this pretty scary and shocking.

    I tried a few variations on that search, and I found the results interesting:

    A search for all four items returns zero results (as I mentioned).
    If I omit item #4, I get 64 results.
    If I omit items #3 and #4, I get 7,860 results.
    If I omit items #1 and #4, I get 81 results.
    If I search for only item #1, I get 320,000 results.

    Those numbers indicate that lots of people are talking about the Rose Garden statement, while the other statements are largely overlooked, even though they are quite relevant.

    Even though I don’t expect much from the press, I’m flabbergasted. There is a major foreign-policy debate tonight. Benghazi has been a big story for weeks, and since the last debate, a ton of ink has been spilled discussing Obama’s statements regarding Benghazi, and supposedly “definitive” timelines have been created, listing those statements. But at this moment there are essentially zero places where a voter can actually see all of his actual statements, in one actual place. What the fuck.

    And it’s worse than just the absence of a correct collection, because we have collections that are pretending to be correct. So people looking at those collections could reasonably conclude that they need to look no further.

    And that might even be what happened to Mitt. Kessler’s original timeline omitted all four statements, even the 9/12 Rose Garden statement. Imagine this scenario: someone on Mitt’s staff read that timeline, and thought something like this: ‘everyone knows the press, including WaPo, is in the bag for Obama. Therefore we can assume that they would never omit information favorable to Obama, and we can assume that this timeline is complete.’

    And then Mitt embarrassed himself in front of a huge audience, because he really didn’t know about the Rose Garden statement. Just speculation, but far, far stranger things have happened.

    More details via here and here.

  105. pylon says:

    ruh roh:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/benghazi-attack-becomes-political-ammunition/2012/10/19/e1ad82ae-1a2d-11e2-bd10-5ff056538b7c_story.html

    The Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attack last month weren’t supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official.

    “Talking points” prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

  106. jukeboxgrad says:

    “Talking points” prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15

    Those “talking points” had already been reported weeks ago (although they have been widely overlooked). What’s perhaps even more important are the statements he got from the official he interviewed. Those statements are new.

    And I think this statement is particularly important:

    The political debate has focused on whether the attack was spontaneous or planned, but the official said there’s evidence of both

    This statement points out that a bunch of people have gotten tripped up by the fallacy of false choice (link).