The Fair-Weather Patriotism of the Benghazi-Gate Conspiracy Theorists

By Bob Cesca: I’ve had this ongoing theory that if Al Gore had been president during 9/11, the Republicans would’ve tried to impeach him for allowing it to happen. They would’ve immediately began screeching the question: What did Gore know and when did he know it? Instead, Bush was president and the entire nation rallied around him in the wake of the largest terrorist attack on American soil. It was a testament not only to the patriotism of the American people but to the cooperative fairness of partisan Democrats to shelve their animosity about the 2000 election and leave politics aside for the sake of national unity.

No one demanded accountability from anyone other than the criminals who committed the attacks.

What we know now is that the Bush administration was, in fact, aware of Bin Laden’s determination to engage in a large-scale attack inside the United States (reference to the August 8, 2001 presidential daily briefing intentional).

If the Bush administration had taken reports of Bin Laden’s intentions more seriously, perhaps the 9/11 attacks could’ve been prevented. But they weren’t. Richard Clarke, in particular, a Clinton era counterterrorism holdover in the Bush White House was fanatical bordering on obsessive during the early months of 2001 in his efforts to get then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and other officials to take seriously the threats from Bin Laden. Last month, the New York Times reported that Bush officials were warned on multiple occasions:

The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.

But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.

In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.

Even though major breaches in security were obvious, and it was clear that the administration was caught with its national security pants down, no one played politics with the attack — at least until Bush himself repeatedly used the attacks to gin up support for Iraq and when his team used 9/11 imagery in a 2004 campaign ad. Bush also stonewalled the formation of the 9/11 Commission and even refused to testify unless there were no records kept of his testimony. You might also recall how Bush demanded that Cheney be present with him during his testimony. No doubt an obvious display of Bush’s command of the issue.

Nevertheless, the American people rallied around the president. Democrats, liberals and so forth pitched in and gave the president the benefit of the doubt. It wasn’t a time for inquests and accusations.

But, conversely, when terrorists hit the consulate in Benghazi, Romney and the Republicans couldn’t muster the decency or discipline to wait until the disaster was over before they politicized it by attacking the president, even while the fires at the consulate were still burning. Imagine if the Democrats had reacted the same way during 9/11. They would’ve been tarred and feathered and driven out of Washington on a rail. Yet the Republicans did it with impunity. I remember quite distinctly how Bill Maher, on his ABC series Politically Incorrect, dared to agree with conservative fire-eater Dinesh D’Souza that the 9/11 terrorists weren’t “cowardly.” Maher was forced to publicly apologize; he was scolded by White House press secretary Ari Fleischer; and was fired from his show, all for one lone remark in agreement with D’Souza who’s a conservative hero.

This says a lot about how Republicans too often comport themselves in the wake of a disaster — these self-proclaimed “patriots” are merely fair-weather patriots, only willing to lend their unified support when the president is from their own party. As such, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Republicans, given the chance during a would-be second Obama term, tried to impeach the president for the Benghazi attack.

Actually, I’d love to see a study performed to determine the number of times Republican leaders condemned the terrorists who fired rockets at the Benghazi consulate versus the number of times Republican leaders condemned the president’s response. I’d wager Mitt Romney has spent more time on the latter.

I’ve talked with several conservatives who are highly critical of the administration’s response and the common thread has emerged: they’re driven by the assumption that Obama is weak on terrorism. Yes, the same Obama who, on day one, reignited the hunt for Bin Laden and killed the perpetrator of 9/11 in just over two years. The same Obama who, much to the angst of progressives, has a so-called “kill list” — a list of suspected terrorists, and Obama himself decides which terrorists will or will not be targeted. He authorized the drone strike that took out American-born al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki. He ordered the Afghanistan surge; he’s literally invading Pakistan to take out numerous terrorist targets across the border; he’s engaged in anti-terror covert operations in Yemen and Somalia and, under his leadership, 20 or more of the top 30 al-Qaeda leaders have been killed. He organized the NATO effort in Libya and pushed for more than just an ineffectual no-fly zone. Instead, he proposed a more meaningful action to stop Qaddafi’s march to Benghazi where the Libyan leader intended to engage in a full scale genocide. The action was short, Qaddafi was killed and no Americans were lost. If you ask many liberals, they’ll tell you Obama is an absolute demon guilty of war crimes in his pursuit of terrorists. And conservatives think he’s an effete weakling on terrorism.

But if one attack on a consulate means that Obama is somehow weak, according to conservatives. I offer the following list from the Bush years:

June 14, 2002, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan
Suicide bomber kills 12 and injures 51.

February 20, 2003, international diplomatic compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Truck bomb kills 17.

February 28, 2003, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan
Gunmen on motorcycles killed two consulate guards.

July 30, 2004, U.S. embassy in Taskkent, Uzbekistan
Suicide bomber kills two.

December 6, 2004, U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Militants stormed and occupied perimeter wall. Five killed, 10 wounded.

