By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
While there was little news in last Sunday’s Benghazi story on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” it did make some key points that have rarely been heard from mainstream media outlets. The report proves, once again, just how culpable President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are for ignoring the deteriorating security situation in Libya last year, even though their names were never mentioned in the segment.
The segment, which can be viewed online, interviews one “Morgan Jones,” a self-identified Blue Mountain security chief who was at an apartment 15 minutes away when the attack started at the Benghazi Special Mission Compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
Jones raced to the compound, scaled the 12-foot wall, and attempted to enter the compound to assist those inside, but they had already been rescued by a CIA rapid-response team that included the now-deceased Tyrone Woods.
“[The attackers] said, ‘We’re here to kill Americans, not Libyans,’” recounts Jones in an emotional moment. “So they’d give them a good beating, pistol whip them, beat them with their rifle, and let them go.”
Other than Fox News, it appears that the major networks are largely ignoring the “60 Minutes” piece. Fox’s Adam Housley noted on air that he was in contact with Jones as late as last December, until Jones began asking for money to continue talking. Jones apparently was training the unarmed guards inside the compound, and he told Housley, “…the men were supposed to go away when this attack started because they didn’t have any guns or any weapons. They were there basically to keep the riffraff out.”
The “60 Minutes” story highlighted Morgan’s new book on his experience in Benghazi, The Embassy House: The Explosive Eyewitness Account of the Libyan Embassy Siege by the Soldier Who Was There, but they failed to acknowledge that the book was published by Simon & Schuster, which is a division of the CBS Corporation. Was that CBS’s way of compensating Morgan?
“This colors in some of the story, but it doesn’t advance the scandal,” comments Dave Weigel for Slate Magazine about Morgan’s account of the events that evening (emphasis in original). Why doesn’t the “60 Minutes” piece advance the scandal, you might ask? “But the report tells us more about what we’ve known for a year, and known in detail since the spring of 2013,” writes Weigel. He might have missed the part where Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, who headed a Special Forces Site Security Team (SST) in Libya, told CBS’s Lara Logan that al Qaeda had posted online three threats: that they would attack the Red Cross, the British, and then the Americans in Benghazi. “They made good on two out of the three promises. It was a matter of time until they captured the third one,” said Wood. The Red Cross pulled out, as did the British after their ambassador survived an assassination attempt. Why didn’t the Americans pull out? Logan asks whether Washington was notified of these threats. “They [Washington] knew we monitored it. We included that in our reports to both State Department and DoD,” said Wood.
These reports were likely not just lost in the ether. Consider, for example, the State Department classified cable that said the Special Mission Compound could not defend against a “coordinated attack.” When asked about this cable, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey testified that although he didn’t read the cable himself, he heard about it and it “bothered” him a “great deal.” Did Wood’s report likewise go up the chain of command? If not, why not?
Wood tells Logan in the interview that before he left Libya he told Ambassador Christopher Stevens in a meeting that he felt al Qaeda was in its final planning stages of an attack.
However, the “60 Minutes” report does not mention Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama once—failing to hold them culpable for the poor security, poor planning, and an unwillingness to recognize the deteriorating situation in Benghazi and pull their people out. “We had to make sure we weren’t used by anyone on the Left or the Right who had a political agenda,” said Logan for CBS. “So, we left about 98 percent of what we learned on the floor—didn’t even report it—because unless we could substantiate it with primary sources that we truly trusted and whose motivations we trusted, then we didn’t even go there.”
Speaking of leaving most of what they learned on the floor, astonishingly, CBS has recently again found new documents on the floor in the compound in Benghazi, that appear to have been classified material.
However, the “60 Minutes” segment does note that the White House was still arguing that the attack was prompted by the Innocence of Muslims film long after the evidence indicated a coordinated attack by al Qaeda. “Conservatives are apoplectic about Clinton’s public statements after the attack, which continued to mention the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video, and did not lead with how terrorists had actually planned and executed an attack,” asserts Weigel.
The report also notes that that the CIA quick reaction force “ignored orders to wait” and went to assist the security guards at the Special Mission compound, and states that “the lingering question is why no larger military response ever crossed the border into Libya.”
It now turns out, according to a report in The Washington Times, that there were at least eight special operators on the ground in Tripoli, two of whom volunteered and flew the 400 miles from Tripoli to Benghazi to help rescue the people under attack at the CIA annex in Benghazi.
“The two special operations forces [Army Delta forces] arrived in time to engage in the final, ferocious firefight between the terrorists and Americans holed up in the CIA annex near the ill-fated diplomatic mission in Benghazi,” wrote Rowan Scarborough for the Times. Scarborough said his story shows that the military could have done more if they wanted to, since they arrived in Benghazi by plane.
Where are the questions about who knew what, at what time? The lack of a military response may be a “lingering question,” but CBS does not educate the viewer as to what forces were or were not available, glossing over this vital question. CBS calls this good journalism, for a report that was a year in the making. “CBS News, it should be noted, has been far more aggressive in pursuing the Benghazi story than its competitors…” writes John Hayward for Human Events.
As a result of the report, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “tweeted Monday that he will block every one of President Obama’s nominees on the Senate floor until the administration discloses information about the survivors of last year’s attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya,” reported The Washington Post.
We hear that “60 Minutes” is planning additional stories on the Benghazi scandal in the near future. Hopefully, they will advance the story further, and attempt to hold senior people accountable.