Yet More Non-Scandal Over Benghazi

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

As usual, I’m trying to figure out just where the scandal over Benghazi is supposed to lie. Last night, CBS News breathlessly released three emails sent to the State Department on the day of the attacks. Two of them were reports that the compound in Benghazi was under assault. Here’s the third:

And this proves….what? Both Obama and Hillary Clinton talked from the start about the attacks being the work of extremist elements. Susan Rice and Jay Carney later suggested that there had been protests outside the consulate and that a YouTube video had played a role in instigating the attack, but that’s because this is what the CIA was telling them at the time. What’s more, to this day there’s still evidence that the video played a role. (An opportunistic one, probably, but a role nonetheless.) As for the charge that Obama was trying to downplay al-Qaeda involvement, that’s not because he was trying to hold onto his reputation as the guy who killed bin Laden. It’s because Ansar al-Sharia was a homegrown group with virtually no connection to al-Qaeda central. There really was no al-Qaeda involvement.

This is crazy. Where does this stuff keep coming from? Based on the evidence we know today, the worst you can say about the White House is that they didn’t do a very good job of coordinating the messages being delivered to the public by all the various agencies. Beyond that, it took about a week for everyone to get on the same page because that’s how long it took before the intelligence community had a good handle on what actually happened. There’s just no scandal here.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.