National Security Dudes and Dudettes

When a man or woman is mugged on the street or afflicted by disease, the right response is never to pretend everything is fine and nothing has happened.

But if you're a really cool guy like the president of the United States or one of his top advisors or the Secretary of State who wants to become president of the U.S., then it is perfectly okay to act cool and go into pretend-and-deny mode. It also helps if the media clean up after you.

If Jimmy Carter were as cool as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he would have pretended that Iranian militants had not  attacked a U.S. embassy to kidnap its staff. 

If President Carter had the same audacity of hype as Obama, then he would have claimed that 66 American citizens were on an extended sleepover date with the ayatollah. And if the world press corps had bought the story, Carter might have won a second term as president.

But in 2014, the facts are different. In the case of Barack Obama and the 9-11-12 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, Obama and his aides had a lot more warning of the impending attack than Jimmy Carter did with the Iranian attack on the US embassy in Teheran in 1979.

Obama and then-secretary of state Clinton ignored warnings of attack by terror group, trusting their own claims the terrorists had been vanquished. When the attack exploded, Obama-Clinton were paralyzed by inaction. Finally, they denied that there even had been a terror attack. It was all a spontaneous protest over a video, Obama, Clinton, and Susan Rice said.

They even worked hard to put the video producer behind bars, as if he really produced the terror that killed for Americans in Benghazi. 

This is not a fictional "conspiracy" concocted by Obama-haters or Hillary-haters. This is clearly what happened. The Obama Administration was incompetent and insensitive in the face of a terror threat in Benghazi about which it had been warned.

Obama, Clinton, and now some Democrats in Congress like Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi are again trotting out the "conspiracy" and "witch hunt" charge to keep investigators at bay. 

So far Obama's strategy has worked, because there are differences between 2012-2014 and 1979-80. In 1979, CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite revisited the Iran embassy takeover every night, ending each news show by counting the days Americans were held captive.  

CNN's Candy Crowley is no Walter Cronkite. Not even close. At the 2012 presidential debate, Ms. Crowley dropped the pretense of being an objective moderator and joined Barack Obama's lie that he and his administration had identified the attack as terror from the beginning.

It was such a nice contribution by Ms. Crowley, that Mr. Obama, asked the referee to repeat herself and trip up his opponent, Mitt Romney, one more time. 

"Can you say that a little louder, Candy," chirped Mr. Obama, wearing a big smile.

Obama was re-elected, and Secretary of State Clinton was able to duck tough questions for many months because of illness. When she finally appeared before Congress, she went from pretend-and-deny-mode into outraged-at-the-question mode.

"What difference at this point does it all make?" declared Ms. Clinton in exasperation when Republican senators had the temerity even to question her and the Obama administration about their Libya policy or lack of policy. After all, Obama and Clinton promised to investigate it all themselves, but actually they buried important information along with the four dead U.S. officials in Benghazi.

Actually Obama-Clinton stalled for time, denying requests for documents or timelines. They relied on Democrats in the Senate and the House to block access to documents or the naming of a special prosecutor, as Congress demanded from President Ronald Reagan over his handling of the Iran-Contra affair. Democrats have not acted like Republicans who helped uncover part of the Watergate cover-up and force Richard Nixon from office.  But now, various congressional and NGO efforts to get some documents have borne some fruit, forcing release of some e-mails that seem to be part of a big cover-up. 

One damning document is an email from Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy National Security Advisor emphasizing that "protest" led to attack on the Americans in Libya. Ben Rhodes is the brother of David Rhodes, the president of CBS News, which has been accused of downplaying or ignoring news that might hurt Obama.

A top CBS investigative reporter, Sharyl Atkisson, recently quit after she said CBS refused to back her investigations that seemed to embarrass Obama. Ms Atkisson's tenacity resembles the tenacity from the old days when CBS was not afraid to challenge US presidents, whether it was Nixon or Carter. 

CBS News President Rhodes did not do much to keep Ms. Atkisson at CBS. It is clear that when it comes to journalistic values, he is also no Walter Cronkite. 

Other major TV networks -- NBC, ABC, CNN -- largely avoided the story. They have not aired significant footage or stories showing how White House spokesman James Carney has repeatedly lied and dissembled on this subject.

Only Fox News has really pursued the story, angering Obama, Carney, and other administration officials by demanding some kind of explanation for events in Libya.

 "Dude, this was two years ago," observed Tommy Vietor, former spokesman for the National Security Council. 

The very use of the term "dude" and the whole tone of Vietor's response symbolizes a lack of seriousness and incompetence in facing terror.

"I don't really remember," said Vietor, sounding much  like Nixon Administration counsel, John Dean, whose pat response at the Watergate hearings was "I do not recall." 

Nobody died in Watergate, but John Dean and other Nixon officials went to jail because they were clearly not cool dudes.

One thing is clear: the Obama Administration is full of cool dudes and dudettes.

When you're cool, dude, you can flat-out lie, dude, about what you just did or said. You can turn on a dime, and distort what just happened and lie about why it happened. Press Secretary James Carney insisted there was no terror at Benghazi until, a week later in an on-board briefing, he switched and said of course everyone knew there was terror at Benghazi.

But if you are not a cool dude but only an un-cool dud, like Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, or even Mitt Romney, then you're in trouble.

Just ask Candy Crowley.

Dr. Michael Widlanski is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat, published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel's Ministry of Public Security, teaches at Bar Ilan University and recently was visiting professor at University of California, Irvine.

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