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November 24, 2014

Unlike the Media, Mollie Hemingway Bothered to Read the House Select Committee on Intelligence's Report on Benghazi, and Here's What It Says

I have to read it myself one of these days.

Until then, here are MZ Hemingway's top twenty take-aways.

Here are points 15 and 16.

15. Did we mention that there was nothing good about the talking points?

Yeah, so, late in the report we learn that "the Administration's initial public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attacks were not fully accurate." You donít say! Also that "The process and edits made to these talking points was flawed."

And for this, the GOP should be ashamed? Really? Itís almost like a less obsequious press might think something else might be amiss.

Much of the report wishy-washily explains that there is a fog in intel gathering that makes things difficult to assess and that this kind of sort of excuses all the horse manure that was shoveled by the administration during the campaign-season terrorist attack.

Now, earlier in the report weíre told that "[Ansar al Sharia] posted a video on YouTube on September 12, 2012, claiming participation in the attacks" and we know that the head of al Qaeda called for attacks on the U.S. in Libya the day before the attack. We know that the attack took place on September 11, what even the most casual observer might note is a significant date. We're told that the Defense Intelligence Agency said the attacks were pre-planned on September 12.

But you see, man, like a few weeks later the CIA totally thought it just happened to fall on September 11.

Let me be clear, as President Obama might say, if you're a reporter reading this and think this sounds even remotely plausible and you think that this section is anything other than a great explanation of how idiotic the CIA can be, you are an idiot.

Everything about this section is groan-inducing. Such as that when a cable came from Tripoli to the CIA on September 14 that was the "first indication that there may not have been a protest," according to deputy director Mike Morell, he wasn't sure if he'd read it. Nevermind that we later learn that folks in Libya had within hours assessed that there was a lack of protests that day. I just have a hard time believing that the deputy director wouldn't care if a Tripoli intelligence cable came around. Either way, by September 15, he'd gotten an email specifically saying there'd been no protest.

And when did Susan Rice go on television blaming a YouTube video for sparking a protest that somehow magically transformed into this super-effective double-location onslaught that took four American lives including an American Ambassador's? That would be September 16.

That was when she said the actions in Benghazi were a "direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated."

This report that supposedly makes Republicans look bad notes that Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote on September 14 that "one of the goals of Administration public statements should be 'To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.'"

Exactly the opposite, Ben.

Anyway, this report then claims, more or less completely implausibly, that Rice couldnít have really known until afterwards that her assessments were incorrect. Um, OK. But maybe when you're, I donít know, trying to "underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy" because you're focusing on campaigning more than truth-telling, you end up underscoring something that isn't true. I donít care if we have some difficult-to-swallow bureaucratic BS explanation that avoids tough questions and instead pats Susan Rice on the head as if she couldn't be expected to do better. Or, rather, I donít see why we let certain administrations get away with this type of explanatory defense while nailing other people to the wall for the smallest slight.

16. Wait, what's this about Mike Morell again?

So the same Morell who accidentally didnít read a memo related to a horrific terror attack and forgot to tell anyone about the cables from Tripoli also was this guy:

"Finding 12: Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell made significant changes to the talking points"

Wait, what? Are you kidding me?

But, the report says, it's OK because, um, well, you see, he didnít know Susan Rice or anyone else in the Administration would use talking points he made. And then the report says something about excellent beachfront property for sale cheap. No, actually it says he "made a large number of edits after a September 15 White House Deputies Committee meeting." Oh dear.

Earlier drafts of the talking points mentioned al Qaeda but by the time Morell was done with them, he didnít even include "Islamist" in them. Because our CIA is full of people who do not commit intelligence failures but canít figure out that an al Qaeda attack on September 11 might be related to Islamism.

By the way, the CIA's office of public affairs also stripped language about attacks and changed it to "demonstrations" and I am sure that had nothing whatsoever to do with it being an election year or their bosses allowing a major attack on the anniversary of September 11.

By the way, the report only examined failures by the intelligence agencies -- that is, the CIA -- in Benghazi. It did not examine the White House or State Department or Department of Defense.


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posted by Ace at 07:27 PM

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