Posts tagged "Libya"

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


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.


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.”

Exposing The Myths Behind The Right-Wing’s Trumped Up Benghazi “Cover Up”

MYTH: The White House And State Department Edited References To Terrorism Out Of Talking Points For Political Purposes

FACT: The CIA Signed Off On The Changes For Tactical, Not Political Reasons. Gen. David Petraeus, former head of the CIA, testified in November that the intelligence community signed off on the final draft of the talking points, and that references to terrorist groups in Libya were removed in order to avoid tipping off those groups. [The New York Times, 11/16/12]

FACT:  President Obama Had Already Referred To The Attacks As An Act Of Terror. On September 12, President Obama  referred to the attacks as an act of terror when he spoke from the White House Rose Garden. One day later, Obama again referred to acts of terror at a campaign event. These comments undermine the myth that edits to a document that were made on September 14, after Obama had already labeled the attack an act of terror, demonstrate that the administration was trying to downplay the role that terrorism played. [Media Matters for America, 5/10/13]

MYTH: Benghazi Whistleblower Gregory Hicks Is Being Prohibited From Talking To Investigators And Members Of Congress

FACT: Hicks Was Interviewed Twice As Part Of The State Department’s Independent Internal Investigation. After Gregory Hicks sat down for an initial interview with the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, he asked for a follow-up interview to expand on issues that he felt needed amplification. And he was granted one. [Media Matters for America, 5/9/13]

FACT: Hicks Was Only Told He Was Not Allowed To Speak With A Member Of Congress Without A State Department Attorney Present. Following the attacks, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) traveled to Libya, seeking to interview witnesses and survivor, including Hicks. Hicks testified that the State Department had instructed him not to speak to Chaffetz without a State attorney present — a condition Hicks says was unusual, but which the State Department says is standard procedure. Hicks ended up speaking to Chaffetz without a State Department attorney present because, according to his testimony, the lawyer lacked the proper security clearance. [Media Matters for America, 5/9/13]

MYTH: Cheryl Mills Tried To Intimidate Hicks After His Meeting With Chaffetz

FACT: Hicks Admitted Mills Offered No Criticism Or Reprimand, Only That She Had Asked For A Report. While being questioned by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Hicks elaborated on a phone call from Cheryl Mills, at the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief-of-staff. Hicks made clear that he had received no direct criticism from Mills. It was the “tone of the conversation,” he testified, that led him to believe Mills was unhappy with him. But MSBNC reported that Philippe Reines confirmed to them that he witnessed the conversation and that it was supportive. [Media Matters for America, 5/11/13;, 5/8/13]

FACT: Congressional Republicans Are Falsely Framing The Phone Call As “Threatening.” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) repeatedly asked Hicks if Mills was “upset” with him during the phone call. Hicks answered in the affirmative. After Hicks finished describing his phone call with Mills, Jordan immediately characterized it as an act of retribution for not going along with the “cover-up.” Rep. Ronald DeSantis (R-FL) told Hicks at one point that “we need to know who actually gave the order to stand down. I’d like to know why you’ve been demoted, why they — the secretary’s chief of staff called you and spoke with you the way she did.” [Media Matters for America, 5/11/13]

MYTH: Hicks Is Being Punished For Speaking Out And Has Been Demoted And Received Criticism Of His Mmanagement Style

FACT:  Hicks Testified That He Voluntarily Chose Not To Return To Libya And That The Overriding Reason Was Because Of His Family. During his testimony, Hicks said that “based on criticism that I received, I felt that if I went back, I would never be comfortable working there, and in addition, my family really didn’t want me to go back. We had endured a year of separation when I was in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007. That was the overriding factor. So I voluntarily curtailed.” [House Oversight Committee Hearing, 5/8/13, via Nexis] 

FACT: Embassy Staff Told ThinkProgress That People Were Upset With Hicks’ Management Style Before The Attacks. State Department employees, who spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity, said that the staff was upset with Hicks’ performance since he was first assigned to Tripoli on July 31. Contrary to Hicks’ claim that he was demoted out of retribution,  the sources said that Assistant Secretary Jones’ meetings with the staff prior to Oct. 2 were “entirely” focused on Hicks’ performance as a manager. [“EXCLUSIVE: Embassy Staff Undercut ‘Whistleblower’ Testimony On Benghazi,” ThinkProgress, 5/10/13]

