Standing on the Corpses of Giants Part III: The Transcript Truthers
Having invested so much effort in seeking to exploit the tragic deaths during the 9/11 Benghazi US consulate attack over the past few weeks, Mitt Romney and his followers thought he had president Obama cornered last night during the second Presidential Debate. It ... didn’t work out so well (transcript from TPM).
MR. ROMNEY: ... I think it’s interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed.
MR. ROMNEY: Is that what you’re saying?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.
MR. ROMNEY: I – I – I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Get the transcript.
MS. CROWLEY: It – he did in fact, sir.
So let me – let me call it an act of terrorism – (inaudible) –
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Laughter, applause.)
Now, for some reason, after the event moderator Candy Crowley felt she had to walk back her devastating factcheck of Romney’s claim.* Media Matters has already covered the flailing post-debate pushback about this issue from the usual suspects—Malkin, the Breitbartlets, Fox News, Romney’s own camp—calling them “Transcript Truthers”. Judge for yourself.
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.
Adjudication about the continued nitpicking of Romney’s related charge that “the Obama administration spent two weeks telling Americans the attacks were about ‘a tape and this riot outside the Benghazi consulate, which there wasn’t,’” will have to await the outcome of the official commission—after the election, to the Republicans’ dismay—but here’s the New York Times:
After a month of conflicting statements and partisan criticism, the circumstances surrounding the attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, have become clouded in ambiguities and questions: Did the attack grow out of anger against an American-made video mocking the Prophet Muhammad, or was it waged by an affiliate of Al Qaeda out to mark the 11th anniversary of its attack on United States soil?
To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video. That is what the fighters said at the time, speaking emotionally of their anger at the video without mentioning Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or the terrorist strikes of 11 years earlier. And it is an explanation that tracks with their history as a local militant group determined to protect Libya from Western influence.
“It was the Ansar al-Shariah people,” said Mohamed Bishari, a 20-year-old neighbor who watched the assault and described the brigade he saw leading the attack. “There was no protest or anything of that sort.”
United States intelligence agencies have reserved final judgment pending a full investigation, leaving open the possibility that anger at the video might have provided an opportunity for militants who already harbored anti-American feelings.
The mischief the Republicans have sought to make—as much as it’s focused at all—has centered on the question of whether this was an al Qaeda attack, since the Obama administration can claim to have severely weakened that organization. They don’t want their old, useful bogeyman to die. But “al Qaeda” was initially just a descriptive term for loosely allied terrorists, and those who identify themselves as such have never been noted for handing out membership cards:
United States intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said they intercepted boastful phone calls after the fact from attackers at the mission to individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. But they have also said that so far they had found no evidence of planning or instigation by the group. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, described the participation of individuals “linked to groups affiliated with or sympathetic with Al Qaeda” — acknowledging, at best, a tenuous or indirect link.
“It is a promiscuous use of ‘Al Qaeda,’” Michael Hanna, a researcher at the Century Foundation, said of those charging that Al Qaeda was behind this attack. “It can mean anything or nothing at all.”
As you can see, it’s complicated. The appropriate course of action seems to be to wait for the findings of the commission. The administration may have acted to avenge the deaths long before then. That may shut Romney up if nothing else does.
* Just a little endnote since the straw-clutching by the Borg and allies at the moment is THAT desperate—when I said above, “for some reason, after the event moderator Candy Crowley felt she had to walk back her devastating factcheck of Romney’s claim,” I was referring to her overgenerous attempt to cede that even though Romney was plainly
wrong lying in his allegation about Obama having taken 14 days to refer to “acts of terror” or any grammatical variants of that combination of concepts, he had some sort of point about “they spent two weeks telling us this was about a tape and that there was a—you know, this riot outside the Benghazi consulate, which there wasn’t,” which was completely talked over in the hurly-burly of the debate, but she repeated on CNN afterwards.
CNN’s Candy Crowley is debunking a claim pushed by the right-wing media that she walked back a fact check of Mitt Romney’s remarks about the attack in Libya during the second presidential debate.
On the strength of the eyewitness reports in the NYT article I cite above, I don’t even cede Crowley’s unnecessarily concilatory point to Mitt, which is why I called it a “walkback.” I’m glad she’s trying to set the record straight, but the Borg aren’t in a listening mood, least of all to her at this point.