Benghazi: The New Old Shiny Object

The Republicans have called in their old chit: Benghazi. The media is doing its best to quickly paint this in the light of a scandal. Coverup! Outrage! OMG! Did you know that the CIA told the administration that it was a terrorist attack from the get-go but the State Department conspired with the OFA to edit the talking points to a mere spontaneous demonstration?

Ironically, some truth did come out in the fog of the dramatic scandal music from the GOP and the media. After testimonies, email revelations and fundraising grandstanding by the Republicans, at the end of the day, the story remains an incredibly simple one: before Susan Rice's now-famous appearance on the Sunday TV shows, the intelligence community was not only uncertain about the source of this attack, but they in fact thought that it was inspired by protests.

There's an easy way to find out whether the administration was trying to mislead the American people, however. Compare what Susan Rice actually said with what the CIA said, even in its first drafts, before the Evil EditsTM suggested by State (and ultimately accepted by the CIA). Well, here's what Rice actually said. Let's take Rice's ABC News interview, where she said, after cautioning that there was an ongoing FBI investigation:
We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to -- or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in -- in the wake of the revolution in Libya are -- are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.
And here's what the same news organization reported about the first CIA drafts:
Like the final version used by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday shows, the CIA's first drafts said the attack appeared to have been "spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" but the CIA version went on to say, "That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa'ida participated in the attack."
Wait, what? Do my eyes deceive me or was Susan Rice use pretty much the same words as the CIA's first drafts? CIA said it appeared to have been spontaneously inspired by the protests in Cairo, and Susan Rice said people came to Benghazi to replicate Cairo. The CIA said extremists participated in the attack, but Rice went one step further, saying that extremists hijacked the attack. So, umm... where exactly is this big "scandal"? I'm trying to look really hard for it, and I'm not finding it.

The first two times Republicans tried to exploit the attacks in Benghazi last year for political gain, they got slapped down. Hard. First, Mitt Romney got live fact-checked in a debate and looked like a fool. Then, earlier this year, Hillary Clinton cracked a few GOP nuts with her testimony on the same subject. Can someone please tell me what Susan Rice was covering up since she appeared to have used almost the same words as the CIA?

But what about the twelve (count'em - t-w-e-l-v-e) edits the State Department made the CIA go through? What were they hiding? Hmm? Hmmmmmm? That is the stupidest discussion I have ever seen in our venerable media. Inter-agency discussions about a memo put in by one intelligence agency is not new, and is part of the process that best protects the integrity of the process. If the Obama administration is guilty of letting that process work instead of taking the Bush approach of "slam dunk" CIA, I'll take that.

Oh, by the way, will someone please tell our news media and the GOP that the CIA is not the only intelligence agency in our country? In fact, it's not even the biggest one (the NSA is). The State Department, in fact, has its own intelligence agency, as does the Department of Defense. The "intelligence community" does not refer only to the CIA. Does anyone even know that anymore?

Benghazi is nothing more than a shiny object. Let me assure you, if it were anything more than a shiny object, the Republicans would not be interested in it. Republicans are interested in it for two reasons:
  • First, this president's record on foreign policy and the fight against terrorism is unassailable and unblemished. This is the president who ended the war in Iraq, eliminated bin Laden, and devastated terrorist networks across the globe. This president is tough, strong, and in the words of Bill Maher, a badass. He defeated the Republican tactics of strongarming, bullying and scaring the American people with terrorism instead of actually fighting it, and they can't take it. They think they can use what happened in Benghazi to tar and feather him, but that's not going to work either.
  • Second, Barack Obama has had no major scandals or failures in office. Not a one. And that is unbearable for the Republicans. They have created the fiction of an un-American, corrupt, inept chief executive, and now they are trapped in their own fiction. They will do anything to prove that fiction a reality. So they jump at everything that they think they can use to stir up and create a major scandal with.
A third reason is quite likely the possible candidacy of Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the Republican attempt to cut her off at the knees before anything's begun.

The Republicans are trying to inflict blood, and the media, like a good blood hound, is smelling it. We have to be the ones that put a stop to it. But halting the business of the American people to put on a political stunt about Benghazi will not help solve our problems as a country. It will not help bring to justice a single terrorist. It won't find a single job for anyone out of work. Time to get out of the glitter of the new old shiny object and get back to the business of governing America.