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Benghazi Storytelling

Too many answers, not enough truthfulness.

Dec 10, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 13 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Is it possible that Janet Napolitano, the administration’s representative, hadn’t been informed about Shahzad’s ties to the Pakistani Taliban before she claimed his attack was a “one-off”? The intelligence community knew, and the information had been reported publicly, but the fact that she appeared just one day later makes a communication failure plausible. What about the president? Is it possible he was unaware of Abdulmutallab’s ties to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula when he spoke three days later and called the terrorist an “isolated extremist”?

And Rice? She addressed the country five days after the Benghazi attacks, at a time when the classified reporting was filled with information about the al Qaeda ties of the attackers. Was it another failure to communicate? Or was she sent out to sell a story she knew wasn’t true?

“She was far too ready to go on and be a political operative,” says Corker. Rice’s appearance came a little more than a week after the Democratic convention, where speaker after speaker praised the president for crippling al Qaeda and bringing the war on terror to an overdue end.

As Obama said himself: “We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.”

How would it look if a group “on the path to defeat” staged a sophisticated attack that took the life of a U.S. ambassador? Not great. We end, then, where we started—with lots of questions. Who wrote the talking points? Who edited them? Why? And why have top U.S. officials had so much trouble simply telling us what happened? The truth is rarely so complicated.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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