Benghazi

The Clinton/Obama Benghazi Scapegoating of Free Speech Continues to Hide in Plain Sight

House Select Committee report reinforces what we already knew: In moments of danger and stress, the Democratic elite will respond to violence with censorship

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On September 11, 2012, at 7:30 p.m., when Ambassador Chris Stevens was still considered missing and soldiers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were still alive, the White House convened an emergency teleconference of senior national security personnel, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to discuss the ongoing chaos at the U.S. diplomatic annex in Benghazi, Libya. According to the House Select Committee's Benghazi report released yesterday, "Five of the ten action items from the rough notes of the 7:30 p.m. meeting" concerned the YouTube trailer for Innocence of Muslims, a crude anti-Islam tract that demonstrators were using as justification for anti-American protests in Cairo and across the Muslim world. This despite the fact that there had been "no mention of the video from the agents on the ground" in Benghazi.

Republicans and other critics over the years have insinuated any number of darker motivations for the administration's video-focused messaging in the aftermath of the deadly Benghazi attacks, from the Sept. 11 communique that the "U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement," to Susan Rice's infamous turn on the Sunday chat shows, all the way to President Barack Obama's remarkable Sept. 25 assertion at the United Nations that "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam." But as a political exercise—and make no mistake: like all questionable governing activities involving Hillary Clinton, Benghazi was almost immediately reclassified by the mainstream media as a political/campaign horse-race story—the GOP shot itself in the foot by pining openly for some single piece of gotcha evidence to finally bring Clinton down.  

Sure enough, the MSM dutifully MSM'ed yesterday, with headlines like "Two years, $7 million, still no smoking gun on Clinton and Benghazi." But as been in ample evidence since the first days after the attack, and documented at length within the Benghazi report itself, the evidence against Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration is damning when you take them at their own words. It's not the nefarious explanation lurking between the lines, it's the open explanation coming from their lips, that is deserving of withering criticism, and worth pondering in Clinton's candidacy for president.  

Ed Krayewski detailed yesterday how the report reinforced the massive, deadly folly of America's intervention into Libya, a Clinton-led initiative that the candidate has repeatedly (and grotesquely) characterized as "smart power at its best." The same is true for the administration's still-appalling scapegoating of American free-speech, and reflexive instinct toward censorship in a time of crisis.

Matt Olsen, then the director of the federal government's National Counterterrorism Center, was present at that Sept. 11 White House teleconference. "The discussion of taking the video down was part of our conversation in this call." Olsen testified to the Benghazi committee: "We were thinking about what had happened in Cairo, we were thinking, okay, now this seems to be happening in Benghazi, and we're worried about…obviously, other diplomatic posts in the Middle East and North Africa….[O]ne of the issues that Denis [McDonough] asked me […] was to see if we could…contact Google to talk with them about enforcing their terms of service, which was the way that we often thought about offensive or problematic content."

The administration indeed "often" thinks about "problematic content" when Muslims attack, threaten to attack, or just silently give off a seething vibe that they might attack, Americans and other westerners. On Sept. 19, 2012, Jay Carney was asked about the then-living editors of Charlie Hebdo publishing a new round of Mohammed cartoons. Here's how Carney's answer began:  

Well, we are aware that a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Muhammad, and obviously, we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this. We know that these images will be deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory.

This was no isolated act of media criticism. On Nov. 17, 2015, in the wake of the Paris attacks, Secretary of State John Kerry made the startling suggestion that the Charlie Hebdo murderers were just a tad more "legitimate" than the Bataclan butchers, due to the content of the cartoons:

There's something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of—not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, "OK, they're really angry because of this and that." This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn't to aggrieve [sic] one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for.

