That confusion is solely the responsibility of the Obama administration. It began when embassy officials in Egypt blamed a video deemed offensive to many Muslims for violence in Cairo. It continued as administration officials made inconsistent comments about the events in Libya, first blaming the same video, then blaming terrorists, then blaming the video again. Different stories came from different parts of the administration, with the president even taking inconsistent positions on subsequent days. No wonder there was confusion.
But in major developments over the past two days, the Obama administration has now officially changed its tune and called the Libyan attacks “terrorism.” The question then is why, as this timeline of events shows, the Obama administration not only blamed the video for events in Libya without much evidence, it then held to that story long after it had become clear what really happened. In the words of Jennifer Rubin, this means the administration “dissembled.” That’s a nice word for lied.
This comprehensive video timeline from Fox is very useful to see who said what when.
As stated in the video, the administration is now admitting Benghazi was a terrorist attack, but the timelines and extraneous evidence (including a collection of different media outlets reporting) show they knew this much earlier than they let on. Only in the last couple days have they finally abandoned the irresponsible blaming of the video (that arguably resulted in the video becoming much wider known than it would have otherwise). So, this is the most transparent presidency ever? But with this hesitant, fits and starts choosing of the explanation for events in Libya, the natural question is who knew what, and when. And did the administration really lie?
Apologists for the administration try and blame the “fog of war,” the confusion that results when things are moving quickly, as Geraldo Rivera did on Fox:
But in the absence of other information, it’s just as easy to conclude the White House avoided or hid the truth because the events in Libya laid bare a number of administration mistakes. Mistakes in foreign policy, mistakes in philosophy, mistakes in failing to provide protection, and others. Most critical, the Libyan attack proved false Obama’s naive claim, trumpeted in Charlotte, that due to his administration Al Qaeda is in retreat. Whatever the reason for the “dissembling,” that myth has been shattered, and coming to grips with the reality that the United States suffered another terrorist attack, from Al Qaeda, on September 11 raises doubts about other previously unquestioned Obama assertions the world is safer and better off under his presidency. Now the evidence in front of us is clearly to the contrary. The world is not better off because he “reset” relations with the Muslim world. Is the world safer after the reset with Russia, or will we suffer an abuse of “trust” at their hands like we have with the Middle East? Are we really “going to a better place” despite the toughness of the way, as he promised in Charlotte, or will we find, at the end of a long hard road, solely the end of a long hard road? Signs point to the latter. The only reason, we’re seeing, to trust the president, is that he sounds good. But even with that, at some point we have to admit that what he’s doing, from foreign policy to the economy, JUST ISN’T WORKING. Like the employee who’s a nice guy and sounds great, out of fairness to everyone else you just can’t afford to keep him around.
Here’s the Romney campaign’s take:
Interestingly, the opposite of “benefit of the doubt” appears to be true for Mitt Romney. The media screams that his interjection into the middle eastern violence was off base, hasty and an attempt to politicize tragedy. But indications are Mitt’s camp held onto its statement to avoid politicizing the violence on the anniversary of the original 9/11. And Mitt’s criticisms of the Cairo embassy’s statements (later disavowed by the White House), pointing out their conciliatory tone, in hindsight appear right on point. Why apologize for the content of a movie when the real perpetrators were terrorists? And who is it again whose reaction was hasty? So while the media seems to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, even when he appears wrong, they appear to not give Mitt the same, despite the fact he’s most often proved correct.
Additional case in point: the auto bailout. I suggest you see this link to see what I’ve already posted on this topic. The bottom line? Mitt was right, Obama wrong on approach and result. Mitt would have saved the auto industry and saved taxpayers billions.
While the mainstream media has had to be dragged to “Benghazi-gate,” some are now at least reporting it. Even the New York Times, in an article entitled “Shifting Reports on Libya Killings May Cost Obama,” said yesterday:
After first describing the attack as a spontaneous demonstration run amok, administration officials now describe it as a terrorist act with possible involvement by Al Qaeda. The changing accounts prompted the spokesman for the nation’s top intelligence official, James R. Clapper Jr., to issue a statement on Friday acknowledging that American intelligence agencies “revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.”
