The great Robert Conquest, whose work provides one of the windows into my forthcoming book American Betrayal, put it so elegantly:
"Not even high intelligence and a senstive spirit are of any help once the facts of a situation are deduced from a political theory and not vice versa."
In a national security context, this is called politicizing the intelligence -- making the facts fit a political narrative rather than allowing the facts to construct a narrative of their own.
The Obama administration's repeated, stubborn, hectoring insistence that the Youtube video "Innocence of Muslims" caused murder and mayhem throughout the Muslim world since 9/11/12, including the jihadist assault on the Benghazi consulate, represents one of the most flagrant displays of this malpractice, and also one of the most serious breaches of public trust. President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Jay Carney and other Obama officials all engaged in this transparent and now failed Big Lie. And so, Fox News is reporting, did CIA Director David Petraeus. According to the emerging timeline, intelligence officials knew within 24 hours of the takedown of the Benghazi consulate and murders of the American ambassador and three other Americans that this was a terrorist attack. But the administration apparently decided that the political bedtime story that this was spontaneous Islamic combustion over a Mohammed clip on Youtube had to be defended above all else, including the truth.
Fox News reports (hat tip Andrew Bostom):
Yet a congressional source told Fox News that CIA Director David Petraeus, during a briefing with members of the House Intelligence Committee three days after the attack, also espoused the view that Benghazi was an out-of-control demonstration prompted by the YouTube video. According to the source, this was "shocking" to some members who were present and saw the same intelligence pointing toward a terrorist attack.
Sen. Bob Corker is calling it "Benghazi-gate." So should Mitt Romney.
To be sure, aside from basic questions about intelligence failures (failures of common sense, too) before and after the Benghazi attack, there are other questions to ask to understand the motives behind the administration's apparently baldfaced lying.
Are Obama officials knowingly engaged in distorting the facts, or are they so wed to ideology, to their belief that the Arab revolutions of the past year and a half are positive developments if not roaring successes that all contradictory evidence is discounted as anathema -- blasphemy"?
Or, through penetration, through influence, or through natural cast of mind, are they so sympathetic to the claims and call of the Islamic narrative, that they now see the world from this perspective and thus accept the purported raison d'etre if not the methods of the rioters and terrorists? Certainly, the language used to denounce the video by Obama officials suggests some significant meeting of the minds.
Meanwhile, we know from past debate how assiduously David Petraeus pays attention to and, indeed, is guided by what he has called in Senate testimony "Arab anger." We also know that Petraeus as CENTCOM commander was no stranger to politicking, engaging in what was described as an "unprecedented" political push in early 2010 on behalf of Islam's Israel-centered demonology in order to enhance Americas's military standing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Somehow, and for undisclosed reasons, such a narrative of "Arab anger" took precedence in the Obama administration over the burning, blooody facts on the ground. Mendacity, dupedom or psychological denial, Benghazi-gate demonstrates the Obama team's perfectly terrifying incompetence. Americans should take this as a warning of greater and even more devastating lapses in judgment to come if they remain in power.