Writing for Time Magazine, Massimo Calabresi anticipates the conclusion of the new House Select Committee investigation in A Benghazi Scandal That’s Already Been Revealed: The CIA Believed A Media Mistake. and also delivers what he believes will be President Obama'a and the State Departments perfectly reasonable explanation - they believed the CIA reports which were wrong because the CIA erred in believing the media reports.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on Benghazi already concluded the breakdown occurred in the CIA analysis of intelligence. Their recommendations are being implemented.
Ignoring this the House voted today to establish a select committee to investigate the Benghazi affair all over again. Here are some facts to keep in mind to keep ourselves grounded.
... the CIA believed those reports, resulting in talking points that were delivered to Ambassador Susan Rice, who told the nation on several Sunday news programs Sept. 16 that the attacks in Benghazi were “a spontaneous reaction” to protests that had occurred on the same day in Cairo against an anti-Islamic video published in the U.S. “People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control,” Rice told Fox News Sunday, incorrectly. “We don’t see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack.”
Calabresi compares this to a " really bad game of telephone." The CIA relied on at least six early press reports describing the spontaneous protests being in reaction to the protesters hearing about the inflammatory video tapes.
The subsequent analyses produced by the CIA and others in the U.S. intelligence community were likewise affected by the initial reporting in the media. The SSCI report finds:
The most famous of these reports formed the basis of talking points provided to members of Congress by the CIA Sept. 15, 2012. They began, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US diplomatic post and subsequently its annex.”
The Republicans in the House already know all of this. Calabresi reminds us last month former CIA deputy director Michael Morrell "testified in front of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that it was only after the Libyan government said on Sept. 18 that video footage showed no protests that the CIA concluded they had got it wrong."
In the short term, that means that even if the Obama White House and the Clinton State Department were as political and self-serving as their most vehement critics believe, they would still have protection against accusations they misrepresented what happened in Benghazi—they can claim, rightly, to have been reacting to the CIA intelligence analysis.
So why are Republicans persisting on setting up this needless committee when they already know the conclusion? Perhaps, The Newest Benghazi Controversy: Political Fundraising, provides a clue? When reporters peppered John Boehner with questions about the whether the NRCC fundraising letter was appropriate he deflected, as reported by Jed Lewison in, John Boehner won't answer question about GOP fundraising off #Benghazi.
NBC reports Rep. Steve Israeli (D) challenged Boehner this morning:
“Fundraising off the Benghazi tragedy is despicable and insulting and has no place in the national conversation,” he said. “Speaker Boehner and Chairman Walden should immediately take down their BenghaziWatchdogs.com website and stop insulting the memory of the brave Americans who were lost there."
So, next time some one asks you about the Benghazi scandal you can respond, "Oh, you mean the crass, fund raising exploitation of the four dead Americans by the Republicans?" Purse your lips and shake your head sadly, as if to say what can we do? "Benghazi Delusional Derangement Syndrome, BDDS. Don't let this happen to you!
8:15 PM PT: Please check out this post from earlier.