What’s getting missed in the re-litgation of the Benghazi “sideshow” talking points is the fact that this happened during the final months of the 2012 election. The New York Times, back in September 2012, published this timeline on who said what, when. Granted, nobody really knew the truth at the time, but it’s informative to take a look at it once again, now that we do know what actually happened.
For example, here’s Hillary Clinton at 10:08 p.m. on Tuesday. This statement is after our embassy in Cairo tweeted (why are they tweeting anyway?) that the video was to blame for the attack on our embassy in Cairo:
I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack.
This evening, I called Libyan President Magariaf to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya. President Magariaf expressed his condemnation and condolences and pledged his government’s full cooperation.
Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.
In light of the events of today, the United States government is working with partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide.
This got the ball rolling in the “blame the video” direction. Remember, it’s an election year. If the attack is a spontaneous event, and thus out of the president’s control, that’s a lot better narrative than al Qaeda being able to pre-plan the attack. Romney responded at 10:24 p.m.:
I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
With Team Obama’s political arm returning fire at 12:09 a.m., Wednesday:
We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.
The president then responded at 7:22 a.m., again pushing the narrative that the stupid video on the Internet was to blame:
I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.
I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.
On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya’s transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.
The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.
Now there were mistakes by the political arms of the Romney and Obama campaigns. Romney, in my opinion, should have waited until more was known about the attack instead of trying to score a quick political hit. But regardless of Mitt’s error, nowhere do you see any statement from the Obama administration that we’re actively investigating to find out exactly who was responsible for the attack. The default position at this time is that it’s the video and any theory to the contrary wasn’t put forward by the government. This isn’t a “sideshow,” but a real question; why the talking points spinning the attack as a spontaneous event when the truth was that the attack was a pre-planned effort by terrorists against a poorly guarded ambassador.
We still don’t know why Stephens was in Benghazi with virtually no security — and that’s the answer the Obama administration doesn’t seem to want us to find out.