A new report by the House Intelligence Committee reportedly concluded that there was no intentional wrongdoing in how the Obama administration responded to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi. After two years and countless independent investigations, when will Fox News finally end its nonstop scandal-mongering?
From the August 6 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the August 5 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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Fox News has gone silent on Benghazi amid reports that the House Intelligence Committee concluded that there was no intentional wrongdoing in the Obama administration's response to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on August 1 that the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee voted to declassify findings from its investigation into the 2012 attacks on U.S diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, and "concluded that there was no deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama administration in the 2012 attack," according to committee member Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA).
The intelligence community "did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened," the process used to create administration talking points was "flawed" but "reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis, and "there was no 'stand-down order' given to American personnel," Ranking Member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-CA) said in a statement laying out the committee's findings.
It's a clinical, point-by-point refutation of the Benghazi hoax Fox has pushed for nearly 2 years.
Yet Fox News made no mention of the report on Monday.* In sharp contrast to its current silence, when House Speaker John Boehner announced the formation of a select committee to investigate Benghazi in June, Fox devoted at least 225 segments to the topic over just two weeks, an estimated publicity value of more than $124 million.
As the House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi report further dismantles the right-wing's Benghazi hoax, will media keep legitimizing House Republicans' repetitious select committee on the attacks?
Less than two months before Rep. Trey Gowdy's (R-SC) House Select Committee is set to begin its Benghazi hearings, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on July 31 to declassify its report on the deadly 2012 attacks on American facilities. The committee found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Obama administration, confirming "that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given," as committee member Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) explained. Ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) stressed that the "bipartisan, factual," and "definitive" report found no evidence of a scandal involving the intelligence community's talking points on the attacks:
This report shows that there was no intelligence failure surrounding the Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans. Our investigation found the Intelligence Community warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened, Americans which is consistent with testimony that the attacks appeared to be opportunistic. It also found that a mixed group of individuals including those associated with Al-Qaeda, Qadafi loyalists and other Libyan militias participated in the attack. Additionally, the report shows there was no "stand down order" given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, and no American was left behind.
The report also shows that the process used to develop the talking points was flawed, but that the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis. Finally, the report demonstrates that there was no illegal activity or illegal arms sales occurring at U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And there was absolutely no evidence, in documents or testimony, that the Intelligence Community's assessments were politically motivated in any way.
The House Intelligence Committee report joins previous Benghazi investigations by the State Department's independent Accountability Review Board (ARB), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Armed Services Committee which have repeatedly debunked right-wing Benghazi myths that have persisted since the attacks, including the falsehood that a "stand down" order was given to troops stationed in Tripoli and the myth that the administration lied about the attacks having been caused by an anti-Islam YouTube video.
The findings present a new challenge for media outlets in the runup to Gowdy's Benghazi select committee, explicitly formed to investigate "unanswered questions" that previous Benghazi investigations have long-since asked and answered. When House Republicans announced plans to form the committee in May, many in the media presented Gowdy's premise of "unanswered questions" as legitimate.
CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger told CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello in a May 9 discussion on Gowdy's select committee that "there are a lot of unanswered questions" on Benghazi, and on the May 21 edition of the program, Wolf Blitzer conceded to Republican myths on the attacks (emphasis added, via Nexis):
BLITZER: I think the major question that the Republicans want answered is, people at the White House, what was their direct involvement from the president, the vice president, the national security adviser and others on down. They've gotten a lot of information from what was going on at the State Department. They've gotten a lot of documents and information, what was going on at the U.S. military, the Pentagon, the Africa command and other U.S. military operations in the intelligence community, they've gotten significant information. But the Republicans believe there's still a lot of information out there that the administration has not made available, specifically information as to what the White House was doing, what the president of the United States specifically was doing. That's what they say they want, and that's presumably what they're hoping to get in the course of the select committee hearings.
Blitzer further legitimized the select committee on May 22, pressing Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on why Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi the day of the attack and suggesting the committee could find an answer to this already-answered question.
Now, the House Intelligence Committee's finding that there was no intentional wrongdoing on the part of the administration in the Benghazi attacks adds to a pile of overwhelming evidence against the right-wing's Benghazi hoax. Will it finally be enough to convince the media to stop taking Gowdy and his misguided Benghazi witch-hunt seriously?
From the August 4 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the August 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News is recycling old news about a 1998 plan to kill Osama bin Laden, calling recently released audio of Clinton discussing decisions not to pursue the plan as "disturbing" and "sickening." In reality, the 9-11 Commission detailed this very plan in its report years ago, reporting that top military and intelligence officials worried it would have resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and would not have succeeded in killing bin Laden.
