On December 18, in covering the aftermath of the official report on the terrorist raid on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya which killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the Associated Press reported in the first three paragraphs of its coverage that "Three State Department officials resigned under pressure," identifying those who had stepped down as "Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, and Raymond Maxwell, the deputy assistant secretary of state who oversees the Maghreb nations of Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco."
It wasn't until the fourth paragraph that readers who got that far -- clearly a tiny percentage compared to those who saw the headline ("State Department security chief, 2 deputies, resign after damning Benghazi attack report") or only heard headline-based reports on broadcast outlets -- learned that "Some of the three may have the option of being reassigned to other duties." In other words, they might not be losing their jobs or even receive cuts in pay. At the New York Post this morning, Josh Margolin is reporting that the three identified by the AP plus one other person aren't being meaningfully punished in any sense:
Benghazi penalties are bogus
The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.
The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.
The four were made out to be sacrificial lambs in the wake of a scathing report issued last week that found that the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, was left vulnerable to attack because of “grossly inadequate” security.
State Department leaders “didn’t come clean about Benghazi and now they’re not coming clean about these staff changes,” a source close to the situation told The Post, adding, the “public would be outraged over this.”
... In response to questions from The Post, the State Department would only reissue the carefully crafted statement put out last week.
At the New York Times, the Headline was even more deceptively definitive: "4 Are Out at State Dept. After Scathing Report on Benghazi Attack." But in their third paragraph, reporters Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt contradicted themselves by telling readers that "The four officials, a State Department spokeswoman said, 'have been placed on administrative leave pending further action.'"
At least one outlet was fooled by the misdirections at the AP, the Times, and elsewhere: The web site allgov.com carried a headline claiming that "Government Report Faults State Dept. for Poor Security in Benghazi; At Least Three Senior Officials Lose Jobs." Okay, I guess in the spirit of Clintonian and Orwellian parsing, those involved lost their "jobs" (i.e., their current positions at State) but didn't lose their status as "still employed by the State Department." Zheesh.
As to the Post source's anticipation of "outrage," I'd like to be wrong, but I doubt it. It's the traditionally low-attention post-Christmas time period, and most of the rest of the establishment press is already inclined to either downplay or ignore the Post's story. The AP, if ever asked will likely, in the spirit of covering for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, say it did its job, even though the aggressively and deceptively described "resignations" in its report's first three paragraphs on December 18 carefully delayed the damning disclosure that no one lost employment. There is no way the establishment press would be so indulgent if a Republican or conservative presidential administration attempted such a gambit.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.