Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Omnivore Explains: Benghazi

If you have found this site you had better know the basic profiles of the Benghazi attack. Here is a brief overview:
  1. The American embassy in Benghazi Libya requested additional security (16 special operators) shortly before 9/11/12. Specifically  they wanted the current security to stay on past its rotation period and felt that the current political situation might be alienating the Libyan militias that were protecting the embassy. 
  2. That request was denied, for reasons unclear (as yet), and on Sept 11th (2012) the embassy was attacked by an offshoot of Al Queada and the American ambassador and three others were killed.
  3. The day after, Obama gave an address in the rose garden condemning the attacks and Mitt Romney issued a press release condemning Obama's foreign policy (specifically of sympathizing with those who waged the attacks).
  4. The charge is that Obama claimed in his address that the attack was caused by the anti-Muslim YouTube video and was "covered up" by the Obama administration because (at least in one speculation) it would put the lie to the administration narrative that AQ was "on the run." Furthermore, it is alleged that the administration was at best incompetent in not beefing up security prior to the 9/11 anniversary. 
  5. Romney took a lot of heat for his press release ("too soon") and notably blew his line of attack in the second Presidential debate by hinging on the phraseology "act of terror" rather than the more generic line of attack that the administration had tried to link the attack to the video.
  6. Most recently we have learned that Gen. Petraeus says there was no political white-washing of the initial report (although he believed the attack to likely be terror-related) and ABC has obtained what it says to be CIA talking points issued to Susan Rice. These talking points include the phrase: The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. If this is what Rice was told then she, apparently, did not misrepresent the facts as they were understood at that time.
So that's the meat of it. So what's going on?

What's Going On
What's going on is that Benghazi occupies a watergate like place in the right-wing mythology: it is the scandal to end all scandals and should bring down the administration. At a voting location in my home town (Boca Ration) a poll watcher said GOP boosters were chanting "Remember Benghazi!" The main-stream media's (MSM's) lack of slavish attention to this story is proof-positive that they are in-the-tank for Obama and everything (the timing of Petraeus's own scandal) is seen as suspicious in the world of the right wing.

The American Prospect thinks this is because of Scandal Envy (the author is wrong):
Republicans are indescribably frustrated by the fact that Barack Obama, whom they regard as both illegitimate and corrupt, went through an entire term without a major scandal. They tried with "Fast and Furious," but that turned out to be small potatoes. They tried with Solyndra, but that didn't produce the criminality they hoped for either. Obama even managed to dole out three-quarters of a trillion dollars in stimulus money without any graft or double-dealing to be found.
The League of Ordinary Gentlemen blog thinks (maybe correctly) that if the right-wing media hadn't been so rabid in their attack the story might actually have gone further!
But what if the fault of the country’s collective yawn lay not with the mainstream media, but rather with the right wing media machine? What if the need to frame actual condemnable miscues by the Obama administration around a preposterous, sensational narrative designed to boost ratings was what ultimately gave the White House a pass? Voters had spent months (actually, years) being told by the conservative media that they had elected a sleeper-cell president bent on destroying America; would it be really be so outlandish to imagine that those voters tuned out the media machine’s lupine cries at a time they actually needed to be heard?
One thing is for sure: whether or not Benghazi is a nuclear scandal or not, the author is right: we have had four years of hearing we elected a hard-core Marxist. If one finds that less than credible that's a good deal of "Wolf!"

So what is this about? Well, it's not purely about the specifics of the attack. Embassy attacks are hardly unheard of nor are they limited to Democratic presidents:
It's also unclear if the "lie" the administration tried to perpetrate makes any sense. After all, most voters would find the idea that some terrorist somewhere might attack us to be pretty credible. The idea that four dead Americans would be enough to overcome the whole narrative of success in the Global War on Terror is pretty thin: It's not like Bin Laden stormed the embassy personally (proving himself not dead in the process).

