On October 28, Fox News devoted more than 47 minutes over the course of 13 total segments to discussing a flawed report by CBS' 60 Minutes on the September 2012 Benghazi attacks.
Conservatives are out in force this morning claiming Lara Logan's segment on CBS' 60 Minutes is evidence their yearlong effort to convert the tragedy in Benghazi into a political scandal was warranted.
Far from it -- it is the latest Benghazi Hoax.
From watching the 60 Minutes segment, you would be led to believe there is a "lingering question" involving the U.S. military's response to the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The report did not let viewers know that an anti-terrorism team was deployed from Spain, along with Special Forces based in the United States and Croatia. None of these forces even made it to Libya until 11 hours after our diplomatic and CIA teams had been evacuated.
Furthermore, the belief that the military did not do everything it could to rescue those in Benghazi has been contradicted by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, and former Secretaries of Defense Leon Panetta and Robert Gates.
Claims that the military didn't do everything it could to help those in Benghazi go hand-in-hand with the conspiracy that a "stand down" order was issued to a Special Forces team in Tripoli. Even congressional Republicans have debunked this claim:
"Contrary to news reports, Gibson was not ordered to 'stand down' by higher command authorities in response to his understandable desire to lead a group of three other special forces soldiers to Benghazi."
While those interviewed during the 60 Minutes report decried the lack of funding for embassy security, the program failed to note:
For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department's Worldwide Security Protection program -- well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration's request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012.
The 60 Minutes piece follows the same pattern as every other element of The Benghazi Hoax we've witnessed for the past 13 months. Supposedly new revelations promoted by different media outlets are simply worn-over versions of the same hoaxes debunked months before; context that would provide critical information to viewers or readers is missing; and the right-wing media exaggerate the new allegations to something unrecognizable from the original report.
Nothing in the 60 Minutes report implicated Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in any wrongdoing leading up to the attack in Benghazi -- in fact their names were never mentioned. But conservatives are already on the attack against the president and former secretary of state. Evidence, context, and truth don't matter as long as tragedy can be converted into political scandal.
Already this morning, cheered on by Fox News, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is using the CBS report as the pretext for blocking every Obama appointment before the United States Senate until "the survivors [of Benghazi] are being made available to the Congress" -- never mind that they have already answered questions from numerous investigators and that the Senate has access to those interviews.
Once again, rather than do the country's business, conservatives, led by their media, would rather halt the work of government in an attempt to score political points with their base.
CBS' 60 Minutes is trying to revive the long-answered "lingering question" about why no U.S. military forces from outside Libya came to the aid of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi during the September 11, 2012 attacks.
Last night the program ran a segment reporting out the results of correspondent Lara Logan and producer Max McClellan's year-long investigation of the Benghazi attacks. The segment has caused a feeding frenzy on the right, with hosts and contributors at Fox News claiming that the reporting justifies their 13-month effort to turn the tragic attacks into a phony political scandal for the Obama administration.
During an interview with former deputy chief of mission Greg Hicks, Logan echoed long-running conservative claims that more military aid should have been sent to help the Americans under attack in Benghazi.
LOGAN (VOICEOVER): [T]he lingering question is why no larger military response ever crossed the border into Libya -- something Greg Hicks realized wasn't going to happen just an hour into the attack.
LOGAN: You have this conversation with the defense attaché. You ask him what military assets are on their way. And he says--
HICKS: Effectively, they're not. And I -- for a moment, I just felt lost. I just couldn't believe the answer. And then I made the call to the annex chief, and I told him, "Listen, you've got to tell those guys there may not be any help coming."
LOGAN: That's a tough thing to understand. Why?
HICKS: It just is. We--for us, for the people that go out-- onto the edge, to represent our country, we believe that if we get in trouble, they're coming to get us. That our back is covered. To hear that it's not, it's a terrible, terrible experience.
Contrary to Hicks' claims, military assets were on their way. Shortly after the attack began, a Marine anti-terrorist team in Spain and special operations teams in Croatia and the United States were ordered to deploy. But the Marines arrived in Tripoli, Libya, roughly 11 hours after the last Americans had been successfully evacuated from Benghazi, while the special operations teams reached a staging base in Italy at around that same time.
