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Bryan Preston

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May 7, 2013 - 2:17 pm

Benghazi was never about a movie. Ever.

On the day of the attack in Benghazi, the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, had come under siege at the encouragement of al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. While the riot in Cairo was being blamed on the Nakoula Nakoula YouTube movie in the media, the Cairo riot was never really about the movie. Ever.

The Innocence of Muslims movie, which the vast majority of the Cairo mob had never seen, was used by the riot’s leaders to stir up anger and bring out the crowd. But on September 10, 2012, we posted a note about Cairo and the riot that was to come. The real purpose of the Cairo riot, all along, was to pressure the Obama administration into releasing Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

According to El Fagr, they are calling for the immediate release of the Islamic jihadis who are imprisonment and in detention centers in the U.S. including Guantanamo Bay: “The group, which consists of many members from al-Qaeda, called [especially] for the quick release of the jihadi [mujahid] sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman [the 'Blind Sheikh'], whom they described as a scholar and jihadi who sacrificed his life for the Egyptian Umma, who was ignored by the Mubarak regime, and [President] Morsi is refusing to intervene on his behalf and release him, despite promising that he would. The Islamic Group has threatened to burn the U.S. Embassy in Cairo with those in it, and taking hostage those who remain [alive], unless the Blind Sheikh is immediately released.”

The riot, which included jihadists scaling the wall of the U.S. embassy and replacing the American flag with their own, was geared to pressure Obama into releasing the blink sheikh — it was not a protest about a movie. As we’ve written here before, if the Tatler had this information on September 10, then surely the U.S. government had it as well. So the Obama administration knew from the beginning that Cairo was not really about a movie. Therefore, neither was Benghazi, and they knew it. The CIA’s original talking points reflect this fact, clearly blaming al Qaeda and never mentioning the YouTube movie.

I bring this up to dispatch with one possibility, which is that the Obama administration was so quick to blame Benghazi on a YouTube movie because of the events that were already taking place in Cairo. They could rationally and innocently have seen Cairo and concluded that Benghazi was related. Neither incident was really about protesting a movie. Ever. And they had the intelligence to prove it. Their own intelligence never pointed to a movie.

Yet they were quick to blame the movie, almost too quick, putting the blame on it during the attack and for two weeks thereafter. Secretary of State Clinton even stood before the bodies of the slain and blamed the movie a few days after the attack.

CLINTON, 9-14-2012: This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing do to with. It’s hard for the American people to make sense of that, because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable. The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia, did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob. Reasonable people and responsible leaders in these countries in these countries need to do everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts. And we will, under the president’s leadership, keep taking steps to protect our personnel around the world. (emphasis added)

Stripped of the politics and evident cover-up, the Benghazi attack was not difficult to understand. It was the latest battle in the ongoing Islamist war against civilization. It was an attack in a known al Qaeda hotbed against a soft American target on the anniversary of 9-11, a target that we now know had been infiltrated by terrorist operatives. It’s all quite straightforward. Clinton’s remarks muddied, rather than clarified, the attack. That same day, recall, she also told the father of one of the slain that the U.S. government would arrest the man who had made the movie that she and others were blaming. That weekend, Nakoula Nakoula was arrested. The Obama team was building a narrative that the movie had caused a demonstration that evolved into an attack, and they were willing to have a man arrested on parole violations to further that narrative. The same weekend that Nakoula was first picked up was the same weekend that Ambassador Susan Rice would blame his movie on no less than five Sunday talk shows. Even though she and everyone responsible for the administration’s story must have known that the movie had nothing to do with the attack.

While the Obama administration was quick to blame the movie, they have been slow to explain what they were actually doing during the 10-hour attack, and who was involved in what. Defense Secretary Panetta has testified that he was not in contact with either President Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the attack unfolded, and despite the fact that it was being monitored in real-time in Washington. The attack would also have weighed heavily on the minds of the president’s re-election campaign advisers. It could cost him and them their jobs.

Does it make any sense that on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, that as another terrorist attack transpires, in a country bearing the fingerprints of Obama and Clinton after their air war helped oust Muammar Gaddafi, that POTUS, SecDef, and SecState all decided not to discuss the attack and coordinate a response? Does it make any sense for a secretary of State to handle the attack without communicating with her counterpart at the Pentagon, who would have been in charge of any military response to it? Does it make any sense for Panetta to green-light or red-light any response without consulting the commander-in-chief? Does he even have such authority?

None of that makes any sense. It’s inconceivable that the top three U.S. officials who would be accountable for the American lives and property at Benghazi would not communicate with each other during an ongoing attack. If she had nothing to hide, Clinton should have been climbing the walls until Obama authorized a serious and forceful response to rescue her friend Chris Stevens. Panetta should have been responding to Obama’s orders to bring our people home if possible, or disperse or kill the attackers if it wasn’t.

