Last post on US politics and the Benghazi attack
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But now the partisan knife fight has happened. One side is accusing your boss of hiding what happened, and the other side is saying it’s your fault for not knowing it sooner. How does this change the intelligence process?Skip to next paragraph
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It is being said over and over again that the Obama Administration deliberately obfuscated what happened in the attack on the consulate in Benghazi. Day by day a trickle of old e-mails, partial early reports and developing assessments are hailed as "proof' that something shameful happened and is happening in the US Government, something hidden.
The truth is that early reports and judgments of traumatic, sudden events like this are usually incorrect and need to be developed and "straightened out" with the passage of time and completed investigations.
Complicating the situation in Benghazi was the location there of a CIA base covered as other than that. These people were working on the very problems that eventually resulted in the attack and the deaths. Not surprisingly, the CIA has not been desirous of the revelation of the presence and status of its employees and so the declarations to the press have not been accurate in that regard.
Ari Fleischer, former White House spokesman from President George W. Bush at the time the US decided to go to war with Iraq, goes for a kind of twofer in a tweet today, suggesting that people must either accept that intelligence is a murky business, or that the previous administration should be exonerated for the false prewar claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction "For Bush critics who say he lied about WMDs, is Obama lying about Benghazi? Or is intelligence info sometimes wrong?" he asks.
Well, I don't believe Bush and his administration lied about what they thought about WMD and Iraq, so much as they systematically downplayed doubt in the intelligence reporting and urged America to war because "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud," as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice put it in September 2002. The US ended up going to a war that cost trillions of dollars, replaced a counterbalance to Iran's regional ambitions with a government that is much friendlier to the current US public enemy No. 1, and killed more than 4,400 US troops and 100,000 Iraqis.
The two situations are simply not analogous, and there remains hope that an accurate picture of what happened will ultimately be cobbled together and reasonable steps will be taken to bring the killers to justice.