Ignatius sets himself right on Benghazi!


Also: When Chris Hayes met Anne-Marie Slaughter: As we told you in real time, David Ignatius broke every rule in the book when he defended Susan Rice’s statements concerning Benghazi.

Within the Village, Ignatius has surely been pounded hard since he committed that outrageous act. And sure enough! In this morning’s Washington Post, he skillfully rights the balance, with several early nods to the genius of those at Fox.

Let’s be clear: There have always been perfectly valid questions about what happened at Benghazi. Obama avoided one such question at the town hall debate—at which point, Romney saved him via his bungled one-act play concerning the term, “act of terror.”

That said, for the bulk of the past six weeks, Susan Rice’s unremarkable statements have been the focus of the attack. Disgracefully, Ignatius took her side several weeks back.

This morning, the requisite reaction! In the NFL, this is known as a make-up call.

Concerning someone who actively bungled this story, Chris Hayes offered a modified limited hang-out about his past errors this Sunday. We checked to see if he had self-corrected earlier, or if he had been more specific.

Hayes did bungle Benghazi, quite badly, as we noted on October 21. By coincidence (our post appeared later), Hayes had offered this mea culpa at the start of that morning’s program:
HAYES (10/21/12): Heading into tomorrow night’s foreign policy debate, the details of what happened in Benghazi on September 11 are, I have to say, more confusing to me as a consumer of news than they have ever been.

We talked about this pretty early on, and I will put myself in the category of people who were troubled—category of people who were troubled by what seemed to be a distance between what the reporting and what the intelligence agencies seemed to be saying and what was coming out of the White House. And I thought that gap was worrisome. And we talked about it on the show.

I don’t know what to think anymore because what looked like at first was—the official U.S. government line was that this was spontaneous and in reaction to the video. And there was a parallel channel of reporting seemed to be indicating this was premeditated, it was the work of possibly al Qaeda militants and had nothing to do with the video. In fact, there was no protest of the video. So that, that was—that was what happened.

Now we have reporting from the LA Times and the New York Times who were talking to people in Benghazi who were all saying, “No, dude, it was the video.” Here’s, here’s the LA Times—the assault was opportunist, no evidence of an al Qaeda link. "The assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi last month appears to have been an opportunistic attack, rather than a long-planned operation, and intelligence agencies have found no evidence that it was ordered by al Qaeda, according to U.S. officials and witnesses interviewed in Libya."

Here’s my question to you. Has the media been punked by the right? I mean, did conservatives essentially generate a controversy where there was none? Because I am now beginning to think that was the case. And I am someone who on this program thought this is a very important issue. It seems there’s this distance. And now I really don’t know what to believe.
Good God. This pitiful child was still trying to figure if he had been punked by the right! He was beginning to think that the right may have ginned this whole shitstorm up!

Our analysis? Hayes should stop being “a consumer of news” and turn into a tough-minded analyst. Perhaps he should develop a small tiny clue about the way these lynch mobs work. About the way these lynch mobs have worked for at least the past twenty years!

Hayes was still trying to figure it out! He really didn’t know what to believe! At this point, he threw to a former speech-writer for Condi Rice; she of course extended the bullshit.

But the worst moment on Hayes’ program this day involved one more gruesome howler implicitly concerning What Susan Rice Said. Hayes had welcomed a ranking scholar to that morning’s program:

How could a talk show host go wrong with Princeton’s Anne-Marie Slaughter?

Here’s how a host could go wrong! In her very first oration, Slaughter recited the standard bogus account of what the administration (i.e., Rice) had said.

The professor wandered the countryside. No challenge or attempt at clarification followed:
SLAUGHTER (10/21/12): No, and well, and there is a way to square the circle here, where it— Originally, if you said it was a spontaneous thing from a protest, what that sounded like was there’s a protest going on outside the consulate, and then suddenly, that escalated into a, “Hey, let’s take over the consulate and let’s kill them.” Then they realized they had RPGs. And people do not demonstrate on the street—

HAYES: With RPGs, right.

