President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron held a brief joint press conference this morning. After the introductory comments, the first questions related to Benghazi and the IRS. Here is some of what Obama had to say about Benghazi:
With respect to Benghazi, we’ve now seen this argument that’s been made by some folks primarily up on Capitol Hill for months now. And I’ve just got to say — here’s what we know. Americans died in Benghazi. What we also know is clearly they were not in a position where they were adequately protected. The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.
This is the Candy Crowley defense. On September 12, Obama delivered remarks on the Benghazi attacks in the Rose Garden. He said nothing at all about the origin or genesis of the attacks and did not comment on the video that soon emerged as the alleged cause. Early on he said, “Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.” Thereafter he referred several times to the “attack,” without attributing it to an angry mob of movie critics, al Qaeda elements, or anyone else. Near the end of his remarks he said:
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.
That’s it. This generic reference to “acts of terror” obviously did not represent an acknowledgement that the Benghazi attacks were carried out by al Qaeda affiliated terrorists as opposed to a mob, as the administration soon began to claim. It was after Obama’s generic “acts of terror” reference that Susan Rice made the rounds of the Sunday morning shows blaming the phantom video, and it was later still when Hillary Clinton, to her everlasting shame, told Charles Woods, at the memorial service for the four murdered Americans, “we’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.”
The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow. What we have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were. It happened at the same time as we had seen attacks on U.S. embassies in Cairo as a consequence of this film. And nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days.
This is simply a lie. From the earliest moments when the desperate Americans in Benghazi called Washington to relay what was happening, they made it clear that they were under attack by armed terrorists. There was no protest, no demonstration, no movie criticism. Obama knows that perfectly well. (The attacks in Cairo were not precipitated by the YouTube video either, but that is another story.)
And the emails that you allude to were provided by us to congressional committees. They reviewed them several months ago, concluded that, in fact, there was nothing afoul in terms of the process that we had used. And suddenly, three days ago, this gets spun up as if there’s something new to the story. There’s no “there” there.
Classic Obama. What Congressional committees concluded several months ago that “there was nothing afoul in terms of the process that we had used”? And what does that even mean? The emails are in the news because they were revealed by Steve Hayes, and they plainly show that Obama’s State Department eviscerated the accurate information that was provided by the CIA, and substituted meaningless generalities that Susan Rice took as her cue to lie on five separate news programs.
Keep in mind, by the way, these so-called talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice five, six days after the event occurred pretty much matched the assessments that I was receiving at that time in my presidential daily briefing.
This would be frightening if it were true, but of course it isn’t. No doubt the CIA told Obama the same thing they reported in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attacks: they were a planned terrorist assault, carried out by al Qaeda elements.
Who executes some sort of cover-up or effort to tamp things down for three days? So the whole thing defies logic. And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations. We’ve had folks who have challenged Hillary Clinton’s integrity, Susan Rice’s integrity, Mike Mullen and Tom Pickering’s integrity. It’s a given that mine gets challenged by these same folks. They’ve used it for fundraising.
Sometimes the misdeeds of which a politician accuses his opponents are revealing, because they tell us how the politician himself really thinks. This is a case in point. There is every reason to challenge the integrity of Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton, based on the lies they told about Benghazi. But in Obama’s mind, the only possible reason for criticizing the performance of an elected or appointed official is “fundraising.” In his world, that is probably true: for Obama, fundraising is always the bottom line. But some of us actually care when an American ambassador and three colleagues are slaughtered by our bitterest enemies.