Saturday, January 26, 2013

What Mattered This Week?

I'll go with the end of the ban on women in combat. As with the demise of DADT, this is one that isn't ever going to be reversed, and will make a big difference for the people involved.

For didn't matter...the whole Hillary goes to the Hill thing is too obvious, right? (Not that I'm against oversight hearings). If you don't like that, I will say that Inaugural Addresses are invariably overhyped.

So that's what I have. What did you notice? What am I missing? What do you think mattered this week?

86 comments:

  1. Let's see, there was that time when a federal judge dramatically curtailed the recess appointment power, and invalidated a year's worth of NLRB rulings. Oh, and on Monday the president was inaugurated for a second term.

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    1. If you look at the right-hand column, you'll find this: http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2013/01/recess-appointment-power-gone-says-dc.html

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  2. I'll go with the recess appointments decision too. Also the quickie redistricting of Virginia points to what might become a widespread Republican strategy over the next year.

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  3. Hillary's "what difference does it make" attitude towards the truth of what happened in Benghazi.

    It reveals nothing new, but I enjoyed watching Rand Paul questioning Kerry about Cambodia and Libya.

    NY Sheriffs' Association speaks the truth about its state's new magazine and gun bans -- they won't reduce crime, they'll only restrict freedom:

    http://www.13wham.com/news/local/story/new-york-gun-control-laws-sheriffs-association-pat/V7Xc1up4qEKjjWn_nqdI5g.cspx?rss=1485

    If Democrats can't even win over NY Sheriffs, who do they expect to convince?

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    1. Your take on HRC's testimony causes me to reflect on the difference between now and four years ago. Back at the beginning of Obama's term, media outlets would echo the Fox far-right noise machine whenever Limbaugh or Hannity or whoever cranked up the volume. I can easily imagine the media of '09 and especially of '10 falling in line behind Fox and making HRC feel very, very uncomfortable. But that doesn't happen as much these days, does it? Is it because Fox was so totally and completely wrong about the facts so often (as is the case with their coverage of HRCs testimony. You can only believe that spin if you either didn't watch it or you want to believe terrible things about her)? Or is it because Fox's ratings have steadily fallen as they give up the remaining vestiges of respectability in favor of drumming up right-wing anger? In any case, HRC did fine. The GOP senators looked like fools, but no one really cares. And the idea that Rand Paul thinks he has an actual shot at the GOP nomination is astounding.

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    2. Anon, the administration long ago admitted that they were wrong about the cause of the Benghazi attack. I don't think a member of the Bush administration would have gotten away with responding to this with "what difference does it make."

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    3. A member of the Bush administration wouldn't have admitted they were wrong.

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    4. William Burns, +1 and lol. It was always someone else that was at fault for any missteps in the Bush administration. And notice how Couves selectively edits HRC's "what difference does it make", statement. As Stephen Colbert pointed out the other night, Hillary stepped all over Senator Ron's Johnson. What mattered this week? Check out the Paul Ryan exchange with Ezra Klein. Or, how about the resignation of Lanny Breuer, after the Frontline piece was aired?

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    5. WB -- And the press would have rightfully pilloried them for it.

      nanute -- Hillary's best point in that exchange was to say that State didn't talk to any survivor for weeks because they were being interviewed by the FBI. Ok, then why didn't the CIA talking points reflect these interviews? Aren't those two agencies supposed to be talking to each other now? And if the results of these interviews weren't available at the time, then why was Susan Rice sent out to tell us something that wasn't based on the first hand accounts that were available?

      Hillary claimed to be interested in truth and process, but I think her "what difference does it make" comment comes closer to reflecting her true feelings about this.

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    6. A lot depends on the importance of what you're wrong about, and whether you could've known.

      Iraq's having WMD was the publicly stated justification for an enormously expensive and bloody war. Getting that wrong is an unfathomably significant error, and other people (Hans Blix) were right.

      Errors about precisely what was happening in the Benghazi attack weren't at the center of any tremendous national expenditures and didn't cause any bloody wars. Moreover, I don't know who in the world had a clear idea of what was going on at the time.

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    7. Well, Hillary covered for Bush too. You can't excuse one and not the other. People deserve the full truth about major world events. The idea that this is even a point of contention continues to astound me.

      "Moreover, I don't know who in the world had a clear idea of what was going on at the time."

      The Libyan government did -- within a few days of the attack they were saying that this wasn't a protest, it was Al Qaeda.

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    8. Ok, then why didn't the CIA talking points reflect these interviews? Aren't those two agencies supposed to be talking to each other now?

      There must be some national security equivalent of the socialist calculation problem--of course no person can be instantly made aware of every single piece of information that every agent making every interview everywhere has. The version of events marked as ready for public release is never going to be completely up to date. Sure, I guess the process would be faster if they just forwarded the press releases of the Libyan government as their own, but it's kind of strange to propose that we should just immediately trust the opinion of a government that failed to protect ambassadors in its borders.

      So far as we can tell, the public *eventually* got as close to the full truth as we could get. It's still unclear exactly what causal influence that video had (the terror group that launched the attacks still cites that video as provocation), but it became clear that the attack was organized, not a spontaneous protest.

      The public had this information in its hands in a fairly timely manner--before the debates and the election. There's no motivation for a coverup or delay of information here--if it had been the other way, if we had reported that it was an organized terror strike but actually it was just a spontaneous protest going wrong, the conspiracy theories would make about as much sense--losing an ambassador in a spontaneous riot would be at least as embarrassing as him being the victim of a terrorist strike.

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    9. The Libyan government also denied that the group responsible was the group responsible.

      And if a group says, 'hey, we did it because of the video' why is it so important to negate their claims? It's not like Al Qaeda supplied them with arms (they didn't) or money (they didn't) or instructions (they didn't) or even rhetoric (they didn't supply that).

      It's like saying that Pop Star was at fault because Pop Star's fans burned a couple cop cars and sent a note to Pop Star claiming responsibility. That's stupid.

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    10. And what's your stupidity about NY Sheriffs? What, you don't think they have hicks in New York? Doesn't that make you the stupid one, not Obama?

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    11. Consumatopia, I wouldn't expect our government to "immediately trust" the opinion of Libyan leaders, but shouldn't we at least expect them to look into it?

      I think there was an obvious motive for misleading the public -- being attacked by Al Qaeda would make people question Obama's claim that we have them on the ropes. The information would eventually come out, but most people will just continue to believe the initial lie. If it weren't for Republicans making this an issue, 90% of the country would probably still believe that this was about a video. Even now, I wonder how many people still believe this (or believe that Saddam was behind 9/11, for example).

