I’ll likely have more to say on this down the road, but it seems to me that the Obama administration has made a huge unforced error in trying to lay off blame for the Benghazi fiasco on the intelligence community. Because, wherever the buck stops when we get to end of this debacle, it’s not going to be in Langley, Va. (the CIA), Fort Meade, Md. (the National Security Agency), or any of the other centers of the American IC. It’s not even going to be shouldered by the State Department’s intel service, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, known as the INR.
Mere hours after the attack — purposefully timed on the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington — the nation’s spooks knew that al-Qaeda had just opened up a new front in its long battle against America and the West. Heck, the nation’s schoolchildren knew that, too. And yet the administration persisted in peddling its ludicrous YouTube story — and throwing an American citizen in jail for the crime of spitting on the sidewalk.
Now, it seems, that Team Obama has decided to try and save U.N. ambassador Susan Rice — whose reputation in the IC could hardly be lower — and perhaps press secretary Jay Carney as well by tossing the nation’s spooks under the bus, in which direction they’re also nudging Hillary Clinton.
But you can’t burn all your friends, and the Obama forces already have a lot fewer allies than they think they do. The disrespectful way they treated former White House chief of staff William Daley is likely to come back to haunt them in the graveyards of Chicago, and the bad blood between them and the Clintons hasn’t gone away, despite Bill’s bonhomie at the convention. Should the Romney surge continue, and Ryan mop the floor tomorrow night with Mr. Foreign Policy, Joe Biden, Barry might be pretty much down to Michelle and Valerie Jarrett in the chum department.
Alienating spookdom, however, is a new order of magnitude stupid. Because spooks fight back — hard and dirty. Bob Woodward and Jake Tapper are only phone calls away. And CIA Director David Petraeus is just one press conference shy of bringing down the whole house of cards.
As the saying goes, it’s worse than a crime — it’s a blunder.