Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times fires back at the Right:
Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has made a special crusade out of the attack on the American diplomatic and intelligence compound in Benghazi, was asked on â€œMeet the Pressâ€ to justify Republican claims that Al Qaeda agents planned and executed the operation. (The article found no evidence that Al Qaeda was involved.)
Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC put her finger on the political question when she asked Mr. Issa why Republicans â€œuse the term Al Qaeda.â€ After all, she said, â€œyou and other members of Congress are sophisticated in this and know that when you say Al Qaeda, people think central Al Qaeda. They donâ€™t think militias that may be inspired by Bin Laden and his other followers.â€
â€œThere is a group there involved that is linked to Al Qaeda,â€ Mr. Issa said. â€œWhat we never said â€” and I didnâ€™t have the security to look behind the door, thatâ€™s for other members of Congress â€” of what the intelligence were on the exact correspondence with Al Qaeda, that sort of information â€” those sorts of methods Iâ€™ve never claimed.â€
Iâ€™m still trying to parse that sentence.
Sometimes weasel words do turn around and bite you, don’t they, Rep. Issa? I think, though, that these days the term “al Qaeda” (which just means “the base”) can mean just about anything one wants it to mean. It can mean a particular organization that is currently being run out of Pakistan, or it can refer to a kind of amorphous movement of dissociated anti-Western militias, and many things in between.
This makes weaseling pretty easy. A Republican operative can say “al Qeada,” meaning any Muslim from Turkey to Malaysia with an attitude about the West; and the followers hear “al Qaeda,” meaning the specific organization founded by Osama bin Laden.
(In Rightie World, a lie doesn’t count as a lie if they can argue there’s some literal truth to it, depending on how terms are defined, even if the statement is intentionally deceptive.)
The Weaseling continues:
On Fox News on Sunday, Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan insisted the story was wrong in finding that â€œAl Qaeda was not involved in this.â€
â€œThere was some level of pre-planning; we know that,â€ he said. â€œThere was aspiration to conduct an attack by Al Qaeda and their affiliates in Libya; we know that. The individuals on the ground talked about a planned tactical movement on the compound â€” this is the compound before they went to the annex.â€
What does any of that even mean? “Some level of pre-planning” in rightie speak could mean that in 2009 some Libyan sent an email to his brother-in-law in Islamabad calling for death to westerners. “There was aspiration?” “Individuals on the ground?” Please. Basically all he’s saying is that the Libyan militants had given some thought to how they might attack the U.S. compound before they attacked it — which nobody is denying — and that the group is ideologically similar to and admirers of the original al Qaeda — which nobody is denying.
For anyone wondering why itâ€™s so important to Republicans that Al Qaeda orchestrated the attack â€” or how the Obama administration described the attack in its immediate aftermath â€” the answer is simple. The Republicans hope to tarnish Democratic candidates by making it seem as though Mr. Obama doesnâ€™t take Al Qaeda seriously. They also want to throw mud at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who they fear will run for president in 2016.
Which brings us to one particularly hilarious theme in the response to the Times investigation. According to Mr. Rogers, the article was intended to â€œclear the deckâ€ for Mrs. Clintonâ€™s presidential campaign.
Rosenthal leaves out what I thought to be the most hilarious reaction to the Times story, from Bob Taylor in The Washington Times.
That does not mean, however, that the Times timing of the story should not come under some degree of scrutiny. A piece of journalism as extensive as this does not happen overnight. Obviously the Times set out well in advance with the idea of breaking the story on the weekend before the new year.
Obviously? It’s certainly not obvious to me.
One of the dirty little secrets about investigative media is that more often than not reporters already know the story they want to tell before they leave the building. The â€œinvestigationâ€ results in seeking out the people who can corroborate the result the media outlet is seeking.
Ah, he’s been hanging out with the Fox News crew, I see.
If the Times discovered al Qaeda had been involved in the Benghazi attacks the investigation would have been for naught. It would have been a non-story.
That makes absolutely no sense. Actual evidence of a real al Qaeda connection (meaning the al Qaeda al Qaeda, not al Qaeda lite) would have been a huge scoop for the Times and The Story of The Year. It would have sold newspapers up the wazoo. Discovering that the attackers were just local yokels is the non-story.
So the question, or questions, become who is the Times protecting? Barack Obama? Hillary Clinton? Or both?
No, the question is, What kinds of drugs is Bob Taylor on?
For example, consider the phrase, â€œthe raid was accelerated in part by anger over the video.â€ Not a definitive statement to say the least. Surely, given the amount of time spent on pursuing the report, the Times could have reached a more concrete answer than that.
Does Taylor speak English? “The raid was accelerated in part by anger over the video” seems pretty definitive to me.
The quote by Abu Khattala who â€œsuggested that the video which insulted the Prophet Muhammad was justification for the killingsâ€ is hardly a strong verification either. â€œSuggestedâ€ merely refers to the â€œpossibilityâ€ that the video was a culprit.
Or, it’s a accurate description of what Abu Khattala said.
Furthermore, the world â€œjustificationâ€ is significant in any understanding of Islamic radicalism. The word â€œjustifyâ€ appears throughout the Koran. In the Muslim world, if you can â€œjustifyâ€ your actions it is all that is necessary to be free of any responsibility. Barack Obama uses such tactics all the time. It is one of the primary reasons many people believe he still has Muslim ties.
I’m guessing ol’ Bob is on something like Diazepam or Dopamine, but since I don’t know him personally I have no way to know that. It’s possible he’s just nuts. Sorry I can’t be more definitive.