      You guys can still be good liberals, and also admit that your guys are capable of deception.

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    12. but shouldn't we at least expect them to look into it?

      Yes, but we shouldn't expect that process to be instantaneous.

      being attacked by Al Qaeda would make people question Obama's claim that we have them on the ropes.

      No. An attack on an under-defended embassy in a dangerous land is exactly the kind of thing an organization on the ropes (or affiliate thereof) would try to pull off.

      Rand Paul's comparison actually makes this clear--was raiding an embassy and killing these four guys anything remotely comparable to crashing planes into the Pentagon and the WTC? How about to the worst violence during the surge in Iraq?

      Thanks to the sacrifice of thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of American injuries, and hundreds of thousands of foreign deaths under both Bush and Obama, Al Qaeda is much weaker today than in 2001. You can be deeply skeptical of those efforts (I am) and also admit this.

      If it weren't for Republicans making this an issue, 90% of the country would probably still believe that this was about a video.

      The Egyptian protest preceding it the attack by several hours certainly was about the video, and the group responsible cited the video. That citation was probably insincere, but comparing this to Saddam-9/11 connections is absurd.

      More importantly, there still isn't any motive. Connecting it to al Qaeda doesn't really hurt Obama. Indeed, suppose that 90% of the country did believe the video caused the attacks, but all the time Republicans have spent on idiotic conspiracy theories was focused on whether Benghazi had enough security. Seems to me that Obama and Clinton would have lower approval ratings in that counter-factual.

      Of course liberals are capable of deception. But this "deception" is without motive. And, look, basically every argument you've made re:Benghazi has been torn apart in this thread. To put this in cynical political terms, you've taken what should have been a black eye for the Administration and State department--the failure to protect an embassy--and turned it into almost something of a win (well, at least they aren't the craziest ones in the room).

      Honestly, I really shouldn't spend time trying to correct you here--the obsessions of people like you are very helpful to "my guys".

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    13. "And if a group says, 'hey, we did it because of the video' why is it so important to negate their claims?"

      No one disputes that a terrorist group was responsible and claimed that they were motivated by the video. But that's very different than saying that this was just a movie protest that got out of control.

      Regarding Al Qaeda:

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/16/us-usa-benghazi-idUSBRE8AF03L20121116

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    14. “Yes, but we shouldn't expect that process to be instantaneous.”

      If they were looking into it, Susan Rice didn’t mentioned the possibility that ongoing investigation could prove that her story was completely false.

      “No. An attack on an under-defended embassy in a dangerous land is exactly the kind of thing an organization on the ropes (or affiliate thereof) would try to pull off.”

      I don’t disagree. But Obama’s not concerned with what the typical Plain Blog commenter would think, but the average voter.

      I really think it’s pretty obvious that getting hit again on 9/11 would make Obama look bad in the public eye.

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    15. "And what's your stupidity about NY Sheriffs? What, you don't think they have hicks in New York? Doesn't that make you the stupid one, not Obama?"

      Crissa, it sounds like you already know you've lost the argument. But for others who are interested, here's part of the NY Sheriffs' position paper:

      "Reduction of ammunition magazine capacity. The new law enacts reductions in the maximum capacity of gun magazines. We believe based on our years of law enforcement experience that this will not reduce gun violence. The new law will unfairly limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms in New York. It bears repeating that it is our belief that the reduction of magazine capacity will not make New Yorkers or our communities safer."

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    16. If they were looking into it, Susan Rice didn’t mentioned the possibility that ongoing investigation could prove that her story was completely false.

      Surely you have to know that you're reaching a bit now, right? I'm not saying Susan Rice's statements or demeanor were perfect, but they weren't some kind of scandal.

      I really think it’s pretty obvious that getting hit again on 9/11 would make Obama look bad in the public eye.

      Yes, but it's not at all obvious that an ambassador dying in an attack by an al Qaeda-affiliate is a worse black eye than an ambassador dying in a spontaneous riot. (And even less obvious how a delay of days getting these possibilities straight was particularly critical).

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    17. Consumatopia, whatever Rice’s personal culpability, the administration told us a story that they had good reason to doubt.

      The “getting hit again on 9/11” narrative would have been the worst possible outcome for the administration, since it bolsters the Republican charge that Democrats are “soft on terror” and undermines the President’s case to the contrary. As the attack occurred, there happened to be riots in other Islamic cities that the murders could be easily tied to in the public mind. It’s easy to imagine that the administration was motivated to feed this counter-narrative, because it was a better alternative to the “getting hit again on 9/11” narrative. And as I’ve said, the timing is also important, because many people tend to remember the first plausible story they hear, no matter how questionable or convenient (Saddam caused 9/11, etc.).

      Also, by framing the attack in the context of a wider cultural conflict (free speech vs. Islamic sensitivities), the media coverage played on a “clash of civilizations” narrative that tended to spare the administration of responsibility. (Most people aren’t inclined to blame the government for wider cultural misunderstanding or conflict.) Obviously, there’s no direct evidence of motive, but it’s easy to see how the administration benefited from its actions.

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    18. The administration had conflicting information that they took a couple days longer to make a fine distinction on one particular point public than you would have liked. That's all.

      The “getting hit again on 9/11” narrative would have been the worst possible outcome for the administration, since it bolsters the Republican charge that Democrats are “soft on terror” and undermines the President’s case to the contrary.

      This gets to the core of it. It astounds me that anyone would claim this. Bush's entire term was filled with terrorist attacks on American forces in Iraq--they weren't even newsworthy. Obama has spent his entire presidency basically continuing or escalating Bush's second-term security policies. Nobody outside Fox News world has any idea what you're talking about when you call the President that ordered the raid that got Osama "soft on terror".

      Look, the problem here is that the two line of attacks to use on Benghazi--the logical one, that the embassy was poorly defended, and the nonsense one that the embassy was attacked because Obama doesn't have enough testosterone or whatever, undercut each other. If the embassy was poorly defended, then it was no particular display of strength for the terrorists to overrun it and get the ambassador. OTOH, if attacking the embassy was an incredibly audacious move on the part of a newly invigorated al Qaeda, then blaming poor defenses would be wrong.

      Note that if the attack on the embassy was less organized, if it really were a spontaneous protest that locals brought guns to, that would make the poor defenses of the embassy even less excusable--and the State Dept. more culpable for failing to protect their people.

      Obviously, an al Qaeda attack is just as much a "clash of civilizations" as a video inspired riot. (And note well--that video WAS useful propaganda for our enemies, at least for a day). Al Qaeda's war on America started before Obama (or Bush) was president.

