The Obama administration dissembles through its teeth while the media obediently swears it's all true, even while the story is "evolving."
Some things just get too big to fib about -- like "Benghazi-gate," the attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three embassy guards on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. Ever since, the administration has sworn it was all just a senseless tragedy, caused by our lack of sensitivity for Muslim feelings.
Taking the lead on the Obama administration talking points was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. Although she has no responsibility for embassies, guard forces or counterterrorism, Ms. Rice was all over the media saying that a Libyan mob -- enraged by the now-infamous YouTube video -- had run amok. Wasn't it tragic, amidst all this gratuitous amok-ness, that we lost four brave Americans? In his U.N. speech last week, President Obama also blamed the video for inciting the mob while speaking vaguely of "tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice."
Sorry, Mr. President and Madam Ambassador, but flash mobs don't suddenly materialize with crew-served weapons, nor do they coordinate their attacks with direct and indirect fire. As Fox News reported on Sept. 27, senior intelligence officials in the Obama administration knew within just 24 hours that the attack was terrorism. "No one ... believed that the mortars, indirect and direct fire, and the [rocket-propelled grenades] were just the work of a mob -- no one." Even worse, Fox News also reported that FBI agents still have not arrived in Benghazi more than two weeks after the attack, the first successful al Qaeda assault on American territory since the Sept. 11 tragedy 11 years ago.
With the administration cover story collapsing, Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, issued a statement on Friday explaining, "Our understanding of the event continues to evolve." Gen. Clapper explained that while the administration initially thought the attacks were spontaneous, it now believes "that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists." A savvy intelligence professional, Gen. Clapper knows how to tap-dance -- and when to suck it up and take one for the home team.
Before the Obama administration took over, planning for crisis management usually went like this:
Plan A: Take every reasonable precaution to detect or deter an attack, particularly against American embassies in hostile regions. Options include placing warships off the coast, reinforcing Marine embassy garrisons and even evacuating dependents.
Plan B: If Plan A fails and an attack occurs, Plan B is to react instantly, flooding the zone with security and investigative and intelligence personnel. Their job: To pin down leads and personalities that otherwise will vanish. The more time you waste, the fewer your options.
Inevitable questions will be asked about Benghazi: How effective was embassy security in light of our best intelligence? Why was there a two-week delay in investigating after the attack?
Thanks to an adoring press, Mr. Obama can casually shift responsibility, blaming everything from YouTube videos to global warming. The uncritical media buy-in has spanned the entire Obama foreign-policy narrative. The media triumphed over that thrilling raid on Osama bin Laden, which effectively ended the war on terror -- didn't it? They spun that prescient new Obama doctrine, "Responsibility to Protect," applied with such brilliant effect in Syria. They celebrate our Middle East policy, built largely around hopes for the Arab Spring, despite its annoying habit of exploding in flames each week after Friday prayers.
Sadly, the only institution less likely than the Obama administration to attract press scrutiny is the press itself. Most of its members are Democrats or ideological soul mates with an enduring man-crush on Barack Obama. Unsurprisingly, every news cycle, every interview and every press poll just reinforces the biases of the reporters, anchors and executives who shape those stories. But is this intellectual dishonesty or racism in reverse?
If Mitt Romney thinks the press will treat him fairly, he should recall the New York Times. Only four months ago, the Gray Lady revealed that the Stuxnet and Flame viruses were part of a White House cybercampaign of industrial sabotage against Iran. The common motivation of White House leakers and Times reporters: earning macho points for the president. But now our banking industry is facing well-organized cyberattacks. You can hardly blame the Iranians, now that they know we struck first. Predictably, Vice President Joseph R. Biden blames these cyberattacks on that all-purpose YouTube video -- not his boss or their allies at the Times.
A final point for Mr. Romney as the presidential debate season begins: The press is your adversary no less than Mr. Obama. Why not wade into both and see how history judges the encounter?
Col. Ken Allard, retired from the Army, is a former NBC News military analyst and author on national security issues.