Fox News claims new bombshell evidence finds that President Obama was in the White House during the 2012 attacks on Benghazi, a fact that was public knowledge since January 2013.
Sean Hannity is lashing out at President Bill Clinton for not moving forward with a 1998 missile strike aimed at Osama Bin Laden that the military thought was likely to fail. But that same year, Hannity actually attacked Clinton for approving a different mission to kill bin Laden, claiming he was trying to distract from Monica Lewinsky.
SkyNews Australia recently aired audio of President Clinton stating in a speech shortly before the September 11, 2001 attacks that he "nearly got" bin Laden with a proposed December 1998 cruise missile strike in Kandahar, Afghanistan, but decided not to approve the attack because it would have killed hundreds of innocent Afghans.
Clinton's comments were no revelation -- the 9-11 Commission Report detailed how intelligence and military leaders recommended against the strike, citing significant flaws that included up to 300 civilian casualties, the possible destruction of a nearby mosque, and low likelihood of killing bin Laden.
But on the July 31 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity responded to the audio by lashing out at Clinton, saying that the former president "didn't do it and look what happened to this country as a result just one day later. America changed forever on 9/11/2001. What Bill Clinton didn't seem to understand on September 10, 2001, he had a chance to prevent that day of infamy from ever happening."
Hannity's comments stand in stark contrast to his reaction in August 1998, when the Clinton administration responded to al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by launching cruise missiles at the terrorist group's camps in Afghanistan, "probably" missing Bin Laden himself "by a few hours." Hannity responded at the time by criticizing Clinton, suggesting that the attack may have been an effort to distract the American people from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Hannity repeatedly referenced "Wag The Dog," a 1997 film in which presidential advisers fabricate a war in order to cover up a presidential sex scandal.
On his August 20, 1998 program -- just hours after the strikes -- Hannity repeatedly asked his guests if they "see a 'Wag the Dog' scenario here." He went on to explain, "I do a radio show here in New York, and this story broke about 2:00, and I was on the air at 3:00, and every line was jammed and every person was saying the same thing, that in their minds, they're thinking the scenario is 'Wag the Dog,' divert attention away from the crisis that is going on in Washington."
Hannity went on to explicitly state that the timing of the attacks was due to "political motivation" (via Nexis):
HANNITY: Congressman, FOX News has learned that the president was presented with the military option going back to August the 12th. The president did not take that option at that time. As a matter of fact, it been done for political motivation.
And I only raise the question because, in part, look at what the president put the nation through for seven and a half months. Look at the president that let his wife and all his supporters lie for him. Look at a president who looked the American people in the eye -- and who could imagine a scenario like this -- wagging their finger at them and said, "I want you to listen to me. I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky."
There is no moral authority any longer, Mr. Congressman.
According to the 9-11 Commission, the eight-day delay between when Clinton was first briefed on the Pentagon plans for strikes on August 12 and their execution was due to "considerable debate" over which targets would be hit and the need to inform congressional and international leaders. Ironically, the report also concluded that "the 'wag the dog' slur" was one of several factors that "likely had a cumulative effect on future decisions about the use of force against" bin Laden.
This would not be the last time that Hannity would criticize efforts to stop bin Laden. He was one of many conservatives who criticized then-Sen. Barack Obama by mischaracterizing Obama's campaign trail statement that he would act unilaterally if he received "actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets." As president, with the strong support of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama approved just such a mission, which resulted in bin Laden's death.
Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge recycled House Republicans' discredited, year-old allegation that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed off on reducing security at the Benghazi compound ahead of the 2012 attack there, scandalizing a State Department cable bearing her signature.
Right-wing media selectively edited comments made by Hillary Clinton to falsely accuse her of endorsing Hamas' extremist tactics. But Clinton made clear that Israel has a right to defend itself and credited its measures to decrease civilian casualties.
In an interview with Fusion TV's Jorge Ramos, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton renewed her support for a cease-fire to end the current Israeli/Hamas conflict.
Right-wing media outlets co-opted Clinton's interview to dishonestly claim that Clinton was justifying Hamas' tactics and endorsing the extremist group.
On July 29, the Washington Free Beacon distorted Clinton's comments, portraying them as justification of Hamas' tactics in an article headlined "Hillary: Hamas Uses Human Shields Because 'Gaza is Pretty Small.'"