      On another note, while I do think you're correct that the "soft on terror" frame is why Republicans are so obsessed with the Grand Susan Rice CIA Conspiracy, I find it unfortunate that Rand Paul is so anxious to play along with it. He pretends to care about liberty, but he's helping the security state demagogues, and he damn well knows it.

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    19. Also,

      "And as I’ve said, the timing is also important, because many people tend to remember the first plausible story they hear, no matter how questionable or convenient (Saddam caused 9/11, etc.)."

      You said "as I've said" as though I missed something, but the argument that timing matters depends on your claim that the Administration reaped huge benefits from one narrative versus the other. Since you've utterly failed to establish any such benefits, the obsession with timing is absurd.

      It also doesn't really make sense--"Saddam caused 9/11" wasn't the first story we heard about 9/11. That Americans can't keep our Muslim foes straight shouldn't surprise us. All things being equal, the Administration would like to get the story right the first time. They definitely don't want to take a chance that someone is going to whistleblow on their coverup.

      This would be an incredibly dumb political conspiracy from a team that, whether you like them or not, you have to admit is usually politically smart.

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    20. “The administration had conflicting information that they took a couple days longer to make a fine distinction on one particular point public than you would have liked. That's all.”

      You can call it “a fine distinction on one particular point” but it amounted to discrediting the administration’s entire story. You also have the timeline wrong. We learned on September 13 that the State Department knew it was “clearly planned military-type attack,” not a movie protest gone bad. It wasn’t until October 9th that the administration came clean on this:

      http://www.factcheck.org/2012/10/benghazi-timeline/

      I agree that Obama has escalated Bush’s war on terror. But what matters isn’t what you and I believe, but what the average American believes -- and the Obama administration knows that Americans don’t believe that he’s tougher than Bush was.

      “Obviously, an al Qaeda attack is just as much a "clash of civilizations" as a video inspired riot.”

      The point is that the media treats the “war on terror” and the “clash of civilizations” very differently. As a result, shifting the Benghazi attack from one category to another results in an entirely different media narrative and public response. The difference is between “we were hit again on 9/11” and “Muslims upset over video run wild.” I’m not defending this, but you have to realize that the 9/11 narrative tends to imply failure by the President, while the “clash of civilizations” narrative suggests larger cultural-historical forces beyond his control.

      Regarding Saddam, many people were told in the run-up to war that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. The Bush administration never actually said this, but their allies did and Bush didn't exactly discourage the idea with the way he talked about Saddam. The media eventually forced the Bush administration to state that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, but at that point it was too late to convince much of the public otherwise. Democrats have hammered the truth enough that a lot of people have probably been set straight, but correcting the initial lie has been a slow process.

      It’s unfortunate that confronting deception is considered a partisan act.

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    21. FactCheck gets something very wrong--that video has still not been ruled out as a cause of the attacks. In fact, what Obama said on Sept 18 is exactly right:

      "'Here’s what happened,; and began discussing the impact of the anti-Muslim video. He then said, 'Extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.'"

      He was right. The terrorists did indeed cite the video as an excuse to attack. A lot of FactCheck's analysis hinges on references to the video or mobs in other places as being misleading. That's getting the facts wrong.

      If anything, this indicates that the GOP successfully lied early and often--even tricking FactCheck!

      Also I saw a bogus entry at Sept 14, "Press Secretary Carney denies reports that it was a preplanned attack". Carney denied a report that the State Department had advanced knowledge of the attack, not that the attack was preplanned. Check the linked transcript.

      I only noticed this because I read through all the events before Oct 9 to see when anyone at State or the WH had said that there was a protest at the embassy preceding the attack. If they did, this timeline didn't mention it.

      It's also bizarre how the timeline characterized every time Obama used a word other than terrorism as "refusing" to call it terrorism. Distinctions don't get much finer than whatever is supposed to be between "acts of terror" and "terrorism".

      Despite that an analysis that actually gets more facts wrong than the administration ever did (and almost two months afterwards!), they still have to admit "We cannot say whether the administration was intentionally misleading the public."

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    22. "But what matters isn’t what you and I believe, but what the average American believes"

      Actually, no. Neither what you, I, or what the average American believes requires the Administration to jump to a conclusion that it isn't sure of, or means that a delay of days (about a week at most) is too long in releasing information.

      "and the Obama administration knows that Americans don’t believe that he’s tougher than Bush was. "

      Do you have any poll numbers on that? My understanding is that Obama's numbers or terrorism and security were very strong by 2012. In any event, it's not remotely plausible that Libyan terrorists attacked the embassy because they thought Obama was "soft on terror"--that loudly stamping your feet over "terrorism" and "Islamo-Fascism"--which seemed to be the entirety of Romney's "tough" on terror alternative--would make any difference. They might have thought that Obama wasn't strongly committed to his objectives in Libya--but Romney certainly wasn't any more committed there.

      The evidence, from the election and response to the debates--was that by 2012 Republicans were unable to get the "soft on terror" label to stick with the average American.

      Regarding Saddam, many people were told in the run-up to war that Saddam had something to do with 9/11.

      In a run up to a war more than a year after the original attacks. This is actually evidence against your "timing matters" thesis.

      You might be confusing this with the research that an emotionally striking yet false statement is remembered by people as true even if they see its refutation. This does not apply to Obama labeling something "acts of terror" instead of "terrorism" and refusing to "jump to conclusions".

      It’s unfortunate that confronting deception is considered a partisan act.

      You haven't managed to find any instances of deception. Not even FactCheck with their flawed timeline was willing to claim that. Look, there's more evidence that you, personally, are engaged in deception than that the White House was (not that there's very much evidence in either case.)

      I will say that I learned one thing reading through that timeline. All along I was thinking "I guess the lesson here is not to jump to any conclusions before all the evidence is in." Yet most of FactCheck's criticism isn't for saying something wrong, but for failing to jump to the strongest possible conclusion. The actual lesson just seems to be that Obama is very lucky in his enemies.

      I'm a little bit surprised to find that you can't admit that, whatever actually happened, your side completely misplayed its hand here, politically. They should have attacked the weak security, not the imaginary cover up. And a spontaneous attack would make that worse, not better, for the president.

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    23. Consumatopia, taken in isolation, nothing Obama literally said was factually wrong, as far as I can tell. But in the context, he was feeding the false narrative and he knew it. When Letterman asked him about Benghazi and he starts talking about the video, he was clearly being misleading.

