Last week, in an apparent attempt to embarrass the White House, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) leaked a new detail to the media: as the attack in Benghazi got underway, some Obama administration officials reached out to YouTube to “warn of the ‘ramifications’ of allowing the posting of an anti-Islamic video.”
There was, however, a problem: Issa’s leak made the White House look better, not worse – the fact that officials contacted YouTube is proof that the administration genuinely believed that the violence was in response to an offensive video. Issa accidentally leaked evidence that bolstered the White House’s case, offering proof the administration’s consistent line was sincere.
But Glenn Kessler reports that despite Republicans inadvertently helping the White House on Benghazi, some on the right tried to exploit the news anyway.
FOX HOST ERIC BOLLING: “So this is kind of startling news that the White House was on the phone with YouTube as the attacks were still taking place that night, saying, Hey, did you see what’s causing this? They were already being political at that moment.”SEN. RAND PAUL (R-Ky.): “You know, I’m appalled by it. One of the things that’s interesting is that very night, they were still struggling to get reinforcements. We had some more Special Operations forces in Tripoli. They couldn’t find a plane for them. So instead of calling to get a plane or to try to make arrangements to get a plane, they’re on the phone trying to create spin to say that, ‘You know what? This is about a video, which never had anything to do with this attack.’ So you know, it saddens me. Doesn’t surprise me, but does sadden me.”
It’s rather amazing to appreciate just how wrong this is.
To be sure, Bolling’s question appears to be based on some striking confusion – the White House reaching out to YouTube and the role of a YouTube video in contributing to violence is not “being political.” Indeed, it’s the opposite.
But Rand Paul’s response suggests his basic understanding of the relevant details is somehow getting worse, even as he’s presumably exposed to more information.
First, the Republican senator seems to be under the impression that the national security team at the White House only has one telephone – instead of making plane “arrangements,” he said, officials called YouTube. (Note to Rand Paul: the Situation Room has fairly sophisticated communications equipment. They’re capable of making more than one call at a time.)
Second, though it’s really not up to the White House to coordinate Special Operations flights directly, even if it were, when the senator claimed officials didn’t try to find a plane for Special Operations forces, that’s clearly wrong.
In other words, the Kentucky senator is “appalled” and “saddened” by details Rand Paul doesn’t actually understand.
That seems to happen quite a bit with the GOP lawmaker.