Disclaimer: There’s still a lot we don’t know about the events in Libya that led to the deaths of four US citizens. As such, I expect to be revising this piece as more complete and detailed information comes in.
This piece came about at the request of one of our readers. Conservatives everywhere are up in arms about this, claiming that this is the tip of an enormous conspiracy (there’s a shocker for you, I know…a conservative blaming something on a conspiracy! This will make their seventh required for their worldview), part of a broader coverup, calling for Obama’s impeachment (you knew that was coming, and expect it to take front and center after he’s re-elected), claiming that Obama was involved in a gun running operation in the nation, saying that he watched the attack unfold on a live drone feed, and a bunch of other goofy, wrong, or just outlandish claims (again, the number and variety of claims continues to grow, so readers, bring me the new ones and we’ll add to this piece as the situation continues to develop!).
Taken as a single entity then, the current Republican storyline looks something like this:
Shortly after 4pm (Washington time), a harried, pale and sweating Aide bursts into the Oval Office bearing a copy of E-mail #1 (labelled as Sensitive, but Not Classified). It says that an attack is underway at the Embassy in Libya.
The President and a select group decide that this would be a fine opportunity for a pajama party, so everybody gets changed and grabs some coffee before retiring to the “Situation Room,” where they hang out and watch a live drone feed of the futile defense and eventula deaths of four Americans (this plays into other story arcs the R’s have established previously–earlier chapters, if you will–including the one where Obama’s a secret Muslim (or ‘Muslin’ according to a few Tea Party signs), who is fond of Sharia law. Connecting the dots then, this was obviously part of “The Big Conspiracy”–I’ll get to that in a moment–an opportunity for ‘Muslins’ to vent some of their anger at their and Obama’s common enemy, ‘Murica. Obama is secretly thrilled with this, and goes to bed after watching the attack for hours, steadfastly ignoring the increasingly frantic chain of emails from the Embassy, begging for help.
He gets a good night’s sleep, then jets off to a Vegas fund raiser the next day, leaving his staff to deal with the fallout.
Why would the President do this? Well…several reasons. 1) He’s a secret ‘Muslin’ himself. 2) He went on an apology tour to the Middle East and harbors secret love for the Arabs (even declaring that NASA was to be sort of a Pan ‘Murican-Arabian propaganda outlet or something…I never quite understood that one myself!) 3) he was secretly running guns in Libya, and this was to be a distraction. And prolly several more will be invented in the weeks ahead…I will add them here as they are created!
As I see this event, the tea leaves look like this to me:
There have been many other incidents in the middle east (some under Democrat presidents, and some under Republican presidents), and none of them have evoked this type of reaction from the right.
When the Cole was attacked (Clinton) we heard rumbles of discontent that his (Clinton’s) response was not thuggish enough, but nothing on the order of what we’re hearing today.
When a couple hundred Marines were killed on Reagan’s watch, there were calls for prayer and national unity from the right…certainly nothing like what we’re seeing today (because, as you all know, Ronnie is a patron saint of the right, and everything he did was goodness and light, so no way could the right find any fault in either the event itself, or in his handling of it).
When more than three thousand died on US soil on the watch of a Republican president, where gross intelligence failings were revealed, there were no calls from the right for impeachment. On the contrary, the righties begged for national unity. To rally ’round the embattled President, and we were told that if we did not, we hated America, and should be considered her enemies.
My, how times have changed! Four people die in an embassy in an unstable part of the world and it’s not only a massive conspiracy and coverup, but (obviously), Obama should be impeached!
Does this seem a bit obvious to anyone else?
Based on the history of past responses, coupled with the fact that as of this morning’s writing, the Republican candidate is estimated to have only a paltry 26.4% chance of winning the highest office in the land (per Nate Silver), it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on here.
The conservatives need a distraction. They need a rallying cry.
Bengazi gives them both.
Never mind the aforementioned history of responses to similar tragedies.
They need to paint Obama in a bad light, and this event came along at an opportune time, so they latched onto it.
That’s where everything that’s come so far, and all that will surely come later, ultimately stem from.
They’re losing, they’re desperate, they hate it, and they’ll use anything…any tool, any event, if it will help turn the tide. Period.
