Now, in a criminal courtroom, taking a grenade launcher to a political demonstration would be considered evidence of premeditation. Just as, in a rational world, the phrase “extremist elements with heavy weapons” would be seen as synonymous with “terrorist.” Indeed, somewhat to Mitt Romney’s subsequent embarrassment, President Obama had already described the Benghazi tragedy as an “act of terror” on September 12.
However, many observers suspected a more elaborate plot. So on Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer asked Rice a pointed question: Was there—as one Libyan politician had claimed—evidence of a link to al Qaeda?
Rice answered cautiously. “We do not have information at present,” she said, “that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.”
Then she added — and do pay attention, conspiracy theorists, because this last bit has eluded some of our esteemed Washington press corps’ deepest thinkers — “It’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself, I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.”
Got that? Contrary to Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Charles Krauthammer, senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and their many followers in the so-called “mainstream” media, such as Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank and New York Times resident fruitcake Maureen Dowd, Rice never denied that the Benghazi tragedy was a terrorist attack.
Why on Earth would she? Why would anybody? Furthermore, Rice specifically speculated that al Qaeda might be responsible—not that U.S. intelligence has established a connection even at this late date. “Meanwhile,” Bob Somerby asks “why wouldn’t ‘al Qaeda sympathizers’ take part in a spontaneous demonstration over the anti-Muslim video?”
Yet even CBS’s Schieffer has joined the attack. Interviewing the irascible Sen. McCain, Schieffer pointedly endorsed his highly inaccurate version of Rice’s comments — characterizations directly contradicted by transcripts of his own program.
“The dirty little secret here,” writes The Washington Post’s David Ignatius, “is that our intelligence analysts don’t know, even now, how all these factors came together outside the consulate on the night of September 11 so that the consulate was overrun.”
Alas, the rest of us have come to understand all too well the chronic ineptitude of our nation’s celebrity press corps.
Photo credit: AP/Evan Vucci
Copyright 2012 The National Memo