Powell on Benghazi

"Somebody gets killed, something gets blown up. And then the after-action reports start and everybody wants to know who was at fault. Who was responsible? ‘Why didn’t you keep this from happening?’ Well, you can’t keep everything from happening. Benghazi was a very, very difficult one and a difficult situation, and maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place."—Former Secretary of State (among other things) Colin Powell.

That really is the bottom line, yes?

(Emphasis mine)

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    That really is the bottom line, yes?

    Oh no Steve, somebody is to blame!!!! Just ask Susan Rice.

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    For decades as a country we’ve been saddled with the deleterious effects of the soft bigotry of low expectations, but with that quote Powell jumped the shark tank into the soft cognitive dissonance of no expectations.

    A Democrat administration falls completely asleep at the switch and somehow manages not to boost security at a consular mission where neon signs basically were flashing that there was going to be a deadly attack, and sure enough four people get murdered and only blind luck and the bravery of individual actors on the ground prevented it from being far worse, and in Powell’s world, hey, man, NBD, stop criticizing them for it, don’t be so partisan. Geez.

    And here’s the other irony, which ironically will be lost on the left wing. “[Y]ou can’t keep everything from happening.” In this particular context liberals completely would be in agreement with that statement, because it’s their people who screwed up so royally. Then in the next breath, however, in various other contexts, they’d unplug their brains and have the exact opposite approach.

    According to the left guns need to be banned because we “need to prevent” another Newtown or Aurora. The Feds according to the left should spend more and more money on the likes of AFDC, Medicaid and unemployment insurance because we “need to prevent” people from falling below the poverty line. The CAA and CWA and the ESA and EPA enforcement thereof all need to be boosted because “we need to prevent” the environment from being harmed. So on, so forth. IOW whether you “can keep everything from happening” or not depends upon whether the left’s pet issues are at stake.

    Leftism is the politics of selective amnesia.

  3. Markey says:

    “Leftism is the politics of selective amnesia.”
    This from a guy who voted for Romney.

    WooT LoL

  4. Herb says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    “Leftism is the politics of selective amnesia.”

    If that’s the case, what’s your “ism?”

    Tenaciously pursuing your political agenda even in situations where it’s not appropriate? I just love how Benghazi proved that Obama was weak, and now Powell proves that the left wing is stupid because “You can’t keep everything from happening.” When the sun rises this morning, it will prove you were right all along!

    As to this:

    “Benghazi was a very, very difficult one and a difficult situation, and maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”

    Powell may be onto something there. Although I would be more nuanced:

    Maybe we should have been there, but maybe we shouldn’t have been running a covert intelligence operation out of a “consulate.” I’m no expert on these matters, of course, and hindsight is 20-20, but I do think they would have made it easier to gather intelligence and be less of a target if they were posing as something else.

    But hey, Obama sucks, so………just indict “the left.” That ringing bell makes me HUNGRY.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    Tsar certainly seems to have selective amnesia when it comes to Republicans.
    Someone please remind her/him about 9/11.
    How many people lost their jobs after that collosal f’up? None. No one acknowledged accountibility. Cheney even had the cojones to brag about keeping the country safe. What about Iraq? One of the biggest foreign policy blunders in our history? Crickets.
    Benghazi? An independent review board did not —

    “find that any individual U.S. Government employee engaged in misconduct or willfully ignored his or her responsibilities, and, therefore did not find reasonable cause to believe that an individual breached his or her duty so as to be the subject of a recommendation for disciplinary action.”

    Yet people did resign. Clinton acknoledged responsibility. Obama; the same.

  6. Septimius says:


    They did ask Susan Rice. She blamed it on a youtube video.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    @ Septimius…
    I know you aren’t smart enough to figure this out but I’ll try anyway.
    The CIA told Rice what to say.
    The CIA was running a covert operation out of that Consulate.
    The CIA told Rice what to say.
    The CIA was running a covert operation out of that consulate.
    The CIA told Rice what to say.
    The CIA was running a covert operation out of that consulate.
    The CIA told Rice what to say.
    The CIA was running a covert operation out of that consulate.
    The CIA told Rice what to say.
    The CIA was running a covert operation out of that consulate.

  8. anjin-san says:

    None. No one acknowledged accountibility.

    As I remember it, the party line what that no human power could have prevented 9.11, it was basically baked in from the moment the big bang took place. No one ever imagined such a thing (except Tom Clancy in a best selling novel, but let’s not talk about that)

    Oh, but if anyone was at fault, it was Clinton.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @C. Clavin: Don’t bother. It was Susan Rice’s fault. Just ask John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and now @Septimius:

    How do they know? Fox News said it was so.

  10. Herb says:


    “They did ask Susan Rice. She blamed it on a youtube video.”

    That criticism had more weight before all the facts were in. Now that the facts are in, it’s just stupid.

  11. C. Clavin says:

    If Tsar was really concerned about accountibility he/she would be all over Issa for outing the CIA’s covert operation in open Congressional Witch Hunts.
    But he/she is not.
    He/she is only interested in trying in vain to score political points.

  12. stonetools says:

    Powell’s response was sane and reality based, which means that he sounded like a Democrat. He truly is a RINO now, and should follow Crist into the Democratic Party.

  13. 11B40 says:


    Ah, yes, the illustrious (almost) Generalissimo Powell who was, previously, a staunch, or as staunch as our American generals are these sorry days, proponent of that wonderful hollowing out tool we have come to know as “force protection”. I guess that I’m still having trouble understanding that all forces are equal and some forces are more equal.

    Have you all forgotten that General Powell was once asked by a lady Secretary of State if he wasn’t using the army could she borrow it ??? That would be my choice for his epitaph. At least the Commies were forthright about who their “Political Officers” were.

  14. Anderson says:

    @11B40: A *lady*!! How emasculating! That’s why he’s a RINO, because we Democrats are all sissies.

    Srsly, some commenters just tell you all too much about themselves, and zilch about anything else.

  15. James in LA says:

    Tsar’s arguments are cowardly. Post once and done, never any debate. In 2013, he is likely an abandoned malware script whose developer long ago graduated from high school.

  16. bill says:

    we agree colin, it’s just the double standard of non reporting due to the white house occupants. the “4 yr honeymoon” is what it’s called.

  17. grumpy realist says:

    @bill: And may I point out, President Obama did get re-elected. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.