Consulates are not Embassies and Other Musings on Benghazi…

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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187 Responses

  1. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Excellent, Nob, from top to bottom.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

      Seconded. I think there are two types of really good posts: those that make me want to go straight into the comments and start talking, and those that are so thorough and well-reasoned that I absolutely cannot think of anything to say but, “Well said.” This is one of the latter.Report

    • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to James Hanley says:

      But you’ve left the important question unanswered: how can out Foreign Service people overseas feel safe unless Obama used the precise phrase “terrorist attack”?Report

  2. Avatar Plinko says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Nob. All this arguing about semantics today is driving me nuts and avoiding the real serious questions at hand about what kind of foreign policy we’re going to have.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    As always, Nob, you’re nuanced and fact-based approach is a boon to us here. Great piece.Report

  4. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Great post that cleared a lot of things up for me. Do you think the fact that this hasn’t happened since ’79 is an indicator of some kind of larger trend? The fact that these incidents are so rare is, in my view, why there should pressure on the administration for an explanation. I mean, if the idea is that we need to have our foreign service officers walking among the people with no body armor then Obama needs to make that argument; if that’s not the idea, then he needs to explain how this kind of attack will be avoided in the future.

    Your post completely aside, I find it frustrating to get any information on this issue because the Romney campaign is so forcefully trying to fit it into their idiotic “Apology Tour” narrative, and the Obama administration is basically stonewalling – either behind an ongoing investigation or top secret exculpatory evidence that we’re not allowed to see.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to trizzlor says:

      My guess is part of the stonewalling is because they don’t want to make it look like they’re victim blaming.

      As much as I admire Ambassador Stevens, I do think being in Benghazi on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 for the opening of a cultural center was careless. Particularly as Chief of Mission he would’ve had access to all of the diplomatic cables describing the situation and probably was in contact with the DCM on the ground in Benghazi.

      Stevens had a comfort level and trust in Libyans that, while justified, likely made him less cautious under the circumstances than someone less comfortable in the position would have been.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to trizzlor says:

      As for the “foreign service officers walking among the people” thing, I think Secretary Clinton basically made the point when she noted Stevens’ work:

      “I had the privilege of swearing in Chris for his post in Libya only a few months ago. As the conflict in Libya unfolded, Chris was one of the first Americans on the ground in Benghazi. He risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation. He spent every day since helping to finish the work that he started.”

      And the President’s remarks were similar:

      As Americans let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those, both civilian and military, who represent us around the globe.

      Report

    • The headline is misleading. Stevens was making a point about the situation in Benghazi, but he wasn’t asking for security reinforcements himself. Instead it was a cable about the political situation on the ground.

      On September 11th, the day he died, Mr Stevens wrote to Washington officials detailing a dispute involving the leaders of two prominent Benghazi militias who were responsible for security in the city, according to the Daily Beast.

      The two men, Wissam bin Ahmed and Muhammad al-Gharabi, claimed that the U.S. was lobbying for centrist politician Mahmoud Jibril to become Libya’s prime minister.
      They said that if he won the vote, they ‘would not continue to guarantee security in Benghazi, a critical function they asserted they were currently providing,’ according to Mr Stevens.

      Despite that warning, Mr Stevens did not ask for more U.S. troops, and commented that Benghazi officials believed the city was becoming safer.

      Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Sorry, that distinction still doesn’t quite work, Mr. Akimoto.

        http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57527659/ex-u.s-security-team-leader-in-libya-we-needed-more-not-less-security-staff/

        Wood, however, says some of the members of his own team and additional personnel from the State Department’s elite security detail – the two teams which left Libya in August – would have traveled to Benghazi with Ambassador Stevens had they still been in the country. Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Two things. The first: Are you conceding Nob’s argument that Steven’s didn’t specifically ask for more security detail? The second: your cite shows only that a security detail would have responded to a call had they been asked.

          That’s an entirely different argument than some people have been advancing here. In particular, the argument you seem to be advancing. It seems to me like this is a situation where the conclusion is foregone, so evidence and argument are minor details.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

            T: You’re wrong because X is true. See this source.
            N: Your source says Y is true, not X.
            T: You’re wrong because Z, which is not X, is true. See this source.

            Yawn.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Stillwater says:

            You’re debating, I’m discussing. The administration failed Ambassador Stevens. Slice it any way you want—in this case, if the Tripoli embassy security detail hadn’t been withdrawn in August, some of that detail would have been with the ambassador on the day of his death at the Benghazi consulate.

            It was the anniversary of 9-11 fer crissakes, and Stevens’ own diary said he feared for his life. The administration failed him, in my opinion.

            For CNN, the ambassador’s writings served as tips about the situation in Libya, and in Benghazi in particular. CNN took the newsworthy tips and corroborated them with other sources.

            A source familiar with Stevens’ thinking told CNN earlier this week that, in the months leading up to his death, the late ambassador worried about what he called the security threats in Benghazi and a rise in Islamic extremism.

            http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/22/world/africa/libya-ambassador-journal/index.htmlReport

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              The administration failed him, in my opinion.

              Well, we all get to have em. Right?Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Tom,

              Ignoring hindsight, what should the administration have done differently? Exactly how did the administration fail Stevens?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kazzy, the admin is responsible for our ambassadors’ security. Mr. Turner gets it below.

                So it was Stevens’ responsibility to beg for more security personnel in every cable he sent to the State Department, after they’d rejected all his previous requests? Wouldn’t that get tiresome?

                I have a feeling a lot of leftosphere persons aren’t up on the facts of this one and it’s a thankless job to post links just to have them fought and parsed tooth and jaw. That the ambassador could be alive today had their been more concern for his safety doesn’t seem controversial enough to debate, or discuss. And if that’s only a matter of opinion, that’s fine too.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Fished up the link, as usual.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                James, that’s undoubtedly where Tom is going with this. All Presidents are quite likely to fail their Ambassadors.

                But not Mitt. No. He takes this shit seriously.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I’m far from a FoPo expert nor am I particularly well-versed on the facts here and I won’t pretend that anything else is true.

                What I’m getting at is that it is easy, in hindsight, to point out what should or shouldn’t have been done. Had Obama assigned a full security detail to Stevens and he remained unmolested there, I could imagine critics pointing out excess and needless spending in a country we shouldn’t even be in. Which, mind you, is no reason NOT to provide proper security.

                The question to me seems to be: What would have constituted proper security?

                Ultimately, my amateur hunch is to ascribe to an old mantra: Do not attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. If the administration did indeed fail Stevens (and I would say they failed Stevens if there was reason to believe that security was inadequate and if they could have reasonably been expected to provide a level of security that actually would have prevented his death), then it was almost assuredly because folks acted stupidly; I don’t think for a second that anyone wanted to happen what did happen.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kazzy says:

                Thanks, Kazzy. Of course there was no malice. But let’s pick this up some other time.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Ah, the gang has sounded the secret signal, all met in the secret meeting place, knocked the secret knock for admittance, given the secret handshake as verification the are who they say they are, and all solemnly recited the secret anti-TVD oath (except that damn Hanley, who as a Mennonite refuses to swear oaths, even though he’s agnostic) and have all accepted theirvsecretborders and followed their secret paths to our secret destinations from which, under secret names, we intend to attack you in a gang-upland style assault.

                And now he won’t be here. Chris, you were responsible for the intel on TVD’s movements. Still and Kaz, you were supposed to keep him trapped until everyone was in place. Hanley, you moved in too quickly.

                Let’s try this again next week, men. I’ll have Rahman send you the new plan by secret email.

                Barry Hussein, over and out.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Honestly, James, I’m a bit befuddled by this comment. I don’t want to get all meta here, but I’ll say this: this was one of the better exchanges I’ve had with Tom.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Kaz, oddly I was thinking this is very old school Tom. He’s playing fast and loose with the facts (purposefully, it seems, conflating the security situation in a town with his own security, because “security” is a word in both versions), and when called on it, changing direction and saying that it’s really something else that makes it the person from the party he doesn’t like’s fault.

                Seriously, I’m sure there’s a lot of blame to go around, but Nob’s made it clear why he was there, why he was there under the conditions he was there, and whose choice it was for him to be there. Blaming it on Obama is politically expedient, and so…Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Chris, I’m not interesting in litigating what anyone did or didn’t do here. I think Nob’s piece here is great on a number of levels. I disagreed with some, perhaps much, of what Tom said and had my say. Folks are free to do as they like. James’s comment just struck me as odd and, given my mention it, I saw fit to comment as such. No more, no less.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Jazz, dammit man, read the secret memo and sick i the talking points or we’ll have endothermic “acts if terror” vs. “terrorist acts” flap again.

                Yeah that exchange had some decent moments, but on the whole Chris pegged him at 8:15 and Stillwater pegged him at 9:30. Same oil’ ducking and weaving. There’s also that sad attempt at claiming the moral gift ground when he said “You’re debating, I’m discussing,” one of his standard gimmicks for trying to ake his arguments sound better without having to go to the trouble of actually intellectually defending them.

                Ang good luck getting a decent response to my question about former presidents or to the issue of his own party cutting security funding.
                At a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last Wednesday, Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California and the committee’s chairman, talked of “examining security failures that led to the Benghazi tragedy.” He said lawmakers had an obligation to protect federal workers overseas. On Sunday, he said more should be spent on diplomatic security.

                But as part of the Republican majority that has controlled the House the last two years, Mr. Issa joined in cutting nearly a half-billion dollars from the State Department’s two main security accounts. One covers things like security staffing, including local guards, armored vehicles and security technology; the other, embassy construction and upgrades. In 2011 and 2012, President Obama sought a total of $5 billion, and the House approved $4.5 billion. In 2009, Mr. Issa voted for an amendment that would have cut nearly 300 diplomatic security positions. And the draconian budgets proposed by Mitt Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, would cut foreign affairs spending by 10 percent in 2013 and even more in 2016.

