The Benghazi Controversy, Obfuscated

Kevin Drum, writing for Mother Jones, tries to downplay UN Ambassador Susan Rice and the administration’s incompetence following the Benghazi attacks.

So the video might have played a role. But why did UN ambassador Susan Rice put the video front and center in her Sunday morning appearances a week after the attacks?

She didn’t, really. On Face the Nation, she said the “best information” at that moment suggested that the Benghazi attacks were “a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where […] there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video.” She then immediately added: “But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.”

Still, why even mention the video? By that point, wasn’t it clear that the real cause of the attacks lay elsewhere?

Because, we now know, that’s what the CIA was telling her. David Ignatius reports that a set of “talking points” prepared by the CIA on September 15, the day Rice taped her TV appearances, “support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, ‘The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.'”

Fine. But why did Rice suggest that the attacks came after a “spontaneous” protest at the Benghazi consulate? There was no protest.

True, but Rice didn’t know that at the time. As David Martin reports: “Over that same weekend, U.S. intelligence began to uncover evidence that there had not been a protest outside the consulate. That new intelligence did not get to Rice before she appeared on the Sunday talk shows, making her the target of Republican accusations the administration was trying to cover up the terrorist attack.”

At this point both parties have settled into trench warfare and each side will stick to their stories no matter what, but it’s worth noting that on September 12th, Reuters reported that:

“Libya’s Deputy Interior Minister Wanis Al-Sharif said U.S. staff were rushed to a Benghazi safe house after the initial attack on the consulate and an evacuation plane with U.S. commando units then arrived from Tripoli to evacuate them from the safe house.
It was supposed to be a secret place and we were surprised the armed groups knew about it. There was shooting,” Sharif said. Two U.S. personnel were killed there, he said. Two other people were killed at the main consular building and between 12 and 17 wounded.”

It was supposed to be a secret place, yet the armed groups knew about it. This is an indication that the attack was planned with inside or stolen information. Add to that:

1. the fact that the Embassy in Cairo was also attacked (Salafists like to coordinate their attacks)

2. The United States announced that it was planning to designate the Haqqani network (the mafia/terrorist group that works with corrupt sunni regimes to manage and profit from al qaeda) as a terror network on or around September 7th, 2012.

3. The Haqqani network and al Qaeda said that they planned to retaliate for this (without mentioning this stupid movie)

4. Attacks occurred as promised.

I hope that we are working on a proper retaliation against the people who launched this attack and their friends. It’s not likely that we are because this election has been the media and the government’s only priority for more than a year (If there was a Earth-destroying meteor hurtling towards us their primary concern would be how it affects the Romney and Obama campaigns) but if we did actually care about what’s happening abroad, the Obama administration would have reasons to keep some things quiet. Unfortunately, I can’t see any way in which this muddle-headed response to these attacks helps anyone.

Proof that it was planned, information concerning the motives & usual suspects behind this attack was published and read around the world on and before September 12th. Doesn’t Ambassador Rice read the news?

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About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
This entry was posted in middle east, Politics/Foreign correspondents. Bookmark the permalink.

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