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Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Featured, International, Politics | 30 comments

Fact-checking Benghazi Claims

politifact_photos_false_meter weighs in on Benghazi claims of both parties.


After the attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, “the ambassador’s body was dragged through the street.”  

Laura Ingraham, Saturday, May 3rd, 2014.

Ruling: False | Details

Mostly False

In discussing the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, “Ms. Rice did say ‘a terrorist attack.’ It’s not that she put the whole thing on the video.”  

Cokie Roberts, Sunday, May 4th, 2014.

Ruling: Mostly False | Details


“The amount of attention paid this week to Chris Christie makes the coverage of Benghazi … pale in significance.”  

Karl Rove, Sunday, January 12th, 2014.

Ruling: False | Details

Pants on Fire!

The White House had a live video feed of the Benghazi attacks as they occurred.

David Dewhurst, Monday, October 14th, 2013.

Ruling: Pants on Fire! | Details

Pants on Fire!

An account of attacks in Benghazi written by former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers shows that the body of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was “dragged through the streets” and abused.

Chain email, Wednesday, September 4th, 2013.

Ruling: Pants on Fire! | Details

Mostly False

“Republicans actually doctored emails between administration officials about Benghazi. Then, they released them to the press, trying to pass them off as real.”

Democratic National Committee, Friday, May 24th, 2013.

Ruling: Mostly False | Details

Mostly False

Says Hillary Clinton “was asked repeatedly to provide security in Benghazi on several occasions, including direct cables.”

Rand Paul, Sunday, May 19th, 2013.

Ruling: Mostly False | Details


“We had people that were getting killed (in Benghazi), we had people who are willing to risk their lives to go save them, and somebody told them to stand down.”

Jason Chaffetz, Monday, May 6th, 2013.

Ruling: False | Details

Mostly False

“Over the last several months, there was a review board headed by two distinguished Americans, Mike Mullen and Tom Pickering, who investigated every element of” the Benghazi incident.

Barack Obama, Monday, May 13th, 2013.

Ruling: Mostly False | Details

Mostly False

When Susan Rice spoke about Benghazi on Sunday news shows, she said “that al-Qaida might be involved, or other al-Qaida affiliates might be involved, or non-al-Qaida Libyan extremists, which I think demonstrates that there was no effort to play that down.”

Jay Carney, Friday, May 10th, 2013.

Ruling: Mostly False | Details


Says President Obama waited two weeks to call the attack in Libya “terror.”

Mitt Romney, Tuesday, October 16th, 2012.

Ruling: Half-True | Details

Cross-posted from the Sensible Center

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  • The_Ohioan

    The answer to the overall question could still be that Republicans tell more Pants on Fire and False statements, and that Politifact is merely a disinterested referee. However, the numbers suggest that PolitiFact is more “curious” about Republican statements and less curious about Democratic statements, even when Democrats vastly outnumbered Republicans in the halls of power. And that certainly is … curious


  • sheknows

    Impeachment is still a far away dream they write fantasies and plays about. Why are we constantly forced to attend?

  • The essential issue is that the Republican voter base subscribes to a different set of “Facts” than does most of the rest of the electorate. Non-partisan experts like Norm Ornstein (AEI) and Thomas Mann (Brookings) have unequivocally stated this.

    The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

    If I ran a political fact-check web-site and found that one of the two major parties lived in an alternate factual universe, I would find that “curious” too.

  • Then there’s the “both sides do it crowd” like Ron Fournier, who admits that there is nothing to the Republican conspiracy theories but writes as if the Obama administration is just as bad because they practiced spin in their responses. Yes, both sides spin their responses to make themselves look as good as possible. Both sides don’t come up with bizarre and unfounded conspiracy theories to attack the other party as the Republicans are doing. Both sides don’t turn a tragic loss of American lives into a partisan political issue the way the Republicans are.

