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The right’s BENGHAZI!!! narrative collapses once again.

(via thepoliticalfreakshow)

Lara Logan is reportedly back at work at CBS News’ 60 Minutes after a six-month leave of absence, even as questions linger over the network’s investigation of her botched Benghazi report.

Logan and her producer Max McClellan took leaves of absence in November following an internal review into their October 27 report on the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, which the network was forced to withdraw. Logan’s report was based on the unreliable testimony of an “eyewitness” named Dylan Davies and crumbled once it became clear that he had lied about being present at the besieged diplomatic compound during the attack, telling the FBI he had never been there. That triggered a firestorm of coverage, with media observers suggesting that the debacle had permanently damaged the brands of CBS News and 60 Minutes. The CBS internal review found that Logan’s story “was deficient in several respects.”

According to the Associated Press on June 4, “CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair said Wednesday that Logan is back. She had no details on when the correspondent resumed work and what stories she is working on.”

In a statement, Media Matters founder David Brock said:

The flawed 60 Minutes report on Benghazi permanently damaged the credibility of both the show and of CBS. A New York magazine report made clear that a lion’s share of the blame for massive errors in that report belongs to Lara Logan. CBS indicated that they were serious about rebuilding its brand and taking accountability. Having Logan back on 60 Minutes shows the exact opposite.

Indeed, the May 2012 article in New York detailed how the Benghazi story got on the air, ultimately finding that internal CBS office politics allowed Logan’s personal credibility to stand in for standard fact-checking and basic reporting. New York also revealed new details about the process, many of which were inconsistent with CBS’ internal review, raising questions about the validity of that review and its scope. These inconsistencies include:

  • While CBS’ internal review found that the 60 Minutes team interviewed State and FBI sources related to Davies’ story, New York reported that “no calls were made to the State Department or the FBI specifically to vet Davies’ claim.”
  • While CBS’ internal review stated that reporters “with better access” to the FBI could have learned that Davies had told the agency he hadn’t witnessed the attack, New York revealed that one of Logan’s own sources on the story had access to that information.
  • While CBS’ internal review found that a speech Logan gave criticizing the Obama administration’s tactics toward Al Qaeda had conflicted with “CBS News standards,” New York reported that Logan’s bosses had helped arrange the speech and that the president of CBS News was in the audience.

As Media Matters has documented, the New York article raised significant new questions that were not answered by the review, including why the review did not address the role played by executive editor Bill Owens, who reportedly vetted the piece, and whether CBS News was aware that Republican Senator Lindsay Graham was a major source for Logan as she developed the story. 

h/t: Matt Gertz at MMFA

h/t: Jennifer Bendery at HuffPost Politics

A six-part series by New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick destroyed several myths about the September 11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, myths often propagated by conservative media and their allies in Congress to politicize the attack against the Obama administration.

Since the September 2012 attacks, right-wing media have seized upon various inaccurate, misleading, or just plain wrong talking points about Benghazi. Some of those talking points made their way into the mainstream, most notably onto CBS’ 60 Minutesearning the network the Media Matters' 2013 "Misinformer of the Year" title for its botched report.

Kirkpatrick’s series, titled "A Deadly Mix In Benghazi," debunks a number of these right-wing talking points based on “months of investigation” and “extensive interviews” with those who had “direct knowledge of the attack.” Among other points, Kirkpatrick deflates the claims that an anti-Islamic YouTube video played no role in motivating the attacks and that Al Qaeda was involved in the attack: 

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

Fox News, scores of Republican pundits, and Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), among others, dragged then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice through the mud for citing talking points that mentioned an anti-Islamic YouTube video on Sunday morning news programs following the attacks. Despite right-wing media claims to the contrary, however, Kirkpatrick stated that the attack on the Benghazi compoundwas in “large part” “fueled” by the anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube. He wrote (emphasis added):

The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

[…]

There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers. A Libyan journalist working for The New York Times was blocked from entering by the sentries outside, and he learned of the film from the fighters who stopped him. Other Libyan witnesses, too, said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.

