Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Benghazi Pseudo-Issue

By Tom Kando        

The Republicans  are desperately  milking the Benghazi pseudo-issue for all its worth. On October 19, ultra-reactionary Charles Krauthammer wrote another column accusing President  Obama of grave malfeasance in this matter, predicting that he will lose grievously  on this issue during his next presidential debate with Mitt Romney (Sacramento  Bee, Oct. 19, 2012).  So the issue can be expected to come up in a big way during the debate. Here is what it’s all about:

On or about  9/11/12, three things happened:
            1. A blasphemous anti-Muslim video came out.
            2. In response to that, widespread rioting erupted  throughout the Muslim world.
            3. There was a  terrorist attack on our Benghazi consulate which  killed four Americans, including our embassador.

Now here is what the Republicans, Mitt Romney, Fox News, etc. are trying to exploit: They are accusing the Obama administration of falsely attributing the attack to the spontaneous rioting in response to the blasphemous video, instead of acknowledging that it was a well-planned terrorist attack.

Of course, after the attack occurred, the Obama administration had to respond. The “administration” means, among other things, (1) the intelligence community (CIA, etc.), (2) the State Department headed  by Hilary  Clinton, (3) UN envoy Susan Rice and (4) the White House, including the President. In other words, dozens  of thousands of people (the State Department alone employs 60,000).

Here is how President Obama and his administration should defend themselves against this scurrilous attack during the upcoming debate and during the remainder of the campaign:

1. Confusion is inevitable. In Hilary Clinton’s words, it’s the “Fog of War.”

2. It is absurd to expect the President, alone at the top, to be omni-scient, to have all the answers immediately, to know  everything that is being communicated by the thousands of people who work for him.

3. Even so, the President’s instincts were right: within ONE DAY he correctly identified the event  as a TERRORIST attack, and he did so again during the next couple of days, for example in Las Vegas.

4.  A few days later, some errors were made - by others. Our UN embassador re-interpreted the attack  as part of  the worldwide wave of spontaneous Muslim protest. Even so, different members of the Obama administration took different takes - some subscribing to the terrorism hypothesis, some to the spontaneous protest hypothesis. This is called  CONFUSION. It results from conflicting information.

5. But this entirely understandable period of confusion was very brief - ONE WEEK!   Compare this to the year-and-a-half long weapons-of-mass-destruction deception by the Bush administration.

6. And although the administration is now clear that the event was a planned terrorist attack, the fact that it happened during a wave of anti-American protests is not a coincidence. Ultimately, whichever of the two  interpretations you use is not hugely important.  The murder of our four  diplomats is a crime and a tragedy either way. Briefly mis-attributing it one way or the other was a minor and understandable  error.

7. So the “Benghazi controversy” is a contrived pseudo-issue. It is the pot calling the kettle black.

8. To accuse President Obama of a deliberate and politically motivated mis-interpretation is another nutty conspiracy theory, like the one about his foreign birth. Why would he do that?  Why would he FIRST immediately say that this  was a terrorist attack, and later change his tune? It would make a lot more sense to first claim that this was an unfortunate accident during a riot, and later admit that it was a planned terrorist attack.

When it comes up during the final presidential debate, Obama should make the above points, and then  conclude by saying:  “So where is the beef? I have explained what happened. Now  I will only  talk to you about real issues, not pseudo-issues.” leave comment here