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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Obama Administration Changes Its Tune Regarding The Benghazi Attack

The film Innocence of Muslims came to the attention of the Islamic world on September 6, when it was first reported by an Egyptian daily newspaper. A clip was televised on Salafist TV station al Nas on the 8th. Protests erupted in Egypt.

But did the film have anything to do with what happened in Libya?

The Washington Post has a chronological list of statements made about the attacks. Early on we were told that spontaneous protests over Innocence of Muslims sparked the Libyan attacks.

For instance, on September 16, Susan Rice claimed: "Based on the best information we have to date ... it began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo."

But on September 20, Margaret Brennan of CBS News reported: "Witnesses tell CBS News that there was never an anti-American protest outside of the consulate. Instead they say it came under planned attack. That is in direct contradiction to the administration’s account."

Who do we believe - Rice, or eyewitnesses? Since she also made the laughable claim of "a substantial security presence with our personnel and the consulate in Benghazi," I vote for the eyewitnesses.

We were also told that the administration didn't know early on whether or not it was a terrorist attack (as opposed to a mob action). On September 19, Mathew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, stated, "What we don't have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack."

But now the White House says it knew within 24 hours that it was a terrorist attack.

Did the White House have any intelligence prior to September 11 that an attack against the Libya consulate might be in the works? Kim Sengupta of The Independent reports, "According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown", under which movement is severely restricted."

Later that day (September 14), Jay Carney responded: "I have seen that report, and the story is absolutely wrong. We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent. That report is false."

On its website on September 6, the Overseas Security Advisory Council had posted a memo stating that "OSAC currently has no credible information to suggest that al-Qa’ida or any other terrorist group is plotting any kind of attack overseas to coincide with the upcoming anniversary of September 11." The blog Speak With Authority reports that the memo was scrubbed, some time between the 8th and the 12th. Why?

Congressional leaders of both parties want answers regarding the already-established misinformation. Most troubling are the allegations reported in The Independent that the administration had "actionable intelligence" (in Carney's words) prior to the attacks, contrary to claims by Carney and the OSAC memo. I would hope that Kim Sengupta's sources would come forward and tell us what they knew and when they knew it.

If the film didn't sparked the Libya attacks, what did? Sengupta states: "There is growing belief that the attack was in revenge for the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, an al-Qa'ida operative who was, as his nom-de-guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi suggests, from Libya, and timed for the anniversary of the 11 September attacks."

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