On Benghazi Criticism, Mitt Was Right

With the Obama administration’s handling of the deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi sliding from the realm of tragedy to farce and now to full-blown scandal, many truths are coming to light. First, administration officials tried to sell the American people an implausible story that a protest organically turned into a coordinated commando-style assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound. Second, this was done to protect the president from political damage by the reemergence of al Qaeda or al Qaeda-affiliated terror groups. After all those speeches about “the tide of war receding,” after all those reminders that “bin Laden is dead and GM is alive,” after all those leaks to The New York Times detailing the president’s hands-on role planning the bin Laden raid, authorizing drone strikes and launching cyber-attacks, the narrative could not become that the jihadists are still active, still capable of killing Americans, still waging war. And third, perhaps just as important, at least in terms of the future conduct of American foreign and defense policy, the administration’s Benghazi scandal has revealed that Mitt Romney was right.

Let’s begin the story on September 11, 2012. As that infamous YouTube video began to hit the public consciousness, the U.S. embassy in Cairo decided to release this statement: “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

That didn’t calm the anger of those outside the embassy, and protests turned into a full-blown riot in Cairo, prompting the embassy to declare, “This morning’s condemnation (issued before protest began) still stands.”

That angered Romney, who saw the episode in terms of American values—especially freedom of speech—and he believes that American embassies should always be exponents of those values. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” he said, concluding, rightly, that a) the embassy is part of the administration and b) embassy officials had taken a blame-America position.

Interestingly, the administration also quickly disavowed the embassy’s statement: “No one in Washington approved that statement before it was released and it doesn’t reflect the views of the U.S. government.”

Soon, we were told, the rioting had spread to Benghazi and then turned deadly, as Ambassador Stevens and three in his staff were killed by an angry mob.

The Obama team then tried to turn its own botched handling of Benghazi into a Romney problem. “We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack,” the Obama campaign said.

President Obama added, “Gov. Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I’ve learned is you can’t do that.”

The president’s surrogates and his dutiful press pounced, concluding the episode revealed that Romney lacked the temperament to be commander-in-chief. Some called him “rash,” “irresponsible” and “craven.” Others dismissed his statements as “disgraceful,” “ill-timed” and “appalling.”

But Romney, to his credit, did not back down. “I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation…An apology for America’s values is never the right course.”

He thoughtfully and calmly criticized the president for sending “mixed messages,” adding, “The statement that came from the administration—and the embassy is the administration…was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a severe miscalculation.”

When the weekend rolled around, Ambassador Susan Rice led the charge to minimize the terrorist angle. “What our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy—sparked by this hateful video,” Rice said on several TV interviews. “But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in.” (The ludicrous notion that an offensive video or cartoon can somehow justify violence, riots or murder is a subject for another essay.)

Others in the administration spun the same tale, straining to conflate the YouTube video, the protests and the deadly attacks. “I think it’s important to note with regards to that protest that there are protests taking place in different countries across the world that are responding to the movie that has circulated on the Internet,” White House spokesman Jay Carney explained.

Even the president tried to sell the fiction. “What we’ve seen over the last week, week and a half, is something that actually we’ve seen in the past, where there is an offensive video or cartoon directed at the prophet Muhammad…What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists.”

Of course that is untrue, and was known to be untrue at the time. The Heritage Foundation’s helpful timeline notes that Libyan President Mohamed Magarief concluded, “no doubt that this [attack] was preplanned, predetermined.”

As the redoubtable Eli Lake has reported, citing “three separate U.S. intelligence officials,” “Within 24 hours of the 9-11 anniversary attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, U.S. intelligence agencies had strong indications al Qaeda-affiliated operatives were behind the attack.”

And by October 9, the State Department had totally torpedoed the Obama-Rice story. When asked if the attacks were an outgrowth of some spontaneous riot, State Department officials said, “That was not our conclusion,” devastatingly adding, there wasn’t even a demonstration against the YouTube clip. “There had been nothing unusual during the day outside,” they said, noting that it wasn’t until late in the evening that they “saw on the security cameras that there were armed men invading the compound.”

Far from revealing that Romney lacks the temperament to be president, the Obama administration’s Benghazi scandal shows that Romney has the guts to stand up for America and her values—even in the face of withering political attacks—and the gut instinct to recognize a cover-up in the making.

