The Benghazi Express: It’s Hard To Hide An Ethics Train Wreck

Did you hear the gross and inappropriate remark Joe Biden made to the father of one of the soldiers killed in the Benghazi attack? Of course not! Because it makes the Vice President appear to be a clueless and insensitive fool…we can’t have THAT…not before an election!

It’s pretty simple, really. The American people have a right to know what really happened in Benghazi, and as new questions keep arising, the appearance of a cover-up on the part of the Obama Administration keeps getting more difficult to deny.

  • On 9/11 of 2012, an armed attack on the American embassy in Libya left four dead, including the Ambassador. After the attack, the only official U.S. comment was on the website of the Cairo embassy, which had experienced a violent protest, disavowing an anti-Islam film trailer that had been posted on YouTube, essentially suggesting that the violence had been provoked by offensive American speech.
  • Many days afterward, that remained the official position of the Obama Administration, to such an extent that ten days after the raid the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. visited all the Sunday talk shows to describe the attack as spontaneous, not planned terrorist actions, and sparked by indignation over the video. President Obama went before the U.N., and again disavowed and blamed the video.
  • Subsequently, the U.S. intelligence community revealed that it had strongly suspected that the attack was a planned, terrorist operation, and had so informed Washington within 24 hours of the attack.
  • Then it was revealed that the embassy had requested extra security in advance of the 9/11 anniversary. Someone denied the security, but nobody will reveal who. As criticism mounted, Secretary Clinton accepted “responsibility” for the security decision, but pointedly did not say that the decision was hers.
  • The latest issue involves the decision not to send a rescue team to the embassy once it was known that it was under attack and American were at risk.

The critics have been arguing that either the Obama administration made a series of bad calculations and incompetent decisions,  or has been lying about what happened, or both. I am willing to keep an open mind regarding that: maybe the situation was unavoidable, and everyone is telling the truth. Still, I want to know what happened, and I want an answer to some basic questions, some of which are:

  • When did the President know it was a terrorist attack?
  • Why were key administration officials, Jay Carney and the President himself blaming the American deaths on the video after he knew, if that was the case?
  • Who was responsible for denying the security request?
  • Why was it denied?
  • Once the embassy was under attack, why weren’t rescue forces sent in to help, since they were available?

It is certainly bad luck for an series of incidents like this to occur so close to an election, and a potential diplomatic and military fiasco, or worse, a cover-up, to influence an extremely close and hard fought contest. That is no excuse, however, for the matter not to be fully and candidly investigated rapidly and thoroughly without dishonest and diversionary strategies designed with the election in mind rather than the duty to the public and the nation. The President, who has not held a press conference since June, should hold one immediately on the Benghazi attack and its aftermath. He is, instead, refusing to answer questions, sending out good soldiers Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to deflect and stall. They, along with General Petraeus of the CIA, U.N ambassador Susan Rice, the various Democratic and White House flacks, like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Stephanie Cutter, who had the gall to go on the air and claim that the controversy was just politics, Vice President Biden and the President are all on the train wreck now, and there will probably be more passengers to come.

Let us not forget the news media, however. When the disgraceful story of the epically unethical, manipulative, biased and deceptive coverage of the 2012 election is written and analyzed, and it is duly recorded that the Obama administration’s blunders, scandals and fiascoes like Fast and Furious were all but ignored in order to give President Obama as clear a path to re-election as possible ( and while contrived hit jobs on his rivals, like an account of Mitt Romney’s mistreatment of a fellow student when he was in prep school, made it to front pages and broadcast news features), the embargo on reporting on the Benghazi attack will be the centerpiece. It will be, in fact, the smoking gun.

Never before has there been such an obvious partition between the liberal and so-called conservative media, and seldom has there been a more powerful argument for the necessity of having Fox News around when the other networks are refusing to do their jobs. Neither the Washington Post, nor the New York Times, nor CNN, ABC, NBC, nor CBS have followed the developing story with any urgency. The Times actually told its “public editor” that it was downplaying the Benghazi controversy because it was “political.” Clearly, this is the explanation for the rest of the negligent media coverage as well: the major news outlets feel that it “isn’t fair” to highlight a potentially embarrassing series of incidents in a such close election, because doing so might tilt the scales. Fox, which obviously wants Obama to lose, is the only news media source not so motivated. Fox may be doing the right thing for the wrong reason, but it is still the right thing. News organizations should not presume to decide which stories to withhold because of their potential effect on voters. ABC, CBS, the Times and the rest are doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. Their duty is to the American public, not Barack Obama. Get the story, and let the facts have whatever effect on the election that they have. To do otherwise is blatant news manipulation, and a blot on democracy.

