The content on this blog is my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Navy in any way.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Burdens of Proof and Minor Questions

This political post is a response to a National Review Online article about Benghazi.

I've briefly mentioned Benghazi before... almost a year and a half ago. I really don't want to give the impression that I'm trying to minimize this... but that's mostly because I think it will make people ignore my point, not because I believe it really is an important issue.

And the fact that I can say that, despite reading the list of questions in the article, probably makes my opinion of that article clear. I don't intend to write a blog post long enough to address all of these questions, so let's just hit the high points...
Were there political reasons why requests for additional security were ignored, suggesting that American lives were not as critical as President Obama’s reelection? 
Unlikely. To put it bluntly: I've never seen any reason to believe this isn't more of the same bureaucratic incompetence that we've never quite gotten rid of, no matter how we try. You can mention the upcoming election and President Obama's desire to proclaim that al-Qaeda was in retreat all you like - unfortunately, that does not constitute proof that he did withhold support for political reasons. And eventually, the continued failure of anyone to find that proof should be taken as an indication that it does not exist. Particularly when the State Department's reviews have found proof of that bureaucratic incompetence I mentioned. The President certainly is ultimately responsible for that, as well, but there's quite a bit of difference between that and intentional, self-serving malice.
At what time on the night of the attack did the president go to bed, and who made decisions not to order military assistance?
... The only times I've ever seen a question like "where were you when X happened?" asked (this one included, unless I'm mistaken), it's being used as a rhetorical question to claim that the person in question was neglecting his leadership responsibilities. Also, I don't give a single solitary damn what time someone goes to bed unless they are neglecting those responsibilities. So if you intend to make that point, make it, and stop pretending that your curiosity about petty little details constitutes a serious question. The POTUS is damn well capable of deciding his bedtime for himself.

The half of this question about decisions regarding military assistance is a little more serious. While my ability to speculate on decision-making at that level is limited, that decision would have depended on what we had available, what their chances of success were, and the risk we would be running by sending them. Someone decided that what was immediately available wasn't going to be good enough to justify the risk of sending them into a situation with so many unknowns - and make no mistake, whoever it was, the President and SecDef are responsible for that decision. I'm sure that whoever it was immediately started putting together something that could do the job... but the survivors, with some very overdue help from Libyan security, managed to get out of Benghazi before sending that group in proved necessary.
What exactly did top-ranking officials of the CIA initially testify about the attacks, and were their original statements contradicted by later assertions?...Why did our U.N. ambassador assert falsehoods, and why was she selected to be such a spokesman?
Inasmuch as this is a legitimate concern, it points to the often very uncertain nature of intelligence work. Figuring out who did what, for what reasons, is a little tricky, and rarely happens quickly. The administration didn't have complete information at the time, and they and the intelligence community knew that. Rather than say that, they chose to pick what they saw as part of the answer and present that. This turned out to be a mistake, as it resulted in some contradictory messages from the administration for two or three weeks, until all the information was in and analysis firmly pointed to "premeditated terrorism, using video-spawned unrest as cover".
Why were the real perpetrators never seriously pursued as promised?
Why don't you tell me why you think we didn't? I'm reasonably certain we care quite a bit about it, but that doesn't mean we're necessarily going to find everyone involved, or that it will be worth the trouble to do something about it if we do find them. 
Have all those who participated in the defense of the Benghazi facilities been fully heard from?
... This is the sort of question you can keep asking, no matter how many people testify. Again, if you have a point to make regarding who has and has not testified regarding that day, then make it and back it up. Trying to make it this way makes me think that you can't back it up and are trying to make it anyway - and whether or not you're trying to make a point you can't defend, you still aren't giving me any reason to believe that the reviews up to this point have all been incomplete.

I'll leave with one quote from the last section.
Until these questions are answered, we are left with the strong possibility...
Laundry list of potential crimes of the administration left out. Frankly? They don't matter. Until someone comes up with a better reason than this to believe that there's mountains of evidence that none of the previous investigations found, this isn't worth any more of my time.

(Okay, one last note: I usually try and cite sources in-line, with links to an appropriate article or document. Since I neglected to do that this time, I'll just include a quick list of links here, if you want to read more of the reporting which drives my opinion.)

NYT: A Deadly Mix in Benghazi
Vox Media cards about Benghazi
Snopes: Benghazi Bungle

No comments:

Post a Comment