Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Benghazi attack (And "Lyin' Ryan" redux)



I've embedded the "Lyin' Ryan" debate video again, because this version features improved sound. (New narration! New sound effects! Same freaky music!) But I also want to draw your attention to the film's discussion of the Benghazi attack, which the right wing is still trying to transform into one of their incessant pseudoscandals.

There's something very strange about this affair. At first, few right-wing bloggers paid much attention to Benghazi. Then, as if on cue, they all started reciting from the same script. According to that script, Obama ignored warnings of an impending terror attack on the American consulate. The right-wingers insist that Obama spent two weeks falsely claiming that the incident had nothing to do with terrorism -- that the attack in Libya was, like the attack in Egypt, prompted by the outcry over the "Innocence of Muslims" video.

If you read enough right-wing blogs (especially the delirious commentary from the readers, not all of whom are sockpuppets), you'll come away with the impression that Obama intentionally arranged for the attack on the consulate just so he could laugh at photos of the corpses.

The right's version of this incident simply isn't true. It's a fever dream which a small band of political extremists hope to impose on the rest of the country.

As I document in my video, administration officials told the New York Times the very next day (September 12) that the attack in Libya appeared to be well-organized and pre-planned. Administration officials also said the same thing to ABC. My video includes a brief snippet of that footage.

See also the Reuters report here.
Captain Fathi al-Obeidi, whose special operations unit was ordered by Libya's authorities to meet an eight-man force at Benghazi airport, said that after his men and the U.S. squad had found the American survivors who had evacuated the blazing consulate, the ostensibly secret location in an isolated villa came under an intense and highly accurate mortar barrage.

"I really believe that this attack was planned," he said, adding to suggestions by other Libyan officials that at least some of the hostility towards the Americans was the work of experienced combatants. "The accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any regular revolutionaries."
Other Libyan officials cited the possible involvement of former soldiers still loyal to Gaddafi's family or Islamist fighters, some of whom have trained and fought in Afghanistan.
U.S. officials have noted it was "complex attack".

Several Libyan officials and witnesses said an initial demonstration at the consulate appeared to be largely unarmed, though some elements of an Islamist militia were spotted.

At some point, the crowd became incensed, believing they were under attack from within the consulate, many fetched weapons and the consular villa ended up in flames, with most of the Americans fleeing to the safe house after two, including ambassador Christopher Stevens, had been fatally injured.
It's often hard to pin down the precise sequence of events when an act of mass violence erupts. (Historians still don't know whether the French or the Russians set Moscow on fire in 1812.)  There is dispute as to whether locals showed up at the consulate to protest the film, as occurred in Egypt. The bulk of the reportage suggests that such was the case -- that civilians staged rowdy-but-peaceful protests in both Tripoli and Benghazi, and that militants used these civilians as a sort of cover. 

The New York Times offers this brief account of how violence flared up in Libya:
According to reporting by David D. Kirkpatrick and Suliman Ali Zway of The New York Times, eyewitnesses have said there was no peaceful demonstration against the video outside the compound before the attack, though a crowd of Benghazi residents soon gathered, and some later looted the compound. But the attackers, recognized as members of a local militant group called Ansar al-Shariah, did tell bystanders that they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the video. They did not mention the Sept. 11 anniversary. Intelligence officials believe that planning for the attack probably began only a few hours before it took place.
Incidentally, Ansar al Shariah is not Al Qaeda, as many have falsely claimed. In this NYT account, the attack was indeed spontaneous -- and was indeed inspired by the film Innocence of Muslims.

The politically motivated will always find it an easy task to muddy clear waters, and to make muddy waters muddier still. That's why certain right-wing fruitcakes are trying to convince us that when Obama spoke of "acts of terror," he really meant the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

Obama's next-day remarks in the Rose Garden may be found here. Context makes clear that he was indeed referring to the Libyan tragedy, and to terrorism in general. He also said:
And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.
One usually says such words about a small group of terrorists, not about a frenzied mob. Mobs are beyond the control of any conventional justice system; you can't prosecute a crowd.

At no point during this briefing did Obama ever speak of the exact motive for the attack; at no point did he offer a precise description of events. His vagueness was understandable: He was awaiting concrete reports from the intelligence community.

That's how Joe Biden explained the situation during the debate. Everything we've learned is consistent with what Joe said. After his second debate with Romney, Obama told the following to Kerry Latka, the citizen who had asked about Libya:
The rationale for the delay, Obama explained to Ladka, was to make sure that the “intelligence he was acting on was real intelligence and not disinformation,” recalls Ladka.
Fox News tries very hard to make those reasonable words seem sinister. The results are both absurd and hilarious.

