By Ben Barrack
When then UN Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday talk shows after the Benghazi attack and blamed a video, it gave legitimacy to an absurd charge. Egyptian Salafists wanted to use it to attack free speech and the Obama administration didn’t want the American people to know that it was a planned attack by Ansar Al-Sharia that included an Egyptian connection. It very well end up being her own ‘Bill Buckner’ moment – that odious one thing for which a person will always be remembered.
Approximately two weeks after the Benghazi attack, the video narrative began to completely unravel. After Barack Obama referred to it on September 25th at the United Nations, it became apparent that no more mileage was there to be had. In fact, continuing the line would put the administration in reverse.
Since the ouster of Mohammed Mursi on July 3rd, the Egyptian military has been rounding up Muslim Brotherhood leaders like cattle and reports were beginning to surface that the Obama administration might be involved in something very nefarious with the Mursi regime. If these charges bore out, it meant that the more Muslim Brothers who were captured, the more likely such truths would become known.
On August 21st, just a couple of weeks after failed attempts by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to get Brotherhood leaders in Egypt released, news of a Chemical weapons attack in Syria shifted everyone’s focus away from Egypt and toward the Assad regime. Video of the attack’s victims caused outrage:
The Obama administration pointed to this video with one hand and at Assad with the other. While the video wasn’t itself being blamed, it was being identified as the impetus for assigning blame. The narrative was being set; Assad’s regime must pay a heavy price for using Chemical weapons. Like Rice, various Republicans went on the Sunday shows a few days later and gave the Obama administration’s line that Assad did it. The problem soon became that far more evidence of rebels using Chemical weapons existed than Assad’s regime had been using them. Despite this, the same power players who wanted Brotherhood leaders in Egypt released were adamantly pushing Brotherhood propaganda relative to Syria.
On August 27th, McCain asserted that the rebels were “freedom fighters” who had no access to Chemical weapons and essentially asked viewers to make him the authority on the entire matter. The best part? Well, he pointed to his trip to Syria in which he met with these nice rebels. What he failed to include in his pitch was that photo he took with a Syrian kidnapper alongside the rebel lobbyist who accompanied McCain on the trip:
It was McCain and Graham, along with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) who comprised the trio of most outspoken Senators against Rice for her September 16th comments in which she blamed a video for the Benghazi attacks:
Less than a year after successfully leading the charge to prevent Rice from becoming Secretary of State, McCain may have done something as bad or worse while relying on a video to manufacture outrage against Assad. We could be looking at his ‘Jackie Smith’ moment – that odious one thing for which a person will always be remembered.
McCain isn’t the only one, however. In a POLITICO article entitled, “John Kerry’s moment”, the man who holds the position Rice sought is identified as the guy pushing the administration’s narrative the hardest:
Meet John Kerry, chief prosecutor for President Barack Obama.
Both in public and behind the scenes, the secretary of State has emerged as the most forceful advocate for the administration’s case that Bashar Assad’s regime used chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war.
Kerry partnered with Rice and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to hold a conference call with Congressional leaders on August 29th to talk about options. All the while, the premise seemed to have been that the Assad regime was guilty. McCain and Graham were both on the call and demanded a response more forceful than even Rice was willing to consider.
“I think she realizes that they have to respond, but I get the impression that she is certainly not convinced of mine and Senator Graham’s views that this has to be a sustained effort in order to bring down Bashar al-Assad ultimately,” said McCain.
Writing for Mint Press, AP reporter Dale Gavlak indicated that the Chemical attack in Syria on August 21st appears to have been the result of Saudi Ariab’s Prince Bandar bin Sultan providing such weapons to rebels who didn’t know how to use them.
One day after the attack in Syria, McCain pointed to the video of the victims as justification for Assad’s removal. If it turns out that Gavlak is correct, the Senator from Arizona will have participated in a blood libel at great risk to the U.S. and to the world.
At some point, perhaps McCain should be required to reveal who is behind his talking points.