The $70,000 question on Libya
By Linda Prussen-Razzano
As partisans on both sides of the aisle attempt to parse President Obama's words concerning the September 11, 2012 attack on the Bengahzi diplomatic compound, one thing cannot be parsed: according to a September 20, 2012 report by NBC writer Catherine Chomiak, "The U.S. has bought $70,000 worth of air time on seven Pakistani television channels to air an ad showing President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denouncing the anti-Islamic video that has sparked violent protests in the Middle East and North Africa."
Wrap your minds around that for a second.
From the early reports, to as late as President Obama's September 25, 2012 speech before the United Nations, the "anti-Islamic video" meme was running full speed ahead. "That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity."
On September 13, 2012, Judy Woodruff of PBS hosted a segment entitled, "Anti-Muslim Video Sparks More Violent Demonstrations Across Muslim World," which was summarized as follows: "protests, some violent, broke out in Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Egypt, in continued response to an incendiary anti-Islamic U.S. video. Overnight, President Obama talked to Egypt's President Morsi about the events and Secretary of State Clinton rebuked the filmmaker, who is reportedly a California resident."
On September 13, 2012, Anderson Cooper ran a segment on the Anti-Muslim video's producer, which included his name, aliases, and criminal history.
According to a National Journal article dated September 19, 2012, Secretary of Homeland Security was Janet Napolitano was more than happy to further the narrative: "The film is absolutely not representative of America or the American government. It is deplorable," she told members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
On September 25, while the President was decrying the video before the United Nations, supporting blogs in America were still running with the story. Eric Posner, in an article for Slate entitled, "The World Doesn't Love the First Amendment: The vile anti-Muslim video shows that the U.S. overvalues free speech" actually suggested implementing restrictions on speech along the lines of Europe.
The filmmaker was subsequently arrested for probation violations; however, CBS's Dan Raviv, in a radio broadcast on September 28, 2012, made the following report: "The short movie posted on YouTube has had a lot of diplomatic impact. It was clearly designed to insult the Prophet Mohammed, and a senior Obama administration official told CBS News last week that no one in the Middle East seems to believe that the US government could not stop the film from getting out. Now at least Federal authorities might be able to punish the filmmaker."
But the narrative did not last.
In an October 10, 2012 Reuter's article by John Hudson entitled, "State Department Disowns Susan Rice's Libya Narrative," the State Department emphatically "disowned remarks by one of their top officials, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, regarding her explanation of the deadly terrorist assault on U.S. diplomats in Libya in September. Not only did they say Rice's characterization of those attacks as ‘spontaneous' was wrong, but also, they said that assessment was never the conclusion of the State Department at any point in time."
In an October 10, 2012 Bloomberg article by David Lerman entitled, "State Department Followed Benghazi Attack as It Happened," the U.S. State Department "monitored the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, ‘in almost real-time,' according to an official who oversees diplomatic security. Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary of state for international programs in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, said a security agent activated a danger-notification system as the attack began shortly before 10 p.m. local time on Sept. 11." State officials went on to say there was no popular uprising or demonstrations.
But we already knew this weeks before (except folks within the Administration, apparently).
According to a September 19, 2012 Bloomberg article by Phil Mattingly and Christopher Stephen entitled, "Libya Attack Not Coordinated in Advance, U.S. Official Says," Mohammed Magariaf, head of the General National Congress, "said the attack was ‘a deliberate, calculated action by a group working in collaboration with non-Libya extremists.' Magariaf described the attack in a Bloomberg interview on Sept. 15 as "preplanned" in contrast to U.S. officials such as U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, who said Sept. 16 that a spontaneous demonstration was ‘hijacked' by extremists."
So, now the President and his Administration are claiming that they pegged it as a "terrorist attack" all along and not the result of an anti-muslim video. Sure, I'll play that game.
Then answer me this: why did the media go into overdrive with reports and columns on the Anti-Muslim video's producer, why did the Left trot out columns decrying the rhetoric in the film as leading to the violence, why did Obama talk about the video several times in his UN speech, and why did we waste American taxpayer dollars producing an "apology message"
to terrorists, which aired in Pakistan, after they killed our people?
That's the $70,000 question.
Linda Prussen-Razzano is a long-time contributor to Enter Stage Right and a number of other online magazines.