A Tie of Two Scandals: Benghazi and the AP Phone Records
Taken together, the multiple scandals simultaneously weighing on the White House show at the very least an administration with little control over its departments as it claims ignorance of each wrongdoing, mismanagement and blunder.
But the AP phone records scandal, while having its own power boost as it infuriates free press advocates on both sides of the aisle, has an irrefutable tie to what many believe is the underlying reason for a Benghazi cover-up.
On April 30, 2012, President Obama's counterterrorism adviser John Brennan gave a touted address titled "The Ethics and Efficacy of the President's Counterterrorism Strategy" at the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C.
The lengthy address, with remarks released early to the press by the White House, hailed the commander in chief as a fearless leader of a crushing effort resulting in the steady decimation of al-Qaeda.
"Al-Qaeda leaders continue to struggle to communicate with subordinates and affiliates. Under intense pressure in the tribal regions of Pakistan, they have fewer places to train and groom the next generation of operatives. They’re struggling to attract new recruits. Morale is low, with intelligence indicating that some members are giving up and returning home, no doubt aware that this is a fight they will never win," Brennan said.
"In short, al-Qaeda is losing, badly. And bin Laden knew it. In documents we seized, he confessed to 'disaster after disaster.' He even urged his leaders to flee the tribal regions, and go to places 'away from aircraft photography and bombardment.'"
Brennan admitted that affiliates including al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and Boko Haram still had some legs. But he concentrated on the destruction of the core in his remarks.
"So damaged is al-Qaeda’s image that bin Laden even considered changing its name. And one of the reasons? As bin Laden said himself, U.S. officials 'have largely stopped using the phrase "the war on terror" in the context of not wanting to provoke Muslims.' Simply calling them al-Qaeda, bin Laden said, 'reduces the feeling of Muslims that we belong to them,'" Brennan said. "To which I would add, that is because al-Qaeda does not belong to Muslims. Al-Qaeda is the antithesis of the peace, tolerance and humanity that is at the heart of Islam."
"…If the decade before 9/11 was the time of al-Qaeda’s rise, and the decade after 9/11 was the time of its decline, then I believe this decade will be the one that sees its demise," he added, crediting in large part "the comprehensive counterterrorism strategy being directed by President Obama."
Brennan is now head of the CIA, where wanna-be whistleblowers with information on Benghazi reportedly have been prevented from providing information to Congress.
His speech on the impending demise of al-Qaeda served as a blueprint for the "al-Qaeda is on the run" narrative of Obama's re-election campaign.
On May 7, 2012, the Associated Press cited unnamed officials in its story on the CIA's thwarting of an AQAP plot to use a second-generation underwear bomb to destroy a U.S.-bomb airliner around the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.
Just days before, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House were reassuring the American public that there were no known plots to mark bin Laden's death, even though the CIA operation was unfolding at the time.
The AP pointed out the White House's previous denials in that story.
"We have no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the anniversary of bin Laden's death," White House press secretary Jay Carney said on April 26.
On May 1, the Department of Homeland Security said, "We have no indication of any specific, credible threats or plots against the U.S. tied to the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's death."