In the Arena

The Benghazi Circus

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Well, I’ve been on a desert island since the election–and I return to find the tawdry sadness of David Petraeus‘ resignation after a lifetime of service to our country. And the even more tawdry attempts by various Republicans to create a scandal over the tragic deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in the Benghazi terror attack.

Let me just repeat this flat out: there is no scandal here–except for the reprehensible behavior of politicians like John McCain and Lindsey Graham who have conducted a scurrilous campaign against Ambassador Susan Rice. (Even their usually knee-jerk amigo Senator Joe Lieberman has refused to join them in this jihad). I tried to catch up on all the hoo-hah since returning from the beach and it seems to me that Rice’s talking points were accurate, if vague, in the way that talking points usually are.

There were two attacks in Benghazi that night. The first was a spontaneous response to the anti-Islamic film that had caused similar protests in Cairo and elsewhere. That is important: there would have been no terrorist attack if the film hadn’t provided the opportunity for mayhem. Most of the protesters were members of local salafist militias, who quickly realized that the security at the consulate was nearly nonexistent. They organized a second attack with heavier weapons, including mortars. And so we have four essential facts that do not contradict one another:

1. the attack was a spontaneous reaction to the film

2. it was followed by an organized attack.

3. both attacks were populated and organized by terrorist militias, with loose ties to Al-Qaeda.

4. security at the consulate was inadequate

So there are two questions: Did the Obama Administration make a political decision to coverup the (rather tenuous) Al-Qaeda involvement? And why was the security so lax?

Answer to question 1: Ambassador Rice’s talking points were scrubbed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, according to CBS. The specific names of the militias involved were removed for security reasons, apparently, so that our intelligence assets on the ground could continue to monitor the miscreants. This is a minor, silly point in any case: the President called the Benghazi attack an “act of terror” the day after it took place–which proved a rather embarrassing moment for Mitt Romney in the third debate, when Candy Crowley corrected him on the point (Romney’s information throughout the campaign was defective, having been sourced by right-wing fantasy reports). There was no coverup.

Answer to Question 2: According to a really excellent piece by Bob Worth in the New York Times magazine last Sunday, the level of security in Benghazi was determined by…Ambassador Chris Stevens:

In the rush to assign blame after Stevens’s death, it was largely overlooked that Stevens, as the top-ranking diplomat in Libya by that point, was the one responsible for making final decisions about what kind of security was appropriate there, how to use it and what qualified as safe and unsafe.

Worth wasn’t blaming Stevens. He was admiring him for trying to practice the sort of hands-on diplomacy that has become more difficult in the era of terrorism and amped-security. Indeed, Worth was raising a larger and very important question–what sort of risks should we ask our diplomats to take? It is a question that hits very close to home for me since, as some of you may know, I’m the father of an American diplomat who has served in difficult places, including a year in Baghdad.

It is also the sort of question that John McCain might have asked back in the days when he was an honorable public servant. But he’s now a political caricature, severely debilitated by anger and envy. His trigger-happy foreign policy beliefs have always been questionable, but this Benghazi crusade has put in the weird circle inhabited by nutcases and conspiracy theorists like Michele Bachmann and Allen West. He should honor the memory of those who lost their lives that terrible night by putting a cork in his disgraceful behavior immediately.

327 comments
condor1965
condor1965

McCain is an fool. I don't know what his new group of idiots and traitorsto America is called,I remember the old one from the 1980's, "The KeatingFive".How could a heroic military man, and prisoner of war, become such alying twisted sole. He has been around way too long. Just go awayJohn.There will be no salvation for you.Gary

cgemil
cgemil

If the discussions on Benghazi is a right wing fantasy, why did Obama and /or the  powers that be in the White House alter  its presentation to the public, i.e.,  not terrorist attack as  stated  by the CIA but a reaction to a film.  They  could have been more open and transparent before  the election. Therefore, it must be that important.  You are a journalist- be objective!

Tipper_Top
Tipper_Top

Jeebus Joe Klein - you might want to at least TRY to be a journalist and inquire about Benghazi by perhaps reading Stevens' final missive and the minutes of the sworn testimony to date. I believe Stevens wasn't the final decision as to who/what was the security detail in Benghazi. Deputy Assistant Director for International Programs Charlene Lamb said the State Department had the ultimate say. Google it, Joe.It is so very, very sad to see a journalist adhere to his ideology before his profession.

Mujokan
Mujokan

There was no demonstration, there was an opportunistic attack inspired by the video. This is what the CIA told the House, according to the press. Klein does not say there was a demonstration.

Dbright21
Dbright21

@KatrinaNation so what went right in Benghazi?

