Is Benghazi baloney?

Phil: At what point is President Barack Obama going to come clean on Benghazi?

Ethan: Seriously?

Phil: Seriously.

Ethan: Seriously?

Phil:Do you hear an echo?

Ethan: You can’t be serious.

Phil: As evidence mounts that the White House tried to spin this story every way but toward the truth, I get more serious by the day.

Ethan: Sorry to be so dismissive, but you can’t be serious. This entire debate is about whether talking points were manipulated to serve a certain narrative. A narrative that everyone, even the White House, now agrees is no longer valid. But even if the worst-case scenario is true, please name a government that hasn’t manipulated talking points.

Phil: Manipulating these talking points, as you say, was done in the name of a cover-up to skirt responsibility for the deaths of four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador. I would hope everyone would be outraged at anyone trying to hide the truth.

Ethan: Of course, but these talking points were based on intelligence provided by the CIA. But more importantly, in the end, the truth is that we were attacked by terrorists. We understand that now, and measures have been taken to further protect other dignitaries. What other truth are you seeking?

Phil: The one the president should tell to the families whose loved ones were tortured to death. The one about why he and Hillary Clinton fabricated the statement that an anti-Islamic video caused the spontaneous uprising.

Ethan: They didn’t fabricate it. People on the ground in Libya claimed they heard the attackers say the video was the reason, and the CIA had intelligence saying the same. But seriously, what difference does all that make now?

Phil: Gee, I don’t know. Maybe because the man who said he was going to have the most transparent and ethical administration ever is proving neither. And the other wants to be the next president.

Ethan: I agree with you that the administration has stupidly gone into bunker mode on this, but they have already said it was a group of terrorists. (In fact, Obama said it was an “act of terror” the next day!) Why aren’t you happy and moving on?

Phil: Maybe they could tell us why they spent a pile of money on Pakistani television apologizing for the said video.

Ethan: Um, maybe because the video was incredibly insulting and was causing deeper instability in a region we were trying to use for military purposes?

Phil: Maybe the president could tell us why an American ambassador was about to die, and our State Department watched it all unfold on a video. They did nothing but watch, and apparently Obama decided a fundraising event was more important.

Ethan: No, he didn’t. The fundraiser in question was after the attack. In fact, it was a day later. Look, I concede that our lack of security that night was scandalous. Equally so is the fact that no one has been brought to justice. But you guys are obsessed with talking points. These are talking points the White House and the intelligence community already agree were incomplete at best.

Phil: The point is that the president tried to hide the truth of his lack of preparedness for avoiding a terrorist attack just months before the election and therefore wanted everyone to believe this was simply a street gang.

Ethan: That’s absurd. Within days, dozens of White House officials were identifying what happened in Benghazi as a terrorist attack. Well before the election.

Phil: Seriously, think about this from the perspective of an American, not as a passionate loyal Democrat. The so-called Arab Spring has become a Nor’easter; Syria gassed dissidents, crossing Obama’s red line; and Putin is likely collaborating with all of them at our expense. Isn’t it important for America for us to know why we didn’t use our might to honor the military code of leaving no one behind?

Ethan: So now a lax in security at a single embassy has you convinced Obama is enabling Putin to run the world? What will you think of next?

Phil: I’m thinking the people who work for the State Department, CIA and our military need assurances that their secretary of state and president used the power vested in them to do everything they could to save their lives.

Ethan: From giving the order to strike Bin Laden, to taking out the Somali pirates, to winding down two wars in a controlled stable fashion, the American people understand that Obama has used his military power with expertise and precision. I think he’s good there.

Phil: The truth is that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens pleaded for security help for weeks and up to the moment he was tortured. We had military and CIA assets within reach, yet all we provided was unarmed amateurs. Obama promised those who did this would be brought to justice. So far, all we know is that those who had the power claim they didn’t know.

Ethan: And if Republicans were bringing together a special committee to find and bring to justice those who perpetrated this crime, I’d be on board. But unfortunately you know as well as I do that this is political theater that disrespects those who died in service to all of us.

Phil: Those who died deserve a clear account of what actually happened, so the families of the murdered Americans know they didn’t die in vain. Equally important is that the world understand that wherever an American diplomat is physically standing is considered American soil that we will defend. Unfortunately, in regard to Benghazi, it appears we did nothing. Or worse, we gave orders to stand down.

Ethan: Seriously?

Phil: Don’t start that again.