Here are four senior military experts who have answered Logan's "lingering question" by pointing out that help was sent, but due to logistical issues, none arrived until hours after the attack concluded:
Admiral (ret.) Mike Mullen, Former Joint Chiefs Chairman. During a September congressional hearing, Mullen, who co-chaired the State Department's independent investigation of Benghazi, said that he had repeatedly reviewed the military's response that night and determined that in spite of the "questions being raised about it,""The military did everything they possibly could that night. They just couldn't get there in time." He explained:
MULLEN: It goes to our core, when people are in trouble, to do everything we possibly can to help them out. And there were many forces that moved that night, including a special operation force in Europe that ended up in a base in southern Europe, a large special operations force from the United States which moved under direction as soon as -- as soon as they were given orders. A group of Marines that essentially were sent in from Spain into Tripoli the next day. It literally became -- this is not something you can just wish to happen instantly. There's a lot of planning, preparation, as rapidly -- to do it as rapidly as one can do it.
In an attempted rebuttal of Media Matters' e-book The Benghazi Hoax, the Republican research group America Rising points to no falsehoods and attempts to deceptively spin the facts to criticize Hillary Clinton's handling of the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
In an interview with Politico previewing Media Matters' new e-book The Benghazi Hoax, Media Matters founder David Brock tells Maggie Haberman that "politicizing a tragedy that results in American deaths crosses a line."
You can read the full article here.
The day after Congress finally signed off on legislation that would end a weeks-long government shutdown and prevent a debt ceiling crisis, Fox News sent a correspondent to the White House to shift the conversation to the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen devoted nearly ten minutes of the October 17 White House press briefing to questioning Press Secretary Jay Carney about the federal government's response to the Benghazi attacks.
As Mediaite's Tommy Christopher noted, at one point during the exchange Carney accused Rosen of "creating an exchange here for Fox." The network has been a central force in the right-wing media's effort to use phony conspiracy theories and blatant falsehoods about Benghazi to smear President Obama and members of his administration.
Rosen's line of questioning concerned questions raised by House Republicans at a week-old House Armed Services subcommittee hearing about a September 10, 2012, White House press office release detailing a meeting Obama had with key national security officials to ensure that steps were being taken to ensure the protection of U.S. personnel and assets on the September 11 anniversary. Rosen asked Carney "how closely vetted" the 13-month-old press release was and for more information about the meeting.
Later in the exchange, Rosen said that "the posturing of the military in a volatile time around the world" at the time of the Benghazi attacks "was so poor as to make rescue or remedy impossible." After Carney suggested that "the 'poor' statement is a reflection of an assessment made by Republicans who have, as you know, attempted, unfortunately, to make this a partisan issue," Rosen replied that "the fact that the posturing was such that it made remedy or rescue in that situation impossible is not a conclusion solely of the House Armed Services Committee or of Republicans, it is a self-evident fact."
Rosen's comments is consistent with the "cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces" that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has ascribed to conservatives who claim that the Obama administration should have been able to send additional support to the aid of Americans in Benghazi. "The one thing our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm's way," Gates said in May, "and there just wasn't time."
Similarly, during a September hearing, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, a co-chairman of the State Department Accountability Review Board that examined the attack, explained that he had reviewed the force posture of the U.S. military and the "military did everything they possibly could that night. They just couldn't get there in time." Mullen's co-chair Ambassador Thomas Pickering added that America has "over 270 consulates and embassies around the world in some very isolated and strange places" and "we are not able to count on the U.S. military, as Admiral Mullen said, always being positioned to come in short notice to deal with those issues."
Rosen ended the exchange by asking whether the administration would "be willing to make any of those documents associated with that press release available, as you did with the Susan Rice talking points?" Carney replied "James, I think we're done here," and exited the briefing room.
With hearings scheduled in the House for later this week to investigate the "unanswered questions" about Benghazi, conservatives have once again been revving up their attacks on the administration.
In a column for The Washington Post detailing a September 16 event at the right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation, Dana Milbank highlights just how far off the rails conservative and Republican scandal-mongering over Benghazi has gotten.
During the event, which was organized by the clownish, conspiracy-prone right-wing group Accuracy in Media and featured Republican congressman Frank Wolf and a panel of experts discussing the terror attack, AIM director Cliff Kincaid reportedly asserted that administration has "a policy of supporting al-Qaeda." According to Milbank, this assertion was elaborated on by panelist Clare Lopez, a former CIA officer, who wondered whether the United States has "flipped our policy" in such a way that it is using its assets "to help the forces of Islam, of al-Qaeda, of the Muslim Brotherhood, of jihad and sharia." Milbank reports that Rep. Wolf endorsed Lopez's point:
The lunacy began when Cliff Kincaid, a leader of Accuracy in Media, the group holding the gathering, suggested that the Obama administration is covering up events regarding Benghazi because the CIA operation there was secretly arming the enemy. "This administration has a policy of supporting al-Qaeda, the same people behind the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11," he declared.
