Jay Carney insists Benghazi, Libya, is not a scandal, but then he doesn’t admit to having misled the media about the origin of the attacks. The administration now tells CBS News, “We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots. It’s actually closer to us being idiots.” It would be nice if the source specified what part(s) of the administration were idiotic and why it’s “closer” but not all attributable to incompetence.

Jay Carney
White House spokesman Jay Carney (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

The problem with claiming incompetence is two-fold. First, it raises the question as to where the president was on Sept. 11, 2012, and whether former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, because of sins of commission or omission, is among the “idiots.” Second, if they did screw up badly, then the prevarication after the fact makes more sense.

The report from CBS News tells us that at least on background some in the administration acknowledge:

The list of mea culpas by Obama administration officials involved in the Benghazi response and aftermath include: standing down the counterterrorism Foreign Emergency Support Team, failing to convene the Counterterrorism Security Group, failing to release the disputed Benghazi “talking points” when Congress asked for them, and using the word “spontaneous” while avoiding the word “terrorism.”

And, of course, at the time there were no U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) forces in the area. Moreover, neither the CIA (which had the lion’s share of the forces in Benghazi) nor the State Department had adequate security in place.

Many of these reflect on the failure to take seriously the growing menace of al-Qaeda in North Africa and President Obama and Clinton’s failures to organize their underlings and set strategy. And, both in the aftermath played up the anti-Muslim video which we now know as a “non-event” in Libya.

Would the people who spoke to CBS News testify under oath, and why haven’t those who did testify admitted any of this? They should, and that includes White House national security advisers who were in the thick of this.

Bob Woodward says, “I would not dismiss Benghazi,” as the president has tried to do. Blanket announcements by the media or the White House that it is a made up scandal with no attempt to wrestle with the nitty-gritty facts, the executive inattention and the strategic negligence aren’t compelling. For one thing, it is cause for concern when the administration can admit in private such gross errors yet no one will admit that publicly. If nothing else, it is a scandal that we still don’t know what the president was doing, how we left our people as sitting ducks and why so many people who should have known better could have come up with a cock and bull story, for which, by the way, they never came forward to tell us that what they had said had been wrong.

Come to think of it, there is one big difference between Benghazi and Watergate. In the latter, the press was interested and determined to get to the truth, not content to say, “Nixon has enemies.” In the former, the lack of curiosity if not skepticism is a sign how far we’ve come from a truly aggressive, independent media to act as a check on government.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.