The PJ Tatler

Talking Points on Benghazi Talking Points Changing

The process of altering the now discredited White House narrative on the Benghazi attacks is in full swing with both the New York Times and Washington Post doing their utmost best to assist the administration in climbing out of the hole in which they have managed to dig themselves.

Yesterday, the New York Times took up the cause with an editorial that echoed many Democratic criticisms of the GOP’s “obsession” with Benghazi:

The hearing did not prove anything like an administration cover-up or other hysterical allegations of crimes equal to Watergate that some Republicans, such as Representative Steve King and Senator Lindsey Graham, have alleged. Republicans have held numerous hearings and briefings on Benghazi and are threatening to hold even more. It is a level of interest they did not show during George W. Bush’s administration when there were 64 attacks on American diplomatic targets or in the years they spent cutting back diplomatic security budgets.

The real scandal is that serious follow-up on security in Libya is going unaddressed. Congress needs to make sure that State Department budgets for personnel and security improvements are sufficient and that security reforms are put in place as soon as possible.

The Senate should move quickly to confirm the ambassador, Deborah Jones, whose hearing was Tuesday.

Congress and the Obama administration also need to pay more attention to what’s happening in Libya in general. After helping opposition forces oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the United States seems to have lost interest. That is a huge mistake as militias threaten the country’s democratic transition and stability. That surely is not an outcome that Ambassador Stevens would have wanted.

Republicans cut the security budget? Then why did the study previously touted in the editorial blame:

‘[S]ystemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels’ in the State Department’s bureaus of diplomatic security and near eastern affairs [which] resulted in a “security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.” Mrs. Clinton took responsibility for the security failures when she testified at a Congressional hearing in January.

And yet, it’s the GOP’s fault that there was inadequate security at the embassy — after the diplomats begged for additional protection three times.

Trying to expose lies has now become “hysterical allegations.” You would think that if the New York Times was so all-fired eager to help the administration in creating another narrative about Benghazi they’d try and be a little less hysterical themselves.

Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post is proving very able and helpful in changing the talking points used by administration defenders regarding the Benghazi talking points:

There have been many questions raised about the development of the administration’s talking points in the aftermath of the attack on Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador. There have been allegations that the administration deliberately covered up the fact that this was a terrorist attack. We have noted before, in our extensive timeline of Benghazi statements, how long it took the president to concede that point in the midst of his reelection campaign.

But with the release of 12 versions of the talking points Friday by ABC News, perhaps there is an alternative explanation: This basically was a bureaucratic knife fight, pitting the State Department against the CIA.

In other words, the final version of the talking points may have been so wan because officials simply deleted everything that upset the two sides. So they were left with nothing.

Sure. There was a collective case of amnesia and everyone in the state department, the White House, and the CIA all forgot there was a presidential election going on — all at the same time. Funny how that happens, no?

Since Kessler doesn’t mention that the driving force behind the alterations was Hillary Clinton’s state department and the White House input included trying to delete references to “terrorism,” it’s just coincidence that Clinton is running for president in 2016 and didn’t want anything to reflect badly on her leadership, and the president was involved in a close election campaign and didn’t want one of his major “achievements” — the elimination of al-Qaeda as a threat — to be discredited.

I’ve got another alternative explanation. Kessler is a shameless shill for the administration.

No doubt we will see additional changes in the administration’s Benghazi narrative over the next few days as supporters seek to apply lipstick to a pig and put the porker in a prom dress in order to obscure the truth. The secret briefing that included 14 media outlets on Friday (Bryan Preston covered that story here) also furthered the White House effort to change their story. The press is, for the most part dutifully carrying out their assignment with varying degrees of enthusiasm. But even Obama loyalists in the press are beginning to ask questions and any new narrative will now have to be measured against what we are gradually finding out to be the truth.