What actually happened in Benghazi that night?

TUESDAY, MAY 14, 2013

Richard Cohen and Gregory Hicks seem to think they know: The laziness of the career liberal world does produce horrible outcomes.

Ever since last September, the liberal world has stood aside as Susan Rice gets thrown under the bus. As usual, our leaders have all run off and hid in the woods, just as they did all during the Clinton-Gore years.

As a result, we get this passage from Richard Cohen in today’s hard-copy Washington Post. Again, we’ll call this obscene:
COHEN (5/14/13): So what is Benghazi? It is the place in Libya where the United States maintained two installations—a consulate and a much larger CIA outpost. Both of these were attacked on Sept. 11, 2012, a date of some significance. The assaults, we all now know, were conducted by a jihadist group and were not—as the Obama administration initially maintained—a spur-of-the-moment thing precipitated by the airing of an anti-Muslim video. We also know that the administration either was unsure of the facts or simply didn’t like them. So it knitted together the infamous talking points that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice repeated on all the Sunday talk shows. Aside from “good morning,” little of what she said was true.
In our view, little of what Cohen writes in that passage is accurate.

Question: Did the Obama administration “initially maintain” that the assault was “a spur-of-the-moment thing precipitated by the airing of an anti-Muslim video?”

Susan Rice certainly didn’t say that on those Sunday shows. Truth to tell, she didn't say why those "extremists armed with heavy weapons" came to the scene that night and "hijacked events."

Susan Rice didn’t say why the extremists did that. But to be able to understand that, you have to know how to read. Few major journalists can.

According to Cohen, “we all know” that the assaults in Benghazi “were conducted by a jihadist group.” But he forgets to name the group.

This is convenient. To us, it doesn’t seem clear that we know much about what happened in Benghazi, even at this late date.

In all the hub-bub of the past week, there has been much complaining about the way the talking points were scrubbed of their reference to Ansar al-Sharia as the likely villain. (According to press reports!) But did that group conduct the attack? Looking back through published work, we find no official final conclusions about such matters.

Richard Cohen may think we know that Ansar al-Sharia staged the attack. If he does, it probably means he leaves Fox on while he takes his naps.

As best we can tell, the government has never stated a final conclusion as to what really happened that night. Meanwhile, there have been ongoing complaints about the lack of arrests or apprehensions. Question for Cohen:

If we know who staged the attacks, why haven’t they been arrested? No one seems to be asking that question in the lunacy of the past week. Of course, lunatic episodes like this mainly exist to drive prefered novels, not to create information.

Here’s something else we’ve been wondering:

Susan Rice keeps getting attacked because she didn’t agree with the Libyan president on Face the Nation that day. With that in mind, here’s the transcript of what that fine fellow told Bob Schieffer just before Rice appeared:
SCHIEFFER (9/16/12): How many people have now been arrested, Mr. President?

MAGARIAF: Oh, a few scores, I think, the number has reached about 50.

SCHIEFFER: About 50 people have been arrested. And who are these people? You have said they were connected to al Qaeda. Are they all foreigners?

MAGARIAF: A few of them are.

SCHIEFFER: And who are the others?

MAGARIAF: The others are affiliates and maybe sympathizers.

SCHIEFFER: Where do you think the foreigners are from, Mr. President?

MAGARIAF: They entered Libya from different directions, and some of them definitely from Mali and Algeria.


SCHIEFFER: Was this a long-planned attack, as far as you know? Or what do you know about that?

MAGARIAF: The way these perpetrators acted and moved, I think we—and their choosing the specific date for this so-called demonstration—I think we have no, this leaves us with no doubt that this was preplanned, predetermined.

SCHIEFFER: And you believe that this was the work of al Qaeda, and you believe that it was led by foreigners. Is that what you`re telling us?

MAGARIAF: It was planned—definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival.
Last week, the extremely snide whistle-blower, Gregory Hicks, mocked Rice for not agreeing with Magariaf right on the spot. Here’s our question, eight months later:

How much that Magariaf said has turned out to be accurate? Sample questions:

If fifty people were arrested, why haven’t they been prosecuted? Did Magariaf arrest the wrong people?

Is it true that the attack had been preplanned for several months? Was it timed for September 11, as Magariaf plainly suggested?

Was the attack planned by foreigners? Were some of the mas Qaeda members, as Magariaf seemed to imply? Had they entered Libya several months before?

