Yet More Non-Scandal Over Benghazi

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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.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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