On Benghazi—An honest plea for specific charges.

Yesterday’s hearings over Benghazi (or as Ed Kilgore is fond of calling it to stress conservative hype, Benghazi!) seem to have been a big nothingburger in terms of actual scandal. As Steve Benen puts it,

Eight months after the attack itself, I know Republicans think there’s been a cover-up, but I haven’t the foggiest idea what it is they think has been covered up. For all the talk of a political “scandal,” no one seems capable of pointing to anything specific that’s scandalous. For all the conspiracy theories, there’s no underlying conspiracy to be found.

Steve, as a progressive blogger, is admittedly biased. But reading Andrew Stiles’ report on National Review Online I get exactly the same impression. Per Stiles, and stripping away the rhetoric and the table-pounding calls for “more questions,” the testimony of Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Tripoli at the time, revealed the following:

(1) Susan Rice was wrong to call the attacks on the Benghazi consulate a possible result of the infamous anti-Muslim video. But Rice was describing, in real time and with proper caveats, what she thought was the case at the time, and everyone official has long since admitted that her initial, tentative take was wrong. So: who cares?

(2) The State department didn’t want Hicks to meet with a Republican congressional delegation on the subject, and an official without clearance tried but failed to horn in on the meeting. This will surprise anyone who has never read a book or article about a government agency, or known anybody who worked for one, but—really? Reading against the grain, it becomes clear that Hicks did meet with the Republican delegation, which got all the information it needed. Indeed, he told all kinds of investigators everything he had to say.

(3) Cheryl Mills, “State Department general counsel and former chief of staff to Secretary Clinton,” demanded an account of the above meeting and “sought to keep [Hicks] on a tight leash.” Now, like it or not, the U.S. has a system of political appointees in executive departments, and the Secretary of State is kind of expected to have subordinates whom she trusts. As for seeking a report of the meeting—a bit aggressive, sure, but again there was no cover-up; Hicks was able to tell whomever he wanted whatever he knew.

(4) Hicks was demoted to desk officer. He thinks it was because he was too aggressive on Benghazi. I wonder what his superiors think. In any case, this is at most hardball management but no crime.

(5) “The three witnesses present at Wednesday’s hearing were repeatedly referred to as whistleblowers” (by Republicans). But just as in that parable about calling the horse’s tail a fifth leg, that doesn’t make them whistleblowers. That word denotes someone who exposes crimes or acts of malfeasance that have been covered up. But the testimony itself, from the accounts I’ve read, exposed no coverup, and no crime.

That’s it. On the other side, we also learn, from this conservative account, that the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, which took Hicks’ testimony, absolved Clinton of any blame for poor security. (Hicks didn’t get to see the classified report, but I’ve seen no accounts from those who have, including partisan Republicans, that suggests a whitewash.) As a matter of fact, we learn—regarding the substantive matter supposedly at issue—nothing about State having even been responsible for poor security, as opposed to an ex ante decision regarding limited resources that was defensible at the time but turned out badly.

Look, I’m not a Benghazi expert. I’m willing to entertain the possibility that there’s something here that the media aren’t telling me. But before I evaluate the case, I need to see some concrete charges. My challenge to conservatives is to tell me, very simply, the following:

(1) What, in your view, was the crime? Who did what and which law did it break? No crime, no cover-up (in the usual sense).

But the idea seems to be that what was “covered up” was not crime but incompetence. (That stretches the former meaning of “cover-up,” but never mind.) So:

(2) Who failed competently to perform his or her job, in which concrete ways? Which decisions are we talking about, by whom, at what time, and on what grounds should we believe that a competent person in the job in question would have had to make a different decision? Again, failure to devote unlimited resources to guarding every consulate at all times does not constitute an incompetent decision but rather precisely a competent one. And a judgment (apparently held by the diplomats on the ground at the time) that there was a tradeoff between high security and diplomatic effectiveness is also, absent conclusive arguments to the contrary, quite defensible. We need more.

