Recently on Fox News, anchor Jon Scott abruptly ended an interview with Thomas Ricks, author and journalist. It was later reported by several websites that Fox News asked Ricks to leave because Ricks said that Fox News overhyped the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi that left four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, dead, and that the network was lacking objectivity and journalistic integrity because it was "operating as a wing of the Republican Party."
Also this week, Republican senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte met with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, because she is one of the contenders to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. However, each of them, especially McCain, have said they would try to block her admission because the things she said about the attack in Benghazi were misleading.
Now, it is true that Fox News has talked a lot about Benghazi. There have been op-ed columnists in abundance on its website alleging that the Obama administration has been, and is currently, misleading the American people and covering up the truth. But was there really a cover-up, or was there faulty intelligence leading to a bungled-up handling of the events at hand?
As Politico reported, a CNN poll found that 54% of those surveyed said that the White House's inaccurate statements were based on the intel they had at the time, while 40% said there was a coverup. Forty-eight percent thought that those four Americans could've been saved, while 42% said the attack couldn't have been stopped, despite what was known.
But what exactly do we know? We know that Benghazi is in Libya, and at the time of the attack there was unrest in the Middle East. There was some outrage in the Muslim world about a YouTube video called, "The Innocence of Muslims", with anti-Islamic lines dubbed into it. There were protests at several US diplomatic mission sites in response to the video, which not only happened after the video's release, but also after the attack in Libya.
We know that there was a firefight. Heavily armed militants stormed the building, breached the walls with rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire. They set the place ablaze, and got into a nine-hour firefight. As a result of the firefight, two Americans and seven Libyans were injured, and Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Snowden Woods, and Sean Smith, a U.S. Foreign Service Information Management officer, were killed.
We know that there are several narratives about the attack. One of them is that it was spontaneous, and in response to the aforementioned video. Another was that the attack was planned well in advance, and that al Qaida was involved. Another was that a militia group called Ansar al-Sharia may have played a role in it, since their markings were on trucks the attackers used on the night in question. Another was that intelligence intercepts reported not just Ansar al-Sharia as a possible organizer/perpetrator of the attack, but also AQIM, an al-Qaida affiliate operating in northern Africa. Another is that the video wasn't directly responsible for the attack, but that the attackers took advantage at a time when the protests were ripe, and that some were seeking revenge for the U.S. killing of al Qaida leader Abu Yaya al-Libi. Another, one spun by Fox News, is that if AC-130's, additional security forces, Special Forces units or (blank) were sent there, and that if we weren't reaping the fruits of an apology tour, this wouldn't have happened.
The problem with narratives though, is that they can have absolutely anything added to it as long as the essential elements are there. Some of them could be plausible, while others could be the most reaching narratives ever devised.
We know that President Obama, at some point, called it a terrorist attack, and he said he did in the Rose Garden during the second Presidential debate, as moderator Candy Crowley and Politifact pointed out. But within two weeks after 9/11/12, Rice's, White House spokesman Jay Carney's, Obama's talking points, and points on a leaked CIA memo were not in sync.
We know that, despite Joe Biden's White House-based assertion during the Vice Presidential debate, there were requests for additional security in Libya and other diplomatic mission sites around the globe, Eric Nordstrom, a State Department employee, was requesting such a thing. He told his superiors, both verbally and in writing that the diplomatic mission needs more security. State Department officials, according to Politifact, countered that security needs were met, and that additional forces would be stationed in Tripoli, which is 400 miles away from Benghazi, and that they would be of little use.
We know that Congress and the State Department are still investigating what happened.
Until we know, for sure, the exact honest truth, those who were injured or killed in the Benghazi attack, and their families, and the American people deserve better than what's happening now; finger-pointing, allegations of obfuscation and tumultuous narratives.