There are two possibilities. Either the intelligence community had a detailed picture of what happened in Benghazi that night and failed to share it with other administration officials and the White House. Or the intelligence community provided that detailed intelligence picture to others in the administration, and Obama, Biden, Clinton, Susan Rice, and others ignored and manipulated the intelligence to tell a politically convenient—but highly inaccurate—story.
If it’s the former, DNI James Clapper should be fired. If it’s the latter, what happened in Benghazi—and what happened afterwards—will go down as one of the worst scandals in recent memory.
It seems far more likely that it’s the latter. After all, is it conceivable that White House officials at the highest levels were not actively engaged in interagency meetings to determine what happened in Benghazi? Is it conceivable that intelligence officials, knowing there was no evidence at all of a link between the film and Benghazi, would fail to tell the president and his colleagues that their claims were unfounded? Is it conceivable that somehow the latest intelligence on the 9/11 attacks was left out of Obama’s intelligence briefings in the days after 9/11? It would have been a priority for every professional at the CIA, the State Department, and the National Security Council to discover exactly what happened in Benghazi as soon as possible. Is it conceivable that the information wasn’t passed to the most senior figures in the administration?
No, it’s really not. And therefore, the fact that these senior figures misled us—and still mislead us—is a scandal of the first order.
The administration desperately needs a scapegoat to keep this scandal as far from the White House as possible. And that is why I think that, beyond Biden’s fact-challenged statements, the more consequential thing he did last night was to try to make the intelligence community (IC) the scapegoat (and I am not the only one who picked up on this). Based on this interview with Obama’s deputy campaign manager, the fingering of the IC appears to be a deliberate, coordinated strategy by the politicos — and it is very risky.
First, as numerous fact-checkers have already pointed out, the administration did not merely go with whatever the IC told them. They went with whatever was the most politically useful story at the time. The Obama campaign keeps complaining about how Romney-Ryan have politicized this issue, but in fact the Obama campaign has played this as a political issue from the very start.
Second, the IC can fight back. Frustration has been mounting for years within the IC over the way the administration has politicized intelligence. At some point, that frustration could bubble over into retaliatory leaks and damaging revelations.
Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden has joined the chorus of GOP voices slamming Vice President Biden’s comments on the White House’s inconsistent explanation of the Sept. 11 assault on the American Consulate in Libya…
“It is clear that any failure was not on the part of the intelligence community, but on the part of White House decision-makers who should have listened to, and acted on, available intelligence,” Hayden said in a joint statement with former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff issued Friday.
“Blaming those who put their lives on the line is not the kind of leadership this country needs,” Hayden added.
It sure looks like Vice President Joe Biden put the blame on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his potential 2016 rival, for the security failings Benghazi. “We weren’t told they wanted more security,” Biden declared. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney backed Biden up, saying it’s a State Department (i.e. Hillary) issue.
Will Hillary now retaliate and protect herself by leaking word that the White House did too know? Will her husband continue to tour the country trying to pull Obama’s bacon out of the fire (as he did at the convention) even as Obama points a finger at his wife? Will they all cut some sort of deal in which Hillary agrees to take the fall and Bill soldiers on … in exchange for, what? Have they already cut a deal? Is the White House going to try to hang its hat on the idea that Obama and Biden didn’t know, but maybe their staffs knew? Will that really fly? Aren’t they responsible for their staffs? Will the staffs fight back?
To “politicize” means “to give a political character to.” It is a reductive term, capturing the peculiarly shrunken horizons of politics: “Gee, they nuked Israel. D’you think that will hurt us in Florida?” So media outlets fret that Benghazi could be “bad” for Obama — by which they mean he might be hitting the six-figure lecture circuit four years ahead of schedule. But for Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods, it’s real bad. They’re dead, over, gonesville. Given that Obama and Secretary Clinton refer to Stevens pneumatically as “Chris,” as if they’ve known him since third grade, why would they dishonor the sacrifice of their close personal friend by peddling an utterly false narrative as to why he died? You want “politicization”? Secretary Clinton linked the YouTube video to the murder of her colleagues even as the four caskets lay alongside her at Andrews Air Force Base — even though she had known for days that it had nothing to do with it. It’s weird enough that politicians now give campaign speeches to returning coffins. But to conscript your “friend”’s corpse as a straight man for some third-rate electoral opportunism is surely as shriveled and worthless as “politicization” gets…
In the days before the attack Joe Biden had been peddling his Obama campaign slogan that “bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” The first successful terrorist attack on U.S. sovereign territory since 9/11, and on the very anniversary and by al-Qaeda-linked killers, was not helpful to the Obama team. And so the nature of the event had to be “politicized”: Look, over there — an Islamophobic movie! “Greater love hath no man than this,” quoth the president at Chris Stevens’ coffin, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Smaller love hath no man than Obama’s, than to lay down his “friend” for a couple of points in Ohio.
No one died at watergate! The Obama lies about Benghazi and Biden’s deliberate lies Thursday night should be a bigger scandal than Nixon
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) October 13, 2012
It is clear the Obama team decided to have the Vice President lie about an event that killed four Americans including an ambassador
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) October 13, 2012