Err, yes, this is an election

A senior adviser to Barack Obama has accused the president\’s Republican challenger Mitt Romney of attempting to \”exploit\” an attack on the US consulate in Libya for political gain.

And pointing to what the incumbent has done, or not done, while in office is one of those legitimate tactics in an election.

I know, I know, odd but true all the same.

19 thoughts on “Err, yes, this is an election”

  1. A sign that Axelrod knows how dangerous this is for Obama. He must be wishing the attack had happened two weeks before the election, rather than six.

    For two weeks, thanks either to the active collusion or incompetent unquestioning of the mainstream US media, they managed to maintain the lie that it was some sort of spontaneous reaction by an angry crowd to a youtube movie.

    Rather than – as they knew immediately, because they’d seen the intel and watched the video – a well-organised ambush on a US consulate denuded of security.

    Lying about an ambassador’s murder, even as you stand next to his coffin – *that’s” not politicisation, of course.

    I actually think Obama may lose this election, and, if he does, that this will be a significant factor.

  2. Indeed. It’s an excellent opportunity for lying blowhards to lie and blow hard about a man’s unpreventable death, pretending that this exposes Terrible Failings and implying these are because the president is a Kenyan Socialist Who Wants To Destroy America, rather than accepting that if you’re going to create warzones and put diplomats in them, then occasionally people are going to kill them because that’s how warzones roll.

    It’s completely reasonable in the context of an election campaign for the blowhards to do that, and it’s completely reasonable in the context of an election campaign for Axelrod to criticise them for doing that. The question is which version of the narrative the 5% of voters in 10 states who’ll decide the election end up buying…

  3. @John B ‘It’s an excellent opportunity for lying blowhards to lie and blow hard about a man’s unpreventable death’

    For you to call *anyone* a blowhard is amusing.

    For you to suggest that the ambassador’s death was ‘unpreventable’ just plumbs new depths of stupid.

    Given the AQ would like to kill every US ambassador everywhere, I think we can assume there are steps that can be taken to prevent that from happening.

    For some time after the event, the Obama administration was claiming it was all spontaneous, movie-based violence.

    In fact, they knew it wasn’t.

    Even the Daily Beast, no friend to Republicans, has pointed this out: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/26/u-s-officials-knew-libya-attacks-were-work-of-al-qaeda-affiliates.html

  4. to use a meme from Yes Minister, it’s one of those irregular verbs:

    I draw the electorate’s attention to the incumbent’s record
    You use baseless smears
    He exploits it for political advantage

  5. A few years ago (well, actually, more than a few) I applied for a State Department appointment to the U.S. Foreign Service.

    I had all the qualifications (whew, what a lengthy application . . . and the security check . . . wow)

    Anyway, my candidacy apparently rated highly enough; I was invited for a personal interview in St. Louis, then a second interview in Washington.

    Well, at that second interview I learned that a foreign service assignment carries with it the probability of “unpreventable death.”

    Looks like nothing has changed.

    P.S. I accepted an offer from a different employer.

  6. Everyone, the day after it happened, knew that it was not spontaneous movie based violence. It was entirely clear from MSM reports and government releases at the time that the attack on the consulate was distinct from those protests. So, yay, more lies!

    The suggestion that it would be possible or desirable to have levels of force at all US outposts everywhere at a level that made any imaginable AQ attack impossible is obviously bonkers; you’d need to raise State’s budget by an order of magnitude. Arguably every US outpost should reasonably be reckoned capable of merely warding off lairy civilian mobs, but, erm, they were.

    JF: well, quite. It’s a risk some choose to take and some choose to avoid.

  7. @ JohnB ‘Everyone, the day after it happened, knew that it was not spontaneous movie based violence. It was entirely clear from MSM reports and government releases at the time that the attack on the consulate was distinct from those protests.’

    Ironically, given your denunciation of Romney et al as ‘liars’, this is just a lie.

    As the Beast piece makes clear, ‘Within 24 hours of the [Benghazi] attack , US intelligence agencies had strong indications al Qaeda [was] behind the attack… Nonetheless, it took until late last week [ie around two weeks later] for the White House and the administration to formally acknowledge that the Benghazi assault was a terrorist attack… The question of what the White House knew, and when they knew it, will be of keen interest to members of Congress in the election year.’

    On September 13 – the day after ‘the day after it happened’, © JohnB – White House spokesman Jay Carney was saying, ‘I think it’s important to note with regards to that protest that there are protests taking place in different countries across the world that are responding to the movie…’

    On September 14 – two days after ‘the day after it happened’ – Hillary Clinton said, ‘We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.’

