The deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, symbolically coinciding with the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, triggered in a confluence of events that spilled into US domestic politics, military covert operations, and a number of classified CIA programs. With the terrorist strike occurring in the run up the US Presidential election, it become a foregone conclusion that the truth of the attacks would be swept up and lost in political squabbling as both major parties jockeyed for position and get some cheap digs in on their opponents. Added to the media circus was the reality that various US government institutions and agencies did engage in a very real cover up: they responsibly tried to keep covert operations secret. But they also sought to limit political liability on the guilty parties whose negligence led to the attack in the first place.

Conservatives claimed that President Obama callously denied military reinforcements to American forces on the ground in Libya who were badly outnumbered and outgunned. The American right sought to portray Obama in the most negative light possible, accusing him of glossing over the attacks to compensate for foreign policy failures. The narrative went, “President Obama: not tough on terrorism and betrayer of US Navy SEALs.”

Liberals decried the Republican persecution, doing damage control by laying blame on forces beyond the administration’s control. According to this narrative, the Benghazi attack happened because of an irresponsible amateur film that defamed the Prophet Muhammad, inflaming the religious fervor of the Islamic world. Soon protests formed outside US embassies across the Middle East, and the series of events rapidly reached its bloody climax in the attack on the US consulate in Libya.

For their part, libertarians announced that the attacks were further proof that America had no business interfering in the affairs of foreign countries. Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists pointed towards a sinister plot by powerful dark forces to liquidate Ambassador Stevens. In fact, every party commenting or involved in the Benghazi affair seemed to refer to their opposition as conspiracy theorists in order to de-legitimize their position at some point.