American journalism has disgraced itself in the matter of the Benghazi terrorist attack.
We knew not to expect the mainstream media to be proactive about anything that might put President Obama in a bad light. We didn’t expect investigative journalists to be tripping over each other to expose the truth like they did in the Watergate days.
But Benghazi was in their face and couldn’t easily be ignored. Yet long after it was obvious that this was a credible story of malfeasance for political reasons at the highest levels of government, the ferocious watchdog that is our national press still snoozed.
This dereliction of duty is especially curious since most of them work for financially troubled news organizations. The Benghazi story of needless death, lies and finally an obvious cover-up would certainly boost readership and ratings. Yet almost everything we know about what really happened is thanks to Republican politicians and the advocacy journals of the right.
Of course, those who have done the investigating have been roundly criticized as partisan and self-interested. Maybe they are. But the facts stand on their own.
For example, on Sept. 14, Hillary Clinton told the father of Tyrone Woods, who had died in the attack, that he could rest assured that “we will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.” Two days later Susan Rice worked the Sunday talk shows telling the nation that “what sparked the violence was a hateful video on the Internet.” A full two weeks after the attack, President Obama was still going on about how “no video justifies an attack on an embassy.”
It’s possible that Rice was simply doing what she was told and didn’t know any better. But it’s almost certain that Obama and Clinton knew they were lying. We know now the information from Benghazi was strong and consistent that a terrorist attack had occurred. The very first email read: “US diplomatic mission in Benghazi under attack.” Within two hours it was reported that “Ansar al-Sharia claims responsibility for the attacks.” Deputy Chief of Mission Greg Hicks later testified: “the only report our mission made through every channel was that there had been an attack on our consulate… No protest.”
So “what did Obama know and when did he know it”? None of our crack investigators in the mainstream media have even tried to find out. But it’s clear the fib about the video was concocted for political purposes. The 2012 presidential campaign theme was that Al-Qaeda had been vanquished by the Mighty Obama. A violent attack killing a U.S. ambassador and others wasn’t consistent with that narrative. Other explanations had to be invented which, with the passive cooperation of the press, got Obama past the election.
It took Steven Hayes of the neoconservative Weekly Standard to document that the CIA’s initial talking points used to explain the attacks underwent 12 different revisions before release to the public. The revised talking points, in contrast to the intelligence reports, made it seem that excited locals had caused a dustup.
Yet, White House spokesman Jay Carney falsely claimed on Sept. 28 that the only change made by the White House and state department was changing the word “consulate” to “diplomatic facility.” No questions were raised at the time.
In fairness, in the last week or so the media finally seem to be coming to life. They’re too late to assure a fair shake for Mitt Romney, who was pilloried for speaking the truth at the time of the attack. But even at this late date, many questions still beg for answers.
What do the 30 witnesses who have so far been kept from coming forward know? Who denied the Benghazi facility the additional security that was urgently requested? Who issued orders for the military rescue operation to stand down and why? How high up did the decision to rewrite the talking points and other lies go? Why were State Department employees forbidden to talk to a US representative on a fact-finding mission?
The American people deserve straight up, nonpartisan answers. Fourth Estate — get to work. It’s not too late for you to shine.
• East Valley resident Tom Patterson is a retired physician and former state senator. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.