We should also note that none of the conservative bloggers fulminating about Benghazi (most of whom seem to belong to the Breitbart brigade) ever made a big deal of the embassy attacks that occurred during the Bush administration. As I show in the video embedded above, those attacks occurred in Yemen, Greece, Saudi Arabia and, of course, Iraq. It seems pretty safe to presume that there there were intelligence failures on those occasions.

And now we must explore deeper waters.

One Cannonfire reader directs our attention to this fascinating story by Craig Unger, published in Salon. It's the sort of piece I might have ignored if someone like (yow!) Wayne Madsen or (yikes!) Alex Jones had written it. But Unger is a respected author; his book House of Bush, House of Saud is highly recommended.

In short and in sum, Unger thinks that there is a Romney-sized rat lurking behind the Benghazi affair:
According to a highly reliable source, as Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama prepare for the first presidential debate Wednesday night, top Republican operatives are primed to unleash a new two-pronged offensive that will attack Obama as weak on national security, and will be based, in part, on new intelligence information regarding the attacks in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on Sept. 11.

The source, who has firsthand knowledge of private, high-level conversations in the Romney camp that took place in Washington, D.C., last week, said that at various times the GOP strategists referred to their new operation as the Jimmy Carter Strategy or the October Surprise.

He added that they planned to release what they hoped would be “a bombshell” that would make Libya and Obama’s foreign policy a major issue in the campaign. “My understanding is that they have come up with evidence that the Obama administration had positive intelligence that there was going to be a terrorist attack on the intelligence.”

The source described the Republicans as chortling with glee that the Obama administration “definitely had intel” about the attack before it happened. “Intelligence can be graded in different ways,” he added, “and sometimes A and B don’t get connected. But [the Romney campaign] will try to paint it to look like Obama had advance knowledge of the attack and is weak on terrorism.”

He said they were jubilant about their new strategy and said they intended to portray Obama as a helpless, Jimmy Carter-like president and to equate the tragedy in Libya with President Carter’s failed attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980. “They are so excited about it,” he said. “Over and over again they talked about how it would be just like Jimmy Carter’s failed raid. They feel it is going to give them a last-minute landslide in the election.”

The source, however, said he was dubious about the tactic. “To me, it is indicative that they have lost touch with a huge portion of the electorate,” he said.

The source declined to reveal the names of the GOP operatives who were present. But he said, “These were the top guys in the party. It was a private, unguarded planning conversation.” He further described participants in the meeting as consisting of well-known names tied to the big Republican super PACs and people who had access to high-level national security intelligence.
Forgive the lengthy quote, but I consider it justified.

We should also note that in the infamous "47 percent" video of Mitt talking to his rich friends, Romney confessed that he was looking to gin up a foreign pseudo-crisis of this sort. Here's what Mitt said to the aristos:
And yet, in that election, in the Jimmy Carter election, the fact that we had hostages in Iran, I mean, that was all we talked about. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, I mean, that was the focus and so him solving that made all the difference in the world... If something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity. 
That has to be one of the most cynical statements I've ever heard from an American politician. He didn't even have the decency to say "Of course, I hope nothing like that happens" while winking at the audience. (At least Nixon was kind enough to add "But it would be wrong" when he realized that the microphones were hot.)

Intelligence analysts often squabble over how to interpret the reports they get, and it is not at all unlikely that one such analyst, miffed at being overruled or ignored, blabbed to one of Mitt's minions.

That's why I'm particularly unnerved by the final revelation in Unger's piece:
The source said that “there was quite a bit more” to the operation than simply revealing the intelligence regarding Libya. He declined to discuss what he described as the second phase of the operation.
"Second phase"? Troubling.

These guys wouldn't be making such a huge stink out of Benghazi unless they were holding what they considered an ace up their sleeve.

(Video note: I'm still not happy with the narration. Some of the "S" sounds came out lispy -- as if the narrator were a Cathtillian from Thpain, or maybe Sylvester the puddytat. That's never happened to me before. I blame a really bad mic and the fact that I had to read at a very fast rate in order to match an already-edited video.)
Comments:
A couple of things to note on this--early voting has already begun, so those that know how they are going to vote in key states can vote now.
Two-that Unger article was written Oct. 1st and if they really plan on an October Surprise, they have a whole new playing field to deal with because of early voting.
They needed to get out there with this already. Maybe the Romney camp thinks that they can hold it close until there is no room to bounce back, but I think that's just foolish with early voting.