      Factcheck is right about motive -- we don't have any direct evidence of what it may be. But we do know that the state department was aware that there was no protest when Susan Rice spun her story about a protest that went out of control. That bothers me. You have to be really eager to seize on every last bit of plausible deniability to see deception on this scale as no big deal.

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    24. Couves, the case against Rice tends to be built on two distortions, both relatively small but mutually reinforcing. The first is a distortion of what she said. For instance, she didn't say it was a protest that got out of control, she said it was a protest that was taken over by extremists. While similar, the first is intended to trivialize what she said and make it sound relatively nonsensical (quite apart from whether there was a protest or not). Some speak as though she explicitly denied that there was an attack. Extremists taking over an event doesn't come across as a denial to me. The second is a distortion of what is known now, which is exaggerated to suggest we now have all the answers and that those answers are diametrically opposed to what Rice said. Thus people talk as if the video was irrelevant, that everyone knows it was irrelevant, and that they always knew that, even though nothing of the sort has been established. (Some go on to talk as though the cinematic quality of the video and the fact that they hadn't personally heard of it further prove its irrelevance.) They also speak of covering up "al-Qa'ida's" responsibility, whereas it has not been established that al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, let alone what everyone thinks of as al-Qa'ida, had any foreknowledge of it at all. The September 28 statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which many people point to as finally admitting the truth, speaks of people, some of whom have links to groups that may be affiliated with al-Qa'ida or may be sympathetic to it. As a smoking gun, it's somewhat lacking.

      Couves, you, yourself, are the one who has latched onto an early version of events and won't let go of it.

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    25. Scott, I'm sorry if I didn't perfectly capture Susan Rice's comments. The point is that there was no protest for extremists to take over.

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    26. Our best guess today, so far as I can tell, is that a terrorist group in Libya heard about protests in Egypt and decided to attack the embassy. It's definitely not true that the video motivated the attack, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence that the Libyan group had a plan in place to attack the embassy on that day before the Cairo protest.

      As far as a larger narrative goes, that's not really all that different than if the original protests that the Libyan group used as cover were in Benghazi to start with. It's hard to see how one version of this means Obama is "soft on terror" while the other doesn't.

      Rice's story came from the CIA. We're not talking about deception, we're talking about corrected mistakes and temporary delays, and not of particularly large scale. This is bureaucracy, not conspiracy. And the only reason we're still talking about it is a deliciously self-destructive impulse on the part of the GOP.

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    27. Couves, you're not the only one who has characterized Rice's comments that way. Frankly, I think the whole protest issue, which the CIA apparently took from local news reports, is irrelevant. She said extremists attacked the mission.

      Consumatopia, people on the scene have actually said that the attackers voiced complaints about the video. If they had motivations beyond that, I can't say. On the other hand, it appears that nothing was said about the anniversary of 9/11, which is our obsession, not theirs. A memo sent from Tripoli to Washington earlier that day mentioned that the Libyan authorities had been focused on 9/1 for trouble. That was the anniversary of Qadhafi's revolution.

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    28. "Rice's story came from the CIA. We're not talking about deception, we're talking about corrected mistakes and temporary delays, and not of particularly large scale."

      Yes, and intelligence would never be politicized, who could possibly think such a thing? In any case, the state department had information that contradicted this. They had a responsibility to release this information, even if it contradicted the CIA.

      "Frankly, I think the whole protest issue, which the CIA apparently took from local news reports, is irrelevant. She said extremists attacked the mission."

      Scott, if you really think there's no discrepancy between what we were told and what really happened, then I just don't know what to say.

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    29. The incentives of all actors in this instance strongly point against an Obama-directed conspiracy with the CIA. As established above, Obama would have no motive to propose it, the CIA would have no reason to go along with it.

      It's not clear to me how strong the State Dept's info in the early days was. Look at the Oct. 9 briefing http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/10/198791.htm It doesn't make clear when they learned what pieces of the narrative they offered at that point.

      Even in that Oct. 9 briefing they aren't willing to flat out say there was no protest. I don't think it takes much imagination to see why the State Department would be hesitant to publicly contradict the CIA--for one thing, they'd look really bad if the CIA turned out to be right. Perhaps for all the State Dept knew there was a protest elsewhere which the attackers saw or participated in.

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    30. Consumatopia, we're going to just have to disagree about motives. I think the administratino had a strong electoral motive to portray the attack as it did. It's not impossible to imagine that intelligence was massaged to fit their story either. The state department leaked info days after the event that ended up being the real story that was finally settled upon weeks later. In the intervening weeks we were told an entirely different story. I think that speaks for itself.

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    31. You think they had motives, but you failed to actually describe any that actually made sense. Given the volume of words you've spent on this that's a huge deal. It's the most glaring absurdity GOP Benghazi rhetoric, so there's no point moving on to some other aspect of the issue.

      The state department leaked info days after the event that ended up being the real story that was finally settled upon weeks later.

      Which is consistent with State deciding that they have incomplete information and waiting before they tell everyone what they believe. And Scott was right to call me out for assuming too much about the motivations of the attackers--even now, we can only guess.

      This whole thing comes down to yelling at bureaucrats for not releasing incomplete information fast enough.

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    32. "You think they had motives, but you failed to actually describe any that actually made sense. Given the volume of words you've spent on this that's a huge deal."

      That I've failed to convince you proves nothing. That you feel the need to declare victory tells me that you are less than certain about that.

      "This whole thing comes down to yelling at bureaucrats for not releasing incomplete information fast enough."

      That's absurd, the state department was telling us a story that they knew was wrong the entire time they were telling it.

      No one is going to come right out and say "we lied." But if you can't infer it from the evidence we have, I don't think there's anything further I can say to convince you.

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    33. Couves, on the protest business, think of it this way. If the Cairo demonstrators had broken into the embassy and killed the ambassador, would you be saying, "That's all right. That one just started as spontaneous protest." Or, on the other hand, would the Republicans in Congress be complaining that resources are being wasted on Libya when eveyone should have known from the beginning that Egypt is the country that counts. . . and pulling out the inevitable memos showing that the ambassador didn't get as much security as he had requested.

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    34. Scott, I'm not following your point at all. If we were knowingly providing inadequate security to the Egyptian embassy, and it was also attacked, then that would be just as much of a scandal. The scandal involving the cover-up is entirely separate from that.

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    35. If it's "just as much of a scandal" there's no motivation for a cover-up.

      On declaring victory, here's a nice juxtaposition:

      "That you feel the need to declare victory tells me that you are less than certain about that."

      "But if you can't infer it from the evidence we have, I don't think there's anything further I can
      say to convince you."

