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

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


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.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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