CNN co-host and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is calling for Secretary of State John Kerry's resignation for comparing climate change to a "weapon of mass destruction." However, media coverage of Gingrich's call has largely left out that Gingrich once agreed with Kerry on climate change, even standing with him on stage touting Kerry's book, in which he called climate change the "single largest threat" to mankind.
On February 18, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Kerry discussed climate change as a national security threat, saying "in a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction." Gingrich responded in a misspelled tweet, calling for Kerry's resignation:
The Huffington Post claimed in an article on his tweets, that "Gingrich has repeatedly dismissed the dangers of man-made climate change." But that article, like similar ones in The Washington Post, The Hill, and conservative media, failed to mention that less than a decade ago, Gingrich was sitting with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on a couch, agreeing we should act on climate change.
Fox News' Chris Wallace baselessly suggested that Hillary Clinton dishonestly conflated the 2012 attacks on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, with protests sparked by an anti-Islam video.
During the February 16 edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace speculated about a potential 2016 presidential run by Clinton. Stating that her record as secretary of state would be "fair game," Wallace raised the specter of Benghazi and claimed that "Clinton seemed to conflate the attack on the consulate with that anti-Islam video" during her remarks at the September 14, 2012, transfer of remains ceremony for the Benghazi victims:
WALLACE: Well, let's talk about Clinton's record as secretary of state which I'm sure you both would agree will be fair game. It will be the last public role she held before she runs, if she runs. No signature diplomatic breakthroughs. And then, of course, there is also Benghazi where even on the day that the four Americans, dead Americans from Benghazi were returned to Andrews Air Force Base, Clinton seemed to conflate the attack on the consulate with that anti-Islam video. Take a look.
CLINTON (video clip): We've seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We've seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.
WALLACE: Karl, how big a deal will Benghazi be for Hillary Clinton over the next two plus years?
But Clinton's comments were accurate: during the week of her speech, U.S. embassies or consulates in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Sudan were attacked by protestors angry about an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube by an American.
While Wallace suggested that conflating the video with the Benghazi attacks was necessarily dishonest, at the time of Clinton's remarks, there was a consensus within the intelligence community (IC), largely based on press accounts at the time, that a protest against the video had occurred at the consulate prior to the attack. It was not until September 24, 2012, ten days later, that the CIA changed its assessment of the events on the ground and concluded that there was in fact no protest on the night of the attack. From the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report on the Benghazi attacks (emphasis added):
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the IC received numerous reports, both classified and unclassified, which provided contradictory accounts that there were demonstrations at the Temporary Mission Facility. In some cases, these intelligence reports -- which were disseminated widely in the Intelligence Community -- contained references to press reports on protests that were simply copied into intelligence products.
Moreover, it appears this reporting from those present during the attacks did not make its way into assessments at CIA Headquarters, as the Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Analysis Office at CIA wrote an internal email, dated September 16, 2012, that mentioned "protestors that preceded the violence." On September 18, 2012, the FBI and CIA reviewed the closed circuit television video from the Mission facility that showed there were no protests prior to the attacks. Although information gathered from interviews with U.S. personnel who were on the ground during the attacks was shared informally between the FBI and CIA, it was not until two days later, on September 20, 2012, that the FBI disseminated its intelligence reports detailing such interviews.
As a result of evidence from closed circuit videos and other reports, the IC changed its assessment about a protest in classified intelligence reports on September 24, 2012, to state there were no demonstrations or protests at the Temporary Mission Facility prior to the attacks. This slow change in the official assessment affected the public statements of government officials, who continued to state in press interviews that there were protests outside the Mission compound.
Whether or not a protest occurred, The New York Times has reported that a journalist working for the paper was present at the Benghazi diplomatic facility during the attack and was told by the attackers and by other witnesses that they had been motivated to attack in response to learning of the anti-Islam film.
The conservative Washington Free Beacon reported that the Obama administration is "not strongly opposing" a South Korean plan to use Chinese telecommunications gear to build a broadband network, which the website warns will risk the security of U.S. military communications in the country. But hours before they published their article, The Wall Street Journal reported that in response to U.S. pressure, South Korea had changed their plans to "address U.S. concerns" by routing sensitive communications over other networks.
The Washington Free Beacon hid crucial details about a conservative group bent on smearing Hillary Clinton over the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
In a February 13 report, the Free Beacon highlighted a Reuters article about OPSEC to promote the group's latest smear campaign. OPSEC, described by the Free Beacon only as "military slang for 'operational security,'" is releasing a report attacking the former secretary of state for her actions before, during, and after the September 11, 2012 attacks. The Free Beacon used the report to imply Secretary Clinton was personally responsible for the terrorist attacks, claiming "the attack was not caused by inadequate information but by inadequate leadership" and that her personal choices "enabled the attack."
But as the original Reuters report explained, OPSEC, a right-wing group made up of retired intelligence and special forces operatives, has partisan ties and a history of disingenuously attacking the Obama administration. The group "first surfaced during the 2012 presidential campaign," when they produced a 22-minute film and TV ads accusing President Obama of "seeking political gain from the May 2011 military operation that killed Osama bin Laden." (PolitiFact rated the claims made in the ads as "false" and "mostly false.") Key members of the group have current and former affiliations with the Republican party, and Reuters uncovered that more than a quarter of OPSEC's 2012 funding was raised by Campaign Solutions, a political consultancy which represents Republican candidates.
OPSEC's president, Scott Taylor, has also previously been accused of "shady campaign tactics" in his multiple bids for Republican state office, and as Business Insider noted, the group's maneuvers reveal they are more interested in attacking President Obama and the Obama administration than promoting any national security interests. According to OpenSecrets, OPSEC spent almost $500,000 in the 2012 election cycle on "electioneering communications" alone.
Official investigations have found Secretary Clinton, the Obama administration, and the military did everything within their power to rescue the Americans stationed in Benghazi at the time. The official inquiry into the State Department's role conducted by the independent, nonpartisan Accountability Review Board found that security at Benghazi was inadequate and offered recommendations for State to prevent future attacks, all of which are being implemented, but found Clinton personally blameless.
As Reuters noted:
Thomas Pickering, who chaired the State Department's official inquiry, said his panel concluded Clinton's performance was appropriate: "We did look at her role. We thought that she conducted her meetings and activities responsibly and well."
Republican censure of Mrs. Clinton is expected to intensify, even though it is unusual to see such fierce, coordinated opposition to a would-be presidential candidate surface 2-1/2 years before nominating conventions.
Pickering condemned the way the Benghazi incident was being politicized: "Our investigation was certainly independent, thoroughly researched, carefully presented." He said the new round of accusations appears to be "clearly an effort to introduce once again partisan politics into an issue which should be furthest from partisan politics."
Fox News continued to push the false narrative that the Obama administration politicized early intelligence assessments about the Benghazi attack by purporting to provide "new data points" which are contradicted by the findings of a bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report released in January.
On February 13, Shannon Bream introduced a report from Fox national security correspondent Catherine Herridge by saying, "Tonight, two new data points in the Benghazi timeline [are] raising new questions about whether early intelligence was indeed politicized." Herridge began her report by claiming CIA leadership had been informed twice that the anti-Islam video "played no role" in the Benghazi attack, before former UN Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on the Sunday news shows and provided information about the attack based on talking points that represented the best assessment of the intelligence community at the time.
But nowhere in the segment is there evidence that anyone was told that the anti-Islam video had no role in inspiring the Benghazi attack. Instead, Herridge presents evidence and quotes from Republican lawmakers that there was no demonstration that took place before the attack -- which is not the same thing.
The very Benghazi report Herridge cites in her appearance contradicts her claim that the video "played no role." The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's findings and recommendations in the report included the following:
Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video, suggesting that these and other terrorist groups could conduct similar terrorist attacks with little advance warning.
That finding from the Senate committee report lines up with the talking points drafted in the aftermath of the attack, which said that the attack was "spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo" -- protests that were a response to the anti-Islam video.
Considering that Fox's "new data points" do not actually provide any new information, the charges of intelligence politicization fall flat. The New York Times had a journalist who arrived at the Benghazi diplomatic facility as it was being attacked, and learned about the anger at the video from some of the attacks there.
The Benghazi report cited by Herridge also found that "there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to "cover-up" facts or make alterations for political purposes" -- a fact that she chose to left out.
Without fanfare, Fox News host Megyn Kelly finally acknowledged that the network's campaign to sink Susan Rice's potential nomination to President Obama's cabinet was rooted in fundamental dishonesty.
In 2012, Fox repeatedly pushed the smear that Rice, for political reasons, deceptively attributed the September 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi to violent protests over an anti-Islam video that were sweeping the Middle East and Africa. Together with scores of right-wing pundits, the network dragged Rice through the mud, despite the fact that she was simply citing intelligence community's talking points that attributed the Benghazi attacks to the video. At the height of Fox's dishonest campaign, Kelly questioned whether Rice was qualified to serve as Secretary of State:
I think now all of our viewers know [Rice], because she's the one who went on all the Sunday talk shows and told us that everything that happened in Benghazi was linked to this video, which we now know was not the case. Can she possibly ascend into the Cabinet, into this position in the Cabinet, given that?
Fox's messaging was clear: Susan Rice was a liar who could not be trusted to serve as Secretary of State.
And so it's shocking to hear Kelly now say that Rice was simply saying what the intelligence community told her to be their best assessment at the time. During a discussion with Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) on the February 11 edition of her Fox News show, Kelly referenced a House committee report released that day, and admitted that Rice's talking points reflected CIA intelligence that "the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the embassy in Cairo":
KELLY: Let me ask you about DOD [Department of Defense]. Because I know your report concludes that DOD officials believed nearly from the onset that this was a terrorist attack and not some sort of a protest gone awry. Now, I want to get specific, because so many people have said, 'So then why did Susan Rice go out and talk about protests? Why did she mention a video?' But the CIA talking points, the very first draft that went out and was circulated, that Susan Rice ultimately was provided, that top officials ultimately saw, talked about a protest. They did. The CIA actually came out, I want to look at it here, and said this is a draft from September 14th, 11:15 am, 'We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault.' So, tell me, does that -- does it or does it not answer the question about how our officials started to come out and talk about protests and the video?
After Director of National Intelligence James Clapper gave congressional testimony that echoed President Obama's recent statements about the threat that al Qaeda poses, Fox News host Bret Baier claimed that the testimony was a "direct contradiction" to the president's description of the threat posed by the terrorist organization.
On the February 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Baier reported on Clapper's testimony earlier in the day before the Senate Armed Service Committee, in which Clapper testified that al Qaeda is "morphing and franchising itself" throughout the world. Baier categorized Clapper's testimony as a "direct contradiction" to what President Obama has said about the terrorist group in the past:
BAIER: A direct contradiction today from the nation's top intelligence chief, to what president Obama has said about al Qaeda. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate committee today previous assessments from the president are not accurate.
Baier appeared to suggest that Obama's past claims that al Qaeda was "on the run," made several times during the 2012 campaign, are in contradiction to Clapper's testimony. But Baier failed to note Obama's most recent statements on the terrorist organization. In fact, Clapper's testimony before the Senate that al Qaeda is a "morphing" threat that is "franchising itself" in several countries is similar to recent statements from President Obama. In his State of the Union address last month, Obama acknowledged that al Qaeda still posed a threat to the United States, a threat that he said has "evolved": (emphasis added)
While we've put al-Qaida's core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved as al-Qaida affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks.
The same day yet another House Republican investigation into the attack in Benghazi debunked tired conservative myths, The Hill excerpts a piece of Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen's book HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, detailing an interesting twist in the relationship between Darrell Issa and the former Secretary of State.
"When the call came in at three o'clock in the morning, the failure wasn't viewed, at least as of today, as Secretary Clinton's. It was really an Obama failure," the GOP House Oversight Committee Chair told the journalists in December 2012. "Her legacy is mostly intact for 2016, if she chooses."
"The front end of it, Hillary's part of it, was very good," he continued. "I don't think she'd lie to me. In that sense, I trust her like any politician and particularly any diplomat - every word within a statement has to be carefully made sure you heard it correctly."
The Hill also cites Issa favorably comparing Hillary Clinton to other Obama officials.
"When you look at Eric Holder, I do not trust him. I do not believe he is trustworthy. I do no believe he is honest," he said. "In the case of Secretary Clinton, I think her personal standing - her legacy of tough but honest, diplomatic but not disingenuous - I think it's important to her."
So if Darrell Issa had such a positive view of Hillary Clinton in December 2012, it raises the intriguing question of when the relationship went south. A look at the public record would suggest this change might have taken place the following spring, when Republicans and the conservative media shifted their ire from the President to Hillary Clinton in anticipation of her Presidential campaign.
In April 2013, with the release of a Benghazi investigation from five Republican congressional chairman which mentioned Hillary Clinton 30 times and mentioned the President only 11, came Issa's first major attack on Hillary Clinton's credibility -- and one that represented a huge embarrassment for the GOP.
The report referenced a cable from March 28, 2012, sent from then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz to Hillary Clinton asking for additional security resources in Libya. A reply containing the Secretary's signature was delivered in April "acknowledge[ing] then-Ambassador Cretz's formal request for additional security assets but ordered the withdrawal of security elements to proceed as planned" from Libya.
On the day the report came out, Darrell Issa appeared on Fox & Friends claiming "The secretary of state was just wrong. She said she did not participate in this, and yet only a few months before the attack, she outright denied security in her signature in a cable, April 2012." Issa and the conservative media believed they had caught Clinton in a lie, as she had testified before Congress in January "that the security cables did not come to my attention or above the assistant secretary level."
Republicans and the conservative media trumpeted their evidence, but all they demonstrated was their own ignorance. As The Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, who spent years covering the State Department, explained, "every single cable from Washington gets the secretary's name at the bottom, even if the secretary happens to be on the other side of the world at the time."
There was no reason to believe Clinton ever saw or knew about the documents in question, yet to this day neither Issa nor any of his Republican colleagues have apologized for their smear job.
A House committee report released Tuesday refuted claims that any stand-down order was given to prevent military support from reaching Benghazi, dismantling a central story in right-wing media mythology of a Benghazi cover-up.
The House Armed Services Committee report, released February 11, concluded that "There was no 'stand down' order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi." As The Washington Post explained, the report further determined that "no U.S. military assets could have arrived in Benghazi in time to affect the outcome of the attack, according to committee staff members who briefed reporters on the report."
The determination devastates one of right-wing media's favorite Benghazi hoaxes.
Fox News has persistently pushed the myth that the administration withheld military assistance during the Benghazi attack by issuing a "stand down order" to backup forces in Tripoli -- by June 2013, the network had repeated the charge at least 85 times in primetime segments. The accusations were vitriolic: In October 2012, Fox legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. asked if there was a "political calculation that was made to sacrifice Americans on the ground so we didn't kill innocents in front of the consulate," while the network's national security analyst, K.T. McFarland, claimed the supposed absence of aid to the consulate was "probably" politically motivated. Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed that the administration had decided that Americans targeted in Benghazi "were expendable." And the allegations didn't stop there.
The House report is not the first investigation and testimony to debunk the claim that a "stand down" order was issued. A January 2014 Senate Committee on Intelligence review of the Benghazi attacks determined there was no evidence that any "stand down" order was given to responding units during the attack. Tripoli security team leader LTC. S.E. Gibson soundly debunked the notion that a "stand down" order was given in testimony from a declassified June 26, 2013, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, stating: "Madam Chairman, I was not ordered to stand down." The CIA has repeatedly denied that any "stand down" orders had been given, and noted that reinforcements actually arrived from Tripoli in time for the second attack on the CIA facility.
Yet just as the network often ignored previous determinations that debunked the "stand down" order myth, Fox's coverage on the House report thus far has either ignored or dismissed this newest evidence of the collapse of its "stand down" narrative. A Fox & Friends First headline segment that focused on the report ignored the "stand down" finding entirely, instead claiming that "the report also found U.S. military forces were left vulnerable at the time of the attack.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is now demanding a new congressional hearing on the Benghazi attacks held to his personal specifications.
On the February 6 edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly demanded that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) subpoena former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to ask him whether he told President Obama that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack when he first informed him of the attack on September 11, 2012. O'Reilly's insistence that this question "is the crux of the matter" about Benghazi makes no sense, given that the president called Benghazi an "act of terror" several times in the days after the attack -- a fact that Fox News continues to ignore.
Fox News continued its habit of inventing Benghazi news hooks by selectively quoting from a Senate report on Benghazi that came out more than two weeks ago to bolster its false claims that the Obama administration changed talking points after the attack for political reasons.
On the February 3 edition of Special Report, Fox's chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge aired an investigation that revolved around a single sentence in the January 15 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence review on the Benghazi attack. Introducing the segment by saying the report "sheds new light on the role of Michael Morell, the CIA's former deputy director, in the Benghazi talking points controversy." She continued:
HERRIDGE: The Senate report states that on September 15, one day before Susan Rice's controversial Sunday show appearances -- where she blamed a demonstration gone awry -- Morell and others at the CIA received a critical email that reported the attacks were, quote, "not/not an escalation of protests." It was from the CIA chief of station, who was on the ground in Libya.
Herridge went on to cite several intelligence experts to question why Morell didn't use that email to delete references to demonstrations from the talking points later used by then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice, when Morell made edits to the talking points that same day -- though Herridge admits that it's not known when Morell read the email from the Libya station chief. Later in the segment, Herridge used other news reports and interviews to tie Morell's edits to the talking points to a possible Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016, speculating that they were politically motivated.
