The Origin of Benghazi Fever

The day after the September 11, 2012 attacks on our compounds in Benghazi!, I was very irritated. I was very angry with the mob that stormed our consulate and killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. But I was also really appalled by the behavior of Mitt Romney.

The first thing on the 12th, I put together the following list:

Sequence of Events

1. Gaddafi says he’ll hunt down the terrorists of Benghazi like rats.
2. The United Nations intervenes, led by NATO.
3. Benghazi is saved and Gaddafi is hunted down like a rat.

4. Some fruit-loop makes a stupid YouTube about Mohammed.
5. The Embassy in Cairo realizes trouble is brewing and condemns the fruit-loop’s stupid YouTube about Mohammed.
6. Angry Muslims storm our consulate in Benghazi and kill our Ambassador and three other government employees with a rocket-propelled grenade.
7. Ignoring that 5. came before 6., Mitt Romney issues press release blasting the administration for reacting to the death of our ambassador by sympathizing with the murderers.

I took particular umbrage at the behavior of Mitt Romney, who had issued the press release on September 11, but recognizing the sensitivity of both the day and the tragedy, asked the press to embargo it until midnight. Then he apparently could not stop salivating about the potential of the tragedy to redound to his favor, so he went ahead and issued the press release to the public before midnight.

Also, notice what Romney was condemning. He was condemning the behavior of the State Department officials in Cairo who, sensing they might be about to be overrun by an angry mob that was protesting the “The Innocence of Muslims” YouTube, issued a condemnation of the online movie. Romney was falsely suggesting that this condemnation had taken place after our ambassador was killed and that we had essentially apologized to the people who had murdered him. That was risible enough, but it also shows that even Romney had the two events linked in his mind that morning.

Also note that I had my own facts wrong. Ambassador Stevens wasn’t killed by a RPM, but by smoke inhalation. Facts were in short supply and unreliable in the immediate days after the attack.

By September 15th, I was seething about Romney’s behavior, calling him a “taunting jerk” who lacked all sense of “dignity or decorum.” By October 1st, I was in disbelief that the Romney campaign was chortling with glee at the death of four Americans and predicted that they would get the taste slapped out of their mouths if they continued to politicize the tragedy.

And then came the “Please proceed, governor,” moment in the second debate when moderator Candy Crowley called Romney a lying, liar and Obama just sat there drinking in the “the sweet sweet nector of Mitt’s humiliation.”

That should have been the end of it. The right should have just hung their heads in shame that they had tried to exploit the death of four Americans. But that isn’t what happened, is it?

Instead, they decided to make Benghazi! for the Republican Party what the original 9/11 attacks were for Rudy Giuliani: “There’s only three things they mention in a sentence — a noun, a verb, and Benghazi!”

And, now, they try to turn the tables on us and accuse us of being insensitive about these four men’s deaths. You can see the lengths Nancy Pelosi goes to avoid charges of insensitivity in her letter to Speaker Boehner (pdf) rejecting his proposals for the Select Committee charged with investigating the Benghazi! attacks.

The American people expect us to work together in a fair, balanced and open manner. For the sake of the families of the brave Americans who died in this tragedy, the process must not be politicized.

I look forward to meeting with you as you suggested so that we can find a way forward that is worthy of the sacrifice of our heroes who lost their lives in Benghazi and their families. I am still hopeful that we can reach an agreement. Thank you for your immediate attention.

Sadly, the Republicans’ behavior on Benghazi! has turned the very word into a punch line. But the seeds of this outcome were evident even before the fires were put out at the consulate, when Mitt Romney couldn’t wait even a few hours to publicly accuse the State Department of apologizing to the people who murdered Ambassador Stevens.

36 comments for “The Origin of Benghazi Fever

  1. May 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Because the Republicans are moving forward on this, I think it’s time for Senate Democrats to open up some real hearings on 9/11. Why was Dick Clarke ignored? Was the August 6 PDB ignored? What really happened to our national security fabric in the weeks leading up to the attacks?

    If the GOP can froth at the mouth over four diplomatic personnel in Libya, it’s completely fair for Democrats to demand some facts about the deaths of ~3000 civilians. Lord knows that the American people, and especially the families devastated by 9/11, deserve some real answers for once.

  2. May 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Anyone that feels that both parties are the same is vastly uninformed. There is a very clear, stark difference.
    Currently the GOP is acting in a desperation mode. They counted very heavily on the Democratic Party members in the House to willing become members of their Benghazi witch-hunt. Now that the Democratic Party members have rejected to validate this show. The GOP is running around like chickens with their heads chopped off. Those GOP members that know party history are reminded of the major political backlash of the  1990’s when the party tried this tactic before. The cost was very real and hurt the GOP. They have in effect opened up a Pandora box of political ruin for themselves. By daring to fund raise on the tragic deaths of 4 Americans.
    Their choices and actions have sent them sliding into political destruction.

  3. Oui
    May 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Who tried to prophet profit from the prophet film?

    Has it been cleared up who paid for the last Arabic dubbing of the film “Innocence of Muslims” making it Islamophobic with release date early September 2012 in the Arab states?

