The ride on the Obama bus gets bumpier as more bodies are thrown under it.
The latest to go thumpity thump are journalists who trumpeted the administration's excuse that faulty intelligence is why the president said for so long the attack on our consulate in Benghazi was a "spontaneous" protest over a Youtube video.
The journalists went under the bus because the Foreign Service and career intelligence officers the administration tried to scapegoat refused to go there. They've leaked emails that reveal the White House was informed while it was still going on that the attack was the work of terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida.
To put this in the context of the Mother of All Scandals, these emails are the equivalent of a transcript of what was on the 181/2 minutes of the secret White House tapes President Nixon's secretary erased.
"What did the president know, and when did he know it?" Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tenn, asked during the Watergate hearings. The answer in the leaked emails is that the president knew everything, all along.
They were sent by the Regional Security Officer in Libya to the State Department in Washington, the White House Situation Room, the Pentagon, the FBI and thedirector of National Intelligence.
The first said the consulate was being attacked by "about 20" armed men.
The third, sent two hours later, reported that Ansar al Sharia, an Islamist militia, was claiming credit for the attack.
A fourth, sent at 11:57 p.m. EDT, described a mortar attack on the consulate annex, where the Americans were killed.
About 300 watch officers at the NSC, State, Defense, the FBI and other agencies would have read these emails as soon as they were received, and informed their superiors right away. This was a crisis. Men armed with mortars, machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades were attacking a U.S. consulate. The ambassador was missing. The secretary of state, the DNI and the president would have been briefed within hours.
When the "three a.m. phone call" came (at 6:07 p.m. EDT), the president ignored it. The day after learning Ambassador Stevens had been murdered and sensitive intelligence documents were missing, he jetted off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas.
And for nearly two weeks afterward, Mr. Obama and his senior aides blamed the attack on the Youtube video -- even though they knew that wasn't true.
His interview with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes, taped the day after the attack, indicates that Mr. Obama has been lying from the get-go.
"My suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in [the attack on the consulate] who were looking to target Americans from the start," the president told Mr. Kroft.
The fact that CBS cut this from the broadcast -- airing instead Mr. Obama's attack on Mitt Romney for criticizing his Middle East policy -- indicates why the White House remains confident the "mainstream" media will continue to downplay the scandal.
This cover-up, like that in Watergate, goes right to the top. What's being covered up is much worse than a "third rate burglary." Why was security so lax? Why were the ambassador's pleas for more turned down? Why did the president lie? Americans have a right to know. Few in the media have tried to find out.
Appeals to their integrity are unlikely to get "mainstream" journalists to do their jobs, since they have so little of it. Self preservation may. The leaked emails expose journalists who touted the administration's story as gullible chumps, corrupt shills, or both.
Spooks and diplomats are angry at the attempt to make them scapegoats; furious that the president didn't lift a finger to help their comrades in the consulate during the seven-hour siege. More leaks may be on the way. If they fail to follow up, journalists could lose more credibility than the president. They haven't much credibility left to lose.
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To subscribe: http://press.post-gazette.com/ Jack Kelly is a columnist for The Press and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. email@example.com, 412 263-1476.