‘Did we mention that we killed Osama bin Laden?” That pretty much sums up the Obama administration’s case for its foreign policy, which — save for this much-hyped rub-out — has been marked by confusion, timidity and failure.
What we’re supposed to think, of course, is that bin Laden’s death (along with drone hits on a few other big terrorists) were fatal blows against the movement he founded, and perhaps against Islamist terrorism in general. Al-Qaida is “on its heels,” the president informs us.
As for al-Qaida’s old hosts, the Taliban, they’re supposed to be on track toward peaceful power sharing in 2014, when we’re scheduled to leave Afghanistan. It all looks good on paper, if you squint really hard.
On the ground, the facts are inconvenient for the Obama victory narrative. That was the message delivered Monday, with all the subtlety of a live grenade, by CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan. Speaking to Chicago’s Better Government Association, she skewered the administration story as a “major lie.”
Al-Qaida is not on the run, Logan noted. The Taliban are not being tamed. Pakistan is not cooperating with us. Our enemies are no less eager to kill Americans than they were before 9/11. They will not stop their war against us just because we stop fighting them.
As Logan put it, “You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.” (For video of her riveting talk, just Google “Lara Logan speech.”)
What makes this speech so damaging to the Obama camp is that it comes from a reporter in the mainstream media, a veteran war correspondent. She has been to Afghanistan every year since the war started in 2001.
Logan’s also been on the receiving end of Islamist misogyny — she was sexually assaulted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the 2011 Arab Spring demonstrations — and we expect some of the more repellent Obama surrogates to suggest this trauma has colored her judgment.
But in her speech and “60 Minutes” work, she’s dealing in facts. Whatever one thinks of her policy advice, there’s no disputing what she’s seen and heard.
Veteran political reporter Jeff Greenfield, hardly a Republican mouthpiece, calls Logan’s remarks “one of the more remarkable pronouncements I have seen in recent years from a prominent American journalist.”
He also suggests they could damage Obama’s re-election hopes, if only because CBS’ Bob Schieffer is moderating the Oct. 22 foreign policy debate and would find it hard to “ignore the blistering words of his colleague.”
Debates aside, Logan’s “major lie” accusation gives legs to the growing scandal surrounding the Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. The State Department now admits the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others had nothing to do with demonstrations over some cheesy anti-Muslim video.
In fact, there were no demonstrations. The assault came out of the blue, on an otherwise quiet evening.
Left unexplained, for now, is why the administration had U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice make the rounds of TV news shows explaining that the attack was a demonstration that got out of control. As we know now, no one in the administration believed this fairy tale.
So why did they peddle it? The only sensible answer is that the administration was trapped in that big lie of which Logan speaks. It had to maintain the illusion that, for all his other failings, Obama had at least made Americans safer from terror. Now along comes a CBS war correspondent to argue that the Libya assault was only a harbinger of worse to come. (Logan compared it to the bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole in 2000.)
We’ll leave it to the American people to decide who’s more believable at this point.
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This article was originally published in the Investors Business Daily.