How Benghazi became a right-wing talking point

 A few days ago, I shared with you HERE a detailed account of last month’s deadly attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Today, I give you THIS EXPLANATION of Republican efforts to turn the Benghazi tragedy into a scandal for partisan purposes shortly before the presidential election.

A few excerpts:

If you had been listening to Republicans or watching Fox News in recent weeks, you knew that what Romney said [at Tuesday night’s debate] wasn’t simply an off-the-cuff or clumsy error. For weeks now, opponents of the administration have been trying to paint the Benghazi attack not just as a possible security or intelligence failure that resulted in the deaths of Americans abroad, but as a scandal that the Obama administration tried to cover-up. And a key part of the Benghazi cover-up theory is the suggestion that the administration made a political decision to avoid or delay calling the assault on the consulate “terrorism,” and to resist the possibility that the attack was planned.


People with experience in intelligence and national security who spoke with TPM this week downplayed much of the debate. They said they see nothing unusual or nefarious in the official story having evolved over time. In fact, they said, it is all but expected that the first official account of a complex and fast-moving event will turn out to be wrong or incomplete.

“Sorting out what happened — in terms of the source of the attack, who knew what before the attack — is a very difficult, complicated, time-consuming process,” Vicki Divoll, former general counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told TPM. “And it is legitimate for it to take several weeks or even longer before you have the answers you need.”

Jonah Blank, a former staff member with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pointed out that to this day, there is no settled explanation for the death of the last U.S. ambassador to die in office: Arnold Raphel, the ambassador to Pakistan, who in 1988 was flying with Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, then Pakistan’s president, when their plane went down.


Paul Pillar, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University and a former intelligence officer, told TPM the debate over the Benghazi attack “has been blown up for the obvious political reasons.”

“I didn’t think it would drag on this long and this hard,” Pillar said. “But I guess in the midst of the last three weeks of a presidential election campaign, I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a shame.”



  1. “possible security or intelligence failure that resulted in the deaths of Americans abroad,”

    The word possible in this sentence tells you all that you need to know about the political viewpoint of the author.

    Of course it was an intelligence failure. Obviously it was a security failure.

    The statement that “Sorting out what happened — in terms of the source of the attack, who knew what before the attack — is a very difficult, complicated, time-consuming process,” is obviously true,but then I would ask, why doesn’t the current administration know this?

    If they weren’t sure of what happened, then they should have said- we don’t know what happened. We are actively investigating this tragedy and will let you know what we conclude as soon as we are confident of our information.

  2. Michelle

    This is the type of desperate spin that, along with the desperate cover up and lies, gives credence to the Washington rumers of a botched October surprise. Since when is a terrorist attack, that results n the death of 4 Americans, swept under the rug.


  3. Craig Knauss

    It looks like you two have forgotten about 9/11 and GBW’s 27 day wait before responding. And who took the responsibility for GWB ignoring almost 8 months worth of national security briefings prior to the attack?

    And let us not forget Ronald Reagan’s episode in Beirut. Hundreds of Marines died when terrorists blew up the building being used for their barracks. And more Americans died shortly later when the new U.S. Embassy, which did not yet have security measures installed, was also blown up by terrorists. Who took responsibility for that?

    Talk about “spin”!

  4. Anyone have any clue how Obama apparently knew Candy Crowley had the transcripts from the Rose garden speech?
    I mean Obama did ask her to “read the transcript” is that something a moderator would have handy?

  5. Wilson: You and a lot of other conservatives apparently are a little confused about the matter of Crowley and the transcript of the Rose Garden speech.

    Two points:

    1. Crowley didn’t have a transcript of that speech. Having dealt with that matter on her Sunday talk show, she referred to the speech by memory at the debate. She did not offer at the debate a verbatim reference to the speech.

    2. When Obama said “get the transcipt,” he was speaking to Romney, not Crowley.

    Here’s the pertinent exchange from a transcript of the debate:

    ROMNEY: I — I think interesting the president just said something which — which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

    OBAMA: That’s what I said.

    ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?

    OBAMA: Please proceed governor.

    ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

    OBAMA: Get the transcript.

    CROWLEY: It — it — it — he did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror…

    OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

    CROWLEY: He — he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.

  6. He was looking directly at Candy when he said it.
    Thanks for enlightening me.
    You are always on the mark.

  7. Can you get any sillier, Wilson?

    Romney and Crowley were in the same sight-line when Obama said “Get the transcript.” Obama’s head had not moved from its previous position. His eyes went back and forth between Romney and Crowley.

    Your claim that Obama was “looking directly at Candy” is conspiratorial nonsense.

    The fact is that Crowley did not recite from any transcript when she corrected Romney.

    The bigger fact, which you wingnuts refuse to acknowledge, is that Romney was flat-out wrong in arguing that Obama didn’t call the Benghazi incident an “act of terror” until 14 days later.

    Yours and Romney’s inclination to play politics with the tragedy of Benghazi is nothing short of disgraceful. But I suppose you consider yourself a true blue patriot.

    Yeah, and I’m the Sultan of Brunei.

  8. Here’s the pertinent part of the Rose Garden speech, which clearly shows that Obama was referring to the Benghazi attack when he mentioned “acts of terror”:

    “As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe. No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”

  9. Oh, who cares about Candy Crowley and that silly tangle at the last debate. The discussion at the next debate will be the claim that a video was the root cause of all these terrible things, and Obama will be squirming like a kid with rotten teeth in a dentist’s chair.

    This election is turning into a repeat of 1980, and we all know how that turned out:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *