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More Bad Columns on Benghazi

In response to Suddenly Benghazi No Longer "Fox-Induced Hysteria"?:

Noah Rothman does a good job highlighting left-wing pundits' certitude that Republican charges of a Benghazi cover-up were hogwash, but his list is far from complete. I'll just point out two more examples. First, this post by Dave Weigel has a subhead which reads "The final report on the attack on the U.S. consulate makes one thing clear: Republican charges of a cover-up are pure fiction." Well, maybe not.

Weigel has written a quick response to attacks on his piece. For starters, he says he does not stand by the subheading any longer.

Fine. But there's actually more in Weigel's December post which he skips lightly over today. He highlights a paragraph from the older post which offered three theories about the attack. He writes of it today "The first two theories remain defunct." That's as close as he gets to saying that the talking points issue, which he previously disregarded, now seems like...something.

And what about the rest of the December post which is not summed up by one paragraph? There are several references to Amb. Stevens dying by smoke inhalation, as if this proves no weapons were involved in the attack. Of course the reason Stevens was locked inside a safe area was because there was shooting going on outside. Here's how Weigel's December post concluded:

They [State Dept. officials] failed to provide security before Sept. 11. On Tuesday, describing the video he’d been able to watch of the attack, Sen. Bob Corker told reporters that the compound was so wanly protected that “you or I could have walked right in.” That doesn’t suggest a real-time campaign of cowardice. It doesn’t suggest a cover-up, either. It suggests that the neglected budget for embassy security needs a harder look in 2013.

Was the failure the result of insufficient funds? That's clearly his implication. Where is the evidence for that? I asked Weigel if he still stood by his conclusion on Twitter but he didn't respond. Seems to me that subhead he's disavowed connects to this conclusion.

It's worth pointing out that claims security in Benghazi was lax pre-attack also began as a "theory" proposed by Republicans, one specifically rejected by the Obama administration for weeks after the attack. They kept saying they had no "actionable intelligence" as if multiple attacks on western targets with bombs and RPG's wasn't a hint. In any case, Weigel framed the whole argument as a debate between sober Democrats and wild-eyed Republican conspiracy theorists who've been slapped down. Not quite.

One more piece that deserves a share of criticism is one that appeared in National Journal by Michael Hirsh titled "Benghazi: The Real Libya Story Is No Story" Here's a sample:

So in the ensuing days, the fog lifted only very gradually. The intelligence community did not see a clear way to explain the deaths of Stevens and three other Americans. And as the probe advanced they began shifting their assessment dramatically.

Of course it's not fair to judge a 6 month old piece based on what we know today, but the headline and the tone of finality don't seem to leave any room for future discoveries. Perhaps if the title of the piece had been "Administration Blames Confusion on Fog of War" we could count it as a moment in time. But "No Story" is a judgment. The reporter is, to some degree, declaring himself on the issue. And in this case, there is mounting evidence he was wrong.


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