Libya "scandal" - what motivation is suspected?

So as you’re probably all aware, there’s a big “scandal” being talked about at least in the conservative media concerning the way the Obama administration reacted to, and described, the attack on the consulate in Libya. Much of it seems to be focused on the idea (possibly true, I can’t say I really care one way or the other) that for quite some time the Obama administration described the attacks as being mob protests relating to the stupid movie as opposed to pre-planned terrorist attacks, with the implication that this was a coverup or something.
What I can’t figure out is how this accusation makes any sense. Assume for the moment that the accusation is true, and that the Obama administration in fact knew that they were terrorist attacks… why would they decide to lie about it? What would they hope to gain?
The point of lying, or a coverup, is to make you look better. If you stole or committed a crime, lie and claim you didn’t. If you got an oval office hummer from an intern, obfuscate and claim you didn’t have sexual relations with her, etc. It’s also pretty much only useful to lie if there’s some chance that the truth will never come out.

But I can’t figure out what the hypothetical motivations of the Obama administration are supposed to be here at all. In fact, if there were a conspiracy or a cover up I’d think it would be exactly the opposite, for two reasons:
(1) Terrorist attacks are something that unify the country
(2) If there’s a disorganized street riot, which you had warning was coming because a similar one had already happened in Egypt, and your security is so bad that your ambassador gets killed, that makes you look TERRIBLE. If there was a coordinated terrorist attack that kills your ambassador, well, you’d still prefer that your security stop that, but it’s certainly a lot more understandable that it didn’t.
In other words, to to the extent that the Obama administration was lying, it was lying in a way that made itself look WORSE, and in a way that was certain to be uncovered fairly quickly.

I’m just as happy to be cynical as the next person, and I’m happy to believe that politicians lie for political advantage, but I’m much more skeptical that they randomly lie NOT for political advantage when they’re in the midst of political campaigns. Thus, by Occam’s razor, it seems far more likely to me that anything that happened was either due to honest confusion about what the complete facts were, miscommunication between members of the administration about what they were supposed to be saying, or some deliberate strategy of misinformation for some other purpose entirely. (And that’s assuming that in fact clearly untrue things were said at all…)

From the Presidential Debate thread:

I truly do NOT see what the flap is about, except that the Romney people had to pick something to rag on.

Organized terrorist attacks are something you’re supposed to be able to find out about. You, by definition, cannot learn about spontaneous riots.

(Here’s what I just posted on another thread–)

Republicans, and probably some Democrats*, seem to think that there’s a “terrorist acts under someone’s watch” scorecard, and the higher the score, the worse it is for the someone. That’s sort of true as far as it goes…it is politically a good thing from someone to be able to claim that their score is low, so there is some incentive to try to getthe public to view borderline cases as “not terrorist events”.

But this has no PRACTICAL, EFFECTIVE importance. Surely, our security apparatus will hunt down and deal with perpetrators of events like this (and, work to prevent future occurrences), whether we call them acts of terror, mob violence, or Fred Flintstone. So if Sean Hannity wants to accuse the Obama administration of a bit of temporary spin, fine. But that’s all it is. Almost nothing.

(*especially WRT Bush and 9/11, say)

Not that I necessarily think that’s what may have happened in this case but I think in many–if not most–instances, cover-ups arise because there was a big screw-up and the people involved with the big screw-up do not want to see their poor judgment and incompetence publicly revealed. I believe, for example, that’s what happened with the “Fast and Furious” scandal. It was basically a huge cock-up that ended up with some people killed and nearly everybody else involved playing CYA. Of course the Republicans in Congress refused to consider this and saw it as part of some sort of nefarious overreaching conspiracy directly involving the Attorney General, the White House, and possibly the UN to ban gun ownership in the US.

It’s simply about neutralizing the fact that Obama got Bin Laden after their own guy gave up.

Painting the Democrats as “soft on national security” is simply a GOP tradition, part of their brand, and they have to tend their brand.

A terrorist attack steps on the Obama campaign’s message and nothing was going to be allowed to step on their messaging so close to the election.

Also, it was important, even if they acknowledged that it was a terror attack, to imply that it was totally spontaneous, which means they couldn’t possibly have foreseen it.