(3) What information was covered up, and how? What facts do we (a) now know to be the case that (b) were previously concealed from view by (c) illegitimate threats or undue influence (as opposed to agency politics as usual, whereby those higher up would rather sweep mistakes under the rug but grudgingly tolerate subordinates who air them)?

Unless all three of these elements in (3) are  present, there was no cover-up—at most a halfhearted attempt at a cover-up, or an honest difference of opinion about facts. And unless number (1) or (2) is present, there was nothing to cover up.

At this point in the career of a scandal, or attempted scandal, there are often disagreements over whether the charges are true. But I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a scandal where I don’t even know what they are.  I know that this blog has a fair number of conservative readers. And perhaps other sites will pick this up. I hope so, and if so: answers, please. Specific ones, point by point. Then we’ll at least have something we can argue about.

Update: Yes, I know my  bemusement on this isn’t new. The “nothingburger” label I got from Kevin Drum’s post, which can be added to the above links and many others. But I haven’t seen the demand for specifics laid out in numbered points and subpoints before. And sometimes that helps. If nothing else, conservatives may have to ask themselves whether they’ve been sold a bill of goods by conservative media outlets selling a scandal vaguer than they realize.

Second Update: I’d like to stress that I’m engaged in an exercise in arguendum: even if the conservative slant on Benghazi is accurate, there has been no “cover up” that I can see. A less partisan account, e.g. that of the New York Times, casts doubt on that slant to begin with. For one thing, having a department lawyer be present during congressional investigation visits was, allegedly, a longstanding State policy. This should be easily verifiable (or disprovable). For another, State claims that Hicks has not been demoted but given a temporary job, at the same salary, pending a transfer he requested. I’m more dubious about this—clearly Hicks thinks he’s been wronged—but we should note that Hicks’ account has not gone unchallenged.

Comments

  1. cdg864 says

    I wouldn’t concede your first point about Susan Rice’s testimony quite yet. While the attack might not have been entirely spontaneous (in other words, some level of planning took place at some point), it still seems plausible that the attack was opportunistic (they attacked when they did based on some level of anger the video inspired). What’s been publicly disclosed just isn’t clear here. Certainly, while the emphasis on the video in Rice’s initial testimony might have been misleading, even with her copious caveats, it’s hard to say definitively that the testimony was 100% wrong.

  2. Keith Humphreys says

    Andy is being naive. This is all part of the international conspiracy to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids.

  3. says

    You don’t seem to understand that you’re at the theater. You have prime seats and the tickets were free, so quitcher bellyachin’. Oh, what’s that you say? You don’t like the play? You want to leave? You have better things to do with your time? I’m sorry, I don’t understand any of that. Now please go back to your seat and be quiet. (Cheering and repeating the actors’ best lines are, of course, permitted if not actively encouraged.)

  4. calling all toasters says

    You want specific charges? I got’em right here:

    1) Obama is an unamerican socialist Muslim
    2) Hillary is a bitch
    3) Republicans are the big-strong kill-enemy bangbangbang he-men.

      • Anonymous says

        The law that was broken is that Obama is an uppity neegro. That’s natural law. That’s the law that all white people of European descent know in their bones is true.

        • Delilah Huff says

          Oh Anonymous, you are a very sad person. Can’t wait for the racist bigots like you to get what’s coming to ‘em.

  5. Brett Bellmore says

    The usual sense of “cover up” is keeping people from finding out something damaging. That the damaging thing be criminal was no part of it, just that they are in some sense entitled to know about it, and you’re striving to prevent it. So I think “cover up” fits quite well.

    “But Rice was describing, in real time and with proper caveats, what she thought was the case at the time,”

    Or she was putting out the hastily whipped up cover story, which was known to be wrong at the time she put it out.

    The real question here is why the official talking points, which started out accurate, got altered to be inaccurate. Who did it, at whose direction. Why the administration was telling the American people that what they knew to be a terrorist attack on a US embassy was a spontaneous protest over a youtube video.

    Why, in short, the administration lied.