      Perfect, beautiful symmetry.

      This is one of many times you tried to declare victory. Declaring victory is common behavior for you. So it's worth establishing, for the next time you try to pull "if I can't convince you..." or "I just don't know what to say..." etc that you believe many unreasonable things that you're incapable of defending.

      "the state department was telling us a story that they knew was wrong the entire time they were telling it."

      Wrong. The State Department was telling us they were still investigating something they and/or others were still investigating. Check the statements from Clinton and State in that timeline you linked.

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    36. Consumatopia, If we can't convince each other, then perhaps we can just agree to disagree? :)

      "If it's 'just as much of a scandal' there's no motivation for a cover-up."

      I'm not trying to be obtuse, but I really don't understand your point.

      "Wrong. The State Department was telling us they were still investigating something they and/or others were still investigating."

      Yes, they were still investigating, and yet they spun a story that was completely contrary to information they already had. The State Department leaks came out before even Rice testified. At the very least, we know that they had reason to doubt the story that was told to us.

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    37. Why would you cover up a scandal by making it look like something else that's "just as much of a scandal"?

      The information in Rice's briefing seems to have come from the CIA. There were conflicting voices in our government on one point (was there a protest in Benghazi or were the attackers responding to the protest in Cairo?) and it took a couple days for them to get on the same page.

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    38. "Why would you cover up a scandal by making it look like something else that's 'just as much of a scandal'?"

      Exactly! They weren't covering for the lack of security (either way, that’s a scandal), they were covering-up the cause of the attack -- they were creating a favorable narrative by lying to the public. As I said in response to Scott, the security lapses and the cover-up are two separate things.

      Rice may have relied on CIA info, but that’s no excuse. In cases such as this, not telling us the WHOLE truth amounts to telling a lie. And Rice plainly knew that her department had contradictory information. This goes for the entire administration, which allowed and encouraged this false theory to circulate for weeks -- whether they believed the counter-narrative or not, it was their duty to the public to bring everything to our attention. Saying there’s an ongoing investigation is not a free pass to deceive the public.

      Finally, after weeks, on October 9th the official story changed to reflect the absence of a protest -- exactly what was leaked to us from the same department, just days after the attack.

      Look, this is hardly the worst scandal of all time. But it's pretty important for our government to be open and transparent, particularly when it comes to major world events. If we can't agree to call something deception when we have clear evidence that information was withheld, it becomes very difficult to hold our government accountable at all.

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    39. Why would it be a more favorable narrative if it's "just as much of a scandal"?

      They probably didn't know the "WHOLE truth" with sufficient confidence (the whole truth is still somewhat in doubt--Benghazi is a crazy place.)
      We have evidence that the government had not yet reached a consensus on the information you call "withheld". A delay of days (not weeks, the government had abandoned the spontaneous protest hypothesis long before Oct 9. We don't know when the State Department learned the additional information they released on Oct 9.) is perfectly acceptable when information is uncertain.

      Investigations take time. This one did not take very long.

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    40. "Why would it be a more favorable narrative if it's 'just as much of a scandal'?"

      The lack of security would have been just as much of a scandal. The more favorable narrative was a diversion from the politically inconvenient narrative that that the attack itself was a sign we are losing the war on terror. In other words, I don’t think we were mislead to make the security lapses somehow seem ok.

      Lack of consensus on intelligence was not a reason to withhold information. As best I can tell, the information about the lack of a protest was only released on Oct 9th, if you have different info on this I'd like to see it (I'm not pretending to have perfect memory here).

      "We don't know when the State Department learned the additional information they released on Oct 9."

      It's the same info that was leaked just a few days after the attack… it took a long time to become official. It didn’t take so long for the CIA’s bogus story to be made public.

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    41. Nobody who doesn't already despise Obama is going to see one attack on a poorly guarded embassy as "losing the war on terror".

      "Lack of consensus on intelligence was not a reason to withhold information."

      Of course it is. I don't want the government to release information they don't have confidence in--that's not information, that's misinformation. It is a legitimate criticism of Rice that she was too confident in the information she was given.

      "It didn’t take so long for the CIA’s bogus story to be made public."

      It's not surprising, though. Generally, if a governments wants to guess what's happening in an uncertain situation, that's the job of intelligence analysts, not diplomats.

      "It's the same info that was leaked just a few days after the attack"

      You can click your own link to the timeline. The initial leakers did not say that there was no protest. They did say that this was a terrorist attack--that the attack itself was not a spontaneous mob action. Days later that was the official position. If there was anything before Oct. 9 suggesting that State had reached a conclusion about what the ambassador and others at the embassy had seen immediately before the attack (which was the content of the Oct 9 briefing), I missed it.

      I'm getting about tired of correcting you using information that you linked to (but apparently only skimmed). I don't think you're respecting my time.

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    42. Sept. 13: CNN reports that unnamed “State Department officials” say the incident in Benghazi was a “clearly planned military-type attack” unrelated to the anti-Muslim movie.

      “It was not an innocent mob,” one senior official said. “The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective but this was a clearly planned military-type attack.”
      -----------
      This wasn't the official position days later. The first time I can find an official position that validates this is Oct 9.

      I don't understand your distinction regarding "protest" vs. "spontaneous mob action."

      I'm sorry you think I'm disrespecting you in the course of this discussion. We've had some obvious miscommunication and honest disagreement -- none of which, to my mind, was due to malicious intent on either side. It actually looks like we have some common ground regarding the importance of getting the full truth from Susan Rice's testimony.

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    43. Those leaks you quote would be consistent with the presence of a genuine protest preceding the attack that an organized group of terrorists took advantage of to attack the embassy. The leaks said there was an organized attack, they did not say there was no protest.

      "Spontaneous mob action" would be everyone showing up to yell at someone, with the crowd getting itself worked up enough to initiate violence.

      You can see in an interview on Sept 12, before that leak, "Obama says 'we’re still investigating' but he suspects 'folks involved in this . . . were looking to target Americans from the start.'"

      So Obama himself was suspecting--and making that suspicion public--something very close to what the leakers leaked. His statements on Sept. 18 “Extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.”, is even closer--about the only difference is in the emphasis the leaker put on "clearly planned", but so far as I can tell the Oct. 9 briefing revealed nothing about how much advanced planning the terrorists had engaged in--we still don't know if the attackers were planning to attack our embassy on 9/11 prior to the protests in Cairo.

      In short I see nothing in both those leaks and the Oct 9 briefing that was not also in other governments statements shortly after the leaks.