Another talking point that right-wing media used to accuse the Obama administration of a political cover-up was the removal of Al Qaeda from Rice’s morning show talking points. Kirkpatrick, however, affirmed in his NYTimes report that Al Qaeda was not involved in the attack in Benghazi (emphasis added):

But the Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with Al Qaeda’s international terrorist network. The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda, according to several officials briefed on the call. But when the friend heard the attacker’s boasts, he sounded astonished, the officials said, suggesting he had no prior knowledge of the assault.

Kirkpatrick also dispelled the notion that the attack on the compound was carefully planned, writing that “the attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs.” 

h/t: MMFA

The NYT investigation on the Benghazi story is yet more proof that the right-wing was using scaremongering tactics about what happened there as a tool to attempt to get Romney elected President in 2012, smear President Obama (and Democrats by extension) with impunity, and to deliberately harm Hillary’s reputation for the 2016 elections.

On October 27, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a segment anchored by correspondent Lara Logan and featuring the results of her year-long investigation into the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Right-wing media outlets and conservative politicians promptly seized on the story, claiming it validated their extensive effort to turn the attacks into a political scandal for President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

12 days later, the network pulled the report and apologized to viewers, with the network acknowledging that it had committed its biggest failure since the 2004 controversy surrounding a 60 Minutes story on President Bush’s Air National Guard service.

After facing withering criticism for issuing an apology on 60 Minutes that failed to detail what the network had done wrong or any investigation CBS would undertake to explain how its blunder had occurred, CBS announced on November 14 that it had begun an ongoing “journalistic review” of the segment. But the network declined to detail who is performing that review or whether its results will be made public.

Much of the criticism has revolved around the network’s handling of its interview with the former British security contractor Dylan Davies, identified by CBS as a “witness” to the attacks. But numerous flaws in the report have been identified since the segment aired.

1.  The Fraudulent Benghazi “Witness”

The 60 Minutes segment featured Davies, who appeared on the show under the pseudonym “Morgan Jones.” Logan and Davies related how the security contractor had scaled a 12 foot wall on the side of the diplomatic compound the night of the attack and dispatching a terrorist with his rifle butt. He also told viewers about how he had supposedly seen Ambassador Chris Stevens’ dead body in a local hospital.

But four days later, The Washington Post reported that an incident report filed by Davies’ employer, Blue Mountain, had said that the security contractor “could not get anywhere near” the compound the night of the attack, and that he found out about Ambassador Stevens’ death not by finding him in a local hospital, but from a Libyan colleague.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Davies claimed that he had not written the incident report and that he had lied to his boss to cover up the fact that he had disobeyed orders. He said that he had also discussed the events of the attack with the FBI and that that account matched the one he had given to CBS and would vindicate him. Logan stood by Davies’ claims, saying that she had known all along that Davies had told a different story to his bosses and that she believed the story he had told her was the truth.

On November 7, The New York Times reported that the account Davies gave the FBI matched the story he told his boss, not the one he told CBS. The network retracted their report, with Logan apologizing on-air, saying CBS was “wrong to put him on-air.”

2.  The Ethical Conflict With The “Witness’” Book

The initial 60 Minutes segment referenced and aired an image of the cover of Davies’ book, The Embassy House: The Explosive Eyewitness Account of the Libyan Embassy Siege by the Soldier Who Was There. But Logan failed to disclose that the book was published by Threshold Editions, an imprint of the CBS division Simon & Schuster.

On November 5, The New York Times reported that Logan and CBS News were standing by the network’s Benghazi reporting. But Logan and Fager both said that the network erred by failing to acknowledge the financial connection it shared with Davies.

h/t: MMFA

h/t: Josh Marshall at TPM

holygoddamnshitballs:

CBS News will issue a correction for its Oct. 27 “60 Minutes” report on the terrorist attacks on a diplomatic compound in Libya, and the correspondent who reported the story has apologized to viewers.