SLAUGHTER: —about a video with RPGs. So then it looked like, “OK, it must have been an attack.” Then there was evidence that it could have— I mean, certainly, you had the head of al Qaeda calling for an attack. There were—it looked like there were links.

But then, ultimately, it is in reaction to the video, according to the people on the ground, but it was an attack that was spontaneous that day, not premeditated for weeks. So I—you know, the people I talked to in Washington right after all said privately, “We’re still trying to figure out—”

HAYES: Right.

SLAUGHTER: “—what was going on.” This was really hard to figure out.
Question: When did someone “originally” say that “it was a spontaneous thing from a protest?” In repeating that Standard Romney Canard for perhaps the ten millionth time, Slaughter was getting “punked by the right,” just as Hayes got punked earlier.

Admittedly, Hayes is earnest and adorable, but he needs to learn to stand and fight. He needs to acquire a minor clue about the way these lynch mobs work. He needs to get rid of guests who emerge from the hallowed halls with Fox News scripts spilling from their lips.

“This was really hard to figure out,” Slaughter said. Guess what, script-ass? We’ve noticed!

The moral of our story: This is the way the liberal world works. We urge liberals to take note.


  1. > Question: When did someone “originally” say that “it was a spontaneous thing from a protest?”

    Susan Rice: "Our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video."

    Rice again: "We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people, came to the embassy to—or to the consulate rather—to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then, as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that, as you know, in the wake of the revolution in Libya, are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there."

    First couple of dozen times around this merry-go-round, you argued that Rice didn't really mean it because she qualfied it with "the investigation is still underway" and "our best assessment right now.

    Now you are denying that she even said it at all?

    And what is truly sad, is what Rice said wouldn't have meant shit to a tree until "liberals" like yourself handed the right-wing the shovel to dig your own grave.

    Again, this discussion should have focused on what OBAMA said, clearly and consistently since this happened, instead of what the U.N. Ambassador was speculating based on early assessments without knowing whether it was 100 percent true.

    And this, Bob, is how the right wing wins -- by continually side tracking any sort of normal, adult discussion on itty, bitty side issues while "liberals" like yourself are only too willing to accommodate them.

    1. Quaker in a BasementOctober 31, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      Right here is the part most folks like to forget:

      as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons

      What matters here isn't that right wing liars keep making this part of the quote disappear--it's that so-called "news" outlets are doing it too.

      But nevermind. Please continue to pound your point that pushing back against right wing lies and news organization incompetence isn't in liberals' interests.

    2. Unfortunately for Rice there was no "that" that unfolded and was hijacked. And please don't give me the "best intelligence at the time" excuse. She stated something as a fact without knowing if it was 100 percent certain.

      And this is where "liberals" lose when they choose to fight on the ground of the right-wing noise machine's choosing with the weapons of the right-wing noise machine's choosing.

      Instead of pushing back with what has been the clear, unmistakable and absolutely correct position of Obama himself, here you are a month later trying to claim that Rice said nothing wrong instead of admitting it was wrong and moving on.

      And, the truly sad thing is, nobody really gives a damn about the Benghazi "debate" any more with the East Coast devastated.

      But here is Bob and his merry band with so much invested in being "right" they don't know when to shut up and wind up looking as foolish as the ridiculous claim that what Rice said in September on Sunday morning talk shows has the least bit of relevance today.

    3. There is no reason to declare you don't know what happened but try to sell a particular narrative ("hijacked" "extremists") unless you're trying to move focus from terrorism that you've claimed is in hand vs an uncontrollable, unpredictable rag tag mob.

    4. Unfortunately, Anonymous, that is not the "narrative" that anybody in the administration, including Rice, was trying to sell.

      From his very first statement, Obama called this an act of terror and promised that the perpetrators would be hunted down and punished. How do you identify, hunt down and punish a "rag tag mob"?

      Finally when did anybody in the administration ever claim that terrorism is "in hand" and under control?

      Using the Bush model, it is far more politically advantageous to keep broad segments of the population in fear of an "ism" that you will (allegedly) protect them from than it is to claim that "ism" is "in hand".

