As expected, the counter stories are coming out on all the scandals. The IRS scandal is merely some low level Cincinnati people, who apparently don’t belong to the same Government as the President. The AP scandal isn’t really a scandal because nobody taped anything, all they did was tap incoming and outgoing phone calls. No problem there. Just the press, anyway.
And as for Benghazi, the President said, “There’s no there, there” referring of course to the Gertrude Stein line about Oakland.
Funny he should use that line because while he is employing the meaning that nothing exists there, Gertrude Stein probably meant it to mean that the reality of her childhood no longer existed. And in the same way, the reality of how the Benghazi incident was massaged politically no longer exists. Given the “fog of war” excuse for what might have happened that night, we still don’t know what either the President or Secretary of State were doing. This from an Administration that was willing to show the War Room when Bin Laden was killed. Clearly the Secretary of State knew in real time what was happening. But let’s forget about the military response; that’s for another day.
No cover-up – let’s call it dissembling, lying to the American people? According to ABC, here are the opening talking points provided by the CIA on Friday Sept. 14.
Friday, September 14th 2012, 11:15 a.m.
• We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.
• The crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan society. That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.
• Initial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia. The group has since released a statement that its leadership did not order the attacks, but did not deny that some of its members were involved. Ansar al-Sharia’s Facebook page aims to spread Sharia in
Libya and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations of Islam, according to an open source study.
• The wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly contribute to the lethality of the attacks.
• Since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.
• We are working w/ Libyan authorities and intelligence partners in an effort to help bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens.
Here is what they became 24 hours later after 12 iterations:
Saturday, Sept 15, 2012 , 11:26 a.m.
• 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. diplomatic post Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
• This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and currently available information continues to be evaluated.
• The investigation is ongoing, and the U.S. Government is working w/ Libyan authorities to help bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens.
Do those final points reflect what they really knew or the reality? No reasonably objective observer can say they do. And there is little indication for such extensive changes on the grounds of uncertainty or national security. The Libyan president had more regard for the truth than our officials. And what does that tell not just our citizens, but other countries about our regard for the truth?
Notice also how no one defending the Benghazi response is talking about the video anymore. It was all over the news before the election. And no one had seen it anyway. They made a big point of throwing the guy in jail (on a Saturday night) and having the Head of the Joint Chiefs visit some private citizen.
And the unsatisfactory answers continue. According to the Weekly Standard White House Press Secretary Jay Carney continues to tap his inner Ron Ziegler,
“As striking as what appears in the email traffic is what does not. There is no mention of the YouTube video that would become a central part of the administration’s explanation of the attacks to the American people until a brief mention in the subject line of emails coming out of an important meeting where further revisions were made.
Carney, in particular, is likely to face tough questioning about the contents of the emails because he made claims to reporters that were untrue. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two – of these two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility,’ because the word ‘consulate’ was inaccurate,” he told reporters on November 28, 2012.
That’s not true. An email sent at 9:15 PM on September 14, from an official in the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs to others at the agency, described the process this way. “The State Department had major reservations with much or most of the document. We revised the document with their concerns in mind.”
That directly contradicts what Carney said. It’s also difficult to reconcile with claims made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during testimony she gave January 23 on Capitol Hill.
“It was an intelligence product,” she said, adding later that the “intelligence community was the principal decider about what went into talking points.” (See here for the original version of the talking points and the final one.)
Carney and other top Obama administration officials have long maintained that CIA officials revised the talking points with minimal input from Obama administration officials. The claim made little sense when they made it – why would CIA officials revise on their own a set of talking points they’d already finalized? The emails demonstrate clearly that it isn’t true.
Unlike Gertrude Stein’s Oakland, in Benghazi, there is a there, there.