Magariaf was full of certitude that day. How much of his certitude was true? According to the snide Mr. Hicks, Rice should have agreed with this Libyan pol, right there on the spot. That strikes us as amazingly stupid. But millionaire TV broadcasters have swallowed it down without problem.

How much that Magariaf said was actually true that day? Even today, does anyone know? And is it known, even today, whether Ansar al-Sharia actually led the attack?

Aggressive blowhards like Cohen and Hicks have been a curse on our country for decades. They’re full of alleged knowledge and weird ideas. They're also full of themselves, and of course of old shoes.

To this day, do we know if the things these people are saying are true? Did Hicks know what he was talking about? How about Cohen?

And why doesn’t anyone ask?


  1. Nobody asks because challenging the pronouncements of authorities is not the role of journalists. Just ask David Gregory. Once an authority says something, it is automatically true. And if a different person of authority later contradicts that statement, then there is a "controversy." At no point is a journalist supposed to weigh in and try to point out what the truth is; that would be making themselves part of the story and showing "bias" towards one side or the other.

    Modern "journalism" is simply highly-paid stenography.

  2. Worth noting Cohen, bad as he is, is basically sympathetic to Obama/Clinton. As usual, his tit for tat world view is really on the side of the lazy and the cynical.

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  4. In an alternate universe, TDH would find this sudden demonization of Hicks to be...tribal.

    1. Come on, Hicks is a total fool. Bob is right. How come no one else is lampooning that fool. Hicks was relaxing in his villa, watching his special TV show and missed the first two calls from his boss, the ambassador, who was risking his life in Benghazi. Yo, Mr. Hicks, shouldn't you be a little ashamed that you were in charge, yet went incommunicado during a crisis? To blame Ms. Rice and Clinton without acknowledging your own lapse is low, low character. Hicks needs to pay for his shamelessness. He should be laughed out of town. Saturday night Live will hopefully take him down.
      What was that TV show of his, anyway?

  5. The four Americans killed were in a war zone. Three were CIA or Navy Seals attached to the American diplomatic mission in Libya. Ambassador Christopher Stevens spoke the language and felt close to the indigenous people. It was also reported that Ambassador Stevens preferred a light security detail, because he felt that the black SUVs roaring through villages in a menacing way was not the way to communicate with the people.

    The first reports on Benghazi that I heard from the media stated that demonstrations broke out in Cairo and other places in response to the stupid anti-prophet video. The report also said that there appeared to be a similar demonstration in Benghazi, but that a heavily armed and organized group seemed to join the demonstration that turned out to be an attack on the building where the Americans were temporarily housed.

    An important fact is that the Americans were in a war zone. The danger was always very high and the people attached to the Ambassador knew it was a dangerous mission since many people in Libya perceived them as the enemy. People are killed in war zones all of the time. It's what happens when one bombs and invades another country. Unbelievably to some the invaded usually, that's usually mind you fight back. Oh my gosh, how rude. Some of the invaded even try to kill the invaders. Imagine that.

    It's unbelievable that the republicans believe that they appear to be strong on the Benghazi situation. The reality is that they appear they to be neurotic little dishonest ninnies running around trying to blame anyone they can so they appear to be doing their job number one, which is wasting taxpayer dollars for face time on the networks to bad-mouth their political opponents. Their absurd grandstanding is an embarrassment to all Americans. I cannot believe that the republicans do not seem to mind embarrassing our country in front of the entire world, a world that doesn't believe them for a second.

    The fact that the mainstream media is aiding and abetting the right wing dog and pony show should embarrass or shame them, but unfortunately, they do not seem to be capable of feeling shame..

  6. Obama won Benghazi when the right made the issue Susan Rice and her talking points, and bungled even that. It's obvious security was inadequate, inexcusably so on 9/11 anniversary, and the chaotic situation was and is arguably a direct consequence of our "liberating" Libya from Khadafi on the cheap - by killing him. The stupid talking points "scandal" serves Obama by distracting from the larger issues.

    1. "It's obvious security was inadequate, inexcusably so on 9/11 anniversary"

      No, that's not obvious.

      A harmful attack doesn't prove security was inadequate, any more than the fact that many other locations were not attacked proves that security was adequate there.

      If only they'd had the "adequate" security of my magic rabbit foot! I wasn't attacked that day.

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