- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2014

The 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is nine days off, bringing a certain disquiet to the nation, along with newly realized resolve. Recent polls consistently reveal a public that is more hawk than dove; Americans approve of airstrikes against Islamic State fighters, while majorities say the Obama administration’s approach to the challenge is not aggressive enough.

The second anniversary of the Benghazi attacks also looms. A special investigation of those fatal events led by Rep. Trey Gowdy begins soon after Congress returns at high noon on Thursday. The South Carolina Republican expects the proceedings to conclude in 2015.

Conservatives in particular will follow the investigation intently, while some observers already cringe over possible repercussions for Hillary Rodham Clinton, and her bid for the White House.

“Benghazi is coming back with a vengeance. After several mercifully Benghazi-free months, the 2012 attack on the diplomatic compound in Libya is about to be thrust back into the spotlight around its September 11 anniversary,” writes Alex Seitz-Wald, political reporter for MSNBC, who notes that “books promising explosive new allegations about the terror attack” are due to hit public radar this month, along with a Fox News documentary.

“Add that to the usual fare that accompanies the anniversary of any major news event and you get a headache for the teams surrounding Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. For both, it’s a stubborn political problem that will likely never go away, no matter how many investigations clear the senior players of the worst allegations of wrongdoing,” Mr. Seitz-Wald observes. “And it’s little doubt why: Polls suggest that Clinton is vulnerable on Benghazi ahead of a potential 2016 presidential run, with members of both parties listing it as her biggest weakness.”

AND ABOUT THOSE BENGHAZI BOOKS


SEE ALSO: Rep. Mike Rogers: Obama’s foreign policy is in “free fall”


Indeed, there are strategic releases on the way: three upcoming books on the Benghazi attack with much to say, all to be published Sept. 9.

“The REAL Benghazi Story: What the White House and Hillary Don’t Want You to Know” by Aaron Klein frames the events in monumental terms. “Bigger than Watergate, bigger than Iran-Contra, 10 times bigger than both. The Benghazi scandal may have been covered up by the White House, but the truth is about to come out,” the publisher promises.

Originally published a year ago, “Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi” by Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz has been reissued in paperback. Mr. Burton is vice president of intelligence and counterterrorism at Stratfor, a well-established geopolitical intelligence firm; Mr. Katz is an author and analyst specializing in the Middle East.

Then there’s “13 Hours: A Firsthand Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” written by journalism professor Mitchell Zuckoff and the “Annex Security Team” — the five surviving CIA contract operators who initially responded to the fatal attack on the consulate.

The aforementioned Fox News documentary is based on this book, with the one-hour Fox special being titled “13 Hours at Benghazi” and airing on Friday. Fox News host Bret Baier has an exclusive interview with three American security operatives who were, literally, the boots on the ground during the events.

“Revealing their identities and speaking out publicly for the first time, the men will share what really happened during the fighting at a U.S. diplomatic compound and at a secret CIA annex nearby, which they were assigned to protect,” Fox News says in the production notes. The documentary initially airs at 6 p.m. EDT, with several repeat broadcasts.

STRATEGY OF NOTE

“Don’t boo. Vote.”

President Obama at “Laborfest” in Milwaukee on Monday, after his substantial audience booed at the mention of Congressional Republicans

SIGN OF THE TIMES

“Egypt tourism revenues from historical sites slump by 95 percent”

— Headline on Monday from Travel and Tour World, an industry publication

HERE COMES MR. MUIR

NBC News parted ways with “Meet the Press” host David Gregory, now ABC News has bid farewell to “World News” anchorwoman Diane Sawyer. Her replacement David Muir — who makes his debut Tuesday night — is prompting some observers to get out their liberal bias detection meters, however.

“Given the liberal legacy of predecessors like Peter Jennings and Sawyer, it’s not surprising that David Muir has a history of fawning over ‘cool kid’ Barack Obama and attacking conservatives,” says Scott Whitlock, an analyst with the Media Research Center’s Newsbusters team.

The researchers have already compiled a “Profile in Bias” for Mr. Muir, who actually did call Mr. Obama the “cool kid in class” while comparing him to other world leaders during one past broadcast.

“In contrast, Muir was almost gleeful as he recounted heckling that Mitt Romney endured in 2012,” Mr. Whitlock recalls, citing an incident on the campaign trail when Mr. Romney cradled an infant while a heckler demanded to know if he planned to “fire the baby.”

Mr. Muir’s response on camera: “Those shouts there, ‘Are you going to fire the baby?’ These are words that are going to follow Mitt Romney beyond New Hampshire right into South Carolina.”

ABC is standing solidly behind their guy, though.

“The stories from every corner of the planet, every inch of America. He knows there’s so much at stake,” Ms. Sawyer says of the incoming anchor in a promotional video. “This is the strength of ABC News, and the tradition continues. This is David Muir”

THAT JITTERY TIME OF YEAR

One more bit of noise about the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency designates September as “national preparedness month” and has expressed concerned that half of Americans are clueless — and planless — about public emergencies. Though the federal agency emphasizes such things as weather events and power outages, it is also interesting to note that the phrase “terrorist hazards” is still part of official vernacular.

“Recent technological advances and ongoing political unrest are components of the increased risk to national security. Learn what actions to include in your family disaster plan to prepare for and respond to terrorist threats,” the agency advises.

Yeah, well. Find out what they have to say about biological threats, nuclear blasts and other matters at Ready.gov/terrorist-hazard

POLL DU JOUR

48 percent of Americans say the U.S. role as a world leader is “less important” than a decade ago; 64 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents agree.

34 percent overall say the U.S. role is “as important”; 24 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents agree.

15 percent overall say the U.S. role is “more important”; 11 percent of Republicans, 22 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of independents agree.

39 percent overall say the U.S. does “too much” to solve world problems; 37 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents agree.

31 percent overall say the U.S. does “too little”; 46 percent of Republicans, 24 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents agree.

24 percent overall say the U.S. does “the right amount”; 14 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,501 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 20-24.

Curious murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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