One of the panelists, former CIA officer Clare Lopez, picked up the theme. "Have we flipped our policy," she asked, "to where we are placing the power, the influence, the might, diplomatic assets, military assets, intelligence assets, financial assets, at the service of al-Qaeda in the Middle East to bring to power forces of Islamic jihad? . . . Are we involved in the Middle East to help the forces of Islam, of al-Qaeda, of the Muslim Brotherhood, of jihad and sharia?"
Wolf's reply: "I think Clare makes a very good point." And this is the man leading the effort to create a "select committee" to investigate Benghazi.
So the Obama administration, which dispatched Osama bin Laden and decimated al-Qaeda with drone strikes, is now in cahoots with the terrorist network? Sorry, Congressman. I've got an appointment back on Earth.
After more than a year of desperate, often-misleading attacks on the administration over Benghazi, the scandal-mongering has reached the point where conservatives (including a member of Congress) are speculating about a supposed administration "policy" of aiding al-Qaeda and Islamic extremists. (Milbank also points to Lopez speculating that "that the administration covered up the Benghazi events because Obama wants to make it illegal to criticize Islam.")
Since the September 11 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, Fox News has played the key role in wrongfully framing that tragedy as a political scandal.
Conservative activists and elected officials have praised the network for their focus and said that without Fox, the Benghazi attacks never would have been as big of a story. For their part, Fox employees have often patted themselves on the back over their coverage while criticizing the "media at large beyond Fox News" for not giving the story more attention.
But Fox's coverage has not been entirely monolithic. On several key occasions, some of Fox's own on-air hosts and guests -- including hosts Shepard Smith, Geraldo Rivera, and Juan Williams, military analyst Jack Keane, and guest Thomas Ricks -- contradicted the network's typical mix of lies, spin, and conspiracy theories to inject actual facts about the Benghazi attacks and the administration's response.
On the evening of September 11, 2012, a heavily armed group of terrorists allegedly led by members of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia attacked a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith were killed in the assault. The remaining members of the mission were evacuated to a nearby CIA facility, which came under artillery fire early the next morning. Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both CIA contractors who had served as U.S. Navy Seals, were killed in that attack.
At roughly 10:24 p.m.* on the east coast, Mitt Romney's campaign released a statement accusing President Obama of "sympathizing" with the attackers; this politicization was immediately echoed by the right-wing noise machine.
Over the past year, conservative media figures and activists, led by Fox News, have repeatedly created and promoted lies, smears, and conspiracies related to the Benghazi attack. While the attack raised meaningful questions about how we can best protect U.S. diplomats in dangerous environments, the right has instead sought to use what happened in Benghazi and in the days that followed to bring down President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other members of the administration.
Much of the criticism has revolved around two lines of attack: That the Obama administration downplayed the role that terrorists played in the attack, and that the administration held back additional U.S. military forces that could have been used to save lives. In reality, President Obama referred to the attack as an "act of terror" during his September 12 Rose Garden speech, and U.S. officials have made clear that all available and appropriate forces were sent as quickly as possible. As former diplomatic security agent Fred Burton and journalist Samuel M. Katz wrote in their book Under Fire:
There was never a question concerning U.S. resolve or the overall capabilities of the U.S. military to respond to Benghazi. There was, however, nothing immediate about an immediate response. There were logistics and host-nation approvals to consider. An immediate response was hampered by the equation of geography and logistics.
In this report, Media Matters chronicles:
Fox News contributor Karl Rove is baselessly claiming the Obama administration's "lie" linking the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya to an anti-Islam video was "cooked up" by White House aides and an aide to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.
As part of its effort to turn Benghazi into Obama's Watergate, Fox has regularly perpetuated falsehoods about talking points the administration generated after the attacks that were used by Rice in interviews on the Sunday political talk shows. The network has paid special attention to what emails between administration and intelligence officials concerning the editing of those talking points do and do not say about the anti-Islam video, which Rice linked to the attacks during those interviews. Those false attacks have been revived in light of reports that President Obama plans to appoint Rice as his new National Security Advisor.