Yet Panetta says that after the 5 p.m. meeting he never communicated with either Obama or Clinton. If this is true, were they not derelict in their duties? Obama cannot have been unaware of the scale of the attack: We had a drone overhead and security cameras on the ground, and our forces on the ground were telling Washington what was happening. The fog of war was not very thick.

When the Benghazi attack occurred, Barack Obama was less than two months away from his reckoning with the voters. The polls were tight and any event could have moved them one way or the other. Mitt Romney had sewn up the GOP nomination and was flexing his muscle as a fundraiser. He had outfoxed Obama’s campaign a couple of times, pushing Solyndra into the headlines and even getting into David Axelrod’s grill and under his skin at an event in Boston.

Obama could not run on the economy or his signature legislative achievement, ObamaCare. His campaign had built a narrative of the president as an effective commander-in-chief who had killed Osama bin Laden and put al Qaeda on the run. “Osama is dead and GM is alive!” was Vice President Joe Biden’s favorite sentence. Other than the fact of bin Laden’s demise, this was not a national security fact; it was a political narrative aimed at getting Obama re-elected. Al Qaeda had in fact begun to cement a new relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and had grown in influence in Libya and across the Middle East. Its Libya brand, Ansar al-Sharia, had become a threat in the Benghazi area itself the summer leading up to the attack. Ansar al-Sharia was the author of the attack in Benghazi.

Here is a theory regarding Obama’s, Panetta’s, and Clinton’s actions that night.

Barack Obama comes to the job of the presidency with no command experience at all. His career included years as an adjunct professor and a community organizer before becoming the senator best known for voting “present” in Illinois. He was never a leader when he was in the U.S. Senate. His experience is chiefly as an agitator against command, not in exercising command itself. The largest effort he had ever run had been his own campaign for president, and it’s debatable how much of that he ran and how much was run for him by his lieutenant, David Axelrod.

Just weeks before the election, the Benghazi attack threatened to undo Obama’s carefully crafted al Qaeda campaign narrative. That night, during the attack, President Barack Obama had no idea what to do. He is not a born or trained commander. With lives and American prestige in his hands, he flinched. He stayed true to his character and voted “present.”

Two debacles of the past were probably foremost in his mind and in the mind of David Axelrod, who was probably involved in decision-making during the attack: Desert One and Mogadishu. Desert One was a U.S. rescue attempt in Iran in 1980 that ended in humiliating failure, and contributed to the building narrative that President Jimmy Carter was not up to the job of the presidency. Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 handed the U.S. military and President Bill Clinton a humiliating public-relations defeat in what turned out to be an early battle against al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden later turned Mogadishu into a rallying point, using it to cast America as a “paper tiger” that would run from a real fight. Both Desert One and Mogadishu happened under Democratic presidents, both began as military rescues, and both were failures. Desert One helped cost President Carter his job. Benghazi threatened to cost Barack Obama his.

The night of the Benghazi attack, Obama had command authority and responsibility in his hands, and he froze. His inexperience in command — he never served in the military, and none of his close cabinet members ever served in the military — and his eye on the election owned his mind. He ordered the stand-down (an order which must ultimately have come from him as the commander-in-chief) to preserve his political narrative as best he could by avoiding any possibility of suffering both an undeniable terrorist attack and a Mogadishu catastrophe on his watch. He chose to let four Americans die rather than risk  sending in any rescue attempt, because the potential political optics were so dire. He chose to blame a movie for the same reason his Defense Department has chosen to call the Ft. Hood massacre “workplace violence” rather than a terrorist attack, which it was. Acknowledging the truth could destroy his precious narrative and cost him the election.

In this theory, then, Panetta, Obama and Clinton actually were communicating during the attack. Axelrod was also involved, which itself should be a scandal as he is not in the national security loop. He is a political adviser. But because of Obama’s actions during the battle and Clinton’s refusals to improve security before, they have chosen to lie to preserve their own respective political positions. Panetta, ever the party man, has played along to defend the Democratic Party from any consequences if Axelrod’s role is exposed. If they acknowledge that they were communicating during the attack, they acknowledge that Obama was in command and that he ultimately failed and left four Americans to die. Or, they acknowledge that he misread the attack so badly that he never bothered to authorize a rescue until it was too late, then ordered a stand-down to avoid a Mogadishu situation. They are covering up their collective failure to secure the U.S. mission before the attack, they are covering up Obama’s failure to send forces to the rescue that night, and they used the movie to prop up Obama’s crumbling al Qaeda narrative long enough to get past the election, which after all was only a few weeks away. In at least the latter, they succeeded.

