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Friday, October 19, 2012

Benghazi - Words, Terrorism and Communications Under Attack

As a nurse, I know how people respond to extreme stress.  That's why I understand mixed communications surrounding the tragically deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya where Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack.

I've participated in critical incident stress debriefings and management, whereby eyewitnesses to tragedies sometimes tell emotionally different versions about fatal events.

Critical Incident Stress Management is an adaptive, short-term psychological helping-process that focuses solely on an immediate and identifiable problem. It can include pre-incident preparedness to acute crisis management to post-crisis follow-up.

Of course, the purpose of C.I.S.M. is not usually to resolve the facts about an incident but, rather, to help those involved to overcome serious emotional stress.  In fact, C.I.S.M. is preventative to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.).  Nonetheless, second guessing post the Benghazi consulate attack uses a critical incident stress process to determine facts.  An emotional debriefing, in my experience, won't resolve the political wordsmith compulsion resulting from the incident.

Moreover, law enforcement officials I've known as an Emergency Medical Services nurse validates the inaccurate accounts of eye witness testimony, when subjected to cross examination.  

As a matter of fact, in a forensic psychology class, students in my class were asked to write on a piece of paper the describing characteristics of our professor, while he stood in front of us.  Our different discriptions were astounding!  We never described his age, height or even the correct color of his hair!  Our only unanimous agreement came in response to the professor wearing eyeglasses, but all the other information we described were totally wrong.

It should go without saying that politics shouldn't be involved in clinical responses to stress. Nonetheless, while investigators sort out details of the Benghazi attacks and the death of four Americans, both the Romney and the Obama campaigns are crafting the words used as a result of the traumatic events.

In fact, some point out how President Obama used the words "act of terror" twice, post the incident, while Governor Romney didn't initially "get" this connection, based upon only using the term once.  

"...Obama managed to label the attacks terrorism twice in the two days following the attacks before Romney used the term once."

Unfortunately, my clinical experience with post trauma stress and the lack of credibility of eyewitness testimony will never see the light of day in a political Presidential campaign.  

For what it's worth, there's no value in anybody trying to create a viable description of what happened when Ambassador Stevens and three others were killed in Benghazi. 

There is value, however, in determining whether or not Ambassador Stevens asked for additional security.  There is virtually no word crafting or eyewitness testimony to revise the answer to this question. Either he did ask for extra security, or not.  Therein  is the debate.  

Compulsion about how post a traumatic incident events are word crafted should be as valid as eyewitness testimony.  Political analysis made by people who were not at the scene should be less than useless.

Highly sensitive communications will never resolve or avenge what happened in Benghazi.  It's time to stop compulsing on words for the purpose of making political points, especially while everyone involved in the tragedy is still experiencing critical incident stress. 



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