      Or have you forgotten all those "orange alerts" during key moments of the 2004 campaign that suddenly stopped being issued on Election Day?

  2. Obama was groomed as a smooth mediator between us and the wider Islamic world.
    The Arab Spring and the killings in Benghazi suggest quite strongly that this is an epic failure.

    The Muslim Brotherhood have essentially captured Egypt. Their influence is felt strongly in Cyrencia and especially in Benghazi. If he was sent to us to smooth things over with the extremists there then I'd like to see him lose badly in the election as he has proven to do nothing more than hand real estate over to irreconcilable foes. We can't go on with his strategy of placating the implacable. It gets people killed and humiliates us. Bush was an idiot admittedly, he also got people killed. Obama is actually inarticulate too. He gets people killed and he supplicants himself before the followers of the prophet. Get rid of him.

    1. It would seem you have in mind some form of "kill them all" which your superego can't allow you to articulate.

    2. Dan, what do you think Romney (who in the debate more or less said he agreed with current mideast policy) would do differently or better? What is your prescription for the situation you characterize?

      AC / MA

    3. Dan you mentioned that your president gets people killed. That seems pretty harsh but what do you think about,on second thought I couldn't care less what you think.

    4. Dan's an idiot. He thinks if someone majors in something as an undergrad, then that someone has been "groomed" to be only one thing and can't go on to anything else. By this logic, if someone majored in physics as an undergrad and then went on to med school and became a doctor, he would be unqualified as a doctor -- he'd be a physicist posing, fraudulently, as a doctor. And don't ya love how he repeats the term "wordist" derogatorily, and yet says things like "Obama was groomed" and "he was sent to us," so as to suggest there was some mysterious group of puppet-masters pulling the strings behind the scenes. And then there's dan's apparent disdain for democracy and love of dictatorships, since he seems to think Obama should try to prevent the former and support the latter. Dan, you're a nut.

    5. Oh, and for the record, Obama was clear from the beginning that this was a terrorist attack:

      On FIVE SEPARATE OCCASIONS during the first week after the attack, the chief spokesman for the administration, Obama himself, clearly stated or implied that the Benghazi attack was a TERRORIST attack. The fifth time occurred when he was a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, one week after the attack occurred. Here is what he said:

      Obama: Here’s what happened. You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here – sort of a shadowy character . . . an extremely offensive video directed at Mohammed and Islam--

      Letterman: Making fun of the profit Mohammed.

      Obame: Making fun of the prophet Mohammed. And so, this caused great offense in much of the Muslim world. But what ALSO [Obama’s emphasis, not mine] happened was extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the one – the consulate in Libya. And the irony is the ambassador, Chris Stevens, he was the person who was first in Libya and helped to advise us in liberating Libya from Muammar Gaddafi. . . . So this was a guy who was beloved by the vast majority of Libyans.

      Click the following link and listen closely to his remarks, from about 26:20 to about 27:30: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7422156n

      Notice not only what Obama says but what he does NOT say. He does not say the attack arose spontaneously out of some protest that was going on at the Benghazi consulate. Both in the words he chooses and his inflection and pauses, Obama makes his meaning very clear: the attack was distinct from the general tumult in the Muslim world over the video, and it was undertaken by TERRORISTS who merely used the anti-Islamic video as an excuse to launch the attack. In fact, he doesn’t even refer to any type of protest in Benghazi; he refers only to the “great offense in much of the Muslim world” that the video sparked. Notice too that he uses the specific word “attack” to refer to what happened and uses the word “terrorists” to refer to those who carried it out. Someone who was trying to avoid characterizing the a attack as a terrorist attack would not go on national television, having had a full week to come up with what to say about it, and say what Obama said.