      We agree that Rice's statements were not perfect, but that was a gaffe, not a scandal. I apologize for imputing bad motives on your part. I was likely projecting--the truth is, I'm the one who hasn't been respecting my own time--this really isn't worth it.

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    44. Whether you want to call it a spontaneous mob or a protest, the leaks made it very clear that it didn’t happen… but it looks like we’re not going to come to an agreement on that.

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    45. The leak you quoted up above definitely DOES NOT say that a protest did not happen. It says THE ATTACK was not an "innocent mob action", it DOES NOT say that there was not ALSO a protest going on. If logic or reasoning has ANYTHING to do with how you reach the opinions you do, you would admit this.

      We also can't know how widely shared the leaker's opinion was, what evidence it was based on, how much confidence they had in it, etc.

      So you have no motive and no evidence.

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    46. Consumatopia, with respect, I think you’re inventing a distinction that doesn’t exist. We could conclude this with a good ol’ fashioned internet shouting match, but what’s the point?

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    47. So you're telling me there's no distinction between these scenarios?

      A) There is no protest. Terrorists arrive at the embassy and immediately begin killing.

      B) There is a protest. Terrorists see the protest, and take advantage of it to attack the embassy.

      Because nothing in those leaks--leaks which aren't very extensive, and don't give the impression that leakers think of themselves as whistleblowers--rules out scenario B.

      The bottom line here is that after all this, you still have no evidence of or motive for a cover up. Don't be surprised to see this thread linked if you decide to rant about Benghazi again--your behavior is a perfect illustration of willful partisan blindness.

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    48. I strongly disagree that Couves displays "willful partisan blindness" in this thread. However, I do think he's wrong. Which is okay, and for which I have no particular authority to proclaim; just my reading of it.

      Anyway, the main reason I broke in here is to let y'all know that you're welcome to continue here, or if you like you can take it to the new Benghazi-related item, but I'm pretty sure you're both just going back and forth at this point. As I said, feel free to, but I figured it can't hurt to give you an excuse to move on to the next topic.

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    49. Consumatopia, I think the leaks indicate that "A" happened, not "B". I'd be happy for anyone to read the evidence and decide for themselves, but it doesn’t sound like we’re going to come to an agreement.

      I was hoping we could agree to disagree, but you seem determined to end this conversation very differently.

      Thanks, Jonathan -- if you even read half of this, I’m impressed.

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    50. I'm also happy for anyone to read the evidence and decide for themselves.

      But here's the thing: If you're going to say things like "It’s unfortunate that confronting deception is considered a partisan act.", as if that characterizes my views, then there really isn't any point to "agreeing to disagree".

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    51. Here I am trying to make nice, and you’re bringing up stuff from over 30 comments back... Damn, Consumatopia it’s like we’re married!

      The comment you quoted wasn’t directed at you. Now, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have you in mind at all when I made it… and since you were suggesting that I was taking the position of a Fox/GOP hack, it seemed to me like a fairly mild response to your characterization. But my main point was just to reflect on the partisan nature of the age we live in. In the previous paragraph, I was talking about how Democrats have acted as truth tellers when it comes to Republican deception. From the previous sentence: “Democrats have hammered the truth enough that a lot of people have probably been set straight, but correcting the initial lie has been a slow process.” Even when parrying your thrust, I put a whole lot out there that I thought might be the basis for common ground.

      I’m sorry you took offense at that, or anything else I said. If this discussion were in person, I doubt that either of us would walk away mad. But something about the manner of internet communication allows misunderstanding and resentment to build, so I find you generally can’t go wrong to end the discussion on amicable terms.

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    52. I certainly didn't say "hack", hack implies you're getting paid or somehow part of party machinery. I said no one outside Fox News world buys this, and that's still my view--this is an entirely manufactured controversy.

      Obviously, I'm not going to take any comparison of Obama to Bush, or Benghazi to Iraq or Saddam, as an attempt to find common ground. Especially accompanied by "You guys can still be good liberals, and also admit that your guys are capable of deception."

      Look, basically from the beginning you made serious charges against various national actors, and you challenged the integrity of those of us taking a different view. I'm not wishing any ill upon you, but don't expect me to like you.

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    53. No sincere try involves the words "I’m sorry you took offense".

      Look, Couves. You made a bunch of zingers, as is your MO. Some of us started calling you on one of those. You accused us of ignoring deception because its on our side. I took that seriously, it turned out you were unable to back up that assertion. Now you aren't taking any of your unsupported challenges to my character back, but you still want to end this "on amicable terms".

      I'm obligated to be civil. I'm not obligated to like you. Respect that.

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  4. Joe Miller might run again for Senate in Alaska and Saxy Chambliss is retiring to avoid a primary challenge and Tom Harkin is calling it quits as well, which is important for the 2014 cycle.

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  5. What about the Democratic fail on filibuster reform? Wait: Democratic fail! Dog bites man. Nothing to see here.

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  6. I agree, lifting the ban on women in combat was huge. It will be a big part of Obama's legacy.

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  7. Everyone is overlooking the entire Beyonce lip-sync scandal!

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  8. Almost forgot: Biden’s hilarious pronouncement that the double-barreled shotgun is the Ultimate Weapon.

    But he was at least right about the fact that assault weapons don’t kill people, handguns do -- so getting rid of those “high capacity” handguns (which ride on the hip of every police officer) is the real goal: http://youtu.be/gW9Ecy-lLgk

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  9. Well, it looks like I was right last week to mention the suicide of Aaron Swartz -- in response, Anonymous has declared war on the Justice Department: http://youtu.be/WaPni5O2YyI

    Maybe someone else can chime in, because I don't know enough about the situation to say how significant this might be.

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    1. This column is about things that MATTERED ... i.e., they had some real significance for future political and social changes that might come to affect the lives of significant numbers of people.

      With great respect for the argumentative abilities of our friend Couves, I would maintain that neither the ravings of America's 2% fringe of committed ideological libertarians, nor the various (internet-only) vandalisms of the groups calling themselves "anonymous" has yet been of any clear significance for future mass social and political change.

      Yes, either of these groups can get attention by their ravings ... much like a misguided band member in a crowded nightclub setting off fireworks to jack that last ounce of energy of the crowd. I actually have a bit of sympathy for that poor entertainer trying to pull out the last stop for his own short-term benefit, and presumably for the short-term entertainment benefits of his audience ... yet of course every so often it will touch off a fire that takes hundreds of lives in an overcrowded nightclub.

      So that is highly significant to those victims, and their families, friends and communities. The point I'm trying to get to is that it's not "mattering" in the sense of building anything for the future, or representing actual cultural change (except for a small fringe).

