It is worth mentioning that more Americans were killed by the terrorist attack on the U.S. consultate in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11, than were killed last month by the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon.
Not because the lives of one group of victims is more or less valuable than another. One can even make the argument that while the loss of life in both cases is tragic, those who sign up to serve in hostile foreign lands know they are putting themselves at risk, while those at the marathon didn’t sign up for anything but a nice time at an athletic event.
But with congressional hearings finally underway on the attack in Libya, it is worth noting the difference between the Obama administration’s response to an event carrying little threat of political consequences with one that carries a lot.
In the case of the marathon bombing, the president got to play the role of Comforter in Chief. He got to tell Boston residents how courageous and strong they are. He got to curry more support from public safety unions by constantly calling them “heroic.” He promised that the perpetrators would be found and brought to justice, and thanks in part to a Lord & Taylor security camera, that is happening.
Benghazi, by contrast, had political risk all over it. To admit that it was a pre-planned, organized attack deeply undercut Obama’s campaign narrative that terrorism was fading away – that Islamist fanatics were either on the run or didn’t hate us so much any more, since he is so much better a representative of America than George W. Bush.
So instead of confronting the truth, the next day the president took off for a fundraiser and left his surrogates to tell a fairy story.
Try to imagine – it shouldn’t be that difficult – what the reaction from the mainstream media would have been if President Bush had done the same thing. We would have been be reminded, again and again, that America’s U.N. ambassador was sent on the Sunday morning talk shows with an absurd claim that a spontaneous demonstration against a “heinous and offensive … reprehensible and disgusting” movie trailer that insulted the Muslim prophet got out of hand when it was suddenly hijacked by extremists, who just happened to have brought heavy weapons.
The administration finally withdrew that whopper a couple of weeks later, but continued to insist that it had been based on the best information available at the time – another whopper. There was no such information from anyone with direct knowledge of the event.
The president promised that the perpetrators of the attack would be brought to justice. But that is so far a hollow promise. The only one who has been brought to “justice” so far is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the maker of the crude video lampooning the prophet Muhammad.
He still sits in jail today, ostensibly due to a probation violation, but every sane person knows he is really there because of his lame video, which had nothing to do with the attack in Benghazi. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of the attack remain free.
These lies, designed to protect the president’s re-election campaign, also did significant damage to any hope for real justice, since they delayed an FBI team from arriving in Libya for 18 days, while the crime scene in Benghazi was not secure. That allowed evidence to be corrupted or to disappear entirely. Gee, what a shame.
Yet, there is little outrage over it, thanks to press poodles who don’t mention it the way they would if the president was a Republican.
Meanwhile, testimony this past week from three highly regarded (at least until this event) State Department veterans is being dismissed as uninformed, partisan or irrelevant, because it pointedly challenges the Obama administration’s version of events.
Also, of course, because it is necessary to stomp on anyone who might undercut former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chances to become the next president.
The administration’s position, as expressed by Press Secretary Jay Carney, is that the hearings are simply an attempt by the president’s opponents to politicize a tragedy that “happened a long time ago.”
Try to imagine – this shouldn’t be too hard, either – what the reaction of the mainstream media would be if the press secretary for President Bush tried to downplay hearings into the handling of a terrorist attack eight months earlier that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, by saying that it happened a long time ago. There would be a collective meltdown.
Meanwhile, President Obama has been excusing his own failures for years, not months, by trying to blame them on the “mess I inherited” from Bush. I guess “a long time ago” is an elastic time frame, depending on the political necessity of the moment.
And apparently, a majority of Americans are OK with that. As Clinton said a few months ago at a hearing, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Which makes me wonder, if it made no difference, why didn’t they tell the truth the first time around?
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.