Morell's changes to the talking points aren't news. The Washington Post reported in May 2013 that Morell edited the talking points as part of a standard process of inter-agency coordination and a determination that certain information needed to be excluded to protect ongoing terror investigations.
And Herridge's insinuation that this email from the CIA station chief in Libya should have kept any mention of demonstrations out of the talking points is undermined by the next sentence from the Senate report, which explained that it's not standard practice to base analysis on "e-mails and other informal communications": (emphasis added)
The IC also had information that there were no protests outside the Temporary Mission Facility prior to the attacks, but did not incorporate that information into its widely circulated assessments in a timely manner. Contrary to many press reports at the time, eyewitness statements by U.S. personnel indicate that there were no protests at the start of the attacks. For example, on September 15, 2012,. the CIA's Chief of Station in Tripoli sent to the then-Deputy Director of the ClA and others at the CIA an email that reported the attacks were "not/not an escalation of protests." Yet, the CIA's January 4, 2013, Analytic Line Review downplays the importance of this email, noting, "... as a standard practice, we do not base analysis on e-mails and other informal communications from the field because such accounts often change when formalized as disseminated intelligence reports."
From the February 3 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
Loading the player reg...
Fox News deflected from its role manufacturing scandals about the Benghazi attack by complaining that President Obama pointed to the network as a source of misinformation during a Super Bowl interview with Bill O'Reilly.
On February 2, Fox New host Bill O'Reilly conducted a live interview with President Barack Obama which aired before Super bowl XLVIII. During the interview, Obama responded to O'Reilly's claim that "your detractors believe that you did not tell the world it was a terror attack because your campaign didn't want that out" by pointing out that "they believe it because folks like you are telling them that," later noting "these kinds of things keep on surfacing, in part because you and your TV station will promote them."
During the February 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Steve Doocy, and Brian Kilmeade attacked Obama for pointing to Fox's role in pushing the manufactured scandal, complaining that the president "actually went on to blame Fox News for all the mistakes":
HASSELBECK: When Bill O'reilly, yesterday, sat down with the president, he asked him some tough questions and he said 'look let's go over some game tape here, you know, there have been some mistakes like Benghazi, the IRS scandals that's been bugging you.
HASSELBECK: Let's maybe review the tape and see what's wrong. Now most coaches would say this happened or the defense failed. No. He actually went on to blame Fox News for all the mistakes.
Later, Kilmeade likened this to other administrations claiming, "Bill Clinton didn't blame the New York Times for his scandal. George Bush didn't blame every media outlet for running down the war or for Katrina. Why attack the people who are asking you questions?"
But Obama was right, Fox led the charge in misinforming about every aspect of the Benghazi attack, including the false claim that Obama refused to call the attack an act of terror. In a May 13, 2012, press conference, Obama responded to an AP reporter's question by saying "The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism." In the days following the attack, Obama repeatedly called it an "act of terror."
Fox has repeatedly dodged the facts on Benghazi, hyped supposed "lingering questions" while ignoring the transcripts that answer them, and used its own Benghazi trutherism as a way to avoid discussing issues that could damage Republicans.
From the February 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
ABC's The View reportedly plans to mainstream conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch by featuring her as a guest co-host on the February 3 program.
The decision to give Loesch a national platform on a highly-rated television show is troubling considering Loesch has gained notoriety for her inflammatory rhetoric, expressing extreme views on topics from gun control to reproductive access.
Loesch made headlines in January 2012 for her reaction to an internet video that appeared to show members of the Marine Corps urinating on the corpses Taliban fighters. On her St. Louis-based radio show, Loesch defended the alleged act, saying that she would "drop trou and do it too" if she was in a similar situation. Loesch criticized "a bunch of progressives that are talking smack about our military because there were Marines caught urinating on corpses -- Taliban corpses," and later defended her comments on a Breitbart.com blog post by claiming she was "defending [the Marines] from overly-dramatic hysteria."
At the time, Loesch was an CNN contributor, and the network reportedly suspended her soon after these remarks.
Loesch was also one of the few right-wing media figures to excuse former Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) for his "legitimate rape" remarks. After Akin declared that it is rare for women who had been the victim of "legitimate rape" to become pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Loesch took to Twitter account and dismissed Akin's comments, claiming he "failed a soundbite" and attacking his critics for "hypocritical overreactions."