The idea that they might want to take out Hillary Clinton before her 2016 run is possible but also weak: this will be long forgotten and they're trying to pin the tail on Obama anyway (Rice, if suggested for Sec of State and not confirmed, would just be collateral damage). Indeed, for all the smoke over this, McCain famously skipped the big classified briefing on it. If The Truth Is Out There, what kind of sense does that make?

I'll Tell You
You already know because it was right there in Romney's original statement.  Here it is in pictorial form:
Come On, You Know It's True In Your Heart
How was this right here in Romney's original statement? It's because the far right believes that Obama [is a Muslim Infiltrator] and therefore his behavior with respect to letting America take the blow from Benghazi is proof (in a "connect the dots kind of way") that OUGHT TO EXPOSE HIM. It's frustrating that it hasn't. Isn't it?

So, okay--you think I'm oversimplifying what I have in the [ brackets ] up there? Let's break it down.
  • Stupid: Obama is a Muslim, he swore in on the Koran. This is proven fact. Some number of people actually believe this. It's stupid--but people do.
  • Naive: Obama is technically a Muslim because he once answered a call-to-prayer but besides that, he's not being honest about being a Christian. He's probably a Muslim in his heart. This has the advantage of not being falsifiable. It's still pretty dumb.
  • Not Rock Stupid: Obama has Muslim sympathies because of his upbringing and feels America persecutes the Muslim world so he's willing to see America get a black eye from the Islamic world. While on the stupid spectrum (Obama has droned the heck out of AQ targets and, uhm, did kill Bin Laden) this purports a possibly subconscious philosophical bent that, hey, Obama might not be aware of. It also makes him fairly passive which would tie into the "incompetence" angle.
  • More Sophisticated: Obama is a Black Liberation Theologist (Marxist) who wants to see America humbled because of philosophical reasons. His foreign policy is designed to create the perception--and then in his second term after the military sequester the reality--of weakness to provoke attacks. We will leave the Middle East in shame and, unable to defend our strategic resources take our position as another failed western imperialist power. This pretty much ties everything together with a bow--it links in Rev. Wright which, if you're paying attention, people have wanted to do since day one. It is sophisticated sounding. You wind up googling BLT and have to add a "-sandwich" to it: sophisticated.
All of the right-wing narrative ties together: the "apology tour," the bowing to the Saudi king thing, Romney's ill-timed complaint about Obama sympathizing with the attackers, and so on. What they are hoping is that in the absence of an electoral solution they will (as a, uh, liberal would) hope for a judicial solution

If they can't remove Obama from office by selling their narrative to the populace they are hoping the smoking gun of Benghazi will remove him from office the old fashioned way: scandalizing him out of the white house.

Consider this from election night (using the birth certificate instead of the scandal--but the thinking--the emotional payload--is identical):
Don’t they have to “certify” Obama again? I say we write, call….HOUND every one of our Reps…at the least, the Republican ones and DEMAND that they challenge Obama’s eligibility before they certify him…every last one of them!!!..Senate and House. DEMAND that Obama release a certified hard copy of his BC…DEMAND that Obama release his college records, and show us what “Nationality” he claimed to be then. DEMAND that he release anything and everyhing that he needs to PROVE that he is an American Citizen…every record that we need to prove that he legally changed his name and citizenship back after his adoption…etc. 
There is NOTHING “EXTREME” about asking our “President” to prove that he is eligible for the office…nothing there to “ridicule”, nothing to be ashamed of..he OWES that to us!!!! If there is any “shame” to be had, it is from those who DIDN’T demand that he provide, at least, undeniable “Proof of Citizenship”. The reason that he has not done this so far, the reason he fights it so hard isn’t to “Play”’s because he CAN’T. 
We TRIED it “their way”, and it it is time we demand they try it “our” way.
Consider that if "Remember Benghazi!" is a war-cry you're supposed to be yelling it at the guys who hit you first (the Mexican army in "Remember the Alamo!"). If you are yelling it at possible Democratic voters that would indicate you think they were the ones who did the killing--launched the attack. Make sense? So there you have it: Benghazi is the birther-approach tailored for the Secret-Muslim meme.

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