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November 14, 2013 3:04 PM More Holes in 6o Minutes Benghazi! Story Open Up

By Ed Kilgore

It was generally assumed that once CBS “rising star” reporter Lara Logan briefly apologized for her October 27 Benghazi! report for 60 Minutes that spurred Lindsey Graham to take all Obama nominations hostage, CBS would experience momentary embarrassment and Logan would stay out of sight for a while, but then the whole thing would blow over.

That’s not so clear now. Nancy Youssef of the McLatchey news organization has published a very long examination of the show’s claims that go far beyond the dubious decision to broadcast the dubious accounts of “witness” Dylan Davies. Here’s a taste:

The report repeatedly referred to al Qaida as solely responsible for the attack on the compound and made no mention of Ansar al Shariah, the Islamic extremist group that controls and provides much of the security in restive Benghazi and that has long been suspected in the attack. While the two organizations have worked together in Libya, experts said they have different aims - al Qaida has global objectives while Ansar al Shariah is focused on turning Libya into an Islamic state.
It is an important distinction, experts on those groups said. Additionally, al Qaida’s role, if any, in the attack has not been determined, and Logan’s narration offered no source for her repeated assertion that it had been.
“I think there are definitely connections, but I am not sure there is command and control” between al Qaida and Ansar al Shariah, said Aaron Y. Zelin of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who studies insurgent activity in North Africa.
Logan claimed that “it’s now well established that the Americans were attacked by al Qaida in a well-planned assault.” But al Qaida has never claimed responsibility for the attack, and the FBI, which is leading the U.S. investigation, has never named al Qaida as the sole perpetrator. Rather, it is believed a number of groups were part of the assault, including members and supporters of al Qaida and Ansar al Shariah, as well as attackers angered by a video made by an American that insulted Prophet Muhammad. The video spurred angry protests outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo hours beforehand.
In a Sept. 12, 2012, statement about the attack, Ansar al Shariah suggested its members had participated, though the group said it did not order the assault.
Moreover, questions remain over how far in advance the attack on the U.S. compound had been planned. Rather than a long-planned attack, investigators have told McClatchy it was likely planned hours, rather than days, in advance.

The questions go on and on in ways that will make it difficult to maintain the scapegoating of Davies as having duped the innocent Logan. As for Davies himself:

Since “60 Minutes” acknowledgement that Davies had lied in his interviews, CBS also has not explained how Davies came to play such a major role in the segment and what role if any his connection to CBS-owned Threshold Editions had in his prominence. Threshold, which also has published books by former Vice President Dick Cheney, Republican strategist Karl Rove and conservative commentator Glenn Beck, withdrew Davies’ book from circulation last week.

CBS says it’s now performing a “journalistic review” of the whole story, but it sounds like the network is just a few feet ahead of the bloodhounds.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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