Quote of the Day: Robert Gates on “Cartoonish” Views of the Military

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


From former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, on the endless speculations about what the military could have done to stop the Benghazi attacks:

It’s sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces.

I guess Gates is no longer on Darrell Issa’s Christmas card list. But if you want to know just how cartoonish most of this stuff has been, consider the infamous “stand down” theory. This is the suggestion that there were military forces available to send to Benghazi, but they were told by President Obama to stand down. The motivation for this is always murky, but presumably based on political considerations of some kind.

But the real giveaway about this whole thing is that it keeps changing whenever it’s debunked. Originally, the story retailed by Charles Woods, the father of Benghazi victim Tyrone Woods, revolved around the notion that Obama had a live video feed of Benghazi and refused to let a fast-response team deploy even though he knew they could get there in time. That wasn’t true, so another story developed that General Carter Ham was ready to send in a team, received an order to stand down, and was going to disobey orders and send them in anyway. But then his second in command apprehended him and told him that he was now relieved of duty. That wasn’t true either. So then we got a story about a team in Tripoli that Obama refused to deploy. Then a story about a C-110 team in Croatia that could have gone in but wasn’t allowed to. And finally, last week, a different story about a different team in Tripoli that could have gone in the next morning but didn’t.

In other words, “stand down” has referred to at least five different things over the past several months. It doesn’t matter if any of it is true. It doesn’t matter if Obama was involved. It doesn’t matter why the military made the decisions it did. If one story falls, there’s always another “stand down” conspiracy theory to take its place. Cartoonish indeed.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate