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Clarence Page / Politics

Busting Myths About Benghazi

Hear ye, hear ye! Sarah Palin hereby accuses President Barack Obama of the high crime of shucking and jiving or, more precisely, a "shuck and jive shtick" with "Benghazi lies."

Evidence? She don't need no blinkin' evidence. In the art of paranoid politics, one needs only to raise questions -- and suspicions.

"Why the lies?" she wrote on her Facebook page about the aftermath of the tragic Sept. 11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi. "Why the cover up? Why the dissembling about the cause of the murder of our ambassador on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil? We deserve answers to this. President Obama's shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end."

Predictably, some sensitive souls charged that the former Alaska governor's use of "shuck and jive" smacks of racism. But quite frankly, if all racism were this mild, I think we'd have a much happier world.

I am much more concerned about Palin's central charge. "Benghazi lies" has become like "Obama's phony birth certificate," a bundle of allegations based less on a desire to find the truth than to feather one's nest as a five-star foe of the president.

Republicans and other conservatives have alleged that Team Obama tried to protect the president's re-election chances by blaming the attack on a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim YouTube video, made in the USA, that touched off violent protests in Cairo that day.

Palin's outrage was set off by a newly reported State Department email that indicates the Obama administration knew while the consulate was under siege that an al-Qaida affiliate, not a spontaneous uprising, claimed responsibility.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and two other Senate Republicans also wrote this past Wednesday to Obama, saying: "These emails make clear that your administration knew within two hours of the attack that it was a terrorist act and that Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan militant group with links to al-Qaida, had claimed responsibility for it."

But not quite. Closer examination reveals that the email may only have been one of several inaccurate spot reports on a chaotic, confusing and rapidly changing situation.

And Ansar al-Sharia, for what it's worth, denied responsibility for the attack, although they praised the attackers. Modesty is not an attribute for which terrorist groups are widely known, unless they really didn't do what other people say they did.

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(c) 2012 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.



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