BBC has apologized for its coverage of the Benghazi murders; ABC has unraveled the mendacious tale of the talking points ' genesis and the Congressional hearings this week have dramatically established the administration's elaborate lies about how our ambassador and his brave defenders were murdered and its failure to protect them. Maybe now the press will feel it's okay to get off their duffs and report how a thoroughly incompetent administration, motivated solely by self-interest, left our ambassador and others to be murdered and then lied about it with consequences to us all.
Were this a trial 's closing moments, counsel for the prosecution would be reminding the jury that if a witness has lied about a substantive matter in the hearing they can assume he's lying about everything.
15:59 Department of Defense orders unmanned surveillance aircraft to reposition overhead Benghazi mission [ed. It appears we sought Libyan permission to do this and received it]
16:05 Department of state email notified White House, Pentagon of attack
16:32 Secretary of defense Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff informed of attack by Department of Defense
17:00 Obama and Biden and Panetta meet at White House
17:06 Third Department of Defense email says Ansar al-Sharia claim attack
17:22 Hillary blames the video [and spontaneous outburst by Libyans]
10:50 Obama meets with Clinton at Department of State
18:50 Obama flies to Las Vegas for fundraiser
John Podhoretz at the NY Postzeroed in on testimony proving the administration lied in placing the blame on a spontaneous outburst responsive to the Nakoula Basseley Nakoula video:
...we learned during the hearing that on Sept. 12, State Department official Beth Jones said flatly in an e-mail, "The group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists."
We can say this because we heard the testimony of the No. 2 US diplomat in Libya, Greg Hicks -- in which he said no one on the ground in Libya had any doubt it was a planned assault by Ansar al-Sharia. The first thing his boss, Ambassador Chris Stevens, told Hicks over the phone was, "We're under attack." Stevens was murdered shortly thereafter.
We can say this because we learned last week that the State Department Operations Center sent out a bulletin on Sept. 11 stating that Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility.
Hicks said that in his conversations with State Department officials back home, including Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, neither he nor they nor anybody else said anything about a spontaneous demonstration or anything about a YouTube video.
Because you may have forgotten how outrageous was the role played by Hillary Clinton and the White House in this and how the media's defensive blockers have kept the truth hidden from view, let me give you a quick review of some of the most repulsive behavior both before and after the 2012 election.
Politico, which normally is a mouthpiece for the administration, has further videos of the original (unsworn) Clinton testimony before Congress and that of Deputy Chief of Mission Hicks and excoriated her for the role she played in making a patsy of Nakoula and undermining the First Amendment,
His video, which did spark violent protests in the Muslim world by the kind of people who are looking for an excuse to protest, should have been an object lesson in freedom. Obama should have explained that our culture is full of disreputable film directors and producers. Some of them are even honored by the Academy.
Instead, Nakoula ended up the patsy in a tawdry coverup. The State Department Operations Center reported to Washington immediately that the Benghazi attack was an assault carried out by Islamic militants. The falsehoods about Benghazi weren't a product of the fog of war; they were the product of the fog of politics. Desperate to minimize the attack and deflect responsibility, Team Obama evaded and obfuscated.
Steve Hayes of The Weekly Standard notes that even the politicized anodyne talking points left over after the administration's spinmiesters had thoroughly edited the CIA's original talking points about Benghazi didn't mention the Nakoula video. During her infamous Sunday show circuit, Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice nonetheless said, "What sparked the violence was a very hateful video on the Internet. It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States."
Very few people have been willing to stick up for Nakoula (with "Instapundit" Glenn Reynolds a prominent and dogged exception). Nakoula's character is sketchy and his work is execrable. Yet the First Amendment applies to him all the same, even if he might have reason to doubt it as he serves out a sentence that never would have come about if he hadn't offended the wrong people.
Not only did Clinton (and Rice) repeatedly lie to but as well, she made this video directed to Pakistan repeating the lie that Nakoula was the one at fault. Clinton and Obama even brazenly repeated the lies standing in front of the coffins of the dead at Andrews Field and promising their survivors that the filmmaker would be punished..
The story never made sense and I said so at the time. The big press, however, the press that could have made a difference, to its everlasting shame, pulled every defensive trick in the book to cover for the administration liars and their fairytale.
Candy Crowley famously interjected herself into the Romney-Obama debate to get Obama off the hot seat with a false interpretation of what the administration had done, suggesting that the president and his team had early blamed terrorists for the assault when they most certainly had not: at best in the quote she referred to he was making a very generic claim, not disputing his own team's official account that this was a reaction to the video.
A cabal of reporters coordinated their efforts to undercut Mitt Romney's charge defused a press conference by him condemning our response to the Libyan attacks:
It is not uncommon for reporters to coordinate their line of questioning ahead of a press conference where there will be limited time and only a handful of reporters selected to ask questions.
However, some conservatives have expressed irritation that the reporters' coordination focused on the tone and timing of Romney's statement rather than the policy proscriptions he would advance in order to preempt future attacks similar to Tuesday's assault on the American consulate in Benghazi. h/t The Right Scoop
As they treated the issues from the beginning until late this week, with rare exceptions, such as Fox News and CBS's Sharyl Attkisson, the press has treated the issue as a nonstarter if they fitted it in at all in between news of the shape of the Kardashians' derrieres, the Cleveland child kidnappers, the Arias trial, and any other bit of fluff that carried with it no downside for Obama and little work for them.
