Benghazi hoax begets more hoaxes

“60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan had to walk back her reporting on the attack that left Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods dead in a Benghazi, Libya, mission Sept. 11, 2012. “We realized we had been misled,” Logan said of discredited source Dylan Davies on Sunday.

No lie. CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager told The New York Times that the segment was “as big a mistake as there has been” on the 45-year-old news staple. Given that “60 Minutes II” had to retract a 2004 report on the

National Guard service of President George W. Bush, to the chagrin of anchorman Dan Rather, Fager essentially admitted to epic failure.

When the story ran, I remember wondering why “60 Minutes” granted anonymity to Davies, who claimed to have seen Stevens’ body on the night of the attack. Surely, after the piece ran, I thought, his name would get out — as it did within days. “60 Minutes” disclosed that the private British security contractor was using a nom de plume, Sgt. Morgan Jones, but it didn’t reveal (until later) that the book’s publisher is an imprint of Simon &Schuster, a unit of CBS.

“We worked on this for a year,” Logan told reporters.

After other news outlets reported that Davies had told the FBI in three separate interviews that he was not at the mission on the night of the attack, “60 Minutes” issued a correction. Logan confessed to being “misled.”

Liberal watchdog group Media Matters is exultant. Its chairman, Hillary Clinton ally David Brock, dismisses conservative criticism of the administration’s actions surrounding the attack as the “Benghazi hoax.”

The irony is that the real hoax was the fictional story planted by the

Obama administration. Then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice suggested that the attack began as a protest against an anti-Islam video and that the protest was “hijacked” by “individual clusters of extremists.”

Rice told that phony story even though the administration had to have been aware of warnings that al-Qaida had targeted the mission.

As Green Beret Lt. Col. Andy Wood — his real name — told “60 Minutes,” al-Qaida had posted on the Internet its intent to attack the Red Cross, the British mission and the U.S. mission. He had warned Washington: “They made good on two out of the three promises. It was a matter of time till they captured the third one.”

After the attacks, President Barack Obama pledged that “those who attack our people will find no escape from justice.”

Sadly, the administration is not so eager for justice that it wants survivors to tell the American people what happened and why.

After the discredited Logan story ran, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., threatened to block confirmation votes on Obama nominees unless the administration allowed survivors to testify before Congress.

So far, the most definitive statement has come from Clinton, who was the secretary of state at the time of the attacks. She told Congress: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Email Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@sfchronicle.com

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