Watch out for Petraeus in Benghazi scandal: Second Term Scandals
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Call it ‚ÄúOval Office Couch Syndrome.‚ÄĚ
By the second term ‚Äúinside the bubble,‚ÄĚ presidents have completely lost touch with reality: Aides and confidants conspire to keep the chief executive insulated from the real world ‚ÄĒ the bad news, the worse press coverage. They think it‚Äôs their job, and lounging on the Oval Office couches, they nod along with the president‚Äôs every musing.
But this presidency has taken OOCS to new heights ‚ÄĒ Mr. Obama has only a few trusted aides, and occasional leaks from the West Wing show a paranoid president suspicious of nearly everyone around him. Supremely confident, convinced by the fawning minions at his feet that he is untouchable, the president dismisses all controversy as partisan attacks by an overzealous opposition. A pliant press corps of stenographers follows in lockstep.
Not surprisingly, every president in the past 60 years has had a major scandal in Term Two: Dwight Eisenhower had the U-2 ‚Äúincident‚ÄĚ; Richard Nixon had Watergate; Ronald Reagan had Iran-Contra; Bill Clinton had Monica (literally); George W. Bush had Katrina (and let‚Äôs not forget those WMDs that never turned up); and now, this president hasBenghazi.
For months before, there were warnings about weak security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya; no one paid attention. During the attack, when Americans were begging for help, the White House ignored their pleas, sent no help.
And after? That‚Äôs when the Obama scandal falls into the predictable second-term pattern his predecessors all learned the very hard way. Faced with a crisis, the Obama White House panicked: ‚ÄúWe can‚Äôt have a terrorist strike two months before Election Day, so ‚Ä¶ let‚Äôs not have a terrorist strike two months before Election Day.‚ÄĚ Cue the Cover-up.
So little is known about what happened in Benghazi: Where was the commander in chief that night? No pictures from the Situation Room this time. Why didn‚Äôt the Pentagon authorize a quick-response team to swoop in? Military members say they were ready ‚ÄĒ burning ‚ÄĒ to go. The call came in: Stand down. Let them die. There were dozens of witnesses to the attack that night: Where are they? What do they know? What really happened that night?
And who forced the heavy-handed redactions of those infamous ‚Äútalking points,‚ÄĚ the ones that sent Mr. Obama‚Äôs ambassador to the United Nations onto the Sunday talk shows to declare that the attack was just the culmination of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube?
Carnival barker Jay Carney looked almost ashen Friday as he took the podium to face a suddenly invigorated press corps. Of course, the public briefing came after a private session with ‚Äúreporters who matter,‚ÄĚ a sure sign the White House is in full hunker-down mode ‚ÄĒ and, more precisely, terrified.
‚ÄúAgain,‚ÄĚ one newly curious reporter asked, ‚Äúwhat role did the White House play, not just in making but in directing changes that took place to these?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWell,‚ÄĚ the carney said, ‚Äúthank you for that question. The way to look at this, I think, is to start from that week and understand that in the wake of the attacks in Benghazi, an effort was underway to find out what happened, who was responsible. In response to a request from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to the CIA, the CIA began a process of developing points that could be used in public by members of Congress, by members of that committee. And that process, as is always the case ‚ÄĒ again, led by the CIA ‚ÄĒ involved input from a variety of ‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
Enough. You get the point: Full Spin Cycle.
‚ÄúThat is what was generated by the intelligence community, by the CIA,‚ÄĚ he said.
For the record, this is what the CIA ‚Äúgenerated‚ÄĚ: ‚ÄúSince April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants.‚ÄĚ That line was stricken: Everything was fine there ‚ÄĒ fine fine fine.
And: ‚ÄúWe do know that that Islamic extremists with ties to Al Qaeda participated in the attack.‚ÄĚ That line, too, was deleted by ‚Ä¶ someone. Instead, this was inserted: ‚ÄúThere are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.‚ÄĚ
Despite protestations by the White House, this scandal is just beginning. And the White House has picked a very bad scapegoat: the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA follows RFK‚Äôs edict: ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt get mad, get even.‚ÄĚ And when the CIA gets even, it isn‚Äôt pretty.
With the White House putting all blame on the agency, expect push back this week ‚ÄĒ nuclear push back. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former director forced to resign after a sex scandal, is a dangerous man to the Obama administration. Mad and intent on getting even, he‚Äôs already talking, telling one reporter the talking points were ‚Äúuseless‚ÄĚ and he preferred not to use them at all. The floodgates will open this week, and by EOB Friday, the scandal will be full blown.
A warning to those West Wing sycophants suffering from acute OOCS: Don‚Äôt walk down any dark alleys.