Lies, scandal, and politics: Benghazi

Reuters

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns speaks in front of a picture of slain U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens during a ceremony commemorating Stevens in Tripoli, Libya, Sept. 20, 2012. Libya apologized for an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which Stevens died.

 

There are a few basics about being president which not incidentally coincide with the responsibilities of being an adult. One is that you cannot lie. Two is that if caught in a lie, you should ‘fess up. And three is that if you lie to cover up your original lie, that’s called malice aforethought (often leading, in Washington, to criminal investigation and obstruction of justice charges, at least if the perp is a Republican). Now, Benghazi. It is perfectly fair for the White House to assert that in the fog of an attack on U.S. facilities, facts were mistaken. It’s important to emphasize that almost anytime one sees a senior official muddling his facts, odds are he’s got bad data, he’s incompetent, or whoever was briefing him was wrong. But…  That is clearly not the case in the Benghazi scandal.

Rather, the story of Benghazi is that while the White House’s initial response may have been confusion (because other attacks were taking place at the same time), very soon thereafter, the outright lying began. And now that we have seen the emails that went to the White House within two hours of the attack naming the perpetrators — a known terrorist group operating in eastern Libya — the fact that officials from the President on down were intentionally and falsely insisting the 9/11/12 attack was not an act of terrorism is screamingly obvious.

Let’s review the timeline (h/t to the Washington Post) once again:

Here’s what the President said on September 12:

“Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts…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.”

Note the reference to the YouTube video in the “reject all efforts to denigrate” line, and the generic references to “acts of terror” which the President falsely insisted (with assistance from CNN’s Candy Crowley) was an assertion that Benghazi was in fact an act of terror.

Here’s Jay Carney, White House spox, the following day:

“I think it’s important to note with regards to that protest that there are protests taking place in different countries across the world that are responding to the movie that has circulated on the Internet.”

Again, the movie.

Here’s Hillary Clinton on September 14:

“We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with. It is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable.”

And Carney the same day:

“We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.  That report is false.” 

And the Obama’s U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice hit every Sunday show with this message on September 16:

“Based on the best information we have to date … it began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video. “

Only on September 19 did Matthew Olson, director the National Counterterrorism Center admit, upon direct questioning, that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.

And the next day, Carney is shocked, shocked that anyone thought Benghazi wasn’t a terrorist attack: (“It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.”) Meanwhile, CBS News gets the story that the entire narrative thus far, including the demonstrations the White House and others referred to, never happened. And that not only did they never happen, but senior Obama administration officials were watching live footage of the attack, and that should have been clear to them.

Still, Obama doubles down on the lie that it was all about the video in his address to the United Nations General Assembly. On September 25, he says:

 “That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.”

Luckily, Reuters now tells us what really happened before the President hit the Rose Garden on 9/12: Within minutes of the attack the day before, the White House received three emails.  Here are the three subject lines for those emails, which spanned a couple of hours from the beginning of the terrorists’ move:

•Email one:  ”U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” and the notation “SBU,” meaning “Sensitive But Unclassified.”

•Email two: “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi”

•Email three: ”Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”

Bottom line? Barack Obama was willfully and knowingly lying to the American people.  Why? To protect the meme that he had al Qaeda and affiliates/sympathizers like Libya’s Ansar al Sharia on the run. A couple of weeks ago, I reminded our readers of the Spanish government’s efforts to mislead the Spanish people about an al Qaeda attack which resulted in the then president being thrown from office.

What should happen? Look at Spain. But if that’s too much for our voters to demand, the very least a responsible democracy will do is investigate impartially and bring to justice those who willfully and repeatedly lied to the American people.

 

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About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


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