“The truth is that we made a mistake, and that’s very disappointing for any journalist,” correspondent Lara Logan said Friday on “CBS This Morning.” “It’s very disappointing for me. Nobody likes to admit that they made a mistake, but if you do, you have to stand up and take responsibility and you have to say that you were wrong, and in this case we were wrong. We made a mistake.”

The story began to fall apart when the Washington Post reported that Dylan Davies, the former State Department security contractor interviewed under pseudonym on the program, had told his employers in a post-incident report that he’d been nowhere near the Benghazi compound when it came under attack.

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Amid the sense of gridlock that has become the norm in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is now threatening to block every single nomination from the Obama administration until he gets what he wants on Benghazi — again.

On Sunday evening, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a new report on the attack in Benghazi, Libya that took place last year, examining the nature of the attack, which analysts are now calling pre-planned. This differs greatly from the early days and weeks after the attack, when members of the administration were still attempting to find out what went wrong and what led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

In that light, and still on the hunt for a White House cover-up, Graham was on Fox News on Monday, advocating for yet another look into the tragedy, echoing the demands of the most conspiracy-minded members of the House of Representatives:

GRAHAM: So I am calling for a joint select committee. But for God’s sake, let the House have a select committee where you get three or four committees together to look at this situation as one unit rather than stove piping. And where are the survivors? 14 months later, Steve, the survivors, the people who survived the attack in Benghazi, have not been made available to the U.S. congress for oversight purposes. I’m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors are being made available to the Congress. I’m tired of hearing from people on TV and reading about stuff in books.

“We need to get to the bottom of this and to my house colleagues, Darrell Issa has done great job,” Graham continued in his Fox interview, referring to the many House Oversight Committee hearings that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has held related to the attack. Issa himself, however, has admitted that he did not learn much in his last major round of public hearings.

In demanding that a special committee be convened in the House to take over the Benghazi investigation, Graham is aligning himself with many of the more conservative members of the House Republican caucus and against Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell(R-KY). Rep. Frank Wolff (R-VA) has been rallying conservatives to press Boehner for a special committee for months now, aligning himself with outside groups who have attempted — and failed — to show that public opinion is on their side. Despite their past failures, Graham’s decision to join their ranks will surely help him fend off the Tea Party challenger he’s facing ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

This is not the first time at all that Graham has threatened to take hostages in the Senate to get his way, nor even the first time his demands have related to Benghazi. Graham issued a warning about no nominations proceeding unless the Port of Charleston received the $50,000 needed to be deepened back in 2011. In Dec. 2012, Graham threatened to allow the U.S. to go over the so-called “fiscal cliff” unless the Social Security age was raised.

On Benghazi itself, Graham has had his exact demands change along with his targets. CIA Director John Brennan was threatened not to be confirmed unless Graham was able to learn precisely who changed the infamous “talking points” that now-National Security Advisor Susan Rice delivered the week after the attack. He also swore to not allow a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense unless his predecessor Leon Panetta testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Both of those demands were met, showing that the CIA itself was the one who deleted references to al Qaeda from Rice’s talking points and allowing Panetta to chide the SASC’s Republicans for treating the military like a 911 service.

Graham’s threat comes just as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) prepares a new wave of Obama administration nominees to be brought before the Senate. Even before the threat to hold all of these nominees was issued, Senate Democrats have been mulling the so-called “nuclear option” of allowing for votes to proceed with a majority 51 votes, ending the threat of the filibuster on certain types of votes.

Ironically enough, Graham recently chastised his colleagues for blocking an up or down vote on the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, calling it the “wrong” thing to do.

(via Watch Conservative Media’s Favorite Benghazi Myth Fall Apart | Blog | Media Matters for America)

Retired Admiral Mike Mullen and former Ambassador Thomas Pickering today debunked the conservative media myth that the Obama administration failed to deploy adequate military resources to Benghazi, Libya, in response to the September 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission. Mullen told members of Congress that the “military did everything they possibly could that night.” Pickering agreed, testifying that the military is not always “positioned to come in short notice to deal with those issues.”

