"Republicans release Benghazi report with no new evidence against Hillary Clinton," blares a Los Angeles Times headline, capturing the overall spirit of the media's coverage of the 9/11/12 terrorist attack that claimed the lives of four Americans, including our sitting ambassador. The press has more or less swallowed whole Beltway Democrats' standard line that the House Select Committee's in-depth investigation into the massacre was a conspiratorial, partisan waste of time and money. Even when bona fide revelations came to light, they were largely minimized or simply ignored. So when Hillary Clinton informs her subjects that this week's report features no new information and declares that it's time to "move on," many in the media nod along gravely. Quite right; enough of this Republican carnival. (Incidentally, in her statement yesterday, Clinton went out of her way to decry the $7 million spent by the committee over the course of their work; by comparison, the Obama family's most recent Christmas vacation cost more than $8 million). Fox News hosted three of the panel's members this morning, offering a platform to those who devoted the better part of two years to assiduously turning over every rock and interviewing dozens of witnesses who were never debriefed by previous probes into the atrocity. Pay special attention to the montage Fox plays of other networks' characterizations of the committee's findings, then watch the Congressmen respond:
A Wall Street Journal editorial today also slices up the prevailing narrative that this process ended with an empty thud:
Democrats have succeeded in persuading the Washington press corps that what happened when four Americans died at Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012 isn’t a story. But the House report released Monday about that night and its aftermath contains details that ought to concern Americans who care about political accountability...We learn from the report that the day after Mr. Stevens became the first American ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979, President Obama decided to skip his daily intelligence briefing. We also learn that on the day of the attack, in a 5 p.m. meeting that included Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Mr. Obama said the U.S. should use all available resources. After that meeting, Mr. Panetta returned to the Pentagon to discuss what military resources were available. The Defense Secretary then issued an order to deploy military assets to Libya. But nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was even in route when the last two Americans were killed almost eight hours after the attacks began. The holdup seems to have been caused in part by something else we learn from this report: a 7:30 p.m. teleconference of Defense and State officials, including Mrs. Clinton.
Ostensibly they were sharing intelligence and coordinating responses. But they debated whether they needed Libya’s permission to deploy American troops to defend endangered Americans, whether Marines should wear uniforms or civilian clothes, and so on. Even more telling: Though there was no evidence linking the Benghazi attacks to a YouTube video mocking Islam, of the 10 “action items” from the notes of that meeting, five referred to the video. Mrs. Clinton referred to the video more than once in her public statements. At 10:08 p.m. on the night of the attack, she issued a public statement on Benghazi: “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” She repeated the point the next day at the State Department. That’s not what she was saying in private. On the night of the attack, at 6:49 p.m. Washington time, Mrs. Clinton called Libya’s president to say the attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi was planned and that an Islamist terror group had claimed responsibility. A few hours later, she emailed her daughter that “an Al Qaeda-like group” was responsible. The next afternoon Mrs. Clinton was even more categorical. In a phone call with the Egyptian Prime Minister, she said the Benghazi attack “had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack—not a protest.”
The content of that mid-attack teleconference is new information. It shows how administration officials dithered and debated legal niceties while American lives in immediate peril, and how the White House was already fixated on the irrelevant internet video explanation (on which they'd later double down, as a means of directing focus away from their policy failures). The piece concludes, "The tragedy of Benghazi is that four brave Americans in a dangerous part of the world lost their lives to a determined and deadly enemy. The scandal of Benghazi is that instead of leveling with the American people, Mrs. Clinton and others who knew better opted for a more convenient—and corrosive—spin." National Review's house editorial is even more blistering, laying out the timeline of politically-motivated deception undertaken by the Obama administration. Both the president and his Secretary of State had strong political incentives to downplay the gravity and causes of the deadly attack; Obama was in the middle of a tough re-election battle in which 'terrorists are on the run' was a featured theme, and Clinton was the architect of America's disastrously failed intervention in Libya. I'll leave you with this extended clip from MSNBC's Morning Joe, which entails a focus group's mostly negative response to Hillary's Benghazi posture, followed by the program's hosts praising the committee's work and criticizing Clinton's Tuesday performance -- via the Free Beacon:
“I think the bigger problem is that for Hillary Clinton is that Trey Gowdy...actually delivered a congressional report that has fair-minded, independent Americans stopping and going, wait a second, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and our foreign policy apparatus responded that way while Americans’ lives were on the line? While a U.S. ambassador’s life was on the line?" Joe Scarborough said. "I actually think that 'it’s time to move' on actually doesn’t work now.” By the way, this report doesn't resolve questions swirling around these rumors, and members of the panel have seemed uncomfortable talking about the subject. Thus, one fundamental question remains unresolved: Why on earth was the US still operating an under-secured compound in one of the most dangerous cities in the world, well after many other Western powers had wisely evacuated? One US security officer testified that he warned the State Department nine months prior to the raid that Benghazi was a "suicide mission" in which "there was a very good chance that everybody here was going to die." Why was that particular mission continued, especially with such lax security measures?