    After the Benghazi attacks, many extremists besides Republicans with Mitt Romney, tried to reap benefits …

    ○ Claim made by Al Qaeda and a video message by Al Zawahiri released hours before the attack
    ○ Claim by Ansar al-Islam on the night of the attack and in days after
    ○ Benefit Israel on Iran attack by hurting re-election chances of President Obama, DebkaFile said to be Israeli intelligence ‘sources’ [cached version only]
    ○ Harsh words by Charles Krauthammer
    ○ Islamophobess like Middle-East Forum of the likes of Daniel Pipes

    My post in BooMan’s fp story in above link:
    Classic Funding for Clash of Civilization Rage
    Part of my diary posted last night. The rage in Egypt started on September 5 after filmmaker promoted his film Muhammad on Facebook.
    Social media has benefited the Arab uprising, the mobs cannot always be controlled.

    “The 14-minute clip, which Sadek first posted on his Facebook page Sept 5, attacked basic tenets of the Islam and suggested that the
    religion had spread only because the prophet told those he encountered to “pay extortion or die” if they didn’t convert.”

  4. May 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Lost in this debate is a more important question… to me anyway… why were they there?  What vital national interest was served by having this presence is a cesspool of hatred, violence, and fanaticism?  

    There wasn’t one.  The stupid republicans won’t point this out because they love war, but sensible progressives are too defensive to question of the logic of the whole damn thing.

    So when some american gets killed in Nigeria trying to rescue those girls the Obama’s want to save, remember what will come after.  If we want to be the world’s police force… if we want to spend our tax dollars defending the defenseless in every corner of the planet, then do it… and fund it… and for the weepy hand wringers bemoaning our violent human nature, perhaps you should join the police force.

    Don’t come crying to me for sympathy when it ends like Benghazi.  

  5. May 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Three days later, 9/14/12, Romney on ABC went on and on about the statement issued by the Cairo Embassy before protestors had breached and walls and over twelve hours before anything happened in Benghazi.  

    STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, there has been quite a controversy in the last couple of days, since those killings in Libya, the chaos in the Middle East.  And we heard some of that at your event today. President Obama has stepped in as well.  He said your comments on Tuesday night displayed a tendency of yours to “shoot first and aim later.”  What’s your response?
    MITT ROMNEY: Well, early on, with the developments in Egypt, the embassy there put out a statement which stayed up on their website for, I think, 14-15 hours.
    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But before the protestors had breached the wall.
    MITT ROMNEY: Well, it first went up before they breached the wall.  But it stayed up.  And they reiterated the statement after they breached the wall, even after some of the tragedy in Libya, the statement stayed up.  And I thought the statement was inappropriate and pointed that out.  And of course, the White House also thought it was inappropriate.  But of course, now our attention is focused on the loss of life and the tragedy of having a remarkable ambassador and diplomatic members, have their lives taken.  This is a great sadness and tragedy for America.

    Repeated “inappropriate” wrt the US Cairo Embassy statement several more times and cited Obama WH agreement with Romney’s criticism.  “Inappropriate” was also his criticism of the anti-Muslim movie trailer.  Not once did he utter the words “terrorism,” “terrorist,” “al Qaeda,” or even “Benghazi.”  Nor did he dispute that the events in Cairo, Egypt, or Libya  were in response to the  anti-Muslim movie trailer.  Curious that three days later, Cairo figured more in what he had been prepared to speak about than Libya.  (Takes a while for old guys to learn their lines.)  

  6. May 10, 2014 at 11:08 am

    For the GOP, Benghazi means desperation.

    Lest your underestimate this, remember that “death panels” meant desperation as well–and so did “birth certificate”.

    And it was the lying Wall Street media that gave both of those traction.

    Horse race means close election means more ad revenue for media.

    Interesting how that works.

  7. May 10, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Your Libya timeline leaves out the US/NATO/EU/Israel-led invasion and occupation, and the tens of thousands of soldiers we have left there today. Because, you see, there’s oil there. And if there’s oil there, we’ll never leave.

    Just like Iraq. Everyone knows we’ll never leave Iraq. Not while the oil is there. And that’s why we’ll never leave Afghanistan, either. And the same reason why we invaded Syria.

    Because imperialism. And oil. And it’s always imperialism. And oil It’s the only reason why the US does anything

    It’s always about oil, regardless of what we might say.

    Oh, people will quibble and say there aren’t any troops in Syria and Libya. And that there’s no oil in Afghanistan. But those are just quibbles!

    This is the just most important way, out of hundreds, that both parties are the same.

  8. May 10, 2014 at 10:06 am

    How depressing is it that while the worlds’ climate is slowly imploding, the American middle class is quickly becoming an historical footnote in our school books, we are once again re-fighting the notion of civil rights and have a large minority, not mention a major political party, questioning the legitimacy of the outcome of our own Civil War; that the majority of our elected government is going to spend the bulk of the next 18 months doing the equivalent of chasing rabbits down holes and trying to capture vapors in a butterfly net about what happened in Benghazi?

    What a bunch of dumb, stupid fuckers we are.

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