Special Report: Benghazi an Opportunity for News Media to Restore Reputation
Kyle Becker | On 29, Oct 2012
Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists coordinated an attack on American embassies and on a U.S. Ambassador on the anniversary of September 11th and claimed that the protests that provided them cover were due to a poorly made, previously unwatched anti-Islamist video on YouTube. There were several reasons for protests around the Muslim world that day, including the killing of Osama bin Laden (such as displayed by the chant “Obama, Obama, We are all Osamas”) and even the visit of the Pope in Lebanon. Yet several members of the Obama administration have repeated that the video was the sole reason for the protests, which is tantamount to repeating terrorist “disinformation.”
What is striking about the Cairo protest is the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government’s lack of security around the U.S. embassy, given that the Obama administration has pledged billions of dollars in continuing foreign aid to the government for security purposes. The Muslim Brotherhood, effectively, did “stand down” in much the same way that nearby U.S. military assets were apparently told by higher-ups in the executive branch to “stand down” during the approximately seven hour raid at Benghazi that resulted in the brutal murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the killing of diplomat Sean Smith.
Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty apparently broke orders to perform a perilously outmanned rescue operation at the Benghazi consulate, and were denied close air support through CIA channels. The two men may have killed as many as sixty attackers before succumbing to repeated mortar fire.
The president was notified of the Benghazi attack within minutes and reportedly “went to bed” 90 minutes later, with the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens still missing. The ambassador was reportedly tortured before being murdered over the course of a raid that has been estimated to last up to seven hours. Three intelligence agencies reported to the White House that al Qaeda was behind the terrorist attack.
The White House had access to surveillance video in real-time during the Benghazi attack, throwing into question Secretary of Defense Leon Paneta’s statement “You don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on.” The Obama administration classified video footage of the Benghazi terrorist attack, prompting a recent GOP request for declassification.
President Obama refused to answer ABC News reporter Jake Tapper’s question of whether or not the slain diplomats and security personnel were denied requests for support by the White House. Furthermore, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Bing West has pointed out that if the president had given the order to secure the consulate, there would be a paper trail.
The question is: Why would the president have behaved as reported if he did not give the order for U.S. troops to stand down? Statesmen do not leave grave matters of national security unresolved before departing the scene to attend to matters of secondary importance like political campaigning. If the president did give the order for security assets near the Benghazi consulate to stand down, then why? Was it because the president did not want to draw attention to the delicate political situation in Libya ahead of the election?
Furthermore, did part of the Ambassador’s mission entail recovering weapons that had been given to Islamist anti-Qadaffi forces prior and during the United States’ illegal, NATO-led invasion of Libya? Were some of these weapons, including shoulder-fire MANPADS, re-routed through Turkey to Syria, winding up in the hands of the al-Qaeda penetrated Free Syrian Army?
The defense of the Obama administration and several media outlets has been that more time is needed to conduct a thorough investigation, presumably until after the elections. But the administration is stonewalling public investigation and should neither be allowed to dictate what citizens know, nor exonerate itself after an internal investigation.
The American news media used to care about holding the powerful of both major political parties accountable; and hopefully, the Benghazi story provides an opportunity for journalists to recover their recently tarnished reputation.
Kyle Becker has an M.A. in International Studies, and has conducted PhD.-level work in American Foreign Policy, International Relations, and Terrorism.