My Problem With Benghazi...

... was not the crisis management but Obama's throwing free speech under the bus.

I can live with poor crisis management.  I have been a part of enough to understand that things are different in real time than they look when monday-morning quarterbacking the events.  In particular, it can be very hard to get reliable data.  Sure, the correct data is all likely there, and when folks look back on events, that data will be very visible and folks will argue that better choices should have been made.

A great example of this is when historians sort through data to say that FDR missed (or purposely ignored, if you are of that revisionist school) clear evidence of the Japaneses surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.  Sure, the correct clues stand out like flashing lights to the historian, but to the contemporary they were buried in 10,000 ostensibly promising false leads.

In real time, good data is mixed in with a lot of bad data, and it takes some time -- or a unique individual -- to cut through the fog.  Clearly neither Obama nor Clinton were this individual, but we should not be surprised as our selection process for politicians is not really configured to find such a person, except by accident.

No, the problem I have with Benghazi is that when push came to political shove, the President threw free expression under the bus to protect himself.  I am a sort of city on the hill isolationist, who prefers as much as possible for the US to have influence overseas by setting a positive example spread through open communications and free trade.  In this model, there is nothing more important for a US President to do than to support and explain the values of individual liberty, such as free expression, to the world.

Instead, it is increasingly clear he blamed some Youtube video, an exercise in free expression, for the tragedy.  And not just in the first confused days, but five days later when he put Susan Rice on TV to parrot this narrative.  And when the Feds sent a team to arrest and imprison the video maker.  And days after the Rice interviews when Hillary parroted the same message at the funeral, and days after that when Obama spoke to the UN, mentioning the video 6 or 7 times.    Obama took to his bully pulpit and railed against free speech in front of a group of authoritarians who love to hear that message, and whose efforts to stifle speech have historically only been slowed by America's example and pressure.

  • http://profiles.google.com/maruadventurer john mcginnis

    The issue to me is not the bungle, that's human nature. But what is inexcusable is *not being prepared*. We know that 9/11 is a trigger point for AQ. That resources were not put on standby around the globe is the big issue.

  • CTD

    And spare me the "parole violation" nonsense. Because ten cops show up at your place in the middle of the night, cameras in tow, to snatch you from your house for "violating parole" on your non-violent crime conviction. Uh huh.

  • dc

    cmon Warren - did you miss the government releasing the information that yes, they knew about pearl harbor before it happened and they left the pacific commander in the dark on purpose and let PH happen so as to have an excuse to declare war on Japan!?!?!

    Look, there's incompetence and then there's purposeful underhanded shady action - Benghazi was the latter, not the former. Drones sent up specifically unarmed. Hil denying further security despite repeated requests. Plenty of evidence that points to these a*holes WATCHING it all go down!!!

    Then further evidence that they were running guns to the syrian opposition - you've got to shut your eyes pretty tight to miss some of this stuff.

    They KNEW it would have cost them the election if the truth came out when it did. By all rights, it SHOULD have. (Even with Philadelphia and Cincinnati's *ahem*...."vote counts")

  • schlew

    The thing that scares me the most is that we had a press that was complicit in covering up the administration's bungling of the entire episode. I, too, agree, it's not the bungling itself that is the real story. Can you imagine the outrage had this been a republican administration. It most certainly would have brought that administration down. No so much with Obama. Scary indeed.

  • marque2

    Yes I too can understand making a poor decision in the heat of the moment - even not sending in help when they could have, who knew? Even though Hillary told us she is the one to trust with those 3am phone calls - lets give her a break.

    It is the back story that is terrible, telling us it was just a protest, not an Al Queda planned attack, telling us it was the video and throwing that guy in jail again for making a video. Falsifying the sequence of event, changing the facts of what they knew, etc.

    It is the lying about what happened, the coverup, which is bad. And if this were George Bush who had done it, the media roar would be deafening. It would have caused George Bushes impeachment. But just like the press didn't like covering the killing of live babies last month to protect leftists, they are not covering Benghazi much at all as well, to protect Hillary, and the leftists.

  • marque2

    Yeah Obama didn't want to come clean just before an election. The crime here is in the cover up much like Watergate. - And in Watergate, no-one died.

  • Zachriel

    Coyote Blog: Instead, it is increasingly clear he blamed some Youtube video,
    an exercise in free expression, for the tragedy.