They are, and what’s different now than in previous instances are these two things: 1) they have their own 24/7 propaganda outlet, and 2) they’ve never been farther to the right, or angrier.
Put those two things together, and you can expect a relentless parade of increasingly nasty attacks along this line.
Now, as to the substance of their various claims.
Dissecting the above narrative, the major claims so far are these:
1) The attack lasted “for hours,” and Obama watched it all unfold on a live drone feed, doing nothing, before drifting off to a good night’s sleep before a fund raiser the next day.
2) There were a parade of increasingly frantic emails (flash mail!) from Libya, begging for assistance that never came (see…apparently, the attack was so fierce that the combatants were able to take a break from all the fighting, log onto their email and send updates! Or…something).
3) In those same emails, lurked definitive proof of who conducted the attacks.
4) The attacks were meant to serve as a distraction for a clandestine gun running operation that the President endorsed, and as such, this represents the tip of a VERY BIG, far reaching conspiracy (this makes conspiracy #7 for the Republicans, who already require six to make their worldview make sense and retain internal cohesion…they have a real knack for inventing new conspiracy theories, you have to hand it to them!
So those, in a nutshell, are the claims.
Let’s take a look at them, one at a time, and see if there’s any truth to them.
1) So far as I can find, the alleged “gun running” claim is just that. A claim, not really based on much of anything solid.
At this point, it’s the shadow of the echo of a rumor, so of course, all the news outlets in the Fox Bubble are treating it as the Gospel. And there may be some truth to it, ultimately. We just don’t know yet. If there is, then of course, the President needs to be held accountable for that, but until we know, let’s call it the speculation that it is, and give it the attention (very little) it deserves till we know more.
2) A claim that the President sat around (in his PJ’s, probably, while sipping coffee), watching a live feed from an unarmed drone as Americans died in an attack that lasted “for hours!” Doing nothing, and steadfastly ignoring the emailed pleas for help, before getting a good night’s sleep in preparation for the fundraiser the next day.
This claim is based on the presence of emails that really were sent, and an unarmed drone in the vicinity of the Embassy, that apparently really did shoot video.
Of course, the people to see the video were the ones operating the drone (those would probably be the “officials” in question who saw the footage. Since no one was named, we have no way of knowing who else, specifically, saw the footage “live” (tho undoubtedly it was widely distributed later). This makes it very unlikely that the President did as described, especially given the short duration of the attack (I know, the R’s claimed that the attack lasted for hours, and I’ll get to that).
3) Emails were sent out to the Pentagon and various Administration officials about the attacks, and with information about who was responsible for them.
This claim seeks to do three things. First, it seeks to establish that there was real time communication from the location being attacked (that’s why the term “Flash mail!” is so popular with the right just now, the language adds to the urgency and frantic pace they want the story to have). Second, it seeks to show that the Administration knew full well who was behind the attacks at a very early stage, and third, it seeks to show that there were “pleas for help” coming at regular intervals from the Embassy, which were ignored by the son of Satan and enemy of ‘Murica, Barack Obama.
We know these emails were sent, and we even know what they contained, so let’s have a look!
Email 1: 4:05PM “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” – the email goes on to say that the attack consists of about twenty people, and that there have been explosions. It went on to say: “Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four … personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.”
No pleas for help. No sense of urgency here. In fact, the email was sent with a “sensitive, but unclassified” status.
Summary: Hey guys, heads up…there’s an attack. ’bout twenty people attacking. Gunfire and explosions. We’re on it, and we’ve got support. The Ambassador is in the safe haven…more later.
Email 2: is headed “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi” and timed 4:54 p.m (Washington time). Note that this is 49 minutes after the first one (less than an hour).
It said that the Embassy in Tripoli had reported that “the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared.” It said a “response team” was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel.
Summary: It’s all over (firing has stopped), response team is there, and attempting to locate the missing.
Later in the Reuters article, we learn that the first email was probably delayed by some 20-30 minutes between the start of the attack and the sending, so let’s take the biggest number there. Thirty minutes delay, forty-nine minutes to the second email…total attack time: 79 minutes. That’s a lot different than the “hours and hours” that the R’s tell us the attack lasted, and note that so far…no pleas for help at all. Basically this is a mop up email. “We’re done, and looking for survivors. More later.”