Amidst all the leaks and angles some have forgotten the diary or "journal" found by a CNN crew in the burned-out diplomatic mission 3 days after the attack. CNN contacted the family of Ambassador Stevens and the State Dept to coordinate, eventually passing the journal back to family members with an agreement not to quote directly from it, especially personal things.
Trouble is, they had a scoop. What to do? At the time the president was not remotely insisting it was 'an act of terror', rather, his minions were out blaming the Mohammed video. CNN had evidence the attack might be a little more involved than a protest mob but couldn't directly report on it.
So they found a way. Several days after the Rice media blitz on Sunday September 17th and the 60 Minutes episode where Obama zinged Romney for 'shooting first then aiming' (which dropped Obama's comment of September 14 saying the attack in Benghazi was different than Cairo) CNN came along with their scoop about Stevens being on an "al Qaeda hit list" and warning about increasing extremism in the area based on reports from those who knew him.
The White House had to know they had been betrayed. They had to know exactly where that story originated--after all they were consulted when the documents were found. They were doing a lot of work to focus everyone on the video, so a day later Hillary addressed the story about the 'hit list' by going to a nuclear level nobody could have ever imagined, insinuating that CNN was lying:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today there is "no information" the American ambassador killed in a brazen attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya was on an al Qaeda hit list. Clinton said she had "no reason to believe that there's any basis for that," apparently referring to a report by CNN in which an unnamed source "familiar with Ambassador [Christopher] Stevens' thinking" said that the ambassador believed he was on such a list.Enter Anderson Cooper, who went on his 360 program shortly thereafter to defend their honor by explaining exactly where they got the information--from Stevens himself:
"It's our job to inform you of information that's important," he said. "This was not broadcasting gossip from the pages of someone's diary. This was not reporting salacious details of someone's private life. This was reporting information that could impact the national security of the United States and the safety of U.S. installations in other countries."...to which the Department of State formally replied by calling CNN "disgusting". Those two events, Hillary suggesting CNN was lying and one of her spokemen calling them disgusting--after knowing about the diary--should have been a tip-off. But there was more. In a subsequent email exchange with a left-leaning journalist about the remark a State spokesman told him to "F off" (begging the question of what it takes to get anyone fired these days).
And thus began the initial cracks in the Mohammed meme. The diary story faded away as other things came into play, such as memos and administration officials calling it a terrorist attack, but it wouldn't be the last time CNN was injected into the story. In the second debate Candy Crowley stepped in to help remind Obama that yes, he had called it a terror something-or-other right from the start. CNN was back in the tank--say it louder, Candy! Thank you very much.
Lately CNN got another scoop--that AQ in Iraq fighters might have been involved in the attack. Back out of the tank? Maybe, but few are picking up on it. That's surprising, since foreign fighters were mentioned on day one by the president of the Libyan Assembly:
...which strongly suggests a level of pre-coordination--denied by the administration in the early weeks. And that brings up another question--how far in advance did they know about these foreigners (other than from the Libyans) and how are they going to be brought to justice? Obama is still out on the campaign trail saying he ended the war in Iraq. This isn't about onesies or twosies with drones or SEAL teams, this is about hundreds of fighters.
Sticking with the coordination issue, we still don't know how much protest organizers communicated before the initial triggering event (designed as an effort to free Abdel-Rahman or promote other Arab Spring goals). One person surely knows already and he's been busy sitting down with MTV and others telling them that "what he says, he means", and that they "don't play politics" with national security and always provide the people the latest information as it comes in. But if you notice in all his interviews he never calls them 'terrorists' instead choosing to use 'folks' or 'people'. Is that intentional for politics sake or some other reason?
Left over in the maelstrom is how our overall kinetic intervention in Libya is doing and how it might proceed under a second Obama term:
But on policy, what happened in Benghazi raises serious concerns about the actual success of the Libya intervention. It’s not a slam dunk, as previously advertised by Clinton. (“We came, we saw, he died,” she said upon hearing news of Qaddaffi's death.) As one senior U.S. government official who’d visited Libya told me earlier this summer: “It’s not Iraq, but it’s not good, either.”Only weeks before the attack John Kerry stood in front of the DNC crowd and bellowed that we didn't lose a single person freeing Libya. Meanwhile Romney tried to hit on this during the third debate with his overarching criticism of regional foreign policy but he never got specific (probably due to his own history). No questions were answered. Something missed in the Fox News report Friday--somebody referred to the lost F-15 in the early days of our involvement in Libya as being 'shot down'. Previous reports blamed it on a mechanical issue. Sounds like there are a lot of unhappy campers out there.
Where does any of this leave the voters? Does this event crystalize Obama's foreign policy as one of 'responsibility to protect'? If so, was this an example of how RTP protected our own personnel or does it only relate to Libyans in Benghazi we saved, or is this protection limited to the prophet of Islam? Do the majority of voters even care?