This theory doesn’t account for everything, nor does it attempt to. It doesn’t account for why Stevens was in Benghazi that night, for instance, and it doesn’t account for why Clinton’s State Department left the mission so exposed. It doesn’t account for what the U.S. mission in Benghazi was doing, or whether it was involved in any way in the war in Syria. But it does try to account for Obama’s and Panetta’s and Clinton’s actions that night, which on their face make no sense.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
AxeMan being there is plausible, anything is possible with "Colonel Klink" Obama. Reggie Love might have been there too. Heck, he might have even been having one of his special parties in the Incident Room that evening.

Snarky speculation aside, Barry and Hillary still don't know what they have done. They don't understand the military men and women and how they think. They don't understand that if you require proud, faithful, loyal, brave soldiers and intelligence officers who serve this country all the time--not just during one presidential election--to follow a plan that is cowardly, disloyal, and gives aid and comfort to our enemies, you have unleashed the hounds of hell. BHO and HRC think they can win this in the spin room, that's not where all the action will be.

Many people care about the truth and it will be told. We are to the Truth and Consequences portion of the "program".

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Your theory is a good one ... but it leaves me believing its a cold trail.
Once again; two pivotal facts in all this are being left out; the Obama administration's cozy relationship with Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood (AQ & MB have the exact same goals). I have some questions too:

1.The flag being flown at the "compound" by the attackers was the black Al Qaeda flag - Why is that not mentioned directly?
2. With the Blind Sheik release demands still fresh and the resulting attacks;
and with Al Qaeda members being given security detail at the "compound";
Was there a deal brokered to perhaps kidnap Stevens and demand the Sheiks release? This may have been what went wrong; some of the attackers got "carried away" once the frenzy began, and Stevens death was a miscalculation in the "I have to swap the Blind Sheik for Anbassador Stevens; so as to quell the uprising" deal, made with Morsi.
3. Who was it - in the Obama administration - that peddled the "movie" idea? I believe it was the Muslim Brotherhood since their presence and MO can be CLEARLY seen in every aspect of this siege of the Cairo and Benghazi consulates.
4. Huma Abedin's creds are all over this debacle and her resumé as an MB operative (along with many others in the administration) is an established fact. Why are we silent about the MB and AQ's involvement with the Obama administration?

Your theory matches the suspicions of REAL enemy, and the cluelessness of their partners in the attempted "take-down" of the U.S.A. The Blind Sheik's blindness is physical; but the administration's blindness is willful.
We won't get any clear answers unless we confront Islam - and that means that we have to confront those that have spent billions of dollars; countless man-hours planning and executing political jihad in the U.S.A. - beginning in the late sixtes with the establishment of the first MSA Muslim Brotherhood cell. That is what is being avoided by Clinton and Obama and Panetta; deal with that fact and everything else falls into place.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Two words: Depraved Indifference.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (56)
All Comments   (56)
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obama ran and hid , hillary didn't know to do , panetta lied .
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hillary actually was truthful when she said "it doesn't matter." It's clear that it "didn't matter" to her or the administration before, during AND after the attacks. Actions or non-actions speak far louder than words. Does anyone think that Ronald Reagan would have gone to bed if this attack happened on his watch or that he wouldn't have immediately fired his secretary of state for leaving these people to die. I think not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One word says it all....POLITICS..All three are political hacks regardless of the level to which they have risen. Clinton, the guy, was was political long before he actually entered politics as was Hillary. There were few jobs not directly connected with politics...the same can be said for Panetta.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Did the Al Quedas perhaps attack our Consulate with the arms we supplied them?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Would the members of the committee keep their opinions to you self and just ask the question, and listen to the answer. FOOLS all of them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The real purpose of the Cairo riot, all along, was to pressure the Obama administration into releasing Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York."

Releasing this sick, blind old "sheik" is a big stated objective of Mohammed Morsi, as it is for Osama's old sidekick, Ayman al-Zawahiri. From Hamas/Hezbollah dealings with Israel to the Muslim Brotherhood, springing their guys from "infidel jails" is a really big deal for these people.

A point made by Lindsey Graham and Trey Gowdy (and probably others) is that the official report said assets weren't sent in Benghazi as they couldn't arrive "in time".

How would anyone know what the duration of the assault might be ?