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  • SHmuel HaLevi

    Bin Laden is dead and so are the Ambassadors and two operatives. As well as many soldiers.
    The terrible debacles of the Obama Administration will take many years to correct.
    The US economy and employment are just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Antoinette

    The Obama Administration has no idea what to do about the middle east, Sound bites and apologies are not what we need right now.

  • Schlomotion

    I think this little October Surprise is fizzling out. Romney is not going to be able to capitalize on Libyan rioters or the Basseley video. What is expressly obvious is that Mitt Romney doesn't know jack about foreign policy. His foreign policy, as it is painfully obvious, is to grovel before foreign nationalist leaders and promise them weird things if they will just please, please, give him some money. If Kim Jong Un promised him money, if Hu Jintao promised him money, he would scurry right over and lick their boots. For all this talk about Mitt Romney will veto any bill that requires borrowing from China he is still going to perch right next to their table and watch for falling scraps.

    • Ozymandias

      SFB, you don't fool anybody

    • fdcampbell

      Non-sequitur………….

    • Ghostwriter

      Don't ever run out of horrible things to say,Schlepmotion?

  • marios

    Obama-Biden lied, Obama-Biden lie, Obama-Biden will lie… if Americans will not stop them in Nov. 4.
    Obama-Biden and so called Dem. party destroyed this country from within economically and degraded it in world arena. For more years and our great country will be changed to 3RD world one. Islamists happy to have Obama in WH.

  • gfmucci

    Just for the record, 95% of the YouTube video about Muhammad is accurate. Is it insulting to Muslims? Sure, if they are embarrassed by the truth of Islam, historically. But is it true? The essence of it, yes. An Islamic expert, Usama Dakdok, disected the video, scene by scene, and compared it to the Qur'an, Hadith, and Surrah. It is the truth that our media refuses to acknowleg out of their "cultural diversity" and hyper-sensitivity. Consequently they will be next, right behind our State Department, even before Middle East Muslims, to declare it an insult. Now THAT is Islamophobia.

  • Western Spirit

    In everything the party of Satan uses transference and calls others liars when they are the liars. Lies are the nature of the beast we battle. For our battle is not against flesh and blood but against demonic powers that keep battering the walls of our freedom with one totalitarian system after another.

    This time those batterers against our freedom is Islam the worst totalitarian system of them all. Because the demonic powers we battle have gained strength from the choices we have made.

    This time the batterers are not only on the outside but on the inside. We're being taken down from within because too many of us have succumbed to the false "goodness", that are the Left's values.

    In an attempt to be "free" of Judeo-Christian values and do whatever we please we've shucked them in favor of the Left's values. Even though these values of the Jews and Christians have sustained our true freedom through the years.

    And when stripped naked to their core the Left's values are insane with only a semblance of goodness on the surface to validate them, but in fact, lead to slavery. Slavery where the human race has been throughout its history because it prefers lies to reality. And lies are the province of the evil one.

  • Western Spirit

    Jesus said he came to set the captives free and indeed, he has, only to see us slide back into captivity.
    But His freedom is forever because it is the truth that sets us free.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    If America returns to real leaders the World will be shaken, if not and continues with
    media darlings (Socialist, Marxist, Islamist rats) be prepared to remain disgusted beyone
    belief for a very long time, maybe forever though I do not think so……………William

  • Duddio

    This response by Romney showed his instincts for the truth and an appropriate response to a terrible situation. He was very presidential in his comments, defending America while the WH was lying about a non-existent "investigation." Within 24 hrs Hillary's State Department briefed Congress on the terrorist attack in Benghazi and that it was an al-Queda group.

  • Jim_C

    Romney's remarks were that of an armchair quarterback dilettante, and in poor taste, too.

    Now look who's "not letting a crisis go to waste."

    One test people who observe politics fail constantly: imagine it was YOUR guy who was president when this happened. If the democrat challenger dared to voice criticism, FPM would have weeks of articles on how "unAmerican" it was to politicize this time of crisis.

    You know I'm right.

    Then where was the outrage when embassies were attacked and ambassadors assassinated under Bush?

    Oh, that's right–people had the DECENCY not to politicize those tragic events.

    It's called "having principles." Most people, sadly, don't. Most FPM writers and most FPM commentators don't. When you have principles, they apply whether your guy or their guy is in power. They apply in any case. And they require you to admit when you're wrong.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    .

    ~ Fool me once – shame on me.

    Fool me Twice…………I'm an Obama voter.

    .