The Benghazi Report: How smoothly Washington washes away its scandals
The report from the Accountability Review Board, headed by Thomas Picketing and Admiral Mike Mullen, is only one tiny piece of a vast bureaucratic ballet that has evolved in Washington over decades to handle hot issues, even deadly ones like Benghazi, with minimal damage to the politicians and bureaucrats in power at the time.
It's an amazingly sophisticated and bipartisan procedure that looks sound to naive eyes. It's built upon powerful self-interest and savvy strategic communications that manages and manipulates information and the timing of its release to minimize damage to incumbents and to dampen ongoing media interest in pursuing an embarrassing matter further.
To increase the likelihood of that, the D.C. media will soon be fed a tempting new news story, maybe naming a new cabinet member, that will make the Benghazi affair seem even older than yesterday's news. Which -- oh, my goodness -- it already is by this morning.
Here's the time-line, the ploys and (some unanswered questions):
On the night of Sept. 11 a heavily-armed mob gathers outside the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, where Amb. Chris Stevens is despite other foreign entities abandoning the lawless city. The consulate is unfortified, despite months of local terrorism, repeated warnings and pleas to Washington for security enhancements and a recall of a special security team. Mob storms consulate. Local Libyan guards flee or are overwhelmed. Stevens and an aide are killed.
Mob follows fleeing staffers a mile to CIA not-so-safe house. Mortar fire kills two ex-SEALs. At least three radioed rescue pleas go unheeded. Defense Secy. Leon Panetta later explains you don't send troops into unknown situations, although he did just that this month in Afghanistan to rescue a kidnapped civilian doctor, at the cost of one SEAL's life.
(The U.S. had video drones over the Benghazi consulate. So, what's not to know for rescuers? And it was, after all, the anniversary of 9/11. How could anyone not anticipate trouble at U.S. installations in the Mideast on that day?)
On Sept. 12 before rushing to a Las Vegas political fundraiser, President Obama appeared in the Rose Garden with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to denounce the killings (the first ambassadorial death in 30 years), to vow justice for the perps and to launch a meme that the consulate attack was really a spontaneous reaction to an obscure anti-Islam YouTube video.
Read the full story here.