Defending Authority

So again, a writer at the Washington Post characterizes Republicans as jihadists. This time, it’s columnist David Ignatius who mocks Republicans (see here) because they – gasp! – dared question the administration’s actions in the wake of the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi on September 11-12, 2012.

Citing the recent Senate intelligence committee’s report on Benghazi (see here), Ignatius admits that the deaths were preventable (i.e., the State Department incompetently managed its operations in Benghazi – no small matter), but focuses on what he believes is the deeper message of the report. Which is that Republicans wasted a year “arguing about what turned out to be mostly phony issues.”

Even if some issues “turned out” to be unfounded, an investigation was still necessary before one could reach such a conclusion. And the fact that some issues may be phony doesn’t mean that the remaining ones weren’t important. The report shows that an investigation in this instance was needed and it’s hard to see how the time was wasted, given the committee’s findings.

Ignatius finds the silliest aspect of the Benghazi affair was the Republicans’ focus on the “talking points” that Susan Rice and others in the administration relied on to explain the cause of the Benghazi attacks. For two weeks, administration officials claimed the attacks were a spontaneous reaction to an internet video rather than a planned and organized effort by a terrorist group.

The Senate committee found that incorrect intelligence about the cause of the attacks formed the basis of the CIA-created talking points and that the CIA corrected this, but not until a week after the points had been used by Susan Rice and others. Ignatius takes this as evidence that nobody within the administration lied when they continued to claim that the video caused the attacks.

Ignatius’ conclusion works, however, only if he and other administration defenders ignore the evidence referenced at the end of the committee report in the statement by Republican members of the committee and a separate statement by Senator Susan Collins. Both statements point out that testimony shows the CIA knew “instantly during the attacks” that it was terrorism (see e.g., footnote 149 and the accompanying text of the report).

Yet Ignatius does ignore this evidence. The idea that the CIA knew about the nature of the attacks, but that somehow this information didn’t get to the president, the secretary of state, or the American ambassador to the U.N. until several weeks later is quite simply unbelievable. And blaming a video for the attacks in support of President Obama’s campaign rhetoric was plainly disgraceful.

Somewhere along the line, Ignatius apparently forgot what journalists are supposed to do, you know, things like question authority and find the truth. Now he’s only able to insult those who do question authority and in the process, allows himself to be played for a fool.

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