Did the New York Times Overreach with its Benghazi Whitewash?
The New York Times claims Ansar al-Sharia has nothing to do with Ansar al-Sharia.
The New York Times’ obvious motivation is to protect its presidential candidate in 2016, but its multi-part article was largely off target in that regard because it failed to address the security issues that are the heart of the critique of Hillary Clinton’s actions and area of responsibility.
Instead it focused on two elements of revisionism. It attempted to revive and defend the ridiculous claim that a YouTube video had caused a series of timed attacks against American diplomatic facilities across the region in a matter of days.
Despite its introductory claim that the Benghazi attack “was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam”, the article never provides supporting evidence for this. All it does is cite the claim that some attackers were angry about the video. The attackers were no doubt angry about any number of things. That does not establishment that the attack was planned and implemented as a result of the video.
But it’s obvious why the New York Times would want to revive the YouTube hoax after Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton and Obama committed to that lie.
But the second revisionist element where the New York Times truly overreaches is its claim that the attack did not involve Al Qaeda.
It’s not particularly clear why the New York Times felt the need to whitewash this part of the story. Yes, Obama Inc. lied about it for a while, but in the long run it’s not nearly as damaging as the fact that they attempted to blame a video or that they failed to provide proper security.
The shifting allegiances, overt and covert, make it impossible to establish that Al Qaeda was not involved in the attack. And the New York Times pursued its claim with a narrow focus on the perpetrators… whose own guilt it can’t really establish.
It has been widely reported, including by the New York Times, that the attackers included those with Al Qaeda ties. The New York Times, despite claims otherwise, does not disprove this with fact. It just resorts to making open statements.
The Times also drew a distinction between the Benghazi branch of Ansar al-Sharia and the Dernaa branch of the group that was led by a former Guantanamo detainee Sufian Ben Qhumu. Others however see Ansar al-Sharia’s activities in Libya more coordinated with al-Qaeda’s regional affiliates.
In October, Tunisia’s Prime Minister told Reuters that “there is a relation between leaders of Ansar al-Sharia, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya.” The Times also states, “the Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with al Qaeda’s international terrorist network.”
Most Al Qaeda affiliates are local, but they also have global links. When dealing with Caliphate groups who don’t recognize states or borders, the distinctions between local, regional and global turn fuzzy. Many Al Qaeda affiliates pretend to be unconnected. Syria’s Al-Nusra Front, a group everyone now knows is the Syrian Al Qaeda, pretended that it was purely local for the longest time.
The New York Times’ Al Qaeda whitewash depends on contending that one Ansar al-Sharia has nothing to do another Ansar al-Sharia.
It’s obvious that all this material takes place in a gray area and the New York Times’ claim that it disproved Al Qaeda involvement is unsupportable.