    As there were riots in Egypt over the YouTube video, it is not an unreasonable supposition that the two events were sparked by the same cause.

    Coyote Blog: And not just in the first confused days, but five days later when he put Susan Rice on TV to parrot this narrative.

    Susan Rice: "But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated. We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to — or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in — in the wake of the revolution in Libya are — are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there."

    Saying it was an opportunistic attack does not mean that a militia wasn't involved, or that there wasn't coordination by radical elements. There are reports that Al Qaeda operatives may have been involved, but that doesn't mean it wasn't opportunistic.

    Coyote Blog: And when the Feds sent a team to arrest and imprison the video maker.

    The man was on probation for fraud, including the use of fake names, was prohibited from using the Internet and using fake names, and not only then used the Internet, but used a fake name. It's an obvious violation, to which he pleaded guilty.

    “I’ve been able to read all the cables, I’ve seen all the films. I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi; I’m fairly satisfied,” said Sen. Bob Corker, Tenn., the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on MSNBC. “I’m fairly satisfied.”

  • Big John

    The real issue is not about Clintons or Obama's bungling or “incompetence”. She and the administration made the decisions they did about Benghazi and they was totally political. Please read the first paragraph in this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Eagle_Claw

    For those of us old enough to remember, this link is all about the Iranian hostage crisis and the subsequent disastrous rescue attempt made by Carter’s military.
    This was, just like Benghazi, several months before the presidential election (April 1980) and was a primary reason for Carter’s defeat in November. The Clinton’s and Obama are quintessential political hacks and they have long term memories of election defeats. They were determined to not have a similar disaster in
    Libya. So they sacrificed lives on the ground and tried to blame them on a video religious fundamentalists.

  • http://matthewjudebrown.com/ Morven

    Like you, Warren, I'm yet to be convinced there's anything except the standard level of incompetence and confusion at work behind Benghazi.

    dc, there is no evidence that the US Government knew of the specific attack on Pearl Harbor before it happened, and it's been extensively researched. They knew they were backing Japan into a corner and that Japan would sooner or later strike at US interests, and they desired this as a pretext to go to war -- this has been extensively documented -- and they knew that Hawaii was one big possible target, but the Imperial Japanese Navy kept excellent operational security and there was no true "smoking gun" pointing to that specific attack plan and date. US forces had been warned to be on alert but were still very unprepared for an actual assault.

    There were enough clues that something was coming that they might have been more prepared, but as Warren points out, it's easy to sort true from false information in hindsignt.

  • http://EasyOpinions.blogspot.com/ Andrew_M_Garland

    dc: "yes, they knew about pearl harbor before it happened and they left the pacific commander in the dark on purpose and let PH happen so as to have an excuse to declare war on Japan!?!?!"

    Interesting. Where do you get that? A link would be nice.

  • MingoV

    First, there is no proof that the riots in Egypt were over some obscure video. Even if it had been, one shouldn't assume that every other riot is due to the video.

    Second, the Obama administration knew within hours that the Benghazi event was a terrorist attack. This originally was reported by a CIA administrator and was immediately squelched. One of the whistle-blowers also testified to Congress that the administration knew about the terrorists before the two Americans were killed. Also, when have spontaneous rioters been armed with mortars?

    Third, the administration had been warned of terrorist infiltration in Benghazi by the Libyan government. Thus, when violence occurs at the consulate, the likelihood or a terrorist cause is high. Even worse, despite the requests of the ambassador and the Libyan warnings, our administration (specifically Hilary Clinton) refused to beef-up security.

    This debacle was not a failure of crisis management. It was a series of actions and inactions that initially tried to show the world that we had contained terrorism. After the attack, the Obama administration would not admit its failures and poor decisions, failed to send military help (because it would show the severity of the failures), lied like hell after the event in the hopes that the left-wing media would ignore it (which it did until well after the election).

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    But in Watergate, you had an attack dog press, which is required to raise public ire.

    That is completely absent here, and will remain so, because the fourth estate is now officially the publicity arm of the White House.

    You also need a somewhat attentive public to care, and we currently have a population of zombie welfare frauds and competing rent seekers.

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    Bingo. Well Said.

