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Washington Post Fact-Checker Gives Obama ‘Four Pinocchios’ on Benghazi Claim

Posted by on May. 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM
  • 4 Replies

Eight months after the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, the debate on whether President Barack Obama immediately identified the incident as a terrorist attack continues.

The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism,” Obama said at a press conference on Monday. Though Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler has written several times before about what exactly Obama actually said that day and what he meant, Kessler is once again examining the issue. This time, he’s turning up the heat.

“The president’s claim that he said ‘act of terrorism’ is taking revisionist history too far,” Kessler wrote in a post Tuesday, “given that [Obama] repeatedly refused to commit to that phrase when asked directly by reporters in the weeks after the attack.”

Kessler noted (once again) that though Obama did actually use the phrase “act of terror” after the attack, it was done “in vague terms, usually wrapped in a patriotic fervor.” In essence, it wasn’t clear that Obama was specifically referring to the Benghazi attack as a terrorist attack when he said “act of terror.” Most importantly, Obama didn’t say “terrorism” at all the day after the attack. He said “act of terror” and in subsequent remarks, declined to address the incident as a terrorist attack.

Indeed, in an interview with CBS immediately after the Benghazi attack, Obama was asked if he believed it was “a terrorist attack.” Obama responded, “It’s too early to know how this came about, what group was involved. But obviously it was an attack on Americans.” He continued, “I don’t want to jump the gun on this.”

Splitting hairs? Kessler preemptively defended himself from that charge in a previous post:

The Fact Checker spent nine years as diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, and such nuances of phrasing are often very important. A president does not simply utter virtually the same phrase three times in two days about a major international incident without careful thought about the implications of each word.

In previous posts on the topic, Kessler has not issued any “Pinocchios” for Obama’s claim that he immediately labeled the Benghazi incident as a terrorist attack. In the latest post, however, Kessler gives Obama four. According to the rating scale, four Pinocchios is reserved for claims believed to be “whoppers.”

Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House national security council, previously defended the administration from Kessler’s assessment on the issue, noting that former President George W. Bush used the phrase “act of terror” while visiting victims hospitalized by the 9/11 terrorist attack.

by on May. 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM
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Replies (1-4):
-Celestial-
by Pepperlynn on May. 14, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Semantics...

sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on May. 14, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Robert Gates on Benghazi: ‘There just wasn’t time’

Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who began his tenure under  President George W. Bush in 2006 and retired in 2011, has never been one to mince words. Famously blunt and skeptical even as a senior CIA official during the Reagan administration, Gates has become, as is often the case with top intelligence and military officials in retirement, even blunter after leaving office.

Gates, appearing this weekend on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” discussed the ongoing controversy over the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. Critics have charged that the Obama administration could have pursued a more aggressive response that might have saved the lives of the four Americans killed in those attacks. But Gates pushed back on that idea, arguing that the most-discussed possible responses might appear viable in hindsight but were not so at the time. Here are Gates’s comments, as noted by Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations:

I only know what I have read in the media. I haven’t had any briefings or anything. And I think the one place where I might be able to say something useful has to do with some of the talk about the military response. And I listened to the testimony of both Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey. And frankly had I been in the job at the time I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were. We don’t have a ready force standing by in the Middle East. Despite all the turmoil that’s going on, with planes on strip alert, troops ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. And so getting somebody there in a timely way – would have been very difficult, if not impossible. And frankly, I’ve heard, “Well, why didn’t you just fly a fighter jet over and try and scare ‘em with the noise or something?” Well, given the number of surface to air missiles that have disappeared from Gaddafi’s arsenals, I would not have approved sending an aircraft, a single aircraft – over Benghazi under those circumstances.

With respect to sending in special forces or a small group of people to try and provide help, based on everything I have read, people really didn’t know what was going on in Benghazi contemporaneously. And to send some small number of special forces or other troops in without knowing what the environment is, without knowing what the threat is, without having any intelligence in terms of what is actually going on on the ground, I think, would have been very dangerous. And personally, I would not have approved that because we just don’t it’s sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces. The one thing that our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm’s way. And there just wasn’t time to do that.”

Zenko, a skeptic of U.S. military involvement, also pointed out this telling passage from Gates’s 1996 memoir, “From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How they Won the Cold War.”

