Benghazi Must Be A Huge Scandal After All Because They Did A '60 Minutes' About It
The 9/11/12 Benghazi attacks are like a political Rorschach test designed by Hieronymus Bosch: It looks like a tragedy; no, it looks like a betrayal; no, treason! No, dummy, it's our best chance against Hillary in 2016. Dust those rejected requests for additional security for fingerprints, Darrell!
Our interpretation used to be "tragedy" but now it's "tragedy we had sincerely hoped we did't have to write about anymore." Nope! Why, just last night, CBS did a 60 Minutes about Benghazi and how it's a huge scandal or something. We didn't watch it, but the transcript is very dramatic. It would have been less dramatic had they included certain facts -- we'll get to that in a minute -- but who can blame them? They got the #Benghazi hashtag trending on Twitter something fierce for a few hours, and isn't that what really matters? If it's wrong to trivialize year-old tragedies to hit our political enemies, some folks don't want to be right.
First off, if you've been following Benghazi -- or have been dragged behind it, as the case may be -- you won't learn anything new in the 60 Minutes thing. It was horrible, some people saw it coming, nothing/not much was done to prevent it. There's an interview with a British defense contractor who witnessed the attack that's fairly titillating. But what struck us was the following:
[Lt. Col.] Andy Wood told us he raised his concerns directly with Amb. Stevens three months before the U.S. compound was overrun.
Andy Wood: I made it known in a country team meeting, "You are gonna get attacked. You are gonna get attacked in Benghazi. It's gonna happen. You need to change your security profile."
Lara Logan: Shut down--
Andy Wood: Shut down--
Lara Logan: --the special mission--
Andy Wood: --"Shut down operations. Move out temporarily. Ch-- or change locations within the city. Do something to break up the profile because you are being targeted. They are-- they are-- they are watching you. The attack cycle is such that they're in the final planning stages."
Lara Logan: Wait a minute, you said, "They're in the final planning stages of an attack on the American mission in Benghazi"?
Andy Wood: It was apparent to me that that was the case. Reading, reading all these other, ah, attacks that were occurring, I could see what they were staging up to, it was, it was obvious.
Warnings that an attack was imminent delivered directly to Ambassador Stevens, who was killed. Hold that thought while we hear from Gregory Hicks, deputy chief of mission in Libya:
Lara Logan: And in that environment you were asking for more security assets and you were not getting them?
Greg Hicks: That's right.
Lara Logan: Did you fight that?
Greg Hicks: I was in the process of trying to frame a third request but it was not allowed to go forward.
Lara Logan: So why didn't you get the help that you needed and that you asked for?
Greg Hicks: I really, really don't know. I in fact would like to know that, the answer to that question.
Ooh, unanswered questions! Frankly, it's a decent question. Yes, much is made of the fact that House Republicans cut funding for State Department security, but it's hard to directly tie that to rejected requests for security. However, there's a bit of information we've known for some time that somehow failed to make its way into the 60 Minutes report:
In the month before attackers stormed U.S. facilities in Benghazi and killed four Americans, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens twice turned down offers of security assistance made by the senior U.S. military official in the region in response to concerns that Stevens had raised in a still secret memorandum, two government officials told McClatchy.
This is actually supported somewhat in the article by former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Admiral Mullen and an aide to everyone's favorite Darrell Issa, so it might really be true, and not the usual "anonymous sources said" nonsense.
So, maybe it would have been nice to have that in there, 60 Minutes? "It has been reported that Ambassador Stevens turned down additional security," perhaps? And also "It's unclear why Ambassador Stevens did not decide to close or relocate the consulate, per Andy Wood's suggestion."
Know what we think? We think Ambassador Stevens wanted to make like everything was cool. He thought this was the best way to win hearts and minds -- rather than clot the consulate with more and more armed men, risk a more peaceful posture. It did not work, which is terrible. But it makes sense.
Meanwhile, here is Lindsey Graham saying he will "block every appointment in the United States Senate" until something something Benghazi. Lindsey, we are sorry your parents named you Lindsey, but it's time to get over it.