Headline memories

by Chris Markham. 0 Comments

There are a few memories I have of my childhood into my twenties. I remember playing with some toys when my father came home and said that someone broke into the Watergate Hotel in that far-off glamorous city of Washington, DC. I remember getting tested for allergic reactions when I heard on a television in the lobby of the doctor’s office made mention of an investigation into the United States selling arms to Nicaragua. I remember sleeping on my sister’s couch and being awoken with a news flash that O.J. Simpson’s wife appeared to be murdered.

What do these incidents have in common? They were little blips on the landscape that turns into massive scandals – a president resigns; reputations tarnished; a slow-speed chase.

A few weeks ago, I remember seeing a breaking headline that the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya had been attacked. And now, a number of weeks on, this little headline has begun to break open. Slowly, to be sure, but the facts that have been unearthed lead to more questions.

First, it appeared as though the attack was a result of a twelve-minute YouTube video that cast aspersions on Islam. Amazingly, this theory gained traction. Everyone ran to their computers and pulled up the offending video. Then, after viewing, many wondered if this ignited a riot that killed a number of Americans and destroyed a significant portion of the embassy. The story began to fail the smell test.

But, action needed to be taken, and the filmmaker was rounded up and questioned. As far as I know, he’s still in custody somewhere in California. At the very least, as few of the actors that appeared in the video got some publicity and they may get some other jobs as a result. Good for them.

Then, it appeared as though the embassy officials had received a “heads up” that there was going to be a coordinated attack on their position. The Ambassador himself had contacted the State Department and informed the government himself that things were about to go sideways. No mention of any video and no mention of any forthcoming assistance.

More independent sources contacted the United States and stated the same thing – the embassy was going to be hit. Apparently, this information was deemed “un-credible” and basically ignored by the highest levels of government.

The anointed day arrived and the attack began. Military assets were told to stand down as the attack raged. Two former Navy SEALs went to try and rescue those that were under attack. When they called for back-up, those calls were refused. The government, specifically the President, denied any knowledge of the situation at that time. Released e-mails have shown otherwise. Similarly, information has come to light that the United States denied all assistance to the embassy while it was under attack.

Now it appears that the current government, as well as the media, while they are trying their best to not let any details escape, continues to treat this situation as an unfortunate incident that came out of nowhere and we did all we could have done under the circumstances. It’s very sad, but we have to move on. Besides, there’s a fundraiser I have to be to in a few minutes.

As much as I’d like to be a conspiracy theorist, I can never muster up the energy to be one. There are far too many things on this planet that don’t make much sense already. But given President Obama’s reaction and subsequent actions in this matter, I may begin to buy into the tinfoil hat crowd about the man. There are so many questions.

Now it appears the State Department knew more than it originally let on. That circus, along with trying to figure out the Petreaus affair (man, that generated a lot of heat and light for about three minutes before it went away) has done a pretty good job at keeping the President out of the spotlight.

But the three snippets I mentioned earlier – Watergate, Iran-Contra, O.J. Simpson – grew into monstrosities that altered the course of government, international relations and the media. Let’s hope that Congress (who really should get behind this matter and use its investigative power to DO SOMETHING) will dig deeper into this matter, and, if negligence is found, should urge the highest, strictest punishment available.

This incident should not be forgotten.

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Christopher Markham writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

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