                Since 9/11, the United States has spent millions of dollars building new embassies and consulates around the world and fortifying existing ones. But despite the investment, there is still a lot of work to do to bring all facilities into compliance with safety standards that were set in 1985 after the bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut in 1983 and then updated after the attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Maybe now Congress will see fit to provide more money to do it. (Source.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Gotcha, JH. I wasn’t paying strict attention outside of my own exchanges. As always, I support folks objecting to that which they found objectionable. That particular comment just threw me for a loop. Carry on as you see fit; I’ll do the same.Report

              • Avatar Matty in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                we intend to attack you in a gang-upland style assault.

                Can’t you do Gangnam style instead? That would be much more fun.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kazzy says:

                Jazz, it also struck me that TVD’s pulling out for the night was curiously timed with the arrival of four of his critics, the gang he’s talked about. So I just wanted to riff off his conspiracy allegations for a bit of fun.

                Of course for all I know he’s headed out to the deck with a beer in hand to cook a steak for the Mrs. And then hopes to settle in to wait out the rain delay in Detroit and watch the Yankees get embarrassed. Might have nothing to do with us.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley says:

                Here and elsewhere, I’m working on assuming positive intent. I’m also trying to take baby steps and accept incremental change (can you tell I might be dealing with some family issues at the moment?). Tom’s departure allowed an opportunity to practice both.

                And, with all due respect, this is the last I’m going to talk about Tom right now. Cheers. Let’s regroup to celebrate the Yankee’s latest collapse about 7PM tomorrow.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Given that it’s the season of political so cheap we’re importing it from Burmese factories employing per-pubescent girls to make it, I’m not inclined to see positive intent in anything right now. I’m just in bastard default mode.

                I’m with you on watching the Yanks go down, especially since it’s my team taking them down.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

                Detroit is my AL team. If it winds up a Tigers-Giants series, I’ll abandon them [1], but if it’s a rematch of 2006, here’s hoping the Tiger pitchers don’t turn into anti-aircraft guns this time around.

                1. And look forward to the Panda being on 1st, where he’ll look relatively slim.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I have a feeling a lot of leftosphere persons aren’t up on the facts of this one

                Well of course not. You have your facts, we have ours.

                Karl Rove and Roger Ailes set it up that way!Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        So it was Steven’s responsibility to beg for more security personnel in every cable he sent to the State Department, after they’d rejected all his previous requests? Wouldn’t that get tiresome?Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:

          No, it’s Obama’s responsibility to personally oversee the security arrangements at every U.S. consulate in the world. Clearly this is his direct failure, and he should be impeached before America can even re-elect him. This shows a White House totally out of control on foreign policy that is openly and explicitly encouraging our enemies to attack us. Undoubtedly they actually sponsored, funded, and planned the attack themselves, using Barry Hussein’s own personal al Qaeda connections.

          I love the smell of ideology in the morning. It smells like….wel, not victory; more like flop sweat.Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    Nice piece.

    I’d also point out the importance of not letting an attack by a group bent on attacking us het up the discussions too much. We don’t need a repeat of 9/11 crazy re-igniting the war on terror. That potential is, in itself, terrifying.

    And the other point in this whole business — there were demonstrations over that damned movie going on throughout the region. Thousands of people in numbers of countries out on the streets. In talking about the attacks publicly, Obama was also addressing those people; and what he said mattered both as context for the attack and context for the demonstrations in general.Report

  6. Avatar George Turner says:

    In your reference to Obama’s statement in Colorado, he said, “So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America.

    That’s not directly calling it what’s in question, a pre-planned terrorist attack, at all. There were “those” who killed our fellow Americans, and a warning to anyone who would do us harm that no act of terror will go unpunished. He was still maintaining that the attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration run amok over a Youtube video, and did so for weeks, even though he knew that was a lie. There never was a demonstration at the consulate, and the very cable that mentioned a demonstration, the one the White House was relying on to justify their claim, was actually a warning about a pre-planned Al Qaeda attack on 9/11/12.

    It’s not semantics, it’s that the administration spent two weeks essentially claiming that Pearl Harbor was attacked by Nazi zeppelins, and now they’re trying to defend their lie by pointing out earlier statements that used the words “infamy”, “dastardly”, and “surprise attack.”

    The American people, the press, and the international community were intentionally misled, and the administration is now trying to tell us that we merely misunderstood the one “clearly correct” sentence fragment that we should’ve focused on all along, ignoring the context and all the other flatly false narratives the administration had been desperately pushing in every official statement, appearance, and interview.

    It’s like a teenager getting caught in a series of lies he maintained for weeks about where he’d been on a particular night, and when confronted with the fact that he hadn’t been rushing a pregnant woman to the hospital, driving past the Democrat party headquarters on the way to the ER, he ponts out that he did, in fact, use the word “party” when describing where he’d been.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to George Turner says:

      He was still maintaining that the attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration run amok over a Youtube video, and did so for weeks, even though he knew that was a lie. There never was a demonstration at the consulate, and the very cable that mentioned a demonstration, the one the White House was relying on to justify their claim, was actually a warning about a pre-planned Al Qaeda attack on 9/11/12.

      George, do you happen to have links fleshing this out a bit more? I don’t doubt your sincerity I’d just like to understand it better. The way I remember those statements is as referring to the video in Egypt and the broader middle east, and more-or-less “we don’t know” about Benghazi.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to trizzlor says:

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/from-video-to-terrorist-attack-a-definitive-timeline-of-administration-statements-on-the-libya-attack/2012/09/26/86105782-0826-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_blog.html

        This is as close to a step by step timeline of statements as I’ve found online.

        Marc Lynch I think has the best unpacking of the conflicting statements and what questions ought to be asked, rather than the ridiculous political theater going on.

        http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/09/29/politicizing_benghaziReport

        • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          Thanks Nob,

          I don’t see anything in that timeline that supports the Romney/Breitbart angle. The first public statements on Benghazi discuss an assault by heavily-armed militants, an act of terror, and an ongoing investigation. At the same time, there is also talk about the YouTube video that has inflamed the larger Muslim world. At some point the administration is confident in the Al-Qaeda link and from there on out refers to the attack as terrorism. I’m completely baffled that this is the angle of attack that conservatives have chosen.

          To borrow your analogy, George, this is like grounding a teenager because he said he was going to a “party with dancing” but actually went to a “dance party”.Report

        • The fact that the pivot from being linked to the movie towards a bona fide terrorist attack being the most likely cause occurred eight days after the initial attack does a pretty solid job of undermining Romney’s “two weeks” argument. Even if Obama himself was not calling it such, it’s apparent that his people were. That closes the window of misdirection (in my view) below Romney’s suggestion one.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

            I have a sincere question, Will. And it really isn’t meant to challenge, it’s that I don’t quite get this particular controversy.

            Let’s assume that it took the WH an amount of time to feel confident enough to formally call the attack in Libya a terrorist attack, and one that had nothing to do with the video. Let’s say that time might have been one day, or 8 days, or two weeks.

            The reason I should feel there is a conspiracy depending upon which of those three timelines is correct is… what, exactly? He’s covering for Muslims? He’s being too fast/too slow? He’s not being thorough/he’s being overly thorough? We could have gone in and bombed Libya then, but now it feels awkward?

            Seriously, I’m just not getting the “there” I’m supposed to be seeing. Help?Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              The narrative that the film (promoted by right-wing crazies) precipitated it is more advantageous to the narrative that this was an orchestrated attack that wasn’t intercepted in time.

              In actuality, I really don’t blame the administration for not intercepting it in time. But the conversation we’re having now is not the conversation that the administration would prefer to have. Either there were some communication problems (most specifically with regard to Rice’s comments), or the administration put off the conversation for as long as they could.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

                “The narrative that the film (promoted by right-wing crazies) precipitated it is more advantageous to the narrative that this was an orchestrated attack that wasn’t intercepted in time.”

                Why?

                I think of foreign enemies that need to be slapped down as being an incumbent’s dream. In fact, when I first heard about the attack, my one of my first thoughts was, “Boy, if we have to commit to some kind of action all I’m going to hear from the right is “Wag the Dog” references from now till November.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                This occurred in a place where we’ve already had military action and were on the winning side. Presently, I don’t think a further “slapping down” in Libya would be politically popular. I don’t have any idea the extent to which this was inserted into their thinking, but I do think that “damn intolerance” provided a more comforting narrative for the administration.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

                OK.

                I think this is one of those areas where my substandard foreign policy knowledge bites me, because I think I both see what you’re saying and still am not quite getting the outcry.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I may be off my rocker on this issue. It wouldn’t be the first time.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Probably not. Everyone on both sides seems to think the dates are very, very important, which leads me to think it’s just falling in my blind spot.

                Also, I think I am too easy with President’s of all parties on diplomatic and intelligence stuff. I tend to assume that they see far more of the deck than we are allowed, and tend to give them the benefit of the doubt because of that.

                Obviously, this is not always a good thing on my part.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I don’t actually think the timeline is all that important for the underlying issue. The stuff about timelines is mostly there to debunk the nitpicking about who said what when.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                For the timeline or the dates to matter, I’d need a theory more plausible than “They screwed up the immediate call and when they learned better didn’t want to make a full public mea culpa.” As far as I can tell this reticence didn’t affect their response. Barring anything more substantive, it’s purely election-tome hoopla.Report

            • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              One accusation is that the administration was initially minimizing the attack (riots & looting rather than coordinated terrorism) to make those countries appear to be more stable than they really are, thereby justifying the intervention in Libya and the eventual pull-out from Afghanistan. Eventually, after significant pressure from conservatives, the administration could no longer make these false claims.

              Another accusation is that the administration is so naive in their view of the middle east that they didn’t immediately realize that this was a terrorist attack. This naive optimism also explains why our consulate was not heavily defended and makes the administration complicit in Stevens death. Eventually, after significant pressure from conservatives, the administration has been awakened to the cold reality.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

            I remember arguing about blasphemy and prior restraint and whether the guy who made the movie could be said to have blood on his hands here on this very board in the days that followed the attack.

            I remember being very frustrated at what was being suggested.