March 2, 2006, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan
Suicide car bomber killed four, including a U.S. diplomate directly targeted by the assailants.

September 12, 2006, U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria
Gunmen attacked embassy with grenades, automatic weapons, and a car bomb (though second truck bomb failed to detonate). One killed and 13 wounded.

January 12, 2007, U.S. embassy in Athens, Greece
A rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the embassy building. No one was injured.

July 9, 2008, U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey
Armed men attacked consulate with pistols and shotguns. Three policemen killed.

March 18, 2008, U.S. embassy in Sana’a, Yemen
Mortar attack misses embassy, hits nearby girls’ school instead.

September 17, 2008, U.S. embassy in Sana’a, Yemen
Militants dressed as policemen attacked the embassy with RPGs, rifles, grenades and car bombs. Six Yemeni soldiers and seven civilians were killed. Sixteen more were injured.

The Bush team, to this day, hilariously claims to have “kept us safe.” Sure, except for 9/11 and the above list of attacks and numerous other terrorist attacks here and abroad, including the Anthrax attacks and the DC Sniper.

Ultimately, the centerpiece of a potential congressional inquest is the as-of-yet unsubstantiated notion that Obama and his team attempted to cover up its response after the fact and, shockingly, ordered military support for the consulate to stand down. In other words, the administration allegedly allowed the attack to continue, resulting in the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. I can’t even imagine the calculus behind this ridiculous accusation. If I understand conservative conspiracy theorists correctly, they’re saying the president allowed American officials to be killed and this would somehow help the president in the election? Utter nonsense.

By the way, we’re not talking about fringe conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and others. We’re talking about mainstream Republican leaders like John McCain who’s compared the incident to Watergate.

We’ve since learned that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in conjunction with the U.S. Africa commander General Carter Ham, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey, didn’t authorize the deployment of troops during the attack because it was unclear what was happening on the ground. Panetta: “As a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, General Ham, General Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.” Furthermore, it’s likely that the attacks weren’t pre-planned and, in fact, used the protests as an impromptu cover to launch the missiles. Just as Susan Rice and others have said.

Impeach! Impeach!

One thing we know for sure. The Republicans will not give an inch on anything. They will contradict themselves, ignore their own records, jump to paranoid conclusions, risk embarrassment and generally do whatever it takes to disrupt and sabotage the Obama presidency.

During the Bush years, the Republicans used to say it was unpatriotic to criticize the commander-in-chief when troops were in harm’s way — that it would endanger the lives of our soldiers and damage morale. It’s endlessly fascinating to me how this deeply heart-felt and often repeated declaration of wartime patriotism was entirely abandoned on January 20, 2009, and most dramatically on September 11, 2012, even while troops remain in harm’s way.

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  • Gatortrapper

    What a self serving diatribe. This principal issue is not, and never has been, the act of an attack on the facilities in Benghazi and the author knows it. While there may be criticism directed toward the State Department’s failures in terms of providing adequate protection the fact is that no one can ever guarantee that “no attack” will be launched. That’s quite different from not heeding warnings and taking precautions that may or may not minimize the damage from such an attack. But that still isn’t the issue is it. The issue is the deliberate deception as to the NATURE of the attack: one spontaneously born out of a protest or one conceived and implemented with by elements of Islamic extremists.

    The evidence seems clear that the WH and operatives of the State Department, the CIA and others who are “politically sensitive” chose to deliberately spin a complete lie as temporary camouflage for a political narrative advanced by Obama that Al Qaeda was “decimated” and no longer a threat. It’s that lie and the subsequent efforts to provide political cover to Hilliary and Obama that form the basis of the scandal, not the fact of the attack itself.

    Indeed the cover up and protection of Hillary’s State Department incompetence at providing additional security resources despite the warnings derived from the attacks on the British assets, the Red Cross and the earlier bombing outside one of our buildings, as well as the credible intelligence that warned of the very sequence of attacks listed here, is the very reason why examination of the Hilliary State Department has heightened relevance in the overall investigation.

    But it is not the fact of the attack itself that is of interest, is it.

    Provide some detail about the attacks listed as occurring during the Bush Administration rather than a simple reference of their occurrence. Which one’s did Bush’s Administration lie about? Which one’s did they have warnings about that they failed to prepare for? Which one’s did they blame on a source that was conceived out of whole cloth and presented repeatedly as being nothing but a demonstration the went out of control?

    • Michael McCollum

      “What a self serving diatribe. ”
      At first, I thought you meant this toward the author above instead of the drivel you wrote after this sentence.

      “the cover up”
      You are a tin foil freak who believes there was a cover up?
      Please, tell me about this grand cover up that you have such amazing insight to reveal to us from your “special knowledge”

      Please tell me the “spin a lie” you refer to.
      I’ll be amused at your parroted response, I assure you.

      When you’re done, please tell me about your extensive experience with thuwar and their nature. I want you to tell me the names of the people who offered the replacement government a security plan post Qaddafi.

      Please tell me who assigned Blue Mountain to the gig instead of Olive Group, Trident, etc. Please tell me of your elaborate understanding of the works of security in the east of Libya.

