Doing the Nixon dance on Benghazi

A week after the American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were assassinated in Benghazi, I bellied up to the clubhouse bar on the golf course at North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado.

I had just finished a round of golf behind two groups the pro shop announced over the PA system as “the general’s groups.” Don’t know who they were, but I’ve played this course many times over the years, and I’ve played golf with many a warrior in the service of our country, from active duty Navy SEALs to submariners, enlisted, officers, retired and active.

We stood around the bar that day swapping golf lies. The politically correct military bar featured two TVs – one tuned in to a CNN feed, the other to a Fox News feed. CNN aired some meaningless piece on the largest ball of yarn ever collected by an Amish couple (or some similar CNN “exclusive”) while Fox News reported on Benghazi.

Fox recounted the timeline as known at the time and dutifully reported the White House narrative about the deaths stemming from Muslims spontaneously irritated over a video.

The guy next to me looked down from the broadcast, turned to me and in a low, solemn voice said: “It’s the RPGs that make no sense. That’s what got ’em. Where’d the f—ing RPGs come from?”

He then returned to the general’s entourage. And I have not stopped thinking about Benghazi since.

Rocket-propelled grenades are not standard issue for movie critics, even in the Middle East. And a guy at a military base bar – although probably not just any guy – could see the White House story made no sense.

Yet, for days to come, Washington continued to sell this false narrative. To what end?

Fox deserves praise for its dogged reporting on Benghazi. The network subsequently reported that CIA men only a mile away from where the ambassador was pinned down were “saddled up” and ready to rescue, or die trying. But they were ordered to “stand down.”

That prompted this curiously qualified denial from the CIA: “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need.”

That led The Washington Post’s David Ignatius to ask more questions that just might – underline “might” – get the rest of the big news outlets jump-started.

If the CIA didn’t nix the rescue, did someone else? What exactly did happen that night and why?

All good questions, which then prompt questions about why the president refuses to answer them. It is “under investigation” until – what? – the election is over?

Besides, what’s to investigate? Did anyone in Obama’s chain of command turn down three requests to rescue the Benghazi Americans, or not? The president must know that.

And the involvement of the CIA raises even more questions about what our ambassador was doing in Benghazi that night, of all nights.

One thing for sure is that the Obama administration lied initially about the cause of the Benghazi deaths. It was most definitely not a spontaneous protest over a movie.

And that lie isn’t the only thing that makes this story odd. After the Benghazi deaths, Obama jetted to Las Vegas, ostensibly for a single, meaningless campaign stop without meeting in person with his security advisers.

That’s nothing short of bizarre behavior for a president who just hours before says he knew for a fact that his ambassador was killed by terrorists.

Is that another lie, or is this president that uncaring and detached?

The point is, after all this time, we still don’t know jack because this president is doing a Richard Nixon on Benghazi for no apparent good reason.

I’m telling you, speaking for myself (and, perhaps, my mysterious bar acquaintance at the Sea ‘n Air Golf Club), something ain’t right.

Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and a member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at

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