More than a year after the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, the media narrative is still one of bombs, lies and a YouTube video. New York Times writer David D. Kirkpatrick has published an in-depth article detailing what purportedly happened on the ground that day and the days leading up to it; yet the article leaves dozens of very important questions completely unasked. The Kirkpatrick article goes to great lengths mentioning the supposedly “anti-Islamic” video, then goes on to clearly point out that the attack was anything but “spontaneous.”
Kirkpatrick points to a number of flawed assumptions made by the Western intelligence communities working in the area, regarding who was friend and who was foe. When the pre-planned attack was finally launched at 9:42 P.M. local time, the Islamist leaders whom the Americans were relying on for advanced warning, seemed to either be unavailable, or working in collusion with the attackers. Those Libyans friendly to the West who might have helped, refused to come to the American’s aid for fear of losing their own lives.
The Benghazi terrorist ties to militant Islamic organizations like Al Qaeda are said to be tenuous, at best. This assumption is made on the dubious word of the terrorist presumed to be most responsible for the mayhem, Abu Khattala. During the revolt against Colonel Qaddafi, Khattala distinguished himself amongst other Islamist fighters for his “bravery” in battle. A word which has perhaps a slightly different meaning in America than it does in Islamic countries; savagery and brutality in battle is not what most Americans consider “bravery.”
Khattala also saw his notoriety grow among Islamic extremist terror groups throughout the Benghazi region, by fostering the rumor of his brutal killing of a former Libyan General suspected of a double-cross. Militant Islamic groups are not known to respect anything quite so much as zealotry and violence. There is no direct evidence that Khattala pulled the trigger, but it seems his ego required him to accept the admiration and reputation that incident brought him.
According to the Benghazi article, Khattala is known as a contrarian, even among his hard-liner compatriots; if they chose right, he would demand left. He acts like someone who only knows how to express dominance through contradiction – if violence is unavailable. During interviews, he claimed no direct connection with Al Qaeda, while simultaneously expressing great admiration for their methods and goals. If he were working under direct order from an Al Qaeda operative, it seems unlikely he would ever admit to it. Despite reams of evidence that Al Qaeda was working diligently to establish a foothold in Libya, bombs, lies and a YouTube video seem to be all Kirkpatrick’s Benghazi article wants to communicate.
To give the Benghazi article a more intimate feel, Kirkpatrick incorporates elements of good fictional storytelling: most of the key characters are described in ways which make them visible in the mind’s eye of the reader, while bit players who serve only to forward the story’s theme, all seem to demand anonymity. The article takes liberties with the assumptions of motivation on the part of the terrorists and their leaders, as if it were written by someone with experience creating believable fictional characters. The best fiction feels right to the reader, because they have established emotional connections to the characters.
Kirkpatrick is very careful to avoid any mention of the Obama Administration and its inept mishandling of the attack, from the very beginning. Beyond saying “both sides were wrong” about what caused the terrorist attack, responsibility and accountability are almost taboo subjects. There is also nothing written about the stand-down order given by Hilary Clinton’s State Department, nor details as to why senior officials within the State Department were never held accountable. The topic of gag orders issued to American personnel who were on the ground in Libya, is also conspicuously missing.
In classic misinformation style, bloggers on the Left have attempted to discount that a “stand-down” order was given by the State Department, because Lieutenant Colonel Gibson, the officer who was going to fly to Benghazi in an attempt to aide American personnel – said he was ordered “not to proceed to board” the aircraft. The words stand and down were not spoken directly, therefore the Left seems to want to say no order to that effect was given.
A well recognized propaganda tactic, useful when one side is clearly wining the public debate, is to attempt to “spread the blame around.” Doing so allows the genuinely guilty party to avoid singular responsibility for the wrong-doing in question. For instance, even though Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt authorized and signed the Executive Order causing the internment of over 120,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII, it is only spoken of as “America’s Internment” of Japanese-American citizens. By removing sole focus from the party directly responsible, while casting doubts about “everyone” involved, a shrewd propagandist can turn even a violent killer, into a “victim.” The OJ Simpson trial is another excellent example of that kind of manipulation, by selective information dissemination.
To be fair, Kirkpatrick’s article fills in a number of blanks which have been haunting the Benghazi story. Yet it leaves so many additional questions unanswered, it is hard to imagine there was no agenda behind its creation. Bombs were not tossed spontaneously because of a video, lies were told to cover that fact up and Benghazi remains a black stain on the Obama Administration. The questions left unasked are the most important ones to answer.
Editorial by Ben Gaul