The research paper deals with the problem of Benghazi attack of September 11th 2012 as well as the reaction of official authorities and mass media on the tragedy. According to official sources it cost the lives of 4 American citizens, including that of the US ambassador. The opinion of state officials, such as the US president, the chief of the CIA, senators and American leading journalist are provided to address the main problem raised.
Key words: Benghazi scandal, president, administration, journalist, senator
It is on a daily basis thatthe entire world witnesses the events of international magnitude and relevance happening in different countries on a large scale. This cannot but draw immediate attention of national leaders or whoever on top that it may concern.
Some leaders prefer taking a neutral political stance towards certain global developments to turningtheir attention to such. So do media owing to certain reasons, for theyhave nothing else to do but either misinterpret or hush events. It does happen in countries where the means of mass communication serve dictators right. The USA is not the country that might have room for such scenarios, being democratic at its core, with media functioning to give an impartial view of events to happen both nationally and internationally. Nor is the two-time US President Barack Obama stranger to updating his nation on world events that might be of certain interest and importance to a proud American nation.
Even so, the events fromSeptember the 11th 2012 in Libya went largely uncommented. For the record,US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, sustained a dastard terrorist attack that claimed 4 individuals, including Christopher Stevens. “So ended the bloody business of the day”, as Homer would say in his time. To tell the truth, the attack could not arguably have come at a more opportune time since September 11th is quite symbolic for America and its citizens, symbolism dating from 2001 and echoing back sharply in a decade. On paper, this was a true challenge for the whole nation once again thrown by radical Jihad Islamists while de-facto it was a true slap in the face of all who stand up for world peace, which needed covering, what is more, investigating. For some unknown reason media no more gave a full coverage to the events unfolding in Libya than President Obama himself gave any commentaries on the issues. Benghazi attack clearly left president guessing how to react and whether to, being a real “catch 22” in the run-up to presidential race, which still causes journalist to investigate the events or avoid doing that.
According to Sorrentino (2013), there is no wonder in the White House administration airbrushing what happened in Benghazi in the year of2012. Hillary Clinton spoke against presidents’ getting publiclyassaulted by political forces or by selective newspapers possibly with an eye to presidential race that she wants to win at some point in future, which was why the then Secretary of State was not that quick to treat the president with a discourager (Sorrentino, 2013). The compromising aspect of the scandal may have roots in them not wanting information spread and garner a massive resounding reaction that might have had the potential of running many political careers in the arch-important 2012 as well as subsequent years.In the event of escalating the scandal could have possibly tarnished the biggest of Obama achievements, when in office, namely the termination of the world’s number one terrorist back in May 2011. Sorrentino (2013) noted that every effort was made in order for media investigations to be stonewalled by the hardball playing White House. Now that some time has gone by, journalists who not used to avoid praising presidential administration, much less critique it for certain failures, are said to be starting to speak out, revealing their mindset on the attack, yet in a soft manner, without being too relentless in their declarations(Sorrentino 2013).
Rothman (2013) claimed journalists were worried and feared they should be denied their access to the White House, should they angle the events the wrong way by enlarging on delicate questions never to be touched upon. A year after the Benghazi assault CNN published a number of articles, suggesting that shortly after the attack there had arrived CIA agents on the spot, without interrogating the suspect. With reports published, CNN journalists have fear of not being permitted to conduct interviews or be physically present at the presidential headquarters. One of CNN reports has 30 CIA agents to have been seen patrolling the areaof attack being pressurized by the Intelligence Agency in an attempt to make them silent so that neither press nor congressmen might get to know what happened in the night of the attack. Some reporters and journalist fear for their articles, in which they see Obama administration as being interested in keeping a low profile without any unnecessary information leakage (Rothman (2013).