    • Andrew Sabl says

      No, I think my initial definition is accurate. If there was no crime or incompetence to cover up, then the fact that some bureaucrat put out a story that turns out to have been wrong doesn’t interest me, and shouldn’t interest anyone else. Words matter, and the compound word “cover-up” connotes the effective concealment of wrongdoing. I’m not willing to extend its usage to mean “convenient political story, later acknowledged toi be false, and retracted.” That simply isn’t a cover-up.

      This is all assuming, which we shouldn’t, that those who put out the false account indisputably knew it was false (as opposed to having been given some information that suggested its falsity, along with lots of other information that suggested its truth). That’s been repeatedly asserted, but do you have a link to where that’s been proven?

      But I repeat, and we should keep repeating: even if it were true, it wouldn’t be interesting, wouldn’t be a cover-up, wouldn’t be a scandal. I want to know what wrongdoing or malfeasance was involved. *Why should we care?*

    • Ebenezer Scrooge says

      Brett sez: “The usual sense of ‘cover up’ is keeping people from finding out something damaging.”

      I bathe regularly. COVERUP!!!

    • Cranky Observer says

      In other words, the “NCIS – Los Angeles” view of human (and US) events: the belief that somewhere there is an omniscient panopticon ‘control room’ where occurences anywhere in the world can not only be observed in real time HD resolution but interpreted and instantaneously _understood_. Then acted upon, also instantaneously, by the infinitely capable ‘special forces’ who are pre-positioned in every corner of the globe. Unless they are ordered to “stand down” by an illegitimate President without a birth certificate.

      Got it.

      Cranky

    • Nick says

      “Or she was putting out the hastily whipped up cover story, which was known to be wrong at the time she put it out.”

      I’ve paid absolutely no attention to any of this. Can you supply a source for this? Accounting for the fact that “known” here should mean not “known by someone somewhere in the world”, but rather “known by those involved in the process of prepping Rice for her testimony”.

      “The real question here is why the official talking points, which started out accurate, got altered to be inaccurate.”

      (Assuming this is true.) I can imagine one possible reason for this: it was unclear what the situation was and the person who initially prepared the talking points thought it was one way and another person later thought it was the other. One happened to be right, the other wrong, but no bad faith was involved. Can you suggest another?

      This is one reason why I’ve never paid attention to any of this: I have never understood what the motive is supposed to be. You say that this was supposed to be a “cover story”, Brett. But…why? Why is a spontaneous riot/attack supposed to be better for Obama than a terrorist attack? Even if someone thought that the former story played better for Obama than the latter, why would they possibly be so convinced of this that they’d risk, well, all of this? And “risk” isn’t even the right word there. There was almost two months between the attack and the election. Any potential conspirator would have every reason to believe that the truth would come out before the election, making Obama look far worse than if they hadn’t attempted a “cover story” anyway.

      • Another fake engineer says

        But…why? Why is a spontaneous riot/attack supposed to be better for Obama than a terrorist attack?

        I think I can ferret out the difference. A terrorist attack would show Obama has failed to keep American safe. For the denizens of what Jon Stewart calls “Bullshit Mountain”, that’s an important landmark to hammer down. So the difference is basically politics. One definition enables an attack for advantage. The other does not.

        • Brett Bellmore says

          Well, at the time, the claim was that Obama had al-Qaida on the run, in disarray, incapable of doing anything. By lying about the embassy attack, they sustained that line until after the election. Further, if the attack was spontaneous, then it had nothing at all to do with the warnings the embassy had been sending in about their local security apparently casing the embassy for an attack, or concerns about what might happen on the anniversary of 9-11. It was just a random event, nobody could have anticipated it.

          But it wasn’t a random event, it was an al-Qaida attack, and it could have been anticipated. And that was evident almost immediately, and that was what had to be covered up.

          • Another fake engineer says

            Thanks for the affirmation of my comment. I couldn’t have asked for a more exemplary example as follow up. But beyond that, I find these words interesting: Well, at the time, the claim was that Obama had al-Qaida on the run, in disarray, incapable of doing anything. By lying about the embassy attack, they sustained that line until after the election. This would imply that al-Qaida is not on the run and is not in disarray ( “incapable of doing anything” is wishful hyperbole. No politician in America would dare assert that). One wonders if the commenter believes that Osama is really dead?

