Friday, May 17, 2013

The Benghazi Drip & The Incompetence Defense

In the aftermath of the document dump covering just a three day slice of time beginning two days after the Benghazi attack, the White House position is that all things Benghazi are now pure partisan politics by evil right wingers. In other words, the MSM have been given their marching orders, now its time to move on.

But it would seem that not all in the MSM are prepared to drink the Kool-Aid just yet. For instance, there was this on CBS News show Flashpoint, which noted that much about Benghazi still remains hidden:

CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson reports that many in the administration are pleading a defense of incompetence for leaving our people in Benghazi to die with no support forthcoming:

Obama administration officials who were in key positions on Sept. 11, 2012, acknowledge that a range of mistakes were made the night of the attacks on the U.S. missions in Benghazi, and in messaging to Congress and the public in the aftermath.

The officials spoke to CBS News in a series of interviews and communications under the condition of anonymity so that they could be more frank in their assessments. They do not all agree on the list of mistakes and it's important to note that they universally claim that any errors or missteps did not cost lives and reflect "incompetence rather than malice or cover up." Nonetheless, in the eight months since the attacks, this is the most sweeping and detailed discussion by key players of what might have been done differently.

"We're portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots," said one Obama administration official who was part of the Benghazi response. "It's actually closer to us being idiots."

The Obama administration's chief critics on Benghazi, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., remain skeptical. They see a pattern, even a conspiracy, to deflect attention from the idea that four Americans had been killed by al Qaeda-linked attackers, on the president's watch. "There is no conclusion a reasonable person could reach other than that for a couple of weeks after the attack, [the Obama administration was] trying to push a narrative that was politically beneficial to the president's re-election," Graham told CBS News.

The list of mea culpas by Obama administration officials involved in the Benghazi response and aftermath include: standing down the counterterrorism Foreign Emergency Support Team, failing to convene the Counterterrorism Security Group, failing to release the disputed Benghazi "talking points" when Congress asked for them, and using the word "spontaneous" while avoiding the word "terrorism."

There is much more to her column. She goes on to assert that Commander In Extremis force was in fact diverted from its training mission in Croatia to forward deployment in Italy, but by the time they arrived, the fighting was over. She also notes that AFRICOM was in the process of forming its own Commander In Extremis force, but it was in the U.S. finishing up its training. That still does not explain the lack of military support.

Be that as it may, that still does not explain the lack of sending other assets, whether air or land. You go to war with what you have, not with what you want to have. The fact that a specially trained QRF was not available does not mean that a host of other assets could have been on the ground or over target in time to make a difference. You will recall that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff claimed that the military did not provide assets during the attack because they were never "asked" to do so by the State Dept. That testimony must be read in light of the testimony the other day that, at 2 a.m. Benghazi time, while the terrorist attack was ongoing, Hillary Clinton spoke by phone with State's second in charge in Libya, Johnathan Hicks, and told him that no military support would be coming. Those two statements seem to be in direct conflict. Bottom line, there is much more to this story to be told or, to use the words of POTUS, there is a lot more there there. I suspect that there is some truth to the gross incompetence story, but I also suspect that the dominant consideration in all aspects of the Benghazi scandal was political.


The Elephant's Child said...

As I remember news reports at the time, General Ham was told to stand down when he received cries for help from the SEALS. He said something to the effect of screw that, we don't leave our men in the lurch. and started ordering a team to be ready to take off instantly, whereupon he was formally relieved of command by his 2nd in command. That was apparently rescinded once it was over, for Wikipedia notes General Ham's retirement in early 2013.
Curiouser and curiouser. Gen. Dempsey's claim that there was nothing they could do doesn't pass the smell test. There's no doubt at all that they whole thing was political cover before the election.

GW said...

I concur completely. We need to hear from Gen. Ham.