Nonetheless, I waded through a lot of Benghazi info last summer, and I don't want it to go to waste. So, finally seven months later, I'm publishing what I found out. It's late, but still more timely than our GOP political circus. This is actually two posts in one.
1. The Conservatives' Attempt to Make a Smoking Gun
What is the big new story about Benghazi [as of last summer, that is]? It seems that there was a stand-down order. Well, maybe it was more like a wait-and-let-me-think-about-this order. The CIA leader at the annex (that secret other location that was attacked later that night but not at first) made his gung-ho underlings wait about 22 minutes before going to the consulate.
This word comes from three security operatives who were among the forces at the annex. These are three of the two dozen or so 'Benghazi survivors' who were strangely absent from previous hearings. Now some information is leaking from a few of these sources. So far it doesn't seem like enough for the GOP to cry "scandal," but the GOP will try anyway.
Here's the headline from Breitbart (same link as above):
BENGHAZI SECURITY CONTRACTORS: ABOUT 25 AMERICANS ARE STILL ALIVE BECAUSE WE BROKE 'STAND DOWN' ORDER
But if you read it closely, they saved 5 people from the consulate, not 25. They didn't exactly defy a stand-down order so much as put pressure on the chief/team leader to end the delay and get going. If there was a stand-down order, the chief/team leader didn't obey either, because he went with the security team to the consulate. Ah, but you must have drama, especially if you're trying to sell a narrative or sell books.
From another article:
Their team leader was a CIA official who got direct orders from Washington to wait multiple times... [One security operative] said "I strongly believe if we would have left immediately, they would still be alive today."Neither of these points is supported by other evidence. Was someone in Washington incorrectly telling them to wait? Maybe it wasn't that bad a call. Would leaving immediately have saved lives? That's questionable. Shoot first and plan later isn't a great policy in general.
2. The Worst of It: Bad, but not even close to horrific
Despite conservative media hype, the Benghazi scandal is bigger than the MSM made it out to be. The best evidence of this comes from Hicks, an assistant to the ambassador. The mistakes/poor judgment/incompetence has two parts:
1) Libya was a lot more dangerous than the administration let on, and the staff was expected to live with that danger and not report. If the dangers were known, it would bring unwelcome focus on Obama's decisions on how to handle Libya, and Obama seems to be unable to handle criticism.
2) The administration wanted to cover up that they were informed about the dangers, so they decided to go with the story that it was a protest similar to the one in Egypt. I don't know who made the decision, but people at the top knew it was a lie. However, the lie unraveled pretty quickly because GOP congress members knew of the dangers in Libya from intelligence briefings, and they gave that info to conservative news sources who ran with the story.
Get By with a Little Help from Our Friends
Obama and Clinton have counted on the friendly MSM to not pursue the story hard and not put them in a terrible light. No surprise there. Our media is very skewed, with the conservative media being even worse, and therefore having even less credibility.
How will Obama, Hillary, and the Dems deal with the scandal? I'm not sure, but perhaps they will treat it as a regrettable mistake, but not a huge, disqualifying mistake. Perhaps that's the conclusion of most of the electorate too, and they don't want to hear anymore about it. It boils down to this: most people are tired of it, so it won't matter in the 2016 campaigns.
Extras. I did lots of research, and here are the most interesting bits:
Three days after the attack and some newspapers are getting the story straight.
Comments at National Review are almost all partisan--not looking for truth, but looking to smear Dems. George will is castigated for not getting on the bandwagon. This is the echo chamber again.
Why Stevens didn't take the offer of more security--a good reason: immunity for the security personnel.
Who and what on the stand down command, maybe. This is the decision not to send fighter aircraft to Benghazi. Might or might not have helped. No refueling support available.
Strong comment with perspective on the incident. "It does not matter to ordinary voters whether it was a local militia stirred up by the video or it was a pre-planned Al Qaeda attack. We sent our people to a dangerous place, some of them died. Who [in the administration] said what ... is not really an important issue." What's not important is all the stuff the GOP is focusing on.
Politifact account of chain email about rape and mutilation. Another rumor with a different name as the source. This is very ugly partisanship, luckily confined to the shadows.
Update 3/13/16. Did Clinton make false claims about the video to the families of the casualties? Accounts differ in profound ways. Why is this a big issue? Um, oh, because Clinton had a spin-laden story in public, and a different story in private. And because she must be blamed for the spin since she's running for president. Can't forget that reason.