Discussing Rice's move to the White House on the July 5 edition of America's Newsroom, Rove claimed that "we do not know the answer of who is the author of the lie that this is all because of an anti-Muslim video," and went on to suggest that the talking points emails suggest that the idea came from discussions between White House aides Ben Rhodes and Tommy Vietor and an unnamed aide to Rice, who Rove believes was UN mission communications director Erin Pelton:
ROVE: We do not know the answer of who is the author of the lie that this is all because of an anti-Muslim video. Now, we have an idea. There are these emails that were released, they released 100 emails about the Benghazi situation. Remember, on Saturday morning, [September] 15, the CIA talking points are gutted at a White House National Security Council deputies meeting. Sunday morning, Susan Rice is on television saying it was the anti-Muslim video. How did we get there? Late in the afternoon, starting at 5:59 p.m., on Saturday afternoon, we start having an exchange of emails from an unnamed person at the U.S. mission at that United Nations with two low-level White House National Security Council communications guys, Ben Rhodes, who's in charge of communication for the National Security Council and one of his deputies, a guy named Tommy Vietor.
BILL HEMMER (ANCHOR): And they go back and forth for a period of six or seven hours.
ROVE: They go back and forth over a number of hours about the talking points. Now this would lead me to believe that this unnamed person, who might be Erin Pelton, the communications director at the U.S. mission at the United Nations, and Ben Rhodes and Tommy Vietor, that that's the transmission line to Susan Rice--
HEMMER: From the White House.
Rove offered similar claims in a May FoxNews.com column, asking whether "the USUN staffer, Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Vietor were responsible for cooking up the absurd and misleading storyline that an anti-Muslim video caused the death of four Americans," suggesting that their "principal concern might have been the election less than two months off."
In fact, the Benghazi emails released by the White House show only that the USUN official sought to confirm with the White House that the final version of the Benghazi talking points were what Rice should use in her interviews. In the sole exchange between the U.S. mission to the UN and the White House included in the emails, a USUN official asks Rhodes and Vietor if a forwarded version of the final talking points represented the "final language" that Rice should use on Benghazi, with Rhodes replying, "Yup."
A recent Fox News poll of registered voters, which purports to illustrate that a majority of voters agree with the network's dark narrative on the Obama administration's response to the 2012& Benghazi attacks, relies on questions from a foundation of tired distortions and lies.
Fox News conducted a poll of 1,013 registered voters between May 18-20, attempting to discern respondents' opinions on a variety of questions related to the government's handling of the Benghazi attacks. FoxNews.com published the poll on May 21 with the title, "Fox News Poll: Obama could have done more to help those in Benghazi."
Fox's poll questions, however, are predicated on the same distortions and outright lies Fox has pushed for the last nine months, which casts a pall of doubt on the veracity of its results.
For example, see Question 14, to which 62 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative:
Do you think President Obama could have done more to help the Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on the night of the attack?
The very premise of this question is bogus. Fox implies that perhaps Obama didn't do enough to help the Americans at the consulate, which flies in the face of explicit testimony from military and defense leaders regarding the White House's response. Testifying before Congress in February, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both testified that President Obama was fully engaged "pretty constantly" as the crisis unfolded, and that the response was appropriate and normal. What's more, as CNN reported on February 7:
Dempsey said he stood by the conclusion of an independent review board, which concluded the "interagency response was timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time, given the speed of the attacks, for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference."
ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl's statement in response to criticism for the deceptive sourcing in his so-called "exclusive" on administration talking points on the September attacks in Benghazi is fundamentally misleading.
In a statement to CNN, Karl claimed that ABC News "updated our story immediately" when it became clear it was based on misquoted emails from administration officials. But Karl also insisted the story "still entirely stands," and the network has issued no on-air corrections. In fact, in two on-air reports on the release of administration emails that debunked his reporting, Karl said that those emails "confirm" ABC News' original story.
Conservatives have long claimed that the Obama administration edited references to terrorism out of the Benghazi talking points for political reasons. Karl buttressed those allegations with a May 10 report that claimed, based on what appeared to be direct quotes from the emails of White House and State Department aides, that "the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department."
Karl's "exclusive" received widespread coverage even though it was largely a rehash of previously covered debates on who gave input into the talking points. It did not disprove what Gen. David Petraeus, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified in November: that the intelligence community signed off on the final draft of the talking points, and that references to terrorist groups in Libya were removed in order to avoid tipping off those groups.
