The gist of a cable received by the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on Aug. 16 this year, summarized an emergency meeting convened a day before at the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya.
The post could not be defended in the case of a coordinated attack. Such an attack was in the air, as Benghazi was home to “approximately ten Islamist militias” raring to go. The compound was small and understaffed. It lacked “the manpower, security measures, and weapons capabilities” to repel an all-out assault.
The cable laid out before Mrs. Clinton’s Emergency Action Committee what Fox News’ Catherine Herridge described, on Oct. 31, as “specific warnings” and “detailed intelligence.”
Fox News has been covering the Benghazi story wall-to-wall; the other cable news stations not at all. However, one specific snippet buried in the telegram was too fraught for the folks at Fox to probe.
In “liberated” Libya, the American outpost was also up against limited “host nation support.”
This was a coordinated attack on a despised presence, timed for the 9/11 anniversary. Living under de facto American occupation had enraged the occupied. Anathema to “free” Americans, this generic creature had evinced similar rage when he lived under Genghis Bush, in Iraq.
At first, the eminence grise of American opinion makers – left and right, Republican and Democrat – got behind the central conceit floated by the Obama administration. The Arab world had once again erupted because of those of us who dared to insult Muhammad, jihad’s muse. As the other set of despots used to intimate during its tenure in D.C., the perennial Muslim rioter resented the freedoms of our pole dancers, potty-mouthed entertainers and loud, loutish politicians.
From the stuff that makes us “free,” these proxies for American power always exclude the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), authorized to hound us till world’s end, the alphabet soup of regulation agencies that prosecutes and regiments our best and brightest to the gills, the War on Drugs that assumes dominion over the most precious piece of real estate we own – our bodies – a welfare state that has been likened “not [to] a principality, but [to] a vast empire bigger than the entire budgets of almost every other country in the world,” and a warfare complex that gobbles up so much wealth and so many men, ours and others around the world.
As soon as it was discovered that these things – the accoutrements of a “wonderfully” messy democracy – could not be blamed for the attack on the Benghazi Mission, most media fell silent.
Reportorial bifurcation is not unusual among big media, which include Fox. In the ramp-up to a Republican president’s unjust war on Iraq, Fox gave the Shrub and his administration a complete pass, while other cable TV exposed the corrupt Republicans rather well.
Then the guard changed. To America’s pundits (libertarians excepted), the changing of the guard in D.C. signals a switch of positions. Whereas MSNBC, CNN, CBS and ABC were more likely to expose the execrable Bush administration – under Obama they quickly assumed the position occupied previously by the Fox News network during the Bush years: defenders of D.C.
Almost all pundits you follow, libertarians excepted, are but seasonal defenders of D.C., faction members in Rome’s vast, (sub)intellectual Comitatus.
The consulate in Benghazi, moreover, was a standard U.S. government operation. After the Islamic onslaught, as before it, full-on access was there for all who wanted it. Arwa Damon of CNN told of a crime scene unsecured; locals coming and going, rummaging through the compound and taking token mementos (paid for by U.S. taxpayers).
Indeed, Benghazi-gate is unremarkable in the grand scheme of American politics. The Dems and Republicans are clashing here not over principles but over procedural mishaps. Namely, what happened? How did it happen? Who covered it up? And, above all, how do we return to doing what we did before IT happened? “IT” being the Sept. 11 attack on the compound in Libya that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and “three other,” mostly faceless Americans dead.
Viewed through the two-party prism – and the mollusks that attach themselves to the system – Americans need to know this and no more: How to acquire diplomatic immunity from the perils of occupation and assorted foreign-policy adventurism.
At the moment, the media mollusks are not for peace; they’re for Barack Obama. They’ll continue to depict this war president as your good kind of killer; a thoughtful, great leader who agonizes over his kill lists with excruciating care.
Would that “host nation” hostility to the American presence in Libya deterred future diplomats from “duty.” Alas, it won’t.
In practical terms, what Benghazi-gate will mean is that America’s dwindling tax base will fork out for Green-Zone fortresses everywhere, rather than divest from democratizing the world.