            Let’s say we had agreed that we shouldn’t blaspheme… what would that have won us? In hindsight, I’d have to say “not a damn thing”.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          Trizzlor, try reading Nob’s timeline. Obama’s fuller statement was

          “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.”

          The phrase “acts of terror” is embedded in a rejection of the Youtube video.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to George Turner says:

            The phrase “acts of terror” is embedded in a rejection of the Youtube video.

            Really? That’s how you read that?Report

          • Avatar trizzlor in reply to George Turner says:

            George, I read the timeline. And however you want to parse the “acts of terror” statement, it’s clear that from the very beginning the administration described this as an assault by heavily-armed militants. Once they were able to link the militia to a recognized terrorist group, they started referring to the militants as terrorists. I’m having a hard time accepting your Pearl Harbor, but I see absolutely no evidence whatsoever that supports this statement: “He was still maintaining that the attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration run amok over a Youtube video, and did so for weeks, even though he knew that was a lie.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to trizzlor says:

              trizzlor, they didn’t need to wait weeks, or even hours to know it was an Al Qaeda attack because they had in their hot little hands Al Qaeda communications giving the date and location of the attack. Further, as it turns out, it seems undeniable that about 100 people in the White House situation room watched the attack unfold in real time on video monitors, for six hours.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to George Turner says:

                George, the evidence you’re referring to is pieced together from disparate anonymous leaks and you still have the basic facts wrong. The video from inside the compound “was recovered from the site last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation”. The live-feed was “taken from an overhead U.S. surveillance drone that arrived for the final hour of the night battle”. And the Al Qaeda communique was part of several unconfirmed scraps of information that pointed in many directions.

                Let me try to amend your statement to an accurate reflection of the facts: “He was still maintaining that the attack [happened during] a spontaneous demonstration run amok over a Youtube video, and did so for [one week], even though he knew [there was conflicting evidence still being gathered]”.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Um, no. There was no conflicting evidence, since there was no evidence of any demonstration, at any time. They just made that up. There were US employees who were there, and were still there the next day, all of whom would’ve denied the existence of any such demonstration.

                Do you really think our embassies still use Betamax? The day of the attack Sean Smith, the IT guy, was playing high-bandwidth online [i]video games[/i] with folks all over the world. Do you really think they didn’t have streaming video coming out of the consulate, that one of the two people in the embassy was a tech geek whose [i]job[/i] was maintaining just that kind of high-bandwidth service for our embassies and consulates? That his fellow video gamers had more access to information than the US intelligence community?Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to George Turner says:

                George, just so I’m clear on what we’re talking about here. You disagree with the first statement made by Hillary after the attack: “Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings.” and by administration officials: “Frankly, we are not in a position to speak any further to the perpetrators of this attack. It was clearly a complex attack. We’re going to have to do a full investigation.“. Rather, you think they should have said “terrorists” instead of “heavily armed militants” and not waited until a full investigation? Is that a fair take on your criticism?Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Trizzlor, how did she know it was a “clearly a complex attack” if she hadn’t watched it unfold on video? If they hadn’t watched it unfold, then for all they would know it was carried out by four guys in an ice-cream truck.

                Have you stopped to wonder how Sean Smith played online video games in a city that barely has phone service? That if there were the slightest bandwidth limitations at the consulate he wouldn’t have been allowed to suck it up to command his fleets of interstellar trading ships? Did you ever wonder what all those big satellite dishes on the roof are for, and where they point?

                Did you stop to wonder why, in the most devastating attack on one of our embassies since the African bombings and the Iran hostage crisis, even though the streets were full of pro-American protests, we waited a week or two before even bothering to dispatch an FBI team to gather evidence, including the video data from the consulate, when identifying the faces who carried out the attack would be our top, top priority? Have you thought that the only reason we would not be sending such people, even as the attack wound down, was if we’d already recorded every single frame from those cameras via those satellite dishes. Have you ever thought about why, out of the personnel attached to the consulate, the last two left were the ambassador and the expert who maintained those broadband communication links?

                Do you wonder how the White House would react as the data was streaming in about a highly organized and successful Al Qaeda attack on US soil, carried out on the anniversary of 9/11 against a consulate they’d already attacked repeatedly, with full warnings given, would be looked at? We didn’t have anyone to send. We didn’t have anyplace our people could hide. And all that information about the lack of security personnel, the drawdowns, and the warnings, would’ve been trickling in as the top officials asked for background information.

                It was a damnable failure, to be caught with your pants down and personnel in the wind on the first 9/11 after Bin Laden’s death at US hands, and hey, maybe we can claim it was just protesters upset over a Youtube video. If we push that line hard enough the public might buy it.

                And they’ve been lying ever since.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to George Turner says:

                George:

                I can think of plenty of extremely plausible reasons why there would not, in fact, be real-time video from a new facility to the White House.

                It was a failure, sure. The Obama Administration deserves the credit for the failure, in the same sense that any executive deserves the credit for stuff that happens on their watch.

                But seriously, right now, across the entire planet, there’s tens of thousands of security lapses at embassies, military bases, etc. They don’t turn into intrusions because you typically have defense in depth and not many people are actually trying to violate security. When it happens, it happens.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Patrick, there obviously was real time video or Hillary wouldn’t hve been able to describe it as a “complex attack” based on drone data that only arrived in the final hour, after the actual “attack” part of the attack had already happened.

                It does not take a tech genius (who actually happened to be killed in the attack) six months to establish an broadband satellite connection. It probably took him only a day or two once the equipment arrived. If there wasn’t a high-speed connection, he wouldn’t have been playing online video games that require high speed connections.

                One of my close friends worked in counter-terrorism, losing eight of her coworkers to Al Qaeda before 9/11. Afterwards she had to sign off on enormous sums for satellite feeds as Northern Virginia grew dishes like crops, and refuse bizarre ideas like leasing entire buildings for intelligence. We would’ve had live video feeds ten years ago, from the parking garage, much less the front entrance.

                Everyone in intelligence knows this. Everyone who isn’t retired is probably afraid to speak up, because most times an essential part of their job is not saying anything, not even hinting at it. Their loyalty, service, and sense of duty is being exploited for partisan political ends, and that never ends well. The facts will out, and the facts will be damning.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to George Turner says:

                Patrick, there obviously was real time video or Hillary wouldn’t hve been able to describe it as a “complex attack” based on drone data that only arrived in the final hour, after the actual “attack” part of the attack had already happened.

                That doesn’t follow. It’s supporting evidence for your position, but it’s hardly conclusive. The initial reports of the Mubai attacks a few years ago were obvious enough to call it a “complex attack” without live video feed, just for one counterexample.

                It does not take a tech genius (who actually happened to be killed in the attack) six months to establish an broadband satellite connection. It probably took him only a day or two once the equipment arrived. If there wasn’t a high-speed connection, he wouldn’t have been playing online video games that require high speed connections.

                I can stand up a broadband satellite connection in a couple of days with raw equipment, too. Certainly well enough to play any MMORPG. I could not, however, set up an encrypted video feed to a specific destination without very particular bits of equipment (we’ll assume it would **have** to be encrypted, although our own military and intelligence agencies have spotty records of proper use of encryption).

                I have a friend who went to work for Los Alamos. He was hired and then had to sit on his duff for 6 months to get access to actually do his job.

                In other words, I can think of a laundry list of reasons longer than my arm – not all of them technical, mind you – why the IT infrastructure of this place was capable of supporting service A, P, and S without supporting B-O, Q, R, or T-Z. In fact, I would regard this as pretty likely.

                I have absolutely zero difficulty believing that a potential video feed that came out of the facility was a Skype call from someone who managed to get a line to the White House three hours into the incident. The observer would be panicked and not a trained security personnel, and would not be regarded as a highly credible source of speculative data. It would certainly be enough to be able to say there was a “complex attack” going on without being able to provide any reasonable certainty regarding *anything else* that was going on.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                To put it more bluntly, I got dinged once on this issue for jumping to conclusions (conclusions that seemed reasonable at the time) and you’re jumping to another set of conclusions right now.

                Which may be correct!

                But let’s wait for a reasonable report on this, eh?Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to George Turner says:

                Okay, at last I understand what you’re talking about here. Your beef is not with State Department comments, per se, but with how they fit into what you believe to be a cover-up conspiracy. Fair enough.

                For what it’s worth, I can imagine a scenario where the IT guy gets to play World of Warcraft but the internal security footage is not broadcast on a live feed (or at least unavailable during a fire and explosive raid). Likewise, I can imagine a scenario where it takes the FBI several days to collect evidence from the freshly-raided consulate of a tumultuous country. All of these developments seem plausible to me, though I’m certainly out of my depth on State Department protocol so maybe I’m just not seeing the red flags. These are the sort of details I’m hoping the investigation clarifies, but I’ll wait until that point before concluding the worst.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to trizzlor says:

                he internal security footage is not broadcast on a live feed (or at least unavailable during a fire and explosive raid).

                George seems to think that somebody in D.C. is getting live feed from every consulate security camera in the world 24/7, or that when the consulate is being attacked the first thing on the soon-to-be victims’ mind was, “somebody flip the live feed switch so the SecState can watch us die in real time.”

                it seems undeniable that about 100 people in the White House situation room watched the attack unfold in real time on video monitors, for six hours.

                Source? I can’t find any sources supporting this claim. If you’re just making this up, then saying it’s “undeniable,” you’re dishonest man.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to trizzlor says:

                For eight days after the attacks on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, government officials said the attacks were a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam film. Now that officials have acknowledged they were a premeditated act of terrorism, the question some members Congress are trying to answer is why it took so long for the truth to come out.

                Unclassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency suggest the answer may have to do with so-called talking points written by the CIA and distributed to members of Congress and other government officials, including Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The documents, distributed three days after the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, said the events were spontaneous.

                The talking points say, among other things, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

                The intelligence that helped inform those talking points—and what the U.S. public would ultimately be told—came in part from an intercept of a phone call between one of the alleged attackers and a middle manager from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s north African affiliate, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intercept. In the call, the alleged attacker said the locals went forward with the attack only after watching the riots that same day at the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

                However, the intercept was one of several monitored communications during and after the attacks between members of a local militia called Ansar al-Sharia and AQIM, which, taken together, suggest the assault was in fact a premeditated terrorist attack, according to U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials not authorized to talk to the press.