      On the other hand, cultural change always does start with a small fringe. But to "matter," you have to be able to build something on it.

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    2. Ron, as I said, I don't know if the Anonymous thing is really all that significant. I think gun control and the Administration's response to Benghazi are definitely significant, and not just to libertarians. If they weren't, people wouldn't be so interested in discussing these issues.

      It sounds like you'd just rather that Plain Blog be a partisan echo chamber.

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    3. Plain Blog is a very interesting forum, and it is a challenge for those of us with strong opinions to be as completely scientific and respectful as we should be here.

      But to the point, I very, very much doubt that many people, outside of very committed Fox News viewers, are "so interested in discussing" whether Secretary Clinton has made any kind of irredeemable error in her response to the Benghazi incident.

      There are indeed at least 5 million Americans who are deeply concerned with the gun issue, and can barely stop discussing it whether it's in the news or not. It would be easier to listen to them, and to feel that their discussions merited a response, if they were not so completely obsessed with the fantasy that all American liberals are just as obsessed with "taking guns away" from the gun-obsessed minority, as that minority is with having dozens of the darn things and refusing to take any political action or allow any civil liability for how an even smaller minority misuses guns.

      So that one does matter, but it's hard to see how America can actually have an intelligent "conversation" on the issue, when the cultures that lead to the differing attitudes on guns are so very different, and are so deeply rooted in different aspects of American history, and when the intensities of feeling on the various sides are also very different in kind, and in magnitude.

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    4. Ron, I wrote a single sentence about Hillary's testimony that spawned a lengthy discussion. It seems like the most popular subject of the week.

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    5. I'm so glad Consumatopia had the energy to give an excellent point-by-point refutation of your silly obsession with a ginned-up GOP campaign talking point that never had much legs with the public in the first place.

      And I recognize that you strongly deny that he refuted your points.

      However, it's only here, in a forum shared by ultra-political types, that trying to push an old, failed, and deeply hypocritical GOP accusation predictably attracted a chorus of voices and attention to oppose you.

      (Hypocritical, as I do believe the GW Bush administration was far more deeply involved in "creating narratives" around various foreign incidents than the Obama administration has ever been.)

      Again, nobody who wasn't already deeply opposed to Hilary and/or Barack ever cared about this one.

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    6. Ron, I think you know that I'm not a Republican hack or a Bush apologist. I even described how the Bush administration used deceptive framing (not to mention, selective and deceptive use of intelligence) in the lead-up to Iraq. Of course, Obama didn't use deception to get us into a new war, so I guess that's a feather in his cap.

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  10. Regarding Hillary Clinton's hearing, I glanced at her prepared testimony and didn't find much of interest one way or the other. I haven't looked at the questions and answers apart from what's been highlighted in the news, but there are a few questions on perspective that I'd be curious about, which I assume weren't posed.

    Were there any other embassies or diplomatic posts that faced escalating security incidents that summer, as Benghazi had? If so, were there any facing a more dire situation than Benghazi? What, if any, correlation was there between reported security incidents, actual attacks or demonstrations on 9/11/12, and the outcomes of those attacks or demonstrations (e.g., were there posts that were seemingly under a comparable threat but weren't attacked or survived the attack)?

    How many other embassies or posts requested more security and didn't get it, or got some but not as much as they requested, because of the limits on resources available? (Did any senator or representative mention that contract security guards at Embassy Kabul, no doubt one of the most heavily defended embassies in the world, were also complaining about insufficient security arrangements that summer? http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/01/17/mutiny_in_kabul)

    How many minor diplomatic posts have a security-to-diplomacy ratio to 3:1? The entire Benghazi post consisted of one diplomat and three Diplomatic Security officers (apart from Libyan guards and militiamen). On 9/11/12, that was temporarily elevated to two diplomats and five DS officers. (I believe 5 DS officers is all they ever requested for Benghazi, but I could be wrong about that.) During the above-mentioned bargaining, a bureaucrat in Washington might well have concluded that the place was almost entirely security.

    Do ambassadors actually expect to get the resources they request? The people in charge of Diplomatic Security, in testimony last October, described a situation in which requests set off a bargaining process between post and headquarters over what's needed and what's available to fill the need. Do ambassadors with experience in these matters aim high in their initial requests in order to improve their final outcome? If not, why don't they?

    And finally, how much of the accusations and insinuations made by senators and representatives do they really believe, and how much of it is mugging for the cameras? From the news reports, my favorite was the guy who complained that Clinton failed to read a cable from and ambassador who was about to be killed. If he knew the ambassador was about to be killed, I think he should have warned someone. Maybe, we should hold a hearing.

    The Benghazi attack was a horrible event, and it certainly deserves to be investigated. But I think some people are a little free with their hindsight accusations about what went wrong and who should have been able to foresee it. As noted in the title of a recent book, "Everything Is Obvious . . . Once You Know the Answer."

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    1. Why is five security officers the magic number? Do you have any idea how much security we have in Iraq?

      "From the news reports, my favorite was the guy who complained that Clinton failed to read a cable from and ambassador who was about to be killed. If he knew the ambassador was about to be killed, I think he should have warned someone."

      What makes you think that Rand Paul was reading diplomatic cables?

      Libya was a country we had recently bombed and is still putting the pieces back together after a brutal civil war. There had been recent violence against foreigners that caused both the British and the Red Cross to leave. The local consulate protection comprised of "local militia." The idea that Hilary's office would not have read these cables and that the Ambassador didn't have a direct line to either Hilary or the President, that's just inexcusable.

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    2. A couple points.

      1. If the main goal of our foreign service is to prevent them from being attacked, why even bother having them in any dangerous countries? Why not just not have a foreign presence in places like Libya? A lot of career diplomats have already said that over the past 10 years their jobs have become almost impossible as a lot of diplomats just hide all day in giant concrete bunkers and are unable to even interact with the countries they are in, so why even bother doing anything at all? No foreign presence in the middle east was make our diplomats a lot safer.

      2. If we are going to treat one attack on a consulate as some massive defeat, aren't we basically saying the war on terror is unwindable? I don't see why neo-issolationists like Rand Paul just don't come out and say it.

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    3. "If the main goal of our foreign service is to prevent them from being attacked, why even bother having them in any dangerous countries? Why not just not have a foreign presence in places like Libya?"

      Since the British actually did leave Benghazi, that's not the rhetorical question you seem to think it is. So yes, we could have at least left that one city. Security is important, but I don't see anyone arguing that it's the "main goal of our foreign service."