It does? What part of it? I mean, now it seems to be generally accepted that it was a terrorist attack, and no one is saying “there was a terrorist attack, and that proves X”, instead, all of the discussion is about the “coverup”. Or am I missing something? Was there an important plank of the Obama campaign that was “there will be no more terrorism in the middle east”?

Well, he’s just answering the question you asked in your OP: Assuming they were lying in the first week, why? Because “spontaneous protests over a movie” are not something you can control or plan for. Terrorist attacks against our consulate is something you might be able to

Of course you might be able to or you might not be able to, so it is a bit pre-mature to say one way or the other. Almost certainly mistakes were made, almost certainly some things happened that could not be anticipated, almost certainly some things could have been done better. The fact that the Republicans are trying to make political hay out of something that there is still a lot of fact-gathering going on is not surprising, but it is representative of the way they think about politics. Instant blame game.

Just to put it in perspective, from the debate thread:

The theory (if it can be dignified with that term) is that Obama doesn’t want to admit that the Arab Spring isn’t all kittens and rainbows, so he downplayed the Benghazi attack by labelling it a mere random act of rioting. The real wingnuts think that Obama is blaming the anti-Muslim troll video as part of a scheme to suppress free speech and support his fellow radical Muslims.

Now, we get to see how fast a right-winger can pivot from “Obama is downplaying the terrorist threat for political gain” to “Obama faked the attack on the NYC Federal Reserve to scare people for political gain”.

According to a NY Times article:

Peter Feaver, a political scientist at Duke University who advised the Bush administration on the domestic politics of its foreign policy, said, “The line was ‘Osama bin Laden has been killed, the war on terror has been won,’ so why muddy that?” He added, “Faced with a range of possibilities, they went with the one that was politically convenient.

My, perhaps flawed understanding is that the beef is that the administration attempted a CYA move. From what I understand (caveat flawed, blah blah blah) the Consulate requested more security but that it sort of got lost in the shuffle. Clinton (rightfully…and admirably IMHO) took the hit on it, since it’s a State Department thing, and Obama then said basically the buck stops here, etc etc. But that’s the fuss afaik.

I think that’s probably right, with the added claim that the Administration (through it’s UN spokesperson) attempted to make the attack seem more unpredictable than it perhaps was by claiming the video was the cause.

Of course, as more facts come to light it does in fact appear that the video was the motivating factor (at least according to some on-the-ground reporting I’ve seen) but that the attack was premeditated.

The larger campaign message seems to be that Obama claimed premature victory in the “War on Terror” with OBL’s death and that this attack shows that the fight isn’t over (and perhaps needs to be heightened). The corrolary to that line is that the “cover up” was an attempt to make this an Arab Street riot rather than a planned and executed Al Qaeda attack. From what I can tell it’s too soon to make any definitive statements along these lines.

The NYT article quotes Peter Feaver as an example of Republicans trying to spin this into a terrorist attack which would demonstrate the Obama administration’s weakness and duplicity. The article does not state that Feaver’s take is correct.

Is there anyone so naive as to believe that OBL’s death would mean the end of terrorism? Surely not. (I know, don’t call you Shirley.)

Hasn’t Obama been bragging about his use of drones to fight Al Qaeda prior to the attack in Benghazi? Hard to do that, if you’re simultaneously pushing the narrative that War on Terror is over.

Yeah, that whole “it shows that terrorism was still happening” direction might make sense if:
(a) the administration had spent a lot of time showing statistics about decreases in terrorist attacks, which this would be a counterexample to
(b) there was some reason to think that the administration was actually going to attempt to hide the nature of the attack in the medium or long term, which as far as I can tell no one has claimed

No “claims” are being made, this is all whistles and blowing smoke, sending signals to the knuckle-walkers that you are with them. Claims require evidence, insinuations only require the ability to breathe. Notice how he slipped that line in: “Apology tour”. Didn’t back it up, didn’t lend any substance, didn’t offer an argument, just plopped an orphan turd onto the stage and walked on.

Maybe Obama is sympathetic to Muslim terrorists. Maybe he wants to appease them, offer them Israel if they promise to play nice. How does this connect to the threat of Sharia law in America? People are asking questions, and they are not getting serious answers! Just stuff like “You fucking batshit nuts?” or “No, seriously, are you fucking insane?” Just asking questions, questions the administration of the Caliph Barrack seems anxious to avoid!

Connect the dot, people, connect the dot!