Yeah? Well, so do I.
On September 12, an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked and four Americans died including the Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. In most civilized places there would have been a moment of somber reflection and sadness, but not here. Not when there’s an election to be won. Before the smoke had cleared – literally – the Republicans and Fox News were milking it for whatever political advantage they could get. Fox News was out front “asking questions and demanding answers”, and their legions of apparatchiks have been repeating their talking points ever since sometimes word for word.
So I started asking some questions about the questions Fox and their followers were asking, and just like Fox, I haven’t been getting very many answers.
Fox asks: Why did the Obama administration lie about who was behind the attack? I ask: Why does it matter? Why should they lie? You only tell a lie if the lie is more advantageous to you than the truth, so what would be the political advantage of claiming that the attack was the result of a protest over a movie instead of a planned terrorist attack? Certainly the victims aren’t any less dead. Is it supposed to be some sort of reflection on our intelligence gathering and preparedness? Keep in mind that the movie trailer had already sparked protests and riots worldwide, and in Egypt the American embassy had already been attacked. It seems to me that it would be far more embarrassing to have been caught off guard by an easily foreseeable movie protest than by a well planned attack from a terror cell. If you are going to choose between two story lines to explain why one of your consulates was breeched and an ambassador was killed, pick the one about the secretive, nefarious, well-organized terror cell, not the one about a bunch of religious nuts that got carried away.
Fox asks: Why was there such a failure of intelligence? I ask: Where have you been? Gathering good intelligence in that part of the world is tricky business. Just ask George W. Bush, Colin Powell, et al. They got us into a full blown war over faulty intelligence.
Fox asks: Why didn’t the administration use the words terror, terrorist or terrorism in describing the incident? I ask: What the hell is wrong with you? Why the obsession over whether or not a particular word was used? Even if it was an act of a spontaneous mob of protesters, isn’t an attack of an American consulate and the murder of an ambassador an act of terror itself? To politicize the killing of four brave and decent Americans is bad enough, but to reduce it to such a petty, juvenile complaint is vulgar.
Fox asks: Why did the administration do nothing to help these poor people? I ask: What could they have done? More importantly, why wouldn’t they have done everything possible to help? I don’t claim to know what assets we had available to send into the situation, but it’s a safe bet that neither do you. Did we have drones or manned fighter jets that we could have sent in? Were there other military personnel that we could have sent in? I don’t know, but that’s why the second part of my question matters. What possible reason would the administration have had for not doing all they could? What could they possibly have gained by doing nothing?
I’ve asked these questions several times, but I have yet to get an answer that even made sense or wasn’t wildly speculative and conspiratorial. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. In the meantime, here’s a lighter take on all of this: