“There isn’t any intelligence that the attackers pre-planned their assault days or weeks in advance . . . The bulk of available information supports the early assessment that the attackers launched their assault opportunistically after they learned about the violence at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”
What really happened in Benghazi? I don’t know yet. Neither do you. Neither does Romney, Obama or the CIA. We’re still trying to figure it out. All we know for sure is that the media and officials on both sides drew unwarranted conclusions. As Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., put it Sunday on Face the Nation:
“One of narratives that the Obama campaign has laid out is that bin Laden is dead — they’ve bragged about that forever — and that al Qaida is in retreat. And you start to wonder: Did they basically say, ‘Do not allow any story to emerge that counters that narrative’? Is that why, for two weeks, they told us that the Libyan incident in Benghazi was a popular uprising and not a terrorist attack? Because it ran counter to their campaign narrative?”
Shouldn’t Republicans ask themselves the same question? Haven’t they argued all along that the key to security is to be feared, not loved? Is that why, for weeks, they told us the Benghazi incident was an al-Qaida attack plotted for the anniversary of 9/11, unrelated to the video-inspired riots across the Muslim world? Because it runs counter to their campaign narrative? The lesson of Benghazi isn’t that your political enemies got it wrong. The lesson is to worry less about their bias and more about yours.
William Saletan covers science, technology and politics for Slate.