I have a somewhat different take than that of Seth Mandel, who says that Stephen Hayes’s scoop on Benghazi “is probably more significant than it may have seemed at first glance, even though he didn’t provide much in the way of new information.”
My first reaction–which I spoke about on Friday during my appearance on the panel discussion on Fox News’s Special Report with Bret Baier–was that the story is explosive, largely because Hayes’s story provides much in the way of new information.
It provides fresh evidence that, in the words of Hayes, “senior Obama administration officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened in the days following the assaults [on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi on September 11, 2012].” (Emphasis added).
We now know, for example, that the early talking points were accurate–and it was only after the State Department and the White House, among others, got done revising the talking points that the truth was transformed into a false account.
To be specific: early (accurate) references to “Islamic extremists” were removed. Early (accurate) references to “attacks” were changed to “demonstrations.” And there was no mention of any YouTube video in any of the many drafts of the talking points–even though everyone from the president of the United States to the secretary of state to the U.N. ambassador blamed the video for the attacks.
The Benghazi scandal has always been multi-layered. There was the near-criminal negligence before and during the assault on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, when pleas for more security prior to the attacks and assistance during the attacks were denied. And then there were the misleading accounts after the attacks.
It now seems clear, based on the reporting by Steve Hayes and the accounts of those who were key actors during the attacks, that the accounts of the attacks by the Obama administration were not simply wrong; they were knowingly and willfully wrong. Which turns a mistake into a lie.
For the president and his team, there was probably both ideology and self-interest at play. To take them in order: This is the latest example of the Obama administration living in a fantasy world of its own making, in which Islamic extremism barely exists and poses no real threat to America. We saw it in the aftermath of the Ft. Hood massacre, where a jihadist attack (by Major Nidal Hasan) was said to be an example of “workplace violence.” They refuse to call evil by its name.
But it’s also obvious that the president and his administration wanted to advance a storyline that al-Qaeda was in retreat. The Benghazi attacks eviscerated that claim–and so the president and his team decided to disfigure the facts, to mislead the American people, to fit their story and advance their political interests. Barack Obama had an election to win–and so he had a scandal to hide.
That has worked until now, when the House will hold hearings later this week featuring whistleblowers who will, by all accounts, tell a story fundamentally at odds with the version the Obama administration has been peddling.
On Friday I referred to the Benghazi scandal as a time-release capsule, where a delay takes place before the full effects are felt. The Obama administration lied about an Islamic attack on an American outpost that killed an American ambassador and three others. They have been caught in the lie. We’re now in the process of seeing how deep, and how high, the corruption goes.
The election is over. This scandal is not.