Bill O’Reilly calls out the New York Times on its flawed reporting on the Benghazi investigation.
The New York Times’ latest piece on Benghazi is a farce, and some media outlets are calling the paper on this agenda-driven reporting. The piece, by Times reporter David Kirkpatrick, argues that the attacks on the Special Mission Compound and CIA Annex last year were in reaction to a YouTube video, and that there was no involvement by al Qaeda. If the Times thought this article would be the final word, they were badly mistaken. The effect has been to bring Benghazi back front and center, where it is getting new, badly needed scrutiny.
Accuracy in Media has, time and again, disproven these points. But, given, the misinformation put forward by the Gray Lady, the facts bear repeating:
“Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault,” reported The New York Times (emphasis added). “The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi.”
“I think, honestly, if you asked anyone in the U.S. intelligence business, they would tell you the same thing,” said Kirkpatrick on NBC’s Meet the Press. “There’s just no chance that this was an al-Qaeda attack, if, by al Qaeda you mean the organization founded by Osama bin Laden.”
AIM asked James Woolsey, former CIA director under President Clinton, about al Qaeda in a different context, for the documentary “Confronting Iraq.” “Al-Qaeda is both an organization and, in a sense, an ideology,” he told us. In either sense of the term used for “al Qaeda,” they were definitely involved in Benghazi.
But even if The New York Times were correct in its two main assertions, that would not exonerate President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the administration’s repeated decisions not to increase security at the Special Mission Compound despite the deteriorating situation in Benghazi. Nor would it address what is perhaps the biggest part of the scandal, the failure to send available forces to attempt to save the people under attack. That was what motivated many high-ranking military and CIA officers to come together to form the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, and it has never been satisfactorily explained.
Matthew Vadum, writing for Front Page Magazine, outlines this blurring of the lines on Benghazi for just what it is: a shameless attempt to find “wiggle room” for Hillary Clinton’s political career. Vadum argues that the “New York Times is attempting to rewrite the narrative about what really happened in Benghazi and afterwards.” He writes, “It is trying to resurrect the Obama administration’s original line of argument in order to create wiggle room for Hillary Clinton who has been scathingly criticized by Republican lawmakers and the occasional Democrat for bungling the Benghazi saga.”
The Times’ editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, pushed back against charges that the Times’ was providing political cover for Mrs. Clinton and President Obama:
For anyone wondering why it’s so important to Republicans that Al Qaeda orchestrated the attack—or how the Obama administration described the attack in its immediate aftermath—the answer is simple. The Republicans hope to tarnish Democratic candidates by making it seem as though Mr. Obama doesn’t take Al Qaeda seriously. They also want to throw mud at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who they fear will run for president in 2016.
Charles Krauthammer, on Fox News’ Special Report, responded to Rosenthal’s defense of Kirkpatrick’s piece, saying, “Well, I think he gave the game away. By being defensive about this, he’s making it quite obvious the reason that the Times invested all the effort and time in this, and put on the front page precisely a way to protect the Democrats, to deflect the issue, to protect Hillary, who is exposed on this issue as almost no issue in her tenure in the administration. It is obviously a political move.”
The Times piece virtually ignores the security situation in Benghazi at the time, instead focusing partly on a video and its supposed impact on the attacks. As mentioned above, Kirkpatrick believes that local militias who defeated Gaddafi are responsible for the attack, not al Qaeda. “Some analysts argue that the White House, meanwhile, sought to play down any potential characterization of the assault as a Qaeda attack, because that would undercut its claims to have crushed Al Qaeda,” wrote Kirkpatrick very ironically in October of 2012 for the Gray Lady. Is he serving that White House purpose now?
Even Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff (CA) said that “the intelligence indicates that al-Qaeda was involved, but there were also plenty of people and militias that were unaffiliated with al-Qaeda that were involved.” As for the Times report, it may “add some insights, but I don’t think it’s complete,” he said.
The article even contradicts comments from Hillary Clinton, as reported in The New York Times on September 26th, 2012, while the Obama administration was still trying to get its story straight:
‘Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has long operated in the region,’ she [Sec. Clinton] said, and was now exploiting a haven in Mali to export extremism and terrorist violence to neighbors like Libya.
‘Now with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions,’ Mrs. Clinton told leaders assembled at the meeting, including President François Hollande of France and the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. ‘And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions under way in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi’ (emphasis added).