Yet the blot is growing. Today former National Security Adviser Bud McFarlane told FOX News:

“You don’t just passively allow Americans to remain under attack for eight hours at a time when you have forces within range and do nothing. The Secretary of Defense was in the White House at five o’clock within an hour of when the attacks started. He could have told him, “Yes. We have special operations peope and F18 aircraft that could be deployed right away. To have known what he had available, to have known that Americans were under fire, and to have done nothing, is dereliction of duty that I have never seen in a Commander in Chief from a president of any party. Outrageous.”

This contradicts Panetta’s statement. Is McFarland right? I don’t know. But I’d like to know what happened, and I think it’s important that Americans know before they vote if he is right or not. But this Sunday, Fox was the only one of the five major news shows to mention Benghazi. Or look at the “Cheat Sheet” currently up on the home page of Tina Brown’s Daily Beast, a major news and culture website that features the most vociferous Obama supporters on the web. The Cheat Sheet supposedly summarizes the top 20 major news developments for its readers. There are seven Hurricane Sandy items. We learn that slimy Jimmy Kimmel won’t let the storm interfere with his slimy late night talk show. Madonna was booed in Texas for plugging Obama. Gary Glitter, whoever he is, was arrested in London–that is #14. They have a rape problem in India. But new and serious questions about why an American ambassador and three other citizens died without adequate security or a rescue attempt is nowhere to be seen.

The news media, not the White House, is driving this ethics train wreck.

I just want to know what happened….and, I suppose, I want to be assured that this country still has a majority of news organizations that are dedicated to investigating and reporting the news rather than manipulating and suppressing it. That would be good to know too.

__________________________________

Special thanks to Jeff Field for his proofreading skills.

Sources:

Graphic: Earthlink

33 thoughts on “The Benghazi Express: It’s Hard To Hide An Ethics Train Wreck

  1. The problem is deeper than that. It appears that not only was support not sent in when the events were underway, but that SEALS and CIA personnel were specifically denied support when they took it upon themselves to ignore orders to “stand down” and try to support our American embassy. There is no way that the President could have been unaware or uninformed. There is no way that this is NOT an impeachable offense. http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/CIA-SEALs-Benghazi-enied/2012/10/26/id/461671#ixzz2AU5W6YRE

  2. “The news media, not the White House, is driving this ethics train wreck.”

    Not exactly true. This administration dod a great wrong either by omission or commission. That is the original ethics violation. All other violations spring from that.

    I want answeres to EVERY question. It would be very good to know the press was not complicit in a cover-up. It would be better to know what happened and why.

  3. There are a lot of things I’d like to know. There are a lot of times I look at decisions made by politicians and say, “What the hell were you thinking?” There are a lot of times when I say, “Just send in the SEALs” as if it was some miracle cure.

    Even last week the alleged master-mind of the Benghazi attack was making claims about the attack. We very likely don’t know the full timeline and scale of events because in complex situations like this it takes time to uncover the full story.

    This is especially true when we’re dealing with CLASSIFIED people, places, and practices. So, if the Obama administration releases information the get shellacked for releasing classified information. If they don’t release information they are hiding something. Rock meet hard-place.

    People like to think that SEALs are invincible. They can do anything, go anywhere, and be there in a blink of an eye. Look up Operation Nifty Package. 4 SEALs KIA and 8 SEALs WIA because they were sent in too quick, for the wrong mission. Had the Obama administration let that handful of SEALs and CIA-Para’s go in we might be talking about the slaughter of a dozen more. “OMG, Obama sent ANOTHER dozen SEALs to their death.”

    Regarding the information they did have at the time. “an assault is happening.” How many? What kind? Do they have rocks? AK-47s? RPG’s? Do we need a SEAL Team or a Ranger Task Force? We don’t know. Why? BECAUSE IT”S CLASSIFIED! Not that Darrel Issa cared about classified information because he allowed his committee to discuss CLASSIFIED people, places, and practices in an open House Committee Meeting.