          • Nick says

            So no source for the claim that they knew it was a terrorist attack at the time of Rice’s press conference? I guess we can conclude that you were lying about that. (Turnabout is fair play, right?)

            As for this:

            “Well, at the time, the claim was that Obama had al-Qaida on the run, in disarray, incapable of doing anything.”

            Can you supply any examples of people saying this? This is a far stronger claim than McCain’s “it interferes with the depiction that the administration is trying to convey that al Qaeda is on the wane” which was on-its-face stupid: a terrorist organization on the wane can still commit attacks. Duh. I’m not even going to try to understand the mindset that believes that Obama had claimed to have solved all terrorism in the world while he was simultaneously drone bombing people all over the place. Again: on-its-face stupid.

            “warnings the embassy had been sending in about their local security apparently casing the embassy for an attack”

            Citation please? Also: I’m entirely willing to believe that the people responsible for providing security for the embassy fell down on the job. They could have failed in a spectacular fashion. But I’m also pretty sure that Obama and Hillary Clinton do not oversee the security for every US embassy in the world. So what you’re suggesting here is that there was a cover-up at the highest levels of government to keep some mid-level State Dept and military people from looking bad. This is not how hierarchical organizations work.

        • Herschel says

          I agree with Nick. Whether the incident was a pre-planned terrorist attack or a protest that turned into a riot and a non-pre-planned attack, the incident left four Americans dead, revealing that the consulate in Benghazi was not safe (sort of definitionally). But of course it wasn’t safe! It was in Libya! I can’t imagine any of the mostly smart people in the White House and State Department thinking that one description of the events would give them a political advantage and the other would not. I really think the last word on this should have been “Please proceed, governor”.

        • Arby says

          Wouldn’t a mob of demonstrators successfully breaching a US consulate and killing an ambassador also be able to support the argument that Obama failed to keep America safe?

          • Pragmatic says

            Republicans have no interest in the real story behind the Benghazi attacks. After all, none of them were interested in exploring the loss on embassy life under Reagan (63 in Beirut, 260+ soldiers in Lebanon) or under George Bush?

            Here’s a list of embassy deaths under Goerge Bush:

            In 2002 when the US Consulate in the Karachi, Pakistan, was attacked and 10 were killed?

            The US embassy in Uzbekistan was attacked and two were killed and another nine injured?

            In 2004, when the US Consulate in Saudi Arabia was stormed and 8 lost their lives?

            In 2006, armed men attacked the US Embassy in Syria and one was murdered.

            Then in 2007 a grenade was thrown at the US Embassy in Athens.

            In 2008, the US Embassy in Serbia was set on fire.

            In 2008, bombings in the US Embassy in Yemen killed 10.

            When these killings happened, republicans were quick to call for unity and patriotism. They decried blatant partisanship. This is why the word is hypocrisy is so closely associated with The Stupid Party. Seriously explain to me how the administration lied. The President went the next day and said it was a clear terrorist attack. Just move on from this subject, there is nothing there and stop wasting my tax dollars and time!

          • Barry says

            Arby: “Wouldn’t a mob of demonstrators successfully breaching a US consulate and killing an ambassador also be able to support the argument that Obama failed to keep America safe?”

            Of course not.

    • James Wimberley says

      Brett: “.. the administration was telling the American people that what they knew to be a terrorist attack on a US embassy was a spontaneous protest …”
      So they just knew it from watching breaking-news TV coverage? Many conservatives may have thought it, because Obama, but on the ordinary meaning of the verb know there was no knowledge until the al-Q link was confirmed by the very officials whose word the Benghazi! crowd still refuse to trust.

  6. Brian Schmidt says

    “And a judgment (apparently held by the diplomats on the ground at the time) that there was a tradeoff between high security and diplomatic effectiveness is also, absent conclusive arguments to the contrary, quite defensible.”

    Doesn’t seem to have been the ambassador’s judgment.