A series of stories late last week also laid out the case.
The Boston Herald‘s opinion page is among them. In their article entitled: “Prez weaves a web of lies,” they cite the inconsistencies of Ambassador Rice’s contention the attack was a mob action. It wasn’t and we now know it. Ambassador Rice may have known it as well, leading to Representative King calling for Ambassador Rice’s resignation.
Rep. Peter King, the New York Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, has demanded the resignation of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice in the wake of the Benghazi attack.
King said on CNN Friday that Rice’s explanation on the talk shows was “such a failure of foreign policy message and leadership” and “such a misstatement of facts” that “I believe she should resign.”
In my estimation asking for Rice’s resignation is shooting too low. I want to know what Obama knew and when.
The Herald also noted that despite Press Secretary Carney’s statements early on the violence was linked to the video (speaking to the president)…
Multiple sources confirm that your administration knew it was a “preplanned,” “premeditated attack” within 24 hours. Far from having “no evidence,” your administration had already identified a possible target for retaliation within a day of Stevens’ murder.
The Herald goes on to recite more lies of the administration. For example, statements the FBI was on the scene also proved false. To my knowledge they’re still 400 miles away.
In the Washington Examiner, another author asks the same question “What did the White House know about Libya, and when?” This story also asks about why security was so lax when we now know even Stevens himself suspected his life was in danger. He said so in his journal, discovered not by US forces, but by CNN, at the compound.
Out of deference to Stevens’ family, CNN did not initially reveal it had discovered the journal. But based on that document and other sources — “including one,” CNN’s Anderson Cooper reported Monday, “who had a detailed conversation with the ambassador, which confirmed much of what we felt important in the journal” — CNN reported: “A source familiar with Ambassador Stevens’ thinking says that in the months before his death, he talked about being worried about what he called the never-ending security threats specifically in Benghazi. The source telling us that the ambassador specifically mentioned the rise in Islamic extremism, the growing al-Qaeda presence in Libya, and said he was on an al-Qaeda hit list.”
The administration’s response? Attack CNN. From the Daily Beast’s “Write About Terrorism? Nah, Let’s All Bash Mitt Romney Instead!”
CNN found Ambassador Chris Stevens’s journal, in which he expressed fear that he may be killed by, you guessed it, al Qaeda. For this, the State Department viciously attacked the network in a statement and insinuated, ridiculously, that CNN was only interested in the journal for salacious reasons. When the U.S. government starts pressuring reporters to not report legitimate news, people should wonder why. [emphasis added] Another reporter, from BuzzFeed, who was curious about why the area surrounding the U.S. Consulate had not been secured following the attack to ensure classified information didn’t fall into the hands of our enemies, was told by a State Department spokesman to “_____ off.” [expletive deleted]
So why was protection so lacking, and why blame a video, not just once but multiple times, in the face of growing evidence to the contrary? Incompetence or dishonesty.
And at least The Daily Beast realizes the irony here. The title of their post indicates they understand the press is looking to bash Mitt, even when not warranted, while giving the president an undeserved benefit of the doubt. The Daily Beast goes on, asking the same question:
What did [the administration] know, and when did they know it?
Nothing about the constantly evolving tale the Obama administration has been weaving about the attacks in the Middle East makes sense, unless it is seen as a deliberate attempt to mislead Americans into believing al Qaeda has been decimated, as President Obama has been known to assert. After dancing on Osama bin Laden’s grave for a week in Charlotte, the administration was faced with the reality that the war on terror is still quite on.
Rather than acknowledging this, they went into spin mode with the claim that a goofy video posted on YouTube caused the Sept. 11 attack that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice took to the Sunday shows to assert: “What happened in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many parts of the region … was a result—a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated.” She claimed the attack in Libya was “spontaneous” and not preplanned. It just happened to be on the anniversary of 9/11. No reason to read anything into that.