  • petew

    Although I respect Politifact’s decisions, their rating given for Obama’s description of the Libyan attacks as an act of terror, was published on Oct. 16th, 2012—only a little more than a month after the attack. Since then a number of new facts have emerged, and various articles such as one in the New York Times have affirmed that the attack involved groups associated with Al-Qaeda, but not Al-Qaeda itself. I believe that same article pointed to the fact that the anti-Islamic video may have paid a role by giving militants an excuse to attack the Libyan embassy on Sept. 11th—the same day of the year the Twin Towers were attacked. We also know that the prior embassy demonstrations in Egypt, were violent and in part blamed the participant’s unrest on this same incredibly stupid video!

    And, because Obama referred an “act of terror” one day after the Libyan embassy was attacked, and was commenting specifically about the embassy attack in Libya during a press conference in the rose garden the next day, do you suppose we can safely assume that he was actually stating that the Libyan attack was carried out by terrorists?

    We have also learned that the Obama administration in particular, does not want to make statements about any event until all of the facts are known and all of the loose ends are tied–as most administrations also don’t want to do, to some significant extent.

    Since the administration failed to consistently refer to the attacks as planed and carried out by terrorists, and made several references to that incredibly dumb video, we can possibly say that this was a form of negligence, but merely wanting to be sure, and waiting a couple of weeks to make a definitive statement about this issue does not seem unusual for any President like Obama who often want to review all the facts in any controversy.

    So, at best, I think Politifact should should have reached a (partly) false decision, and definitely not, a “half true,”one!

  • President Obama’s 9-12 Rose Garden speech did not serve to announce that the Benghazi attacks were acts of terror. In the context of the speech, Obama did no more than allow that they may have been acts of terror. To understand this, read the speech and note that paragraph No. 8 mentions the World Trade Center attacks and the “acts of terror” line comes on the heels of that comment in paragraph No. 10. If the president had called the Benghazi attacks “acts of terror” while directly referring to the Benghazi attacks (paragraphs 2-7) then it would be plausible to accept the idea that Romney was wrong.

    The Washington Post Fact Checker did a better job on this issue than did PolitiFact.

    (full disclosure: I help write a blog called “PolitiFact Bias”)

  • cjjack

    I don’t know about you guys, but I sure miss the old days.

    Remember when Congressional investigations were about criminal activity and not semantics? When folks who had done clearly illegal things like breaking and entering, trading arms for terrorists, and ripping off savings and loan depositors were hauled up in front of Congress to answer for their activities?

    Now we have to have a special committee convened to hold hearings over whether the words “terror” or “terrorism” were used in the proper context in talking points on the Sunday news?

    Pray tell, which part of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to take people to task or even prosecute them for not speaking clearly? How is improperly parsing words a crime?

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    President George W. Bush, Panama City, Panama, 7 Nov. 2005: “We do not torture.”

    Mr. White,

    How much time did you spend, how many essays and comments did you write fact-checking, parsing, analyzing whether this statement was “in context” or not, more important, whether it was the damned, blatant lie it was??

    Did you five it five pinocchios?

    Just asking.

    President Obama’s 9-12 Rose Garden speech did not serve to announce that the Benghazi attacks were acts of terror. In the context of the speech, Obama did no more than allow that they may have been acts of terror. To understand this, read the speech and note that paragraph No. 8 mentions the World Trade Center attacks and the “acts of terror” line comes on the heels of that comment in paragraph No. 10. If the president had called the Benghazi attacks “acts of terror” while directly referring to the Benghazi attacks (paragraphs 2-7) then it would be plausible to accept the idea that Romney was wrong.

    The Washington Post Fact Checker did a better job on this issue than did PolitiFact.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Should have been, “Did you give it five pinocchios?”

    But “five” is good enough, as Bush’s lie probably received a “high five” from Mr. White

  • petew


    I think you’ll agree that although fact checking organizations usually provide valuable analysis of various events, and are more often correct, the fact is. that even they can misinterpret or analyze political events with bias. I am not accusing anyone, but I get the idea that Mr. White, is misunderstanding the significance of Obama’s reference to “No acts of terror,” in his rose garden speech.

    Surely using these general terms did not rule out organized terrorism behind the Benghazi attacks, and as you say, indicated the possibility that it could indeed have been such an attack. But, considering that the President is an analytically thinker who hesitates to jump to premature conclusions, it would have been extremely irresponsible of him to rapidly point fingers at any specific groups. Moreover, if he had, you can bet that Republicans would currently be trying to roast him alive for that mistake!