Mullen and Pickering led the State Department Accountability Review Board (ARB), which issued an independent report in December about the attacks. Both men are testifying today at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing led by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who, along with members of the conservative media, have attempted to politicize the attacks to criticize the Obama administration.

During his questioning time, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) noted that Republicans have suggested the Obama administration “withheld assistance on the night of the attacks for political reasons.” As Media Matters has documented, conservative media — led by Fox News — have echoed Republicans in persistently using this line of attack when criticizing the Obama administration over Benghazi.

Mullen, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007-2011, debunked the myth, stating that the "military did everything they possibly could that night. They just couldn’t get there in time." Mullen also detailed the “many forces that moved that night” and said a military response “is not something you can just wish to happen instantly. There’s a lot of planning, preparation” to “do it as rapidly as one can do it.” 

Channeling Glenn Beck, WorldNetDaily columnist and Fox News regular Erik Rush today writes that President Obama orchestrated the attack on the US annex in Benghazi, which he claims was had “clandestinely provided arms to the rebels in Syria,” in order to provide arms and chemical weapons to the rebel forces in Syria.

Now why would Obama and his supposed Islamist allies attack the same US annex they believe was arming Islamists? Well, as Rush explains, it was all an effort to cover up the fact that they were doing it in the first place, and then the administration had to cover up the reasons for the attack.

A cover-up of the cover-up.

But despite the fact that this makes absolutely no sense, Rush went on to say that the insurgents in Syria “came to possess chemical weapons” thanks to Obama, so now Obama must attack Syria in order to “erase the evidence of having provided them” and cover that up too.

h/t: RWW

One year ago today, on September 11, 2012, a U.S. diplomatic outpost and Central Intelligence Agency annex were attacked by extremists in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, U.S. foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALS.

While the Obama administration had been successful in degrading the capabilities of core-al Qaeda — or the terror organization’s centralized version that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington — the tragedy reminded Americans and U.S. allies that the threat from like-minded extremists was still alive and well.

Instead of joining to unite the country in the face of this terrible tragedy, Republicans, at first led by then-GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and later Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), turned the Benghazi attacks into a political fiasco, searching far and near for a way to hang the blame on President Obama and with the aim of damaging his political stature at the least, or at most, bringing down members of his national security team or even ultimately his presidency.

But the long, drawn-out campaign to bring down Obama turned up nothing. Everything conservatives and Republicans held up as evidence of malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration’s handling of Benghazi and its aftermath was later discredited by either facts or logic. The right’s biggest achievement throughout this whole Benghazi mess was keeping Susan Rice, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time of the attacks, from being nominated as Secretary of State. But even that campaign — led by McCain — seemed to backfire as Rice is now Obama’s National Security Adviser, a position with arguably more influence on the President’s foreign policy thinking.

Media Matters has a run-down of the some of the top Benghazi myths. And throughout the GOP’s Benghazi witch-hunt, ThinkProgress has been compiling a timeline of the key events — from Romney’s first baseless attacks on Obama, the faux-scandal surrounding the infamous “talking points” delivered by then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, McCain’s smear campaign, and highlights of how all the GOP-led attacks on Obama were eventually fully debunked. On January 23, during a Senate hearing on Benghazi, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scolded Republicans for politicizing Benghazi, and in this instance, for focusing on whether a protest over an anti-Muslim video sparked the attacks:

CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans! Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans?! What difference at this point does it make?! It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.

We have updated the timeline which can be viewed here.

Conservatives aren’t done with Benghazi. Fox News, Tea Party types and a dwindling number of Republican hangers on in Congress keep trying to pin Obama down with something. But they’ll never find anything nefarious. Benghazi is not the next Watergate. Nor will President Obama be impeached over the matter. “The whole thing defies logic,” an exacerbated Obama said in May. “And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.

