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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New York Times Editorial, "The Facts About Benghazi": The Gray Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Lady Gertrude, "Hamlet," Act III, Scene II

Has The New York Times "screwed up" (as Shakespeare might have worded it) again? In an editorial entitled "The Facts About Benghazi" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/opinion/the-facts-about-benghazi.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), The Times declares:

"An exhaustive investigation by The Times goes a long way toward resolving any nagging doubts about what precipitated the attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

. . . .

The report by David Kirkpatrick, The Times’s Cairo bureau chief, and his team turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or another international terrorist group had any role in the assault, as Republicans have insisted without proof for more than a year. The report concluded that the attack was led by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s air power and other support during the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and that it was fueled, in large part, by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

In a rational world, that would settle the dispute over Benghazi, which has further poisoned the poisonous political discourse in Washington and kept Republicans and Democrats from working cooperatively on myriad challenges, including how best to help Libyans stabilize their country and build a democracy. But Republicans long ago abandoned common sense and good judgment in pursuit of conspiracy-mongering and an obsessive effort to discredit President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who may run for president in 2016."

Similarly, Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal goes on record as saying in "Taking Note" (http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/30/republicans-react-to-benghazi-news/?ref=opinion):

"For anyone wondering why it’s so important to Republicans that Al Qaeda orchestrated the attack — or how the Obama administration described the attack in its immediate aftermath — the answer is simple. The Republicans hope to tarnish Democratic candidates by making it seem as though Mr. Obama doesn’t take Al Qaeda seriously. They also want to throw mud at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who they fear will run for president in 2016.

Which brings us to one particularly hilarious theme in the response to the Times investigation. According to Mr. Rogers, the article was intended to “clear the deck” for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said today that The Times was 'already laying the groundwork' for a Clinton campaign. Other Republicans referred to Mrs. Clinton as our 'candidate of choice.'

Since I will have more to say about which candidate we will endorse in 2016 than any other editor at the Times, let me be clear: We have not chosen Mrs. Clinton. We have not chosen anyone. I can also state definitively that there was no editorial/newsroom conspiracy of any kind, because I knew nothing about the Benghazi article until I read it in the paper on Sunday."

In a rational world, a determination of The Times settles a dispute? Criticism of Kirkpatrick's article is all a Republican conspiracy? There is no evidence of al-Qaeda involvement in the September 11 attack on the Benghazi mission? The Times has not yet chosen to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016?

Fascinating.

But then there is also David French explaining to us in a piece entitled "The Good, the Bad, and the Pathetic of the New York Times’ Benghazi Report" in the National Review Online (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/367224/good-bad-and-pathetic-new-york-times-benghazi-report-david-french#!):

"It’s pathetic that we keep circling back to a YouTube video to explain Benghazi. Did the YouTube video motivate previous attacks in Benghazi, including a previous attack on our own compound? Did a YouTube video motivate Libyan militias to shows of force under the black al-Qaeda flag? Did a YouTube video enable the militias to so carefully scout American positions that they were able to land multiple direct hits on the American CIA annex? At best (and this is being charitable to the reporting), the available evidence indicates the video may have influenced the attack’s timing, but not its motivations nor the capabilities of the attackers.

How long must we chase our own tails? Jihadists attack us, and yet we think if only a Florida preacher didn’t burn a Koran, or if only Danish cartoonists put down their pens, if only cranky felons didn’t make cheap YouTube videos, or if only our soldiers didn’t commit one of the innumerable warned-against slights while deployed downrange, then the haters won’t hate, jihad will truly become an 'inner struggle,' and peace will reign."

And then there is Thomas Joscelyn's piece in The Weekly Standard entitled "The New York Times Whitewashes Benghazi" (http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/new-york-times-whitewashes-benghazi_772382.html), where we learn:

"Left out of the Times’s account are the many leads tying the attackers to al Qaeda’s international network.

For instance, there is no mention of Muhammad Jamal al Kashef, an Egyptian, in Kirkpatrick’s retelling. This is odd, for many reasons.

On October 29, 2012 three other New York Times journalists reported that Jamal’s network, in addition to a known al Qaeda branch (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), was directly involved in the assault. The Times reported (emphasis added): 'Three Congressional investigations and a State Department inquiry are now examining the attack, which American officials said included participants from Ansar al-Shariah, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Muhammad Jamal network, a militant group in Egypt.'

. . . .

Since the New York Times and other press outlets first reported on the Jamal network’s involvement, both the U.S. State Department and the United Nations have designated Jamal and his subordinates as terrorists. Both the U.S. and UN designations tie Jamal’s network directly to al Qaeda.

The State Department, for instance, notes that Jamal 'has developed connections with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), AQ senior leadership, and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leadership.' Jamal not only received funds from AQAP, but has also 'used the AQAP network to smuggle fighters into training camps.'"

So, was Kirkpatrick's New York Times article truly "exhaustive"? Did it resolve "any nagging doubts about what precipitated the attack on the United States mission in Benghazi"?

The Gray Lady doth protest too much, methinks.

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