Who fed Rice the Benghazi lie?
At his news conference Wednesday, President Barack Obama postured as the young Galahad striding out onto the schoolyard to stop a pair of bullies from beating up a girl.
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham had charged U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice with misleading the nation when, five days after the Benghazi attack in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed, she appeared on five TV shows to say it had all resulted from a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video.
Susan Rice, thundered Obama, "made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her."
"If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. ... But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous."
The indignation here is more than a bit cloying. Far from being a convincing defense, Obama's remarks call into question the competence or the truthfulness of the White House itself.
Consider again what Obama said.
Susan Rice "had nothing to do with Benghazi." But if she "had nothing to do with Benghazi," why was she sent out to explain Benghazi? Why did the White House not send Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CIA Director David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or National Security Adviser Tom Donilon?
Rice was scripted to tell the nation it was not a "preplanned" attack, when that is exactly what it was.
Here we come to the heart of the matter.
Though journalists, CIA personnel and State Department people listening in real time all knew from intercepts and reports from our people on the ground that this was a terrorist attack involving automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, the fabricated story - that it came out of a protest - was pushed relentlessly by the administration.
Jay Carney pushed it two days after the attack. Petraeus pushed it on the Hill three days after the attack. Obama mentioned the video half a dozen times at the U.N. on Sept. 25.
Another question arises from the press conference.
When Obama said Rice "gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her," was that also the best intelligence the president of the United States had? If it is, he ought to clean house at his intelligence agencies.
Many inside knew, during or right after the attack, the truth about what had happened and were leaking it to the press. So why would the administration hierarchy collaborate in putting out a phony story?
Two answers come to mind:
One, the "spontaneous protest" story would enable Obama to keep pushing his campaign line that he had gotten Osama bin Laden and that al-Qaida was "on the path to defeat." A successful al-Qaida-type attack in Libya would have contradicted his best foreign policy claim.
Second, a spontaneous attack would absolve the administration of responsibility for failing to see it coming, failing to provide greater security, failing to have forces prepared to deal with it.
What was behind the cover-up is what Congress needs to find out.
Pat Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Shazier sits, Justin Brown inactive vs. Texans
- State Supreme Court Justice McCaffery suspended in email porn scandal
- Harrison woman dead in 3-car crash in Natrona Heights
- Discipline Pitt’s only optionagainst Georgia Tech
- Mars Area superintendent resigns after short tenure
- Ferrante defense says arrest of prosecutor’s boyfriend could affect case
- Penguins notebook: Johnston blends music, practice for local students
- Bomb threat prompts search at Norwin High School
- Panthers notebook: Three Pitt players named ACC players of the week
- Deepening U.S. commitment to Kobani ties Obama’s Islamic State effort to Kurds’ fate
- Indiana slaying suspect hints at more deaths