From TPM Reader JM …
Your post on Benghazi was spot on correct. It was a well fused synthesis of the history and current reporting… well the timely leak to Ignatius. Beyond the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, it is a shame this happened during the general election and one in which the people looking to get in have a serious handicap on foreign policy this cycle. They went all-in on it and the media joined in because it was a story in which the administration, rightly, changed its tune as the days progressed.
I have been to combat zones three times, two years all combined, and I can tell you that whatever people tell you in the first day or two, especially in the first hours, is never correct. But because of the spotlight this year, those moments got maginified and recast as time went on and that is a shame. Part of that blame does need to go on the administration or the campaign, probably both, because they didn’t want to look weak when the first ambassador in decades died on their watch and in a warzone where they helped to set the table. I don’t think you can really blame them for that, but I think they should have at least been honest and say, “Listen, this happened with just a few American witnesses, all of whom are dead, and a band of Libyans that we haven’t yet all talked to and who have disappeared into the streets. And this happened in one of the most dangerous corners of the globe so it may take some time to sort out.” But in today’s media, that is an impossible ask.
For me though, I had a moment today where I felt like the history of why we even had people in Benghazi got lost. It was not long ago when Qadafi’s forces were bearing down on that major city readying to go house to house and eliminate thousands if not tens of thousands of people. That city is the reason Obama and NATO got involved. If he hadn’t, if he had said, “Well, I won’t put American lives at stake for those people.” Well, what would the discussion be like now? And I really hope he brings that up at the debate. While I am sure Chris Stevens, nor his family, wanted to die, I do believe that he did so there because he believed in what we had done and what he was doing there.
I am glad this getting some clarity now and I hope the media gets dragged over the coals a little bit in buying into viewing this as a political issue, and not one that involves things happening on the ground in Libya and the rest of northern Africa. That’s the question both Obama and Romney need to answer… what will you do to prevent events like these from happening in the future? What is your diplomatic and military policy for not just Libya but that whole region? I think we can say with 95% certainty that question will not be set forth in that way on Monday or any time before November 6th. I would wager the Obama administration has a good answer to that question if asked given their foreign policy braintrust.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.