Benghazigate: You can’t cure symptoms

Benghazigate: You can’t cure symptoms

The Benghazi talking points are a symptom. The absence of a U.S. response is a symptom. The relegating of Greg Hicks to an office he likely shares with mops and buckets is a symptom. Refusing to release documents is a symptom. Blaming the video for two weeks when it was known at the highest levels of the State Department and White House on September 11th that Benghazi was a terror attack by Ansar al-Sharia is a symptom.

We’ve seen this movie before. Watergate was, ultimately, about protecting Nixon’s re-election. The same is true of Benghazi and Obama. Watergate had a lot of early rumors floating around at the time as does Benghazi; now. Many of the Watergate rumors turned out to be true. Woodward and Bernstein did not really get rolling on the story until Deep Throat told them repeatedly to ‘follow the money.”

In both cases, the release of documents has been an ongoing battle but with Watergate there was much more being hidden. An unknown functionary, Alexander Butterfield, revealed under questioning that the Oval Office had a hidden recording system: Enter the Nixon Tapes.

Nixon was surrounded by highly loyal functionaries, as is Obama. G. Gordon Liddy offered to stand at a preselected street corner at a preselected time so that he could be assassinated in order to protect Nixon’s Presidency.

Nixon and Obama are connected in their desire to control and micromanage the levers of power. They are similarly connected in their willingness to do nearly anything to remain in office and hold power. The unifying dynamic for both Presidents was/is a singular focus on bringing ever more power closer to the center, to the White House.

Have a listen to some of the early Watergate Hearings and press briefings. Compare it to what we’re hearing today. The more things change…!

This time around it is unlikely that there are tapes, but there are plenty of story lines, plenty of rumors, plenty of reporting that has been ignored. The talking points kerfuffle doesn’t hold a candle to where the real conspiracy may lie. We have a lot of options. It is these that the Select Committee should focus on, not who wrote what memo when. The smell test has been engaged, and the Administration’s spin has only made the situation all the more odorous.

Then-Egyptian President Morsi had made it clear that he wanted the Blind Sheik released to Egyptian custody. The Blind Sheik was a key voice within the Muslim Brotherhood and the inspiration for the first World Trade Center bombing. Was Chris Stephens to be kidnapped in an attempt to trade for the Blind Sheik? Cynthia Farahat, an Arabic-speaking reporter in Egypt, reported on a man screaming to the Benghazi terrorists, “Don’t shot, I’m from Mr. Morsi”! Pamela Geller also reported on the attack video. Egypt refused to allow a U.S. Interrogation of Abo Ahmed, suspected of involvement in Benghazi. There was reporting in Egypt that security around the U.S. Embassy was decimated in advance of the September 11th demonstrations. Farahat reported that under normal security conditions it would have been nearly impossible for that many Egyptians to gather at the U.S. Embassy, let alone fly the al Qaeda flag. Was the Cairo “video” protest a vehicle to set the context for what was planned in Benghazi?

What of the major CIA presence in Benghazi? Why the meeting between Ambassador Stephens and the Turkish representative just prior to the commencement of the attack on the compound? Was Turkey to be the trans-shipment point for covert arms to Syrian rebels? Does that smell like Iran/Contra? Was the Turkish representative’s departure the signal to begin the attack?

The State Department refused to allow existing security to remain, refused to order its replacement or an increase in security. The initial State Department spin was that we wanted to keep a small footprint, to generate the image that we were there as the servants of the Libyan people. The entire security-related infrastructure at State was begging for additional security as was Ambassador Stephens. There was an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador, and the Red Cross was run out of town over security issues. This was not the security infrastructure covering its butt; the security conditions in Libya were real, they were dangerous — and they were ignored. Why?

The Pentagon rightly reported that there was no “stand-down” order. However, there was a refusal to authorize travel for military assets in Tripoli who were about making their way to Benghazi, which is a difference absent a distinction. At the same time, the personnel at the CIA annex were also ordered to stand down. How is it that two totally separate chains of command received essentially the same order at the same time? One has to ask who in the administration can issue orders through two separate chains of command?

Why was the drone we had overhead not ordered to be crashed into the mortar position that killed Glen Doherty and Ty Woods? We could have, at least, sacrificed a drone for them.

I don’t care about Susan Rice. She was clearly a willing pawn in a much larger drama. I don’t care about Ben Rhodes’s memo, though someone had to unleash him to issue that memo when the main thrust of the talking point process resided with CIA. Who unleashed him? Why was his seemingly motivating purpose to put the video front and center when it was known to be a false premise? Although, we can be fairly sure the offer of a street corner will not be forthcoming from Mr. Rhodes.

The Select Committee and its recently announced Chairman, Trey Gowdy, will be well advised to skip over the political and get to the meat of the matter. Keep the committee small and tight; staff should come from existing committees that have been engaged with Benghazi up till now. There is no time to waste.

We will, I believe, in the end transition from “follow the money” to “follow the Muslim Brotherhood”?

D.E. Landreaux

D.E. Landreaux

D.E. Landreaux began writing political commentary to realize an irresistable urge to have a voice in the political process beyond the voting booth. He also blogs at


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