But Karl's story dissolved after CNN's Jake Tapper obtained a key email from a White House aide that differed substantially from how it had been quoted by Karl. The ABC News reporter then acknowledged that he had never seen the actual emails on which he had reported. Rather, a Republican source had read him their own summaries of those emails.
On May 20, CNN's Howard Kurtz reported the following statement from Karl: "Clearly, I regret the email was quoted incorrectly and I regret that it's become a distraction from the story, which still entirely stands. I should have been clearer about the attribution. We updated our story immediately."
This statement merely compounds the dubious practices that in which Karl and ABC News have engaged with regard to this story.
The Washington Post's Bob Woodward, based on a series of dubious factual errors, is now offering a flawed comparison between the Watergate scandal and the Obama administration's response to the September terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.
There's no small irony to Woodward injecting himself into what has become a scandal driven by deceptively edited emails passed off to reporters, given the recent attention he received after using a similar method to support his ridiculous accusation that a White House aide threatened him.
In his latest attempt to jump into the debate on the side of the right wing, Woodward demonstrates a striking lack of familiarity with the basic facts of what happened.
Here's what Woodward said during his May 17 appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, and what's wrong with those statements.
WOODWARD: You were talking earlier about kind of dismissing the Benghazi issue as one that's just political and the president recently said it's a sideshow. But if you read through all these e-mails, you see that everyone in the government is saying, "Oh, let's not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al Qaeda. Let's not tell the public that there were warnings."
If Woodward actually did read through all the recently-released emails from intelligence officials and other administration aides discussing the assembly of the much-ballyhooed talking points used in the wake of the attacks, he seems to have missed a few things. Administration officials suggested removing references to the al Qaeda ties of attackers because they were worried about tainting the investigation of the perpetrators, as David Petraeus, who was CIA director at the time of the attacks, later testified. Meanwhile, CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell reportedly advocated for removing references to general CIA warnings about potential attacks -- there had been no specific threat warning for that day. As CBS News pointed out on May 16, the CIA signed off on all changes, and there is "no evidence" that the White House "orchestrated" the changes.
WOODWARD: I hate to show, that this is one of the documents with the editing that one of the people in the State Department said, 'Oh, let's not let these things out.'
Woodward appears to be holding this document, in which hand-written edits were made removing several paragraphs of the talking points during the "deputies meeting" of the National Security Council. But that editing was reportedly performed by the CIA's Morell, not anyone from the State Department. Morell reportedly approved the document for distribution.
From the May 16 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Emails from Obama administration aides obtained by CNN should end the right-wing media's nine-month witch hunt regarding the creation and editing of talking points related to the September 2012 attacks on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
CNN has obtained more than 100 pages of emails detailing the exchanges between CIA, State Department, and other Obama administration aides concerning what should be included in talking points for public appearances by members of Congress and administration officials.
Those talking points were used by U.N. ambassador Susan Rice in a series of interviews that were subsequently seized upon by conservative critics who claimed she downplayed the role of terrorism in the attacks in order to aid President Obama's re-election. On May 10 ABC's Jonathan Karl reported on what he later acknowledged were summaries of a handful of the emails of administration aides, triggering another wave of claims that the administration had engaged in a cover-up.
But while the right has spent more than half a year mired in scandalmongering over the talking points, the emails buttress what Gen. David Petraeus, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified in November: that the intelligence community signed off on the final draft of the talking points, and that references to terrorist groups in Libya were removed in order to avoid tipping off those groups and preserve the ongoing investigation.
Notably, while the right-wing media has expressed months of outrage over administration statements linking the attacks to an anti-Islam video, claiming that this was based on political desire and not the conclusions of the intelligence community, every version of the talking points stated that the attacks were "spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo," which had been triggered by the video. The emails contain no criticism of that statement.
CNN's Jake Tapper further reports that the removal of portions of the talking points dealing with warnings about the security situation in Benghazi prior to the attacks were supported by the CIA:
Senior administration officials say that long before the CIA heard concerns from the State Department about warnings being put in the talking points, CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell advocated for taking the warnings out, since he felt the talking points should focus on what happened in Benghazi on September 11, rather than the previous six months.
He also felt it was unprofessional and unfair for the CIA to cite its own warnings to the State Department, officials said. Victoria Nuland, then the State Department spokeswoman, raised concerns over the CIA's first version of the talking points, saying that they went further than what she was allowed to say about the attack during her briefings.