Fox New anchors, right-wing websites and talk-radio hosts around the country are ginning up a wave of mass hysteria about the decision by the Obama administration not to attempt a military rescue of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya. (Glenn Beck is even telling listeners that the treason is more widespread, and that Stevens was acting as a gunrunner for al Qaida in Libya and Syria. I kid you not.)
Obama’s crime is said to be so heinous that mere impeachment for refusing to intervene would be insufficient. If you Google the words “Benghazi” and “traitor,” you get some 518,000 hits, almost all of which cast President Obama as that traitor. The criticism extends as well to the mainstream media, which as my email informs me, is being accused of covering up a scandal of such dimensions that it would supposedly dwarf Watergate.
But I have a question.
According to NBC News, Mitt Romney hasn’t mentioned Libya in his campaign appearances around the country since Oct. 12, which is more than two weeks ago. Now why do you think that is?
Option one: Mitt has joined the mainstream media as part of the pro-Obama conspiracy of silence to protect the president.
Option two. Romney’s military and foreign affairs advisers have told him that not even a minimally responsible case can be made that Obama should have intervened militarily at Benghazi, and that Romney would deeply embarrass himself by suggesting such a step.
Let’s be clear: There is no indication — none — that U.S military officials advised the president or anyone in the administration that a rescue operation was possible, and that the administration ignored that offer. The evidence is entirely to the contrary.
As Defense Secretary Leon Panetta explained, “(The) basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place. And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.”
That would be Gen. Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They are men of training and experience; they know where our military assets are located; they know their capabilities, and they know the difficulties involved in inserting and extracting an armed force into an uncertain situation in another country.
It is of course frustrating and heartbreaking to learn that CIA officers stationed near the Benghazi consulate had asked three times for military assistance and that those requests had been denied. But that is real life. This is not a Hollywood movie.
Here’s how Fox News reported the news above:
The most provocative piece of that report is the claim that a Special Forces team stationed at an air base in Signonella, Italy, two hours from Benghazi, was ready to intervene but orders were never given. But here’s how such mass hysteria gets fed by partial information, in both senses of the word “partial”. As it turned out, the Special Forces team in question was not based in Sigonella but had to be assembled and transported there from elsewhere in Europe.
“U.S. officials say (the team) did not arrive in Sicily until after the attack was over,” CBS reports. “Even if the team had been ready in time, confusion about what was happening on the ground in Benghazi — and State Department concerns about violating Libyan sovereignty — made a military rescue mission impractical, the officials say.”
Arguing against mass and willful hysteria using facts, logic and expert professional opinion is a losing battle, of course. It doesn’t matter that our top military people believed a rescue effort would be impractical and would probably end in the loss of even more American lives. What matters is that talk-show hosts and others can stir up millions of Americans raised on Rambo movies to believe that their leaders could have helped to rescue a well-respected U.S. diplomat and his team, but simply decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Because the president is a traitor.
That makes no sense. It is such a ridiculous notion that in most eras it would never even be broached in public debate. But this is an era in which many are predisposed to believe the most ridiculous things if it justifies their hatred of Obama, and a time in which when emotions are heightened by a hard-fought presidential campaign. So nonsense reigns.
– Jay Bookman