Shorter Question Everything
Remember when the US puffed out its chest and claimed that Iraq had WMD’s? Remember when it claimed that Saddam Hussein was behind 911? Remember when no one could find any evidence of either but the claims kept coming (and changing) and people kept dying?
There was so much more and so much worse, of course, but to hone it down to a fine point, the people in charge lied. There were all sorts of reasons why they lied, one of the biggest being that they wanted war, but they lied right out of the gate and no amount of facts could change the course of that lie. There could be no apology for the lie.
Speed forward to Libya.
What has got the right wing in such a lather is that they’d like to repeat the lie. The lie is comforting, you see. It’s immediate, an instant gratification. Nuance and facts are difficult.
On the right wing, the story was made before the events had even settled, a fairy tale into which anything could be poured and into which little thought would be required.
Obama appears to want to deal in facts, in truth. Getting to the bottom of things isn’t immediate. Sometimes things that seemed obvious in the beginning change when you learn something new, and so you change the account of what happened.
This isn’t a “cover up”. It’s not a “conspiracy”. It’s the way things work in the real world all the time, especially where intelligence is concerned. But therein lies the rub – the right wing isn’t fond of the real world, preferring the fantasy it’s created. The rest of us shouldn’t have to live there.
• Libya: People with experience in intelligence and national security who spoke with TPM this week downplayed much of the debate. They said they see nothing unusual or nefarious in the official story having evolved over time. In fact, they said, it is all but expected that the first official account of a complex and fast-moving event will turn out to be wrong or incomplete.
• Libyans who have been secretly helping the U.S. have had their identities exposed by documents released Friday by House Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, a senior administration official confirmed to NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell. The White House and State Department had no prior notice of what is often referred to in Washington as a Friday night “document dump” on the weekend before the foreign policy debate. The official says had the State Department been given that opportunity, they would have pointed out which documents needed to be handled with extreme care so as not to endanger anyone. A spokesman for Issa’s committee says that the administration was given a chance to object to the posting. Officials at the White House and the State Department say that is not the case, and they only learned of the release when the documents appeared online. In a letter, ranking member Elijah Cummings called out Issa on the timing: “It seems obvious that your goal in sending a public letter at this time is to release the most negative and distorted view possible of the attack in Benghazi ahead of the presidential debate on Monday evening.”
• Darrell Issa, Jason Chaffetz and the rest of the idiots in the Republican party — Mitt Romney included — are so hell-bent on finding a way to blame President Obama for the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, that they are acting like proper assholes, and recklessly endangering people’s lives. One such life? A Libyan woman human rights activist who is leading a campaign against violence, and who was detained in Benghazi. According to an administration official, this woman “expressed fear for her safety to U.S. officials and criticized the Libyan government,” and until today, she wasn’t publicly associated with the U.S. government. She was relatively safe. But this afternoon, Darrell Issa — in a stroke of sheer idiocy — published reams of State Department documents, and this woman’s name appears in the documents — unredacted.
• The Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attack last month weren’t supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official. “Talking points” prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” The CIA document went on: “This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated.” This may sound like self-protective boilerplate, but it reflects the analysts’ genuine problem interpreting fragments of intercepted conversation, video surveillance and source reports.
When House Republicans called a hearing in the middle of their long recess, you knew it would be something big, and indeed it was: They accidentally blew the CIA’s cover.
…The purpose of Wednesday’s hearing of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee was to examine security lapses that led to the killing in Benghazi last month of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others. But in doing so, the lawmakers reminded us why “congressional intelligence” is an oxymoron.
…In their questioning and in the public testimony they invited, the lawmakers managed to disclose, without ever mentioning Langley directly, that there was a seven-member “rapid response force” in the compound the State Department was calling an annex.
…That the Benghazi compound had included a large CIA presence had been reported but not confirmed. The New York Times, for example, had reported that among those evacuated were “about a dozen CIA operatives and contractors.” The paper, like The Washington Post, withheld locations and details of the facilities at the administration’s request.
But on Wednesday, the withholding was on hold.
The Republican lawmakers, in their outbursts, alternated between scolding the State Department officials for hiding behind classified material and blaming them for disclosing information that should have been classified. But the lawmakers created the situation by ordering a public hearing on a matter that belonged behind closed doors.
Republicans were aiming to embarrass the Obama administration over State Department security lapses. But they inadvertently caused a different picture to emerge than the one that has been publicly known: that the victims may have been let down not by the State Department but by the CIA. If the CIA was playing such a major role in these events, which was the unmistakable impression left by Wednesday’s hearing, having a televised probe of the matter was absurd.
The chairman, attempting to close his can of worms, finally suggested that “the entire committee have a classified briefing as to any and all other assets that were not drawn upon but could have been drawn upon” in Benghazi.
Good idea. Too bad he didn’t think of that before putting the CIA on C-SPAN.
[Dana Milbank/11 Oct 2012]
• On September 12, 2001 George W. Bush called 9/11 attacks “acts of terror.” So calling it an “act of terror” isn’t valid. Got it. The words “terrorist act” are the only appropriate ones to use, right Mr. and Ms. ClusterFox? PRESIDENT BUSH: I just completed a meeting with our national security team, and we’ve received the latest intelligence updates. The deliberate and deadly attacks, which were carried out yesterday against our country, were more than acts of terror. They were acts of war. – 12 Sept 2001