CHARLOTTE, December 31, 2013 – As 2013 fades into the pages of history, the New York Times has published an exhaustive report that claims them Benghazi attacks last year that left four Americans dead were, at least in part, the result of a YouTube video.
The video, which was produced by an American, had already created riots in Cairo and in the aftermath of the Benghazi raid, was the primary talking point for the Obama administration as the cause.
The Times reported that Ahmed Abu Khattala, supposedly a key figure in the attack, is known to be an eccentric local rabble rouser who American investigators were told could be a prime suspect. The Times further added that Abu Khattla suggested that the video which insulted the Prophet Muhammad was justification for the killings.
Perhaps the most significant finding by the Times was the conclusion that there was no involvement by al Qaeda or other terrorist groups and the raid was accelerated in part by anger over the video.
As an American journalistic icon, arguably the New York Times has no peer when it comes to analytical media coverage. If the Times prints it, a story gains immediate credibility.
That does not mean, however, that the Times timing of the story should not come under some degree of scrutiny. A piece of journalism as extensive as this does not happen overnight. Obviously the Times set out well in advance with the idea of breaking the story on the weekend before the new year. It might have been an honest effort to sell more papers on the final weekend of 2013, but given today’s journalistic climate, there were likely other motives.
One of the dirty little secrets about investigative media is that more often than not reporters already know the story they want to tell before they leave the building. The “investigation” results in seeking out the people who can corroborate the result the media outlet is seeking. If the Times discovered al Qaeda had been involved in the Benghazi attacks the investigation would have been for naught. It would have been a non-story. Hence no added sales. No controversy. The story was only a story if it contained the conclusions the paper reported.
So the question, or questions, become who is the Times protecting? Barack Obama? Hillary Clinton? Or both?
Obama’s approval ratings and credibility are at an all time low. Clinton is most likely embarking on another run for the White House. Both need some image cleansing. What better time to begin than a brand new year?
News junkies who remember the debate during the 2008 presidential campaign over who was more qualified to pick up the red telephone in the middle of the night have come to realize that both Obama and Clinton failed the test. Obama was nowhere to be found during the raids and Clinton sent Susan Rice out to do her dirty work about the video on the Sunday news shows. That does not represent the sort of leadership that instills confidence in the American people.
Obama has had more than his share of absentee diplomacy and Clinton is constantly under a cloud of suspicious activities.
Since parsing words has replaced football as the national pastime, there are other nuances to consider in the Times report. For example, consider the phrase, “the raid was accelerated in part by anger over the video.” Not a definitive statement to say the least. Surely, given the amount of time spent on pursuing the report, the Times could have reached a more concrete answer than that.
The quote by Abu Khattala who “suggested that the video which insulted the Prophet Muhammad was justification for the killings” is hardly a strong verification either. “Suggested” merely refers to the “possibility” that the video was a culprit.
Furthermore, the world “justification” is significant in any understanding of Islamic radicalism. The word “justify” appears throughout the Koran. In the Muslim world, if you can “justify” your actions it is all that is necessary to be free of any responsibility. Barack Obama uses such tactics all the time. It is one of the primary reasons many people believe he still has Muslim ties.
Justification is a key Islamic strategy so why not use a YouTube video as an excuse? It doesn’t matter that the video had been running on the internet for months before the riots in Cairo and Benghazi even took place.
Finally, the Times did claim that neither al Qaeda nor any other international terror organization were involved.
Whether or not it was al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas or whoever else, four Americans are dead, the president and his key advisors failed the American people and the New York Times sold a few more papers over the weekend.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com).
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