    This is why we need two responsible parties, not one and a wackjob party. A focus on proper security preparation might find a real problem and identify solutions, instead of idiotic screaming over a coverup.

  7. CharleyCarp says

    I’ll admit to not following closely, but I thought that the Rice statements to journalists reflected what the intelligence community wanted the public record to show with respect to their thinking, in the immediate aftermath, while they worked various leads behind the scenes. I’m no fan of secrecy, but tagging the President or SecState for short term operational stuff like this doesn’t strike me as likely to work. And indeed it hasn’t, unless by “work” one means delegitimizing Republicans.

    • CharleyCarp says

      Of course, this is an awfully convenient explanation, because neither Rice nor anyone else can publicly disclose the ‘sources and methods’ calculus that would have been involved. So we end up with the members — who know why Rice’s statements didn’t reflect the tentative conclusions — unable to say why, but free to cross-examine anyone to imply impropriety. Why would they do this? Because their constituents demand it.

      I thought the charge that this would be ‘bigger than Watergate and Iran-Contra combined’ was something of a tell here.

    • CharleyCarp says

      That’s actually pretty useful. As I get it — and all the stupid tribal crap (do I care about JS’s or NBC’s supposed liberal politics? — I do not) made my mind wander — he gives the following issues:

      1. Pre-attack security arrangements, which seems to me to be a legitimate area of inquiry for this attack, and those recounted by navarro below.

      2. Whether Obama was awake, which seems like a waste of time for anyone but the already convinced. (On which subject, I remember my brother-in-law’s then wife being shocked that RR had been asleep during the 81 air attack over the Gulf of Sidra.)

      3. Rice statements to journalists, which I mention above.

      Was there something I missed?

      • CharleyCarp says

        Oh, and this:

        4. Ordering the green berets in Tripoli to stand down, when it now seems that it was clear they wouldn’t have gotten there in time anyway.

        • mazuma says

          I would say that last one is the most vital. And will likely generate the most right-wing lies, repeated interminably, until sheer redundancy finds them a beachhead on the modern mind as “truth”. Read the comment thread of the supplied link to get a feel for why I think that….

          • Brett Bellmore says

            And how did they know how long the fight would last when they made that call?

          • Cranky Observer says

            Public policy by NCIS / 24 / Rambo. Belief that the United States possesses magical powers of omniscience and infinitely available, infinitely powerful “special forces” that can appear from nowhere, literally anywhere on the earth, and “double-tap” the bad guys right between the eyes. Bruce Willis ignoring an order to “stand down”, smashing his radio, and charging in with guns blazing to save the capable-but-helpless, beautiful woman. Richard Cheney’s view of the world.

            Reality: Pat Tillman, fog of war, best laid plans, etc. Also an ambassador who believed that to accomplish anything in an unstable and risky environment he would have to take risks. But can Mr. Bellmore and the hard Radical Right accept such a _nuanced_ view of life? You be the judge.

            Cranky

          • CharleyCarp says

            Brett, the scandal is that they were correct about whether the special forces would get there in time? It takes a lot of noise machine to make that one work.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            Look, if I don’t call the fire department because I correctly guess everyone will die in the blaze before the ladder trucks arrive, yes, that is a scandal.

            It’s an even bigger scandal if it’s a line of BS that they couldn’t have arrived in time, and I’m just basing that claim on the timing of the last desperate pleas for help, instead of the first moment I knew the building was on fire.

            My understanding of the time line is that help could likely not have arrived in time for the embassy attack, (But it was a near thing.) if called for the embassy attack they’d have arrived in plenty of time for when the survivors were attacked at the CIA safe house. So it really did matter that help wasn’t called at all.

          • Cranky Observer says

            And wha would the effect of the United States conducting “kinetic”, boots-on-the-ground operations in Benghazi have been on the very fragile peace in newly-reborn Libya? Is it possible that the goal of the attack was to draw a response from US forces to boost extremist narratives inside Libya? Is it realty that sometimes the bigger, stronger party has to absorb hits in furtherance of long-term aims?

