Perhaps I spoke to soon in criticizing CNN's John King for focusing so much of his Benghazi analysis on Republicans exploiting -- or thinking of exploiting -- the scandal for political purposes. In a segment that aired as part of the network's special report on the terrorist attack, King was harshly critical of the administration's handling of the massacre and its aftermath:
"There is no disputing this: The explanations have at times been inconsistent, conflicting, and inaccurate ... [Carney soundbyte on single minor change to talking points]. That's just not true. We now know the National Security Council staff was behind several edits and the State Department pushed others."
In the column I critiqued this morning, King also cites "indefensible" policy decisions carried out by the Clinton State Department in the months and weeks leading up to the raid -- including several attempted attacks on the US diplomatic mission itself:
Nearly a year later, Benghazi remains a flashpoint in Washington for two very different reasons: indefensible pre-attack policy decisions and irresistible post-attack politics. The Obama White House, from the president on down, complains of "phony" Republican-led congressional investigations. Yet the administration's own reluctant, and at times inaccurate, responses to congressional inquiries have contributed to the GOP charge that the administration, at a minimum, has been less than transparent. "We need to get to the bottom of what happened that terrible night, why it happened, and how we can prevent similar tragedies in the future," House Speaker John Boehner said last week in serving notice the House Benghazi investigations would continue into the fall, and include new subpoenas for documents and testimony if necessary. There are legitimate questions about why repeated and specific warnings about the Benghazi security situation were undervalued or ignored.
It's a pretty sure bet that CNN's renewed interest in this story -- including reportage on major new revelations, withering assessments of the administration's conduct, and an interview with a defiant attacker on the ground in Libya -- led to the filing of criminal charges yesterday. Though many of these questions remain as pertinent today as they were months ago, a new line of inquiry has opened up: What was the US government really up to in Benghazi? Why were so many CIA operatives in the city? How did their operation blow up so badly? And why were the injured and dying essentially abandoned for nearly a full day? In light of recent embassy closings, drone strikes, and other threats, this pre-election bravado seems a tad unseemly:
The other paraphrased element of that refrain? "Detroit is alive." That boast has also reached its expiration date early in the president's second term.