Saturday, October 20, 2012

CIA documents say Obama was right on Libya attack

The Washington Post is reporting that the Romney campaign may have screwed-up in saying that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attacks were not supported by intelligence.

This is according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official.

The Post writes:

"Talking points" prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, "The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations 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. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations."

And this, I find much to the point:

The Benghazi flap is the sort of situation that intelligence officers dread: when politicians are demanding hard "yes" or "no" answers but evidence is fragmentary and conflicting. The political debate has focused on whether the attack was spontaneous or planned, but the official said there's evidence of both, and that different attackers may have had different motives. There's no dispute, however, that it was "an act of terror," as Obama described it the next day.

The official said the only major change he would make now in the CIA's Sept. 15 talking points would be to drop the word "spontaneous" and substitute "opportunistic."

So, there was a demonstration and some bad buys took advantage of the confusion? Whatever happened, it was an act of terror.

Is this really going to be where Romney hangs his hat on Monday?

One point worth making is that I thought Joe Biden did a very good job at the VP debate of suggesting just how complicated international relations are, especially in the context of violence or potential violence. Romney and Ryan want to throw around a bunch of stupid jingoistic platitudes and call it a foreign policy. As stated above, professionals in the field hate this kind of black and white nonsense that fails to appreciate the reality of complex dynamics.

Romney and Ryan aren't ready for the big time, and this is just one more reason why.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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  • Is this really going to be where Romney hangs his hat on Money? That'd be my bet. It may not be such a bad strategy. All he wants to do is muddle Obama's clear foreign policy advantage. And getting into the weeds about the different because "terrorism" and "acts of terror" does that.

    Of course, mostly, Obama and Romney will try to move the conversation away from foreign affairs. Americans don't like them because they're so, well, foreign.

    By Anonymous Frankly Curious, at 7:39 PM  

  • I agree that Libya is bad for Obama because, regardless of the details, it diminishes what was an advantage. Romney should criticize bad security decisions prior to the attack and then say the Rice statement was a misrepresentation of what happened, showing either deception or incompetence. Obama also is vulnerable on his incomprehensible decision to fly to Las Vegas the next day for a fundraiser and his appearances on Letterman, the View and the Daily Show. Undecideds and independents will not like that.

    By Blogger Kansas City, at 12:47 PM  

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