My post from yesterday caused me to run afoul of several friends and family members. Apparently comparing the confusing information stream stemming from the Benghazi consulate attack to the Watergate coverup was beyond the pale. I was told that I must be a "birther" (I'm not), and that I am being "ridiculous."
I don't feel ridiculous.
I feel like I am using the same analytical processes that led me to conclude that Joe Paterno was lying and covering up his actions during the horrible Jerry Sandusky inquiry--well before it became public knowledge (and even before he was asked to resign). I was right.
Coverups look like coverups, and transparency looks, well, different. And with Benghazi we have had nothing that resembled transparency. We have had, as PolitiFact called it, a "mixed message from the administration" about what happened. To wit, on September 20, President Obama was asked:
"We have reports that the White House said today that the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack. Do you have information indicating that it was Iran, or al Qaeda was behind organizing the protests?"
Here is Obama’s reply:
"Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests."
By mentioning the video, Obama drew attention away from the possibility that the attack had been a planned assault. This lies at the heart of the dispute over what Obama and his administration were saying in the days after the attack. The president had the chance to be more complete and direct in Florida, but the administration was continuing to focus on the response to the video. [emphasis added]
With the chance at transparency, we got, instead, obfuscation.
Today, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the largest daily circulation paper in Nevada, endorsed Mitt Romney for President (sort of). This is hardly news--it is a right-leaning editorial board that endorsed McCain in 2008. Still, most of the endorsement was a scathing attack on the Obama administration handling of the Benghazi attack. An excerpt:
But around 4 p.m [on September 11, 2012]. Washington received an email from the Benghazi mission saying it was under a military-style attack. The White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA were able to watch the live video feed. An email sent later that day reported "Ansar al-Sharia claims responsibility for Benghazi attack."
Not only did the White House do nothing, there are now reports that a counterterrorism team ready to launch a rescue mission was ordered to stand down.
The official explanation for the inadequate security? This administration didn't want to "offend the sensibilities" of the new radical Islamic regime which American and British arms had so recently helped install in Libya.
The official explanation for why Obama administration officials watched the attack unfold for seven hours, refusing repeated requests to send the air support and relief forces that sat less than two hours away in Italy? Silence.
This is not what transparency looks like. This looks like coverup.
What could be the motive? Why would the administration want to cover things up? Who issued the stand down order (if one was issued) and why? When did the administration decide on the strategy to blame the attack on a response to the video, when it was clear almost immediately that this was a planned attack, and eventually the administration consistently referred to this as an act of terror?
I don't have the answers. But someone with more resources than me--an investigative reporter, for example?--should be scouring sources, in Woordward-and-Bernstein fashion to get the asnwers. And, far from being a conspiracy nut, I feel like I am asking reasonable questions. The classic question--from Watergate era reporting--is simply this:
What did the President know, and when did he know it?
UPDATE: CBS News Info
CBS News is reporting tonight that a key counter terrorism task force was not called in to help with the Benghazi attack, even though that is their sole purpose. The key point (as far as this post is concerned):
In the days after the assault, counterterrorism officials expressed dismay over what they interpreted as the Obama Administration's unwillingness to acknowledge that the attack was terrorism; and their opinion that resources which could have helped were excluded.
Most coverups unravel, eventually.