The New York Times laid down the smack on Benghazi scandal enthusiasts Saturday by making some very bold claims of its own. The Times says that “Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda,” that “Anger at the video motivated the initial attack,” and that “The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi.”
The Times explained that “Fifteen months after Mr. Stevens’s death, the question of responsibility remains a searing issue in Washington, framed by two contradictory story lines”:
One has it that the video, which was posted on YouTube, inspired spontaneous street protests that got out of hand. This version, based on early intelligence reports, was initially offered publicly by Susan E. Rice, who is now Mr. Obama’s national security adviser.
The other, favored by Republicans, holds that Mr. Stevens died in a carefully planned assault by Al Qaeda to mark the anniversary of its strike on the United States 11 years before. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of covering up evidence of Al Qaeda’s role to avoid undermining the president’s claim that the group has been decimated, in part because of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
As usual, things were not so clear cut. A book previously reviewed here, The Benghazi Hoax, has detailed how the right wing engineered a scandal out of whole cloth by misusing and fabricating “evidence.” It has also become clear that the media, after first questioning the Republican claims, later became complicit in their spread and perpetuation.
This new piece by the Times is sure to be as unwelcome. FoxNews immediately “debunked” the Times’ claims, calling “liar liar” by repeating all the lies they’ve already told (of course, FoxNews was the key player in the hoax and have the most need to sustain it now). The Blaze, not surprisingly, calls these claims by the Times “shocking” – particularly use by the Times of the word “spontaneous,” a word that rips the entire Republican hoax to shreds.
Says the Times:
The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements. Anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters. Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack, according to more than a dozen Libyan witnesses as well as many American officials who have viewed the footage from security cameras.
Republican leaders are insistent that this was an al Qaeda assault. It had to be in order for the Obama administration to be shown guilty (never mind that al Qaeda killed 3,000 Americans without making Republican George W. Bush guilty).
But the New Your Times report states that,
The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda, according to several officials briefed on the call. But when the friend heard the attacker’s boasts, he sounded astonished, the officials said, suggesting he had no prior knowledge of the assault.
Nothing The New York Times says will influence the right wing scandal machine in the least (as the FoxNews coverage attests). All the facts in the world won’t do that in a party that cites the Bible without reading it first. Facts are their worst enemy, emotion – angry, fearful emotion – their biggest friend. They will continue to insist on their version of events because it is the version – fact-free as it is – most congenial to their agenda.
I asked once if the Republican Clown Car would ever find its way out of Benghazi and today I still do not see that happening. Benghazi has become catnip for Republicans. Creating a scandal, they instantly believed what they invented and they cannot now conceive a reality other than one in which Barack Obama – necessarily because he is black and Kenyan and therefore a Muslim and anti-American – is complicit in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and others.
But what must be because you need it to be is hardly a worthy or reliable determinant of fact, as the Republicans found out both in 2008 and in 2012 when the American people rejected their lies for the facts on the ground. Republican leaders like Darrel Issa have made it clear they intend to ride Benghazi into the ground and so reports like the Times’ must inevitably be unwelcome. The only good news to the GOP at this point is fake news, like Lara Logan’s recent and inept attempt to scoop an earth-shattering overturning of everything the Obama administration has said about Benghazi.
For fact-seeking, enlightened people, The New York Times report is of great interest. It is to the point, highly readable, and free of obscuring government-ese. It will hopefully restart the dialog on Benghazi in at least some quarters of the mediascape (CNN, for example, is reporting on it this morning without debunking it), and lead us closer to the truth of what happened that night on the other side of the world.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.