Sorting Out the Benghazi Mess

What is the motivation for President Obama to lie about the Benghazi incident? The entire premise of the right’s argument of cover-up falls apart with this simple question.  In a court of law motive is everything — any case lacking motive is deemed a weak position.  In the case against Obama’s handling of Benghazi, motive has yet to be established even though post-incident intelligence was less than desirable.

I have heard two responses answering my simple question I will address.  The first is to cover-up the embassy requests to add more security.  The second is the Benghazi attacks will weaken Obama’s claims that we are winning the war on terror.

The first response is quite simple to refute.  If this was a mob style attack over a video or an Al Qaeda directed terrorist attack, there would be intense scrutiny on the State Department and The White House if security forces were denied.  In order to avoid any political blow back from ignoring such requests, President Obama would have stated that Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a car crash, or some other non-security incident.  Additionally, in the Right’s sloppy analysis of the security requests, there are some critical facts that were omitted:

  • The Benghazi security requests were made by employee Eric Nordstrom were communicated verbally to a Senior Officer who never passed the request along.
  • The documented security requests were for the Tripoli Embassy, almost 400 miles away.  These requests were met.
  • Ambassador Stevens had access to more guards from Tripoli had he chose to bring them for protection.
  • Even if the security requests from Eric Nordstrom were documented and met, there would have been no additional security detail at the Embassy at the time of the attack.  Mr. Nordstrom requested five, which was the exact number at the time of the attack.

The is not about pre-incident inaction, it’s about post-incident intelligence.  It’s not like 9-11 or WMD’s in Iraq where there was a massive failure in understanding which people died due to bad decisions or ignored data. This is all about reporting the incident — and President Obama had his facts wrong.

The second response is a bit more logical.  Why wouldn’t President Obama lead with a rouge terrorist attack explanation?  It’s not a political liability. If anything I would argue its in President Obama’s best political interest to blame terrorists given America’s propensity to “rally the troops”.  Everybody accepts that Al Qaeda is still plotting attacks. Everybody realizes we are not out of the woods (nor will we ever be) on terrorist activities.  Just because we are winning the war on terror doesn’t mean we are void of terrorist attacks.  Imagine if President Obama stood up the day after and charged, “Our Embassy was attacked yesterday.  We will bring these Al Qaeda operatives to justice like we brought Osama Bin Laden to justice.”  Game over.

To be clear, I really don’t know why Obama did not have his facts straight. I also do not really understand his motives for not saying it was a terrorist cell attack from the start, there is no political liability for this explanation. What I do know is there is no evidence to logically hold Obama responsible for inaction and prevention which is where I think the Right is trying to blur the lines.


  1. Mathew what a stretch one has to take to spin this as you have. You conclude your blog saying that you don’t know why the president did not have his facts straight (could it perhaps have something to do with how few daily briefings he had been a part of prior to the attack?) but also try to blame the right for its “sloppy” analysis. Whether he had his facts straight or not, what his actions immediately following the attack demonstrated to many was that he really wanted the attack to have been caused by “spontaneous” reactions to this lame video rather than terrorism because it better fit his world view. Early in his term the word “terrorism” was removed almost entirely from the political lexicon of his administration. In addition, if Al Qaeda was truly “on the run” as he and his cohort Joe Biden were want to say, how could terrorists been responsible for such an attack? As well, if this was a terror attack, how could he turn his back on the event and fly off to Nevada to hob nob with the well heeled and raise money? No, he really needed this to be spontaneous mob violence for many reasons. Finally, if Pres Obama is as smart as many think that he is, why not take the “game over” route you describe? Perhaps because it would likely disassemble much of what his campaign was all about, “GM is alive (not sure that GM is healthy) and Bin Laden is Dead.” He has nothing else to run on, even as weak as that is.

    But as with many much of what happens to politicians that are bigger than life, at least in their own small minds, the cover up is always worse than the original sin. The attack was certainly bad enough but the fact that almost everyone on his team who has publicly commented has made it worse only compounds his image problem. Lie is such a strong word, but it is quickly coming to a point where many in the middle of the political spectrum are beginning to wonder if it does not fit in this case.

    1. Sure it does. If they called something (the attack) what it was not (response to video instead of terrorism) it was to support their world view and campaign foundation. They don’t need another reason to “lie” if that is what you call what they did.

      Also, they said repeatedly that Al Qaeda was on the run but their meaning was clear in the context of their statements. To suggest otherwise is not being honest.

  2. You’ve ignored the distinct possibility that a lack of scrutiny by a fawning press during his term has allowed Obama to become lazy & assume he can do whatever he wants wothout political repercussions.

    You’ve also ignored the fact that his first instinct is to lie in every situation. There’s also a distinct possibility he’s just an idiot.

    There is no way he gets out of this one cleanly. If he manages to cheat enough to steal the election (which he won’t), he would accomplish nothing in his second term because he would spend the whole time answering Rep. Issa’s questions.

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