It was my experience over the years that one of the biggest misimpressions held by the public has been that our military is always straining at the leash, wanting to use force in any situation. The reality is just the opposite. In more than twenty years attending meetings in the Situation Room, my experience was that the biggest doves in Washington wear uniforms. Our military leaders have seen too many half-baked ideas for the use of military force advanced in the Situation Room by hairy-chested civilians who have never seen combat or fired a gun in anger.

Gates is hinting here at two things: both at a popular misunderstanding of how top military leaders think (if you’ve ever watched TV shows such as “24″ or “The West Wing,” you might perceive generals as the hawks in the room) and at the dynamic between military and civilian leaders. Just because military leaders believe one policy is preferable does not make it so. But it is revealing that those who are least familiar with the use of military force in complicated and difficult situations — say, an ongoing firefight in the middle of the night in a Middle Eastern city — seem to often hold far more confidence in the abilities of military tools than do people like Gates, who have more experience applying them.


Voters trust Clinton over GOP on Benghazi

PPP's newest national poll finds that Republicans aren't getting much traction with their focus on Benghazi over the last week. Voters trust Hillary Clinton over Congressional Republicans on the issue of Benghazi by a 49/39 margin and Clinton's +8 net favorability rating at 52/44 is identical to what it was on our last national poll in late March. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans remain very unpopular with a 36/57 favorability rating.

Voters think Congress should be more focused on other major issues right now rather than Benghazi. By a 56/38 margin they say passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill is more important than continuing to focus on Benghazi, and by a 52/43 spread they think passing a bill requiring background checks for all gun sales should be a higher priority.

While voters overall may think Congress' focus should be elsewhere there's no doubt about how mad Republicans are about Benghazi. 41% say they consider this to be the biggest political scandal in American history to only 43% who disagree with that sentiment. Only 10% of Democrats and 20% of independents share that feeling. Republicans think by a 74/19 margin than Benghazi is a worse political scandal than Watergate, by a 74/12 margin that it's worse than Teapot Dome, and by a 70/20 margin that it's worse than Iran Contra.

One interesting thing about the voters who think Benghazi is the biggest political scandal in American history is that 39% of them don't actually know where it is. 10% think it's in Egypt, 9% in Iran, 6% in Cuba, 5% in Syria, 4% in Iraq, and 1% each in North Korea and Liberia with 4% not willing to venture a guess.

At any rate what we're finding about last week's Benghazi focus so far is that Republicans couldn't be much madder about it, voters overall think Congress should be focused on other key issues, and Hillary Clinton's poll numbers aren't declining on account of it.

Full results here

-Celestial-
by Pepperlynn on May. 14, 2013 at 11:15 AM


Quote:

 noting that former President George W. Bush used the phrase “act of terror” while visiting victims hospitalized by the 9/11 terrorist attack.

sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on May. 14, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Keep going republinuts...you are electing a Democrat in 2016


Voters trust Clinton over GOP on Benghazi

PPP's newest national poll finds that Republicans aren't getting much traction with their focus on Benghazi over the last week. Voters trust Hillary Clinton over Congressional Republicans on the issue of Benghazi by a 49/39 margin and Clinton's +8 net favorability rating at 52/44 is identical to what it was on our last national poll in late March. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans remain very unpopular with a 36/57 favorability rating.

Voters think Congress should be more focused on other major issues right now rather than Benghazi. By a 56/38 margin they say passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill is more important than continuing to focus on Benghazi, and by a 52/43 spread they think passing a bill requiring background checks for all gun sales should be a higher priority.

While voters overall may think Congress' focus should be elsewhere there's no doubt about how mad Republicans are about Benghazi. 41% say they consider this to be the biggest political scandal in American history to only 43% who disagree with that sentiment. Only 10% of Democrats and 20% of independents share that feeling. Republicans think by a 74/19 margin than Benghazi is a worse political scandal than Watergate, by a 74/12 margin that it's worse than Teapot Dome, and by a 70/20 margin that it's worse than Iran Contra.

One interesting thing about the voters who think Benghazi is the biggest political scandal in American history is that 39% of them don't actually know where it is. 10% think it's in Egypt, 9% in Iran, 6% in Cuba, 5% in Syria, 4% in Iraq, and 1% each in North Korea and Liberia with 4% not willing to venture a guess.

At any rate what we're finding about last week's Benghazi focus so far is that Republicans couldn't be much madder about it, voters overall think Congress should be focused on other key issues, and Hillary Clinton's poll numbers aren't declining on account of it.

Full results here

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