Uh-oh. It looks like the looney-tune Wingnut brigade is going to have to find some other “thing” to call a White House “scandal” (source):
CBS News has learned that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) cut specific references to “al Qaeda” and “terrorism” from the unclassified talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice on the Benghazi consulate attack – with the agreement of the CIA and FBI. The White House or State Department did not make those changes.
As Paul Waldman pointed out last week, the Republicans have a serious problem—Obama has nearly completed his first term, and their isn’t a real White House scandal anywhere in sight. Oh, sure, we had “beer summit-gate,” and then the moral fabric of our society was nearly put through the shredder by Biden’s “Big Fucking Deal!” But somehow the public responded with an amused or bemused smile and a vote for Obama—Biden.
This leaves the Republicans with a chronic case of scandal envy. (Oh…the humanity!) I mean, the Benghazi thing is, obviously, entirely vacuous. Suppose the White House had changed Ms. Rice’s qualified (and, in retrospect, partially wrong) assessment of the situation. Who gives a shit? What difference does it make? Waldman sums it up thusly:
If you’re looking at the Republican harumphing over Benghazi and asking yourself, “Why are we supposed to be so mad about this again?” you’re not alone. Let’s review: There was an attack on our consulate that killed four Americans, including our ambassador. Amid confusing and contradictory reports from the ground, President Obama waited too long to utter the magic incantation, “Terrorism, terrorists, terror!” that would have … well, it would have done something, but it turns out that he did say “terror,” so never mind that. But that’s not the real scandal! The real scandal is that Susan Rice went on television soon after and amid all kinds of “based on the best information we have”s and “we’ll have to see”s, said one thing that turned out not to be the case: that after the protests in Cairo, there was some kind of copycat protest in Benghazi, which was then “hijacked” by extremist elements using heavy weapons to stage an attack.
A sane person might say, OK, she was obviously given some incorrect information at that time, but it’s not a particularly meaningful deception. As people have been pointing out for weeks now, it’s not as though not using the word “terror” or saying there was a protest before the attack gave the White House some enormous political advantage. If you’re going to have a cover-up, there has to be something you’re covering up.
But the White House didn’t make the changes. It was at a number of stops through the intelligence screening process where the edits happened—on the road from a classified intelligence assessment to a public statement about something that was still under active investigation. The edits are even more comprehensible (well…to folks living in the reality based community, anyway) considering that the attack ended up at a CIA annex about a mile from the consulate. The existence of that CIA facility was a secret prior to the attacks.
So, our friends in the right-wing-nut-o-sphere are left without much of anything in the way of White House scandals, so far. But I’m thinkin’ that one of these days, some reporter is going to catch President Obama in an undisclosed smoke-free location with a coffin nail hangin’ from his lips.