MSNBC’s Karen Finney Claims GOP Responsible For Benghazi Attack

Apparently the folks at MSNBC have decided that the Benghazi investigation is merely a political ploy by the GOP to hinder Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions in 2016.  Instead of addressing the substantive issues that potentially resulted in a cover-up surrounding the attack, MSNBC anchors and pundits have been going out of there way to protect the Obama administration and smear Republicans. 

Doing her duty to defend team Obama on Martin Bashir May 10 program, soon-to-be MSNBC host and former DNC Communications Director Karen Finney laid the blame for the dead in Benghazi on, who else, congressional Republicans:

But I believe that is what the GOP is most terrified of having to talk about. Because they know they screwed up. Their austerity measures may have endangered this man’s life and they don’t want to talk about that. [See video after jump.]  

Finney’s commentary was in response to Bashir’s initial assertion that the GOP’s financial concerns left our embassy in Benghazi open to attack: 

Nobody is interested in the fact fiscal year 2012 Republicans voted to remove $331 billion from security budgets at international consulates and embassies. Nobody is interested in discussing that. That was the year when Ambassador Stevens was murdered.

Finney and Bashir seem to be unaware that it was the Obama administration which reduced security for the consulate months before the September 11 attack, so any proposed reduction in security funding by the GOP would have had no impact on security levels during the attack.

As if that weren’t enough, the entire MSNBC panel thought the entire GOP hearings were ridiculous from the beginning, with Finney grousing it was:

...absolutely absurd and an obscene waste of time. I have to tell you, Martin, having been a part of this kind of process where, I mean, and literally, I think as some our reporting earlier today indicated, we are talking about words were moved around. Like in one case a sentence was taken out. Not a sentence of consequence.

Liberal Lehigh University professor Dr. James Peterson doubled down on Finney's liberal talking point, asserting that:

Maybe you or Karen could answer this for me. What has been covered up here? What is the evidence or where is this striking evidence there's been some kind of cover-up about what happened? I mean, we now know what happened, how it happened, how it unfolded. Maybe there was some miscues in communication or too much editing in the talking points. But is there some kind of elaborate and deliberate attempt on the part of members of the Obama administration or the state department to cover up the information surrounding this particular attack? Can someone please just tell me, what is the evidence for why we're having this conversation?

Rather than address the serious details that the Obama dministration changed talking points 12 times to remove details about terrorism or al-Qaeda-linked groups being responsible for the attacks.  Instead, Bashir went back to his typical liberal talking point, blaming the GOP for playing politics:

Once again, you’ve made a fundamental error because these hearings are about injuring a potential candidate for the presidency in 2016. And that's what Rand Paul said that he doesn't believe Hillary Clinton should ever hold a public position again. That's what these hearings are about.

 

See relevant transcript below. 


 

MSNBC

Martin Bashir

May 10, 2013

4:05 p.m. Eastern

MARTIN BASHIR: Good afternoon. We have been watching the White House briefing delayed for several hours with spokesman Jay Carney taking heated questions on those Benghazi talking points. That after reports that in edits from the state department, references to al-Qaeda warnings were taken out. Questions about just how much the White House was involved in those edits and what was the motivation have been the subject of much scrutiny coming largely from republican quarters. And we just heard our own White House Correspondent Kristen Welker asking Jay Carney, White House Press Spokesman, questions. We'll get to her later. But let's go straight to our panel now. With us from Washington, MSNBC political analyst, and soon to be MSNBC host, Karen Finney. And in Philadelphia, Lehigh University Professor James Peterson. Karen, what is your reaction to this revelation that there were 12 versions which contained what have been described by members of the press as extensive changes to the talking points? 


KAREN FINNEY: I find it absolutely absurd and an obscene waste of time. I have to tell you, Martin, having been a part of this kind of process where, I mean, and literally, I think as some our reporting earlier today indicated, we are talking about words were moved around. Like in one case a sentence was taken out. Not a sentence of consequence. I mean when you have an iterative process with a number of different agencies, of course there is going to be changes. The bottom line is, and this is I think what Jay is getting to, was anything changed that changes our understanding of what happened then and what we know now? And I think the point jay has been making very well, frankly, is that no, actually what's been revealed today basically is exactly what they've been saying all along fairly consistently. One point that I will make that hasn't been raised--

BASHIR: Just before you do that, Karen, I just want to put this to you. Because State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland asked the CIA to delete a paragraph because, and I'm using her words, "that could be used by members of Congress to beat up the state department for not paying attention." 


FINNEY: Right. Here's the -- I mean, again, i think in this instance-- 


BASHIR: That sounds quite significant, doesn't it? 


FINNEY: It does, however, what do we know about the behavior of the GOP? We know that Congressman Chaffetz actually leaked in an open hearing the existence of a CIA installation that was supposed to be kept secret, by the way. We know that time and again Republican leaders of the House have leaked important information that if a Democrat ever did that, I mean, they would be, you know, tried for treason. So my point is, I think we need more information about what was her concern. Not just about necessarily from a political context, beating up the State Department, but, again, there could have been a concern that, well, if we put this out there right now and we don't have the facts to back it up, because we don't know all of the facts, that could create a problem, let's go with what we know. Let's go with what we are most comfortable putting out. And remember, this was a very sensitive situation. You had Petraeus saying we also don't want our enemies to know how much we actually know. 