Fox News’ Adam Housley was able to elicit statements from his sources about The New York Times’ reporting, one of which was, “To say that it wasn’t tied to Al Qaeda is completely false. There is literal evidence in many forms and shapes, directly linking him [Ahmad Abu Khattalah].”
Other intelligence links al Qaeda to the attacks, including the CIA and FBI internal emails at the time. In an email sent on September 14, 2012 from the CIA, a staffer wrote “Thanks… Fyi FBI says AQ (not AQIM) was involved and they are pushing that theory.”
The New York Times uses Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM’s) lack of stated involvement in a letter found in Mali by the Associated Press as further proof that al Qaeda was not involved in the attacks, when the email cited above demonstrates that intelligence sources were analyzing core al Qaeda involvement days after the attacks occurred.
Fox News correspondent Catherine Herridge points out that her news organization revealed that “A former Guantanamo detainee, Sufian bin Qumu, who is suspected of training some of the operatives who took part in the assault, was in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, according to a knowledgeable source.”
“Fox News was told last fall that the intelligence community was trying to determine whether he played any role directing the attack and whether he was physically on or near the consulate grounds.”
Of Qumu, the Times says: “But neither Mr. Qumu nor anyone else in Derna appears to have played a significant role in the attack on the American Mission, officials briefed on the investigation and the intelligence said.”
So, contradictions still endure in this case; but we are supposed to take the Times’ unnamed official source as the gospel truth.
As for Ansar al Sharia, The New York Times actually quotes a militia leader who likened it to the Boy Scouts, and also talks about all the charitable things that Ansar al Sharia does: “Ansar al-Shariah focused on charitable missionary work, including an antidrug campaign with local corporate sponsors, picking up garbage during sanitation strikes and offering exorcisms for those troubled by evil spirits.” Al Nusrah does charitable deeds in Syria; that doesn’t absolve it from its position as an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group.
Ansar al Sharia is connected to al Qaeda, and has been connected since before the attacks. As pointed out in a recent AIM column, an August 2012 government counterterrorism report stated that “Ansar al-Sharia (Supporters of Sharia), a militia group led by Sufian Ben Qhumu, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, could be the new face of al-Qaeda in Libya despite its leader’s denial” (emphasis added).
“In a different direction, Ansar al-Sharia may become the new brand name under which jihadist groups in the Arab world seek to organize,” the report stated. These are not words describing a locally oriented group.
“But the Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with Al Qaeda’s international terrorist network,” reported Kirkpatrick in his controversial Times’ piece.
It wasn’t Republicans who wrote the August 2012 Library of Congress report we’ve cited.
As for the spontaneity of the attack, Kirkpatrick writes that “The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs.”
“The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements.”
Let’s put aside, for a moment, that Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, has said that he thought the operational phase of the attack lasted at least a couple of weeks. Libyan National Congress President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf estimated that they had been planning it for months when he appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation on September 16, 2012. The Times mentions Susan Rice’s talk show appearances, but not Magariaf’s Face the Nation appearance—which took place immediately before Rice’s.
The idea that the attacks were the result of the video—which the Times argues—is pure “baloney,” according to Aaron Klein writing for WorldNetDaily. After all, “A review of more than 4,000 postings was conducted by the leading social media monitoring firm Agincourt Solutions, reportedly finding the first reference to the film was not detected on social media until the day after the attack,” reports Klein. Former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Gregory Hicks, testifying before Congress, characterized the video as a “non-event” in Libya at the time.
“It was a coordinated attack. It is completely false to say anything else. … It is completely a lie,” one witness tells Fox News.
“For this individual [Kirkpatrick] to insult the intelligence of the American people is offensive,” asserted former Congressman Allen West in a recent editorial. “To them, if some jihadist does not walk up, give them a business card, and say, ‘Hi, I’m from al-Qaeda and I’m here to kill you,’ then the threat isn’t real and can be pushed aside.” West is a member of Accuracy in Media’s Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi.
This commentary originally appeared at AIM.org and is reprinted here with permission.
Photo credit: niallkennedy (Creative Commons)
The influence of modern press has been increasingly relegated as technology advancements have increased everyone’s access to a virtually limitless wealth of information. Nevertheless, once-respected news sources seem to be in a race to erode what is left of their waning credibility.
America’s most recognizable newspaper, The New York Times, has long been accused of toeing the leftist line and, as a result, has lost significant market share to alternative publications. A disturbing illustration of this trend is found in an article that somehow made it to the front page of the paper recently.
When instantly identifiable figures die, it is common for newspapers to include a staff-written obituary even on the front page. The disreputable figure honored with such a tribute in the Times on Dec. 20, however, defies logic.
