Benghazi Revisited: Pinocchios for the Dead
In a column published on Sept. 18, 2012, I argued that verified tactical military details of the engagement, the iconic date itself, and subsequent, very explicit statements by Libyan government authorities, left no doubt that on 9-11-2012 the U.S. consulate in Benghazi suffered a planned attack by an organized anti-American militant Islamist militia. A terrorist force had hit us with another 9-11 terror attack, and Americans had died, among them our ambassador to Libya.
Given the facts, the Obama administration's bizarre claim that a sacrilegious Internet video had inflamed peaceful Libyan demonstrators — and in an outburst spurred by overwhelming theological pain, this moody crowd murdered our unfortunate ambassador — just didn't wash.
As for passing major media smell tests before the 2012 presidential election? Of course the blarney passed 'em! But eight months after the attack and six months after the election, even President Barack Obama's chief media enablers have begun to acknowledge the video-did-it propaganda tizzy the administration orchestrated was stench itself.
And orchestrated propaganda it was, with the video-did-it narrative hedged by presidential statements calculated to slyly finesse terrorist complicity in the attack.
Glenn Kessler, who writes the Washington Post's fact-checker column, now informs his readers that the president's claim he called the Benghazi attack an "attack of terrorism" rates four Pinocchios. That's Kessler's cute way of calling our president a complete and thorough liar.
Kessler supports his conclusion with a nuanced evaluation of Obama's shifty use of the phrase "act of terror" in the days and weeks following the attack. Obama was against acts of terror, but when asked if Benghazi was terrorism, Kessler concludes "the president ducked the question."
The video whopper and the slippery presidential phraseology were coordinated spin — the video to fool the rubes pre-election, the slick rhetoric to fool them now. Obama had a heavy personal and political investment in his claim that his election had forever dampened militant hostility to America.
Would that Kessler and his pals had evaluated the video-did-it hogwash as the White House washed the hog. The blame-tale repeats classic left-wing "blame America" tropes. The U.S. Constitution and its unbridled First Amendment are at fault. America is peopled with Muslim-hating bigots, et cetera. It's too pat coming from an administration run by an ex-community organizer who made his bones damning the system.
The blame-tale also begs the issue of human agency. Simplistically blaming the video for the violent actions taken by adult human beings should have sparked hard questions. Mr. President, if you are not going to hold people responsible for their violent criminal actions, are you proposing, sir, we repeal the First Amendment?
We didn't get that gut squeezer from the White House press corps, did we? Well, see, Obama's not a Republican ...
The video story was a shallow campaign ruse that did not explain salient facts, especially some of the granular tactical descriptions of the pitched battle that began to appear 24 hours after the event. The attackers had mortars, heavy infantry support weapons. These beasts need trained teams to position and employ. The ammo that feeds them takes brawn to lug. Their presence indicates preparation. The attackers struck the consulate in multiple waves; so the assault force had sub-units. Three days after the attack, Libyan officials accused a militant Islamist militia (with ties to terrorist groups) of conducting the assault. The militia had between 100 and 400 fighters.
Every basic training grad knows 100 fighters and their support weapons don't just impulsively assemble before a consulate and get ticked at a video. The consulate is their target, which their commanders selected.
On Sept. 16, Libya's interim president, Mohammed el-Megari, announced that he had no doubts the militia's leaders had predetermined the date of the attack. That same day U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five television shows and repeatedly blamed the video.
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