When pressed at her first Congressional appearance -- after time off for a self-reported head injury and wine tasting abroad -- Hillary famously said of the matter of the false account," What difference, at this point, does it make?" This week, we learned from the men on the ground in Libya what difference it made -- because of the false narrative we undercut and discredited our allies, the officials of the new Libyan government. They in turn delayed the entry of the FBI to the scene of the attack, making a proper investigation impossible. In sum, the lie obstructed justice and undoubtedly played a role in our continued inability to identify suspects or to apprehend them. Of course, it goes without saying voters in 2012 might well have thought a great deal less of Obama had the truth been revealed.
More than the substance of the report was utterly false. So were the claims of its authorship. Contrary to the assertions that the administration talking points were prepared by the intelligence community , we learned from ABC that they were edited 12 times at the White House and State Department to hide the truth.
ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.
White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.
"Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC's best assessments of what they thought had happened," Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. "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 institutions were changing the word 'consulate' to 'diplomatic facility' because 'consulate' was inaccurate."
Summaries of White House and State Department emails -- some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard -- show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said none of this contradicts what he said about the talking points because ultimately all versions were actually written and signed-off by the CIA.
"The CIA drafted these talking points and redrafted these talking points," Carney said. "The fact that there are inputs is always the case in a process like this, but the only edits made by anyone here at the White House were stylistic and nonsubstantive. They corrected the description of the building or the facility in Benghazi from consulate to diplomatic facility and the like. And ultimately, this all has been discussed and reviewed and provided in enormous levels of detail by the administration to Congressional investigators, and the attempt to politicize the talking points, again, is part of an effort to, you know, chase after what isn't the substance here."
Carney's notion of "stylistic and nonsubstantive" and mine are different. I'd call the changes major and meaningful.
Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard, who has done an outstanding job, has more on how the CIA's report was mangled beyond recognition by "senior administrative policymakers" He names the fairytale creators as Victoria Nuland , "State Department spokeswoman", Ben Rhodes, "a top Obama foreign policy and national security adviser" (See here), Jake Sullivan, then deputy chief of staff to Clinton and now top national security advisor to Vice-President Biden.
What's clear is that the final version did not reflect the views of the top intelligence official on the ground in Benghazi, who had reported days earlier that the assault had been a terrorist attack conducted by jihadists with links to al Qaeda, or the top U.S. diplomat in Libya, Gregory Hicks.
Hicks testified last week that he was not consulted on the talking points and was surprised when he saw Rice make a case that had little to do with what had happened in Benghazi. "I was stunned," he said. "My jaw dropped."
The hearings last week produced fresh details on virtually every aspect of the Benghazi controversy and raised new questions. By the end of some six hours of testimony, several Democrats on the committee had joined their Republican colleagues in calling for more hearings, additional witnesses, and the release of unclassified documents related to the attacks in Benghazi.
On May 9, House speaker John Boehner echoed the calls for those unclassified Benghazi documents to be made public. He had two specific requests. First, Boehner called for the release of an email from Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary for Near East affairs, sent on September 12. Jones wrote to her colleagues to describe a conversation she'd had with Libya's ambassador to the United States. When the Libyan raised the possibility that loyalists to Muammar Qaddafi might have been involved, Jones corrected him. "When he said his government suspected that former Gadhafi regime elements carried out the attacks, I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists." Among those copied on the email: Jake Sullivan, Victoria Nuland, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, and Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton's chief of staff and longtime confidante.
Second, Boehner asked the White House to release the 100 pages of internal administration emails related to the drafting and editing of the talking points. Sources tell The Weekly Standard that House Republicans will subpoena them if the administration does not turn them over voluntarily.
Two weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry said it was time to "move on" from Benghazi. More recently, Jay Carney suggested the same thing, explaining that Benghazi had happened "a long time ago."
But it's increasingly clear that congressional Republicans, and many Americans, will not move on until the outstanding questions about Benghazi are answered.
Congressman Chaffetz has indicated he wants Hillary to testify again before the committee, if necessary under subpoena.
Besides the reasons for the administration's obfuscations and lies, it is now necessary to determine whether we did what we could have to rescue our beleaguered men on the ground. The committee heard that there were two orders to "Stand down" from assisting them. Lt. General McInerney speaking on Lou Dobbs said, "There is only one person who can say stand down and that's the president". What took place between 5 p.m. on Sept 11 when Panetta met with Obama and 6:50 p.m. the following day when Obama left to fundraise in Las Vegas? Perhaps only they can clarify that. Panetta is subject to subpoena. Will the president be asked to testify? Will he refuse?
And why did the administration attempt this ridiculous charade? Because they feared its impact on the election? Because there was something going on in Libya they do not want us to know? Is it a Middle Eastern version of Fast & Furious with our giving weaponry to our enemies?
In the meantime, we can be sure that others will join the people who leaked to Hayes and Karl. James Rosen thinks so, too:
Fox's @JamesRosenFNC reports that "several more" #Benghazi whistleblowers are considering coming forward," including CIA officials.
Such a faithless administration with its already demonstrated willingness to cast blame on others and to sacrifice those lower down the totem pole does not inspire loyalty.