At least around 30 people got out of there rather than turning into another mess like the Iranian hostage situation, which went on for well over a year until that other Waffler-in-Chief Jimmy Carter was tossed out of office.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We make "sense" of this fiasco by figuring the community-organizer-in-chief and his sidekick the Hildebeest are so arrogant and full of themselves that they figure they can tell the American population any old thing, easily enlisting underlings and surrogates to do their bidding, from lower to upper levels in the state department, to the UN ambassador up through the CIA & intelligence agencies.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bryan, you may well be right that Obama's primary reason for not taking action during the assault on the Benghazi consulate was fear that a rescue would go as badly as Carter's attempt to free the American hostages in Iran or the Black Hawk Down episode in Mogadishu. A failed attempt would undoubtably hurt him with the electorate and with an election just weeks away, it must have been a major concern. Americans don't much like failure.

But it seems to me that Americans hate one thing worse that failure: cowardice. If Obama were to try and fail, he would take a hit for that but he might eventually be forgiven. Certainly, a lot of people seem to manage to hold Jimmy Carter in high esteem despite the failure of his rescue mission.

If the investigation proves that Obama simply didn't try to rescue the Americans in Benghazi, I truly hope it earns him and all his minions the undying contempt of every American of every political persuasion. A successful impeachment would then be a fantastic expression of that contempt.

No President should ever get a free pass for not even TRYING to help Americans in distress overseas.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For some reason, I never held Desert One against Carter. It was a major Charlie Foxtrot from start to finish, but it wasn't his fault. I mean, they were going to use a hastily-cobbled-together, rocket-equipped C-130 to land in a soccer stadium, pick up the hostages, and then rocket them to freedom? Seriously? In what Rambo movie does something like that succeed? Fortunately, the plane in question crashed and burned during testing rather than during the rescue attempt. But that just shows how ill-equipped America and its military were at the time for handling situations like the hostage crisis.

However, I do blame Carter for his foolish handling of the entire Iraq situation - from dealing with the Shah to dealing with the Ayatollah and the "student revolutionaries." Lame. He did his best to get the hostages out, but he was responsible for getting them captured in the first place.

Obama? I think he got blind-sided. He thought everything was jake in Libya, just like his Narrative said it was. When things went pear shaped, he was the proverbial deer in the headlights. He had no Progressive party line to tell him how to think or what to do. With no guidance from him, everybody else in DC froze or panicked as well. Then, thoroughly rattled and realizing something really BAD had just happened (to them, they probably thought) they all went into CYA mode. What I saw was the equivalent of a very frightened person babbling incoherently. Bad show all around.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think you mean Carter's handling of the "Iran situation", not the "Iraq situation"......
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Remember he was the head cheerleader for reducing the military and "peace through weakness" camp.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Would you agree that it would have been even worse if Carter had not made the attempt, however half-baked, to free the hostages?

That's the point I was trying to make. I think Obama failing to even make the EFFORT to get the embassy staff some help was even worse than if he had made an effort that failed.

If I were one of the embassy staff, I would feel VERY disillusioned that my president had abandoned me to my fate and hadn't made any effort whatever to rescue me. I think that's why some of those staffers have come forward and spoken out about it, rather than just "taking one for the team".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It seems fairly likely to me that the reason for characterizing the attack as a spontaneous response to the movie wasn't to downplay the threat of organizaed terrorism per se, but to try to conceal the State Department's failure to beef up security in the months preceding. If the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an an obscure, recent event having nothing to do with the administration (i.e., a movie that had only recently gained attention in the Islamic world), then that would help excuse Hilllary's failure to anticipate the need for additional security. If, instead, it was exactly the thing Ambassador Stevens had been sounding the alarm about, it would be seen as an enormous failure of judgment on the part of Hillary or whoever else was involved in addressing Stevens' concerns.

I don't quite buy the argument that this was mainly about maintaining the pretense that terrorism was dead. Obama wasn't going to lose the election over one relatively small-scale attack on one overseas embassy. On the other hand, Obama's -- and Hillary's -- electoral prospects could well have been damaged if the deaths were revealed to be on account of a failure to provide proper security despite repeated requests.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It was both, purely and simply a cover-up an excuse to wait till after the election. Savages, beasts, the kind of politicians the founding fathers warned us about!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They'll likely try to claim that the Republicans wouldn't provide funding for enough security, but given that very secure embassies in very quite parts of the world have and had Marines guarding them, Marines who could easily have been shuffled to duty in a much more dangerous area with money to hire private security then being used in those quiet areas of the world ... I don't see how that dog hunts.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The fact that the requested beefed-up security in Benghazi wasn't provided is very curious indeed. No matter how you view the events - incompetence, politics as usual, conspiracy, etc. - the failure to provide the security is a puzzle. What could have been lost or gained in this?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This all makes for a good story outline for a novel or a mini-series, which is probably what most of the citizenery think it is, but that's about it. This mess would and should destroy a Republican administration but it will have no effect whatsoever on the brain-dead that constitute the liberal establishment and Obama voter base ..... or the Republican "leadership" for that matter.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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