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Thursday, May 9, 2013

New York Times Editorial, "The Republicans’ Benghazi Obsession": The Times Papers Over Benghazi

Hillary Clinton lied to the American public. It's that simple.

Hillary toed the Obama administration's line and tied the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi to an absurd film concerning Mohamed. Hillary, one day after the attack, stated that "we are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault" and then linked the attack to "inflammatory material posted on the Internet."

Months later, of course, Hillary would declare: "With all due respect, the fact is we have four dead Americans. Whether it was because of a protest or because guys outside for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans. What difference at this point does it make?"

In an editorial entitled "The Republicans’ Benghazi Obsession" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/10/opinion/the-republicans-benghazi-obsession.html?_r=0), The New York Times has finally gotten around to addressing the Benghazi hearing, after doing all in its power to ignore this story (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/05/david-brooks-beyond-fence-new-jg.html). The tone and content of this editorial are nauseating. According to The Times:

"Before Wednesday’s hearing on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, Republicans in Congress promised explosive new details about the administration’s mishandling of the episode. Instead, the hearing showed, yet again, that sober fact-finding is not their mission. Common sense and good judgment have long given way to conspiracy-mongering and a relentless effort to discredit President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

. . . .


Wednesday’s hearing, led by Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican of California who is chairman of the House oversight committee, featured three witnesses who testified about those failures. One of them, Gregory Hicks, the No. 2 official at the American Embassy in Tripoli, was at the embassy the night of the Benghazi attack. He said he was later demoted for raising questions about how the incident was handled, a charge the State Department denied.

The hearing did not prove anything like an administration cover-up or other hysterical allegations of crimes equal to Watergate that some Republicans, such as Representative Steve King and Senator Lindsey Graham, have alleged. Republicans have held numerous hearings and briefings on Benghazi and are threatening to hold even more. It is a level of interest they did not show during George W. Bush’s administration when there were 64 attacks on American diplomatic targets or in the years they spent cutting back diplomatic security budgets.

The real scandal is that serious follow-up on security in Libya is going unaddressed."

Are we really to believe that "new details about the administration’s mishandling of the episode" did not surface at the hearing? Rubbish. We learned how the American military was ordered to "stand down," leading to the certain deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three others.

We learned that everyone in the Obama administration had been informed real-time that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was not the result of a spontaneous "demonstration" and that it had no connection to "inflammatory material posted on the Internet."

Americans were systematically misled, and I take no comfort in the fact that during the Bush administration, there were 64 attacks on American diplomatic targets, or in the allegation by The Times that the "real scandal" lies elsewhere.

Did the Obama administration engage in criminal activity by lying about the reasons and persons responsible for the attack on the Benghazi consulate? Probably not. But as observed by Michael Gerson in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Incompetence, not criminality, in Benghazi investigation" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/michael-gerson-incompetence-not-criminality-in-benghazi-investigation/2013/05/09/c395f84e-b8c7-11e2-92f3-f291801936b8_story.html?hpid=z2):

"First, the administration was willing to shift all the responsibility for its public errors to the intelligence community. During the vice presidential debate, moderator Martha Raddatz asked Joe Biden why the White House had attributed the death of Stevens to the video. He responded: 'Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community.'

. . . .

Second, the administration was willing to undermine a foreign leader in a fragile circumstance. Soon after the attack, Libyan President Mohamed Yusuf al-Magariaf insisted that 'the idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous. We firmly believe that this was a precalculated, preplanned attack.' According to Hicks, the administration’s alternative version of events left Magariaf 'insulted in front of his own people, in front of the world. His credibility was reduced. His ability to lead his own country was damaged.'

Third, the administration was willing to feed an image of irrational Muslim rage that did not, in fact, apply to Libya. 'The video was not an instigator of anything that was going on in Libya,' Hicks testified. 'We saw no demonstrations related to the video anywhere in Libya.' Did it serve U.S. public diplomacy to assert, as then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did, that Libyans had joined 'the tyranny of a mob,' rather than being victimized by terrorist organizations?"

In short, what surfaced from the Benghazi hearing should have nothing to do with partisan politics. It has everything to do with the Obama administration lying in bald-faced fashion.

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Republicans lead a witch hunt on Benghazi" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-republicans-lead-a-witch-hunt-on-benghazi/2013/05/09/ca565d10-b8de-11e2-92f3-f291801936b8_story.html?hpid=z2), Eugene Robinson claims that "it was hard to imagine" that the Benghazi assault "was completely unrelated to what was happening in Cairo, Tunis, Khartoum and Jakarta." Sorry, Eugene, but given that the Obama administration had real-time information concerning the nature of the attack in Libya, any such confusion should have dissipated within hours, and the storyline disseminated five days later by Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on Sunday talk shows, explaining that the attack came as a consequence of the anti-Islamic video, was an exercise in deceit.

And then there is also the small matter of how the Obama administration has failed to lay its hands on anyone responsible for the attack.

Was the hearing a part of a "relentless effort to discredit President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton," as claimed by the editorial board of The New York Times? Again, what happened in Benghazi should have nothing to do with partisan politics. On the other hand, there can be no disguising the fact that the conduct of Obama and Clinton was self-serving and despicable with devastating consequences for US government credibility at home and overseas.

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