Sunday, September 16, 2012

What to do when reality catches up with the narrative?

Ever since Obama appeared on the national scene he's been selling the idea that he would have some special connection with the Muslim world due to his background. In 2007 he said that the day he was inaugurated the Muslim world would look at America differently and he'd be uniquely qualified to reach out to them. He would not be like that doofus Bush, but would be able to meet with leaders such as Ahmadinejad or Arab leaders and they would accept his open hand. He traveled to Cairo in 2009 to deliver that message.

And this is the thanks he gets? That same city Cairo where he delivered his message of friendship is now erupting with violence and attacks on the American embassy. His administration followed along with other nations to remove Qaddafi from Libya and they attacked the consulate and murdered our ambassador. How could this be happening?

Since Obama can't admit that he misread the situation in the Middle East and overestimated the charms of his background and overtures to Muslims around the world, he must search out some other explanation. So his administration is doubling down on blaming all these protests on some obscure movie trailer on the internet.

As Byron York summarizes, Jay Carney was doing his own impersonation of Baghdad Bob as he tried to pretend that these protests are all about the film.
Questioned at length about the causes of the anti-American violence, Carney insisted it was all about the movie. “The reason why there is unrest is because of the film,” he said at one point. “This is in response to the film.” At another moment, he said, “The cause of the unrest was a video.” At yet another, “These protests were in reaction to a video that had spread to the region.”

Despite Carney’s confident assertions, it became clear in the briefing that the administration does not really know that the most serious incident by far, the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, was in fact the result of the video. (And it’s not at all clear that a full-length version of the film actually exists.) When ABC’s Jake Tapper pressed Carney on whether the Benghazi attack specifically was sparked by the movie, Carney responded, “We don’t know otherwise.”

It is one thing to say an event was caused by factor A, and it is another to say that you don’t know that the event was not caused by factor A. And the latter is the White House position on whether the video caused the Benghazi attack.

Tapper was skeptical. “The group around the Benghazi post was well armed,” he said. “It was a well-coordinated attack. Do you think it was a spontaneous protest against a movie?”
Susan Rice, our ambassador to the UN, is also doubling down on this explanation.
"What sparked the violence was a very hateful video on the Internet," Rice said on "Fox News Sunday." "It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States."

Rice also said federal agents are investigating the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Rice said right now officials have no solid evidence the attack was "pre-meditated or pre-planned."

She said the investigation is ongoing, but the best information is that protesters in Libya, on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, were following an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.

Rice said "extremists" arrived with heavy weapons, but "we don’t see any signs this was a pre-meditated, pre-planned attack."
Yes, this crowd just spontaneously showed up with rocket-propelled grenades in Benghazi on 9/11, but that is just a coincidence - there was no premeditation involved.

Unfortunately for the Obama spin, Libya's interim president is not going along with the no pre-meditation, no pre-planning storyline.
Libya's own leader, interim president Mohammed Magarief, has said that foreigners infiltrated Libya over the past few months and planned the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

“The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous,” Magarief told NPR in Benghazi on Sunday. “We firmly believe that this was a pre-calculated, pre-planned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. Consulate.

“The intention was there from the beginning, for it to take this ugly barbaric, criminal form,” he said.

Magarief doubled down in an interview with CBS's Face the Nation a few hours later.

He told CBS that about 50 people have been arrested in conjunction with the attack on the U.S. consulate, which he said was “definitely planned by foreigners” who entered Libya several months ago and immediately started plotting the assault. He said “a few” of the perpetrators were from Mali and Algeria while others were Libyan “affiliates” and “sympathizers.”

“These ugly deeds, criminal deeds … do not represent in any way, in any sense, the aspirations and feelings of Libya toward the United States and its citizens.”

“The way these perpetrators acted and moved and their choosing the specific date [of Sept. 11] for this so-called demonstration, I think this leaves us with no doubt that this was pre-planned, pre-determined.”
And Scott Johnson has the report of a Libyan security guard who was wounded outside the consulate when it was attacked.
A Libyan security guard who said he was outside the U.S. Consulate when it was attacked Tuesday night has provided new evidence that the assault that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was a planned attack by armed Islamists and not the result of anger over an online video that mocks Islam and its founder, Muhammad.

The guard was interviewed Thursday in the hospital where he is being treated for five shrapnel wounds in one leg and two bullet wounds in the other.

He said that the consulate area was quiet — “there wasn’t a single ant outside” — until about 9:35 p.m., when up to 125 armed men descended on the compound from all directions.

He said they struck without warning.
Yeah, but they showed up without any pre-meditation, right? Sure.

So why is the administration sticking to this story that no one really believes that it is all about the video? They just can't admit that they have been misreading the Arab world for so long. Byron York has the answer.
Why would the White House heap blame on the movie — indeed, insist that it is the sole cause of the violence — when officials don’t actually know that to be true? There are, perhaps, two reasons. One is that the administration has put an enormous amount of faith in the idea that Arab Spring uprisings will lead to democracy in much of the Middle East. Current events suggest that faith might be misplaced. For the administration, blaming the movie is easier than admitting they were wrong about something so big and important.