                In one of the calls, for example, members of Ansar al-Sharia bragged about their successful attack against the American consulate and the U.S. ambassador.

                It’s unclear why the talking points said the attacks were spontaneous and why they didn’t mention the possibility of al Qaeda involvement, given the content of the intercepts and the organizations the speakers were affiliated with. One U.S. intelligence officer said the widely distributed assessment was an example of “cherry picking,” or choosing one piece of intelligence and ignoring other pieces, to support a preferred thesis. (Source)

                Two thoughts:
                1. The administration was using the talking points given it by the CIA. Even if the CIA assessment was bad, the administration was working with what it was getting from its intel communities.

                2. George Turner is making a big deal out of the fact that there wasn’t a protest at the U.S. Consulate itself, and ignoring the fact that there were protests in Benghazi that day. Protests that start in one area of a city not infrequently spill over into other parts of a city (ask L.A.).

                The administration has bungled this, sure, but only ideologues and partisans willing to put their hatred of Obama above their own honesty and decency are making this out to be a major scandal and coverup by the administration.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to James Hanley says:

                Back to the point about online video, the CIA talking point references phone calls between militants and Al Qaeda members in Libya. Do you know how much bandwidth it takes to suck in a sizeable fraction of the area’s phone traffic and forward it to Virginia for processing and analysis?

                If you’re sucking up all those phone conversations around Benghazi and forwarding them to the US, don’t you think they’re also monitoring activities around the listening post that had been attacked for months and was constantly discussed as a target in all those intercepted phone conversations?

                The Sgt. Schultz defense doesn’t fly.

                Now obviously, the intelligence community would be extremely reluctant to reveal just what our capabilities are because Al Qaeda is already reluctant to use electronic communications that are subject to interception, and our data gathering works best when targets don’t even suspect it exists. The White House seems to be exploiting this reluctance to perpetuate a lie, claiming completely implausible ignorance of events on the ground.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to George Turner says:

                Back to the point about online video, the CIA talking point references phone calls between militants and Al Qaeda members in Libya. Do you know how much bandwidth it takes to suck in a sizeable fraction of the area’s phone traffic and forward it to Virginia for processing and analysis?

                You don’t know what you’re talking about, here, George.

                Libya’s landline telephone service is government run and 5 minutes of Googling tells me that there hasn’t been a major upgrade of the landline system since the 1970s. This means that it’s pretty unlikely that Libya’s phone service in the last mile is digital.

                This means that they probably still have POTS lines going out to customers, and digital lines are non-existent (one other reason why satellites on the roof). Undoubtedly most of the telecommunications infrastructure is still circuit-based PBX systems, and there isn’t any voice over IP stuff going on at all.

                You can’t “slurp” communications that aren’t IP based like that. You need to tap a line the old fashioned way, and have actual bodies listening to audio feed.

                Now, it may be the case that the NSA is grabbing digitized versions of that audio traffic somewhere farther up the food chain, but this isn’t a given.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                So how is the administration citing intercepts of the local Al Qaeda traffic?

                What you’ve established is that the embassy communications would not have been carried across Libya’s landline infrastructure (which we wouldn’t do anyway because of the risk, if not certainty, of intercept) which means they were carried on the satellite feeds, which were still up as the compound was breached and overrun. The ambassador was on the phone with Tripoli (and thus Washington) as the attack unfolded. Why hasn’t a single account of what he said come out?

                You can bet that if the attack had been thwarted, the administration would be showing us pictures of Obama, Hillary, and other officials huddled in the situation room, watching live video feeds and personally and heroically directing the response. Such photos probably exist, and they’ll never be seen because things went all pear shaped.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to George Turner says:

                So how is the administration citing intercepts of the local Al Qaeda traffic?

                Intelligence officers have called any transcribed (or audio recording) message between non-aligned actors “intercepts” since around 1935.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Yes, and given that we didn’t have enough security and intelligence personnel to safely move Otis between cells in the Mayberry jail, I’m pretty sure we didn’t have someone listening over their shoulder. We actually intercepted the conversation, which requires sucking in much of their traffic to identify which phones to even monitor, or, if we’d picked up on their numbers by the call chain to other known Al-Qaeda numbers, it means we’d still have to listen to their communications to extract the relevant conversations from their traffic flow.

                Either way, the existence of the very memos, talking points, and assessments the administration is citing in its defense also means that their claims of ignorance are unsupportable. They’re just trying to distance themselves from an abject failure, counting on the greater ignorance of the average member of the American public to get away with it.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                And now the CIA station chief in Libya is saying that in the first 24 hours he had been telling Washington that there was never a demonstration. The rats are jumping from the sinking ship.

                Meanwhile, the Benghazi airport had to close for ten hours because of the high volume of anti-aircraft fire being directed at two US drones, or so says the Arab press, and the New York Times interviewed the militia leader suspected of organizing the attack. He was sitting in the lobby of a luxury hotel sipping a strawberry frappe, and the Times had to make an important correction because he’d asked for mango juice. That implies that the administration has planted a CIA operative in the kitchen and he’s cleverly altering suspected Al Qaeda orders.Report

  7. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    Jeffrey Goldberg (not exactly a dove when it comes to Islamic terrorism) agrees with many of Nob’s points.Report

  8. Avatar MFarmer says:

    It’s sad to see so many here buying into this deceitful administration. Why are intellectuals on the Left always so eager to become apologists for Democratic Party authority, no matter how crooked the authority becomes? Actually, it hasn’t always been so. Leftist intellectuals in the 60s were basically anti-authoritartian, or at least sceptical towards those in power, even in the Democratic Party, or perhpas especially the Democratic Party, because they knew what the GOP stood for. The Chicago riots were at the Democratic Convention, and Abby Hoffman, et al, mooned both Republican and Democratic alike, but now it’s like the Left has become a swarm of undifferentiated partisan defenders of the faith — official supporters of political deceit.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to MFarmer says:

      I wonder, Farmer, for whom did you vote in 2004?Report

    • Avatar North in reply to MFarmer says:

      A note Mike… I copied your comment and carefully cut out all the decrying of either the administration or the left trying to be liberal in order to parse out what it is you’re accusing the administration of doing and ended up with… nothing at all. You’ve not made any assertion other than that Obama and the left are horrible. That’s your right of course but… frankly… it’s not very moving.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer in reply to North says:

        North, anyone who needs Cliff Notes at this point is not really in the conversation and is not doing any research to find the truth. You, of all the people here, I’m surprised at and disappointed with the most.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

          And, for all those who like to divert by pointing to the other side — regardless of how bad prior administrations have been or how bad future administrations may be, it’s this one we’re concerned with for now. The very people with the brain power to cogently oppose deceit are the ones closing their minds and following the party line. It’s pathetic.

          I didn’t vote in 2004 — there was no one I wanted to see in power.Report

        • Avatar trizzlor in reply to MFarmer says:

          “If you’re not angry you’re not paying attention”? Sounds so familiar, but I just can’t put my finger on where I used to hear that…Report

        • Avatar North in reply to MFarmer says:

          Mike, the point is you’re not saying anything. I’ve only been paying general attention the fooferaw (and have been pretty unmoved).
          Far as I can see there was some mid level mismanagement of security at a consulate.
          Some militants in Libya took a shot at the consulate; they scored big and took down the Ambassador and other staff.
          The Administration was confused and in a defensive crouch over the incident.
          This dumb Muslim hit video crap was sloshing around the Middle East around the same time and in the confusion the consulate attack got lumped in with the other demonstrations as being associated with it.
          The Administration stuck to their initial explanation for a while as the investigation proceeded.
          Eventually as more info emerged the Administration changed course and admitted that it looks like this was a premeditated attack that at the most seized on the video kerfuffle as an opportune moment to strike.

          So where exactly is the huge scandal? I understand that as a heavily conservative captured libertarian you’re very indignant about this incident, the administration and the left. You’ve made that clear. But there’s no actual substance behind your indignation on this subject. What is your beef exactly? What’s the scandal? Is there anything more to it than election season over inflation of a mid level administrative security error? What deep pervasive problem/conspiracy/moral outrage is this representative of?Report

          • Avatar MFarmer in reply to North says:

            “Mike, the point is you’re not saying anything.”

            North, the point is that if you don’t understand what I’m talking about, then you’re lost. I’m sorry. It’s silly to go through the litany of lies and deceptions, propaganda campaigns, civil liberties violations and the killing of innocents through drone warfare, etc, just to have each obscured by the spin of partisan robots. The Libya fiasco is just one more deceptive slap to the American public’s face. This administration thinks that Americans are completely ignorant and that all they have to is obscure the facts and all their deceptions will slide by. Don’t tell me other adminsitrations have thought this, because the subject is this administration. I understand if you distrusted and despised the Bush adminsitration, but to be honest you’d have to distrust and despise this administration even more. There is very little intellectual honesty at this site or in the political realm in general. That’s sad to me, because I hate to see people do this to their character.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to MFarmer says:

              Well you’re making some tiny progress. Sure the civil liberty things annoy me but I simply don’t put the priority on them that libertarians do (which is why I’m not a libertarian natch).

              Specifically, however, we’re talking about the Libya incident in this thread. Now you’re not fully gibbering anymore which I’m happy about but can you get on point? You allude that Obama’s admin has done some kind of nefarious deception? Could you please be specific? What great deception has been foisted upon the public in the case of Libya? So far I’ve read acres of conservative fulminating and all I’ve managed to sift out is that Obama and the admin blamed the attack on mobs incited by that anti-muslim slash film instead of calling it the terrorist attack that is was. Is that it? Is there nothing more? If that’s it then I’m not just unimpressed, I’m bored. The administration was either too hasty in labeling the attack in the first place or too laggard in correcting the label when the fog of war lifted? What in agnostic hell is the big deal about that?!?

