The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Baffle Them

It is fascinating that for 15 months, The New York Times and other major left-leaning news media were remarkably incurious about the Benghazi attack, suggesting that claims of a cover-up were ill-founded and that in any event, the concern on the part of congress and a significant majority of the American People was politically motivated. The Times didn't investigate the questions that really mattered:

- Why blatant lies were repeatedly made by Barack Obama and Susan Rice to suggest that the attack was due to a violent movie review? (Even today, the times has the temerity to call Rice's comments a "misstatement".

- What role did the President have in decision making as the 8-hour long string of events unfolded?

- What events occurred in the White House as the attack was underway, and what decisions were made there?

- Why was help not dispatched in numbers, and who gave the order for assets in the region to stand down?

- Why did the FBI investigation get nowhere and why have the perpetrators, well know within a few months, never been brought to justice?

- What was the role the CIA had in Benghazi and was there a weapons smuggling operation in place?

- What was the role of then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, before, during, and after the attack.

- What did the administration refuse to allow state department personnel who were on the ground in Benghazi to testify during congressional hearings?

Basically the NYT punted, hoping the story would fade in public consciousness and the many lingering questions would remain unanswered. The story has not gone away, and it looks like the NYT felt compelled to develop a narrative that provides cover for this president and their choice for the next president.

This morning, The New York Times published a six chapter exposition on their version of what happened in the run-up to Benghazi. It has the feel of an in-depth investigation, the use of chapters give it a gravity that it does not deserve, and first person accounts (by people who the author admits may be mentally unstable) gives it the feel of veracity that is cynical and misleading. In reality, the report fails to answer the questions that really matter about Benghazi and does absolutely nothing to clarify why four Americans, including a US Ambassador, were left to die that day.

The Times report relies almost solely on the narrative of a number of violent Islamic Militia members, with a few complementary facts peppering that narrative to give it some depth. The New York Times tells us that it wasn't al Qaeda, but other Islamist terrorists who conducted the attack and murder of four Americans, and that their motivation was, at least in part, due to the anti-Islamic video.

Let's for a moment assume that their report is absolutely accurate, discarding the notion that Islamists lie at a rate that would put even this administration to shame, and that the vast majority of questions about Benghazi have little to do with what happened before the attack but rather what happened during and after the attack. Why didn't the times add chapters 7 - 14 that addressed the questions listed in the first paragraph. Certainly they're worth investigating. Certainly, they have a bearing on the whole story of Benghazi. Certainly, answers to these questions would have made the report more robust.

Over the past 15 months, a newspaper as august as the NYT could have probed and investigated, interviewed and recorded, second sourced and verified and come up with answers to the questions that really mattered. Instead, after reading the report, one gets the feeling that the NYT was filibustering, putting lots of words down on paper, using lots of "eyewitness quotes" to give the appearance of completeness when absolutely none exists.

Of course, it's also just possible that the NYT is laying a foundation to protect it's next chosen presidential candidate from accusation of incompetence or worse, dereliction of duty. Among their loyal readers this will undoubtedly work, but among those who take a more clinical view of the Benghazi scandal, the Times has adopted a crude but appropriate aphorism—"If you can't blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."