Ed Driscoll

Benghazi: The Video Didn't Do It

“Scanning the transcripts of the 9/11/2012 Benghazi terror attack testimony released this week by congressional committee investigators makes this point quite clear: The video definitely didn’t do it,” Austin Bay writes at Strategy Page:

According to the now-available congressional transcripts, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey (after speaking with AFRICOM commander General Carter Ham) informed President Barack Obama that the consulate had suffered a terror attack. Panetta and Dempsey told the president within an hour after the first assault began.

Yet Obama Administration officials continued to peddle the “video did it” canard for almost two weeks after the assault. Why peddle a blatant falsehood? Because “the video did it” narrative advanced a propaganda campaign supporting central Obama re-election political themes. Obama claimed his presidency would dramatically change Arab Muslim perceptions of America. Though he never equated killing Osama bin Laden with defeating al-Qaida, he implied al-Qaida was fading fast. The Benghazi disaster countered these touts. Obama had to leave the American public with the definite impression that the Benghazi assault was spontaneous. Why, that nasty video incited inexplicable anger!

The president calculated carefully. As his spokespeople blamed the video, Obama hedged and fudged by referring to Benghazi as “an act of terror.” His goal was — and still is — rhetorical wiggle room to blunt charges of deceit. However, at least three times during the campaign, Obama refused to call Benghazi an attack by terrorists.

The transcripts leave President Obama and his minions with a lot more deceit to blunt.

And the MSM are quite content to help Mr. Obama and his aides in their deceit: “Network Coverage of ‘Scathing’ Benghazi Report Doesn’t Mention Obama’s Name Once,” Kyle Drennen notes at Newsbusters.

In sharp contradistinction, “We Finally Know Where the Buck Stops in Benghazi,” Ed Morrissey writes at the Fiscal Times:

One does not need a name at the top of this report to know where responsibility rests for this massive failure. Hillary Clinton ran State, Leon Panetta ran Defense, and David Petraeus ran the CIA. But the distributed nature of the failure indicts the Obama administration and Barack Obama himself, too. The White House is responsible for interagency coordination, for one thing, especially when it comes to national security and diplomatic enterprises.

However, Obama’s responsibility extends farther and more specifically, too. The reason that eastern Libya had transformed into a terrorist haven in the first place was because of the Obama-led NATO intervention that deposed Moammar Qaddafi without any effort to fill the security vacuum his abrupt departure created.

Four months before the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Daniel Larison warned  that the vacuum left by that 30,000-foot intervention not only meant trouble for the West in eastern Libya, but throughout North Africa as al Qaeda and its affiliates entrenched themselves. Sure enough, al Qaeda infused itself into a Tuareg rebellion and almost topped Mali, an effort which France belatedly stamped out with a boots-on-the-ground intervention – with those boots transported in part by the US Air Force.  At the time, the Financial Times called Mali “among the most embarrassing boomerangs” of American policy, specifically noting “the blowback in the Sahel from the overthrow of Colonel Moammar Gaddafi in Libya.”

The policies and actions of the Obama administration in Libya left behind a failed state, and the incompetent handling of security and readiness afterward left four Americans to die needlessly. The buck stops at the top for this mess.

Meanwhile, at the Daily Beast, the successor to the publication that declared Obama the second coming of Abraham Lincoln in a 2008 cover story, is now running a story titled, “Senior UK Defense Advisor: Obama Is Clueless About ‘What He Wants To Do In The World:”

President Obama is “chronically incapable” of military strategy and falls far short of his predecessor George W. Bush, according to one of Britain’s most senior military advisors.

Sir Hew Strachan, an advisor to the Chief of the Defense Staff, told The Daily Beast that the United States and Britain were guilty of total strategic failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama’s attempts to intervene on behalf of the Syrian rebels “has left them in a far worse position than they were before.”

The extraordinary critique by a leading advisor to the United States’ closest military ally comes days after Obama was undermined by the former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who questioned the President’s foreign policy decisions and claimed he was deeply suspicious of the military.

Strachan, a current member of the Chief of the Defense Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, cited the “crazy” handling of the Syrian crisis as the most egregious example of a fundamental collapse in military planning that began in the aftermath of 9/11. “If anything it’s gone backwards instead of forwards, Obama seems to be almost chronically incapable of doing this. Bush may have had totally fanciful political objectives in terms of trying to fight a global War on Terror, which was inherently astrategic, but at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world. Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world,” he said.

Alfred the Butler famously said that “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” But given that they’ve marinated their entire adult lives in leftwing radical chic, it should be rather obvious to anyone paying attention what Messrs. Obama and Kerry want to do in the Middle East.