              To the rest of your grip I’ll happily cop to liking Obama’s foreign policy a hell of a lot more than his predecessors; sure.
              Bush chased people he suspected to be terrorists around with soldiers (and got some of those soldiers killed), killed some and locked the rest in a morally dubious prison. Obama has instead blown terrorists up remotely with a morally dubious drone system but risked few to no soldiers lives in the process. He tried to close the prison but was defeated by a coalition of determined insane Republicans and a handful of cowardly Dems. By my reckoning that’s roughly a push maybe slightly tilted Obama.

              Bush started two land wars in Asia Minor, killed thousands of foreigners and our own soldiers and put the cost of this whole fiasco on extra-budgetary balance sheets.
              Obama’s wound down one of those wars, is in the process of winding down the other and has on his own pulled a lead from behind Bosnia style intervention in Libya which so far has turned out pretty tolerably (the deaths of our diplomats notwithstanding). He put the wars back on the budget (and got a lot of flack for it from towering GOP hypocrites) and hasn’t shown any sign of wanting to start any new land wars in Asia (minor or major). Point overwhelmingly Obama.

              Bush screeched a lot about eeeevil enemies and their axis’s of eeevil. Our actual enemies rolled their eyes, our imaginary enemies and rivals were alienated from us and our allies were embarrassed by us. Obama’s been more conciliatory and has successfully forged agreements with our rivals and diplomatically put the screws royally to our actual enemies. Our allies have no substantive complaints so far and our standing has improved globally. Point Obama.

              Bush was a free trader; he signed free trade agreements and other than some minor political nonsense did no harm on trade. He did this with a party that supports free trade and backs him. Obama has been free trader; he signed free trade agreements and other than some minor political nonsense did no harm on trade. His party ostensibly is more trade restrictionist but has been functionally pro free trade. This again strikes me as a push.

              So on the points Obama blows his predecessor away. Based on what his challenger claims I’d say he also blows Romney away. Obviously libertarians and liberals who prioritize civil liberties over all else have excellent cause to be displeased with Obama but for a neoliberal like me? Obama’s been the bees knees on foreign policy.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer in reply to North says:

                Your claim that I’m captured by conservatives is so far off the mark, that it makes everything that follows suspect in my book. I reject the traditional conservative philosophy starting with Burke — it’s antithetical to my dynamic philosophy which embraces revolutionary change. You carry on, though, and we’ll leave it here.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to MFarmer says:

                Problem is, dude, when you show up here it’s to slam liberals, leftists and/or the Democrats. Lately with less and less substantive content, but that’s an aside. I don’t even see you show up generally to positively contribute to the libertarian-leaning threads… again, lately.

                Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a comment you’ve written in the last six months that has critiqued the GOP and/or the right with anywhere near the rancor you’ve been leveling at the left.

                Whatever you *are*, you sound like a partisan hack.

                Lately.Report

              • “I can’t think of a comment you’ve written in the last six months that has critiqued the GOP and/or the right with anywhere near the rancor you’ve been leveling at the left.”

                That’s because no one here mindlessly promotes and defends the GOP when it’s obvious that their policy preferences are hurting the nation.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

                I thought I made it clear that in this discussion we are talking about the Obama administration, but all of you mindless apologists can’t help but to frame all problems as GOP-caused. What, you criticize Obama!? Why you racist Republican loving Bush-hugging Cheneyesque GOP corporate swill! Why can’t you just blame the Republicans solely like the rest of us and leave our Prince alone?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

                And when Obama does something good, I’m one of the first to congratulate him.

                http://bonzai.squarespace.com/blog/2012/10/19/obama-keeps-campaign-promise.htmlReport

              • Avatar North in reply to MFarmer says:

                I remember that one. Incidentally what is the substantive charge against the administration regarding Libya? What laws, moral codes or social mores have they willfully subverted, broken or violated? What is the scandal that they’re trying to hide?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to MFarmer says:

                Judge Napolitano, reason.com:

                What’s going on here is the unraveling of a value-free foreign policy and its unintended consequences. The whole reason that the streets in Libya are not safe and the country is ruled by roving gangs of militias is because the U.S. bombed the country last year. In an unconstitutional act of war, the president alone ordered the bombing. It destroyed the Libyan military, national and local police, roads, bridges, and private homes. It facilitated the murder of our former ally Col. Gadhafi and ensured the replacement of him by a government that cannot govern.

                The consulate attack defies the claims of the president, articulated loud and long during this presidential campaign, that because he killed Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida is dead or dying, and the terrorists are at bay. Thus, in order to be faithful to his campaign rhetoric, the president has been unfaithful to the truth. I personally have seen excerpts from intelligence cables sent by American agents in Libya to Washington on September 12th, the day after the attack and four days before Rice’s TV appearances, acknowledging the dominant role played by al-Qaida in the attack.

                So, who is to blame here? The president. He is responsible for destroying the government in Libya, and he is responsible for the security of U.S. personnel and property there. He is accountable to the American people, and he is expected to tell the truth. Instead, he has leaked the possibility of more bombings in Libya. These bombings would be more than a month after the Benghazi consulate attack and would attack the very government that Obama’s 2011 bombs helped to install.

                Is it any wonder that Bill Clinton, in an unguarded private moment, referred to Obama as “the amateur”?

                http://reason.com/archives/2012/10/18/who-is-responsible-for-the-mess-in-libyaReport

              • Avatar North in reply to MFarmer says:

                Tom, not only is that a canard but it’s certainly not a scandal. At worst (if we’re being extremely generous to the Judge) it’s a bad policy decision. This of course ignores that the overall picture in Libya is that we’ve *knocks on wood* replaced Gadaffi’s erratic generally hostile regime with a democratic state that currently looks like it is shaping up to be one quite friendly to the US (and the pro US demonstrations in Libya in the wake of the attack bear this out. This wouldn’t be a pet dictator riding herd on a sullen anti-american populace. It’d be a friendly unified country).

                I can understand why that prospect would alarm Republicans. It’s what Bush minor ostensibly set out to do with Iraq only Obama so far appears to have pulled it off with a tiny fraction of the cost, infinitely less american blood and with much more promising looking prospects of success (and quickly too).Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to MFarmer says:

                It’s a questionable policy decision followed by negligence, the latter being worse. Napolitano, as a libertarian, is pegging the “unconstitutional” angle. It sort of was, but since Congress didn’t give the president much in the way of pushback, I don’t make it an abuse of power.

                Clearly for you, Libya merits a shrug. Not me, and I hope not the majority. It’s proper to question the decision and find it fabulously imprudent, and yet another reason not to re-elect. I do believe the Obama admin has no plan in the Middle East, and its lack of one may put Libya [and Egypt] back in the trouble column.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to MFarmer says:

                Mike, the basic problem is you’ve gone so native that you can’t even not talk like a republican. I have no doubt what so ever that you are libertarian in inclination and voting habit. I honestly don’t. I consider you entirely genuine and am quite fond of you.
                The fact remains that when you comment, the assumptions your draw, the subjects you pick, the arguments you use and above all else the language you use makes you look like the modern GOP in all their dis ingenuity.

                I’d note, also, that you have evaded the point (and all the side points) again. What is the substantive charge against the administration regarding Libya? What laws, moral codes or social mores have the willfully subverted, broken or violated? What is the scandal that they’re trying to hide? Where’s the beef? What is the beef?Report

  9. Avatar Plinko says:

    Reading further, what I find most baffling about this whole argument isn’t really the nitpicking and semantics, but I’ve yet to see anyone attacking Obama over this suggest an upshot from this that’s worth this much argument in the context of a presidential election. What about this is supposed to change my mind about the relative merits of voting for either Obama or Romney?
    To echo Professor Hanley’s comments above – compared to any problematic foreign policy incident of my lifetime – how is this some kind of silver bullet?Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Plinko says:

      From what I understand, this is part of a larger critique of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy in that it doesn’t sufficiently appreciate how dangerous the world is and doesn’t sufficiently stand up for American interests.

      The alternative supposedly being that a Romney Administration wouldn’t have let anything like this happen, because he shows conviction and resolution and is willing to talk tough and puff out his chest…

      Or some ridiculous variation of it.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Plinko says:

      Maybe this is some of what Tom called the “heavy artillery” the GOP has been stockpiling and saving till needed, these table-turning tidbits that aren’t much more than partisan snack food.Report

  10. Ultimately it boils down to this:
    Ambassador Stevens chose to spend September 11, 2012 in Benghazi rather than Tripoli. He was in Benghazi to open an American cultural center, in an attempt to continue building bridges to ordinary Libyans.

    Everything we’ve seen from his cables to his own diary entries suggest he was well aware there were risks associated with that. He chose to do so anyway. Why? Because the job of an American foreign service officer isn’t to cower behind an embassy’s walls. It’s to be the bridge to the wider world.

    There was one person responsible for making the call to be in Benghazi that day and he chose to be there. When no one would have faulted him for staying in the relative safety of the Tripoli embassy, the Chief of Mission chose to be in Benghazi instead.

    All this hand-wringing over responsibility is bullshit. Especially coming from partisans of a party whose congressional majority voted to cut $211 million out of ESCM account and $248 million out of the world wide security account for the State Department. Partisans of a party that continually denigrates diplomacy and foreign service officers.Report

  11. Avatar Scott says:

    State Department Cut Libyan Security While Spending on Chevy Volts

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/10/11/Austrian-Embassy-Kept-Marines-and-Got-More-Budget-for-Chevy-Volts-While-State-Dept-Cut-Libyan-Security

    It is good to know what Barry’s priorities really are.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

      One would hope that the President has better things to do than personally audit the State Department’s entire budget.

      Have you ever worked on a complex budget? The end result is a political document. This is true no matter what sort of organization you’re working with. Political documents are going to contain compromises, and a bunch of them are going to look stupid in hindsight.

      Let me put it to you this way, Nob’s assessment seems correct to me; the Ambassador made the call, and rightly so. He called it wrong, and he paid with his life. And that sucks, but that’s the fallout of choosing a particularly dangerous profession.

