Media outlets refuted Rep. Jim Jordan's (R-OH) baseless claim that Hillary Clinton deliberately misled the public about the cause of the Benghazi, explaining that his allegations disregarded how intelligence evolved in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and ignored the possibility that “the attacks could be both an example of terrorism and influenced by outrage over the video.”
Rep. Jim Jordan Falsely Claims That Clinton Intentionally Misled The Public About The Cause Of The Benghazi Attacks
Rep. Jim Jordan Accuses Clinton Of Deliberately Starting A “False Narrative” That The Attacks Were Inspired By An Anti-Muslim Video. During Clinton's October 22 appearance before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) accused Clinton of intentionally spreading a “false narrative” that the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya were triggered by an anti-Muslim video posted on the Internet:
REP. JIM JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You just gave a long answer, Madam Secretary, to Miss Sanchez about what you heard that night, what you're doing but nowhere in there did you mention a video. You didn't mention a video because there was never a video-inspired protest in Benghazi. There was in Cairo but not in Benghazi. Victoria Nuland your spokesperson at the State Department, hours after the attack said this, “Benghazi has been attacked by militants, in Cairo police have removed demonstrators.”
Everything points to a terrorist attack. We just heard from Mr. Pompeo about the long history of terrorist incidents, terrorist violence in the country. And yet five days later, Susan Rice goes on five TV shows, and she says this, “Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction as a consequence of a video.” A statement we all know is false. But don't take my word for it. Here's what others have said. “Rice was off the reservation. Off the reservation on five networks, White House worried about the politics.” Republicans didn't make those statements. They were made by the people who worked for you, in the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, the actual experts on Libya in the State Department. So, if there's no evidence for a video-inspired protest, then where'd the false narrative start? Started with you, Madam Secretary. At 10:08 on the night of the attack, you released this statement, “some have sought to justify the vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on internet.” At 10:08 with no evidence, at 10:08 before the attack is over, at 10:08 when Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are still on the roof of the annex fighting for their lives, the official statement of the State Department blames a video. Why? [House Select Committee on Benghazi, 10/22/15]
“Smoking Gun? Not Quite”: Media Dismantle Rep. Jordan's Baseless And Illogical Allegations
Rolling Stone: Rep. Jordan's Allegations Assume Intelligence Was “Not Only Instantly Available But Unambiguous” In The Immediate Aftermath Of The Attack. Rolling Stone contributor Jeb Lund explained in an October 23 piece that Jordan's trumped up allegation “relied on the notion that full intelligence of the Benghazi attack was not only instantly available but unambiguous, and that any inconsistencies in statements from intelligence offices, the State Department, the president and Susan Rice depended on Hillary's intervening to misrepresent the record.” From Lund's Rolling Stone piece:
First, [Jordan's allegation] relied on the notion that full intelligence of the Benghazi attack was not only instantly available but unambiguous, and that any inconsistencies in statements from intelligence offices, the State Department, the president and Susan Rice depended on Hillary's intervening to misrepresent the record. This line of thinking relies not only on Hillary's omnipotence within the American government but also requires her omniscience about Benghazi itself, by ignoring that one group falsely claimed credit for the Benghazi attack, and that there were simultaneous embassy protests around the world in response to the Innocence of Muslims video. Second, it relies on a false dichotomy between the planned actions of an Al-Qaeda-like group and spontaneous protest violence. By insisting that only one can be true, and that the State Department could only believe one interpretation, irrespective of changing events -- instead of both interpretations driving disparate elements outside Benghazi compound -- they automatically disingenuously classified half of any statements Clinton made on the issue as deliberate misrepresentation. That's not how knowledge works: You're supposed to adapt your theories when you get new data, and that change is value neutral. But under the Republican committee members' theory of knowledge, everyone who believed the sun revolved around the Earth before Copernicus wasn't unaware of astronomy -- they were just lying. [Rolling Stone, 10/23/15]
Los Angeles Times: Jordan's Supposed “Smoking Gun” Ignores Initial Intelligence Findings Suggesting The Attacks Were “Spontaneously Inspired By Protests” In Cairo And Perpetrated In Part By “Islamic Extremists With Ties To Al Qaeda.” In an October 23 op-ed, LA Times senior editorial writer Michael McGough explained that, even three days after the attack, “the idea that at least some of the attackers in Benghazi were inspired by protests over the video was still current in intelligence circles.” For example, the the first draft of the CIA's talking points from September 14, 2012, explained that “Islamic extremists with ties to Al Qaeda participated in the attack,” but also that they believed “based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo,” in response to the anti-Muslim film. McGough explained that Jordan's alleged “smoking gun” ignores the possibility that “the attacks could be both an example of terrorism and influenced by outrage over the video -- a seemingly simple concept Republicans still can't wrap their heads around”:
And yet, as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pointed out in questioning Clinton, on the night of Sept. 11 she had issued this statement: “Some have sought to justify the vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
That proved, Jordan said, that Clinton was telling the American people one thing but her family “an entirely different story.”
