With each new story, each new interview, every congressional hearing, it becomes clearer that the Obama administration presented a false picture of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11.
One can invoke either the "bozo theory" or the "conspiracy plot" in an attempt to explain this. The bozo theory writes off official failures to prepare for the 9/11 anniversary as the product of basic human error. The conspiracy plot holds that there was some twisted logic to understand the incident and its aftermath, a logic arising from the administration's own policies.
The theory and the plot are not mutually exclusive. As the saying goes, victors write history. Looking back on the rise of an obscure young politician with virtually no life or government experience to the U.S. presidency, not once but twice, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing it was all inordinately brilliant politics. But one only has to remember that Hillary and Bill Clinton failed to have a fallback position when they lost the first round of the 2008 Democratic primaries to Barack Obama, clearing his path to the nomination. Thus is history rewritten.
Returning to Benghazi, with all it connotes, we now know that repeated requests for additional security from Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens were refused. We know that additional standby U.S. military and paramilitary resources were not thrown into the more than seven-hour battle. You do not have to be a military strategist — or a professional critic of the military — to hypothesize that F-16s, armed drones and U.S. special operations forces might have been successful had they been deployed. The very fact that four incredibly brave, honorable and dedicated men could hold off heavily armed attackers for so long speaks volumes.
This series of errors ultimately dictates an examination of the actions of the Obama administration propagandists. From their very first public statements, the White House and its minions falsified the tragedy's origins, contrary to what we now know — and we now have every reason to believe they knew — from the outset.
Susan E. Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, strongly defended by the president last week for her role in Benghazi, went on TV five days after the attack to give the administration's spin. The president himself, speaking to the U.N. General Assembly a few days later, perpetuated the legend that the slaying of the first American ambassador in three decades was the result of an outburst of "spontaneous" anti-Americanism engendered by an obscure and dated video on Islam.
That video had been used to ignite attacks on U.S. diplomats throughout the Muslim world, including in Cairo. But there was just one problem: There had been no Benghazi "demonstration." And "ordinary" protesters do not — even in a chaotic post-revolutionary country such as Libya, with weapons everywhere — approach U.S. diplomatic installations with heavy weapons.
So we return to the question of why the administration misrepresented what happened. Was it the bozo syndrome or the conspiracy plot — or both?
There is a rather simple explanation. One the administration chooses to hide and that it is now trying to camouflage with an unrelated scandal on the titillating sexual peccadilloes of some of our major military and intelligence figures: On the eve of the presidential vote, Benghazi gave the lie to all the administration's claims for foreign policy success, especially in the Middle East.
"Leading from behind" brought down Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, but has not stabilized his country. "Outreach" to the mullahs in Tehran has only left the Islamic fanatics there closer to controlling a nuclear weapon. Preposterous interpretations of Islamic history, formulated by such amateurs in the region as National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon, have not contributed to greater understanding between Washington and the people of the Middle East.
The Arab Spring enthusiastically supported by Washington was not a democratic movement but a victory for Islamist obscurantism in a half-dozen countries. Settlement of the Israeli-Arab dispute and dealing with Israeli "settlements" are not proving to be the key to unlocking the region's wider problems. Mr. Obama's cut-and-run Iraq policy, after 4,000-plus U.S. deaths there, has resulted in a catastrophic decline in U.S. influence in Baghdad as Iran's mullahs moved in. Finally and decisively, Osama bin Laden may be dead, but al Qaeda remains very much alive in countries around the region, ready to strike Americans.
Benghazi was proof of all this. On the eve of a highly contested election campaign in which foreign policy was supposed to be the incumbent's strong suit, the administration's response to the attack was an outrageous cover-up in which it would be exceedingly hard to disprove the president's direct participation.
• Sol Sanders, a veteran international correspondent, writes weekly on the intersection of politics, business and economics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and blogs at yeoldecrabb.wordpress.com.
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