15 Sep '16     home | more politics

Benghazi and the Rightist Mind

This morning's news on buzzfeed.com has Colin Powell and Condi Rice agreeing that Benghazi was "a stupid witchhunt." Conflicting comments on the article says exposes different mentalities:

A man from Seattle writes:

How many people know that the republican congress refused to increase funding for security at the Benghazi embassy BEFORE the attack? Hardly anyone because the conservative media bias refuses to tell anyone.

Someone else:

Of course it was a witch-hunt. Look at all the attacks and deaths on US embassies during the Bush Administration.

A third, who describes himself as American Elephants, writes:

It's not about the attack, you dumbass. America gets attacked all the time ... It's about the LYING AND ATTEMPT TO COVER UP THE ATTACK. It was in the middle of presidential election season and Obama had been running around saying he had "al Qaeda on the run" and other BS and so Obama decided they had to LIE about this terrorist attack that happened which he was bragging that he had the terrorists on the run and they told Americans, the press, Congress, and lied directly to the faces of the grieving parents that this was the result of protesters who were angry at a You Tube video an American made.

American Elephants has created an interpretation that fits his dislike of Obama. He assumes he knows that President Obama's was motivated to lie about the event, and he mangles the understanding that I and many others, including the president, have had about that event.

Demonstrations were taking place in the Benghazi area, and the press did some sloppy reporting, confusing the attack of the embassy with the demonstrations. On September 29, 2012, eighteen days after the event, I wrote:

The blur that sometimes occurs in reporting events, and that has dragged on regarding the attack on the 11th of this month in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Stevens, is still a news item. On September 13, Rachel Maddow broadcast what appears to have been an accurate account. Finally, yesterday's news included a report that top US intelligence sources have issued a public statement with a clarification that agrees with Maddow's (and MSNBC's) account.

Susan Rice was Ambassador to the UN at the time, and she allowed herself to be misled by the confusion. The sloppy journalism was accompanied by sloppy intelligence, and in speaking to the press, she stuck to the information she had been given: that the attack on the embassy evolved out of a the protest demonstrations. According to Bloomberg News:

Rice's appearances on the Sunday shows crystallized an administration narrative about the Benghazi attacks that was false and came back to bite them.

President Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were supposed to have organization in place that handled emergency events without calling on any creative ponderings. It didn't work. There was confusion.

In late June 2016, a Congressional committee issued its final report on the incident, "one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional investigations in history," wrote the New York Times." The Times continued:

The 800-page report delivered a broad rebuke of the Defense Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department — and the officials who led them — for failing to grasp the acute security risks in Benghazi, and especially for maintaining outposts there that they could not protect.

MediaMatters.org published an article titled "A Comprehensive Guide to Benghazi Myths and Facts." It describes in detail Fox News devoting much of its time to Obama and Clinton alleged mendacities. It describes as myth the idea that Susan Rice was covering up Obama administration and that the Obama administration knew an attack was imminent and didn't do a thing about It."

Based on my understanding of the Benghazi incident and the congressional inquiry, I'll go with Powell and Rice.

I don't know that the man who calls himself American Elephants gathered his view largely from Fox's biased journalism – if one can call it journalism. But I think we can conclude that his describing Obama as "lying in an attempt to cover up the attack" as assumption more than it is justified by available facts. And his calling someone with contrary view a "dumbass" I'll put down to as conceit and too much certainty. It adds another specific to my generalization about right-wingers.

Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, however conservative, have a flexibility that in my mind sets them apart from the likes of American Elephants.

Email exposures include Powell describing the "basic fault" for the attack that killed Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi, in part on the judgment of Stevens himself. Powell wrote that Stevens "thought Libyans now love me and I am ok in this very vulnerable place." In other words Stevens and also some folks in Washington had screwed up. (See CNN Politics, Sep 14 '16.)

The Media Matters "Comprehensive Guide" article it exposes the abundance of sloppy thinking at Fox that good or even mediocre journalists don't engage in.

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