The second reason is that Barack Obama has based much of his approach to Middle Eastern affairs on what he perceives as his own unique ability to reach out to Muslims. The entire point of the president’s June 2009 speech to the Muslim world, delivered in Cairo — the same city where protesters are condemning the United States today — was that Obama’s life story allowed him to understand the Muslim experience in a way that previous American leaders could not. The fact that he spent part of his childhood in a Muslim country (Indonesia) and had many family members who were Muslim, the president apparently believed, would make many previously hostile Muslims somehow like the United States more.

It didn’t. So now, with anger at the U.S. burning throughout the region — and showing on Americans’ wide-screen TVs — it’s easier for the administration to blame the movie than to admit the president’s personal initiative failed.
The other problem that the administration has to face is the story that seems to be coming out that there were warnings ahead of time about the dangerous situation in Libya, particularly Benghazi, and they didn't heed those warnings. CNN is reporting that a Libyan official is saying that he warned American diplomats about the dangerous situation in Benghazi before the attacks.
Three days before the deadly assault on the United States consulate in Libya, a local security official says he met with American diplomats in the city and warned them about deteriorating security.

Jamal Mabrouk, a member of the February 17th Brigade, told CNN that he and a battalion commander had a meeting about the economy and security.
He said they told the diplomats that the security situation wasn't good for international business.

"The situation is frightening, it scares us," Mabrouk said they told the U.S. officials. He did not say how they responded.

Mabrouk said it was not the first time he has warned foreigners about the worsening security situation in the face of the growing presence of armed jihadist groups in the Benghazi area.
Egyptian officials are also saying that they warned of possible attacks on both Americana and Israeli embassies in Cairo.
Egypt's General Intelligence Service warned that a jihadi group is planning to launch terrorist attacks against the US and Israeli embassies in Cairo, according to a report Tuesday by Egypt Independent, citing a secret letter obtained by Al-Masry Al-Youm.

According to the report, the attack is being planned by Global Jihad, the group suspected of killing 16 Egyptian border guards in Sinai on August 5.

Al-Masry Al-Youm reportedly obtained a copy of the September 4 letter, sent to all Egyptian security sectors, warning that Sinai- and Gaza-based Global Jihad cells were planning attacks on the two embassies.
Of course, it is to the advantage of both Egyptian and Libyan officials to say that they had warned the Americans. But if it is true that there were such warnings, there will be questions that the Obama administration will have to answer about the steps they took to protect American diplomats.

In fact, the protection for the consulate in Benghazi was minimal at best as the BBC reports,
he US consulate in Benghazi, where the US ambassador to Libya died in an attack on Tuesday, was not given the standard security contract offered to many American diplomatic missions in the Middle East, private military contractors have told the BBC.

The consulate's walls were breached in just 15 minutes, guards were outgunned and overwhelmed and four US personnel were killed, including the Ambassador, J Christopher Stevens.

US embassies and consulates in areas of the world where they are deemed liable to attack are usually offered a formal security contract called a Worldwide Protective Services Agreement, known in the industry as a 'Wips'.

The contract, or so-called tasking order, is between the US state department and any one of several major private military contractors such as DynCorp International and Aegis Defence Services.

Under this agreement, extensive security precautions are put in place, including low-profile armoured vehicles, run-flat tyres, sufficient weapons, ammunition and trained personnel, as well as a tried and tested command and control system.

But sources have told the BBC that on the advice of a US diplomatic regional security officer, the mission in Benghazi was not given the full contract despite lobbying by private contractors.

Instead, the US consulate was guarded externally by a force of local Libyan militia, many of whom reportedly put down their weapons and fled once the mission came under concerted attack.
There is quite a bit of evidence that this attack was well-planned with people who had inside information about the consulate. Benghazi is in area of Libya known to be a home for jihadists. In fact, the BBC reports that diplomats were attacked there in June.
Both US and British diplomats in Benghazi came under attack from suspected Islamist militants in June, as did the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Britain then closed down its permanent presence there that month, moving staff back to the capital Tripoli.

This week the UK Foreign Office altered its travel advice for the region, warning against all travel to Benghazi.
So there will be questions for the administration about why our diplomats were in the area with such flimsy protection. Why did Britain close down its presence there but we didn't?

You can see why the Obama administration would like to lay all of this on the video and the angry reaction of Muslim mobs to their religion being insulted. Much better to blame the anger of the street than to admit that this was a planned operation that simply used the mobs to distract from their own plot. Because if this wasn't a spontaneous outpouring from the Muslim street, there will be questions about Obama's policies and what could have been done to better protect our diplomats. And those aren't questions that Obama wants to have to answer. But Americans are dead and the media can only huff and puff about Romney for so long. Even the White House press corps isn't buying Jay Carney's bluster.

So what do the Obamanians do when reality catches up with their beloved narrative? Deny reality, of course.