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It takes a special skill to read bureaucratic memos. When I was getting ready to work at the State Department way back in the last century, Henry Kissinger gave me good advice:
The only reason to write a memo is if you want it leaked.
The key decisions and the real motives are very rarely written down; most of the time the truth is hidden. Deliberately. Remember the “vanished” 18 minutes of Nixon’s tapes?
And of course, the Brits did it elegantly (h/t Jeff Warren, video embedded above).
The memos have to be read — not as accurate reflections of a policy debate, but as posturing for instant history. It’s what the author(s) want(s) the journalists — working on deadline, and not very eager to dig deeply enough to figure out what was really going on — to write for their readers.
So, Roger L. Simon is right (he is always right) when he flags “the mystery of the missing video.” Somebody must have said to somebody else: “Hey! Let’s blame it on the video.”
I think I know when that happened, even if I don’t know who said it or to whom: it happened between versions two and three of the 12 draft memos. The first two talk about “attacks” that were “spontaneously inspired” by events in Cairo. However, number three edits out “attacks” … and replaces it with “demonstrations.”
It took about five and one-half hours to get from “attacks” to “demonstrations.”
That’s when the video became the deus ex machina, the soon-to-be-visible hand of the bag of lies dumped on the electorate to prevent us from seeing the catastrophe of the Obama appeasement of radical Islam — a.k.a. “leading with the behind.” Saying “attacks” would have automatically put the Benghazi events in the context of the (banned concept) war against terror, whereas “demonstrations” shifted the context — the whole Arab Spring thing consisted of lots of demonstrations, and the Obama crowd was basically pro-demonstration.
Indeed, Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice justified the demonstrations. How? By blaming them on the video. More evidence that the invisible video was hidden in the third edit.
More “memo reading for idiots,” apropos the CIA’s efforts to look good: again, the third version points the way. In it, we are told that CIA has been warning about nasty events for some time; they have produced several “pieces” and have referred to “social media” talking about “the threat of extremists” (you can’t say “terrorists,” remember). So this bad thing can’t be blamed on the spooks; it’s the dips’ fault for ignoring that terrific intelligence.
Except that such “pieces” are worthless as guides to day-by-day action. They’re generic. They just repeat in spookspeak what everybody knew anyway: there were radicals and terrorists running around, attacking other diplomats and other diplomatic sites. What we want from our intelligence mavens is specific information, like “al-Qaeda’s friends in Ansar al-Sharia are planning to attack us with RPGs and mortars on the anniversary of 9/11.”
We didn’t have that. The braggadocio was unwarranted.
But then, the point was not to learn lessons; the point was to cover their behinds. Having led with the derriere, it was now necessary to hide the black and blue marks.