Roger L. Simon

Benghazi: The Video Vanishes

The dam really is breaking on Benghazi with even reliable Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein offering criticism of the administration on Meet the Press Sunday.

Will she go under the bus too in the next Jay Carney press briefing, as have the State Department and the CIA? Hard to say, but here’s what the California senator said:

“I think this is a cautious administration,” Feinstein told host David Gregory. ”But this is one instance where, you know, it was what it was. And you saw it. The minute you knew what happened, you knew it was a terrorist attack. And you knew these groups had camps all around the area.”

She also added: “When you see a group going up with RPGS and weapons to break into one of our facilities, you can assume it’s a terrorist attack.”

Cautious administration? Well, maybe — or perhaps more accurately propagandistic and self-preservational.

The latter theory gets traction from the reporting on the editing of the talking points by Jonathan Karl and Stephen Hayes. The officials involved don’t seem concerned with truth, only with saving organizational (State Dept., CIA) or political (Obama, Clinton) face.

Several of these officials doing this editing are already trying to save their reputations, promoting the idea that they are not responsible for the malfeasances of their superiors. That’s true to some extent — their superiors are likely more culpable — but I am not buying their excuse. Call me old-fashioned, but I think the responsibility of an American diplomat and/or official is finally to the American people first. Gregory Hicks could put it on the line for the public. Why couldn’t they?

Even now these officials have not, to my knowledge, volunteered to step forward to testify. Perhaps one of them would explain just why the State Department failed to give an ambassador (or anyone, for that matter) decent security on September 11, in Libya of all places, a country even a disinterested layman would know was roughly as safe as the Somme during World War I.

Or perhaps they could tell who it was that had been refusing security — despite repeated terror attacks — for their Libyan staff for several months and why he or she was refusing it. Where did the buck stop?

And then there’s the matter of why backup was refused for our men on the ground in Benghazi that night and morning. The “not enough time” excuse doesn’t go very far when you consider that no one could possibly know when the terror attacks would end.

Many more questions suggest themselves. Perhaps some people will do their patriotic duty and have the courage to stop forward. We shall see.

But the most extraordinary aspect of the talking points editing process is what was never mentioned, at least as far I have seen — the supposedly infamous Mohammed video. Not a word of that. While emailing each other, these officials from the CIA, State, the Pentagon, and the White House seem to have completely ignored it.

In other words, like the lady in the classic Hitchcock movie, the video vanished.

But if this mystery has a MacGuffin, it may be the provenance of that video Innocence of Muslims itself. Made in the California desert by a bizarre and hapless character named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, working under the nom d’auteur of Sam Bacile, it first surfaced on YouTube in July 2012 in English language form. (I viewed the video — a trailer — and, like others, found it to be unwatchable amateurish junk.)

In September 2012 it, was translated into Arabic. Wikipedia does not provide the precise date or the identity of the translator. These would be interesting to know, obviously. The film apparently played in its full form in June as well, at the Vine Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, reportedly to an empty house.

In other words, hardly anyone saw this film, except for the trailer, yet it was blamed for demonstrations and burning in Cairo and all the carnage in Benghazi.

It would be interesting to know who promoted this idea and why — also when exactly that started. Raymond Ibrahim, in PJ Media, reported on September 10, 2012, that the Egyptian newspaper El Fagr wrote of imminent demonstrations at the U.S. embassy in Cairo with the goal of winning freedom for World Trade Center terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and others of his ilk.

This is a vastly more logical motivation for a demonstration, especially on September 11.

And who was Nakoula, a Coptic Christian immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt, in all of this? When he, as Sam Bacile, first took credit for the video, he identified himself to both the AP and the Wall Street Journal as an Israeli Jew with “100 Jewish donors” backing a putatively five million dollar film (that looks as if it could have been made for the cost of gas to his Mojave desert location).

Come se dice?

That weird notion disappeared quickly, but where did it come from? Who really is Nakoula Nakoula anyway, other than another deadbeat scalawag with a trail of six-figure unpaid bills? And why would an Egyptian Copt identify himself as an Israeli, of all things?

I don’t know. He’s in jail. Maybe someone should go ask him.

Meanwhile, pace Hitchcock, I think I’m going to go write The Video Vanishes. Or maybe Victor Victoria — in honor of the two Victorias, Nuland and Toensing.