Monday, October 15, 2012

“Bumps in the Road”

Sydney M. Williams

Thought of the Day
“Bumps in the Road”
October 15, 2012

Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda (and perhaps the world’s all-time master of propaganda,) once said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” It is an understanding of human behavior familiar to many politicians. But it should not work in a democracy, especially one with an ever-watchful and skeptical press. Richard Nixon tried it in 1973 regarding the Watergate break-in, but the media – the famous fourth estate – and Connecticut’s then Republican Senator Lowell Weicker would not allow Mr. Nixon’s lies to go unanswered. Unfortunately, mainstream media today seems more complicit in aiding their favorite politicians than in exposing foul deeds, and most politicians are too meek or too partisan to speak up. The media seems far removed from the reporter’s gallery to which Edmund Burke pointed in 1787 when he coined the term, “Fourth Estate.”

Throughout history there have been numerous cover-ups, the most infamous being Watergate. But the Iran-Contra scandal would apply, as would the more recent Fast-and-Furious incident. But the attempt to pin the attack in Benghazi last month on an anti-Muslim fifteen-minute video placed on You-Tube has to rank among the most deceptive. The problem for the President was that this attack by terrorists was detrimental to the refrain he has been singing: “Osama bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is on its heels.”

The attack on the Consulate in Benghazi took place on the evening of September 11, the 11th anniversary of September 11. Two months earlier the State Department had received a cable signed by Ambassador Christopher Stevens requesting additional security, a request which was denied. Earlier that day (September 11,) protesters in Cairo pulled down the American flag which flew over the Embassy. That protest was allegedly instigated by the video. At 8:30PM that evening in Libya, Ambassador Stevens conducted a Turkish diplomat to the gates surrounding the Benghazi Consulate. The streets were quiet. There was no demonstration. Seventy minutes later the compound was attacked by mortars and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs.) An hour later the Ambassador was mortally wounded.

There are two lines of investigation that Congress and the Administration should pursue via independent investigators, responsible to Congress, not to the Administration or the State Department. One is an apparent request for additional security sent by the U.S. delegation in Libya and why it was denied; the second is a time-line as to who knew what when.

When Americans heard that Ambassador Stephens had been killed on the anniversary of 9/11, most of us assumed it was terrorist activity. Even the President the next day used the word “terror” when he said, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation.” Lt. Colonel Andrew Wood, leader of a 16-man unit that had been withdrawn from Libya in August, called the hit “instantly recognizable as terrorism.” The next day, Jay Carney, in response to a question as to whether the attack was planned, said, “It’s too early for us to make that judgment.” The very next day [September 13,] however, he appeared more certain: “The protests we’re seeing around the region are in response to this movie.” Mr. Carney does not act on his own. He is told what to say. The cover-up had begun.

On the same day, though, a “senior U.S. official” told CNN that the Benghazi killings were a “clearly planned attack.” He added, “The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective, but this was a clearly planned military-type attack.” That meant that the instigators, in their planning, had no way of knowing the plans of protestors in Cairo for September 11. At the time the attack was planned, there was no video to provide an incentive. Also on the 13th, Victoria Nuland, State Department spokeswoman, tried to calm concerns: “…we really want to make sure we do this right and we don’t jump to conclusions.” That said, she then leapt: “…there are plenty of people around the region citing this disgusting video as something that has been motivating.”

White House obfuscation and denial continued. On Friday, September 14, Jay Carney spoke: “We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.” The bodies of the four Americans killed were returned to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland that same day. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, standing before the four flag-draped coffins at Andrews Air Force Base, said that the rage and the violence aimed at Americans were prompted by “an awful video that we had nothing to do with.” If she was in a rage, as CNN claimed, so was I and so were a lot of other Americans when we heard what she had said. It was already known, as the “senior U.S. official” had made clear and as most Americans suspected that the attack was deliberate and planned. On that same day, I noted in a TOTD: “The fact that the terrorists struck on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 was surely no coincidence.” The attackers were al Qaeda, affiliates or terrorists imbued with the same sense of hatred toward America and the West. Protestors carry neither mortars nor RPGs. And why did Mrs. Clinton feel compelled to add “that we had nothing to do with?”