            Actual tough questions are why people such as Obama, Clinton (either), Gates, HW Bush, etc have the big jobs, and not Bellmore or Surnow. And why W/Cheney did so much damage to the future of the nation.

            Cranky

          • CharleyCarp says

            Guessing right is only a scandal for people who want it to be. And as dangerous as firefighting is, your analogy omits some real costs of making the wrong call here.

            Guessing wrong is only a scandal if the guess is based on callous indifference, rather than a good faith misunderstandng of the circumstances. I understand that you people want to start from a presumption of callous indifference (if not active antipathy) which makes any mistake self-validating. Other people aren’t buying that, and you can’t make them buy it by shouting it over and over.

            The straw man of the supposed victory over Al Qaida is also pretty seriously undermining. Yes, the current Admin got UBL, and wasn’t shy about saying so. But they never ever went around saying ‘the War on Terror is Over, and we won!’ and people who think they were hearing that over the hand-wringing over what to do with Afghanistan, and in Yemen etc, were morons or fools. Or, more likely, pretending to be morons or fools. Most everyone else knew then, and knows now, that there is still a fight on, and still isolated cells and/or individuals that can do harm.

            Shrieking about this all through October 2012 (eg your link) didn’t change any votes, and trying to carry it on through 2014 isn’t going to either. I suppose there’s a thought that you need sustained outrage against the Muslim socialist usurper to keep turnout up for the midterms, but, not to worry, the President’s embrace of the misguided Village consensus on austerity is going to do your work for you.

          • CharleyCarp says

            I mean really, can you find 10 people who support the President who took the position in 2012 on Afghanistan that ‘we’ve won, and now we can go home’? Rather than, ‘we’ve been there a long time, we’ve basically done what we can do (and don’t think doing any more is worth the cost) and so it’s time to give up on the effort.’

          • Cranky Observer says

            Charlie,
            In the right-wing mind, the sunk cost fallacy does not apply to the war adventures of the United States. It’s all about prestige, resolve, toughness, “not cutting & running”, etc. Therefore Afghanistan War must continue forever because toughness. But no tax increase or draft to pay for it of course.

            Cranky

  8. navarro says

    just for comparison purposes here is a list of attacks on u.s. consular properties that occurred between 9/11/01 and obama’s inauguration.

    January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the U.S. Consulate. Five people are killed.

    June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al-Qaida attacks the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.

    October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. U.S. diplomatic offices bombed as part of a string of “Bali Bombings.” No fatalities.

    February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the U.S. Embassy. Two people are killed.

    May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al-Qaida terrorists storm the diplomatic compound killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.

    July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the U.S. Embassy, killing two people.

    December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaida terrorists storm the U.S. Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.

    March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name “David Foy.” This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what’s considered American soil.)

    September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” storm the U.S. Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.

    January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. Members of a Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy. No fatalities.

    March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the U.S. Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits nearby school killing two.

    July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate. Six people are killed.

    September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband (they had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred). This is the second attack on this embassy in seven months.

    i’d like to know how many of these attacks resulted in outraged demands for investigations from republicans or democrats.

        • navarro says

          if i had gotten it from huffpo i would have attributed it.

          instead i found it, unattributed, in a “guest” comment to an article on slate. after looking up three of the listed events at random and finding the descriptions above credible i copied and pasted the whole list here since i thought it had some relevance. i regret not finding the original source for attribution but the fact that the list used standard capitalization rules did suggest that the list was not my original research but was instead a copy from some other sounrce since i am generally “shift”less in my commenting.

    • SamChevre says

      The question betrays a complete lack of understanding of the (purported) problem.

      Here’s the (purported) problem.

      The Obama administration was pushing a narrative that withdrawing from Iraq, and killing bin Laden, and aggressive drone use, was working–that we were no longer threatened by al-Quaeda, and the hazy penumbra of Islamic terrosrist groups.

      The lack of appropriate security for the embassy, and the military response, were designed to further this narrative.

      Susan Rice’s talking points were revised to conform to this narrative; the original version was accurate to the facts, but completely contradicted the desired narrative.

