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Aaron Klein's Benghazi Fiasco

The WorldNetDaily reporter capped a rough year by trying to ride the right-wing Benghazi bandwagon with his new book. Even the Republican-led House committee looking into the attack shot down his claims.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/2/2014

Aaron Klein

It's been a bit of a rough year for WorldNetDaily senior reporter and Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein.

In May, his radio show in New York City moved downmarket, from powerhouse WABC to a station that is owned by religious/right-wing-opinion conglomerate Salem, is rated 38th in the New York market and broadcasts at a mere 5,000 watts after dark (when Klein's show airs much of the year).

In July, Klein penned an article that reminded us he's still a proud birther, facts be damned:

One central point seems to be missing from the national conversation about impeaching President Obama for alleged violations of the Constitution.

When Obama was first proposed as a presidential candidate in 2007, the nation failed to have a meaningful debate concerning the serious constitutional issue of electing someone whose father was not a U.S. citizen.

According to correspondence from the original framers of the Constitution as well as Supreme Court rulings, the legal writings that helped establish the principles of the Constitution and even a Senate resolution affirmed by Obama himself, Obama likely does not qualify for the constitutional requirement that stipulates only a “natural born” citizen can serve as U.S. president.

In other words, Obama’s very presidency could itself be unconstitutional. And the matter has nothing to do with where the president was born.

While Klein conceded that "natural born citizen" isn't defined in the Constitution or federal law, he has decided that he knows better by citing Emmerich de Vattel's "The Law of Nations." But as ConWebWatch has detailed, no direct equivalent to "natural born citizen" appears in Vattel's original French, and the phrase shows up only in English translations of the book issued after the Constitution was written.

Klein also invoked the Supreme Court's 1874 Minor v. Happersett decision as authoritative on the definition of "natural born." But that decision involved a woman who was suing for the right to vote, not presidential eligibility; the woman's status as a "natural born citizen" was not the issue; and the court ruling discusses only two types of citizens, "natural born" and "naturalized."

Klein made no mention whatsoever of a decision that much more directly applies to the issue at hand -- the 1898 Wong Kim Ark case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that a child born in America was a U.S. citizen.

Klein went on to insist that a 2008 Senate resolution declaring John McCain to be a "natural born" citizen "seems to define the term as one who is born to two U.S. citizens." The Senate may have done so regarding McCain's citizenship, but it also did not establish two citizen parents as the only possible way to be defined as a "natural born" citizen.

Klein has also decided he won't even concede that Obama was born in Hawaii. He writes only that Obama "was born Aug. 4, 1961, to Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr." but won't mention the location. That attitude contradicts what he wrote in his 2009 book "The Manchurian President," in which he declared there was "no convincing evidence that Obama was born in Kenya, nor that his birthplace was any place other than Hawaii, his declared state of birth."

All Klein has done here is simply rehash what he and WND have been claiming since at least 2011 -- pretty much cutting-and-pasting previous work -- while making no effort whatsoever to examine any of the evidence that discredits birthers like himself, let alone acknowledge that such evidence exists. But then, hiding the fact that birthers have been discredited is how WND rolls.

The fact that Klein is still peddling discredited birther nonsense didn't bode well for the veracity of Klein's then-upcoming book, in which he purports to tell "the real Benghazi story."

Indeed, Klein's magnum opus for the year has been found to be dubious, if not outright false in some aspects.

"The (Not-So-) Real Benghazi Story"

In promoting Klein's Benghazi book, WND was desperate to present Klein as a serious writer. So desperate, in fact, that it freaked out about Media Matters reminding people of who he works for and what he's done.

Thus, WND devoted a Sept. 7 article to responding to Media Matters' reporting by trying to explain away Klein's extremism. It claims:

Media Matters also takes issue with factual articles penned by Klein regarding the general legal definition of “natural born citizen,” the constitutional requirement to serve as president.

Media Matters wrongly claimed those articles makes Klein a “birther” who doubts Obama’s citizenship.

Klein only cited legal arguments about the constitutional definition of “natural born citizen,” pointing out some mainstream scholars believe both parents must be U.S. born.

Regarding Media Matter’s false “birther” charge, in Klein’s book, “The Manchurian President,” he wrote there is “no convincing evidence that Obama was born in Kenya, nor that his birthplace was any place other than Hawaii, his declared state of birth.”

WND is lying. First, a onetime concession that Obama was born in Kenya doesn't make him not a birther. Second, as noted above, he has effectively retracted that concession.

Third, Klein declared on a July 2012 edition of his radio show -- during an appearance by Mike Zullo, head of the highly biased "cold case posse" that purports to be investigating Obama's "eligibility" -- that "I personally also hired three independent forensic investigators. ... All three came back with the same conclusion, and that was there was modifications on the PDF file [of Obama's birth certificate] that they could not explain, that are not consistent with a normal scanned document."

Klein never identified these so-called "forensic investigators," nor has he ever publicly released a full accounting of the conclusions they reached. Nor, we can probably assume, has Klein ever conceded the fact that those purported "modifications" in the PDF scan have been easily reproduced through the use of a Xerox scanner.

It says something about the state of WND's reputation that it has to defend one of its writers by insisting he's not a birther. Mostly, that nobody believes WND, and it's people like Klein who have helped make sure of that.

That apparently having failed to boost Klein's book sales, WND then resorted to trying to pick a fight with Media Matters.

Klein challenged Media Matters founder David Brock to a debate, complaining that the group has been "lobbing falsehoods and smears in a clear attempt to discredit the messenger.” WND followed with a Sept. 24 WND article trying, and failing, to play gotcha:

In a blog post Wednesday titled “Conservative Media Attack Clinton Allies In Desperate Ploy To Smear Her Over Benghazi,” Media Matters claims Klein’s book “attempted to smear another Clinton ally: former CIA deputy director Michael Morell.”