Kerry walked the statement back in the heat of the moment, but this was in essence a "Kinsley gaffe"—the secretary of state was just blurting out the truth as he (and the administration, and his predecessor) sees it. After all, it was only last October, during a Benghazi hearing that was almost universally hailed as a political triumph, that Clinton asserted, to almost nary a negative reaction in the press, that the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists "sparked" their own murder. As I put it in my recent cover feature on "Hillary Clinton's long war on free speech":

"We had protests…all the way to Indonesia," she told Congress in October. "Thankfully, no Americans were killed, partly because I had been consistent in speaking out about that video from the very first day when we knew it had sparked the attack on our embassy in Cairo."

The word sparked is crucial here. American ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice famously used it while making the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows on September 16—"What sparked the recent violence was the airing on the Internet of a very hateful, very offensive video that has offended very many people around the world." Clinton used it in front of Congress to describe the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, as a way of defending her continued emphasis on Innocence of Muslims as a partial explanation for Benghazi. "I think it's important that we look at the totality of what was going on. It's like that terrible incident that happened in Paris…[in which] cartoons sparked two Al Qaeda–trained attackers who killed…nearly a dozen people."

But the metaphor is wrong in important respects that have implications for both speech and foreign policy. Innocence of Muslims, like the Danish cartoons before it, hung around unnoticed for months until they were picked up and spread around by Islamists looking to gin up outrage. These pieces of expression, in other words, were kindling, of which there is a nearly infinite supply. The Muslim-world popularizers poured metaphorical lighter fluid on the material they plucked from obscurity, and angry rioters caused the conflagration. By confusing spark with kindling, Hillary Clinton and other U.S. officials (plus many American intellectuals) are diverting some of the responsibility for violence away from the perpetrators and toward the creators of controversial speech.

You can see this throughout the Benghazi chapter in Clinton's latest memoir, Hard Choices. "This was not the first time that provocateurs had used offensive material to whip up popular outrage across the Muslim world, often with deadly results," she writes. Amazingly, she is not talking about the Islamists who dubbed Innocence of Muslims into Arabic and then broadcast it with fiery denunciation on Egyptian television, but rather the originator of the art, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Next sentence: "In 2010, a Florida pastor named Terry Jones announced plans to burn the Quran, Islam's holy text, on the ninth anniversary of 9/11." Once you begin to pin responsibility for faraway violence on acts of peaceful (if vulgar) free speech in America, the only thing standing between an artist and prison is an available crime.

This is now the mainstream Democratic opinion on the connection between western expression and Islamic terrorism, and Hillary Clinton is its most ardent and influential proponent. Whenever there is a new terrorist attack, you can bet and win money that one of Clinton's go-to responses will be to crack down on free speech and privacy rights. She, Obama, Kerry, and the whole Democratic national security state believe sincerely that one of the best ways to protect Americans is to condemn other Americans (and Westerners writ large) for insulting Muslims. She does not begin to understand how such behavior might encourage the very terrorism she aims to prevent, by effectively rewarding bad behavior.

This, plus the whole U.S. intervention in the first place (of which Hillary Clinton was the most influential proponent), is and remains the most obvious and easy-to-prove scandal with Benghazi. It's not some hidden footnote in a 600-page report; it's the open policy of a fatally flawed administration, championed most vociferously by its proposed successor.

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  1. PHAKE SKANDULL! OLD NEWS! NO SMOKING GUN!!!!

    /derp

    1. Speaking of phaik skandullz:

      It is likely the largest unauthorized disclosure of tax-return information in history: the transfer of some 1.25 million pages of confidential tax returns from the IRS to the Department of Justice in October of 2010. And it was almost certainly illegal.

      The documents, which consisted chiefly of non-profit tax returns, were transferred to the DOJ’s criminal division from the IRS at the request of Lois Lerner, who wanted to get the information to the DOJ in advance of a meeting where she and several of the attorneys in the public integrity section of the department’s criminal division discussed their concerns about the increasing political activity of non-profit groups.

      That’s a whoopsie.

