Saturday, November 17, 2012

NYT's Rosenthal on Benghazi: dumbest piece ever?

Okay, that's not fair. There's no way that Andrew Rosenthal's latest column--The Benghazi Circus--is the dumbest thing ever written. Hell, it's not even the dumbest thing Rosenthal has ever written. But it's certainly right up there. Rosenthal opens the piece with this gem of a line:
It’s not surprising that, directly after the incident, there was some confusion as to what, exactly, had taken place. Just as it’s not surprising that questions remain two months later. At least it’s not surprising to serious people with a background in military and intelligence matters.  
Which, apparently, does not include Republican members of Congress.
But apparently, it does include Andrew Rosenthal? Because he has an extensive background in military and intelligence matters, I guess. What's that? He doesn't? He's never served in the military, never worked for the  CIA, the FBI or any other branch on the intelligence community? Oh.

Rosenthal's breadth of knowledge on these matters is circumscribed by his lack of such a background and his patently obvious ideological and political beliefs: he's a left-wing partisan hack. And in that role, he is--like so many other apologists for the current Administration--desperately attempting to spin away the Benghazi situation.

Up until Election Day, these apologists were arguing that Benghazi was a manufactured issue being used to tear down the President in hopes of helping the Romney Campaign. But the Election is over. Obama won, Romney lost. That excuse won't fly anymore. Rosenthal--and his comrades on the left--wants us to believe nothing nefarious took place in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks. And the big problem there--for the Administration--is still Susan Rice and her ill-advised statements about the attack. Once again, what she actually said on Face the Nation:
We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.
It's now no longer even in question that her statement was inaccurate. There was information to draw that conclusion, there was even information--intelligence--linking the attacks to al Qaeda. But that information was quite clearly purposely ignored in favor of a narrative constructed to make the Administration look stronger. And Rosenthal--drawing on his vast background in "military and intelligence matters"--clings to the spin (my boldface):

When Ms. Rice said on television a few days after the attack that “extremist elements” took advantage of a protest over an anti-Muslim video, she was reflecting the intelligence she had been given – not by political appointees, but by career intelligence officers.
How does Rosenthal know this? He doesn't, of course. And amazingly, the President contradicted this claim a few days ago in a moment of chivalrous anger:
As I said before, she 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.
The White House, i.e. the President, directed her to hit the Sunday news shows. To suppose it did so without providing her with talking points is silly, moronic really. She spoke at the behest of a political appointee; she said what she was told to say. That is crystal clear. So the question remains, why did she say misleading and untrue things? Rosenthal and others latch on to the idea of there being "confusion" in the aftermath. If that's the case, Rice shouldn't have said anything, since there was a lack of real clarity. The Administration shouldn't have said anything, apart from noting that the facts were "still being sorted out," or some such thing.

But that's not what happened. Unsupported and misleading information was purposely disseminated to serve a political agenda, end of story. As Jennifer Rubin notes (my boldface):
Sometimes a dastardly conspiracy is just a dastardly conspiracy. Indeed the Benghazi episode, at least the response to the attack, is beginning to look more and more like the work of a partisan cabal afraid of upsetting the president’s reelection prospects, exactly as conservative critics have been saying for two months.
Rosenthal and company may not like it, but it is what it is. All of their attempts at deflection are failing and in the end, they'll be left twisting in the wind. Once upon a time, Susan Rice might have been scapegoated here, but that play is no longer available, since Obama has essentially called her a mouthpiece who said only what she was told to say. The fish stinks from the head.

Cheers, all.

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