For two months, the liberal media all but ignored the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in four dead Americans. What actions the Obama administration took before, during and after the bloody assaults on the U.S. Consulate and a CIA outpost should have been a legitimate election issue. But the Romney campaign only raised the disaster once -- and then avoided it like an outbreak of the Ebola virus.
Now that the election is decided, the Fourth Estate is on the story. Though President Obama never mentioned the Benghazi debacle in his prepared remarks at last week's news conference -- his first since March -- fallout from the fiasco in Libya finally was topic No. 1 for the potentates of the press. Of course, the question wasn't, "What did you know and when did you know it?" Instead, the lead-off question, posed by Ben Feller of The Associated Press, was: "Can you assure the American people that there have been no breaches of national security or classified information in the scandal involving Generals Petraeus and Allen?" The follow-up was about whether the "commander in chief and the American people should have been told that the CIA chief was under investigation before the election."
So rather than focus on incompetence or malfeasance leading up to, in the midst of, and following a deadly terrorist attack, the president got a pass by claiming, "There's an ongoing investigation" and saying he didn't "want to comment on the specifics of the investigation."
It was a brilliant, audacious diversion. The "reporters" present didn't even question the veracity of Mr. Obama's claim that "we're not supposed to meddle in, you know, criminal investigations, and that's been our practice." Perhaps they simply have forgotten how he used executive privilege to cover up the details of Operation Fast and Furious and the murder of another American, Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry.
The president did pontificate about "FBI protocols" and "certain procedures that both the FBI follow or [Department of Justice] follow [sic] when they're involved in these investigations." All this served cleverly to shift the focus from O-Team culpability for death and destruction in Benghazi to what really captures the attention of the media: a salacious sex scandal involving the CIA director, our senior NATO commander in Afghanistan, at least two attractive women, an FBI agent who sends shirtless images of himself over the Internet and lots of torrid emails.
If I wrote plotlines like this for video games and novels, my editors and producers would tell me to come up with more realistic scenarios.
Tawdry aspects of the Petraeus affair fascinate our media trendsetters and distract from far more important work. Some of it even landed in my lap. On Tuesday, Activision-Treyarch released its new, astoundingly successful video game, "Call of Duty: Black Ops II." Within hours of the launch, I was receiving calls, text messages, tweets and emails asking if I'm offended by my likeness appearing in the same video game with that of David H. Petraeus.
The short answer is no. "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" is fictional, as are most of the characters -- even the villains. I was able to work with the producers on developing the game scenario, participate in the story and make commercial endorsements. I last interviewed Mr. Petraeus when he was International Security Assistance Force commander and I was on assignment in Afghanistan for Fox News. We talked on and off camera about real special operations and did not discuss the video game. In retrospect, I don't know him as well as I thought. But I am certain the prurient fascination with "sex and the stars" is a distraction from the vital need to get the truth about what really happened at our diplomatic mission in Libya -- and taking steps to reduce the likelihood of it happening again.
That's crucial because Mr. Obama's Arab Spring is rapidly degenerating into an explosive Islamist winter. Radical websites and propaganda organs are trumpeting U.S. weakness and disarray. Calls for martyrs to attack American military and diplomatic posts overseas have increased fivefold since Benghazi. That may not be as sexy as military-mistress dalliances, but it's a lot more important.
Not surprisingly, this line of thought does not appeal to all callers. Instead, some want to concentrate on similarities between "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" and my new novel, "Heroes Proved." There are some. Both the novel and the game are set in the future. Both deal with the threat of global terrorism and realistic unforeseen threats, unexpected challenges, unwanted dangers and unpredictable outcomes. The main characters and story line in the game and the book, however, are unique to each. David Petraeus appears as a character in "Call of Duty: Black Ops II." He's not in "Heroes Proved." I'm in both. Those who want to see how they differ will have to play the game and read the book.
Oliver North is host of "War Stories" on the Fox News Channel and author of the new novel "Heroes Proved" (Threshold Editions, 2012).
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