      Look, I jumped to all sorts of conclusions on 9/11 and in retrospect it seems pretty stupid, and I’ll fess up to that.Report

      • This had nothing to do with budget. Libya is not just one more country out of 167, not just another Paris or Barbados. It was a unique situation, an interregnum, created by the administration itself.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          I think the 1 out of 167 point is relevant, Tom, but there’s more than just Libya in that “careful of these unique situation” bag. Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, every country in Africa where we have an embassy except maybe South Africa, Turkey…

          There’s lots of “careful of these unique situation” situations. And really, one would think that the preferred conservative approach to these unique situations is to give a very wide latitude of authority to the people on the ground at those unique situations, allowing them to make the call instead of dictating from Washington.

          You know, that whole idea that in very complex situations, you should move the decision-making as close to the situation as you can, right? You generally think this is a good idea, yes?

          That being the case, the person responsible for acting within *all* constraints (including available budget) should be the Ambassador. He can ask for more budget (doesn’t everybody), but whatever he gets, he’s supposed to be the one to make the best use of it. He made the call, it didn’t work out.

          I really don’t see a major failure here. I’m not even sure that he made the *wrong* decision; he apparently thought it was sufficiently non-dangerous in Benghazi to be *there* instead of Tripoli. And judging from the outcome, he was almost right; it’s not like he was beheaded in the streets, he was killed by smoke inhalation. If the fire sprinklers in the building worked as they ought, he’d probably still be here.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            The fires were the only thing that got Al Qaeda out of the building. If the sprinklers worked they’d have kept on searching for people to shoot – or kidnap and butcher.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to George Turner says:

              George, for somebody who is claiming that the Administration is sitting on a whole bunch of data that they’ll never let see the light of day, you sure seem *full* of declarative statements regarding this intel that is supposedly locked in a vault.

              Do you have an inside feed to the mostest secretive data ever or are you just making stuff up off the top of your head and then declaring it to be the Unvarnished Truth?Report

          • PatC, stipulating Ambassador Stevens was impetuous, no, you don’t let him endanger himself. His well-being is a matter of national security, not just personal, and you don’t let any individual run a rogue operation in one of the five major hot spots in the world.

            From what I gather, Stevens was indeed the impetuous sort, and if his requests for more security were denied—and they were*—he wasn’t going to let that keep him from doing his job as he saw it.

            * http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/presidential-debate-libya-questioner-says-obama-didnt-answer/2012/10/17/7109898e-1867-11e2-a55c-39408fbe6a4b_blog.html

            As to Ladka’s question about who turned down the Benghazi security requests and why, Obama reportedly told him that “releasing the individual names of anyone in the State Department would really put them at risk,” Ladka says.

            Hm.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Well, if he’s that impetuous, he probably ought not to have been an ambassador to Libya. On the other hand, maybe he was the best choice available even with that disclaimer.

              I dunno, Tom, you’ve got a point in there and while I think it’s debatable either way, your stance is perfectly valid.

              Still, that likely puts it into a different light than “this is a huge screwup”. It’s an operational failure, all Administrations have them.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              stipulating Ambassador Stevens was impetuous, no, you don’t let him endanger himself. His well-being is a matter of national security, not just personal, and you don’t let any individual run a rogue operation in one of the five major hot spots in the world.

              This just keeps getting worse and worse. Do you really think Stevens deciding to go to Benghazi qualifies as a “rogue” operation? Some would say it was the considered decision of a well-qualified ambassador.

              As I said recently on this blog, decision theorists understand that you can’t judge the quality of the decision by its outcome. It’s just Monday morning armchair quarterbacking–the less you know the easier it is to do.

              And do you really think the President should be directing the daily movements of all the country’s ambassadors, so that they don’t “endanger” themselves? Then everyone would be criticizing him for micro-management and not focusing on the important duties of his job.

              And if your point is just that he should have been surrounded by an armed guard, you don’t understand the purpose and function of diplomats. They can’t function properly if their security is too tight. They have to be more accessible than that. Other embassies won’t want them coming in if their security detail is too overwhelming, won’t invite them to dinners, and won’t come to the U.S. Embassy if they’re treated like a security risk.

              All this criticism is being made by people who know absolutely nothing about how the diplomatic service works. All they know is that a U.S. ambassador got killed, and somebody must be to blame, and since they already hate the President, and he’s the ambassador’s boss, why it’s got to be him. It’s all very convenient. What it isn’t is either correct or even very intelligent.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        Pat:

        I’ve done budgets so I know that you always have a little extra room in the budget for emergencies. I doubt that money is so tight for the State Dept., especially if they can afford Chevy Volts.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        Pat & Tom –

        This is a well-done discussion, I think you guys get to the heart of it here.

        I don’t think there’s much difference between all of our political assessments. It was indeed a screwup – an operational failure to be sure, but also an administrative one – of exactly what nature and whose still tbd. As Pat says, all administrations have screw-ups, but they deserve to be questioned about them, and when they happen in a political season (or even not), take a hit for them. The issue is the size of the hit.

        Some people regard this administration as already proven (or perhaps implicitly assumed?) to be incompetent. This is simply confirmation to them, and hence the hit amounts to whatever under any circumstances would be a disqualification. They’re looking for whatever they can find to offer as an objective argument to neutrals for why they should join in the judgment of dq.

        The rest of us, who see an administration that has had a more-or-less typical series of ups and downs on foreign policy, see here four diplomatic personnel who had taken very dangerous assignments dead, including an impetuous (very courageous?) and talented ambassador. Very much a big deal. But a big deal in contained kind of a way. Other numbers in recent American history come to mind. The president should be questioned and pay a price for, but if that price wasn’t big enough to put re-election far out of reach for him, it wouldn’t be a situation where the world would seem to have been turned on its head.

        It sort of depends on your priors. I’m not sure whether those are epistemological, judgmental (temperamental, perhaps I mean?), or simply partisan. Prolly a little of each. It’s instructive to note, however, where the proven nonpartisans on this board are on this question. It would be kind of clarifying if the GOP-friendly around here would come out and say that they regard the likes of PatC and James Hanley as Democratic Party partisans, if in fact they do.Report

        • That’s about right, Michael. Stuff happens, admins can get unlucky. But also some lazy incompetents get lucky and the spit doesn’t hit the fan–for awhile anyway, but when it does, it cascades. My opinion is that this admin has been getting away with a lot of negligence and drift and needs to be replaced pronto before its luck runs out any more.

          As for who’s partisan and who’s not hereabouts, I don’t find such opinions reliable or helpful because I don’t consider partisanship as a disqualifier. There are strong partisans hereabouts whose analyses I find perfectly honest–we just disagree on conclusions and the Rx. What we really need is a lot more principled disagreement and a lot less condemnation of opposing views.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            . There are strong partisans hereabouts whose analyses I find perfectly honest–

            Some, yes.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Unfortunately I can’t say the same, Tom. Your partisan turn this year has caused me to by now discount whatever sincerity, truth, or balanced judgment I once credited to your words by probably about 85 or 90 percent. If you do the same for all the rabidly pro-Obama Democratic partisans who rush to defend him on absolutely every issue and advance the prosecutorial case against his opponent to maximum using any and every nugget available to them with unyielding commitment, vigilance, and diligence like a paid campaign communicator as you do, you would be doing only what I would expect and think you should.

            This place is, was, supposed to be better than that.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

              But, like I said, here with Pat (not as much elsewhere) you’re making what case you have to make in about as reasonable a way as it can be made, if we accept the assumption that on balance the available info supports a harshly critical case against the administration on this incident at this point (and see James below on decision theory/Mon AM QBing below). You’re at least pointing to the questions where, if the evidence fell into place in the right ways, the administration would potentially fall under the most justified criticism. So I wanted to give you credit for that – at least you’re not obsessed with just exactly what they said when no one was sure what exactly had happened. Credit where due, notwithstanding the above on your established motivations.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew says:

          they regard the likes of PatC and James Hanley as Democratic Party partisans, if in fact they do.

          Heh, anyone who regards me as a Democratic Party partisan is a little bit misguided.

          Look, I think you’re right, Michael. There is an issue here. When an ambassador gets killed in the line of duty, an investigation is necessary. That doesn’t mean we know there was some correctable error in any particular case, but we have to do an investigation before we can know if there is or not.

          But some folks here are eager to jump to making convictions already, before the investigation. They “know” that Obama has personally screwed up somehow in a horrible way. It’s not a matter of evidence, for them. They’ll make up or ignore any evidence that’s inconvenient. And a lot of what has been said suggests they don’t understand the role of ambassadors. We want ambassadors who don’t simply hide behind security details. We want ambassadors with a bit of Lawrence of Arabia, who really like the people to whom they’re representing the U.S., instead of having disdain and keeping their distance. Because that latter type can’t actually represent the U.S. in a positive way. Anyone who hides behind security and is inaccessible can’t represent the U.S. in a positive way. If Stevens was “impetuous,” God bless him for it. There’s a reason he was respected and liked in Libya.

          Under no circumstances can I see myself voting for Obama this year. But like you I think it’s clear all administrations have their ups and downs in foreign policy. And this is one of those downs. Does somebody’s head need to roll? Maybe. But at this point we just don’t know.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley says:

            I certainly agree with this in full, James (I guess except for the voting intention part;)). I hope it was clear that my point was that the notion that you or Pat would be considered even somewhat partisan in favor of Democrats to be humorous. I just wonder whether some here have a different view that they don’t state outright.Report

  12. Avatar Scott says:

    CIA found militant links a day after Libya attack

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20121019/DA20G2701.html

    See,this whole thing is really the CIAs fault for not telling Barry and allowing him to tell the public silly stories about a flash mob protesting a video.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Rtod says:

        So you are saying that this is the CIA’s fault? More like the CIA gave the admin the intel they had which was not clear and Barry decided which way he wanted to view the intel, i.e. as a spontaneous attack. The admin definitely came down on the side that the attack was spontaneous to the exclusion of other causes. Then he admin stuck with their silly story for about a week in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary.Report

        • Avatar Rtod in reply to Scott says:

          Blaming the CIA? Lord no. What would I be blaming them for?

