Conservative media figures and their cut-outs in the Republican Party went out in full force Sunday, ready to cast blame and aspersions on President Obama for the closures of U.S. embassies around the world after intelligence suggested a possible al Qaeda attack.
With our embassies around the world under what all acknowledge to be a serious threat, these conservatives saw a political opportunity, cynically using the fear of an imminent terrorist attack to regurgitate year-old smears about Barack Obama's success in the war on terror.
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, the Iraq War's #1 cheerleader, led the charge with a blog post Saturday, hyperbolically stating, "Al Qaeda's not on the run. We are."
He followed that up on Fox News Sunday, telling host Chris Wallace:
KRISTOL: Four years ago President Obama gave a much-heralded speech as outreach to the Muslim world. And now, four years later we are closing embassies throughout the Muslim world. The year ago the president said Al Qaeda is on the run. And now we seem to be on the run.
Kristol's falsehoods were reflected by other conservatives across the media. Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint also appeared on Fox News Sunday echoing Kristol's attack: "Well, it's clear that Al Qaeda may be more of a threat to us than they were before 9/11 now."
Later in the panel he went on to state, "The instability around the world is clearly related to at least a perception of a lack of resolve of the United States and a perception of weakness."
These comments fanned out across the right-wing echo chamber, becoming top headlines at Breitbart.com:
On Meet the Press, former Republican presidential candidate and Fox News contributor Rick Santorum took the opportunity to not only blame the president for the embassy threats, but to flip the conversation to Benghazi. When asked about the terrorist threat, Santorum replied, before being cut off:
SANTORUM: I think it's really a consequence of the policies of this administration. I mean, if you look at Benghazi and what happened there. We had an attack on our embassy. We've seen really nothing other than cover-ups. We haven't seen anything from this administration really go after the people who are responsible, or the network behind it.
And I'm sure if you're looking at it from a terrorist perspective, you say, "Well, here's an administration that's pulling back, that's timid, and an opportunity to go after additional embassies." So this is to me a direct consequence from what we saw in Benghazi. And the general program that this administration has, which is not being aggressive in concerning . . .
On Monday, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson asserted, "Al Qaeda, in many respects, could be bigger and much worse than it was 10 years ago today." Co-host Steve Doocy added, "Al Qaeda on the run? We're on the run over there, as Bill Kristol said yesterday."
During the 2012 election, Kristol and other conservatives failed to convince the country that Obama was losing the war on terror. PolitiFact, while acknowledging smaller terror networks were growing in some regions, stated that "[i]ndependent experts back up [the] claim" that the core of al Qaeda had been weakened. The fact checkers quoted Princeton University professor Jacob N. Shapiro who said of al Qaeda, "That they no longer have much of an organization is a sign of success."
Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey acknowledged this still to be the case while speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in April of this year:
DEMPSEY: I - my understanding of what the president said is that al-Qaida core has been decimated. You know, the ideology or the movement has clearly spread to the Arab Peninsula, to the Horn of Africa to North Africa to West Africa, not - and that - and the president's been very clear that he recognizes that the al-Qaida threat, among its affiliates, you know, persists. But al-Qaida core - that is to say, those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the al-Qaida senior leadership that have heretofore provided their kind of ideological hierarchy - they have been - they have been decimated.
For conservative media, the threat to American lives is simply just another opportunity to ignore the facts and attack the president.