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Crises: Don't be outraged, just tell the truth page 2
Charles Krauthammer's op-ed column on Redacted truth, subjunctive outrage.

Date published: 5/19/2013

continued

The original CIA draft included four paragraphs on the involvement of al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists and on the dangerous security situation in Benghazi. These paragraphs were stricken after strenuous State Department objections mediated by the White House. All that was left was the fable of the spontaneous demonstration.

That's not an accretion of truth. That's a subtraction of truth.

And why? Let the deputy national security adviser's email to the parties explain: "We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities"--fancy bureaucratese for "interests of the government agencies involved." (He then added--"particularly the investigation." But the FBI, which was conducting the investigation, had no significant objections. That excuse was simply bogus.)

Note that he didn't say the talking points should reflect the truth--only the political interests, the required political cover, of all involved. And the overriding political interest was the need to protect the president's campaign claim, his main foreign policy plank, that al-Qaida was vanquished and the tide of war receding.

But then things got worse--the cover-up needed its own cover-up. On Nov. 28, press secretary Jay Carney told the media that State and the White House edited nothing but a single trivial word. When the email trail later revealed this to be false, Carney doubled down. The Friday before last, he repeated that the CIA itself made the edits after the normal input from various agencies.

That was a bridge too far for even the heretofore supine mainstream media. The CIA may have typed the final edits. But the orders came from on high. You cannot tell a room full of journalists that when your editor tells you to strike four paragraphs from your text--and you do--there were no edits because you are the one who turned in the final copy.

The Clintonian wordplay doesn't stop with Benghazi. Four days after the IRS announced that it discriminated against conservative organizations, Carney said repeatedly in his daily briefing that, if true, the president would be outraged.

If? By then, the IRS had not only admitted the grievous misconduct but apologized for it--and the president was speaking in the conditional.

This could be the first case in presidential history of subjunctive outrage. (It turned into ostensibly real outrage upon later release of the Inspector General report.) Add that to the conditional truths--ever changing, ever fading--of Benghazi, and you have a major credibility crisis.

Note to the White House: Try the truth. It's easier to memorize.

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group.


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