    When it comes to classified information I would hope that EVERYONE would be careful about discussing it. Hell, wasn’t that the conservatives argument about sharing too much information the SEAL assault to get Bin Laden? Guess it’s only too much information shared when you’re red faced for not getting our number one terror suspect during the 8 years your guy was in office.

    [Too Long, Didn’t Read] As much as we’d like to know all the details we don’t get to know everything about complex and classified operations. This fact alone makes it difficult if not impossible to accurately assess the ethics of the situation and people involved.

    • You may have a valid point about classifying information regarding OUR capabilities, dispositions, and plans.

      However, we have a right to know how the enemies of our nation are arranged and organized, what we think their intentions are and if they are currently engaging in action against our people. That has no reason to be classified. Therefore if that is an excuse to keep the people in the dark as to what went down in Benghazi. Wrong, try again.

      Divorce what we need to keep secret about us from what the enemy wishes were kept secret about them. The two are not comparable.

      • And if divulging the enemies capabilities and tactics releases our own (I dare say more valuable) capabilities and tactics? [Big caveat, I think I’m right but may be wrong] I didn’t hear about the compound being a CIA station until after Rep. Issa’s House Committee Meeting where that fact was publicly divulged.

        Any administration (and any politician) in a situation like this has the delicate task of getting the facts out so they can maintain the public trust, but to also protect the people still working in “harms way” so they aren’t collateral damage from people releasing too much information.

        And for the record I have made and will continue to make these arguments regardless of the party affiliation of the politicians in control. The need to protect those still in harms way trumps your need to know.

        • I think the Obama Administration’s conduct in leaking details about the Osama raid for pure political chest-thumping purposes removes this explanation as an option for it to claim. The principle would be: endanger our intelligence when it makes us look good, tighten up when its a botch. You’ll also have to enlighten me about how those considerations could justify lying repeatedly about the cause of the attack and refusing the request for security.

          • I don’t have all the answers and you ask some good questions. My problem is that especially when it comes to sensitive and classified information we just don’t know… we can’t know. That’s why they’re called, “black ops.”

            President Obama went to great lengths to conceal the identity of the special forces operators who conducted the raid. He went to go so far as to say, “a small team of Americans…” Everyone with any knowledge of SpecOps knows it was either SFOD-Delta or DEVGRU SEALs but the President didn’t even divulge soldiers or sailors in this case.

            So who spilled the beans? According to CNN it was a “senior defense official.” How senior? A member of JSOC? Someone who wanted to make sure the SEALs got credit? The whole bungled assault on the Panamanian air strip back when we captured Noriega was in part because someone wanted to make sure the SEALs got their feet wet in that little operation. I can go on for pages about SEAL history but the point is in the case of Bin Laden I’ve not seen any credible evidence that the President’s administration was the source of the leaks.

            Any leaks that might have come from the administration came after the news organizations began piecing the story together from former SOF operators who’ve been all too eager to get their name in lights or in print.

            Regarding the lying about the attack, I don’t know but I can play devil’s advocate and hazard a good guess. I’m going to say it was a smoke screen to prevent those in country who carried out the attack from knowing we were on to them so we could plan and carry out a counter offensive. Like it or not the US has a history of telling tall tales and sharing information through the media to make our enemies think one way even though the truth is something completely different. Think SDI (Star Wars) back in the Reagan years or the reason the first FOUR SEAL teams were numbered 2, 4, 6, 8. How freaked were the Russians knowing they couldn’t find any information about SEAL Teams 1, 3, 5, 7?!?

            Finally, the request for security. This one is placed squarely at the feet of EVERYONE in Washington. The House CUT the embassy security budget significantly, fail. Obama’s administration chose to not heed the warnings of people on the ground, fail. They BOTH failed, but consider what might have happened had they sent for increased security….

            Obama doubles or even triples security for the Embassy and staff. Money spent in Libya now has to be diverted from budgets in Oman, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, you pick the place. People are pulled from one of these hot spots to beef up the Libyian security. And guess what happens. HEADLINE: Obama shreds Afghan Embassy security to beef up Libyan Embassy and Afghan Ambassador dies in attack! Wow, that would be fun. Or even better, HEADLINE: Obama exceeds diplomatic budget by 25% for security when nothing happened forcing America further into debt!

            I fully admit I could be wrong (and usually am) but when it comes to National Security issues I’ll willing to hold my tongue until all the facts come out, especially in this time of the 24 millisecond news cycle. I’m not saying you guys are wrong, I’m just saying there is a LOT more to consider than what we’ve seen so far.

