CBS may be on the verge of issuing a very embarrassing correction. Last week, the network aired a sensationalist documentary about the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi last year, and prominently featured the testimony of a man claiming to have witnessed the attack first hand. It made for gripping TV, but as it now seems that, far from witnessing a terrorist attack, the guy they interviewed was actually relaxing at a seaside villa.
“60 Minutes has learned of new information that undercuts the account told to us by Morgan Jones of his actions on the night of the attack on the Benghazi compound,” the network wrote on its website. ”We are currently looking into this serious matter to determine if he misled us, and if so, we will make a correction.”
The 60 Minutes episode in question purported to be an explosive tell-all about what really happened the night of September 11th, 2012 at the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. While the documentary contained little in the way of actual scoops, an interview with a British security officer claiming to have been on the ground during the attack gained some attention. In the interview, the officer talked about how al-Qaeda was known to have been active in the area in the weeks preceding the attack, and told a tense first-hand account of his experiences on the ground that night, which involved him scaling a 12-foot wall, killing a terrorist with the butt of his rifle, and then escaping into the night.
The testimony of the officer — whose real name is Dylan Davies but went by the name “Morgan Jones” for the interview — reenergized conservatives who are convinced that something conspiratorial happened that night, and it was particularly appalling to Senator Lindsey Graham, who angrily insisted after the episode aired that he’d block all of President Obama’s nominees until government witnesses to the attack were allowed.
The problem is, Davies had previously told his employer — a security contractor called Blue Mountain that had been hired by the State Department —that he actually spent most of the night of September 11th, 2012 at his beachside villa, and despite his best efforts, “could not get anywhere near” the U.S. embassy. When this was reported by the Washington Post, calls for CBS to retract the report started rolling in, and the New York Times reported today that Davies had also told the FBI that he wasn't anywhere near the compound during the attack. Meanwhile, Davies released a book that mirrored his 60 Minutes account and gave an interview claiming that his earlier statements were lies, while his later account in the show and book were the truth.
Whew. What a mess. One thing’s for sure: As soon as this fiasco is all cleared up, Republicans will stop insinuating that the Benghazi attacks were somehow the Obama administration’s fault. Right?