“We dishonor [the four Americans killed in Benghazi] when we turn things like this into a political circus,” Obama added. “What happened was tragic. It was carried out by extremists inside of Libya. We are out there trying to hunt down the folks who carried this out, and we are trying to make sure that we fix the system so that it doesn’t happen again.”

h/t: Ben Armbruster at Think Progress Security

(via Juan Williams Shuts Down Benghazi Outrage at Fox News: ‘It’s Gone, Baby. It’s All in Your Head’)

Fox News political analyst Juan Williams on Sunday told conservative colleagues Karl Rove and Brit Hume that their obsession about a so-called scandal over last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi was “all in your head, baby.”

During a Fox News Sunday panel segment devoted to the one year anniversary of the Benghazi attack, Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz agreed that there were unanswered questions, but that “there is a drumbeat among conservatives — including some at Fox News — to turn this into a full-fledged scandal as opposed to a horribly tragic episode that killed four Americans.”

"And I do think that some Republicans — I’m not saying all — are trying to use this as a weapon against Hillary Clinton," he added.

Hume, however, insisted that there were “elements of mendacity in what the administration said and did after this attack.”

Williams pointed out that there was “not one shred of evidence that the White House knew about this beforehand, they covered up anything.”

"To make a scandal out of this, really — you say this is not going away, let me tell you, this is gone away," William said, turning to Rove.

"No, no. No, it hasn’t," Rove replied. "The American people were lied to. Somebody concocted a deliberate lie that this was not a terrorist attack, that this was a spontaneous response to video that no one saw. The American people were having [the] legitimate question, why were efforts not undertaken to save our people."

"Efforts were made," Williams pointed out.

At that point, Rove lost his cool.

"No, they weren’t!" for former Bush senior adviser shouted. "The death of four Americans and why they were allowed to die and no one went to their aid is not in the weeds, with all due respect, Juan! It’s not in the weeds!"

"What’s in the weeds is that you continue to prosecute this like there’s some huge crime," Williams remarked. "Karl, stop living in the past and trying to get after Susan Rice and whoever. This has nothing to do with Ambassador Stevens [Christopher] Stevens."

"We don’t who is responsible for lying to the American people!" Rove yelled. "You may be comfortable with the American people being told a deliberate lie by the administration, but I’m not. And I think we need to get to the bottom of it."

"Karl, you can continue to raise your voice, but it does not speak to the heart of the issue," Williams said, rolling his eyes.

"One more thing, think of the list of — going around this table here — the list of questions that remain unanswered to this day are what make this still a legitimate topic," Hume opined. "And, Juan, I’m sorry to say that this is simply not over."

"It’s gone, baby," Williams quipped. "It’s in your head. That’s about the only place."

A claim pushed dozens of times by Fox News that security forces were ordered to “stand down” during the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility collapsed after the commander of those security forces testified that he received no such order.

More than a month after the attacks in Benghazi killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Fox began airing accusations that security forces present in Libya at the time were ordered to “stand down” by the Obama administration. Fox’s confused coverage over the months claimed that both a reaction force that was dispatched to Benghazi and suffered two casualties while trying to defend the facility, and a group of four special forces troops in Tripoli received ”stand down” orders. This accusation was given new fuel after former Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks May 8 remarks made before a congressional committee appeared to confirm claims that Lt. Col. Gibson, who commanded a small team of special forces troops in Tripoli, was ordered to “stand down.” Fox baselessly speculated that either President Obama or then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave the alleged order.

A search of the Nexis database shows that the accusation that these security forces were ordered to “stand down” was made in 85 segments on the network’s primetime shows by Fox hosts, contributors, guests, and in video accompanying news reports and commentary.

But now even Republicans are admitting that a “stand down” order was never given. According to The Associated Press, Gibson told a Republican-led congressional committee on June 26 that he was never ordered to “stand down.”