    The same day, Carney said: ‘We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent. That report is false.’ [Carney was lying, John.]

    On September 16 – four days after ‘the day after it happened’ – Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations, was telling NBC that ‘The attack that killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, apparently began as a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam film before turning violent.’

    She told CBS: ‘Based on the best information we have to date… it began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video.’ [Rice was lying, John.]

    On September 20 – eight days after ‘the day after it happened’ – Obama himself said: ‘What we’ve seen over the last week, week and a half… where there is an offensive video or cartoon directed at the prophet Muhammad. And this is obviously something that then is used as an excuse by some to carry out inexcusable violent acts directed at Westerners or Americans.’

    Benghazi was the only place any Americans died and he was talking about Libya.

    On September 25 – fourteen days after ‘the day after it happened’ – Obama addressed the UN General Assembly and delivered a valedictory speech about the dead ambassador (‘I would like to begin today by telling you about an American named Chris Stevens…’).

    The whole thing was about the death of Stevens, and how censorship of free speech on religious grounds was wrong.

    Obama: ‘…a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world… I know there are some who ask why don’t we just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws… There is no speech that justifies mindless violence… There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents… There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy.’

    If ‘everyone… knew that it was not spontaneous movie based violence’ because it was ‘entirely clear from MSM reports and government releases’, apparently someone forgot to tell Barry, who was still spinning like fuck to link the two.

  8. @ JohnB (2) ‘The suggestion that it would be possible or desirable to have levels of force at all US outposts everywhere at a level that made any imaginable AQ attack impossible is obviously bonkers; you’d need to raise State’s budget by an order of magnitude. Arguably every US outpost should reasonably be reckoned capable of merely warding off lairy civilian mobs, but, erm, they were.

    More lies – or drivel, it’s hard to tell. What is clear is you are either dishonest or woefully misinformed.

    No-one is saying everyone is everywhere safe.

    Or that ‘all US outposts everywhere’ should have the same level of protection.

    But a US Ambassador has the right to expect more than he got.

    The question is, very obviously, was enough being done. Equally obviously, the answer is no.

    This isn’t just with the benefit of hindsight.

    New York Times, October 2:

    WASHINGTON — Multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the committee that, prior to the Sept. 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi,” it said. “The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in Washington.”

    (This followed a number of threats and incidents which perhaps ought to have alerted the State Dept that more than just a ‘lairy civilian mob’ was in the offing.)

    Who knows if a platoon of 40-odd Marines would have held off the attackers? Maybe they would have deterred the attack. Maybe they’d have bought time and Stevens would have escaped. Maybe everyone would have died.

    What you cannot say is that what was in place was sufficient, and the buck for that stops with those in power, not those in opposition. Not having Marines on site was unusual, and highly crap.

    Time Magazine, September 13:

    (I)t’s clear there were no U.S. Marines protecting U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and his beleaguered staff at the Benghazi consulate Tuesday night. Marines are routinely posted to U.S. diplomatic outposts around the world, but the “interim” facility in Benghazi apparently was defended only by a handful of U.S. security officers and local hires.

  9. John b you say “The suggestion that it would be possible or desirable to have levels of force at all US outposts everywhere at a level that made any imaginable AQ attack impossible is obviously bonkers”

    You misconstrue the matter. The point of security is not to make “any imaginable AQ attack impossible”. Instead it’s like any other police presence: provide some element of deterrence, and give reasonable expectation that if there is an attack it won’t succeed.

    Maybe you are aware that international convention places the responsibility on the host country for protection of foreign consulates and embassies?

    Maybe you are also aware that the new Libyan government has not established civil order and therefore cannot be relied on to provide the necessary security?

    And maybe you are also aware that there were other attempted attacks on U.S presence in Libya in the weeks leading up to September 11?

    The U.S. administration was certainly aware of these facts, the Vice President’s claim notwithstanding. They were all reported even in the notoriously feeble U.S. media. Thus the U.S. had a clear choice. Evacuate its diplomatic personnel – or protect them.

    The latter course would require significantly more forces and firepower than normally utilized to protect diplomatic staff in other nations. The local diplomatic staff requested additional security several times thru its chain of command in Washington. All requests were refused.

    Thus the U.S. chose a third way: it chose to risk the lives of its own personnel – not with the normal security complement, but with a reduced complement that, we have now learned, were essentially unarmed.

    No wonder we now witness figures in the U.S. administration dodging and ducking and attempting to shift blame. Imagine what must be going on behind the curtains.

    “It’s a risk some choose to take and some choose to avoid.”