On Fox News' The Five, co-host Andrea Tantaros accused Clinton of "trying to make an excuse for Hamas" and defending Hamas "for hiding rockets in places like schools."
Rush Limbaugh accused President Obama of refusing to rebuke the practice of female genital mutilation while speaking to a group of young African leaders, cherry-picking from his remarks to mischaracterize Obama's very clear condemnation of the practice as a "barbaric" tradition that "needs to be eliminated."
President Obama spoke on Monday at a town-hall-style meeting honoring the Washington Fellowship For Young African Leaders, urging guests to abandon oppressive traditions, such as female genital mutilation and polygamy, in favor of progress.
Cherry-picking from Obama's remarks, Rush Limbaugh accused the president of refusing to condemn the practice of female genital mutilation on the July 28 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show. Limbaugh claimed Obama only halfheartedly stated, "'Female genital mutilation is not a tradition worth hanging onto,'" and implied Obama's statement didn't go far enough, claiming "he didn't condemn female genital mutilation. That would have been telling Africans what to do, and he would never impose his views on them because we're from the U.S. and who are we":
Conservative media are cherry-picking Hillary Clinton's recent praise of President Bush's work on HIV/AIDS relief in Africa to suggest she was embracing Bush's leadership and distancing herself from President Obama. But in the same interview Clinton issued a sharp rebuke of Bush's record and offered support for Obama's foreign policy initiatives.
On the July 27 edition of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, Clinton briefly noted President Bush's work on HIV/AIDS relief in Africa, saying "whether you agree or disagree with a lot of what else he did -- and I disagree with a lot of it -- I am proud to be an American when I go to Sub-Saharan Africa and people say, I want to thank President Bush and the United States for, you know, helping us fight HIV/AIDS."
Right-wing media immediately fixated on the comment, misleadingly framing it as a rebuke of Obama. Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy called it a "shocking confession," asking if Clinton was "trying to distance herself from her former boss." Fox host Bret Baier agreed with Doocy, calling it a "subtle dig" and claiming she was "in essence, criticizing the current administration." The Washington Times concurred with the headline, "Hillary swats aside Obama."
But in the same CNN interview, Clinton issued a sharp criticism of Bush's foreign policy record while defending Obama administration initiatives.
On Iraq, Clinton said she had given President Bush "too much of the benefit of the doubt," and that his decisions had taught her "to be far more skeptical of what I'm told by presidents" (emphasis added):
CLINTON: I had worked closely with President Bush after the attack on 9/11. I supported his efforts to go after bin Laden and al Qaeda and, by extension, the Taliban, which were sheltering them in Afghanistan. And I, frankly, gave him too much of the benefit of the doubt. My view at the time -- and this is still true today -- is that the threat of force can often create conditions to resolve matters, and sometimes what we call coercive diplomacy is necessary. And I thought that that's what the president would do. It turned out not to be the case. And then following the invasion, the decisions that were made, everything from disbanding the military and disbanding, you know, the political structure turned out to be very ill-advised and we ended up with a dangerous situation, which then, you know, the Americans did not convince Maliki to allow a follow-on force that might have given us some ability to prevent Maliki from beginning to undermine the unity of Iraq.
She also stood by many of Obama's foreign policy choices. She noted that she supported the Obama administration negotiations with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which failed only after Maliki refused terms with the U.S. When asked if Obama was handling the current crisis in the Ukraine appropriately, Clinton noted that the president was facing "the same challenges that American presidents face when dealing with threats within Europe," and urged allies to fully participate with the president's efforts. And she defended the president from Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer's claim that Obama is not focusing enough on global issues (emphasis added):
ZAKARIA: Charles Krauthammer, a conservative critic, has said the world is going to hell and President Obama is playing golf. Is he playing too much golf while all these crises are popping up?
CLINTON: No. I think that's an unfair comment to make. I know from my own experience with the president where we work so closely together, and as I write in the book, you know, went from being adversaries to partners, to friends, that he is constantly working and thinking. But he also wants to do what will make a difference, not just perform. He wants to be sure that we know what the consequences, both intended and unintended are.
Moreover, contrary to the suggestion that praise for Bush's record on HIV/AIDS relief is an implicit and noteworthy criticism of Obama, Obama himself has also lauded Bush's work in Africa, saying he deserves "enormous credit." Obama told ABC News that AIDS relief was one of Bush's "crowning achievements ... Because of the commitment of the Bush administration and the American people, millions of people's lives have been saved." Former President Bill Clinton has also praised Bush's work in this area back in 2012, noting that the relief efforts "saved the lives of millions of people."
From the July 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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