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the higher echelons of the GOP don’t really care if this supposed scandal happened or not, but only that it can be used to sway public opinion by suggesting the possibility that it really did go down that way. The name of the game is manipulating the political awareness of the public so that, voters who are undecided, or who live in swing states, will always have this poop fresh in their minds, no matter what the evidence actually reveals. Republicans will seize upon some misrepresentation of facts, or some obscure notion that is blown way out of proportion whenever they can, just to keep the minds of American voters on the illusion that Obama and his administration have done a great many sneaky and nasty things while in office. And, while there is no doubt that the so called liberal press, has given GW Bush’s administration a bunch of free passes (since 13 different attacks were launched against American embassies and consulates during his two terms at the helm)—resulting in 98 deaths and injuring many others, most of us are not even aware that these attacks ever happened, or who allegedly carried them out. If anything the press and its pundits portrayed Bush as a hero and a great leader?

    However, bringing up these blank spots concerning terrorism are not really intended to blame Obama’s sins on the Presidents that came before him, but rather, to focus on how biased and/or accommodating the press can be. Whatever Obama has done or not, he does not get a free pass just because Bush had many failures of policy–rather these examples of hypocrisy are intended to illustrate, how frantic and hysterical all of this republican finger pointing has become, and how it is being used as a politically blaming football by a GOP that really could care less what the truth is—other than the fact that if they harp on it long enough, a number of people will believe it them, and, then these people will not cast votes for Democrats. All of this is extremely disgusting but nonetheless, so damn true!

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Thanks, petew. I agree one hundred percent.

    When the President of the United States, less than 24 hours after four Americans are killed in an act of terror in Benghazi and, addressing the nation about that act of terror, says, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation…” he is saying that a terror attack took place and is telling the truth.

    When another President of the United States replying to a question about torture being used by the United States says, “We do not torture,” he is saying that his administration does not torture — and he is lying through his teeth.

    Even a dumb-ass like me can see that.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Here’s an observation from over at the Huffington Post:

    This week, the House voted along party lines to open yet another Benghazi investigation — adding to the 13 hearings and 50 briefings already completed. Democrats, who are considering boycotting the hearings, should instead hold alternate hearings on all the real and ongoing problems being ignored, like income inequality, gun deaths (approximately more than 40,000 since Benghazi), and climate change. On Tuesday, climate change was the subject of a very different kind of investigation. The National Climate Assessment — an 800-page report from 300 scientists — warned that climate change is already here. “The question,” said one lead scientist, “is are we able to meet the challenges, given the growing understanding of how much the climate could change this century?” Unfortunately, the answer for the GOP seems to be: “Benghazi.” On an utterly non-partisan note: here’s wishing moms everywhere a very happy Mother’s Day!

    Along with Arianna, I also wish all our mothers a Happy Day.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Apparently you, DORIAN and I agree on that last point.

    No such agreement whatsoever.

    Nothing ambiguous about “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation…” less than 24 hours after an act of terror on our Benghazi consulate.

    Nothing ambiguous about “We do not torture.”

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    But [waterboarding] really has nothing at all to do with President Obama’s Rose Garden speech, does it?

    It has everything to do with it Mr. White.

    It shows a Party that is willing to give a pass to a President who not only lied to our nation on torture, but– even more shamefully — lied to the nation in order to take it to war, an unnecessary war the cost us not four, but four thousand American lives.

    Have a great weekend, whatever is left of it.

    I am going to help the wife celebrate a little bit of her day.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    And one more thing, Mr. White.

    Even if the President was slow to call the Benghazi attack an act of terror — something that he in fact was not, less than 24 hours afterwards — those words came after four Americans died — and did not cause the tragedy.

    Bush’s lies came before 4,000 of our troops died in an unnecessary war and his lies led directly to those deaths.

    I believe that is very relevant and has everything to do with the attacks on President Obama.

    How about Beirut? The Marine Barracks, etc., etc. Not relevant?

