Someone I went to high school with posted an absolutely horrific photo on Facebook today of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens being dragged naked through the streets of Benghazi and tortured with a cattle prod after being set on fire and repeatedly raped. I hesitate to share it here, as it’s so graphic, but I feel as though people need to know the truth… which, of course, is that Ambassador Stevens was never raped, or tortured in the streets of Bengazi.
Stevens was, as all of us who bothered to read the actual reports know, carried by Libyan civilians to the Benghazi Medical Centre in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attack on the American consulate. He, as we all know, died from the injuries he sustained, but his body was not desecrated, and he was neither raped nor tortured. (Speaking of the attack, murder charges were filed yesterday against Ahmed Abu Khattala, the prominent Benghazi militia leader thought to be responsible.)
Here’s the image that my friend shared with me today, followed, a bit later, by the actual image of Stevens being carried to the hospital… You’ll notice that my friend was just one of 9,516 to share the image, and the associated text.
I would love to focus 100% of my anger directly on those individuals responsible for this attack, but I find it difficult when so many of my fellow Americans have chosen to add insult to injury by grabbing ahold of this terrible tragedy and using it to further their own political agendas. As you can clearly see in the text accompanying the image, the point of sharing this isn’t to mourn the tragic passing of a dedicated public servant, but to see our President weakened by it. “If ANYTHING is going to take Obama down, IT IS THIS!!”, the author says. But, as I said above, it’s not real… not that reality matters anymore.
A quick Tineye search of the image has turned up several instances in which the photo in question appeared on the web in 2009 and 2010. I’ve been translating sites for the past half hour or so, and I still can’t find a definitive source, but I don’t imagine it really matters, seeing as how its existence prior to 2012 alone proves that it couldn’t be Stevens. (This same image has been used to illustrate articles about Spanish war crimes, Argentinian war crime, and the activities of the CIA in the Middle East.)
Here, by way of context, is an excerpt from a post I wrote about Benghazi in November of last year. (The image to the right, by the way, is of the real Chris Stevens being dragged to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.)
…Based on the evidence, I think it’s safe to say that this is nothing more than a disgraceful attempt to capitalize on tragedy.
Let’s start with the fact that, contrary to what the Republicans in Congress would have you believe, American embassies and consulates are attacked quite frequently. During the Bush administration, for instance, seven American embassies were attacked. These attacks took place in Saudi Arabia (2004), Uzbekistan (2004), and Athens (2007), among other places. The bloodiest attacks took place in Karachi, Pakistan, where ten people were killed and fifty-one were injured in 2002, and in Yemen, where ten people lost their lives in 2008. To my knowledge, none of the people now calling for a formal investigation into what happened in Benghazi so much raised a single question about Bush’s role relative to embassy security in the wake of any of these attacks.
To be honest, I can’t even recall the Republicans being this aggressive in response to the 9/11 attacks on our country, in which 2,996 individuals were murdered. And, in that case, we actually had solid evidence demonstrating that the President had disregarded warnings of an imminent attack on American soil. I mean, among other things, the man was actually handed a national security briefing document by a CIA official on August 6, 2001 entitled Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US, and yet, by all accounts, did nothing. But, yet it’s the Benghazi attack that has Republicans talking about impeachment. I can’t be the only one that finds that a little odd, right?
If any of you doubt what this is really about, I’d encourage you to look into the actions of Senator John McCain this morning. After days of demanding that a special select committee be formed to investigate what happened in Bengazi, and making the case that it’s critically important that we understand exactly what happened, John McCain chose to skip a closed-door briefing about the deadly Benghazi attack this morning, opting instead to go on television, demanding immediate answers. And, when the irony of this was pointed out to him, he wasn’t happy….
But this isn’t anything new. The Republicans, who apparently have no shame whatsoever, have been attempting to politicize the deaths of these four Americans since the night of the attack, when Romney violated his pledge not to make partisan comments on the anniversary of 9/11, called a press conference, and proceeded to lie to the American people, saying that “the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” It wasn’t true then, and it wasn’t true several weeks later, when, during the second presidential debate, Romney went back to the issue, claiming falsely that Obama had failed to call the attack an act of terrorism, only to be fact-checked in real time. And it’s certainly not true now… This was a horrific event, and we should mourn the loss of the four American men who died there that night, while serving their country, not use their deaths to further our own political agendas…
While I reached out to my old friend, and let her know that the image that she’s sharing isn’t of Stevens, I wonder about the other 9,515 people who’ve shared it thus far. Is anyone telling them? And I wonder why it is that my friend still hasn’t removed it from her page. And maybe that’s the more troubling thing… the fact that someone, knowing that it couldn’t possibly be Stevens, would still keep it up. My guess, and I’d have to ask her, is that she still thinks, somehow, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that it could be him. That’s how strong the narrative being pushed by the right has become. As with the Obama birth certificate story, they’ve decided to go all in on Benghazi, knowing that, after a solid year of continuously blowing smoke, there are going to be a certain number of people who, regardless of what evidence they’re shown, will believe that there’s fire. And that’s why, almost a year after these tragic events, we’re confronted by a huge number of people who honestly believe that Obama was somehow responsible for the deaths of these three Americans… or, worse yet, maybe even had a hand in planning it. Sadly, that’s the world we live in today.
And the truly terrible thing is that all of this nonsense is distracting us from what we should be doing… which is coming together in order to bring the men responsible for theses deaths in Benghazi to justice, and demonstrating to the people of the world that we’re a nation governed by laws, and not by paranoid delusions delivered by way of social media.