Never mind that a fourth grader could see that the Libya attack was anything but a spontaneous riot over an Internet video the administration, following the lead of the Islamists, has elevated to the genre of “movie.” Protesters generally don’t carry RPGs or use mortars, for starters. Then there was Mohamed Yusuf al-Magarief, president of Libya’s General National Congress, saying on Face the Nation on Sept. 16: “The way these perpetrators acted and moved, and their choosing the specific date for this so-called demonstration, this leaves us with no doubt that this was preplanned, predetermined.” Either the administration was lying with its original Libya story or it is frighteningly naive and clueless.
Watch this interview with Libya’s president:
Whichever is the case, the media could stand to have a lot more curiosity about the safety of the United States. Thankfully, a few reporters are doing their jobs. While most of the media herd was fretting that Mitt Romney paid too much in taxes, The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake discovered that the administration had known within 24 hours that al Qaeda was behind the attack in Benghazi. One official said, according to a Fox News report, “No one … believed that the mortars, indirect and direct fire, and the RPGs were just the work of a mob—no one.” [emphasis added] When I asked the White House and State Department whether they had such information in the hours following the attack, they refused to answer on the record. Suddenly the people who released endless and specific details about the killing of Osama bin Laden find it unreasonable that one would expect them to discuss intelligence matters.
There are so many unanswered questions, not just about Libya but also about Cairo. Who is it that Rice thinks “widely disseminated” this “movie”? Surely she can’t believe that the Egyptian Coptic Christian who made the video had the capacity or even desire to put it in the hands of the people who did the inciting. Also, has the administration noticed that the mob in Cairo, so spontaneously upset about the video, just happened to be carrying an Islamist flag to hoist over our embassy? On 9/11. What a massive coincidence.
Also, where did Rice get her very detailed information about the attack in Libya? She referred to the attackers as “a small handful of heavily armed mobsters” who merely took advantage of a growing protest over the video, a protest that now appears never to have occurred, as was reported three days before her appearances. The administration is careful to point out that Rice couched everything she said as being the best assessment at the time. Fine. But where did that assessment come from and how could it have been so wrong, especially when all signs pointed to a terrorist attack?
All good questions, and all worthy of further inquiry now that the president’s veneer has worn off.
The New York Daily News also asks a key question:
Why is this not a scandal yet?
I’ll be honest with you. It is scandalous that a U.S. ambassador was killed abroad. It is even more scandalous that this ambassador was provided almost no security at one of the most dangerous assignments on the planet for the flimsiest of excuses. The President should be answering for those scandals. But the fact that his administration then misled the American people? That the law enforcement Obama has tapped to lead the investigation hasn’t even managed to complete the most obvious of tasks? That is beyond scandal. That is a disgrace.
The Washington Examiner recently posted an op ed entitled “The growing stench of Obama’s Libya cover-up.” They also go through the timeline and conclude:
One could argue that the initial evidence may not have been definitive enough to brand the event a terrorist attack. But ABC News also reported that “intelligence officials on the ground immediately suspected the attack was not tied to the movie at all” — yet that didn’t stop officials from Obama on down from publicly promoting the canard that the controversial film was the culprit.
It may be awhile until Americans get the full story of what happened in Libya. But the president’s effort to cover up evidence of another terrorist attack against the U.S. on Sept. 11 just two months before the election is deeply troubling.
The Wall Street Journal also called into question the adequacy of the security.
You’d think this admission would focus attention on why the compound was so vulnerable to begin with. But the Administration wants to avoid this conversation. The removal of all staff from Benghazi, including a large component of intelligence officers, would also seem to hinder their ability to investigate the attacks and bring the killers to justice.
Deteriorating security was no secret. On April 10, for example, an explosive device was thrown at a convoy carrying U.N. envoy Ian Martin. On June 6, an improvised explosive device exploded outside the U.S. consulate. In late August, State warned American citizens who were planning to travel to Libya about the threat of assassinations and car bombings.