          All I’m saying is that your narrative – that the CIA had a definitive answer the day after and he White House lied about that answer – seems to be incorrect. Is it possible you’re seeing what you want to?Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Rtod says:

            The use of “you” here on Scott is unhelpful. Here’s a link to Tod’s link and some demurrals. In the least, at this point the president’s defenders are finding what they want to find easily as much as his critics.

            http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/154820/

            CONVENIENT NEW REVELATIONS: CIA documents supported Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks. [link] What the CIA reportedly said on September 15: “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

            This certainly makes the CIA look bad, at any rate. But notice how the story tries to turn this White House reliance on a bad report by its own intelligence agency into a Romney “misfire.”

            UPDATE: Reader Ed Holston emails: “Sure looks like the CIA documents that supported Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks were revised from and at odds with the CIA’s own sources who were reporting from on the ground in Libya to Langley.” He sends this: CIA report at time of Benghazi attack placed blame on militants, sources say: CIA station chief in Libya reported within 24 hours that there was evidence US consulate attack was not carried out by a mob.
            Remember when we were told that an Obama Administration would be marked by competence and good communication?

            ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jim Hicks voices darker suspicions:
            That memo raises more serious questions about the cover-up than it answers and does not provide cover for Obama. The information that they supposedly relied on for the memo was an intercept involving an Al Qaida operative. That Al Qaida connection was left out of the memo. More importantly, we know that the CIA knew the day after the attack that it was a terrorist attack and Al Qaida was involved. So why is the administration and CIA circulating the Talking Points memo, which goes to Capitol Hill, on the 15th? This looks more than anything like they were intentional deceiving Congress. Rice/Obama/Ignatius might have had a point if the memo were released on 12th. However, the release of of a memo on the 15th, to Congress, containing assertions everyone in the intelligence community knew to be false, raises the questions of who wrote the memo and who approved it. Obama himself has now claimed he called it a terrorist attack on the 12th. In any event, we know that was the conclusion of the intelligence community on the 12th. So why was he having the CIA lie to Congress on the 15th?Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Scott says:

          Actually I think there’s more confirmation of it because part of the CIA seems unwilling to take the fall.

          The intelligence official who spoke to Fox News on condition of anonymity walked a fine line in trying to give an updated picture of what happened. The official acknowledged that, despite initial comments, “there probably wasn’t a protest around the time of the attack.”

          The official said: “It was clear from the outset that a group of people gathered that evening. A key question early on was whether extremists took over a crowd or if the guys who showed up were all militants. It took time—until that next week—to sort through varied and sometimes conflicting accounts to understand the group’s overall composition.”

          The analysis of the group’s “overall composition”, done in the first week, would’ve been done before the recovery of any video records in the consulate, and before the FBI showed up to interview anyone, yet the analysis was obviously still taking place, of movements occuring before and during the early phases of the attack, events long prior to the arrival of the US drone.

          My guess is that there’s White House pushback on some of the CIA statements that contradict the White House blaming the CIA for their errors, and some of the top CIA officials are trying to buy the White House some wiggle room by coming up with any possible reading of the early intelligence that could’ve justified claims that it was a demonstration.

          There was another interesting analysis that pointed out that the very early White House statements portrayed it as a terrorist attack, but the liberal press kept asking if the attack was linked it to the Egyption Youtube protests, and only after being bombarded with those questions did the Administration start floating the idea that it really was a spontaneous demonstration.

          If that’s the case, the press, in their attempts to carry water for the President, led him into a swamp.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

          Consulates are controlled by the State Department. They did have security at the consulate. A bunch of unarmed guards run by some British agency. They ran away. Those contractors weren’t armed, on purpose. A consulate is a goodwill outpost. Had they been armed, they would have been perceived as yet another militia in a town rife with militias.

          Hillary Clinton had asked for money and resources to run her own armed branch of the State Department. USMC has traditionally guarded embassies but that’s not their primary mission and they’re not going to hold off a serious attack. It’s to Hillary’s credit that she isn’t playing Tolja So but she could stand up to these jackasses now damning her.

          Tell y’all another thing. The first few SITREPs are always wrong. The CIA and State Department have a long and contentious relationship. CIA puts in operators under State Department cover but there are problems with chains of command. That’s why Hillary wanted her own security.

          Here’s why the Republicans are all giddy over the Benghazi attack: they’re experts at turning tragedy into political gains. They did it with 9/11. Now we’ve got that shameless asshole Darrell Issa dumping raw intel on Benghazi, betraying our Libyan contacts. Issa ought to have his clearance revoked but nobody will do it.

          Scott, before you play any more Blame Games about what CIA or POTUS or the Secretary of State has to say about an attack on our consulates, I’d like you to consider why the President said what he did about it. The confluence of the Muhammad Film and 9/11 gave our enemies perfect cover for this assault.

          The subsequent crapfest and Monday Morning Quarterbacking is asinine. It’s just so much second-guessing this situation for political gain. seems to only emerge from assholes who will leak the names of our intelligence gatherers, the very people who surely got the story sorted out. Those brave people don’t matter to the Republicans, nor do the lives of those murdered men. It’s all about winning an election. It’s disgraceful.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Rtod says:

        Evidence won’t settle the matter Tod. {/truthiness}Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Anne says:

          Completely anonymous sourcing from a tool of the Dem establishment. Our problems remain epistemological.

          http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444868204578062420490836106.html?mod=rss_opinion_main

          The third and final Benghazi timeline is the one that has fostered charges of a coverup. It stretches eight days—from 3:40 p.m. on Sept. 11, when the consulate was first rocked by gunfire and explosions, through the morning of Sept. 19, when Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, publicly testified before the Senate that Benghazi was a terrorist attack.

          Mr. Olsen’s testimony effectively ended all debate about whether the attacks had grown out of a protest over an anti-Islam video. Three days before Mr. Olsen put a stop to the blame-YouTube storyline, U.N. Amb. Susan Rice, echoing Mr. Carney, had gone on five Sunday TV chat shows and maintained that the YouTube video has spurred the violence.

          If the Obama White House has engaged in a coverup in the Benghazi case, the ostensible motivation would bear some similarity to that of all the president’s men in Watergate. Mr. Obama faces a rendezvous with the voters on Nov. 6, and in a race much tighter than the Nixon-McGovern contest of 1972. In such a circumstance, certain kinds of disclosure are always unwelcome.

          Ms. Lamb, in her congressional testimony, said that from her command center in Washington she was able to track the lethal events of Benghazi in something akin to real time. She was in constant communication with the agent on the consulate grounds who first notified Washington that an assault—”attack, attack,” the agent said—was under way. Ms. Lamb also said that the State Department was receiving a steady stream of data on the afternoon of Sept. 11 indicating that terrorism was afoot. Such admissions are what have given rise to charges of a coverup.

          “Everyone had the same intelligence,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Fox News last week. But that also appears untrue. How information immediately made known to an assistant secretary of state could somehow be withheld for eight days from the secretary of state herself—and from our U.N. ambassador, from the director of national intelligence, from the analytic corps at the Central Intelligence Agency, from the president’s chief spokesman, and from the president himself—now forms the central question in the Benghazi affair.

          Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Nobody’s doubting the facts of what went down in Benghazi. The only questions arise from speculation about motivation. That the Republicans will now wring their hands and say they were misled about why this attack went down, well, it’s all so much sanctimonious bullshit from the Usual Sources. While Darrell Issa remains unpunished for leaking raw intel, let the Republicans STFU.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Here’s how it seems to me. Obama lied [1] to cover up [2] his demonstrable incompetence [3].

              Evidence for [1]: see [2] and [3].
              Evidence for [2]: see [1] and [3].
              Evidence for [3]: see [1] and [2].Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

              This.

              And I’m still waiting for a coherent explanation for what the Prez possibly could have gained by (allegedly) misleading us about it being a terrorist attack through that devilishly clever subterfuge of calling it an “act of terror.”

              Our problems are not epistemological, they are purely partisan.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                It’s ironic, in a way. This whole thing started because conservatives were offended that Obama didn’t call-out acts of terror with the right language. Now they find themselves dredging thru partisan muck to tell a coherent story about why they were offended.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                It’s more than ironic. They’re simultaneously attacking Obama for intervening in Libya without their oversight and consent — and damning him for not having Marines in Benghazi.

                Socrates would pretend ignorance of the facts when debating, the better to get his opponents to define the weaknesses inherent in their positions. That’s genuine irony. The Republicans have damned themselves from their own mouths.

                The torture, rape, dragging and murder of Chris Stevens, appalling as it was, ought to be seen in the light of the Libyan response: an outpouring of grief for his murder and rage at the perpetrators. Chris Stevens was a friend of Libya and the Libyans know it.

                The GOP reaction to this incident ought to be seen in the light of their own response: the exposure and betrayal of our intelligence sources within Libya. Our enemies now have their names and there will be more murders, on that you can bet the farm, not that Darrell Issa cares about such things. Like Achilles dragging the body of Hector around the walls, it is not enough that Chris Stevens was dragged through the streets of Benghazi. In a ghoulish display of partisanship, the GOP seems intent not merely upon dragging his corpse through the streets of Washington but upon the highways and byways of America itself, to every one of Romney’s campaign stops.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP says:

                The GOP reaction to this incident ought to be seen in the light of their own response: the exposure and betrayal of our intelligence sources within Libya.

                Sometimes you have destroy the security in order to save it. From Democrats.

                Conservatives have to ask themselves a question: are some things just too costly in the effort to defeat the Democratic Enemy? At least, they should ask themselves that question. That they don’t explains quite a bit.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                Achilles had a few choice words on the occasion of Hector’s death. He made sure everyone got a chance to give Hector’s body a poke with their swords.

                Well, Hector had a few choice words of his own as he lay dying. The arrow of cowardly Paris was in Achilles’ near term future.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                Um, you do realize that the militants and Al Qaeda grabbed the lists of all the Libyans working with us from the consulate, don’t you? Obama and Hillary let Al Qaeda have all the names of our operatives – for free!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                I gather you believe this excuses Darrell Issa. Why am I not surprised?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Our enemies now have their names and there will be more murders, on that you can bet the farm, not that Darrell Issa cares about such things.