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Amen, Ron, and thanks for trying to bring some facts, sanity and reason to the “discussion.”

  • cjjack

    Neither you, nor DORIAN nor pete has show any error in my argument wrt the fact check reporting on the president’s Rose Garden speech. So what makes it “nonsense”?

    If I may jump in here, the entire back and forth about what was and wasn’t said in the Rose Garden speech is nonsense.

    The entire dust up over the talking points taken to the Sunday talk shows is nonsense.

    The fact that there are dueling fact-checks over the administration’s arguably uncoordinated public statements is nonsense.

    Finally, the fact that the Republicans in the House have christened yet another investigation of the incident is not only nonsense, it is blatant political posturing in the run-up to the mid-terms and the possible 2016 Clinton candidacy.

    This latest investigation is a sham. The events of 9/11/2012 have been scrutinized to an absurd degree, and despite the dozens of hearings and briefings there has been nothing found that remotely justifies yet another investigation.

    Security could have been better, but it is questionable whether a few more guards would have made a difference. There was no malfeasance on the part of the military, no failure to respond, and the only thing that has been “uncovered” under all this scrutiny is that the White House wasn’t very good at coordinating the “talking points” after the fact.

    Yet in the minds of Republicans, bungled PR is apparently indicative of a sinister plot worthy of…dare I mention what has been mentioned over and over again…impeachment?

    That’s nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense.

  • petew

    From the 11th addition of the Merriam Webster Dictionary—the definition of two words:

    1. Terror—A state of intense fear, fright, 2. One that inspires fear, 3. Violent or destructive acts committed to intimidate a people or a government.

    2.Terrorism—The systematic use of terror esp. as a means of coercion.

    Mr. White, take especial note of the third definition under the word “terror,” then tell me why it is not not an attempt to dance on the head of a pin, when attempting to emphasis the difference between the two words, “terror,” and, “terrorism?”

  • dduck

    Half semantics, half curiosity, half fund raiser, and half rallying the base.
    Let’s see where this goes for a while and if the Reps continue to shoot themselves in the foot/feet, then they will overplay their weak hand and the Dems will smell the sweeter of the two parties at election time. 🙂

  • dduck,

    Looking at this from the perspective of someone who, while not in love with the Democrats, would prefer to see them win because the alternative is so awful, I think that the Benghazi hearings are a great thing which will harm the Republicans in the eyes of whatever persuadable voters are left. It will help the Republicans in terms of motivating the base, but there are plenty of non-issues which would serve that purpose.

    From the perspective of an American citizen, I hate to see Congress waste more time and money on yet another senseless hearing.

    From the perspective of someone who follows politics as a sport, I also realize that if the Republicans didn’t waste their time and our money on this, they would just waste it elsewhere. They are incapable of governing responsibly.

    I also question to what degree this is a smart act by Boehner to get the investigation out of Darrell Issa’s hands as the manner in which he is handling his witch hunt is very embarrassing for Republicans.

  • Maybe, at most, this amounts to something for some college kids, or wingnuts living in their parents’ basement, to talk about over a few beers late at night after they ran out of anything serious to talk about. This is certainly not anything worthy of Congress spending time on, not really worthy of space in the media, or even on a blog.

    There might be something to learn here about embassy security, but Republicans don’t want to really get into that after voting to reduce funding for security.

    If Congress really wants to investigate preventable deaths of Americans, they can look at how George Bush ignored intelligence briefings warning about the 9/11 attack, and then responded by sending more Americans to their death in the Iraq war based upon lies. Rather than dwelling further on Susan Rice, they might look at how Condoleezza Rice lied when she denied receiving the anti-terrorist strategy from the Clinton administration. They could look at previous embassy attacks under Republican presidents, including the over 320 Americans who died in embassy attacks under Ronald Reagan.

    The stuff Republicans want to “investigate” about Benghazi is total nonsense.

  • In their Benghazi speeches another popular Republican talking point is that the Obama administration has not apprehended those responsible. That is not always possible. It is more important that Obama got bin Laden, after the Bush administration messed this up, from invading the wrong country in retaliation to letting him get away when cornered at Tora Bora.