      2. We certainly can't "win" a war on a tactic. And it seems unlikely that we'll ever completely defeat Islamic extremism. What are you getting at?

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    4. I think what he's getting at is that the attacks on Clinton are made by hypocrites and repeated by the blindly partisan and poorly informed.

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    5. Seems to me that that is precisely the argument people like Rand Paul are making. If it is possible we could be attacked, we should run away. Since it is possible we can be attacked in any Middle Eastern country shouldn't we then remove all are diplomats from the Middle East then? Again, if the main problem is being attacked and being attacked is some kind of disaster, why bother having a presence there?

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    6. Long walk, that's a straw man. The British left Benghazi, they didn't leave every city in the middle east. We obviously have to accept a reasonable degree of risk. But where the risk level is elevated, we need to take measures to protect our people. Do you really disagree with this, or are you just trying to give me a hard time?

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    7. Hillary should definitely send a thank you latter to Republicans and FOX News. If they weren't so obsessed with nonsense (e.g. the Susan Rice/CIA coverup, "acts of terror") they could have been asking much harder questions on the security in Benghazi prior to the attack. The State Dept. and its defenders could cite hindsight bias, not having its embassies become fortresses, etc. But that would have been a perfect storm of "if you're explaining, you're losing".

      The best Benghazi conspiracy would be if they intentionally put errors in their initial public releases so people would be obsessed with those minor mistakes instead of the death of an ambassador. Similar to why Obama took so long to release his birth certificate--there's a part of him that likes to have crazy enemies.

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    8. Couves, I didn't say five was a magic number. I said that it was the number they requested. The most damaging charge against the State Department is that they didn't provide sufficient security. I haven't heard anyone define sufficient as more than they requested. (I take that back in part. The ARB charged that the security was inadequate to the attack that occurred, which goes without saying. The attack that occurred was never a scenario that was anticipated or planned for. To an extent, I suspect that was designed for a Congressional audience that was demanding outrage and would reject any report that they viewed as too complacent. On the other hand, Congress, or at least the House, complains about any and all money spent on a rich oil-producing country like Libya and has rejected or frozen requests for Libya-related projects, apart from cutting requested funds for Diplomatic Security in general.)

      Arguably, it was easier for the British to leave Benghazi because they knew the Americans would still be there and would probably share any information that they learned there. Benghazi was important precisely because it was so volatile, a powderkeg inside the larger Libyan powderkeg, and it is important to know what is going on there. Far from wanting to leave, Stevens, who knew better than anyone what Benghazi was like, was working actively to extend the length of the US diplomatic presence there.

      As a point of information, the FBI interviewed the people from Benghazi in Germany on September 15 and 16. So it was still in process when Rice was on TV. Why did she appear on TV? I assume because there are regularly scheduled interview shows that discuss what happened that week. She agreed to discuss the various events, including but not limited to Benghazi. She did say that the information was incomplete and she did say that al-Qaeda could turn out to be involved.

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    9. By the way, the president doesn't review embassies' requests for security and neither does the secretary of state. Below the secretary of state are two deputy secretaries of state, two more people who never see requests for embassy security. Below them are a number of undersecretaries of state, including the undersecretary for management. He might see the request, I suppose, if lower-level officials can't come to a decision and kick it upstairs for review, but that wasn't the case here. Below the undersecretaries are a host of assistant secretaries, including the assistant secretary for diplomatic security. That assistant secretary might very well hear about the request from the deputy assistant secretary for embassy security, who normally receives the request and responds with: "We're not budgeted for that. What if I can get you a couple of people on temporary duty for now and we'll see about later when it comes." It's the reality of a world of bureaucracy.

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    10. Scott, where do you get your information from? My understanding was that the Ambassador had requested more security than he had. If he got all he asked for, then I'm not sure why Hillary never mentioned that in her defense.

      What Susan Rice told us did not accurately represent what the state department knew at the time. From Sept. 13:

      "CNN reports that unnamed 'State Department officials' say the incident in Benghazi was a 'clearly planned military-type attack' unrelated to the anti-Muslim movie."
      http://www.factcheck.org/2012/10/benghazi-timeline/

      Our Libyan Ambassador should have had a direct line to either Hillary or the President. The idea that security requests from our Ambassador to a country that was in chaos and that we had been recently bombing were not seen by either Hillary or Obama is just inexcusable.

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    11. I get my information from the reports that have come out and from years of studying U.S. foreign policy and international affairs.

      I believe Stevens (or rather his Regional Security Officer, RSO) wanted five permanent DS officers in Benghazi. What he had were three on temporary duty. That was coincidentally raised to five (on temporary duty) because two accompanied him from Tripoli. I'm not saying he was satisfied in general, just that at the moment, the number was what he had requested (but no number that had been discussed would have sufficed in the situation that arose). Five permanent ones would have been preferable to either three or five who constantly had to be oriented and trained because of turnover. (The diplomat on duty was also temporary and left the day Stevens arrived, September 10. He had been in Benghazi a total of 13 days! Stevens was there filling in between temporary diplomats and apparently reestablishing old connections with the leaders of Benghazi.) Stevens also had requested more people (or the extension of people who had been there on temporary duty, including a Site Security Team [SST] led by an officer of the Utah National Guard), for Tripoli. Many commentators refer to these as demands for more security in "Libya" and imply that they were for Benghazi. Washington turned those down because armed Libyan guards were being trained for the job, but only in Tripoli, not in Benghazi.

      I haven't read everything, including a number of e-mails that the House Oversight Committee released and then retracted again because of classified information contained within. (Damn, if I had known I would have printed them out immediately.) I haven't seen a much quoted memo directly from Stevens that reportedly said Benghazi wouldn't withstand a direct assault, but that goes without saying. The embassy in Tripoli, a two-year-old state-of-the-art facility, had been ruined by a pro-Qadhafi mob just the year before.

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    12. Scott, I salute you for personally studying the issue... but call me skeptical. If the Ambassador was given all of the security he asked for in Benghazi, you can bet that Hillary would have used this in her own defense.

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  11. On an entirely unrelated question. From today's New York Times:

    “We were anxious to get back into the battle,” said Nick Ryan, a Republican strategist and the founder of the American Future Fund, which started as a small, Iowa-based political committee in 2007 and has grown larger since taking a leading role now against Mr. Hagel.

    So, do you suppose some PACs are opposing the Hagel nomination less out of ideology than as a way to promote themselves within the rightwing PAC world?

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    1. That, and the money that can be made from it. I don't think it necessarily accounts for all of the opposition to Hagel, but I suspect it accounts for about 99% of the ad-buying opposition.

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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