Despite all this, U.S. diplomatic missions had minimal security. Officials told the Journal that the Administration put too much faith in weak Libyan police and military forces. The night of the Benghazi attack, four lightly armed Libyans and five American security officers were on duty. The complex lacked smoke-protection masks and fire extinguishers. Neither the consulate in Benghazi nor the embassy in Tripoli were guarded by U.S. Marines, whose deployment to Libya wasn’t a priority.
So now we’ve established the administration’s story was untenable from the beginning, and that they continued to spout it even after it was clearly known not to be true. And we have an idea why they would do that. How big of a deal is this?
Mike Huckabee has likened the cover up to Watergate, noting that the main difference here is that in Watergate no one was killed. Politico reported:
“Let’s just get blunt. No way to sugar coat this — We’ve been lied to. We have flat-out been lied to. They know they’ve lied,” Huckabee told Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom.” “It’s as if airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center and somebody says, ‘those were just accidents. The planes veered off course.’ Everybody with two eyes and IQ above plant life understands that what happened in Egypt and what happened in Libya was not some spontaneous reaction to a stupid 13-minute video on YouTube. It was a planned, coordinated, orchestrated attack led by terrorists.”
“Richard Nixon was forced out of office because he lied and because he covered some stuff up. I’m going to be blunt and tell you this — nobody died in Watergate,” Huckabee said. “We have some people who are dead because of this. There are some questions to be answered and Americans ought to demand to get answers and it doesn’t matter what the politics are.”
Even Geraldo Rivera, not exactly a right winger, and all the while trying to defend the president, says in the clip above that the scandal is a “chink in the armor” and “the one cancer on the Presidency.” I’d say there’s more malignancy, but how will we know if we can’t do an examination? For that we need an active press. The good news is that some of the MSM outlets above appear to be cutting the president less slack. But if the media continues to give the benefit of the doubt to Obama, despite his obvious failings, and criticizing Mitt, despite his past successes, we’ll end up with the same incompetence for four more years, and all we’ll have is the comfort of looking back and saying, “gee, Mitt had it right. Who knew?” Well, I’m telling you now.
I’ve said in a previous post that Obama is president because he claimed to be clairvoyant on the Iraq war. He said he knew enough to know to vote against it (rather than “present?”), which basically won him the nomination over Hillary Clinton and won the presidency vs. John McCain. If he was so intelligent, he’s certainly lost his “gift” four years into his presidency. Remember when we all were worried that Senator Obama had no foreign policy experience and, as president, no foreign policy at all? Events in Libya prove we were right. He was wrong to assume that because we have a president that has a Muslim sounding middle name and a sister from a Muslim country that suddenly we’d get better treatment from terrorists or mobs. The only thing that will provide protection is an image of American strength, and that is not Obama’s goal.
The American Spectator points out that this does nothing but vindicate Mitt:
President Obama accused Mitt Romney of shooting first and asking questions later when responding to violence unfolding in the Middle East. But a quick review of the timeline, and the White House’s “evolving” explanation for the attacks on the Benghazi consulate are beginning to make it clear that Obama’s the one who’s guilty of speaking too soon.
What Obama attacked Romney for — speaking before the facts were known — is precisely what the administration wound up doing for the subsequent two weeks.
Meanwhile, Romney’s initial statement stands on its own. At the time, Romney said that the Obama administration has responded to these attacks by sympathizing with the aggressors. “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” The press even asked the same question five times about whether he regretted speaking too soon — a leading question revealing that the media had already decided what the story was.
Will the voters learn in time that Mitt’s initial reaction is often uncannily correct, even though it takes the MSM a while longer to figure it out? Will voters understand that before it’s too late and we have to live with another four years of this? Will voters hold Barack Obama responsible for the failings of his administration, whether intentional or mistaken? Help get the word out so we can get someone with a real head on his shoulders in the White House.