Austin Bay
Scanning the transcripts of the 9/11/2012 Benghazi terror attack testimony released this week by congressional committee investigators makes this point quite clear: The video definitely didn't do it.

I am referring to the bizarre blame-tale spun by the Obama Administration and repeated in the days following the terror attack. For those with dim memories, here's the plot sketch: A crude anti-Islam Internet video produced by California crank Nakoula Basseley Nakoula incited peaceful Libyan demonstrators. Provoked by an egregious but First Amendment-protected sacrilege virally defiling the World Wide Web, the inflamed citizens of Benghazi spontaneously grabbed automatic rifles, fragmentation grenades and handy rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and impulsively launched coordinated attacks on a conveniently accessible American diplomatic outpost.

From the get-go, many of us didn't buy this crock. For starters, it leveraged several shop-worn left-wing "blame America" tropes, including that Americans are anti-Muslim bigots. The hooey was also at odds with on-the-ground reports, which emerged immediately after the horror. Pro-U.S. Libyans had warned that a well-armed militant Islamist militia intended to launch attacks in Benghazi. Granular reports of an extended firefight between the militiamen and a U.S. security element proved to be very accurate. History has substantiated the heroism of former U.S. Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty as fact. They resisted for over six hours before being killed by enemy mortar fire. Ah, yes, peaceful demonstrators impulsively employing heavy infantry weapons.

According to the now-available congressional transcripts, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey (after speaking with AFRICOM commander General Carter Ham) informed President Barack Obama that the consulate had suffered a terror attack. Panetta and Dempsey told the president within an hour after the first assault began.

Yet Obama Administration officials continued to peddle the "video did it" canard for almost two weeks after the assault. Why peddle a blatant falsehood? Because "the video did it" narrative advanced a propaganda campaign supporting central Obama re-election political themes. Obama claimed his presidency would dramatically change Arab Muslim perceptions of America. Though he never equated killing Osama bin Laden with defeating al-Qaida, he implied al-Qaida was fading fast. The Benghazi disaster countered these touts. Obama had to leave the American public with the definite impression that the Benghazi assault was spontaneous. Why, that nasty video incited inexplicable anger!


Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
 
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