by George Landrith
It has now been over a month since the al Qaeda terrorist attack on America’s consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the assassination of four American diplomats, including the American ambassador, Chris Stevens.
It may be true that in the first few hours after the attack, it was unclear precisely what had happened, why it happened, or who did it. But within only hours — not days — the basic facts were clearly obvious, and well known and understood. It was a well-organized and planned terrorist attack. There was no movie. There was no protest — spontaneous or otherwise. It was simply a planned terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11 on our consulate in a known hot spot and we were completely unprepared. Four American diplomats were killed as a result. Those are the unassailable facts.
We now know that the State Department never concluded that the attack on the American consulate stemmed from angry mobs protesting an obscure YouTube video. There may have been some intelligence officials who initially confused the situation in Egypt with the attack on the Benghazi consulate, but that confusion was corrected within hours.
But despite knowing the facts, President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Obama’s Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice spent weeks misrepresenting to the American public what happen in Benghazi and why it happened.
The administration’s claim that they were giving us the best information available at the time is completely false and only compounds the misrepresentations. Within hours, everyone knew — the intelligence community, the State Department, the military, and average Americans — that al Qaeda had planned and carried out the murderous attacks and that no movie, no video, and no spontaneous protest ever played even the slightest contributing role.
But that did not stop President Obama from continuing the misrepresentations. After skipping the first presidential national security briefing after the Benghazi attacks, Obama filmed an interview for CBS’s 60 Minutes and flew to Las Vegas for a rally and fundraiser. In that CBS interview, Obama blamed an internet video and a spontaneous protest — a clear and obvious falsehood.
Obama made headlines for accusing Romney of shooting first and aiming later. “You know, Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I’ve learned is you can’t do that. That, you know, it’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts. And that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make ’em,” said Obama.
Given what we now know, it is alarming that Obama can so blatantly and naturally lie and malign others and accusing them of them very thing that he is actually doing.
The problem is for Obama is that he was lying and in contrast Romney was correct in his statements. Not only does Obama shoot first and aim later, he misrepresents first, and covers-up later.
And the idea that Obama understands that you must make statements backed up by the facts is laughable — Joe Biden laughable. Obama didn’t just make statements that were not backed up by the facts, he made statements that he knew to be false. That is mendacity at its worst — particularly while lecturing others about making sure they’ve got their facts straight before the speak.
But it does not stop there! It gets worse.
On September 13th, two days after the attack, Hillary Clinton said the video was highly offensive and reprehensible. She condemned it and said that there was no justification for responding to the video with violence. Yet, she knew that the attack was not a response to the video. The cover-up plan is becoming evident.
On Sept. 14th, Obama and Clinton spoke at a brief memorial service at Joint Base Andrews. Again the video was discussed and condemned as if it had anything to do with the well organized and well planned attack. The misinformation campaign was in full swing. It was particularly offensive that Obama and Clinton were spewing these lies with the flag draped coffins of the four dead Americans only a few feet away. And, of course, the Obama campaign showing its deep cynicism and grotesque hypocrisy later criticized the Romney campaign for “politicizing” the tragedy.
On Sept. 16, five days after the attacks, Obama’s Ambassador to the UN and a Cabinet member, Susan Rice, appeared on five Sunday television news programs to repeatedly say that the attacks were “spontaneous” protests that got out of hand and they were motivated by anger to an internet video. She clearly and repeatedly said that the attack “was not a pre-planned, premeditated attack.” Everything that Ambassador Rice said was a lie — a purposeful lie. But she said it anyhow.
On Sept. 17, the State Department said it would not apply the “terrorist” label at that time.
On Sept. 18, Obama appeared on the David Letterman Show and was asked if the attack was an act of war. Obama responded, “No. Here’s what happened. You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character, that is extremely offensive video directed at Mohammed and Islam, making fun of the prophet Mohammed. And so this caused great offense in much of the Muslim world. But what also happened was extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the one, the consulate in Libya.
More than a week after the attack, Obama’s answer on the Letterman show was knowingly misrepresenting the facts and misleading Americans. The more accurate way to say it is simple — Obama lied.
On Sept. 20th, Obama appeared on a forum on Univision and was asked about the terrorist attack characterization. He responded, “We are still doing an investigation. There are going to be different circumstances in different countries. So I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information.” In other words, Obama did not want to appear on TV admitting what had actually happened, so he kept the falsehoods going as his official line.
On Sept. 24th, Obama appeared on the View television show rather than meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Joey Bahar asked him if it was a terrorist attack. He responded, “Well, we are still doing an investigation. There is no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action.” But he refused to admit the truth or offer any retraction of his numerous previous dishonest statements. Quite frankly, Obama wanted to avoid admitting the truth on TV. The man who has been crowing about defeating al Qaeda didn’t want to admit that al Qaeda had bombed and burned the American consulate and killed four American diplomats on the anniversary of 9/11.
On Sept. 25 Obama spoke at the UN. His remarks focused on the video, how offensive it was, how much he deplored it, how the US has a tradition of free speech even when offensive, and how “there is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy.” Obama was still misleading the American public a full two weeks after the deadly attack. The attack had nothing to do with a video so what was he talking about? Obama was purposefully trying to mislead the public. That is the very definition of a lie.
After that, Obama avoided the public on this topic and remained strangely silent and refused to set the record straight. Jay Carney, his press secretary stopped holding the daily press briefings for more than two weeks.
A full month after the attacks, Congress held a hearing to get to the bottom of the mound of lies the Obama Administration has been telling since the attack. As the hearing approached, the State Department finally admitted there was no protest at all and that they never believed that there had been a violent protest.
President Obama is clearly trying to run out the clock and get past the election without having to account for his foreign policy failures and his national security failures that led to four dead American diplomats. He is also hoping to avoid answer for the past month of lies and denials and misrepresentations.
Obama, Biden, Sen. John Kerry and others at the DNC claimed that the president has all but defeated al Qaeda. Obama himself said, “al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead.” This was an oft repeated theme during and after the convention.
The attacks on 9/11 that resulted in the death of the American ambassador and three other American diplomats in Benghazi are very inconvenient to Obama’s claims to having defeated al Qaeda. So they concocted a false narrative to make it look like a completely random and an entirely spontaneous attack made by an angry mob that simply got out of hand. With that story, they hoped to escape accountability and blame for being asleep at the wheel and leaving our embassies in a hot spot like Libya unprotected.
One of the enduring lessons of modern politics is that the coverup is always worse than the thing being covered up. Obama has insured that for the next three weeks, Americans will be asking why did he lie? And that will highlight that even Obama knows his policies have failed. One doesn’t lie about success.
That is not the sort of question that Obama wanted the public to have foremost in its mind as it heads to the polls. But why he thought he could spin an absurd yarn that was clearly false from the very first moment, leads to another unflattering question — is this guy really as smart as he thinks he is? Having voters question your intelligence, judgement and basic integrity isn’t the best way to head into the last weeks of the election. But that is precisely what Barrack Obama has managed to do.
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George Landrith is the president of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. Mr. Landrith is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Business Editor of the Virginia Journal of Law and Politics. In 1994 and 1996, Mr. Landrith was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. You can follow George on Twitter @GLandrith.