BASHIR: Right. Professor Peterson, in these talking points that apparently were revised, there was this removal of references to terrorism and specific terrorist groups. Now, that actually proved to be the right thing to do because the initial claim of responsibility was subsequently rescinded and refuted, wasn't it? 


JAMES PETERSON: That's exactly right. And, again, Karen is right here. If you were to compare this talking points memo to other memos about anything in government, you would see there are lots of edits, lots of revisions, lots of changes. And I wish we could separate some of the policy issues here from the politics. I mean if we want to pay respect to the lives that were lost in this incident, we want to address the issue of how do we wrestle with making interventions overseas that don't continue to exacerbate violence but hope to reduce violence overseas and at home. And we can't do that as we're bickering and fighting over the politics of this. At the end of the day, we need more support for our military. We have to be more strategic and more tactical about how we prosecute the war on terror if we're going to continue to prosecute it. And all this discussion around Benghazi, I'm sorry, it is a distraction. It doesn't get to the core of the matter which is how are we going to fund and resource folk in these outposts, how can we be better about how we're communicating across agencies, how can we be more effective about delivering the information to the public? And none of that is really coming out of this because there's too much back biting and too much distraction to sort of  focus on things that don't really matter at this particular point in time. 


BASHIR: Karen, do you think the description of Benghazi, though, might have been different if they had included in the talking points the CIA's previous anxiety about threats to the consulate in Benghazi?

FINNEY: I don't think we know the answer to that, Martin. I mean, part of the problem is that this was clearly a complicated situation. The facts on the ground were changing quickly. The information coming in. I mean, I think you could say that we would criticize them if certain things had been in there that weren’t there. You can always in hindsight you know, sort of pick at this. What concerns me, though, is a point to part of what James was saying and that is there may actually be a real problem here, but we're not getting to that because we're playing politics. One of the problems we absolutely know is this issue about a need for increased budget for security for our embassies. Let's have that conversation. 


BASHIR: No, because Karen, nobody is interested in the fact fiscal year 2012 Republicans voted to remove $331 billion from security budgets at international consulates and embassies. Nobody is interested in discussing that. That was the year when Ambassador Stevens was murdered. 

FINNEY: But I believe that is what the GOP is most terrified of having to talk about. Because they know they screwed up. Their austerity measures may have endangered this man’s life and they don’t want to talk about that.  Instead, they want to try and talk about who did what to whom in talking points? How many in twelve iterations? What words were changed when by whom? Rather than focusing on I think what is the critical issue which is what do we need to do to make sure it doesn't happen again? 


BASHIR: Right. Professor Peterson, do you get the impression that this week has involved a bait and switch by Republicans? Because at the beginning of the week, we were promised the most explosive testimony from whistleblowers who were literally going to light up the firmament with revelations, yet we come to the end of the week and we're back on talking points. Talking points that we were discussing months ago surrounding Susan rice, Ambassador Susan rice. 

PETERSON: Well, martin, we covered this earlier in the week. We explained at least from what we knew from what had leaked from those so-called whistleblowers' testimony wasn't any revelation. Right wing media beat us up over that particular story. And you're right. Here we are again. I still wish -- maybe you or Karen could answer this for me. What has been covered up here? What is the evidence or where is this striking evidence there's been some kind of cover-up about what happened? I mean, we now know what happened, how it happened, how it unfolded. Maybe there was some miscues in communication or too much editing in the talking points. But is there some kind of elaborate and deliberate attempt on the part of members of the Obama administration or the state department to cover up the information surrounding this particular attack? Can someone please just tell me, what is the evidence for why we're having this conversation? 


BASHIR: Professor Peterson, when Jason Chaffetz was asked that question on Fox News, specifically, what is the cover-up? His answer was, "that's why we're having another hearing." That’s why we’re having another hearing. 


PETERSON: That's chronological, though. 


BASHIR: That's why we're having a press conference. That's why Jay Carney is answering questions. 


FINNEY: But can we, just from a national security perspective, let's go back to one of the things that we know. And that is at the time, we did not want our enemies to know we had a CIA installation there. Thanks to Congressman Chaffetz, that later was out. 


BASHIR: Of course. Absolutely. 


FINNEY: There were other things we did not in the immediate aftermath want our enimies to know that we knew. So let's just say that a decision was made to take out some of these references because of that. At the worst, maybe somebody said, and you know what, politically, maybe that's not something we need out there right now given that we don't want our enimies to know and we need to get a better grasp on what's going on here. Again, that has nothing to do with what actually happened. That has nothing to do -- all of that is in the aftermath. The talking points were written in the aftermath. What we should focusing on is, what happened on that day and what can we do to make sure it doesn't happen again? 


BASHIR: Karen, once again, you’ve made a fundamental error because these hearings are about injuring a potential candidate for the presidency in 2016. And that's what Rand Paul said that he doesn't believe Hillary Clinton should ever hold a public position again. That's what these hearings are about. Karen Finney, Professor James Peterson, thank you both. And as I said, we'll have more on the Benghazi controversy throughout the hour.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.