Loose Canons

Benghazigate

By Obama standards, it's been his team's finest hour.

By 10.16.12

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The White House and Obama's media cohort believe they now have the Benghazi consulate attack story under control. They have, they think, established two foundation points of the narrative that relieve Obama of any responsibility for the events and their aftermath.

The two points are, first, that the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three others were the result of bad decisions by low-level people in the State Department, not bad policy choices by Obama. The second point is that by doing nothing about the attack -- leaving it to the FBI to investigate and Libya to prosecute the perpetrators in non-existent Libyan courts -- is preferable to doing anything like, well, turning whatever terrorist cells we can find in Libya into smoking holes in the ground. Both points are patently false.

To say that the deaths of the four Americans aren't the result of Obama's bad policy choices is such a quantum leap over fact and logic that it requires us to spend a microsecond resetting our brains before responding. Let's start with the fact that none of the four would have been in Libya had Obama not chosen to follow Nicolas Sarkozy into war there despite the advice of then-defense secretary Robert Gates that we had no national security interest there.

If we hadn't intervened, it's not likely that the small and not very capable French-British force would have been able to topple Gaddafi, so there would have been no U.S. ambassador in Libya, nor would his staffer have been there to be murdered with him.

And if we hadn't intervened, there would have been no need to send the two former SEALs who were killed into Libya to try to locate the thousands of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles Gaddafi had which have now gone missing. The four men's deaths were a proximate result of Obama's decision to intervene.

The second bad policy choice by Obama is the one that led to the cover-up that is exploding in Obama's face. Obama has chosen to prostitute U.S. foreign policy on the bed of the so-called "Arab spring." Obama would have the world believe that the toppling of the Egyptian and Libyan governments of Mubarak and Gaddafi are leading to an outburst of Jeffersonian democracy in the Middle East, the Arab nations blooming with freedoms hitherto unknown in the region and elevating Obama to a Reaganesque status as the liberator of millions.

The problem with that is that while many millions in nations such as Poland now enjoy real freedom, the flower of freedom hasn't burst into bloom in Egypt or Libya. Egypt is now ruled by the Islamofascist Muslim Brotherhood, which isn't interested in freedom. Its president, Morsi, rebuffed Obama's notion that freedom of speech would be coming to his nation. Only Sharia law pertains. Anything that insults Islam is prohibited. In Libya, there really is no government -- yet -- and the authorities there aren't identical to Morsi in their politics. But they are identical to him in his rejection of any freedoms that inconveniently collide with Islamist dogma.

Nevertheless, Obama insists on the pretense that he has freed the Egyptian and Libyan millions from the despotisms they lay under before he acted. He and his administration insist that the Libyans will capture the "criminals" who slew the four Americans and will either try them in non-existent Libyan courts or turn them over to us so Eric Holder can have them tried in U.S. civilian courts. That leaves even some of Obama's best media allies in a bit of a quandary.

Monday's lead Washington Post editorial is a perfect example. I wrote last week that the FBI was on a fool's errand in Libya, trying to search a "crime scene" in Benghazi that couldn't -- and wouldn't -- result in any identification or capture of the terrorists who killed the four Americans. Now the Post seems to come to the same realization. It wrote yesterday that the investigation is too much like the investigation of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, in which the investigators, as the Post describes, were stymied by the Yemeni government's lack of cooperation and by the U.S. embassy there, which was more concerned with not offending anyone than in capturing the terrorists.

But, predictably, the Post comes down in favor of Obama's actions. It says that "trials in U.S. courts" are the best option for the Libyan terrorists, should they ever be found. Better that, says the Post, than finding them and killing them in a drone strike. What nonsense.

Which brings us around to the worst, and final, of Obama's bad policy decisions. It is better, he has determined, for the terrorists to escape than to drop the curtain he has erected around the "Arab spring" and let the nation see just how absurd is the entire concept that Obama has brought freedom and democracy to Egypt and Libya. The lives of four Americans are far less important to Obama than the façade he has erected around the "Arab spring."

Which, inevitably, led to the cover-up of the events in Libya which is best illustrated in the Fox News timeline.

The Fox timeline shows how Obama personally and many of his minions stuck to the story that there were protests at the Benghazi consulate which somehow morphed into an attack long after the facts were known to them. A few points from the timeline:

  • An August 2012 intelligence summary said that al Qaeda in Libya -- including the Ansar al Sharia and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb -- were gaining strength there.
  • 10 September: Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's leader, called for revenge for a drone attack that killed an al Qaeda bigwig.
  • 11 September: On the anniversary of the 9-11 attack, State Department officials reported there were no demonstrations around the Benghazi consulate at 2:30 pm local time. At 9:30 pm local time, State Department officials on scene reported large numbers of armed men flowing into the consulate compound beginning an attack that would last for six hours.
  • 12 September: Hillary Clinton condemned the attack after blaming the anti-Islam video produced here; Obama says it was a "terrible act" and promises to bring to justice those responsible.
  • 13 September: Hillary Clinton's chief State Department spokeswoman says that security at the Benghazi consulate had been evaluated and determined sufficient; Hillary again blamed the video.
  • 14 September: White House spokesman Jay Carney blamed unrest in the region on the video. Hillary echoes that.
  • 16 September: UN Ambassador Susan Rice appears on five Sunday talk shows and says that the Benghazi event was "definitely not" a terrorist attack.
  • 18 September: Obama on the Letterman show blames the video.
  • 20 September: after several media reports showing that there were no protests at the consulate before the attack, Jay Carney admits it was "self-evident" that it was a terrorist attack.
  • 24 September: on The View, dishing with the girls, Obama again blames the video, says an investigation was going on and that the attack "wasn't just a mob action."
  • 10 October: State Department witnesses, testifying under oath, told a congressional hearing that requests for additional security were turned down. Most importantly, Charlene Lamb -- the State Department official responsible for security in Benghazi -- testified that she was in real-time communication with the consulate during the attack.

There's more. In the 11 October vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden blamed the intelligence community for Obama's denials that it was a terrorist attack. Did the intel people know less than Charlene Lamb? That's what you have to believe in order to believe Biden.

And the timeline goes on, showing how through spin and denials the Obama team tried to cover up the facts of the attack. If Charlene Lamb knew it was a terrorist attack in real time, Hillary Clinton knew. And so did Obama. Yet Obama, Clinton and Susan Rice told us for weeks afterward that it wasn't.

The Obama team's attempts to cover up the attack having failed, they still haven't given up on spinning the facts. On Sunday, David Axelrod told Fox News Sunday that the president had labeled it a terrorist attack the day after it happened. But as the documentation of the timeline proves, he called it a "terrible act," not a terrorist attack.

The difference is important. Obama and his team lied about the attack, the lack of any connection to the obscure video, and the pleas from Libya to bolster security. All of this was done to protect the Obama claim to greatness in propelling the "Arab spring."

Benghazigate is not just a massive scandal and cover-up. It is proof positive of Obama's failed policies and bad decisions that will yet cost more American lives in the Middle East and wherever else Islamists are emboldened by his failures.

We can only wonder what goes on in the White House late at night. When Obama wakes in the dark, the chuckling sound he hears might be the shade of Richard Nixon, laughing about the fact that no one died in Watergate.

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.