Stand down, fools. At long last, stand down.
Michael Morell, writing for Politico Magazine, slammed pundits who repeatedly trot out Benghazi baloney, because they do not understand how to read intelligence reports.
Wearily, Morell explains that this is hardly a one-off. The “Benghazi broadsides” keep “missing their mark anew”:
Like clockwork, every several weeks, someone discovers a new document that, to their minds, “proves” that what the administration and the intelligence community have been saying about Benghazi is a bunch of lies. But time and again these documents don’t add up. They don’t show what the pundits think they show—and the Benghazi broadsides miss their mark anew.
It’s Fox News, but also the mainstream outlets who repeat Fox News’ claims, for some unknown reason — even after being humiliated repeatedly by the outright falsehoods they’ve stamped their names on.
As to the recent spate of hysterical GOTCHAS!, Morell is not impressed. From misreading the date of the reports to just plain not understanding how things work, the pundits got it wrong. One report does not the full picture paint. To wit:
But the only thing that newly released document proves is that the people who trot out these reports do not understand the world of intelligence and do not take the time to ask the right people the right questions before publishing the “news.” The DIA report in question was an “Intelligence Information Report” or IIR. It is what we term “raw intelligence.” It was not the considered view of DIA analysts. Often from a single source, these bits of information represent one thread that some intelligence collector has picked up. The all-source analysts in the Intelligence Community are charged with looking at that snippet of information and every other bit of available information from communications intercepts, human intelligence, open source material and much more to come up with an overall judgment.
So, see, lots of information comes in and it’s called a “report”. These reports are then vetted and sourced and confirmed and laid out against conflicting reports until some semblance of what probably happened is determined by reason (reason, not hysteria). Morell gets into the scary but accurate truth that there are some things we do not know for sure. He writes for example, “One is the debate on whether an anti-Islam YouTube video played any role in sparking the Benghazi attacks. The short answer is that we still don’t know with absolute certainty.”
We do not know for certainty.
So naturally, the “strident” Benghazi conspiracy artists “ridicule” the idea of the video being a factor, as if they know more than the FBI, but Morell reminds us all that the FBI were “among those who have argued that the video may have been a factor.”
We do not know for sure.
Who is this Michael guy? Oh, he’s only the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency who served as acting director from 2012 to 2013.
This is not to suggest that the CIA would tell Americans all angles or even most of them. But it is to suggest that there is such a thing as real knowledge and information, and the ability to identify said things and put them together is what determines our intelligence, or lack thereof, in the Benghazi hysterics case. The questions have been asked and answered by even Republican-led committees and come up empty. The point is that Morell has more credibility as an intelligence expert than the pundits on Fox News.
It’s basic being the person in charge stuff — you gather information, then you sort it, vet it, source it again, confirm it, and then start debating conclusions — not gather info and DECIDE!
Republicans, Fox News, and the media that sniffs after them like a deranged, starving pack of wolves like to keep things super simple when it suits them, but unlike the George W Bush administration, the Obama administration doesn’t go off half-cocked, invading a country on cherry picked information.
Sure, when you let information determine what you conclude, you will change your “mind” as the information is vetted and sourced and confirmed or not confirmed. But this is something that most people with a few brain cells can handle. They know the world is not paint-by-numbers and that Big Daddy’s Texas drawl isn’t really going to keep us safe. It didn’t keep us safe.
It’s ironic and predictable that the very people who can’t handle this nuance invaded Iraq based on “faulty” intelligence that they cherry-picked and failed to properly vet (at best). They were so SURE. Mission Accomplished, y’all!
The real conspiracy here appears to be the fact that the GOP pipe-addicted media continually allow Benghazi histrionics to be used as cover for Republicans in order to avoid discussing their policies.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.