The complexity of Washington scandals as they unfold usually involves many moments at which it is possible to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Two such instances have come into sharper relief in recent weeks. One is that we still have no good explanation for U.N. ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points for her round of talk show appearances the Sunday after the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
So, what about the video? The White House last week released nearly 100 pages of emails detailing some of the discussions within the Obama administration that resulted in major revisions to talking points about the Benghazi attacks drafted by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Liberal former congressman Dennis Kucinich blamed President Obama's Libya policy for the death of four Americans in Benghazi. Kucinich also said the Obama administration politicized the response to Benghazi because they "were in the circumference of an election, and when you get on the eve of an election, everything becomes political. "
CIA director David Petraeus was surprised when he read the freshly rewritten talking points an aide had emailed him in the early afternoon of Saturday, September 15. One day earlier, analysts with the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis had drafted a set of unclassified talking points policymakers could use to discuss the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. But this new version—produced with input from senior Obama administration policymakers—was a shadow of the original.
Even as the White House strove last week to move beyond questions about the Benghazi attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2012, fresh evidence emerged that senior Obama administration officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened in the days following the assaults.
The White House announced that it intends to nominate Deborah K. Jones to be the next U.S. ambassador to Libya. If confirmed, she'll be the first ambassador to that country since Chris Stevens was murdered in Benghaz, Libya on September 11, 2012.
"Ambassador Deborah K. Jones, Nominee for Ambassador to Libya, Department of State," the White House announcement reads.
John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency, is getting renewed scrutiny for a highly questionable claim he made during his confirmation hearings last week. On Tuesday, two Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Marco Rubio and James Risch, wrote to Brennan to request additional information concerning Ali Harzi, a suspect in the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi.
There weren't many memorable lines in President Obama's State of the Union speech. Indeed, only one leapt out at me: "As long as I’m commander in chief, we will do whatever we must to protect those who serve their country abroad."
In a premature celebration of Chuck Hagel's nomination being voted out of committee, North Korea tested a nuclear weapon last night. At 1:48 a.m., the White House put out a "Statement by the President" denouncing the test. One understands such statements are staff-written. But presumably President Obama stayed up late or was awakened to review personally a statement put out in his name on a serious foreign policy matter.
This morning on CBS's Face the Nation, Senator Lindsey Graham said he'd place holds on President Obama's national security nominees, Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense and John Brennan for CIA director, until the White House answered questions on the Benghazi terror attack:
The White House left Ambassador Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, and Sean Smith on their own on September 11 in Benghazi. That is the upshot of today’s Capitol Hill hearing featuring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.