Who’s the One Making Stuff Up Here?

Ron’s really gone and done it this time.

.@ron_fournier is trolling the known universe today.

—some guy on Twitter

Ron Fournier close crop horizontal

Today he’s been ramping up his pox on both houses, false equivalency game.

And then doubling down.

Other people (notably Matt Lewis) have already taken on the basic fallacy of his piece, but there’s something Ron put in the article that’s getting stuck in my craw.

Ron Fournier, National Journal: Everyone’s Lying to You About Benghazi

There are too many phony conspiracy theories to refute here, but the most infamous came from the chief GOP investigator, Rep. Darrell Issa of California. “I have my suspicion, which is Secretary [Hillary] Clinton told Leon [Panetta] to stand down,” said the modern-day McCarthy. That lie has taken root in GOP circles despite reports like this from the Armed Services Committee: “There was no ‘stand down’ order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi.” Issa also claimed that Clinton signed a State Department memo denying security to Benghazi, a blatant falsehood.

Issa is a joke. His conduct has undermined the credibility of the Republican Party, just as the White House communications team has undercut trust in the presidency. After a spate of partisan investigations in Congress, it’s hard to fathom how the new “select committee” could 1) unearth evidence of wrongdoing beyond the Accountability Review Board’s harsh findings, and 2) claim evidence of wrongdoing that a fair-minded voter would believe.

There’s a problem with this take, though. Republicans didn’t make this up. If it’s not true, and if somebody is guilty of lying about it (as opposed to misapprehending the facts) it’s not Republicans or Issa.

It’s the guy who testified before Congress.

Under oath.

Gregory Hicks.

Oren Dorell, USAToday: Benghazi whistle-blowers testify at House hearing

Hicks told committee staffers prior to Wednesday’s hearing that he pushed for a stronger military response to an attack. He said he was rebuffed by Washington, according to excerpts of interview transcripts provided by the House oversight committee.

Hicks said he asked twice whether an F-16 or some other “fast-mover” aircraft could fly over the battlefield with hopes it would scatter the attackers.

“I talked with the defense attache, Lt. Col. Keith Phillips, and I asked him, ‘Is there anything coming?’ ”

According to Hicks’ account, Phillips said the nearest fighter planes were in Aviano, Italy, and it would take two to three hours to get them airborne, and there were no tanker assets close enough to support them. Hicks said when he asked again, before the 5:15 a.m. mortar attack that killed State Department security personnel former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. But the answer was no again. Also killed was State Department employee Sean Smith.

A four-man team of military special operations forces was in Tripoli was organized, geared up and about to drive to a C-130 aircraft, to help those in Benghazi when its commander was ordered to stop by his superiors, Hicks said.

“He got a phone call from SOCAFRICA (Special Operations Command Africa) which said, you can’t go now, you don’t have authority to go now,” Hicks said. “They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”

Hicks said the commander told him: “I have never been so embarrassed in my life that a State Department officer has bigger balls than somebody in the military.”

Another writer provides an analysis of this accusation and an exchange about it before Congress.

Emma Roller, Slate: The Delicate Parsing of “Stand Down” in the Benghazi Hearing

Here’s what I found was the most interesting exchange from the hearing: Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) prodded the witness Gregory Hicks, the former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya, about the State Department’s “stand down” order. That’s the allegation that State told a Special Forces team based in Tripoli to not fly to Benghazi to help evacuate embassy personnel there. The thing is, none of the witnesses actually uttered the magic words “stand down” in their testimony (as far as I heard), so there is some news in that Hicks is now basically saying the Pentagon lied.

First, here’s what a Pentagon spokesman told USA Today this week:

Maj. Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday, “There was never any kind of stand-down order to anybody.” On Tuesday, Firman said the military is trying to assess the incident Hicks is referring to, but the aircraft in question wound up evacuating a second wave of Americans from Benghazi to Tripoli, not transporting rescuers to a firefight.

And here’s the exchange from today’s hearing, starting around the 3-minute mark:

Turner: Now, do you know why they were told to stand down? Did Colonel Gibson give you any information or understanding?

Hicks: I actually don’t know why.

Turner: Is there any reason to believe that the situation in Benghazi was over? There were a number of series of attacks, as you’ve described it to us. Any reason to describe that there was no longer any danger in Benghazi?

Hicks: No, it was every reason to continue to believe that our personnel were in danger.

Turner: Mr. Hicks, Mr. Chaffetz has given me an article that appeared in USA Todayjust this week. And just as early as last Monday, Major Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the military’s account that was first issued weeks after the attacks hasn’t changed. “There was never any kind of stand-down order to anybody.” Now, that’s a pretty broad statement, “anybody.” What’s your reaction to the quote by Mr. Firman?

Hicks: I can only again repeat that Lieutenant Colonel Gibson said he was not to proceed to board the airplane.

Turner: So your first-hand experience being on the site, standing next to Colonel Gibson, who was on his way on that C-130 transport and being told not to go, contradicts what Mr. Firman is saying on behalf of the Pentagon?

Hicks: Yes sir.

Later, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) asked Hicks who gave Lt. Col. Gibson the “stand-down” order. “He did not identify the person,” Hicks said. And therein lies you know what.

Frankly, I believe Ron Fournier has a perfect right to dislike Issa—and to tell us so—but I don’t think he’s using that right responsibly, with such harsh invective and absolutely nothing to back it up with.

He owes the Congressman an apology.

And, while crying out his pox on both houses, he needs to consider this: There are three pox-worthy houses in this case, and Ron’s looks mighty complicit.

Where was the press after Candy Crowley “fact-checked” Romney about Benghazi in the presidential debate?

She was wrong and he was right.

Was Ron out front setting the record straight?

Where was the press during and after Susan Rice’s notorious appearance on five Sunday morning shows, where she spread the video story—while her bosses at the White House knew it was a lie?

Where was the press when Secretary Clinton stood in front of those caskets, making an unholy promise to a grieving father:

Woods, in interviews earlier this week, also described a series of conversations he had with administration officials at the memorial service held Sept. 14. He said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — despite signs early on that militants were behind the attack — pledged to him at that event that she would pursue the maker of an anti-Islam film that had been linked to other protests. “Her countenance was not good and she made this statement to me … she said we will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted,”

And where was the press when that video producer was indeed arrested?

Again, where was the press during and after Secretary Clinton’s infamous meltdown where she shrieked “What difference does it make?” to a member of Congress trying to get to the facts?

False equivalence is the way of escape for those who can’t deal with the failings of those they align with.

And a way to keep from pointing at the culpability within their own house.

It’s not working in this case.

Too many people can read.


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