      “blame on a source that was conceived out of whole cloth and presented repeatedly as being nothing but a demonstration the went out of control?”
      Here’s where you show what sort of tool you are. Who is it that repeated this “demonstration the went out of control”…in fact, more to the question..”went out of control” is the part I want to hear from you, oh soothsayer.

      DEMONSTRATION ATTACK
      On the Eve of Sept 11, 2012, thuwar in the area of Benghazi attacked the US compound in retaliation for the perceived insult from IOM trailer. Despite your ridiculous assertions, I’m friends with people who were on the ground that night and have more than enough raw video of the area including comments made in English about the nature of the protest.

      Now, you may want to make light of these words, “protest”, “demonstration” etc because you are a spoiled American who doesn’t understand that in other parts of the world, like the ones I’ve worked as a journalist, are hostile and protests of this magnitude are not unheard of. Were they militants? Yes, these were likely thuwar from around Benghazi including Ansar al-Sharia. But the problem for your ridiculous narrative, is you eliminated the cause and made “because their terrorists” the excuse. That’s nonsense and ignorant!

      Terrorists require a key item to gain support: A Grievance.
      Without this Grievance, there is no way to gather and foment a movement. Charisma alone doesn’t do it. “That is the great Satan” isn’t enough either. Sorry you don’t know this apparently, but alas that is a benefit of you not having to worry about these matters on a daily level.

      Before you tell someone else that what they wrote is a ‘self-serving diatribe’ remind yourself not to write one.

      Before you decide to run off at the mouth about how much you know about the topic again to me, remember, one of us works in this mess and the other one read about it and said:
      “What a self serving diatribe.”

      • Gatortrapper

        You’re an apologist for the Administration. Your entire post consists of tossing red herrings out as a distraction.

        My comment was directed to the singular issue that contrary to the narrative advanced by the socialist/progressives the questions that remain about Benghazi are not the events leading up to it but the manner and method in which the government presented the fact of the attack and blaming its cause on a false narrative. Frankly I’m surprised you didn’t blame your response on a video.

        Establish your bona fides as being a fact expert and how being such an expert obtains to the discussion at hand. What facts do you have about the supposed cause of the “demonstrations?”

        As for the decision to not keep the military augmentation force in place under the Ambassador’s control for purposes of shielding them with diplomatic immunity after July 2012, I guess we have to read the mind of Patrick Kennedy who vetoed the request. Do you have a window into that thought process? If not then your garbage about choice of security forces used to replace U.S. forces is an exercise in frivolity and merely an excuse to offer comments about an irrelevant line of facts. But we do have Gregory Hicks testimony about the nature of that force and the circumstances on how it was withdrawn leaving the Ambassador in the difficult position of having to abide his superior’s decision on security and either accept the offer of military assistance and expose them to liability in Libyan tribunals or decline it and protect them at a risk to himself and the remaining State Department personnel. But you must know all that right.

        • Michael McCollum

          Gatortrapper, “apologist” for an administration that I want removed? That I didn’t vote for? You project your biases early.

          Sorry bud, I’m not an Obama supporter and you are wrong on that opening comment.

          I work in the same security field as Blue Mountain. That is where my “bona fides” come from, moron. I work with the very people who train QRF like the ones deployed the night of the attack. I work for people who know LIbya inside and out and we talk about morons like you daily with your sudden interest in a topic you never thought about before Benghazi was mentioned.

          You think you have it all figured out because you learned Patrick Kennedy was in on decisions. How cute. That simply means you watched a CSPAN hearing, moron.

          Before you run off at your mouth again, you don’t work in this field, I do.
          “false narrative”
          That’s the bozo land you live in.

          IF I WERE A TRUE APOLOGIST
          i’d have said a great many things that aren’t true because Obama and his crew have abandoned the true story in favor of your pathetic name game of “terrorists” and “protesters” etc.
          Sorry asshole, my friends are first hand account folks who were in Benghazi that night. They are the stringer reporters who are colleagues of mine. I don’t give a rats ass what Greg Hicks says from Tripoli, what off duty intel BrigGen Lovell says from Germany, etc because THEY WERE NOT THERE.

          ” leaving the Ambassador in the difficult position of having to abide his superior’s decision on security”
          You are on crack. You ignore Amb Stephens comments to AFRICOM or you simply don’t know them. Stephens did NOT want a big security detail, idiot. That only attracts attention, but of course you don’t get that.

          Before you keep running your bloody trap about the topic, tell me how many security licenses were granted to companies like Blue Mountain before that day. I’ll await your unenlightened guess. Please tell me the size of the security plan presented to the replacement government. How many soldiers were they intending to train and who presented that security package to them.

          You can yap all day, and clearly you’ll be 3rd hand, 4th hand about your bullshit. You have no operative experience in this field of their diplo or vip security and clearly no reality check on the state of Libya post Qaddafi.

          “expose them to liability in Libyan tribunals”
          horseshit.