October 2 2012
Why Did the Administration Embrace the "Blame the Video" Meme?
Richard M. Nixon lost his presidency over the cover-up of the Watergate break-in, which left no casualties. This gave rise to a Washington axiom: the cover-up is worse than the crime.
The cover-up of the murder of four U.S. citizens, including our ambassador, at U.S. diplomatic installations in Libya, is arguably more serious than Watergate.
Nixon’s election-year cover-up of a third-rate burglary was stupid, but the current attempt to obscure what is going on in the Middle East makes a grim kind of sense: it is aimed at hiding the collapse of a naive foreign policy and concealing this administration’s inadequate response to what will come to be regarded as a defining moment in Barack Obama's presidency.
If former President Bill Clinton seemingly bailed out President Can’t on economic issues, it could be that Hillary Clinton’s invocation of the 3 am call will come back to haunt him on the international front.
Bret Stephens has a tick tock on how the administration handled the terrorist attack in Libya. It is a saga of “story-switching and stonewalling” that began in the Oval office at 5 pm on September 11.
President Obama, the secretary of defense the national security adviser, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were present and they knew that the mission in Benghazi had been under assault for about an hour and a half and that thirty U.S. citizens were in mortal danger.
There was no serious consideration, according to sources, of intervention because it might offend the Libyan “government” by violating its sovereignty. The State Department dismissed as “unrealistic” the possibility of sending a plane from a U.S. base just 450 miles away.
The administration had known that in June there were some smaller terrorist attacks in Libya but didn’t take any steps to prevent further ones because the local security had handled those well.
The bigger question is why the administration adopted the idea that the attack wasn’t a terrorist attack and latched onto the “jihadist narrative” that a video clip was the cause. These questions are arguably more important than, say, when Richard M. Nixon knew about the Watergate break-in that left no casualties. Like Watergate, however, these questions also revolve around the character and virtue of our leaders.
Stephens sums up the situation:
The U.S. ignores warnings of a parlous security situation in Benghazi. Nothing happens because nobody is really paying attention, especially in an election year, and because Libya is supposed to be a foreign-policy success. When something does happen, the administration's concerns for the safety of Americans are subordinated to considerations of Libyan "sovereignty" and the need for "permission." After the attack the administration blames a video, perhaps because it would be politically inconvenient to note that al Qaeda is far from defeated, and that we are no more popular under Mr. Obama than we were under George W. Bush. Denouncing the video also appeals to the administration's reflexive habits of blaming America first. Once that story falls apart, it's time to blame the intel munchkins and move on.
It was five in the afternoon when Mr. Obama took his 3 a.m. call. He still flubbed it.
Watergate emerged in the lead-up to an election. Nixon won that election by a landslide, but Watergate, you just might recall, was not over.
How absurd is the claim that the Libyan attack was the result of a movie? Don’t miss Peter Kirsanow’s “report” on a “stunning historical discovery:” a memorandum by former Japanese Emperor Hirohito revealing that the root cause of Pearl Harbor was a Charlie Chaplin film mocking Japanese cuisine.
Meanwhile, kudos to CNN (h/t Hot Air) for being an MSN outlet willing to dig for the truth on this.