The cover-up got worse. Five days after the attack and two days after that sorry scene at Andrews, Mr. Obama’s U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice was sent to four or five Sunday talk shows to make the Administration’s case. She denied that they had any information that would lead them to believe that the attack was “premeditated or preplanned” and she persisted in blaming the attack on this fifteen minute YouTube video. Good and honorable people, in the pursuit of truth and without regard to the consequences, know when it is proper to disobey orders. The cover-up went deeper; two days later, President Obama was a guest of late-night comedian, David Letterman. The President told Mr. Letterman that he rejects the “extremely offensive video directed at Mohammed and Islam.” He added that “extremists and terrorists used this [the video] as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.”

The following Sunday, President Obama spoke on “60 Minutes,” during which he dismissively trivialized the incident in referring to the killings and other incidents as “bumps in the road.” With violence in the Middle East, including that which killed Ambassador Steven and three others, he said he was “…pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places the one organizing principle has been Islam.”

Two days later, September 25th, two weeks after the murder of Mr. Stevens, and when the Administration knew full well that terrorists were behind the attack, President Obama addressed the U.N. He spoke of “extremists,” but never mentioned the word ‘terrorists.’ However, he did mention the video: “This is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.” Again, the video gets blamed, and there is no mention that the attack was the deliberate action of dedicated terrorists. He did, though, add: “Al Qaeda has been weakened and Osama bin Laden is no more.” Apparently al Qaeda has not been weakened sufficiently and it is obvious that others have risen to replace the dead Mr. bin Laden. Like Secretary Clinton, why did he go to such pains to make it clear that the U.S. government had nothing to do with the making of the video? Who would have thought that they had?

Finally, the State Department, in a briefing last Tuesday, broke ranks with the White House. In that briefing, (from which they pointedly excluded Fox News,) they claimed that while others in the Administration concluded initially that the violence in Libya was based on a film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, “that was never our conclusion.” The President, the Secretary of State and our Ambassador to the United Nations either never received that information, or they have been lying. Either conclusion is a travesty.

The cover-up of the terrorist attack in Benghazi is a scandal of enormous proportions. The Administration has been responsible for deceiving the American public as to the causes, with much of the media going along for the ride. Four people are dead, and the only person in jail is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the Egyptian-American Coptic Christian allegedly responsible for the video, “The Innocence of Muslims,” that has been so widely publicized,

In a world of seven billion people, or in a country of 315 million, mistakes get made. It is not always easy to get straight answers as to what caused any particular incident, particularly one in a nation like Libya or in a city like Benghazi. But in this case, evidence clearly demonstrates that the Administration knew the real cause, if not the first day, certainly by the second. Yet the lies persisted. The truth was inconvenient to the tale being told by Mr. Obama, as he stumped for re-election.

The bottom line is that four people are dead; people in positions of responsibility knowingly lied, and mainstream media has granted them a pass. Others, like Susan Rice and Jay Carney, either lied or were used. Honor and responsibility are not part of the lexicon of this Administration. While most politicians have become masters of deflecting blame, this Administration has set new standards. The “Great Recession” was the fault of Bush. The failure to mount a real recovery has been the fault of Congressional Republicans. Benghazi is the fault of a video, made worse by Mitt Romney. Mr. Obama and his crew are quick to take credit when it is due, as in the fortuitous killing of Osama bin Laden, but they have yet to accept responsibility for failure of any kind. In this White House, the buck never stops; it slips onto someone else, preferably a Republican. In the meantime, the press has given up their duty as watchdogs holding leaders’ feet to the flames.

In 1973, Lowell Weicker, then Republican Senator from Connecticut, understood the damage a lying President Nixon was causing his Party; so he became the most aggressive of any member of the Senate in seeking the truth about Watergate. It cost him some friendships with other Republicans, but it preserved his honor and earned the respect of his constituents. No Democratic Congressional person has yet stepped forward to play a similar role in Benghazigate. But somewhere in that Party, which has produced so much greatness, there must be at least one person willing to call out that the emperor is wearing no clothes. We could also use a modern-day Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who would be willing to put aside partisan reporting in a bid to uncover the truth. Alas, mainstream media has been noticeably mute.

A lie, if it is repeated often enough as Herr Goebbels noted, will eventually be seen as the truth, and we as a people will be far poorer.

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