a guest post by sapient
[note: When Sapient suggested that we discuss an article about the situation in Libya, I invited him to send in a guest post. I'd be more than happy to make this a continuing series, so if you have something that you want to get up, send it to me at libjpn overyonderat gmail]
Before the murders of four Americans in Benghazi were even confirmed, MItt Romney was using the incident as a political talking point to blame President Obama for an alleged "failure of leadership."
Just to state the some of the early moments of my own awareness, I saw articles and heard radio reports something like this one describing demonstrations in Cairo and Benghazi, by people who were apparently enraged at Americans about a film believed to have been made by (it turns out) a Coptic-American, bank fraud ex-convict, who created an irreverent depiction of the prophet Mohammed. (This filmmaker was on probation, barred from using the Internet, and is now in jail.)
Republicans complain that the Banghazi murders were a "terrorist attack" that should have been anticipated and prevented. (Of course, the President called the incident an "act of terror" early on, but Republicans, as exemplified by the famous Romney debate gaffe, first ignored that fact, and now dispute that Obama was using the words appropriately as a term of art.) Darrell Issa (probable arsonist) has conducted an investigation, during which he accused the Obama administration of failing to provide sufficient security to the diplomats in Libya, and misleading the public about the facts surrounding the murders (this, despite the Republican reduction in funding for diplomatic security). The charge of misrepresentation to the public is largely based on the fact that Susan Rice appeared on Sunday talk shows stating that the intelligence they had so far was that there was a riot caused by the anti-Islamic film, that was then hijacked by Islamist extremists.
A good timeline of events is here.
One of the suspected ringleaders of the Benghazi killings was recently seen hanging out at a luxury hotel describing the scene, and still saying that the killings began as a peaceful protest against the video.
In the aftermath of the second Presidential debate, many in the media are talking about the "questions" surrounding the events in Benghazi, seemingly bolstering the Republican argument that the Obama administration has something to answer for regarding its presentation of the facts to the public. (Listen to this for example.
It seems likely that there are classified pieces to what was going on in Benghazi, as well as the current investigation of the murders. Whether the administration has a duty to be blabbing everything in real time, before the information is all in, is the real question. The fact that Republicans are turning this into an opportunity for something to say about foreign policy (since they have so little to criticize) isn't helping either the cause of justice or security in Libya.
Also, I find the Republican call for "leadership" a bit frightening. The way they try to "lead" other countries involves lots of bombs, soldiers and guns. How should we provide "leadership"?