In an interview to CBS News Obama commented on the attack; however, the better part of the interviews appeared deleted after a major revision. This notwithstanding, the interview was aired just one day before the election, featuring Obama who told he was being unsure about whether or not it was worth calling Benghazi assault a terrorist attack or using political rhetoric to switch over to other matters. The point was that Obama was candid in his interview for the first time since the original attack. The fact that this portion of the broadcast was originally removed from TV programme speaks volumes for how serious American censorship is. Presidential debate with Mitt Romney actually saw Obama calling the event a terrorist attack, stressing that he had always considered the event to be the terrorist assault (Rothman (2013).
According to the political commentator and the host of “The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News channel, Bill O’Reilly (2012), the Benghazi Scandal has come close to being another “Watergate”, so the post factum media reaction is likely to cause about as much negative reaction. The problem was with Obama administration unwillingness to define the details of what happened there and then. Press was also said to show little interest, if at all, in revealing the storyin the course of the interview segment. O’Reilly (2012) opined that that was a two-way situation, with the worst-case scenario being the political conjuncture similar to that in the days of Richard Nixon and best-case scenario being the loss of interest in investigating the situation on the part of mass media.
Benghazi catastrophe was said to have occurred due to a human error of some kind that rendered security measures uselessas well as letting the situation spiral out of control. More importantly than that, problem was complicated by Obama’s not being vocal about the attack, what is more, remaining unavailable for commentaries. Little did his conference at the White house clarify the reasons, theactors, and causes behind the Libyan assault, with him not sharing even basic facts. You could say that president feared lest information leakage or facts revelation through media resources should impact any investigation,then again, it appears there were no grounds for this. Those were facts of little importance as well as being the matter of public concern that had zero potential of derailing a special state investigation when conducted (O’Reilly, 2012).
The way Barack Obama treated American nation raises conspiracy theories, withDavid Petraeus controversy added to the mix.John McCain, Senior Senator from Arizona, Republican andpresidential office ex-number-one-contender referred to the scandal as being nothing less than governmental malfeasance, which is, however, still to be proved. Mr. McCain did refute the possibility of the now former CIA chief David Petraeus’ being somehow involved in this political intrigue. Such way or another, as of fall 2012,Senate was holding hearings to get official and truthful information to reach people, which was never done by the presidential administration(O’Reilly, 2012).
With TV broadcast going further, O’Reilly (2012) went on to draw analogy between the Watergate scandal and what could potentially have the same scope and repercussions, that is to say – Obama’s Benghazi scandal. In 1972 the then US president Richard Nixon denied being involved in “a low-level political break-in” and the word was that had journalists not been that aggressive in their pursuit of facts, Nixon could have retained his office (O’Reilly). What Nixon did was allegedly wiretap the conversations of the Democratic Party representativesat the Watergate Hotel, serving as their headquarters, and try to photograph documents as well as subsequent covering of his relation to the events from 1972. Press coverage and an intense scandal had him resign as president from his office following these developments.It is safe to assume that O’Reilly hinted at Obama forfeiting his position as well, given proper resonance in press, since the Watergate break-in pales in comparison with terrorist attack, involving as many as 4 dead American citizens, which went largely uncommented. Obama madea huge miscalculationby not providing much needed facts; however, there is now a possibility of president’s remaining unscathed inasmuch as the pressmay just let this issue slide now thatheat is coming down(O’Reilly, 2012).
Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Senator, vice chairman of senate intelligence committee, also commented on the Libyan attacks and the reaction of American officials. As perthe then incumbent CIA chief David Petraeus official statement released on September 14th,the situation was considered “a spontaneous demonstration caused by a crazy video tape”. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice commented in a similar fashion; however, Tripoli cable television recorded interviewhad CIA representatives calling the events an organized terror attack conducted with heavy weaponry. With that in mind, the CIA chief seemed to be contradicting his own employees in Libya, which displayed him as either a liar or an illiterate person who was unable to read the official reports, according to O’Reilly (2012).
