White House Couldn’t Get Benghazi Story Straight

Whenever post-mortems try to explain why we were not prepared for or didn’t deal better with some disaster, “a failure to communicate” is frequently pointed to as the villain. The FBI doesn’t talk to the CIA, the CIA doesn’t play well with State’s and Defense’s intelligence organizations, etc. The Benghazi bungle, however, may be one of the first in which the White House doesn’t communicate well with … itself.

I’m not referring to Vice President Biden’s preposterous claim in his debate with Paul Ryan that “we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again.” I’m referring to statements two days apart from the president and his spokesman:

In an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sept. 12,

Obama downplayed the notion the attack was mob violence, as was thought to be the case with a demonstration in Cairo, Egypt.

“You’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt, and my suspicion is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start,” Obama told CBS News.

But two days later White House press secretary Jay Carney argued the opposite:

This is a fairly volatile situation, and it is in response not to U.S. policy, not to, obviously, the administration, not to the American people. It is in response to a video – a film – that we have judged to be reprehensive and disgusting. That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it. But this is not a case of protests directed at the United States, writ large, or at U.S. policy. This is in response to a video that is offensive and – to Muslims.

And that was the story the administration stuck to for nearly two weeks, until it collapsed of its own weightlessness.

I would be tempted to say that this is an administration that shoots first and aims later, except that I don’t see much evidence of aiming.


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