Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
The White House last week sent Howard Bashford to rebut the inflammatory testimony of the Benghazi whistleblowers.
Bashford, President Obama’s deputy associate undersecretary for media affairs, appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He led off by explaining the administration’s initial – and continued – assertion that the assault on our consulate was the result of a spontaneous protest about an offensive, anti-Islam video. A transcript of his testimony follows:
Bashford: “We once – at one time we really thought – I mean we believed at one point during the incident that it was a spontaneous demonstration about an offensive video. And let me say as an aside that anybody viewing that video would recognize that it should have been offensive to Muslims and it was natural for us to conclude that Muslims in Cairo and later in Benghazi were offended, or would have been offended had they actually seen it.
“We were sure some Muslims were offended, and probably were offended to the extent that they would have demonstrated against the video, given the chance to see it. And somebody in a position to know – in the CIA, I think – said the Benghazi assault was such a demonstration. That authoritative surmise made our position true, as far as we were concerned – and we were concerned, deeply concerned, about the whole thing.
“Because at the time we thought it was true, it’s logical that it should have been true five days later, when Ambassador Susan Rice went on all those television shows and asserted it as fact, and if it was true five days later, it must have been true 14 days later when President Obama repeated the offensive video story – that is, the video was offensive, not that the story was offensive – repeated the story at the United Nations.
“You ask if it wasn’t a lie? I find the very idea mean-spirited. We know some people in right-wing talk radio have said the offensive video story was a lie, and that is a characterization we find unduly harsh. It may have been that the story wasn’t currently true when the president repeated it, but remember, it was in our view true at one time, so the president was merely telling an outdated version of the truth.
“Later, other facts became true, in the sense that they were facts that were unavoidable, and I think it only fair to point out that we have since endorsed the later version of the truth, so to say we lied when in fact we are current with the truth is logically impossible.
“What’s that, Mr. Chairman? Stand down? Who ordered the Tripoli relief team to stand down? Now, how much sense does that make? You stand up; you don’t stand down.
“You say somebody gave the team a ‘don’t go’ order when it was already at the airport? We’ve heard that allegation and we’ve looked at the matter from every possible angle, and all we can figure is somebody in the team asked if they should return to the airport terminal, and somebody else – we can’t imagine who – said, ‘Don’t! … Go!’ The team misinterpreted this as a don’t-go order.
“It was a natural misunderstanding and we’re very sorry about the confusion. But you have to understand: It was a very confusing situation.
“Excuse me? Oh, no, congressman. It had completely slipped our mind that it was Sept. 11. We – meaning President Obama and his entire senior staff, including the secretary of defense and the secretary of state – we were all so caught up in our drive to rebuild the middle class that nobody even looked at the calendar. You know, every day is Labor Day at the White House. We’re always laboring – yes we are – to serve the American people. Ha ha.
“No, Sir. How could we connect the assaults in Cairo and Benghazi with Sept. 11 if we didn’t know it was Sept. 11?
“Did we hinder the so-called whistleblowers’ testimony? Certainly not. Didn’t the president say he was unfamiliar with the entire idea? Even if somebody did hinder their testimony – and I’m sure nobody did – the president would be much too busy to know about it.
“What? No! Not ‘too busy fundraising.’ It’s clear you’re politicizing the whole issue.
“Besides, Benghazi was a long time ago. As Secretary of State Clinton said earlier, at this point in time, what difference does it make?
“I beg your pardon? The truth makes a difference to Americans? If that is true, how do you explain the last election?”