        • As a hypothetical but similar analogy:

          Here’s the report:
          An Al Qaeda cell of approximately 40 personnel is conducting a concerted attack with RPGs, Mortars, and Small Arms against a CIA listening post in Syria. The post consists of 12 American personnel with X weapons, Y hi-tech surveillance equipement and Z classified documents. The CIA listening post has been aggressively monitoring communications between Al Qaeda and current leadership of the rebellion there. It is believed Al Qaeda is conducting this attack because of the American presence in an Islamic country and to disrupt our efforts there.

          Fair enough, too much information to pass out. Here’s all we’re asking for from that example:

          An Al Qaeda cell of approximately 40 personnel is conducting a concerted attack with RPGs, Mortars, and Small Arms against an American post in Syria. It is believed Al Qaeda is conducting this attack because of the American presence in an Islamic country and to disrupt our efforts there.

          In that example, would you still insist too much information is given?

          By extension, with that example, here is what the Administration told us (despite all evidence showing they knew better):
          “A post in Syria has been attacked because of an angry mob enraged by an amateur movie here in America. We officially blame the 1st Amendment”

          Now, all evidence is mounting that we were lied to, INTENTIONALLY.

          • @ Michael, I’ve addressed some of your questions in other posts above but I’m guessing the real political calculus came in deciding what to tell the press when questions first started coming in.

            In my opinion what the President and his administration should have said is, “We are in the middle of sensitive investigations involving on going operations. When we have something to share you will hear it from the President or the Secretary of State.” and leave it at that.

            • In the military we had a phrase called “Timely and Accurate Reports”

              This involves minimal information, but it does involve information with 100% certainty, as soon as it is 100% certain.

              Administration knew of attack. Got it, they reported that. Then they managed to mess up the whole Accurate part by immediately ascribing the cause to mob violence. From there on, the tangled web they wove got more and more incriminating.

              Evidence shows they should have put 2 and 2 together as early as the next day on the source and motive of the attack. Yet the narrative continued.

              • And to clarify. It may require abstracted information. If 100% certainty is not attainable for specific details, then the information must be abstracted to a point of 100% certainty.

                In the Libya attack a simple “one of our outposts has been attacked by an unidentified group with an unknown motive, and we are currently investigating” would have sufficed. But no, they made the mistake or intentional lie of supplying unverified information to add detail to the report (either for agenda purposes or through incompetence)

                • They made the mistake of supplying the apparent information when it was not yet confirmed. That’s it. That says more about trying to match the right of the people to know what’s occurring then either of your options.

                  • I don’t think we need to establish the public’s right to know when it’s people and it’s representatives are being attacked. It is understood.

                    I was addressing how information can be reported to the public (our right) about such incidents, without revealing classified information (the government’s power)

      • That we know our enemies intentions, arrangements and organizations is also information that is classified. The seond it becomes public knowledge, the enemy will switch things up.

    • @Eric R.;

      “Guess it’s only too much information shared when you’re red faced for not getting our number one terror suspect during the 8 years your guy was in office.”

      Might we assume that “your guy” didn’t have a chance to take out OSB?
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/14/hank-crumpton-cia-clinton-bin-laden_n_1514895.html

      Perhaps he wanted to concentrate on the ‘larger responsibilities of the Presidency?’ Richard Nixon wanted to do the same thing as Watergate mushroomed out of control and was consuming his Administration.

      This isn’t going away, as this Administration so hopes it will. As the President exhausts directions in which to point fingers, this will get uglier and uglier. Expect Obama to say something similar; like he’ll have more flexibility after the election.

      • @ Paul

        You’re right that Clinton missed the opportunity to get Bin Laden. Bush missed a chance to get Bin Laden from the Talaban if we stopped the bombing of Afghanistan. We could play the game of halves all day long.

        Specific to Clinton, I’m guessing he might have been a bit gun shy after the bombing of the Al-Shaif Pharmaceutical Factory debacle. Clinton was accused there of bombing just to get Monica off the headlines.

        Clinton was still wrong, but it’s easy to see why he chose not to act. Bush on the other hand moved most of our SOF operators out of Afghanistan in the lead up to Iraq II. Had it not been for this un-necessary distraction I think Bin Laden would have been in the bag years ago.