Al Goldstein, a native New Yorker who eked out a certain level of fame by publishing a vile pornographic periodical called Screw, was given a prime spot on page one following his death at age 77. For comparison, when fellow pornographer and arguably more famous Bob Guccione died a few years back, the Times placed his obituary on page 34.
While including someone of his chosen profession in such a prominent location is insulting enough, Goldstein’s personal views regarding God were completely beyond the pale. While Americans are certainly free to believe – or ridicule – any higher power they choose, Goldstein seemed to revel in the opportunity to offend Bible-believing Christians.
As his front-page obituary read, the lewd figure “lived to shock and offend.” Even in death, he was able to secure a forum through which his sacrilegious views can spread.
In a particularly offensive interview, Goldstein asserted that “Jews … think that Christ sucks. Catholicism sucks.”
Speaking on behalf of his own religion, though in direct contrast with the views of millions of fellow Jews, he said God’s Chosen People often gravitate toward pornography because they “don’t believe in authoritarianism.”
While hiding behind the shelter of a religion in one breath, a profanity-laced tirade later in the same interview revealed he has no room for faith in a higher power.
“I’m God,” he proclaimed. “F*** God.”
In a hateful obituary following the death of Cardinal Terence Cooke 30 years ago, Screw proclaimed that the Catholic leader was “hounded out of this life by a vengeful god … furious at the church for disallowing birth control….”
This is the type of role model the New York Times heralds as worthy of front-page placement. In light of such journalistic malfeasance, it is no wonder the Times and its carbon copies across the nation are shedding subscribers at a record pace.
–B. Christopher Agee
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Photo credit: niallkennedy (Creative Commons)
Tom W. Pauken
America faces its most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression. While the finance economy has improved somewhat since the bursting of the credit bubble in 2008, the labor market economy continues to languish with the national unemployment rate officially at 9.2 percent. The “solution” of the Obama administration has been a massive government stimulus program designed to get the consumer to spend us out of this nasty national recession. The president’s economic advisors claimed that its government stimulus program would result in unemployment coming down from 8.0 percent to 6.5 percent. Instead, unemployment is much higher today while our federal debt levels have risen significantly. Since the Obama stimulus plan began in February 2009 through May 2011, we have lost another 1.7 million jobs.
This Keynesian strategy of having the federal government spend its way out of this recession hasn’t worked, and it won’t work. As investment fund manager Mark Faber succinctly states, “The government continuously implemented policies to boost consumption when everyone should know that an economy will grow in a sustainable way through the implementation of policies that foster capital formation.”
This message is beginning to resonate across a broad range of opinion leaders. New York Times columnist David Leonhardt recently wrote a column entitled, “As a Nation, We’re Spent,” which notes that “the old consumer economy is gone and it doesn’t look as if it’s coming back.” Leonhardt points out: “We are living through a tremendous bust. It isn’t simply a housing bust. It’s a fizzling of the great consumer bubble that was decades in the making.”
The solution to our high levels of unemployment, lack of private sector job creation, and the hollowing out of our U.S. manufacturing base is to change the way we tax business in the United States. We have the most onerous corporate tax system in the world with a 35 percent income tax rate and a….
Ben Johnson, The White House Watch
Serious discussion of impeachment has reached the most influential publication in the United States. The New York Times recently featured a Bloggingheads discussion under the headline, “Libya and Impeachment.”
The 70-minute discussion pitted Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com against Ilya Somin of George Mason University Law School. (Somin also blogs at The Volokh Conspiracy.) Last month, Greenwald told Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!” he believed Obama’s Libyan war is an impeachable offense. Somin has stated the Libyan war violates the Constitution. Although the conversation winds over such topics as the War Powers Resolution, the debt ceiling, and drug legalization, the first 40 percent of the video focuses on Libya. The impeachment talk begins at 25 minutes in.
Since this is a New York Times debate, it means the option is discarded out of hand. Both agree it is “the most extreme” remedy and argue it is not “practical, or even…desirable.” Besides, it “would cause more harm than good.”
Instead, the conservative, Somin, argues House Republicans should just authorize the war. “A less drastic measure would be for Congress to pass a resolution that does authorize a continuation of U.S. military force in Libya, at least for some time,” Somin said. As David Frum recently wrote on the debt ceiling, apparently the Beltway thinking is when Obama violates the Constitution, conservatives should just cave.
Some of us have another solution, which we wish would have gotten a more serious airing in the Old Gray Lady.