RICE WATCH: The Post keeps Susan Rice under the bus!


Front-page report serves McCain: Was Susan Rice vindicated by David Petraeus’ closed-door testimony before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees?

Not at the Washington Post, where confusion reigned—and John McCain’s interests were served—in this gruesome front page news report by Karen DeYoung.

DeYoung’s report is awful from its fatuous headline on down. (Hard copy headline: "Libya attack was terrorism, Petraeus testifies on Hill.")

This report is dreck, starting in paragraph 2. But here are a few basic points:

Keeping Rice under the bus: Here is DeYoung’s account of Susan Rice’s now-famous TV appearances on September 16:
DEYOUNG (11/17/12): The timing of the CIA’s conclusion has become a contentious issue in Congress, where some prominent Republicans have charged that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and President Obama’s leading candidate to become secretary of state, knowingly presented a whitewashed account in television appearances on Sept. 16.

Reading from administration talking points, Rice hewed to the “spontaneous” theory, saying that the attack began as a protest against an anti-Islamic video that was privately produced in the United States and was hijacked by “opportunistic extremist elements.” In the television interviews, she said this was the “best information” available, but stressed that the matter was under investigation.
According to DeYoung, Rice was “reading from administration talking points” when she appeared on those programs. That’s an uglier way of saying this:

Rice was presenting the intelligence community’s best assessment of what had occurred.

Essentially, DeYoung reports that Rice was reading Obama’s script. That is a very ugly way of describing what happened. Beyond that, it leaves Post readers barefoot and clueless about where the intelligence assessment came from.

Post readers were very poorly served by this ugly report.

A striking claim which gets pushed to the curb: Later in her report, DeYoung describes the process which produced the early assessment of what had occurred at the consulate.

As she does, she rushes by several significant facts. We'll highlight just one passage:
DEYOUNG: In the swirl of initial reporting about the attack, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, two accounts made their way into the first round of analysis, the officials said. Reports from the ground in Libya described a demonstration at the Benghazi mission, similar to a large anti-U.S. protest the same day outside the U.S. Embassy in Egypt.

At the same time, intelligence quickly uncovered links to militant groups, including associates of al-Qaeda. The administration did not make the terrorist links public until the Sept. 19 congressional testimony by Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Since then, the CIA and other intelligence analysts have settled on what amounts to a hybrid view, suggesting that the Cairo protest sparked militants in Libya, who quickly mobilized an assault on U.S. facilities in Benghazi.

The details about possible al-Qaeda involvement were not included in talking points initially used by both Petraeus and Rice because they were preliminary and were based on classified sources, intelligence officials said.
Check out that highlighted passage.

According to DeYoung, the current CIA assessment holds that the militants who staged the deadly attack were reacting to the Cairo protests that day—that they “quickly mobilized an assault” on the Benghazi compound.

This contradicts a claim which is still being made against Rice—the claim that she refused to acknowledge the obvious fact that the attack was preplanned, perhaps for months.

From the beginning, Fox World has insisted that the Benghazi attack just must have been preplanned to coincide with September 11. Just this Thursday, the New York Times described the ongoing complaint about Rice in this way:

“Ms. Rice...has come under withering attack from Senator John McCain and other Republicans for suggesting that the siege in Benghazi that killed four Americans was a spontaneous protest rather than a premeditated terrorist attack.” (Our emphasis.)

Right from the start, crackpot Republicans have insisted that the assault was surely “premeditated”—preplanned to coincide with the anniversary of September 11. Rice has been called every name in the book for failing to state this obvious fact on those TV news shows.

This morning, DeYoung reports that the intelligence community doesn’t believe the attack was preplanned! She says the CIA thinks the assault was “quickly mobilized” in reaction to the events in Cairo.

But so what! DeYoung fails to note that this contradicts a basic claim which is still being made against Rice—a claim McCain has been making. Rice remains under the bus in this piece.

McCain is untouched, serene. DeYoung works hard to keep you from knowing how crazy his conduct has been.

This is a horrible news report, in quite a few different ways. DeYoung is reinventing basic facts as early as paragraph 2, ginning up conflict and contradiction as she goes.

But more than anything else, this report protects the craziness of McCain and fails to provide basic fairness to Rice. On the bright side:

In 2006, DeYoung got to write the authorized biography of the sainted Colin Powell. In the book, she served as “sock puppet” to the great man, according to one New York Times review.

Her report today is misleading and confusing. It jumbles its basic information. It’s very unfair to Rice. It serves Post readers very badly.

But on the bright side, DeYoung may get to write McCain’s official biography too! And isn’t that what this big crazy world of pseudo-journalism is really all about?

Extra credit/A magical word: Note the way a magical word is tossed around in this piece. For one example, revisit this horrible passage:
DEYOUNG: Reading from administration talking points, Rice hewed to the “spontaneous” theory...
Rice hewed to the “spontaneous” theory? Is that even written in English?

By now, the world “spontaneous” serves as a talisman is the reporting of the assault against Rice. You write it to signal GOP hacks that you are helping advance their claims—claims which are so incoherent that they can’t be conveyed in any conventional way.

