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What Was the Benghazi Cover-Up All About? — Victor Davis Hanson

Why would the Obama administration stonewall requests for documents relating to Benghazi? Why did it go to such lengths to hide the fact of a preplanned terrorist attack? Why, to this day, does it deny that there was a political effort to obscure the true nature of the attack?

 We should remember five likely reasons.

 1) That GM was alive and bin Laden was dead was a cute fall 2012 Obama campaign slogan—as was the trope that al-Qaeda was on the run due to the president’s sober and judicious approach to the war on terror. The idea that al-Qaeda affiliates assassinated four Americans in Benghazi endangered that narrative and begged a response. The same could not be said of a video-inspired riot. Things, of course, just happen. And how can an administration be expected to go after spontaneous rioters? Without a cover-up alleging a spontaneous riot, the public might have wondered why we never identified and hunted down the culprits and planners—a question that lingers to this day.

 2) Blaming the filmmaker offered liberals the chance to affirm that reactionaries and bigots are the source of much of the world’s troubles. Therefore, jailing Mr. Nakoula was loud validation of the Obama Administration’s progressive, multicultural bona fides, and proof that Obama has zero tolerance for such “hate speech.” That narrative became important for practical reasons as well: did the Administration really wish to defend itself from the charge that it had arrested and jailed Nakoula on a trumped up parole violation when his video had nothing to do with violence in Libya? Moreover, by blaming a filmmaker, the administration de facto conceded that some sort of unjustified provocation had occurred, as if reactionary “hate speech” earns retribution that falls on the innocent.

3) Obama had released all sorts of photos of the Situation Room during the bin Laden hit (although bagman Reggie Love claimed that the president was mostly with him playing serial hands of spades). Those pictures proved to be important spike-the-ball material for the 2012 race. But where was he during the antithesis—of they killing us rather we them? Was he monitoring the situation as diligently as he had during the bin Laden raid? To this day, we have no idea where the president was and what he actually said or did—or did not do—during the long, drawn-out attacks.

 4) Why was the CIA in Benghazi in such numbers in the first place? Rounding up Ghadafi’s confiscated arsenal and rerouting it to Syria? Scouting out hand-held anti-aircraft missiles and doing what with them next? Why were they doing this— and for whom exactly — and did our enemies know it and respond against it? A campaigning Barack Obama apparently thought he was not the sort of president to have authorized covert CIA gun-running to overthrow even odious governments like Assad’s Syrian regime, especially if it might prompt a messy and lethal pushback from terrorists. Instead, the better campaign narrative (then) and damage control story (today) was that lots of CIA contractors just happened to be around when a riot erupted over a video—end of story, and end of late-campaign worries about revelations of CIA covert operations.

5) Then there are the mysterious and near contemporaneous problems of General David Petraeus. At some future date, when all is sorted out, we will learn exactly when and how the Administration learned of Petraeus’s personal problems, what his role was in the contradictory and then not-so-contradictory interpretations of the White House and CIA talking points, and why exactly his resignation promptly followed the reelection of Barack Obama.

 

  1. KC Mulville

    What a story doesn’t add up (and this one certainly doesn’t), you have a dilemma. Is it because the story-tellers know the truth but aren’t telling? Or is it that they really don’t know?

    When something is as serious as this, if the people involved were a pack of thieves, you’d have expected a few of them to turn on the others. That’s what thieves do. But as yet, we don’t have any John Deans or insiders turning informers here (that I know of). Is that because the administration is really oppressive and the underlings are so cowed, or so ideological that they can’t bring themselves to admit it? Maybe.

    But for me, I’m betting that this is a group that believes what they’re saying. That’s the only way to explain why they keep pushing these stories. (Oh, they probably know that Jay Carney is pushing BS, but they chalk that up to political necessity.) 

    The reason we have such a hard time believing that they’re sincere is  … we just can’t believe they could be this obtuse, this chaotic, this amateurish, and reckless.

  2. John Davey

    Answer me, these questions <strike>three</strike> er… five.

    Ask these five questions on the Sunday shows (that no one watches) and see if the answers are anything other than spin, obfuscation, or projection.

