We’ve been seeing some interesting “scoops” about Benghazi on the eve of the foreign policy debate. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that there’s “no evidence” al-Qaeda had any ties to the consulate attack. No evidence? That’s funny, considering the group behind the attack, Ansar al-Sharia, is viewed as al-Qaeda’s face in Libya, according to a Library of Congress report from this summer. Also, the intelligence community reportedly intercepted phone calls in which Ansar al-Sharia leaders bragged to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb leaders after the attack. Also, the State Department has designated Ansar al-Sharia a new alias for al-Qaeda in Yemen, etc.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius reported yesterday on CIA “talking points” that supposedly back up the administration’s initial “spontaneous reaction” story. But this isn’t much of a scoop or a story; these talking points were actually reported on weeks ago, and, according to Reuters, didn’t appear to match the actual intelligence.
At the Weekly Standard, Thomas Joscelyn writes:
Other press accounts have fingered additional suspects with links to al Qaeda as well. And there is substantial evidence that al Qaeda has built a substantial network inside of Libya.
Even though no one disputes that AQIM members were in contact with the attackers, however, it will take time to sort through all of the precise details.
But these latest accounts are not intended to comb through the evidence carefully. They are intended to provide political cover ahead of the final presidential debate.
Exactly. And the journalists aren’t just being used as mouthpieces for White House spin, they’re also allowing the administration to keep its hands clean while doing it. It doesn’t matter for the administration if the stories are false and misleading, as long as enough people believe them going into tonight’s debate.