TODAY ON Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace took the baton from Sean Hannity and the rest of the FNC partisans, who concocted a CIA narrative that’s been proved false, a story which ABC broke. So let’s review this yet again, because it reveals the entire coverage at the network.
At 9:40 p.m. local time (3:40 p.m. EST), a security officer at the Benghazi consulate heard “loud noises” outside the gate and “the camera on the main gate reveals a large number of people–a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound,” according to the State Department timeline. Within half an hour, the consulate was on fire. At about 10:45 p.m., help arrived from the CIA annex about a mile away. The CIA offered its first account of that evening this Thursday night, nearly two months after the fact. Agency personnel were dispatched within 25 minutes of the initial attack on the consulate.… – Wall Street Journal
Today’s all about polling fury from across battleground states, but equally important is taking on the false narrative from the right. Because if President Obama is reelected, which I fully expect, what’s happening now is not only to rev up the base and last minute votes for Romney, but also to pave the way to stymie Obama and mire him in investigations on Benghazi in his second term. The reelection and next four years a time that has proven a quagmire for many presidents from Nixon to Reagan to Clinton.
Starting off his questioning of David Axelrod, Wallace walked straight into a buzz saw of predictable bluntness.
WALLACE: “Simple question. Did the President make a calculated decision to run out the clock ’til the election and not answer questions about Libya?”
Wallace then paused a moment to collect himself, because he didn’t expect Axelrod to say “no,” but nothing else, which left the Fox anchor out on a collapsing limb he sawed off himself.
WALLACE: “So why hasn’t he answered a lot of questions about his personal involvement in Libya?”
Axelrod then gives the same answer the Administration has been giving since they mistakenly sent Amb. Susan Rice out before they knew enough about what happened, which caused the firestorm in the first place.
“We want to get it right,” Axelrod replied after saying they’ve talked about this before. This should have been their answer from the beginning.
What continues to be ignored by Wallace and FNC, as well as Romney allies using Benghazi for political gain, is the DNI taking responsibility for the initial answers on what happened in Benghazi, which were wrong and opened the door for the witch hunt that’s followed.
Not one question from Wallace about the role of DCIA David Petraeus, who is finally becoming a central figure on not only what happened in Benghazi, but the fact that the consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens was working was basically a stealth CIA headquarters.
The Wall Street Journal reporting, as well as the New York Times and Washington Post, who were initially asked to keep the CIA’s involvement quiet and did, are now all offering a fuller picture of Petraeus’s leadership, which deserves greater scrutiny given the lack of intelligence before the 9/11 Benghazi attack, even if traditional press and infotainment hosts, including Wallace and the FNC crew, prefer the spotlight on Obama.
Spencer Ackerman analyzed how Petraeus has escaped scrutiny so far:
Petraeus is not used to being under the bus. His record commanding the surge in Iraq has given him a tremendous reputation, within official Washington and beyond. Politicians and the press tend to downplay his missteps, such as his less-than-impressive record training Iraqi security forces and the stalemate that persists in Afghanistan despite Petraeus’ year in command. Additionally, there is some concern that under Petraeus, the CIA is focused too much on counterterrorism and insufficiently on its broader intelligence mission, although the CIA denies that’s the case.
It’s unclear what Petraeus’ future holds, either in a second Obama term or a Romney administration. Regardless, congressional investigation into Benghazi is expected to accelerate after next week’s presidential election, including a closed-door hearing in two weeks by the Senate intelligence panel. Petraeus may have more tire-treadmarks on the back of his suit jacket before the Benghazi inquiries conclude.
The “secret” deal between DCIA Petraeus and Secretary Clinton, which was just reported and I wrote about earlier, offers more insight into why State was relying on Blue Mountain private security, which paid the locals the equivalent of $4 per hour.
It should also be noted that Pentagon spokesman George Little has also recrafted what his boss SecDef Panetta initially said, which was that there wasn’t enough real time information to allow military engagement.
Let me reiterate, there are questions that need to be answered. There wasn’t enough security in the first place, but when you consider the consulate as a CIA satellite site it’s not hard to discern why they were flying under the radar. But anyone believing questions can be asked and answered fully at the end of a nail-biting presidential election season has no credibility whatsoever and likely has a partisan goal.
Reports that the CIA and State “weren’t on the same page about their respective roles on security” is an understatement and the investigation needs to start there. That is, after DCIA Petraeus and DNI James Clapper answer questions about how they missed the intelligence about the coming attack in the first place.
Then there is reality, this from the WSJ.
An unarmed U.S. drone was diverted to Benghazi but had trouble distinguishing between the terrorists and U.S. allies who came to the compounds’ aid. An armed drone wasn’t in the area. A large special operations force from Fort Bragg arrived in Sicily too late to help, according to a National Public Radio report Thursday.
Mr. Obama was informed of the attacks at around 5 p.m.–11 p.m. in Libya–during a previously scheduled meeting with his military advisers, and he ordered military assets moved to the area, according to ABC News. During the attacks, however, the Administration didn’t convene the Counterterrorism Security Group, which was created to coordinate a response to a terrorist attack, according to a CBS News report.
It may be news that the Counterterrorism Security Group “didn’t convene,” but what exactly they were going to do with all the other moving pieces already deployed is unknown, though it does make the case that redundancy at some point becomes ridiculous as much as futile.
It’s nothing new that we are navigating in countries with locals, whether militias of U.S. trained soldiers, who are not aiding us and costing lives, whether it’s in Libya or Afghanistan. This is a policy issue as much as a strategy problem, which is shared by Republicans and Democrats, with both parties having a penchant for interventionism that inevitably goes awry.
It puts new meaning to the immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld, “stuff happens.”