I did find it intriguing and disturbing that the video protest were used as cover for al Qaeda. I wouldn't be surprised if the Obama campaign has more info on this and has called Romney's hand in the video and attacks in Bhengazi. And that is where the issue sits now-Romney hasn't relented on the issue, but people still haven't recovered from 8 years of Bush's war on terror.

It's not an issue that brings in the votes that Romney is hoping for now. I could be wrong-but it would have to be something earth shattering to really do more than give Obama opponents a righteous fire. And besides all that-who can believe much of anything Romney says? That's the election narrative now.
Again- I could be wrong, but I think the October Surprise is not one to waste on Oct 28th--it's now or never (funny thing was I had a Madsen feel for it all after you mentioned it).

OK-That's my 2 cents/sense.
kc
ps-excellent work again, thanks for taking the time to do this!
 
KC -- I think there is a phase 2 to what we may call the Benghazi Stratagem, and that Romney will pull that rabbit out of his hat during the third debate.

Why do I think this? Because the right keeps pounding, pounding, pounding on Libya. They think the issues is going to be a winner for them eventually, even though it hasn't been so far.

Something must be up.
 
Something doesnt have to be up, but I can see why you might worry that it was. Its certainly been Karl Roves MO in the past.

Harry
 
Joe....Have you been following the hysteria happening on the internet about a website called "The October Surprise" that claims to have solid evidence that "one of our presidential candidates" is lying to us?

This website, which appears to be down currently, has a countdown clock up and says that it will be releasing this irrefutable info on Sunday evening before the Monday debate.

Could this be what the GOP has up it's sleeve?

Also, I found it interesting that Jim Corsi was seen (on video) boarding Romney's campaign plane yesterday. In what universe would a lunatic birther, conspiracy theorist like Jim Corsi be invited to travel with a Presidential candidate in the closing days of an election?

Something rotten in Romneyville
 
If you are right, I think the issue of the video needs to be resurrected asap. That controversy should not whither away...the fact that they used the video protests as cover for the attack is pretty sinister in itself (and the Republicans want this fact ignored).
Who gave them that idea- who orchestrated that?
Why won't youtube take the video down?
So many questions that are just being ignored. It is obvious that Romney wants this video's role to be forgotten, when he keeps telling people this was a terrorist attack and that Obama refused to acknowledge that-he just lies through his teeth, hoping the video will not get the attention it deserves and focusing on the terrorists - instead.

You may be right, if you have never seen Romney pissed off- it was when Crowley supported Obama on the Rose Garden press conference, although some say Crowley threw him a bone when she said it did take two weeks-but that is a lie too, from what I can see. Maybe all the press didn't report it this way, but the admin was giving quotes on this soon after.

Whatever the case may be, it seems that Romney has done his best to keep this alive while killing the video- he even says there were no demonstrations that day, but we have all learned they did use the video demonstration as cover.
Here is Crowley mediating the issue in the debate:
http://www.mediaite.com/tv/conservatives-choking-on-the-bone-candy-crowley-threw-mitt-romney/

This article was published the day after the attack-quoting Obama as saying the protestts were used as cover by 20 militant jihadists. Maybe I am missing something here-how is it that it took two weeks for this to be revealed? This article was published 91/12
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1255869--libyan-attack-was-work-of-about-20-militants-primed-for-a-military-assault-analyst-says

I also found this-
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/from-video-to-terrorist-attack-a-definitive-timeline-of-administration-statements-on-the-libya-attack/2012/09/26/86105782-0826-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_blog.html

It appears that they are doing their best to direct this for Romney, by plum picking quotes, some of which are not in authority to use as a source of intel. I can find many quotes of terrorism etc the days after. Ok- well I have said more than my fair share and have begun to ramble. Keep up the good work.
kc
 
ps- if you do decide to investigate the video again, it should be noted that about a week after Geller's connection to an anti-Muhammad video came out, that suspicious Shoebat came forward with this post.
http://www.shoebat.com/2012/09/27/innocence-of-muslims-film-was-made-by-terrorists-2/

I found it in the comments on Geller's site-so it is obviously trying to divert
attention from Geller. And it should also be noted that the idea that someone who was supposed to narc on a character Eiad- that same character would then conspire with him after the arrest was not made seems preposterous to me. If I were Eiad, I would want to stay far far away from Nakoula.
note- this is more of a personal email to you than a post...have to get to work, so I don't have much time for this now. And subsequently, didn't have much time to review the Shoebat blog today.
kc
 
Interesting if Obama really did use the word 'disinformation' privately to Ladka, as quoted, instead of the more benign 'misinformation'. 'Mis-' would imply simply getting an accurate picture of what happened, while 'dis-' may imply deliberately deceptive information.
 
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