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    Presidential Administrations are (usually) held to higher standards, and even if the video encompassed plausible reason for the uprising, the total lack of response on Obama's part is inexcusable, and likely impeachable.

    The 2 possible explanations at the time of the event were: 1) Obama is inept for not responding, and 2) Obama deliberately didn't respond (pick your reason why), and then covered it up, which makes him a dangerous and despicable liar.

    Take your pick.

    No, I do not think impeachment will happen. Yes, it should happen.

  • Rich R

    I agree that the free-speech and political CYAing that went on after the fact are indeed key points of concern here. What is being missed though is how the situation was handled in real time. The insistence of the administration and state department to handle this from DC vice allowing the State Department and Military leadership on the ground to handle it is central to why we lost 4 people. I am not saying that all deaths would have been prevented but there is simply no way a situation like this can be handled from the other side of the world - information simply does not travel fast enough even with all the great tech we have today.

  • http://profiles.google.com/7continents7 Benjamin Cole

    Benghazi, Schmenghazi. Who cares?

    Obama wasn't ready?

    How about 9/11? Was Bush jr. ready for that? Did Bush jr. correctly anticipate all the unintended consequences of the $4 trillion Iraqistan follies? Iraq is now best pals with Iran, and Karzai "leads" Afghanistan. Love it. They execute apostates in Afghanistan, btw. Your tax dollars at work.

    I tell you the GOP is heading for another fall. They keep pulling pages out of tired playbook--let's bash the Dems for minor screw-ups.

    It is too bad. This country needs the GOP. The real GOP, not the gong-show we have now.

    Ethanol, and Iraqistan, and keeping Terri Schiavo "alive" and jailing pot smokers, and sychophanting for the wealthy. This is a party?

    The GOP needs a plan to put the middle class back on top. And stick with it.

  • Angel Zachriel

    MingoV: First, there is no proof that the riots in Egypt were over some obscure video.

    There were riots all over the world.
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/12/world/meast/egypt-us-embassy-protests

    MingoV: Second, the Obama administration knew within hours that the Benghazi event was a terrorist attack.

    If by terrorism, you mean an attack against civilians, then sure. If you mean an attack planned well in advance, then that is still unclear. It may have been an opportunistic attack by the local militia.

    MingoV: Third, the administration had been warned of terrorist infiltration in Benghazi by the Libyan government.

    Yes, Libya was very unstable with militias controlling many parts of the country. Security was lax, either for political or covert purposes, but they certainly weren't prepared for an attack with heavy weapons.

    MingoV: Even worse, despite the requests of the ambassador and the Libyan warnings, our administration (specifically Hilary Clinton) refused to beef-up security.

    This is also not clear. The decision was in all likelihood made by security professionals working within the limitations of the diplomatic mission with available personnel.

  • Angel Zachriel

    mesaeconoguy: Presidential administrations are (usually) held to higher standards ...

    Sure. The Bush Administration attacked another nation based on a false claim that they had WMD. He was reelected.

    mesaeconoguy: the total lack of response on Obama's part is inexcusable, and likely impeachable.

    They did respond. The mistake was the lax security before the attack.

  • Bryan

    “It seemed a law of nature that any intelligence service always had the critical data in its grasp . . . and didn't know it. After all, how did you cull the one, crucial truth from the heap of untruth, half-truth, and plain lunacy? Answer: hindsight invariably recognized it after the fact. Which, of course, was the reason the intelligence community was constantly being kicked by people who thought it was so damned easy.”

  • dc
  • dc

    stop carrying water - both sides of the aisle saw the same information and came to the same conclusion.

    and what do you mean, they responded? with what exactly? finger pointing?

    were your fingers in your ears when it was revealed that they were arming the syrian opposition and sending it through turkey, hence the meeting with the turkish ambassador?

  • dc

    go read up on it, people FOIA'd documents and the government had to release them by law - if you want to keep your eyes closed and ears plugged and say there's no evidence, that's your issue, not mine. of course someone will make up a story to cover for "FDR the beloved" that made the depression great and kept it raging for 10 years while the rest of the world had a minor economic depression.

  • http://matthewjudebrown.com/ Morven

    I did read up on it. There is no such obvious smoking gun in any credible source that I could find. If you can point me to one I missed, I would like to see it.

    Frankly, the absolute proof that FDR's administration was actively trying to provoke Japan into an act of war, which IS pretty much absolutely proven, is sufficiently damning.