SenatorMeka31
SenatorMeka31

@KatrinaNation yes its time 4 him to retire or the ppl in Arizona 2 vote his Ass out :-)

IKR1979
IKR1979

@KatrinaNation A patriot who left his flesh in the jungles of Vietnam. When he will seek justice for the 48K they sent to slaughter in Iraq

IKR1979
IKR1979

@KatrinaNation Hitchens during the 2008 elections made the observation that MacCain was loosing his faculties, he still a patriot

apr2563
apr2563

Was McCain honorable when he backed the Iraq war, stated it would not last long and the Iraq would greet us with joy and adopt democracy?  Forget honorable, was he smart?

apr2563
apr2563

Joe, these are the people you are asking Obama to approach with moderation.  Obama is not the one having trouble being moderate.

Also, please tell your peers that McCaine has no relavance so please stop inviting him on shows for commentary.

ConstLover777
ConstLover777

@MSNBCWatch Perhaps if Joe Klein and is fellow Pravda unit would do their jobs, the story would have been done by now.

curt3rd
curt3rd

I cannot believe the flat out lies about it being a spontaneous attack because of a youtube video. Time has really gone of the deep end with their political agenda. And correct me if Im wrong but wasnt there repeated request for more security? This whole article is one lie after another.

Ralph
Ralph

I am in awe of this authors ability to take the known facts that have already been broadcast that say that there was NO spontaneous demonstration and spin it out to now say that there was one. The news releases from the CIA have said there was no demonstration. Maybe he has sources that the CIA forgot to question?

anilkm
anilkm

Joe

You have got McCain covered - he is a disgrace. It is a wonder to me why the MSM keep on referring to him as a hero or as a foreign policy expert. In fact he is neither.

Dan504
Dan504

Issa and company's only goal is to try to find any scandal they can, even if imagined, to pin on Oama and the Democrats.  The election is over, they lost and the Democrats won.   There is no proof of wrongdoing, but they believe they can find something to back up their pre-conceived investigation results.  In other words, guilty until proven innocent, and still guilty after that.  How about getting down to the business at hand...saving the country from a deeper recession or another big depression,' Do your real jobs for a change.

reallife
reallife

congrats joe klein - you're a full fledge obama bat-boy now - your invite to the next state dinner is on the way - and you might even get an offer from MSNBC - way to go!

roknsteve
roknsteve

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone on Swampland.  If another half-comment from me shows up it's because it disapeared at half sentence.  Bring back Disqus.  Why oh why did we complain?

paulejb
paulejb

The criminal negligence of the Obama regime was compounded by the criminal negligence of the regime's willing accomplices in the mainstream media. 

"The Media’s Benghazi Scandal"

'In the Benghazi story, we have four dead Americans. A lack of security that borders on criminal negligence. No apparent effort was made to save the lives of Messrs. Woods and Doherty, despite their pleas. The Obama administration, including the president, gave false and misleading accounts of what happened despite mounting evidence to the contrary. And the person who was wrongly accused of inciting the attacks by making a crude YouTube video is now in prison. Yet the press has, for the most part, treated this story with ambivalence and reluctance. A reliable barometer of the views of the elite media is Tom Friedman of the New York Times, who said on Meet the Press on Sunday, “To me, Libya is not a scandal, it’s a tragedy.” '

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/11/20/the-medias-benghazi-scandal/

MattNorcross
MattNorcross

@cgemil Unfortunately, he's not a journalist. He's basically a far-left zealot, and he only does OP-ED pieces for TIME.

Tipper_Top
Tipper_Top

@Mujokan Words mean things --- check out Klein's first point, in fact he does say there was a demonstration. To wit: "1. the attack was a spontaneous reaction to the film".

BillS
BillS

@curt3rd one thing to realize is that what we hear on the "news" is very much opinion and simply filling air time to sell commercials by getting the public angry about something, no matter how important or unimportant the issue. In an interview on Morning Joe, he was asked the same question you pose: "what about the reports of his requests for more security?" He said "what reports? I haven't seen any, have you?" And everyone had to admit, they've seen nothing; it was likely a fabrication from someone in "the news". Also, Klein noted that after this article, he's gotten many emails from diplomats thanking him for finally getting this story right. Stevens wanted low security. All diplomats are different in the security they request.

jym.allyn
jym.allyn

@anilkm 

McCain was an inept Hot Dog who went to flight school out of a family military tradition and because it would increase his chances of getting laid.

He is constantly wrong on everything from marital fidelity (he left his 1st wife for his rich girlfriend who paid for his Senatorial campaign) or the war in Vietnam (which he still thinks was justified and honorable) to Iraq to Libya to Sarah Palin. 

