After two-plus weeks of dissembling and obfuscating on the Libya attack, Team Obama finally found a “scapegoat” for its botched initial press rollout of the tragic events at the Benghazi consulate on 9/11/12 — the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James R. Clapper Jr. affirmed Friday in a press release — always the best time for delivering bad news — that the “spooks” were responsible for how the administration initially described the attack.
Taking one for the team, Clapper reported that the cloak and dagger crowd told the Obama administration that “the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo.”
The DNI press release continues: “As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.”
And then — tahdah! — buried in the middle of the DNI one-pager: “However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al-Qaida. We continue to make progress, but there remain many unanswered questions.”
This shouldn’t surprise us.
The last thing the White House wanted to tell us in the heat of a tight presidential campaign was that al-Qaida terrorists had just attacked sovereign American territory on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.
That “headline” totally undermines the notion that Team Obama has kept us safe and sound from terrorism — with, of course, the exception of the 2009 Fort Hood attack, which they’ve classified as “workplace violence.”
Instead, they seemingly chose to ignore the significance of the date of the attack; the lawlessness of eastern Libya; the sophistication of the assault on the Benghazi consulate and secure annex — and blamed it on a movie trailer.
Indeed, if not for the questioning of the National Counterterrorism Center’s Director at a Sept. 19 Senate hearing, where he identified Benghazi as a terror attack, the White House might still be spinning the “spontaneous protest” yarn.
Now instead of Team Obama playing it like it did — and, worse, making the hardworking people of the intelligence community take the hit — they should’ve been straight from the get-go.
Naturally, the details were difficult to discern in the early hours and days of the tragedy, and as such Team Obama — and its media surrogates — could’ve told us that there was a range of possibilities they were examining, including a terror attack.
The American people would’ve understood that. But instead the administration chose to lead us away from the emerging truth of a pre-meditated al-Qaida terror attack that killed four Americans.
That was disingenuous — and wrong.
But the DNI press release doesn’t put to rest this issue of what happened on 9/11/12 in Benghazi, by any means. For instance, it lacks a timeline of who in the administration knew what and when.
The American people deserve answers to these — and other questions — on what happened on that day in Libya. If the administration won’t tell us, Congress must get those answers for us. Soon...
There Was No Protest, Only a Terrorist Attack, in Libya
The Obama Administration’s story on the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens has changed yet again.
In advance of a hearing on diplomatic security in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today, more details have leaked out—and the State Department is now saying it never thought that the attack in Benghazi was prompted by a YouTube video.
“The State Department now says it never believed the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a film protest gone awry,” the Associated Press reports. “Department officials were asked about the administration’s initial—and since retracted—explanation linking the violence to protests over an American-made anti-Muslim video circulating on the Internet. One official responded, ‘That was not our conclusion.’ He called it a question for ‘others’ to answer, without specifying.”
Those “others” are top Obama Administration officials, who maintained for days that the attack stemmed from a spontaneous demonstration against the video trailer for Innocence of Muslims. These officials now find themselves under the proverbial bus.
>>> WATCH LIVE at 10 a.m. ET: Heritage event “Intelligence and Security Failure: Attacks in Benghazi and Across the Middle East Reveal Ongoing Threat of Terrorism”
A U.S. security officer named Eric Nordstrom, who will testify in today’s hearing, has said he asked his State Department superiors twice for more security at the post in Benghazi, but received no response. Reuters reports that “Nordstrom also argued for more U.S. security in Libya by citing a chronology of over 200 security incidents there from militia gunfights to bomb attacks between June 2011 and July 2012. Forty-eight of the incidents were in Benghazi.”
Heritage’s Helle Dale has laid out the timeline of events, including security concerns, leading up to the Benghazi attack and the Administration’s message bungling that followed. The State Department now has a chronology of the attack in Benghazi on September 11.
President Obama’s response to the attack—which turned into an embarrassing speech to the United Nations with a less than robust defense of free speech—has been a disaster.
Last week, Heritage’s James Carafano said that a statement from the Director of National Intelligence seemed to be “more about providing political cover for the White House than answering serious questions about the misstatement from the President’s spokespersons.”
The Administration’s official line on embassy attacks was already shaky, after Twitter posts, press statements, and other official pronouncements related to the attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo were pulled from State Department websites.
But the worst was Ambassador Susan Rice’s defense of the Administration on television last weekend. Rice vigorously asserted that the attack in Benghazi was not “premeditated,” even as she must have known top Libyan officials were already declaring that the attacks were planned.
Now the story is that there was never a protest of the YouTube video in Libya. It was simply a terrorist attack.
Around the world, Americans put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect their fellow Americans and our interests. We know they are targets. We know we can’t win every battle or prevent every terrorist attack. We don’t expect our government to be perfect. We do, however, expect it to be honest. We also expect, in a post-9/11 world, for our government to do a better job at “connecting the dots” and sharing information before the enemy strikes. The lesson of Benghazi is clear. One way or another, our government has failed us.
VIDEO: An Incriminating Timeline: The Obama Administration and Libya