Continued Media Matters: “Klein suggested that Morell was ‘given’ his new job at the consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies (co-founded by Philippe Reines, a Clinton adviser), ‘in exchange for his silence in the talking points scandal.’”

However, those quotes never appear in Klein’s book. Thy were entirely fabricated by Media Matters.

Klein’s book never states Morell was “given” his job, nor does the quote “in exchange for his silence in the talking points scandal” appear anywhere in the book.

The relevant section of the book states: “Morell served 33 years in the agency and was a frontrunner for CIA director; it is doubtful he resigned to become a family man. Morell later reemerged as a counselor to Beacon Global Strategies, a consult group particularly close to Hillary Clinton. The firm is led by Philippe I. Reines, who served from 2009 to 2013 as Clinton’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications and Senior Communications Advisor.”

In fact, the quote is not fabricated. From page 177 of "The Real Benghazi Story":

Morell later reemerged as a counselor to Beacon Global Strategies, a consult group particularly close to Hillary Clinton. Was Morell given this job in exchange for his silence in the talking points scandal?

It comes from a list of "76 key questions for Benghazi investigators to answer" -- something WND should know because not only did it publish Klein's book, a copy of the list was published on on the WND website Sept. 14 noting that "Klein included the list of questions in his just-released book."

Either Klein is an extremely dishonest reporter, or he doesn't know what's in his own book. The fact that the WND article remains uncorrected more than two months after the false claim was made says volumes about how much Klein actually cares about reporting facts.

GOP-led committee discredits Klein

The final indignity for Klein was seeing the Republican-led House committee investigating Benghazi shoot down one of his central claims. The committee found that there is "no support" for the claim that the CIA was "collecting weapons in Benghazi and facilitating weapons from Libya to Syria" using the Benghazi facility.

Klein has asserted that "The U.S. special mission in Benghazi and the nearby CIA annex were utilized in part to coordinate arms shipments to the jihadist rebels fighting the Syrian regime, with Ambassador Christopher Stevens playing a central role."

It took three days after the release of the report for Klein to respond, and he unsurprisingly went into full spin mode in a Nov. 24 WND article, which he claims is an "extensive review" of the "five major problems with the new House report." Klein tries to avoid the discrediting of his own claims by playing word-parsing:

The new report states the “CIA conducted no unauthorized activity in Benghazi and was not collecting and shipping arms to Syria.”

The report noted multiple media outlets have reported allegations the CIA collected weapons in Benghazi and facilitated weapons from Libya to Syria.

“The eyewitness testimony and thousands of pages of CIA cables and emails that the committee reviewed provide no support for this allegation,” states the report.

As evidence the CIA was not involved in weapons transfers, the report documents that “each witness reported seeing only standard CIA security weapons at the base.”

“No witness testified that non-CIA weapons were brought to the Annex.”

However, most mainstream allegations about weapons transfers did not claim any weapons were stored or transferred through the CIA annex.

But that's exactly what Klein effectively claimed. As we've noted, Klein asserted that "The U.S. special mission in Benghazi and the nearby CIA annex were utilized in part to coordinate arms shipments to the jihadist rebels fighting the Syrian regime, with Ambassador Christopher Stevens playing a central role."

Klein continued with more word-parsing:

The new report utilizes specific phraseology to deny the CIA was involved in collecting any weapons in Benghazi. It states the CIA “was not collecting and shipping arms to Syria.”

However, the use of the word “and” leaves open the possibility the intelligence community was collecting weapons that were not shipped to Syria.

The report further states: “The Benghazi Annex was not itself collecting weapons. The Committee has not seen any credible information to dispute these facts.”

This phraseology, particularly the use of the word “itself,” leaves open the possibility another facility was involved in a weapons-procurement effort.

The report hints the State Department, not the CIA, may have been leading a weapons collection effort.

Klein then tried to change the subject:

The denial of weapons transfers is at odds with numerous major news media accounts of U.S.-aided weapons transfers by Arab countries to Mideast rebels.

The New York Times reported March 25, 2013, that the covert aid to the Syrian rebels started on a small scale and continued intermittently through the fall of 2012, expanding into a steady and much heavier flow later that year, including a large procurement from Croatia.

The Times reported that from offices at “secret locations,” American intelligence officers “helped the Arab governments shop for weapons ... and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive.”

In March 2011, Reuters exclusively reported Obama had signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for the rebel forces in Libya seeking to oust Gaddafi, quoting U.S. government officials.

Also that month, the London Independent reported “the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi.”

But the question at hand is not whether the U.S. attempted to steer weapons to Syrian rebels, it's whether that was done through the CIA annex at Benghazi, Klein has claimed. The fact that Klein tries to broaden the subject to obscure how he's been discredited is a tacit admission that he knows the committee report is correct.

Klein loves those word-parsing games: He also complained that "The new House Intelligence Committee report repeatedly refers to the U.S. building in Benghazi as a 'Temporary Mission Facility.' However, the State Department has carefully labeled its facility in Benghazi a 'U.S. Special Mission.'"

Klein also fails to admit that the report was issued by a Republican-led committee, though it's referenced in the headline.

If the most damning things Klein can come up with to attack the GOP-led report are word games, they're simply not as "major" as Klein wants you to believe. And the fact that Klein is spinning and word-parsing so furiously also tells us that he knows he's been busted.

Yeah, it's been a rough year for Klein. What are the chances that he will see his current predicament as a divine sign that he has followed the path of deceit and should put some thought into a new career path?

As long as WND continues to pay him to deceive, that's not very likely.

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