    There are so many interesting questions about how the “war on terror” has been carried out. The questions raised by Republicans in their witch hunt are not among them.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    “If any of you are truly capable of dealing in facts…”

    You have presented absolutely no facts, Mr. White.

    Merely your subjective and erroneous parsing and interpretation of two words.

    This whole debate has been a wasted exercise in futility and silliness and I now regret having contributed to it.

  • Conservatives frequently cherry pick statements and take statements out of context in their attacks. Generally they have a coherent attack line, even if based upon distorting the facts. In this case there isn’t even a coherent attack line.

    Every step of the way Obama reported on what was known, as David Weigel pointed out, shockingly repeating what the CIA reported. There is no evidence that Obama tried to deceive the American people, and the claims he did not mention terrorism for days or weeks is obvious nonsense (leaving them to resort to complain about the way he said terrorism).

  • I also pointed out the difference between real questions about how presidents have responded to terrorism and the nonsensical questions raised on Benghazi.

  • “I have tried to understand the rationale behind the things you says, but I get the increasing feeling that I am arguing with the mad hatter at his tea party.”

    My point from the start. I have debunked a lot of right wing talking points in various blog posts, but the arguments on Benghazi don’t make enough sense to even bother responding to.

    If there is any logic to them, it is to start with the assumption that Obama was lying and denying that it was a terrorist attack, and work backwards from there. They try to take any fragment of what Obama said and fit it into this narrative, even if it repeatedly means forcing square pegs into round holes. To them there can be no fog of war and no process of figuring out the facts over time–only a conspiracy to deceive. There is no real logic to the Benghazi attacks.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    Hello there all…
    I’ve put on moderation comments here until all here read the commenters’ rules at the top of the masthead. Read them and abide by them and all is well and will be well.

    Foremost, we keep the comments area as a place of civility and as a courtesy to readers

    — not as a place to attack other commenters or writers about what one thinks of the other’s logic, brainpower, sighing over the ‘hopelessness of others’, ad hominem attacks, etc. It is CLEAR that one person’s ‘facts’ being another person’s ‘fallacies’ is NOT the endless back and forth we are interested in here.

    This area is for the civil discussion of the TOPIC, not what commenters think of other commenters, not what commenters think of our writers. Stay to the topic and all will be fine.

    There are a million, actually millions of sites online where one can attempt to uncut, bait, top, insist on one’s own point of view over selected others, attack others under various guises. Just not here.

    Archangel/ dr.e

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    Hi there all:
    ALL the rules of civility at TMV apply. Not just one exclusively. We cannot accept anyone’s attempt to cherry pick the rules to support their violating any other rule. Our site is known for civil discussions. It takes time to keep it that way so all may enjoy the discussions here. The most complaints we receive are about comments going back and forth between only 2-3 persons who close out other thoughtful commenters with the barrage of their comments …

    I would ask your help — if a commenter disparages another commenter, baits commenters, attacks others’ brain power or abilities to think, calls names, please refrain from engaging. if you want to, you can also contact us. It’s about keeping this territory which we fund with our own money, open to all thoughtful commenters who can abide by TMV’s very few rules.


  • dduck

    An observation: In order to keep the SS TMV afloat we all must bail out the incoming waves of personal insults whether we are guilty or part of the choir. The other guy may appear to be an idiot in our eyes, but he has a right to his opinions be they silly or worse. This ain’t heaven, so there is no St. Peter to divine who is right or wrong, so we all can get hit with a sanction when it too personal.
    Thanks, dr.e.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    The comments page is for comments about the topic of the post, not about other commenters, writers or admin. That is clearer than clear as it has been noted. Our commenters’ rules also forbid lengthy comments that go on and on and appear to be efforts to dominate the discussion or to engage others who do not want to be engaged. Civiity is our gold standard. Most all our commenters abide without ever being reminded. This is a friendly reminder. If you want your comment to remain on the page here that we create and fund at our site, follow the commenter’s rules. If one keeps just to the post topic, one will not go awry. Thanks.

    archangel/ dr.e

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