What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 11, 2014

Jack Kelly Sunday

This week in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, conservative columnist Jack Kelly's asking all sorts of deep questions about (now wait for it) BENGHAZI!

Jack starts with the by hopeful conservative frame:
“It is, to me, equivalent to what was discovered with the Nixon tapes,” said columnist Charles Krauthammer.

He was referring to an email Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wrote two days after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on our consulate in Benghazi on 9/​11/​2012.

Senior officials should stress “these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy,” Mr. Rhodes said. His email was among 41 obtained by a conservative watchdog group and made public April 29.
Here's the set of Judicial Watch emails that Jack references - just in case you want to check his work.

Let's start with the quotation and Jack's context:
This was intended to mislead to protect the president’s re-election. At the time Mr. Rhodes wrote his email, the CIA, the military’s African Command and senior Pentagon and State Department officials knew the Benghazi attack was mounted by an affiliate of al-Qaida. [Emphasis added.]
Actually, that's just not the case.  From the Senate Report:
It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks or whether extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. 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 attacks with little advance warning.
And in any event, at the time that Rhodes was writing his email (8:09PM on September 14, 2012) this was the first talking point coming out of the back and forth between all the intelligence/government agencies crafting them:
The currently available information suggests that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex. (Pg 46)
And immediately following:
The investigation is on-going as to who is responsible for the violence although, the crowd was almost certainly a mix of individuals. That being said, there are indications that violent extremists participated in the demonstrations.
Note the "currently available" phrase as well as the use of the term "on-going" in the discussion of the talking points to be released to the public.

As Dave Weigel points out at Slate.com:
Rice was saying that protests in Cairo broke out over the video, and that protests in Benghazi copied them. (A month later, the New York Times was reporting that the Benghazi militants were also inspired by the video.) The CIA's talking points referred to "protests" at several embassies, and the Rhodes email added that "these protests are rooted in an Internet video."

Are you lost yet? OK—the entire argument is about Rhodes mentioning, hours after the CIA had suggested the Benghazi attack grew out of demonstrations in several countries, that the immediate inspiration for the demonstrations was a video. That's the scandal—that by giving the video all this credit, the administration was distracting people from the real story that terrorism was surging again. Even though the subsequent 19 months have seen no more attacks on embassies. Even though reporting at the time said the excuse for the protests was said video.
Hardly Nixonian, doncha think?

We gotta continue this demolition of Jack's attack a bit more, though. He asks:
The military should have attempted a rescue, said the AFRICOM intelligence chief mentioned above. Why didn’t it?
What Jack's referring to, of course, is this quotation from Brigidier General Robert Lovell, who said:
The point is we should have tried.
However, Jack fails to inform his reading public (and AGAIN his fact-checkers at the P-G fail to check him on) that in testimony that same day said:
CONNELLY: I want to read to you the conclusion of the chairman of the [Armed Services] Committee, the Republican chairman Buck McKeon, who conducted formal briefings and oversaw that report he said quote "I'm pretty well satisfied that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing all happened, and how quickly it dissipated we probably couldn't have done much more than we did." Do you take issue with the chairman of the Armed Services Committee? In that conclusion?

LOVELL: His conclusion that he couldn't have done much more than they did with the capability and the way they executed it?

CONNELLY: Given the timeframe.

LOVELL: That's a fact.


LOVELL: The way it is right now. The way he stated it.

CONNELLY: Alright, because I'm sure you can appreciate, general, there might be some who, for various and sundry reasons would like to distort your testimony and suggest that you're testifying that we could have, should have done a lot more than we did because we had capabilities we simply didn't utilize. That is not your testimony?

LOVELL: That is not my testimony.

CONNELLY: I thank you very much, general. [Emphases added.]
And then there's this question from Jack:
President Barack Obama wasn’t in the White House situation room during the seven-hour siege, said former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor. Where was he?
Um, Jack? He was in the Oval Office.

And so, what sort of contact did the White House have at that point, monitoring the situation?

Here's General Martin Dempsey, testifying before Congress:
I would, if I could just, to correct one thing. I wouldn't say there was no follow-up from the White House. There was no follow-up, to my knowledge, with the president. But his staff was engaged with the national military command center pretty constantly through the period, which is the way it would normally work. [Emphasis added.]
I'll ask it again: Doesn't anyone at the P-G fact-check Jack Kelly?


Ol' Froth said...

The other thing, what is illegal about an official repeating a talking point on TV even if it WAS misleading? Its not like Rice was under oath, or documents were destroyed.

Dayvoe said...

Doesn't matter. BENGHAZI!

Heir to the Throne said...

Documents were withheld and hidden from Congress.
Here is where you can separate out the really diehard Obots who say it is did not involve Benghazi.

"First things first: this memo should have been released earlier, and conservatives are fully justified in asking why it took a FOIA request to finally shake it loose."

Is the Senate intelligence committee equal parts Democrat and Republican? According to the Democrat's new standard for the special committee any other makeup makes any report from it illegitimate.

EdHeath said...

HTTT, the rest of Kevin Drum's article explains why the memo is not important. That you failed to mention that is why no trusts conservatives.

Heir to the Throne said...

The memo was not important.
They only hid it because the Republicans would take it out of context and make a big deal out of nothing.

Like they did with
"Operation Fast and Furious, the attempt to stop gun trafficking into Mexico gone horribly wrong, is now providing political fodder for a Washington game of “gotcha” that underscores everything wrong with our political system."

Ol' Froth said...

Exactly. Glad you recognize that "Fast and Furious" was a ginned up "controversy."

Heir to the Throne said...

Fast and Furious" was a ginned up "controversy."

Which is why the Obama Admin invoked executive privilege to stonewall the investigation.