By: John Hayward
5/5/2014 08:35 AM
If we had a real media, every network would be ripping Benghazi apologists like former Rep. Jane Harman to shreds, the way Brit Hume (with a timely assist from Chris Wallace) did on Fox News over the weekend.
After a laughably ineffective attempt to compare the serious questions about Benghazi to an Area 51 alien conspiracy theory – a slap in the face to the Americans who died in the attacks and their families – Harman actually tried claiming the Administration’s fraudulent “video protest” narrative was an intelligence failure. When Hume calls her on it, she starts babbling talking points about how it was all just an honest mistake… without ever coming within a thousand miles of answering Hume’s questions.
Listen to Harman’s response after Hume asks her who, exactly, in the intelligence community gave the White House spin team the idea that Benghazi was a video protest. She appears stunned for a moment, then ventures, “I think it came from people who weren’t sure about it,” and then utterly fails to name a single such individual.
This is the second most-feared question for Obama dead-enders, because they know damn well the Administration ignored the intelligence community, and everyone on the ground in Libya, both before and during the attack. None of them could do any better than Harman at justifying the Spontaneous Video Protest narrative as anything other than the 100 percent political butt-covering lie to the American people we all know it was.
AFRICOM deputy intelligence director Gen. Robert Lovell, in testimony before the House Oversight Committee last week, became the latest knowledgeable official to say the “video protest” idea was briefly considered, and discarded, while the attack was still in progress: “This was no demonstration gone terribly awry. The facts led to the conclusion of a terrorist attack.”
For Obama and his shills to keep falsely describing their Benghazi lies as an “intelligence failure” does real damage to American national security. They’re unjustly blaming the people they ignored for their failures, which is both demoralizing to military and intelligence officers, and useful propaganda for America’s adversaries. The last thing we need at this point is for the President of the United States and his hatchet men (and women) to reinforce the international image of American intelligence as a pack of rogue operatives and incompetents. The Benghazi scandal is about the White House, not the military.
I said the question Harman flubbed is the second most feared by Democrats wrestling with this very much alive-and-kicking scandal. Andrew McCarthy at National Review asks the first, and he’s right to say it’s a question that should have been answered long ago: What the hell was the Commander-in-Chief doing on the night of September 11, 2012? McCarthy zooms in on something Brigadier General Lovell said during his testimony:
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the State Department’s Sean Smith were killed in the early stage of the jihadist attack. By then, the actions that would surely have saved their lives — e.g., an adult recognition that Benghazi was no place for an American diplomatic facility, or at least the responsible provision of adequate security — had already been callously forsaken. It seems unlikely AFRICOM could have gotten there in time for them on that fateful night, though that does not come close to excusing the failure to try.
Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are a different story. They fought valiantly for many hours after our military learned, very early on, that the battle was raging. Unlike AFRICOM, the SEALs did not stand pat. They ran to the sound of the guns. After saving over 30 of their countrymen, they paid with their lives. The armed forces, General Lovell recalled, knew that terrorists were attacking them. Yet no one came to their aid.
Lovell bears the burden of their abandonment with a heavy heart. His moving testimony made that clear. Still, his version of events is deeply unsatisfying. Why did AFRICOM fail to respond? “Basically,” he stammered, “there was a lot of looking to the State Department.” Unfortunately, we’re told Secretary Hillary Clinton and her minions were unclear “in terms of what they would like to have.” Come again? “They didn’t come forward with stronger requests for action.”
This Foggy Bottom focus had me groping for my pocket Constitution. Sure enough, Article II was as I remembered it. Much as Hillary Clinton may desire to be the commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces, that job does not belong to the secretary of state.
It was the solemn duty of the president to come forward with not requests butcommands for action. Why was AFRICOM hanging on the State Department’s preferences? Why were our troops hamstrung by what Lovell described as “deference to the Libyan people?” On the night of September 11, 2012, AFRICOM was not beholden to Mrs. Clinton or Tripoli. They answered to Barack Obama.
Of course, no one can answer to a commander-in-chief who abdicates his command, a commander-in-chief who is AWOL.
Benghazi was exactly the kind of situation it was always feared Barack Obama would be unable to handle, and it looks like those fears were correct. It was a moment when the President should have taken swift and decisive action, especially the President who claimed credit for killing Osama bin Laden. Ignore the White House hype over that decision, and remember that it was far from swift and decisive; Obama dithered for agonizing hours before making the call. This time, he didn’t have hours to dither, and lives were lost.
The image Lovell paints of a military machine paralyzed because they were waiting for either Obama or Hillary Clinton to give them an order should disqualify both of them from holding any high office, not to mention the insane lack of preparation for trouble on such a significant date, in such a dangerous reason. Contrary to Jane Harman’s nonsense about “intelligence failures,” everyone on the ground in Libya – up to and including slain Ambassador Chris Stevens – gave the Obama Administration warnings that it resolutely ignored. That’s why we were fed a pack of lies about “demonstrations” getting out of hand on 9/11/12.
Update: Former CBS News reporter and relentless Benghazi investigator Sharyl Attkisson warns that we can expect to hear more of Jane Harman’s talking points about how the Benghazi investigation is like a UFO conspiracy theory – Harman was just making an especially clumsy attempt to implement a “well-orchestrated strategy to controversialize a story they really don’t want to hear about.”