    Disregard any answer that includes the word dude.
     

  3. Frank Soto
    C

    Victor Davis Hanson:

    4) Why was the CIA in Benghazi in such numbers in the first place? Rounding up Ghadafi’s confiscated arsenal and rerouting it to Syria? Scouting out hand-held anti-aircraft missiles and doing what with them next? Why were they doing this— and for whom exactly — and did our enemies know it and respond against it? A campaigning Barack Obama apparently thought he was not the sort of president to have authorized covert CIA gun-running to overthrow even odious governments like Assad’s Syrian regime, especially if it might prompt a messy and lethal pushback from terrorists. Instead, the better campaign narrative (then) and damage control story (today) was that lots of CIA contractors just happened to be around when a riot erupted over a video—end of story, and end of late-campaign worries about revelations of CIA covert operations.

    This is the one that always piqued my curiosity.  There is a lot here we haven’t heard much about yet.

  4. MikeHs

    What… did the President know, and when did he know it?

  5. Robert McReynolds

    The problem is that we did have a list of suspects almost immediately following the attack because we had indications and warnings of the attacks in intelligence reports prior to the attack.  In fact, one of the suspects has been interviewed by numerous US media outlets.

    The gun-running aspect of this story is quite fascinating and needs to be flushed out by some one with the gumption to ask the questions.

  6. Buckeye74

    The talking points on the video are one thing.  The bigger issue is what actions did the President and Secretary of State take that night.  Why did the State Department not ask the military to attempt a rescue?  The focus on the video masks a discussion on the leadership decisions made when 4 Americans died.  If Ambassador Stephens died that night to enhance someone’s election chances, public outrage would be both massive and justified.

  7. James Gawron

    Dr. Hanson,

    The CIA angle is the least explored and the least well known to public or press.  This will be very interesting.

    To me the main issue is that the constitutional job description of the Executive as Commander in Chief of the military was subverted for political gain to corrupt an election.  This basic crime led to many many more crimes in the cover up of the cover up.  We are still watching these crimes unfold.

    Two particular instances will be especially emotionally troubling to the public at large.

    1)  The maximum effort was not made to rescue our people in harm’s way.  This was not incompetence this was part of the politicization of a national security situation in desperation to win an election.

    2)  The callousness of the treatment of our people didn’t end with deserting them on the battlefield.  With weeks to think about it, the Secretary of State lied directly to the family at the funeral.  They were given a false reason and a false perpetrator of the attack.  The emotional pain caused by this is incalculable.  Again the motive is the same.  Win an election at all cost.

    Regards,

    Jim

  8. flownover

    And there is always the tried and true answer: the coverup is always more trouble than the crime. Our crime may have been weapons transfers, that would be easily explained. But a failure to protect the brave Americans who tried to survive , both before ,during, and after the attack is something worth covering up . Especially for a faux tough president and his distracted SecState. 
    Neither one of them was able to take the 3AM call . 

  9. DocJay

    The president was aware almost immediately.   He met with Panetta at 5 PM and the decision was made to not rescue our people at the risk of the rescue force getting ambushed and also the diplomatic consequences of an operation in Libya.   We had Delta Force ready to go in Sicily about 600 miles away.   I know a man who was there ,  it’s a fact Jack.   Obama is just such a slippery man he didn’t dare tell the truth.   The cover up belongs to the president and a bunch of others.   They all  figured it would bite them later but people wouldn’t care that much.   Time will tell if these evil men pay any price at all.

  10. Nick Stuart

    Great to see VDH back on the Main Feed. Don’t be such a stranger.

    DocJay:

    We had Delta Force ready to go in Sicily about 600 miles away. 

     If memory serves, Panetta at some later point made the case there weren’t any military assets ready. My questions are

    If there were assets ready, why did Panetta imply there weren’t, and why weren’t they deployed? 

    If there weren’t assets ready, why not? We spend trillions of dollars on a military and on 9/11 when we know there’s unrest afoot we don’t have anyone ready to go out the gate? Really?

