WASHINGTON – On Fox News Channel on Thursday, former General Jack Keane refused to play ball with Megyn Kelly, in what has developed on the FNC network as All Benghazi (almost) All The Time. Ms. Kelly’s frustration and disappointment read on the screen. However, Keane is an exception and FNC doesn’t make the mistake of letting knowledgeable people without a political motive on very often as they go non-stop Benghazi in what is clearly a political agenda.
Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey made statements yesterday, with an excerpt of Panetta’s below. It comes as the father of one of the Navy SEAL’s killed decides to speak out and talk with Glenn Beck.
PANETTA: … We — we quickly responded, as General Dempsey said, in terms of deploying forces to the region. We had FAST platoons in the region. We had ships that we had deployed off of Libya. And we were prepared to respond to any contingency and certainly had forces in place to do that.
But — but the basic principle here — basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place. And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, General Ham, General Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.
There was another report today by Jennifer Griffin, which comes on the same day FNC announces “Death and Deceit in Benghazi,” a “report” with Bret Baier. The title gives away the agenda.
The biggest issue I have with the reports is that they are given with hindsight clarity not known in the heat of the deadly attack. You can argue that national security pros are supposed to be prepared for heat of the battle decisions. Most times this happens, but on occasion even our best and brightest fall short, whether it’s on the field or in the command centers where the go-ahead is given. It’s the fog of war and what can happen during a surprise assault of an asymmetric attack.
There are questions that need to be answered, with the FNC hysteria not helping this cause anymore than Darrell Issa’s circus did. Security before the Benghazi terrorist attack, which was obviously lacking over the summer, is just one to address. As Keane noted as well, there wasn’t enough security at the consulate, even considering the low profile Ambassador Chris Stevens was asked to keep by our Libyan allies. That Stevens left Tripoli in the first place may have been the trip wire, but diplomats go into the country to engage with the people, so he was doing his job, which is inherently dangerous.
Considering that right wing Republicans don’t respect diplomacy or the brave foreign service soldiers whose job it is, the irony of their concern over the attack has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with those who sacrificed their lives for their country’s mission.
But the squeals and claims that President Obama “lied” and is in the midst of a “cover up” is being concocted out of whole cloth. The newly released emails don’t point to it, the CIA talking points don’t point to it, but you can certainly say there was general confusion after the attack, with new reports revealing the drama.
We should all be willing to look at all the facts now coming out, but we must also understand that we will being seeing it through 20-20 hindsight.
That most networks aren’t covering the issue shouldn’t shock anyone, because our media very rarely ever covers foreign policy.
On the political side of this story, I’m not excusing the reality that a president in the midst of a reelection campaign is not eager to litigate Libya in the media, which is where Romney started to go but thought better of it. George W. Bush not only lied about Iraq and WMDs, but he lied about torture for years, as well as the warnings leading up to 9/11 when he was running for reelection in 2004, which Republicans still refuse to accept. Karl Rove and the Bush campaign used the election of 2002 to shame Democrats into voting for a war they should not, which included Hillary Rodham Clinton and it cost her the Democratic nomination. Not one person on FNC was interested in Bush-Cheney malfeasance, nor were any of the usual suspects now screaming bloody murder about Obama talking about Bush’s “crimes” and “cover up” on WMDS or torture. These same people went to bat for “Scooter” Libby, who ruined a CIA officer’s career for political gain, something Republicans would have blasted if scuttling Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson’s reputations hadn’t become politically necessary for them.
Whether a Democrat or a Republican is in office, when a foreign policy tragedy occurs around the world, the first casualty is transparency, which goes back decades to Vietnam (and before).
To sidestep a moment regarding transparency, the Obama administration has revealed their drone strategy and “kill list” application will continue, but no one is talking about this (I linked to the story yesterday). Here’s an excerpt, since you won’t see it on FNC and certainly not on MSNBC, the Obama network. From Greg Miller:
Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”
The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.
Someone alert Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Right now we know one thing. The consulate in Benghazi didn’t have enough security, which should be investigated and a full accounting made so it never happens again. Budgetary constraints were part of the reason, a supplemental for security purposes obviously needed.
As General Jack Keane said, much to Megyn Kelly’s obvious chagrin, the people on the ground in Benghazi were very capable, and security wasn’t nearly strong enough. But, “refuse to second guess” those people after the attack was his stance on which he was not budging, no matter how Kelly tried.
Hindsight is no way to prosecute the reaction to the Benghazi terrorist attack, especially when the network doing it is trying to leverage the tragedy 10 days away from a presidential election in order to elect their chosen candidate.
Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.