A smoking gun? Not quite.
The idea that at least some of the attackers in Benghazi were inspired by protests over the video was still current in intelligence circles three days after the attacks. The first draft of “talking points” prepared by the CIA, dated Sept. 14, said: “We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.”
But those talking points also said this: “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to Al Qaeda participated in the attack.” (That statement later morphed into a reference to generic “extremists.”)
In other words, the attacks could be both an example of terrorism and influenced by outrage over the video -- a seemingly simple concept Republicans still can't wrap their heads around.
To this day, some people believe that outrage over the video was a factor in at least some of the violence in Benghazi. In a major investigative report published in December 2013, the New York Times reported that “contrary to claims by some members of Congress, [the attack] was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/15]
CBS' John Dickerson Explains How Evolving Intelligence Led Clinton To “Change Her Position” On The Attackers' Motives. On the October 25 edition of Face the Nation, host John Dickerson said that the CIA's initial reports on the attack stated “at first, Ansar al-Sharia claimed credit for it, and then they withdrew it.” Noting that Clinton explained this change during her testimony, Dickerson went on to explain that these developments “led to this confusion. So at first she believed those reports, then they were withdrawn and that's what made her change her position”:
JOHN DICKERSON (HOST): I want to ask you about the hearings last week, the Benghazi hearings in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified. How do you think those played out now that they're done?
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): Well, I think it's important for all of us to remember that Hillary Clinton is one of dozens and dozens of witnesses who needed to be interviewed. Hillary Clinton also is the one who decided she wanted to have the public display. The other people who have come in have done it privately. They did not want an open hearing. So, clearly, she had it in her mind to make this a political grandstanding occasion, which she did very well. She's a very good politician. But at the end of the day, it was the first time that I had learned that there were emails that existed or transcripts or recordings about -- that she knew immediately that this was an Al Qaeda attack. Now remember, us on the Intelligence Committee, we knew the next morning, not necessarily that it was Al Qaeda, but we knew it was a terrorist -- a preplanned attack. And so it ends up that she knew that. So the question now that I would be asking, if I'm on the Benghazi committee, is, we have an emergency response team at the State Department that was not deployed. And yet she knew it was terrorist attack hours after the attack, and I think that is a real problem as to why the people sat at the State Department and never left.
DICKERSON: Her testimony and then also the CIA best information to the rest of the administration was, at first, Ansar al-Sharia claimed credit for it, and then they withdrew it. And that that's what led to this confusion. So at first she believed those reports, then they were withdrawn, and that's what made her change her position. [CBS, Face the Nation, 10/25/15]
Slate Calls Out Jordan And His Republican Colleagues For Recycling “Old Myths” That Even “Other Republicans Had Acknowledged” Were False. Slate contributor William Saletan described how Jordan turned to “old myths” that Clinton intentionally misled the public about the anti-Muslim video despite the fact that “in previous hearings, other Republicans had acknowledged Clinton was innocent of that charge”:
Since the emails showed nothing new, Republicans went back to old myths. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio accused Clinton of blaming the Benghazi attack on an anti-Muslim video. Apparently, he was unaware--or didn't care--that in previous hearings, other Republicans had acknowledged Clinton was innocent of that charge. Jordan insisted that Clinton's statement on the night of the attack--“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet”--amounted to an attribution of motive. He ignored Clinton's explanation that her statement--which continued, “There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind”--was a warning to rationalizers and would-be copycats. He accused Clinton of lying about the attack in public while privately telling the truth to her own family.
In the end, having failed to elicit anything damning, the Republicans switched from asking questions to reading indictments. Jordan accused Clinton of blaming the attack on the video, not terrorism, because it was “56 days before an election.” [Slate, 10/23/15]