I'm not sure how much longer Fox is going to continue to push these phony attacks on President Obama, his U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and anyone else they can try to remake into the reincarnation of Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostage crisis, so that Obama vs. Romney is somehow magically transformed into St. Ronnie vs. Carter, but they're sure doing their best at the network to try to push that meme 24/7. This week's Fox News Sunday was no exception.
Two Fox News Sunday panelists suggested that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, did not properly emphasize the fact that there is an ongoing investigation into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, in the interview that they were referring to, and throughout her appearances on the Sunday talk shows, Rice repeatedly noted that the investigation was ongoing and that its results would ultimately reveal what happened.
This suggestion feeds into the right-wing conspiracy theory that the Obama administration has been purposefully deceptive in its public statements about the investigation.
Today on Fox News Sunday, Christian Science Monitor reporter Liz Marlantes questioned why Rice, during a September 16 appearance on Fox News Sunday, didn't simply say, "We're investigating, we don't really know very much yet." Later, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham similarly asked why Rice didn't say, "We have an ongoing investigation, and I'm really not going to say anything more. We're going to learn more."
But in her September 16 appearance, Rice stressed the fact that it was important not to jump to conclusions before the investigation was completed, but shared the administration's "best current assessment" (emphasis added):
RICE: Well, first of all, Chris, we are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this investigation. The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control.
But we don't see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack. Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don't want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it's important for the American people to know our best current assessment.
In her appearances throughout September 16, Rice repeatedly emphasized that the investigation was ongoing and would provide the definitive answer to what happened. Her statements mirrored those of other administration officials.
On September 28, the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released a statement on the Benghazi attack saying that the intelligence community's initial assessment was that the attack "began spontaneously" and that it had provided this assessment to the executive branch and members of Congress. The DNI's office said that new information has led it to determine that the attack was "a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists."
All I can add to the Media Matters report is that the hypocrisy is just astounding when you look at how the wingnuts are drumming up this attack on one of our embassies and basically attempting to promote it to 9-11 level with what the voters should be concerned with, and going after President Obama for the response, when these are the very same people who gave Bush a complete pass for ignoring the intelligence leading up to 9-11. Hypocrisy, thy name is Republican and Fox "News" and the lying liars that inhabit it.
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Full transcript via Fox below the fold.
WALLACE: Liz, the timeline that the DNI, the Department of National in -- director of national intelligence, and Panetta said was, we have early information and then got information that changed. But before Susan Rice did her famous round of five interviews, including "Fox News Sunday," the first Sunday after the attack, there was a lot of information released, allegations including the president of Libya and I specifically asked about that and I said it was a pre-planned terrorist attack and yet, they were insisting, she was, no, it was spontaneous.
MARLANTES: Yes, it was kind of amazing. I think I was on the panel that weekend. And we were just all surprised that she didn't leave wiggle room, it would have been pretty easy for them to come out and say, we're investigating. We don't really know much yet. I mean, she could have been a lot vaguer.
WALLACE: How big a problem is this?
MARLANTES: And they created a bigger problem because of the way that he handled it. I mean, I think the danger for the Obama administration is not so much voters are suddenly going to think, oh, he's weak on national security. I mean, he's got a big, big cushion in the polls right now in terms of how voters view his national security policy.
But I think there are two dangers for him. One is the honesty issue, which the Obama campaign has been hitting hard and trying to come at him in different directions on that. The idea that maybe, you know, they were deliberately dishonest or went with something they had reason to believe might not be true.
And then, I think the other real problem for Obama is the appearance of acting politically, which is, of course, what they accused Romney of doing when he issued his original statement about Benghazi. But, you know, voters will start to think, well, maybe the president is acting more in the interest of his campaign when it comes to national security issues, than really what's in the best interest of the country.
So, I think those are the two potential weak spots, coming out of all of this.
WALLACE: Laura, as we reported and as it came out in the course of our interview with Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney plans on a major foreign policy speech and a major critique of Obama's foreign policy in the next few days, probably after the debate.
How vulnerable do you think Obama's foreign policy is and how important is it for Romney to go after it?
INGRAHAM: That mantra "Usama is dead but GM lives" -- that was a pretty powerful kind of way to sum it up for him, and I think that was a smart thing for them to do.
I think today we see things a little bit differently. I mean, we see this thing unravel in Benghazi. The guess is why did they send Susan Wright out -- Rice out? Why was it necessary for her to go out on five shows and say it was spontaneous? Why not just say we have an ongoing investigation and I'm really not going to say anything more; we're going to learn more? Why is it that the FBI still can't get into the Benghazi site? They're saying it's too dangerous for the FBI.
Well, we have troops all over Afghanistan in Taliban strongholds. They're able to move and maneuver and do so at their own peril. Why are we not in Benghazi today?
I think President Obama is enormously vulnerable on this point. Because I think most Americans today question whether we are going to be the world's sole superpower five years from now or maybe three years from now.
But it's incumbent upon Mitt Romney to do the same thing, in a way, that Netanyahu did at the U.N. with that chart, you know, the bomb and the 90 percent red line. He needs to tie that all together in a really visual way. What is the world going to look like; what are we going to live like if America is not the unquestioned superpower in the world? And how is this vulnerability translating to the lives of everyday Americans?
Does it matter? I think most people want America to be the strongest and they want competence on these issues.