      The Benghazi hearings aren’t about Benghazi; they are about the administration being more concerned with a “what we’re doing is working (and all our problems are due to those intolerant non-Muslims)” narrative than with the (much more distrubing) reality of the situation.

      Lots of people dislike this narrative, and want it to be clearly and publicly destroyed; the opponents of the narrative include everything form the anti-drone crowd, to the isolationist, to the “bomb them all and let God sort it out” idiots.

      The cover-up isn’t a cover-up of a crime, primarily; it’s a cover-up of the fact that what we’re doing is not working.

      In this accoutn of the problem, embassy attacks that were not carried out by al-Quaeda affiliates after 2010 aren’t particularly relevant.

      • Anonymous says

        I get that some people may exclusively be upset about spin-doctoring on foreign policy. (It’s tough to tell if you’re one such person or not, SC! Either way, you’ve summarized the argument elegantly and sympathetically.)
        But some other people are certainly upset that the attack occurred and that people died – at least they SAY they are upset about this. It’s not dumb to counterargue that the event is not particularly rare or spectacular.
        Benghazi is not “about” Benghazi, sure; but no matter what we talk about when we talk about Benghazi, we still have to talk about Benghazi. Right?

  9. Everett Volk says

    Holy shit, it’s America’s Most Daring Internet Detective Brett Bellmore!!! No lie-beral is safe when he’s on the case!

  10. FJ says

    Funny, but a lot of people think they know what Susan Rice ACTUALLY said, but they really don’t, so here it is:

    “But putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo—almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.

    What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. They came with heavy weapons, which, unfortunately, are readily available in post-revolutionary Libya, and that escalated into a much more violent episode.

    Obviously, that’s our best judgment now. We’ll await the results of the investigation…”

  11. Cranky Observer says

    Attn Right Wingnuts! New instructions from conservative Minitrue! Old theory: Obama Admin paid insufficient attention to Benghazi event. New theory: Barack HUSSEIN Obama Administration paid TOO MUCH attention to releasing careful statements!!

    Neck braces issued on request.

    Cranky

  12. Cranky Observer says

    = = = At this point in the career of a scandal, or attempted scandal, there are often disagreements over whether the charges are true. But I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a scandal where I don’t even know what they are. I know that this blog has a fair number of conservative readers. And perhaps other sites will pick this up. I hope so, and if so: answers, please. Specific ones, point by point. Then we’ll at least have something we can argue about. = = =

    Shorter thread: not even the eristic argumentation specialists of the hard Radical Right who hang out at Samefacts can explain exactly what Benghazi! is or amounts to.

    Which is a nothingburger.

    Cranky

  13. Brett Bellmore says

    ” and still, no one outside of the conservative information bubble has any idea what the “there” is”

    More like nobody inside the liberal information bubble has any idea. But it IS a very effective bubble, I’ll give it that, and unless conservatives wake to the need to have their own general audience media outlets to pierce that bubble, they’re going to continue pissing into the wind.

  14. navarro says

    so you agree then that fox news and rush limbaugh do not represent general audience media outlets?

  15. Cranky Observer says

    Note no response by Mr. Bellmore to Andrew’s original three questions.

    Cranky

  16. navarro says

    note no response by mr. bellmore to my most recent question. although he has commented above since i posted my question.

  17. Student says

    Note that the “article” he linked (in order to prove that cowardice at the highest levels took American lives) contains spelling errors, standard wingnut advertisements (“Why billionaires are preparing for the End of America” and “Preppers, did you know that the government will be coming to take your guns and water in an emergency!!?!”), etc. Continue trying (in vein) to convince us that military and intelligence decisions are simple Brett, maybe someday you will bludgeon your way through.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Look, it’s May, and they’ve been at this since September, and still, no one outside of the conservative information bubble has any idea what the “there” is. Never mind whether the accusations are true; no one has even bothered laying out a set of accusations that makes sense (see Marc Ambinder for more; see also also Andrew Sabl for what a real set of accusations would look like). [...]