Sure you do. It’s that scandal we aren’t supposed to talk about because if we talk about it, we out ourselves as knuckle-dragging mouthbreathers . . . or something.
Anyway, in news that should shock no one who wasn’t born yesterday, or even as early as last week, we see that the Obama administration’s attempt to explain why the attacks in Benghazi took place were anything but accurate:
A newly released email shows that White House officials sought to shape the way Susan E. Rice, then the ambassador to the United Nations, discussed the Middle East chaos that was the context for the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
The email dated Sept. 14, 2012, from Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, to Ms. Rice was obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request. The subject of the email was: “PREP CALL with Susan.”
That email was sent ahead of Ms. Rice’s appearance on several Sunday morning news talk programs three days after the attacks that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya.
Conservative critics of President Obama have long contended that political considerations at the White House were the reason that Ms. Rice attributed the Benghazi attacks to spontaneous protests sparked by an anti-Muslim Internet video. Critics have said she downplayed the idea that the attacks were linked to terrorism because it would undermine the notion that Mr. Obama was winning the war on terror.
The email from Mr. Rhodes includes goals for Ms. Rice’s appearances on the shows and advice on how to discuss the subject of the protests that were raging in Libya and at other American diplomatic posts in the Middle East.
Among the goals that Mr. Rhodes identified: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” In a section called “Top-lines,” Mr. Rhodes added: “Since we began to see protests in response to this Internet video, the president has directed the Administration to take a number of steps. His top priority has been the safety and security of all Americans serving abroad.”
The notion that the attacks occurred because of a video is, of course, absurd. The Obama administration has sought to claim–through Press Secretary Jay Carney–that Rhodes was not talking about Benghazi, but those claims seem hardly believable. Perhaps even more damaging to the administration are stories like this one:
U.S. military personnel knew early on that the Benghazi attack was a “hostile action” and not a protest gone awry, according to a retired general who served at U.S. Africa Command’s headquarters in Germany during the attack.
While the exact nature of the attack was not clear from the start, “what we did know early on was that this was a hostile action,” retired Air Force brigadier general Robert Lovell said in his prepared statement Thursday morning to members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “This was no demonstration gone terribly awry.”
Lovell’s testimony contradicts the story that the Obama administration gave in the early days following the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. Consulate that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Back then the administration insisted that the best intelligence it had from CIA and other officials indicated that the attack was a protest against an anti-Islam video that turned violent.
Lovell’s testimony is the first from a member of the military who was at Africa Command at the time of the attack. Lovell was deputy director for intelligence at Africa Command.
Lovell did not question the Pentagon claim that it could not have scrambled forces in the region quickly enough to have prevented the deaths of the Americans. Lovell said no one at the time of the attack knew how long it would go, so they could not have determined then that there was no use in trying.
“As the attack was ongoing, it was unclear whether it was an attempted kidnapping, rescue, recovery, protracted hostile engagement or any or all of the above,” Lovell said.
While people on the ground were fighting for their lives, discussions among U.S. leaders outside Libya “churned on about what we should do,” but the military waited for a request for assistance from the State Department, Lovell said.
There were questions about whether the U.S. military could have responded to Benghazi in time, but “we should have tried,” Lovell said.
But of course, we are not supposed to take any of this seriously. Because, as we know, Benghazi is that scandal we aren’t supposed to talk about.