        Please let’s not forget it was Bush who said and I quote, “We haven’t heard much from him. And I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don’t know where he is,” Bush said during the 2002 news conference. “I’ll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run.” (http://articles.latimes.com/2004/oct/14/nation/na-osama14)

  4. I think it’s been recognized time and time again that the mainstream media hasn’t been doing it’s job for many many years. (Look how they cheer leaded the second Iraq war. I dare say that if we attack Iran, we’ll see more of the same.)

    I would suggest that, as citizens, we operate under four directives.

    1. Don’t trust the government.
    2. Don’t trust the media.
    3. Turn off your television.
    4. Think for yourself.

    NPR has an interesting read, The Fog of War in Benghazi and Washington. Is it fair and balanced? You decide. http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2012/09/29/161972728/the-fog-of-war-in-benghazi-and-washington

    Finally, ask yourself this simple question about events taking place in our world – Is there a hidden agenda and, if so, what is it?

    • @ Jeffrey, I agree with your first paragraph completely but would alter your first two directives a bit. As Reagan said, “Trust but verify.” Regarding any topic, I never trust any one source but scour a variety of sources and assemble the story myself based on the evidence at hand.

    • Security classification is not based on what our enemies know. China currently knows more about our Top Secret stealth helicopters used in the Bin Laden raid because Pakistan (our ally?) gave them access to the remains of the helicopter before they sent them back to us. Doesn’t mean we should suddenly make the program a day light program.

      I’m guessing the annex and information regarding it remains classified even though Issa’s committee made it public.

  5. Unless I’ve missed it, no mention has been made in this thread of the email trail that started coming in (addressees including the WH, Military, Intel, the FBI)~ 20-30 minutes after the attack began (4:05 p.m. EDT). Subject: “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack.” It carried the notation: SBU (Sensitive but Unclassified)

    An 6:07 p.m. EDT email with the subject line: “Update 2: Ansar-al-Sharia claims responsibility for the Benghazi attack.”

    That seems to question the timeline of what people claim to have known and when they claim to have known it.

    Captain Willard eloquently summed it up in ‘Apocalypse Now,’ (a movie almost as quotable as ‘Caddyshack’) “The bull$h!t piled up so fast in Viet Nam you needed wings to stay above it.”

  6. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/email-alerts-describe-911-benghazi-consulate-assault-unfolding/

    The above link has direct links to the e-mails in question. Looking at the e-mails I think there are a lot of people who assume they are the smoking gun without knowing what is actually said.

    Here is what I see when I read the emails….
    1) Diplomatic mission (Benghazi Annex) under attack.
    2) Local security has secured Diplomatic Mission, search for CoM (Chief of Missions) staff.
    3) Someone on Facebook and Twitter is claiming responsibility.

    The first e-mail was received at 4:05 PM eastern, the second at 4:54 PM eastern, the last at 6:07 PM eastern.

    I read this to report that 49 minutes after the attack began it was over and that someone claimed responsibility another 73 mins after the Embassy said the attack is over? This belies the refrain that President Obama failed to protect the annex. The closest forces had to be flown to Italy before they could be sent to the annex, but when were they marshaled to Italy? Even if they were already in Italy they would have arrived over an hour after the assault ended. (Italy is a 2 hour flight from Benghazi)

    There is no doubt that the death of an Ambassador is very serious and need to be investigated. That said, I see no evidence of anything other than an unfortunate event, a sentiment that echoes that of Fmr. Sec. of State Rice (http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/10/25/1089691/condi-rice-pours-cold-water-libya/).

  7. I wish Bud McFarlane had such high regards for American lives when he and the Reagan Administration sent the Marines into Beriut and insisted they not carry loaded weapons.

  8. I just want to know what happened….and, I suppose, I want to be assured that this country still has a majority of news organizations that are dedicated to investigating and reporting the news rather than manipulating and suppressing it. That would be good to know too.

    If a watchdog media is necessary to the health of a free republic, a lapdog media is very dangerous to the health of a free republic.

  9. The Times actually told its “public editor” that it was downplaying the Benghazi controversy because it was “political.”

    In another House editorial, the New York Times claimed that ” It is not the corporate structure of media companies that makes them deserving of constitutional protection. It is their function — the vital role that the press plays in American democracy — that sets them apart. ”

    What is this vital role supposed to be?

    And the big scandal is that this incident was used to attack freedom of speech. People argued in favor of curtailing freedom based on a narrative that was not true.

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