The Advocate has run another inaccurate editorial cartoon (Feb. 2), this one insinuating that the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 constitutes a presidential scandal akin to Watergate. Interwoven with that fallacy is the false insinuation that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s exasperated response to partisan rhetoric from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., constitutes the Obama administration response to the Benghazi incident.
Secretary Clinton’s exasperation is easy to understand — days later, her successor Sen. John Kerry pointed out to Sen. Johnson that we actually do know “what really happened” at Benghazi, in part because of an in-depth presentation at a committee briefing that Johnson didn’t bother to attend. In addition to that, the State Department released on Dec. 17 a detailed report on Benghazi that stated clearly “Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”
The GOP political narrative continues to insist that a “cover-up” took place, though they never explain what was covered up. A quick review of the record shows that initial statements by administration officials reflected the National Intelligence assessment of the incident as being related to protests at the Cairo embassy the same day. The director of mational intelligence issued a statement on Sept. 28 stating: “As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack” (http://dni.gov/files/documents/Newsroom/Press%20Releases/ODNI_Benghazi_Statement_9.28.2012.pdf).
Prior to this, the White House had stated on Sept. 20 that the incident was a terrorist attack, but congressional Republicans endlessly attacked U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for statements she made on Sept. 16 (based on the National Intelligence position at the time), ignoring numerous statements made by the administration afterward. This pattern has continued. The GOP has been desperate to exploit the Benghazi tragedy for political gain, and has been tremendously frustrated that it hasn’t worked.