      1. Not a smidgen of corruption.

        1. Come now, it is hardly “corruption” to take care of these little matters delicately. After all, “free speech” still carries some weight in some circles. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, everyone knows that we cannot have outrageous acts of provocation masquerading as “parody” or the like. Who would dare to defend the outrageous “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated, liberal judge in America’s leading criminal “satire” case? See the documentation at:

          http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

          1. P.s. see also now also this case:

            http://www.nydailynews.com/new…..-1.2692842

            Free speech? “Parody” death threats? Everyone knows that the “First Amendment” has no bearing on such forms of “expression.” If you engage in “speech” that nobody likes, be prepared for jail.

      2. If Lois Lerner, a low level leftist activist bureaucrat, can be caught brazenly lying and using government power to commit politically motivated crimes and yet will face no indictment, why in the fuck does anyone think Hilary Clinton will be indicted? If Clitdong goes down, I will eat my shoe.

        1. I’ve been saying this for months. Hillary will not be held accountable.

          1. I don’t know about that. If she loses to Trump, he might stand back and let Trey Gowdy burn her at the stake.

            -jcr

        2. why in the fuck does anyone think Hilary Clinton will be indicted?

          Some people are hopeless bobble-headed optimists.

          1. Not while Obama and Lynch are in office. But the clock is running on them.

            I don’t seriously expect Trump and Christie to indict her either.

            About the only hope for any accountability is FBI leaks. For maximum impact, its still early for those. Ideally, they would start hitting right after the Dem Convention.

            Fingers crossed! But the FBI doing the right thing is a weak reed, indeed.

          2. And some people thought there was a libertarian case to be made for Obama.

      3. Sigh. No, this is a Whoopsie.

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  2. It’s pretty clear that Matt Walsh continues to shill for Donald Trump.

      1. He’ll always be Captain Lu-natic to me.

    1. Matt Walsh? Didn’t he write “Rocky Mountain Way”?

      1. He’s got an office, gold records on the wall
        Just leave a message, maybe he’ll call

      2. No, that’s the America’s Most Wanted guy.

      3. He used to work here, didn’t he?

        Or collect a paycheck anyway.

      4. He was great in The Eagles

    2. Yeah, but Cankles will always have the Jacket.

  3. many American intellectuals

    Is that the appropriate term for those types?

  4. like all questionable governing activities involving Hillary Clinton, Benghazi was almost immediately reclassified by the mainstream media as a political/campaign horse-race story?the GOP shot itself in the foot by pining openly for some single piece of gotcha evidence to finally bring Clinton down.

    I’m glad you said it, Matt.

    1. I think I disagree with that sentiment. The only reason this was even in the news cycle so long was because a Clinton was involved. If they didn’t try to openly tie her to it looking for a smoking gun, it would have gone by the wayside along with the EPA emailgate, IRS, DOJ gunrunning program, VA ineptitude, Obamacare rollout and subsequent marketplace failure, clash for clunkers scam, solyandra scam, stimulus scam, and the zillion other obvious cases of lawlessness, fraud, ineptitude and downright thievery that goes on in this current ruling crime syndicate that resulted in dead/bankrupt americans but were hand-waved away.. Plus they would have never discovered the Emails.

  5. Have Block Insane Yomomma and the Snukeapotamus blamed the incident on Turkey on one of their favorite straw-men yet (videos, guns, legal loopholes, straight while males, republicans, greedy billionaires, etc), or are they just going to pretend this one never happened at all?

    1. Snukeapotamus

      I appreciate your work.

      1. What/who is Snukeapotamus in reference to?

        1. I assume Hillary, but really, does it matter? I laughed. The man has a gift.

          1. snuke:
            A suitcase nuke designed to fit in a woman’s snizz
            Example: It appears that terrorists have snuck a snuke up your snizz.

    2. Mike your every post is like a symphony composed and performed by middle schoolers.

      1. I did kind of chuckle at Snukeapotamus, I hate to admit.

      2. Snukeapotamus did make the middle schooler in me laugh though.

        1. I’ll admit I’m tempted to ask where in you this middle schooler is, but I think we’ll all be better off if I resist.

    3. Tweeeeeet… “Block Yomama,” five yard penalty.

    4. Snukeapotamus

      Hehe, nice.