    Now comes Boehner with a select committee. I’ll bet a lunch if it ever gets off the ground, the Republicans in the House will FUBAR it completely, starting with not deposing Clinton under oath or getting the timeline of where she and Obama were and what were they doing that night.

  11. DocJay

    Nick, the distance from Messina to Benghazi is 500 miles actually and within a couple hours from call to landing near the embassy for Delta.   I wrote this a year ago.   The call was not made.   Assets, the very best, we’re available.   The mystery answers are just politics.   Cold  deadly politics.

  12. Nick Stuart

    DocJay, I believe you, not Panetta. It’s just another line of inquiry I’d like to see pursued.

  13. Chris Campion

    As I understand it, a video caused dozens of untrained and spontaneously riotous peoples to grab up mortars and RPGs that just happened to be in their living rooms and drop mortars on top of a tiny location, at night, from a significant distance.

    The power of this video cannot be understated.  It’s amazing that spontaneous demonstrations haven’t erupted all over the world every day since the video came out, because it holds that much power over Allah’s faithful.

    They pitched this merde on 5 shows on a Sunday, and the clowncar press couldn’t be bothered to question it – not even remotely suggest that it was a polite taffy stretch of a claim.

    And then we voted the man responsible right back into office.

    The shame is ours.  The only problem is that Barry voters might not realize what shame is, no matter if it’s staring them in the face.

  14. SPare

    To my mind, the most interesting things are:
    1.  what Hill and the Bamster did that night.  did they wig out, or were they just cynical and realize that they did not want their fingerprints on a fiasco.
    2.  why was Petraeus axed- what did he know, and how are they keeping him silent now?
    3.  what was the ambassador doing in a rebel stronghold without a substantial security detail?

    I think that the simplest answers is that the ambassador was there doing some kind of dirty work alongside the CIA- what exactly is almost irrelevant, but it’s likely that it’s an indicator that the administration knew that the Jihadi movement was alive and well. 
    The principals froze in fear that if they got involved in any kind of action, they would lose plausible deniability.  That freeze caused no military response to be authorized (and even worse, the freeze may have been an active decision). 
    Petraeus knew the mission and what happened, and as a good boy scout wasn’t going to go along with the storyline pitched by the white house.  The long knives then came out to isolate him before he could have impact.

  15. WI Con

    I like SPare’s points a lot.

    For me, this thing is about those four guys being hung out to dry. I think Barry and/or Hillary gave the stand-down order.

    ‘Dead men tell no tales, and those that survive are subject to periodic lie detector tests and confidentiality agreements’.

  16. wilber forge

    For what it is worth, when the story broke, one checked the  named video on YouTube.

    The total views amounted to 365. Not many views in the overall, and the basic premise this video spawned the event is absurd on it’s face.

  17. dreamlarge

    SPare:     Petraeus knew the mission and what happened, and as a good boy scout wasn’t going to go along with the storyline pitched by the white house. The long knives then came out to isolate him before he could have impact.

     
     Initially Petraeus did go along with the video story.   Broke my heart.   

  18. MJBubba

    In Egypt the American Embassy knew that a major protest was brewing for Sept 11 and anticipated that things would get ugly.  Some mufti had preached against the trailer (the promotional trailer was the only thing made; there never was a movie to go with it).  The Embassy siezed on the video as a great thing to blame as an excuse for all the anti-Americanism that was about to be broadcast, so they started apologizing early in the day, hours before the Cairo riot started.   http://www.nationalreview.com/article/376952/obamas-blame-video-fraud-started-cairo-not-benghazi-andrew-c-mccarthy#!

  19. MJBubba

    When word of the Benghazi attack came in, the political animals in the State Department and the White House immediately leaped to the video excuse.  Excuses come naturally when you are in way over your heads.

  20. MJBubba

    It bothered me the way today’s testimony continued the pattern of talking of all four dead Americans as a group.   Two were dead by midnight or thereabouts.  The other two were not killed until about 5:00 am.   How, while the early attack is still in progress in the evening, can the State Department tell the military that it is too late to take action?   Nobody knows how long the incident will take.   

    I want to know what orders the military had that made them sit on their hands waiting for State Department permission.

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