Benghazi Bungles (A Continuing Series)

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 17, 2012

So, it would appear that just three days after the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, President Obama was informed that the attack was a jihadist operation. And yet, Susan Rice, the UN ambassador, was sent to tell the press–and by extension, the American people, that the attack was a spontaneous demonstration that resulted from the viewing of a YouTube video.

The reason given for the discrepancy between what the president was told and what Rice said is that intelligence services did not want to reveal sources and methods by which they got their information, so Rice was given a different set of talking points that did not contain the information the president was given. I can buy the explanation, but it only leads to more questions:

  • Why didn’t Rice just respond to any questions regarding the attack on Benghazi by stating that for the moment, the administration could not respond because it did not want to reveal sources and methods of intelligence? Why lie to the American people instead? What possible national security interest was served by claiming that a YouTube video prompted a spontaneous demonstration?
  • If Rice knew that the talking points that were being given to her were fake, did she object to having to deliver them? Did it dawn on her that no possible national security interest could be served by claiming that a YouTube video prompted a spontaneous demonstration that resulted in American deaths at the Benghazi consulate?
  • If Rice found out later that the talking points were fake, did she raise a fuss then? Jennifer Rubin directs us to Dana Milbank, who is usually useless as an editorial writer, but who in this case helpfully points out to the rest of us that Rice has a history of not playing nice with others. Does Rice’s tendency to more-than-occasionally fly off the handle (not usually an attractive trait for a diplomat) include the tendency to object when she is lied to, or when she has to repeat a lie that serves no foreign policy or national security purpose?
  • In fact, in general, is Rice a good consumer of intelligence and does she generally get displeased when bad intelligence is delivered to her? Does she demand better intelligence after encountering bad intelligence?

I know that people on the port side of the political divide–being besotted, as they are, with Barack Obama and his team–like to pretend that absolutely nothing in the run-up to and in the aftermath of the attack on the consulate in Benghazi is worth investigating. But the facts very strongly suggest otherwise. And of course, if Susan Rice does indeed get nominated to succeed Hillary Clinton at the State Department, her nomination should not stand a sandcastle’s chance in an earthquake of succeeding unless the questions in this post–and lots of other questions–get answered fully and truthfully.

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