      His appearance on Letterman’s show was on Sept. 18, one week after the attack, and it was the fifth (FIFTH!) occasion since the attack that Obama himself, the very top of the White House hierarchy, had clearly stated or implied that the attack was a TERRORIST attack. Here are the other four times, earlier the same week, that he clearly implied it was a terrorist attack: [see 2nd post below]

    6. 1. Sept. 12, the day after the attack, in a speech that was SPECIFICALLY IN RESPONSE TO the attack in Benghazi, Obama said the following (I am including much of the context before and after the crucial phrase “acts of terror,” because such context makes it unmistakably clear that Obama is including the Benghazi attack when he uses that phrase, contrary to many have claimed):

      Good morning. Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation. …Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi. …The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. …Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. …And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe. No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.

      2. September 12, Las Vegas, Nevada, during a campaign speech

      So I wanted to begin tonight by just saying a few words about a tough day that we had today. We lost four Americans last night, who were killed when they were attacked at a diplomatic post in Libya. …As for the ones we lost last night: I want to assure you, we will bring their killers to justice. (Applause.) And we want to send a message all around the world -- anybody who would do us harm: No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America.

      3. Sept. 12, during an interview with “60 Minutes,” Obama said to Steve Kroft, “You're right that this is not a situation that was—exactly the same as what happened in Egypt. And my suspicion is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.” Once again, Obama is making a distinction between the general, spontaneous protests over the video and the Benghazi attack. “60 Minutes” did not air this part of the interview, but you can’t blame Obama for that. And he said this on the record during the interview, so he obviously wasn’t trying to hide it, as is now being suggested.

      4. Sept. 13, during a campaign speech in Colorado:

      Let me say at the outset that obviously our hearts are heavy this week -- we had a tough day a couple of days ago, for four Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Libya. …So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. (Applause.) I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.

  3. Quaker in a BasementOctober 31, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Why, oh why do the news folks keep acting as though "spontaneous" and "terrorist" are antonyms? Can't a terrorist attack also be spontaneous? Or does "terrorist" necessarily mean the attack was planned in advance?

    If I'm reading between the lines correctly, the meaning of the word "terrorist" has several different specific meanings. Judging from context, it seems to mean "plotted in advance," but then again it could mean "carried out by al Qaeda." At root level, it also seems to mean "Muslims killed Americans."

    To date, there's still no evidence of #1 or #2 and #3, while blindingly obvious, doesn't clarify events at all.

    1. Quaker in a BasementOctober 31, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      Sorry, Dan. Please continue with your conspiracy theories.

    2. What conspiracy theory are you refering to?

      Could you point out one that I've articulated?
      Obama was trained and groomed in IR (International Relations) that's more substantial than his legal training. Indeed the law school is nothing much in comparison to what he learned in undergrad. He looked like he was on course to a fulfilling career as a diplomat specializing as a mediator between the State Department and foreign governments. Somehow he lost his way and thought he could lead a nation like the Americans. He's an extremely good example of a reasonably talented diplomat who decided he could write policy. He would have been in a much better place to sooth that Terrorist group in Benghazi. He could have read a speech from the rooftop as the Ambassador instead of Stevens. Stevens sticks out like a sore thumb in North Africa. Why did Obama hubristically decide he was fit to lead a people he only notionally identifies with? Look at the four dead Yanks in Benghazi, then look at Rice and Obama. Do you really think O gives a flying fck about those 4? If I had more brothers they would look like the dead men not O. If O had sons they'd look nothing like the 4 dead men. I'm snarkily echoing Obama's own words about Trayvon here. Obama really couldn't give a fck about those casualties.

    3. Dan,

      I think you, like Romney, are a bullshitter. To say that Stevens was not a good fit as an ambassador is ridiculous. What aspect of his extensive experience in Libya do you have a problem with, exactly? "Wordists?" "Non-signification speaking style?" "Mid-level interlocutor? You've served up a well-tossed word salad and not much else

    4. Because when we think about what brand of terrorism American voters most fear, it is organized, planned terrorism resembling the sort that they witnessed on 9/11. The Obama administration went to great lengths to prevent voters from viewing THIS terrorism as THAT terrorism, especially when they were trying to sell the idea that al Qaeda is in hand, and when they hoped to squash attention on security negligence.

    5. Quaker in a BasementOctober 31, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      "especially when they were trying to sell the idea that al Qaeda is in hand,"

      If this is the message they were "trying to sell," then it was probably unwise for the President to be telling people that al Qaeda was NOT defeated and that the country would still face hard days ahead in combating it.

