November 25, 2014

Benghazi Report Leaves Questions Unanswered

Yet another House report on Benghazi would seem to excuse the Obama administration. Not so fast…

After two years and two elections, yet another House report on the incidents and decisions surrounding the attack on our compound in Benghazi, Libya, excuses the Obama administration from answering allegations of covering up the incident to avoid embarrassment less than two months before Barack Obama’s prospective re-election.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on the 2012 attack Nov. 21 and found that the intelligence community did nothing wrong when responding to the terrorist attack that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead by al-Qaida hands. In a joint statement, committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) said, “Based on the testimony and the documents we reviewed, we concluded that all the CIA officers in Benghazi were heroes. Their actions saved lives.”

But the report doesn’t answer how the Obama administration covered up the attack for political gains, and the Leftmedia was all too eager to report that the Benghazi report was a non-story. For example, CBS News gleefully reported, “[T]he two-year investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.” So Obama is in the clear, right?

Not so fast. We still don’t have all the answers. The report states, “[T]he Administration’s initial public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attacks were not fully accurate.” Remember, the administration blamed a YouTube video for the “demonstration” that turned violent. Problem is, those who knew the score – such as the deputy CIA director – didn’t seem willing to tell the unvarnished truth as they changed talking points to better suit a narrative.

As political commentator Mollie Hemingway notes, “[M]aybe when you’re, I don’t know, trying to ‘underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy’ because you’re focusing on campaigning more than truth-telling, you end up underscoring something that isn’t true.”

But this report makes some new facts public. It reveals a drone strike that killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, a top al-Qaida operative who perished in Pakistan earlier on Sept. 11, 2012, could have been to blame, as various groups aligned with al-Qaida carried out the attack on the Benghazi compound. We also learned that one purpose of the CIA presence in Benghazi was to try and keep tabs on weapons moving from Libya to Syria – a Predator drone that arrived on-scene after the attack began was diverted from a mission in Derna, a coastal city thought to be a transfer point for weapons.

And while the report finds the CIA “could have placed more weight on eyewitness sources on the ground and should have challenged its initial assessments” about the incident, the House Committee “found no evidence of an intelligence failure” based in part on an “internal CIA analytic review.” As if the agency isn’t in full CYA mode.

Yet at the time we were spoon-fed the narrative about the video. While the evidence mounted that the protest was really a coordinated al-Qaida attack, the media became less and less curious as to how the group that was supposedly “decimated” by the death of Osama bin Laden had the resources to carry out such an operation. But, to borrow a line screeched by Hillary Clinton, what difference, at this point, does it make? Four good men are dead, the president who failed to act more decisively in the matter and then lied about it was re-elected, and the secretary of state who stood idly by aims to succeed him.

Something else that died in the Benghazi aftermath was any notion the Leftmedia doesn’t simply serve as a cheerleader for the statist team in charge. The media that once hounded a president out of office for a criminal cover-up that was heinous but not fatal now can’t be bothered with rooting out the real story in this case. If a Benghazi-style attack had happened in September 2004, Bob Shrum would have been right because that would have been the lead story all the way to November. But journalism passed away about the time the keys to the White House were handed to Barack Obama, and we’re all the worse off for it.

However, the investigation into the Benghazi scandal is not over. The Select Committee on Benghazi, led by Trey Gowdy (R-SC), continues its investigation into the attack. Maybe it can cut through the political fog to find the political motivation for why the Obama administration lied to the American people and dishonored the death of four Americans in Libya.

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