MYTH: The White House Refused To Send A Second Team To Benghazi Because Of Political Motivations

FACT: The Decision Was Made By The Head Of The Military’s Africa Command, Who Was Concerned About Embassy Security In Tripoli. Diplomats on the ground the night of the attacks were concerned about threats to the Tripoli embassy complex, and a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that the assessment of Special Operations Command Africa leadership at the time was that “it was more important for those guys to be in Tripoli” for embassy security. [Media Matters for America, 5/09/13]

FACT: Additional Reinforcements Would Not Have Been Able To Get To Benghazi Before The Second Attack Was Concluded. Transcripts of an interview Hicks gave to congressional investigators show that he said that the flight these special forces were scheduled to take, but did not, was scheduled to take off after 6:00 a.m., local time — approximately 45 minutes after the attack at the CIA annex that killed two people. [Media Matters for America, 5/7/13]

h/t: MMFA

Those who are trying to make the Benghazi tragedy into a scandal for the Obama administration really ought to decide what story line they want to sell.

Actually, by “those” I mean Republicans, and by “the Obama administration” I mean Hillary Clinton. The only coherent purpose I can discern in all of this is to sully Clinton’s record as secretary of state in case she runs for president in 2016.

The hearing convened Wednesday by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) produced a riveting narrative of the chaotic events in Libya last September. But what was the supposedly unforgivable crime?

Did Clinton’s State Department fail to provide adequate security for the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi? In retrospect, obviously so. But the three diplomats who testified at the hearing gave no evidence that this failure sprang from anything other than the need to use limited resources as efficiently as possible.

House Republicans who voted to cut funding for State Department security should understand that their philosophy — small government is always better — has consequences. Bureaucrats have to make judgment calls. Sometimes they will be wrong.

Well, then, maybe the transgression is that administration officials, for some unfathomable reason, willfully lied when they said the attack was in reaction to an anti-Islam video produced in the United States and disseminated on the Internet.

The problem is that there were, in fact, tumultuous anti-American demonstrations taking place in cities throughout the Muslim world because of the video. President Obama labeled the Benghazi assault an act of terror almost immediately — as Mitt Romney learned in the second presidential debate — but it was hard to imagine that the attack was completely unrelated to what was happening in Cairo, Tunis, Khartoum and Jakarta.

I knew when the moment the GOP screechers were screaming about Benghazi back in September 2012 (and will go on forever), it was just another manufactured scandal to harm Obama, Clinton, and the Democrats.

h/t: Eugene Robinson at WaPo

Wednesday’s Congressional hearing on Benghazi is actually part two of the Benghazi show. Season two in the DVD box set, if you will.

Previously, on Benghazi!

Hillary Clinton, in her last appearance before Congressional committees as Secretary of State, was supposed to collapse at the feet of her GOP inquisitors, helpless before them as they posed for the cameras and delivered Fox-generated storylines. In reality, Clinton’s testimony resembled Neo from the Matrix, batting away nonsense and helping to remind the world why she has a historical legacy of her own apart from her husband.

Now with the latest dog and pony show, we will be treated to more GOP harrumphing and more Fox News alerts that will largely be about old, well-worn nonsense that the conservative media will treat as bombshells but turn out to be nothingburgers.

Pardon my grizzled cynicism, but I have seen this storyline before, with Clinton and Whitewater and breathless mumbles of scandal from the mainstream press that turned out to be nothing.

It’s all as fake as the claim that a tiny Arkansas land deal was an abuse of power. I’ve seen this show before, it sucks and it’s a perversion of our government. In other words, standard issue conservative politics.

More proof that the right-wing fearmongering about Benghazi is just a disgusting attempt to weaken Hillary Clinton’s chances for the Presidency or even the Democratic Party nomination in 2016.

H/T: Oliver Willis at The Daily Banter