A Libyan man walks through the debris of the damaged US amabassador's residence in the US consulate compund in Benghazi on September 13, 2012, following...
Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/GettyImages

Can a conspiracy theory eat its own tail?

Congressional Republicans can throw around some pretty scurrilous rhetoric when condemning President Obama, but even with this bunch, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) tends to push the limits of propriety. It was just last week, for example, that the Republican senator appeared on a right-wing radio show in which Inhofe came fairly close to accusing the president of treason.
 
“Never in my political career in my memory did it ever occur to me that we would have a president of the United States who would be doing things supporting the enemy,” the senator said.
 
Yesterday, Inhofe turned his attention to Benghazi, with the senator suggesting the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the deadly 2012 attack, was itself part of a “cover-up.” Asked what that meant, the senator’s office sent a statement to ThinkProgress’ Igor Volsky:
“The Senator’s statement was not that the arrest was to help a cover-up but the timing of the arrest was to help distract from the scandal of Benghazi in and of itself and give the Administration a ‘victory’ story. Inhofe said ‘it’s covering it up and I’m very much offended by that,’ and regularly says that in reference to Susan Rice’s appearance on the Sunday talk shows to blame the ‘spontaneous’ attacks to a video that prior to the attacks had a meager 50,00 views.”
Just so we’re clear, we’re approaching the point at which the conspiracy theory eats its own tail. According to Inhofe’s office, the senator genuinely believes developments in Benghazi are intended to “distract from the scandal of Benghazi.”
 
Remember, they’re not kidding. This isn’t intended as satire or an attempt to make Republican conspiracy theorists appear foolish. Inhofe is quite sincere when he argues that the “timing” of the suspected terrorist’s capture, months in the making, is part of a larger plot to to “distract from the scandal of Benghazi.” The White House’s plan is to shift attention away from Benghazi by shifting attention towards Benghazi.
 
I’m trying to think of a way in which that makes sense, but I’m afraid I haven’t come up with anything. The mainstream political world hasn’t exactly been preoccupied with Benghazi, so there really wasn’t anything to be distracted from.
 
Of course, this is not to suggest Inhofe is somehow alone on an unhinged island.
 
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is there, too.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Wednesday said that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in a Benghazi cover-up by placing some blame for the attack on an anti-Islamic video made in America.
 
“I think she understands how culpable she is, and she understands exactly her dereliction of duty that really results in the death of four Americans,” Johnson said of Clinton on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
The New York Times reported this week that on Sept. 11, 2012, “Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy’s walls – images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world.” The attack in Benghazi followed a few hours later, and Abu Khattala “told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video.”
 

Benghazi, Conspiracy Theories, James Inhofe, Ron Johnson and Scandals

Can a conspiracy theory eat its own tail?