    Un-uh, John b. That’s a risk NO ONE would choose to take–if they were aware that their own government was deliberately rolling dice with their lives. Calling those deaths “unpreventable” is a cynical rationalization and an outrageous attempt to escape blame for failure to make the correct executive decisions required by the situation. As a result of that failure, Americans were left to be murdered, and 4 of them were.

  10. John B –

    From http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/10/198791.htm#.UHmUMQQjpX0.twitter

    OPERATOR: The next question is from the line of Brad Klapper with AP. Please, go ahead.

    QUESTION: Hi, yes. You described several incidents you had with groups of men, armed men. What in all of these events that you’ve described led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?

    SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion.

    Seems pretty clear from that that the AP thought that ‘officials… believe(d) for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video’, and not that evyone knew Al Qaeda were behind it the next day as you suggested.

  11. Andrew, yeah, the Q posed to the State Dept Official clearly indicates what AP thought “officials” believed.

    But it’s also clear from the response that State Department officials did not believe it. “That was not our conclusion.”

    This exchange does not reveal what State actually thought, nor when they first thought it.

    But many others immediately suspected AQ and said so immediately. It beggars belief to think State did not immediately suspect them, too – Hillary Clinton’s lawyerly babbling notwithstanding.

    It seem quite apparent that AP made an error to rely on spin it had picked up from someplace. Its Q was based on that spin. The obvious guess is that the source of the spin was the U.S. White House – which adamantly stuck to its spin for a week or more in the face of quickly mounting evidence that the attacks were not spontaneous.

  12. Not to pile on to John B, but here’s a thought experiment.

    If Obama had been Prez in 2001, for how many weeks after 9/11 would he have insisted that it was just a big airplane pileup?

  13. I have to agree that it was shameful to be so disingenuous about the form of the attack on Benghazi in the days after it. Not, perhaps, quite as shameful as being disingenuous about the form of the attack on 9/11 for the next decade…

  14. Of all the quotes cited in this thread, Susan Rice is the only one claiming that the murder of the ambassador was a response to the movie. I missed her quote at the time, and yes, she was wrong. Everyone else was completely in line with the facts (Carney was not lying about intelligence of an imminent attack. There was no such intelligence).

    On the security front, everyone in government asks for more resources all of the time. When something occurs that could in theory have been prevented by the use of more resources, that doesn’t mean that denying those resources was the wrong move based on the evidence available at the time, or validate the people who were demanding more resources. Outside of defence spending, that’s a principle that I’m entirely sure everyone commenting on this blog would commit to universally.

    Diplomats aren’t military personnel, barred by law from deserting. They absolutely chose to be in and to remain in the situation that they were in, and it’s an insult to them to claim otherwise.

  15. “(Carney was not lying about intelligence of an imminent attack. There was no such intelligence).”

    Bullshit, John. State knew that the situation in Benghazi was dangerous as long ago as April (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/15/us-libya-usa-security-idUSBRE89E1AL20121015). It wasn’t “Bin Laden Determined To Strike At US” memo vague. Also, why was the US Embassy in Barbados deemed enough of a security risk to warrant Marines, but Benghazi wasn’t?

    Dems whining that a political issue has become politicised. Jog on, losers.

    And on the subject of whining, they’re still complaining about Gallup’s methodology even though Gallup has already changed its methodology to suit them. Give them an inch, eh?

  16. @JohnB ‘Of all the quotes cited in this thread, Susan Rice is the only one claiming that the murder of the ambassador was a response to the movie.’

    Eh? ‘Nonetheless, it took until late last week [ie around two weeks later] for the White House and the administration to formally acknowledge that the Benghazi assault was a terrorist attack’

    – The Daily Beast

    Everyone, from Obama down, was trying to create the illusion that the Benghazi attack was due to the ‘video’.

    The reason for this is that what happened exposed the fact that Obama’s policy on Libya (‘leading from behind’) and supporting ‘The Arab Spring’ was wrong-headed and foolish. Additionally, the deaths of four Americans had happened as a result of at attack that was not only predictable, but predicted.

    They were begging for more security, but instead of being increased it was reduced.

    Biden, in the debate: ‘We did not know they wanted more security there.’

    Lt Colonel Andrew Wood, head of a 16-man security team in Libya, before the House Oversight Committee (the day before the debate): ‘We felt great frustration that those requests were ignored or just never met.’

    When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

  17. John B – in Obama’s speech to the UN, two weeks after the death of Chris Stevens, he opens with a ‘Let me tell you about my friend Chris’, goes on to eulogise him and then makes half a dozen references to trouble sparked by the ‘disgusting video’.

    To suggest that this was not an attempt to link the attack at Benghazi to this ridiculous video stretches credulity.

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