      You’re still nuts.

  6. You must admit, though, that Hillary is giving Slick Willie great competition
    by spewing such gems as “I did not sleep all night”.

    1. “I did not have sex with that Benghazi.”

      1. “I did not have sex with that Benghazi.”
        …Ambassador Stevens

      2. Upon first learning of his infadelities:

        Hillary: BILL! What the he’ll were you doing sleeping with another woman!?!?

        Bill: This woman, that woman. What differences does it make?

        Hillary: Ohh….. good one. I need to remember that.

    2. Well, she probably didn’t. She probably was thinking “well, shit…now there’s no way it won’t be found out that Benghazi was the epicenter of our gun running operation to support the Syrian rebels.” I’m sure she finds those insomnia producing fears quite silly at this point.

      1. Gunrunning is only wrong when a Republican does it.

    3. Ah, Hillary, all of Bill’s honesty, none of his charm.

  7. OT: Is America’s Foreign-Policy Pendulum Swinging Back to Intervention? After Obama’s two terms in office, will his successor push America back toward a more robust engagement with the world?

    American voters are fickle. They watch their presidents plunge into ill-advised wars, and then select successors who promise to bring the troops home. And they watch their presidents approach crises with caution, and then vote for candidates promising to restore American power.

    President Obama’s term in office, said Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, was marked by the pendulum swinging toward caution. “Much of his administration was a conscious reaction what he saw of his predecessor of trying to do much,” he said. “Seeing the dangers of doing too much, he opted to do less, and I think what historians will see is that he opted to do too little in places.”

    I really don’t know where to begin to break down such a delusional argument.

    1. That’s…..fucking insane.

    2. CFR – they are hacks; they are the Jezebel of foreign policy.

    3. I personally advocate that we BOMB EVERYTHING and engage in TOTAL WAR with EVERYTHING.

      But I am Blue Tribe, so I can still be anti-war and anti-intervention. My only faults was in how restrained I was.

    4. Yeah, in what universe is Obama ‘restrained’? At least the Bush fiasco was voted on at some point. Not saying that makes it right, but at least they followed a process of evil.

    5. Hillary will invade the entire middle east and then re-build it. There will be a nice Disney Land and McDonalds to serve the peoples.

  8. *loud and boisterous applause*

  9. After Obama’s two terms in office, will his successor push America back toward a more robust engagement with the world?

    Ow, my head….

  10. Well, we are aware that a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Muhammad

    If we could get just Administration officials to refer to Muhammad as:

    The Messenger of Allah, The Beloved, The Bearer of Good Tidings, The One Who Calls (unto God), The Light Personified, The Divine Favour, The Enwrapped, The One who Puts his Trust In God, The Remover of Disbelief, Praiseworthy, The Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon Him.

    1. You know what other xenophobic hate filled group just needed media and political support to soften their ideological message of purity?

      1. The DNC?

        1. Unlike the other groups mentioned, the DNC actually receives the media and political support needed.

      2. The Oakland PD?

      3. Girl Scouts of America?

      4. The Quebecois?

  11. Hillary Clinton and other U.S. officials (plus many American intellectuals) are diverting some of the responsibility for violence away from the perpetrators and toward the creators of controversial speech.

    It is my opinion that this is the central thesis (correct word here) of the Obama administrations foreign policy as it relates to the Muslim World. Diminish and deflect and minimize anything that might create a social backlash at Muslims here at home. Essentially, avoid the predictable NPR story which follows every…single… attack… about how local “regular” Muslims in America are fearing The Great Backlash, Discrimination and Hate.

    Even if there’s no evidence it happens, report that it might happen, and definitely get the man/woman-on-the-street interviews about how there’s fear that it might happen– all while body bags are still being zipped.