                It’s not the first time a Republican has outed our intelligence sources, either. Valerie Plame may be alive and healthy despite being outed, but there’s damn sure a lot of folks whose names we’ll never know who were Xed out when her name went public.

                I could handle national security type Republicans if they actually cared more about national security than political gamesmanship.Report

              • Well the game was sorta up when they put Michelle Bachmann on the House Intelligence Committee.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to BlaiseP says:

                The torture, rape, dragging and murder of Chris Stevens…

                I realize this has become the standard line but my understanding is that the original source for the rape allegation later disowned it and only a few ultra-right sites have kept it going – usually tied to the “fact” that Stevens was gay. Ditto the dragging through the streets. Does anyone have a credible source for a calm description of how he actually died?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to DRS says:

                I’ll try to find one, but the source I saw say he was found by Libyan forces locked in a room, dead or dying of smoke inhalation. He was immediately evacuated.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to DRS says:

                Well, there’s Salon, which has a lot of links with descriptions: http://www.salon.com/2012/09/17/rumor_mongering_around_chris_stevens_death/ I’m trying to find a foreign source like BBC so that the usual complaints about the MSM won’t pop up.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to DRS says:

                I read the Lebanese and Egyptian papers and they were reporting all sorts of rumours. I’ll accept whatever version of Chris Stevens’ demise in the same spirit in which all Official Versions of these things are issued: with a large-ish grain of salt. It really doesn’t matter and I’ll stipulate to the facts as they emerge. Libya’s still a Hot War and we should all expect a dismal signal to noise ratio: the plural of anecdote is not fact…. The warlords are still in charge of local operations and they don’t have press secretaries.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                I like that line, Our problems are not epistemological, they are purely partisan.. It has now been added to quotes.txt , the infamous text file which has grown over 20 years now. It has been moved from machine to machine over the years.

                Thing nobody seems to get about situations like this — well, have you ever seen those old pictures of execs trying to look busy at their desk, looking at a single sheet of paper? That’s what’s going on here with the GOP. They think the Prez has some single sheet of paper which contains all the hard facts. These days of course it would be a PowerPoint .pptx file.

                The GOP is so used to manipulating facts for political gain they can’t envision anyone else not doing so.

                Which isn’t to say Democrats don’t, they certainly did under LBJ with the Gulf of Tonkin Incidents, intelligence screwups of exactly this sort. Arguably, Carter decided to stick his finger in Afghanistan’s ass on the advice of Zbig when the USSR came in to rescue the clueless Communist regime.

                Clinton had the political horse sense to give the military clear strategy and let them keep American’s weenie out of the wringer, that is to say, nobody died — to the point where he wouldn’t do anything about Rwanda because the military said they couldn’t support such an operation logistically and tactically.

                Lest we forget, when Hizbullah bombed the Marine barracks in Beirut ( probably the very first suicide truck bomb ) it was that ignominious coward Ronald Reagan who pulled out instead of revenging his dead on those chumps. Reagan’s failure to act would give rise to a general impression the USA would not take casualties and would in turn lead to many impudent attacks against Americans. There was a day when we were feared. This is no longer true and we have the Republicans to thank for it.

                It’s a classic Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t with these Republicans. For all their unctuous, buns-up-kneeling fellating of our Brave Military Guys, they don’t know how to use the military option. They’re just awful at it. Bush43 gets a pass on sending Colin Powell to the UN with a pack of lies about Iraq but the same folks who defended Bush43 (and themselves at the time) now excoriate Obama for lying to us about motives, as if it made any difference to the outcome.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                A classic partisan attack, Blaise. Keep that quote front and center. tape it to your monitor.

                Actually, when I say “our” problems are epistemological, I’m being charitable. Keep up the good work. 😉Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                It’s the third paragraph, that one sentence, which rings truest. I could have saved myself writing the rest of it.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                A partisan attack that slams both Dems and Repubs? Really? Do you have a reading comprehension problem or are you purposely misrepresenting Blaise’s words because you don’t have any legitimate rebuttal?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                Tom should go to Washington State. I hear there’s a shortage of cherry pickers there.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Tom, is the inability to differentiate between epistemology and partisanship an epistemological problem?Report

              • There’s no point in continuing at this time, Mr. Still, but I do thank you for asking. I’m going to go watch the Mormons vs. the #5-ranked Catholics. The Papists trail at halftime, 14-7.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                There’s no point in continuing at this time

                Of course. Let’s get back to this when it’s more convenient. I’m particularly interested in how it is you think that nay disagreement with conservative views on things is reducible to an epistemological crisis, when it seems like the most obvious explanation is partisanship. I’m also very interested in hearing your thoughts about how the distinction between those two things is maintained such that you’re use of the phrase “our problems remain epistemological” doesn’t beg the very question it’s intending to answer.

                I look forward to it!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Typos, grammatical errors, run-on sentences, etc, of course. I blame the Papists for distracting me.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I think Beirut is the thing that makes the particular cravenness of this episode just stink up to the gods.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

              I agree about Issa but that doesn’t get the admin’s incompetence off the hook. Good counterattack, tho.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Tom, you’re just standing on the bodies of a dead statesman and his brave crew to attack Obama. It’s easily the most disgusting of your many disgusting tirades.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Ah, now it’s just the administration’s incompetence. A nice shifting of the goalposts. Or rather, cover for a retreat from the partisanship-driven claims that proved wholly indefensible.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                Any sentence containing But might as well start with No.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                And Hizbullah continues to use the same technique to murder anyone who dares to interfere with them. I really ought to write up something on the murder of Wissam al-Hassan.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                As it turns out, the administration had six hours to respond, from the first explosions to the death of the SEALs. We had fighter aircraft, C-130 gunships, and other assets at airbases 40 minutes away and an hour and a half away, but instead of using them to intervene, or even as psychological pressure and data recorders, Hillary and the administration decided to chat with the President of Libya to see if we could fly into Libyan airspace, and nobody has yet come forward with the gist of that conversation.

                I don’t remember us asking Qaddafi if we could fly into his airspace, and he wasn’t even attacking our consulate.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

                First, they weren’t SEALs. They might once have been SEALs but they were State Department employees, not US Navy.

                Your citations are wrong. Here’s the reality of that situation:

                The nearest C-130J is NAS Sigonella. Even with a cruise speed of 280 knots, assuming ordnance and crew were aboard and aircraft has just turned on props, neither of which were true at that moment, flight distance is 752.2 km from Sigonella to Benghazi, that’s about two hours flight time.

                Even if these ex-SEALs had forward air controller training, and let’s presume they did, the onboard Bofors gunner would have been firing at Danger Close conditions, an impossible shot, more likely to kill friendlies than anyone else. The RPG gunners were moving in tree cover, a point I’ve made before, not that you were paying attention. An F-16 couldn’t have made the shot either without laser assistance.

                I despise Armchair Generalling.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I don’t think you get it, Blaise. I think George is saying we should have toasted the whole neighborhood. Security? Nah, revenge.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                Tell you what I’m sick of, James: armchair generals who think this shit is So Easy. Want to see how accurate an AC-130 actually is? The very idea that an orbiting gunship could have brought in support in Danger Close conditions with the targets within a few meters of the friendlies is just rah-rah bullshit. The burst radius of the munitions would have killed everyone involved.

                The people of Benghazi dealt with those assholes on their own. They ran the militias out of town. The locals took more casualties than we did when they rousted the terrorists out of Dodge. That says something about the validity of our response.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’m with you 100%, Blaise. These fools here think they don’t need any knowledge about how the Dip Corps or the military operate to come to solid judgements.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to James Hanley says:

                If the people of Benghazi ran the militants out of town, how come a New York Times reporter was enjoying a snack with the suspected leader of the militants just a few days ago in the lobby of one of Benghazi’s luxury hotels? The leader had a strawberry frappe and laughed at Obama and the Libyan government, saying he’s not a bit worried about a response.

                And Blaise, you’re armchair generalling, coming up with reasons why we shouldn’t have put anything in the air over Benghazi. If that’s so useless, why dd we constantly put assets in the air over Iraq and Afghanistan, often having them engage enemy fighters one by one in villages? Youtube is full of videos of them making the shots with reasonable accuracy, and the most important result is that they break up the attackers cohesion and send them running. They can also fire a few warning bursts and the less committed attackers would weed themselves out, even if nobody is actually targeted from the air. It throws a big monkey wrench into the enemy’s calculations.

                But instead, the armchair generals in the Obama Administration (Hillary, Obama, etc) reportedly got on the phone with the head of Libya to ask if it was okay for us to enter their airspace, and presumbably they took “no” for an answer.Report

  13. Avatar Jeff Haire says:

    Politics compromised the protection of US diplomats in Benghazi.

    I wrote this article to bring attention to the larger political motives of the Obama administration in Libya which were to prematurely normalize relations and soften the image of the US as an occupier. Embassies and consulates are tehnically sovereign soil of the guest country. The US was entitled to employ whatever resources necessary to protect its diplomats and staff. I challenge the idea that the US needs to be engaging and open to the local population in a war zone or conflict zone. If things are too dangerous then it is best to withdraw from exposure. No diplomatic posturing is worth losing diplomats and staff.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jeff Haire says:

      Maybe you didn’t notice how the Libyans responded. That suggest you’re flat wrong about us normalizing relations too early. And sure we’re “entitled” to use whatever resources are necessary to protect our offices and staff, but it’s not always wise to do everything you’re entitled to.

      Have you ever looked at how diplomatic relations between countries actually works? It’s not a law enforcement issue.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jeff Haire says:

      Oh, gawd. Canada Freep, now there’s a great bastion of rationality. Come around here to put in a cite to your own wretchedly written article.

      Just got finished reading your LinkedIn. It’s a great miracle you haven’t broken your arm, patting yourself on the back so vigorously.Report

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