And now his cries about Benghazi fail to realize that the fault mostly lies with the CIA and his hero Petraeus.  

(This is the fraud Petraeus who created the sham surge in Iraq and thinks that we can pacify Afghanistan.)

McCain needs to go.  Now.

Ralph
Ralph

@Dan504 that is exactly what they were saying during the investigation during the Nixon Administration. Allow them to do the investigation and if there is nothing there they will go back to fast and furious and try to find who was responsible for the death of that agent.

apr2563
apr2563

@paulejb Paulie, I don't check into the Swamp everyday.  I thought we had lost you as a commentator after the Rep's humiliating loss. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb Stop the lies Paule you are better than that. We have covered this time and time again and yet the Right Wing blogosphere chooses to double down on the lies.

paulejb
paulejb

@mantisdragon91 @paulejb ,

The four Americans are still dead, Bugs. The Obama regime just wants to move along now that the video maker has been jailed to appease Obama's Muslim Brotherhood pals.

JonathanElveCunha
JonathanElveCunha

@paulejb @MrObvious LIke when Bush loaded every member of the Bin Laden family on the first plane out of the US after 9/11? Hmm-seems you have your political parties reversed...

apr2563
apr2563

@paulejb @mantisdragon91 paulie, have you ever wondered how many casualties there were from the 11 embassies and consulates attacked during the Bush Jr years?  How many investigations did the Dems demand?

reallife
reallife

@jym.allyn @paulejb @mantisdragon91  ahhh that "race card"! it's always there for you... what could you do without it...

 like the american express card... "dont leave home without it"  

jym.allyn
jym.allyn

@paulejb @mantisdragon91 

The use of the term "regime" indicates that you are a flagrant bigot and idiot.

The "lies" you claim coming from the "regime" were because they repeated the lies from the CIA that were created to protect the likely illegal activities of the CIA in Benghazi.

Why don't you quit pretending that you are objective and just go ahead and use the "N-word" that is really under your breath when you are referring to President Obama.

Keep in mind that "real" Tea Party and "Conservative" and "Christian" values would restore slavery and polygamy just like in the Bible.

Or perhaps you still prefer the theory of the Virgin Birth to the fact of Evolution?

MrObvious
MrObvious

@reallife 

Fallacies must make you proud. I'm sure you can list the many times we didn't care about the 4 dead. Seriously; better trolls.

reallife
reallife

go tell it to the dead seals' mothers - I guess "we never leave anyone behind" doesnt apply anymore - way to go! must make you really proud...

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb @mantisdragon91 The video maker was jailed for violating his parole and while its tragic that 4 Americans are dead they were in a recent conflict zone and all understood the risks they were taking.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb

he Obama policy is much like getting in bed with Al Capone while popping his low level henchmen.

That would explain the record number of high level terrorist leaders killed by Obamas admin. What you're stating is like the righties complaining about illegal immigration when Bush barely did anything and Obama have deported a record number.

Both illustrates planet nuttia vs reality. Reality always wins but time stands still inside the bubble.

paulejb
paulejb

@MrObvious @paulejb ,

The Obama policy is much like getting in bed with Al Capone while popping his low level henchmen.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb

The four Americans are still dead, Bugs. The Obama regime just wants to move along now that the video maker has been jailed to appease Obama's Muslim Brotherhood pals.

I still would like an answer; do you think that us calling something terrorism the instance it happens change our policy towards terrorists? And do you think that this 'appeasement' that you're claiming will change how we operate? I don't see any change in Drone policy - if anything it has increased over the years.

That's a strange way of appeasing anyone.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb

Wait a minute - it's easy for you to be impressed by yourself if you're not a loyal member of your fantasy creation?

MrObvious
MrObvious

@TyPollard

Most righties are impressed by themselves. Not for their opinion, but that they can declare their arguments as winning. Strange, but it explains why they were so convinced they had 2012 in the bag; ignoring reality helps.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@TyPollard

Paule: Winning Charlie Sheen style without the drugs.

He's good at convincing himself. But who gives a shit.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb

Way better! When it comes to a battle of wits with the hive, it shows up unarmed.

We know that you're really good at battling your brain ghosts, but here in reality it looks like you're fighting windmills.

BTW - did you know that it's not WHAT you claim about yourself that shows that you're better, it's when you actually ACT better.

Fun fact.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb

I am certainly better than you and the rest of the hive, Ty. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

I don't know about this hive fantasy of yours but no - you're not better than us. In any way shape and form.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@TyPollard

paulejb might not be like ahandout, Rod etc...but sadly - he is not better than that. He have had so many chances to be 'better' but his excuse is that we don't deserve it. So no. Better he ain't.