Petraeus did not go beyond calling the September attack “the act of violence that arouse out of protest”. No way was it a poorly prepared or spontaneous, improvised attack since AK 47s, other automatic weapons, andhighly destructive RPGs were used in the process, which clearly shows it was a terrorist attack, according to Senator Saxby.The reason for the CIA chief to mislead American nation into controversy might be him being involved in a highly unpleasant extramarital affair (O’Reilly). The act of infidelity made him resign after only one year’s tenure at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency. Not wanting this to happen, Petraeus was possibly doing a bit of logrolling by not letting information proliferate and toning down the acuteness of the situation that might have career consequences for president Obama in exchange for keeping his infidelity unaddressed; still all maneuvering attempts did turn out futile. Designed failure or no designed failure, Benghazi scandal did a lot to reveal deep-rooted problems of Obama administration. According to O’Reilly, something was clearly rotten at the top tier of American power that mislead people, not telling what it was supposed to and what was revealed in world’s media the day following the attack. Obama did not even deign to answer when he was informed about terrorists’ having conducted the attack, which, according to Saxby Chambliss, is synonymous with carelessness in this particular case (O’Reilly, 2012).
According to Hanson (2013), dishonesty put on display by American top echelon officials tends to undermine the institution of American democracy. Deception is said to be a customary tool of Obama’s presidential administration, infecting each and every single corner of government, as well as corroding national trust, which is naturally prerequisite to democracy. If the tendency perseveres, the lack of trust will affect security agencies, the Department of Justice and other important establishments. The US press of today and that of Richard Nixon era are poles apart since media are trying to soft-pedal resounding events that might impact presidential administration or even cushion the effect of political scandals, when under way. All the majority of reporters try to do is share Obama’s personal attitude towards events, without daring express an opinion of their own. Besides, there is noble lie that justifies the fact of lying, in other words, deception as a tool of helping the authority achieve its high aim is no longer a lie. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary was put a question of whether or not Obama administration altered the original report submitted by the Central Intelligence Agency, to which the secretary replied unequivocally, saying there had been a few stylistic corrections made. That seemed to another example of deception since there were at least 12 drafts made for the report to fit the administration’s line of conduct. The earlier mentioned Susan Rice also did lie in her interview about a single video maker being accountable for an improvised violence that resulted in 4 deaths. Instead of getting penalized, the National Security Adviser got promoted (Hanson, 2013).
Benghazi Scandal is fine example of what Barack Obama’s administration looks like these days, a deceptive establishment that halts press investigations as well as failing to conduct their own impartial examination of the event that claimed 4 American citizens, including the life of American ambassador to Libya. Journalists to give candid coverage to the events of attack now fear for their future since the possibility of them being denied access to the top executive branch offices is higher than ever. CIA chief as well as Obama himself was not too vocal about the event, toning down the acuteness of the tragedy, failing to recognize it as an actual terrorist assault. The fat remains Barack Obama administration clearly has something to hide, which was demonstrated by its inactivity as well as unwillingness to properly cover the events of September 11th 2012.
Hanson, D. (2013, June 21). Hanson: when dishonesty undermines democracy. The Washington Times. Retrieved from: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/21/when-dishonesty-undermines-democracy/
O’Reilly, B. (2012).O’Reilly talking points Benghazi bigger than Watergate. First Post. Podcast retrieved from: http://www.firstpost.com/topic/place/georgia-oreilly-talking-points-benghazi-bigger-than-watergate-video-f_fwUNVgcdA-517-1.html
Rothman, Noah. (2013, August 05). The other Benghazi scandal: journalists worry covering the attack threatens the white house access. Mediate. Retrieved from: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/the-other-benghazi-scandal-journalists-worry-covering-the-attack-threatens-white-house-access/
Sorrentino, N. (2013, August 06). Journalists fear covering the Benghazi story, don’t want to lose access (favored crony status). AgainstCronyCapitlism.org. Retrieved from: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org/2013/08/journalists-fear-covering-the-benghazi-story-dont-want-to-lose-access-or-hurt-employer/