    The rest of the world did not have a "minor economic depression": in many countries, things were worse at the height of things than they were in the US. The depression was a major cause of the rise of fascism in Europe; it was a sufficient catastrophe to trigger major political change. What's definitely the case is that the US's recovery was slower than many, and that can be partly laid at the feet of FDR and his administration, though not completely -- it's also the case that the crisis in many countries was triggered by US problems, not domestic ones, which led to a quicker recovery.

  • Joe_Da

    I am not taking a position one way or another as to whether the US and /or FDR knew ahead of time of the planned Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Though my inclination is that FDR/the US did not know.

    However, the one item that tilts in favor of the US knowing ahead of time is that the newer aircraft carriers were out at sea in a training exercise while the more obsolete battleships were left in port. This is a significant smoking gun (at least to me). Was this pure fortunate luck or preplanned by those in the know of the pending jap attack. Though the sea exercise for the aircraft carriers was likely ordered by Kimmel who was caught off guard.

    As a side note, most military historians would agree, battleships were just sitting ducks at sea when they encountered aircraft. We can play what if's all day, though it is likely, that not being hampered by battleships, that the US fared much better and coral sea and at midway, (midway of course benefited greatly by code breaking).

    Just interesting observation

  • jimc5499

    When you have people in jeopardy, you do what ever it takes to get them out and then let the cards fall where they may. Operation Eagle Claw was about the only thing that Carter did right during his entire term in office. This may sound strange, but, it's failure was a blessing in disguise. The Soviets had warned the Iranians about the mission and the hostages had been moved. You can thank John Walker for that. Carter's statement that there was no one to blame but him is the only thing that I respect him for. I don't blame Obama for Benghazi, I blame Clinton. As Secretary of State, embassy security is her responsibility. There were forces able to respond, what I want to know is who told them to "stand down". Then blaming the You Tube video for causing a protest, was just plain stupid. Since when does a "protest" include directed mortar fire?

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    Wow, lots of misconceptions here.

    1.) “The Bush Administration attacked another nation based on a false claim that they had WMD. He was reelected.”

    No.

    WMD was not the only reason for the Iraq invasion.

    WMD was the capstone to the Bush Admin case against Saddam, but Iraq had a well-established history of aggression and destabilizing action. Further, multiple countries
    concurred with the WMD assessment prior to the invasion, so it was not solely a Bush Admin fabrication, as the video story was by the Obama Admin.

    The Iraq invasion was the least bad of a set of terrible possible options, and I certainly take issue with how much of it was executed, and do not believe in US adventurism in such areas. However, it should be noted that had we not taken out Saddam, people like you would likely be screaming about the cost of maintaining the no-fly-zone and ongoing containment of him, not to mention the cost of any additional damage he would have inflicted, and accusing Bush of being soft on terrorism and Middle East strongmen.

    2.) “They did respond. The mistake was the lax security before
    the attack.”

    Incorrect.

    The lax security, which apparently went to the highest levels, was only part of the problem; the majority of the failure was that the Obama Administration did not respond in any way immediately during the 7+ hour event, and to this day Obama has a gap as to his whereabouts during the event. No senior level communication took place among leaders in DC, and no senior level communication with the acting ambassador on the ground occurred, according to his first-hand testimony yesterday.

    That is gross negligence, and is prosecutable in any other venue.

    And they then proceeded to cover up their inaction using a cover story that was inserted into talking points by senior administration officials ex post.

    That is cover up, and that is impeachable, especially since 4 Americans died as a result.

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    Interesting theory, and if true, they should be held accountable, but that's unlikely.

    The standards of 20 - 30 years ago no longer apply, and allowed them to take this incredibly arrogant and dangerous course of action, and for that alone they should be removed.

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    Good assessment, though most of the Depression blame can be laid directly at FDRs feet, due to his irresponsible interventionism and economic stupidity.

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy
  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    "...let's bash the Dems for minor screw-ups"

    Oh. ok, so what's a "major" fuck up? 10 dead?

    40?

    Logic FAIL

  • dc

    well I guess that makes it nice and easy and all wrapped up tidy for you, then - just like the climate scaremongers, any data that doesnt quite agree with a given view is simply dismissed as "not credible" in whatever fashion of verbiage chosen.