Left-wing political strategist Robert Creamer has published a piece pushing back on renewed interest in Benghazi. Creamer makes a number of claims, several of which can be rebutted. Let’s walk through his argument:
The original Republican narrative about the attack on the U.S. Consulate
in Benghazi was premised on the assumption that President Obama failed
to recognize that the attack involved “terrorism.” This charge is
still being made today despite the fact that the president himself —
several days after the event — referred to the event as “act of
Creamer’s quote is wrong and his claim is misleading. The President did not refer to Benghazi as an “act of terror” he referred, late in his speech, to “acts of terror.” This came after a discussion of the 11th anniversary of 9/11. But earlier in the speech he said “The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.” He did not label it terror.
In case the point isn’t clear enough, President Obama taped an interview with 60 Minutes later the same day. Here is the exchange with Steve Kroft:
KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack, do you believe that this was a terrorism attack?
OBAMA: Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.
GOP critics persist in this criticism, not withstanding the fact that
the issue was at the center of one of the most memorable moments in one
of last year’s presidential debates when Mitt Romney made a major gaff
by arguing that the president had failed to recognize the attack as
pointed out that the president’s account of events was correct.
Crowley’s correction was misleading. As noted above, Obama did not label Benghazi terror in his Rose Garden speech. CBS took issue with Crowley the very next day in an on air report.
The GOP critics persist in criticizing UN Ambassador Susan Rice for delivering “talking points” on the Sunday talk shows immediately following the attack that concluded the attacks had resulted from a spontaneous demonstration rather than a planned assault. But those critics continue to ignore that at the time, that was the conclusion of the intelligence community — a conclusion that was later changed based on more complete information.
Rice’s talking points were not delivered “immediately following the attack” they were delivered five days later after multiple revisions to the talking points by the State Dept. and the White House. The claim is not simply that Rice blamed the You Tube video, it’s that other factors which were known to the administration days earlier–such as prior RPG attacks on western targets and the involvement of Islamic militias from the start–were downplayed or left out.
All you need to do is look at the changing contemporary accounts of the
Boston Marathon bombings or the Newtown shootings to understand how
first reports concerning violent events often change.
It’s true there was some speculation about the bomber’s identities which turned out to be false, but this happened online and in the media. None of the official statements by authorities had to be retracted and the bombers were killed/captured within 24 hours of the release of the first photos. It has been six months and the Obama administration has killed/captured no one. As for Newtown, the confusion over which brother was involved ended within hours.
But more to the point, what benefit would the administration have gained
by lying about the circumstances surrounding the events anyway?
According to emails described by the Weekly Standard, the State Dept. was concerned about criticism from Congress.
Now Congressman Issa seems intent on arguing that the administration
failed to properly secure the Benghazi compound from attack. Of course
there is little question that the compound did not have enough security,
since several of its occupants were killed. And there are certainly
operational lessons that can be learned from these events.
So far so good, but he’s about to go off the rails again:
Republicans conveniently ignore that they had been the authors of cuts
in the State Department’s security budget —
It’s true that there were cuts in the security budget, cuts which Democrats voted for as part of an Omnibus bill. But the official State Dept. report on Benghazi did not claim that insufficient resources were directly responsible for the security cuts made in Benghazi, though it did recommend raising the overall budget by 2015.
and that the person
ultimately in charge of decisions involving the diplomatic mission to
Libya was the ambassador who himself was killed.
Stevens and his staff made requests for additional security. These requests were denied by the State Department.
What possible reason would the Obama administration have to intentionally provide too little security to its own ambassador?
The final State Dept. report said this was a result of “conditioning” of “a few State Department managers to favor restricting the use of resources as a general orientation.” In other words, they held back resources in Benghazi when there was no good reason to do so.
You have to assume that by continuing to pursue the Benghazi “scandal”
story, the GOP is trying to imply that President Obama is “soft on
terrorism,” when in fact he has done more to destroy the al Qaeda
terrorist network than the neo-cons who surrounded George W. Bush could
ever have dreamed — including the demise of Osama Bin Laden.
The President deserves credit for killing Bin Laden. On the other hand, he and Secretary of State Clinton also own the ultimate responsibility for the security failure in Benghazi which led to the death of four Americans including our Ambassador.