    6. "Dan,

      I think you, like Romney, are a bullshitter."


  4. I'm much more interested in this more general issue--how do we interact with the Muslim Brotherhood--than what Obama said or didn't say. The obscurantist concentration on his non-signification speaking style covers over the problem of handing over lands to the
    Muslim Brotherhood.

    Obama's ideas are a failure. He was expensively groomed in the IR field in his BA. He should be no more than a midlevel interlocutor with the Saudis or Pakistanis. His over arching strategic vision is killing you Yanks.

    1. OK, we get it. The words "Muslim" and "Brotherhood," especially when placed together, make you pee your pants.

    2. When I see those two words together I think of a perfect target for a CBU strike. Obama sees an opportunity to empower the oppressed and you?

      You dare not look at the two words and think about you own posterity.

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  5. Good God, Somerby. How about dropping Benghazi right now and focus on Romney's false Jeep ads in Ohio, while shoving what he said about dismantling FEMA down his throat?

    Or are you going to obsess about that for the next 13 years, like you did about the mean things said about Gore's three-button suits?

    1. The Daily Howler: Where you learn about the news that was news three weeks ago, and how it all relates to the Campaign of 2000.

    2. Poor Nonny.

      He hates it here, but no one will let him leave.

    3. Yeah, just can't bear to pull myself from such witty debate.

    4. Does it hurt your brain to think? Somerby has always been a brilliant wordist. Behind that there is a first rate political mind.

    5. Endlessly harping on Election 2000 is a great deal less silly than endlessly harping on Bob's endless harping on Election 2000, no matter how you slice it.

    6. Boo hoo. And you don't want to hear him talk about coverage of the FEMA comments.

  6. Where do you geniuses think the help would come from? Italy would be as close as they could get. Send out the call, gear up, get on a plane, jump into a combat zone with little to no intelligence about what is happening, secure a consulate, and it wouldn't have saved not one of those men. Why? Because they were already dead before help could have possibly arrived. Don't forget about the QRF that did respond, and it took them almost an hour to get there, and they were less than 2 miles away.

  7. Here Dan, this will cheer you up!


  8. And according to AP: "Khaled al-Haddar, a lawyer who passed by the scene as he headed to his nearby home, said he saw the fighters gathering a few youths from among passers-by and urged them to chant against the film." So yes, there may have been anti-video protesters (or the appearance of such a protest) before and during the attack.

  9. Another misrepresentation is the description of the ordeal as a 7 hour attack. McCain and FoxNews recite this over and over. Actually there were 3 attacks. One at the compound which left two dead within 2 hours. The attack upon the rescue vehicle which came too late (and against orders) on its way back to the CIA location. And then sporadic sniper fire at the CIA location. At 4AM the militia located at the CIA location was beginning to move out all inside and take them to the airport. At 4AM the deadly mortar attack began which took the lives of the ex Navy Seals. Also to be noted is that a relief force was landed at the Benghazi airport by 2AM, but couldn't advance because of logistics until 2:45.

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  12. One more thing completely ignored is the factual MISREPRESENTATIONS made by right wing Republican politicians. Taking their cue from conservative blogs and publications they proclaimed that Ambassador Stevens had been anally raped, mutilated and tortured, IMO, hoping to conjure reflections on Mogadishu. No one seems to criticize THEIR shoot first, aim later judgements: http://www.examiner.com/article/ambassador-stevens-was-tortured-libya-before-his-death Congressman Burton, during a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on September 14, 2012 dropped a bombshell when he indicated that Ambassador Steven was “tortured” in Libya before his death. “We went into Libya, spent billions of dollars of our money. We drove him (Muammar Gaddafi) out of office and had him killed. Now there's chaos over there, and they killed our Ambassador. They tortured him, I understand--I won't go into details, but it was pretty bad." U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. told an audience at an Oct. 2, 2012, Payson tea-party meeting that Stevens was tortured and sodomized before his death, eliciting gasps from the audience.

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