    1. “Muslims fear backlash after tomorrows attacks.”

  12. Okay, so maybe Hillary can say “ya ain’t got nuttin’ on me, copper” and people will buy it. But how can anybody look at the Libya intervention as a whole and not see it as a big fuckup? After all, Hillary is running partly on her resume (the other part being “Vagina!”). What did she accomplish as Secretary of State, other than being there and getting the t-shirt?

    1. Everyone knows Hillary is lying, corrupt, incompetent, and criminal. Her supporters just don’t care.

    2. I think the problem here is that people can’t see the forest for the trees. Libya was a failure of government (“smart power”), not Hillary Clinton per se. But, the Republicans don’t want, or can’t criticize foreign intervention because they are big fans themselves. So, they try to pin the failure on Hillary’s ineptitude instead of on the whole government intervention philosophy.

    3. It’s easy to explain why this doesn’t matter.

      What is Libya?
      -Most Americans

  13. “the Democratic elite will respond to violence with censorship”

    It’s gone way beyond censorship. It’s grown into straight up propaganda. Saying the attack in Libya was about a video, when you know damn good and well it was a planned attack isn’t censorship, it’s lying. I truly feel like I’m living on “Animal Farm” these days. And, I don’t really see it changing anytime soon. The 4th estate has become an extension of the government propaganda machine. I’m sure life is much easier when you can float in and out of government spokesperson and CNN anchor/contributor gigs then it is to actually dig up the truth.

    1. Pretty much this. It’s absurd how people float between the two and people still don’t bat an eye.

  14. This is now the mainstream Democratic opinion on the connection between western expression and Islamic terrorism, and Hillary Clinton is its most ardent and influential proponent. Whenever there is a new terrorist attack, you can bet and win money that one of Clinton’s go-to responses will be to crack down on free speech and privacy rights.

    More and more, the vibrations I’m getting from the media is that NSA snooping, Terror Watch and No Fly lists are very much back in fashion– like skinny jeans. Because guns.

  15. BTW, Matt Walsh, excellent article. More of these please.

    1. Yes. I am a Walshie fan.

  16. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

    As I said at the time, “Fuck Obama and his prophet.”

    Sure he’s not a Muslim.

    1. You don’t have to be a Muslim to be an apologist, but I imagine it would make it easier. Unfortunately, that would require Obama to have any kind of beliefs at all. If anything he’s a narcissist.

    2. The scary part is that if you take what he said literally, he said no non-Muslim should be entitled to any amount of power or control over the future.

      I slander Mohammad. Therefore I am not entitled to a chance at shaping tomorrow, my rights be damned.

      Only a Muslim should be a national executive according to this thinking. Only a Muslim should be a teacher, religious figure, trend setter, etc.

      It’s a rather scary statement if you take him at face value. I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that he meant exactly what he said and not the sentiment most people would have drawn from his words.

  17. Blaming a video for the Bengazi attacks is like blaming a rape victims clothing for being raped. Oh wait I think Hillary actually did do that.

  18. What I find interesting is that the report mentions that they, Hillary and others in charge could not make up their minds of wether the soldiers should have worn their uniforms during the attack. this shows they don’t give a shit about the soldiers because if a soldier is caught fighting without a uniform on there are no legal safety nets if caught. The Geneva Convention does not apply to them they are treated as spys and can be treated , tortured, as badly as they like and there is no recourse. but what does it matter now anyway right.

  19. when all you’re looking for is a smoking gun, it makes it easier to ignore the steady accumulation of evidence that amounts to just that.

    1. Well put. Team Red… losing at winning for decades!

  20. I find images of Hillary Clinton “deeply offensive”. Can we banish them off the Interwebs too, please?

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  24. Does this mean Clinton blames rape victims who “asked for it” by wearing revealing clothing, etc.?

    “The Sexual Harassment Quagmire: How To Dig Out” http://malemattersusa.wordpres…..-quagmire/

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