Rice hewed to the “spontaneous” theory! DeYoung slimes Rice for this misconduct, then notes, much later in the piece, that the CIA now believes that the deadly assault was "quickly mobilized" in reaction to the events in Cairo.

DeYoung hurries you past that contradiction. This is a terribly fake news report, a terrible sign of the times.


  1. Please reassure me that John McCain is not on Meet the Press this Sunday.

  2. Yeah, sure, the CIA concluded, that AQ was responsible for the attack. On, of all dates, Sept 11.....but Rice's point was, knowing that, that it might have been not premeditated. Yeah, sure, that's logical. But just for the hell of it guys, lets eliminate the CIA wording...get rid of the AQ language, and replace it with the word "extremist". Because we don't want AQ to suspect that we know it was them. Yeah...that makes sense.

    Oh, and then by the way, when that clown from South Carolina, Clyburn comes on Tweety's show, and reminds us, that Rice is a 'daughter of South Carolina", as if that has any meaning, and Tweety doubles that worthless bid, by interrupting, and saying "an Afro-American Daughter", all of sudden, Bob, who has made a career out of pointing out how 'we liberals always play the race card' let that go this hand.

    1. FYI, smartboy, al Qaeda had precisely zippo to do with this attack and no significant connection to the wannabe group that appears to have done the deed, Ansar al Sharia.

      You could try some time with Google exploring the issue of Islamic terrorism as it actually exists in reality and not in your fevered imagination.

    2. From the Washington Post, Sat Nov 17th: "At the same time, intelligence quickly uncovered links to militant groups, including associates of al-Qaeda."

      (Reuters) - Former CIA Director David Petraeus told Congress on Friday that he and the spy agency had sought to make clear from the outset that September's deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, involved an al Qaeda affiliate

      CNN- Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill Friday that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September was an act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda-linked militants.

      Yahoo: Washington - Former CIA Director David Petraeus told Congress on Friday that he and the spy agency had sought to make clear from the outset that September's deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, involved an al Qaeda affiliate, lawmakers said

      USA Today: WASHINGTON — The CIA told the White House that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was a terror attack by an al-Qaeda linked group, but the assessment was altered by Obama administration officials, Gen. David Petraeus told the House Intelligence Committee

      CBS news: One Republican, House Intelligence Committee member Peter King, told reporters that the original CIA talking points regarding the attack clearly attributed the incident to al Qaeda affiliates, but that the talking points were changed after being vetted by several agencies, including the Justice Department and State Department. "No one knows yet exactly who came up with the final talking points," King said

      Yup smartboy....Al Qaeda had precisely "zippo" to do with this attack. Just their "affiliates".....smartboy, you are correct, google is good for stuff.

    3. Jonst, I still don't get your point. What is it about the admin statements that needs to be looked at under a microscope? what were they hiding? why would they? What is so terrible that instead of right from the get go announcing it was Al Qaeda, as if this murky event in Bengazi, Libya was or even now is crystal clear? What was so wrong about expressing some doubt about what actually happened, when there was obviously some doubt? Who was harmed? Your feverishness over this seems absurd. Did you get so bent out of shape when it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction?


    4. "You could try some time with Google exploring the issue of Islamic terrorism as it actually exists in reality and not in your fevered imagination."

      No need. Bush already told us. They hate us for our freedoms. And a couple other things.

    5. Hey guys may I suggest the best thing is to ignore people like jonst as there are too many like him that will just steal your time and energy that I am sure will be appreciated by the reasonable people in your lives.

  3. "Technically not false" is the same as "credible and truthful"

  4. On the other hand, perhaps stories like this will only encourage McCain to keep doing what he's been doing -- and thereby lose all credibility. Despite this story in today's WaPo, he has been losing his luster with the MSM, who are beginning to treat him like an old crank motivated by envy and bitterness. With Lieberman (just about) gone, his remaining ally in the Senate is Lindsay Graham, who is likely to get wingnuttier and wingnuttier as he tries to protect himself against a primary challenge from his right in two years.

  5. What fascinates me about this GOP obsession with "spontaneous" is what the precise definition of "pre-planned" is supposed to be.

    If I'm happily shooting up a building and setting it on fire, and I remember that Joe in the next town has gotten hold of one of the mortars left over from the revolution and I call him up and ask him to bring it over and it takes him 5 or 6 hours to get it there, is that "pre-planned"?

    Or is "pre-planned" like the legal definition of "premeditated murder" which requires nothing more than forming the intent and then acting on it 2 seconds later?

    1. Perhaps the word "opportunistic" might have been useful, in more ways than one.

      The first definition that pops up is this: "taking immediate advantage, often unethically, of any circumstance of possible benefit".

      Maybe a bit like the Benghazi attackers, definitely a lot like Fox News and John McCain.

  6. I feel that the whole Susan Rice Benghazi story is a perfect example of many of the points Bob has been making about the modern press. It a very simple non story that the republicans hoped to turn into a "october surprise" using techniques developed back during the swift boat story. Obviously it didn't have the desired effect but our feeble press both right wing and so called liberal continue to show either their willingness to distort to advance the right wing or to display a unbelievably inept level of journalism that seems to get worse with each day.

  7. Bingo, jkw. Read Dowd today for more confirmation.

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