What Did We Learn From the 60 Minutes Benghazi Report?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 28 2013 8:56 AM

What Did We Learn From the 60 Minutes Benghazi Report?

On the right, there's bitter celebration over a 60 Minutes report on Benghazi that includes more than a year of reporting. The report "confirms Benghazi is a real scandal, and you've been lied to," according to William Jacobson, for example.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

But the report tells us more about what we've known for a year, and known in detail since the spring of 2013. Lara Logan's big coup is an interview with a British security officer who uses a psuedonym; her other on-camera sources, Andy Wood and Gregory Hicks, had testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. What we learn from the report:

Advertisement

- The new source reports that "on his first drive through Benghazi, he noticed the black flags of al Qaeda flying openly in the streets and he grew concerned about the guard forces as soon as he pulled up to the U.S. compound." This was echoed in a later cable from Chris Stevens: "the al Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings."

- Online chatter provided clues as to what was coming. "Al Qaeda -- using a familiar tactic -- had stated their intent in an online posting, saying they would attack the Red Cross, the British and then the Americans in Benghazi."

-  Wood, a chief security officer in Libya, told the country team that "the attack cycle is such that they're in the final planning stages."

This colors in some of the story, but it doesn't advance the scandal. The Stevens cables that warned State about what might happen were revealed almost a year ago, sparking off some minor head-rolling at State but not much else. What conservatives want to know—and when I go to conferences or political rallies, I hear this—is what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were doing on the night of the attack, and whether they heard earlier warnings but ignored them.

Conservatives are apoplectic about Clinton's public statements after the attack, which continued to mention the "Innocence of Muslims" video, and did not lead with how terrorists had actually planned an executed an attack. "They lied to the victims’ coffins and then strolled over to lie to the bereaved," wrote Mark Steyn after the Issa hearings. The new report doesn't provide much ballast for any of this, but it does assure conservatives that the media hasn't stopped caring about the story.

What's the next scheduled turn in Benghazigate? I'd say it's the forthcoming release of Hillary Clinton's second memoir.

UPDATE: And there's this, seemingly inspired by the TV report.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?