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Report: U.S. Knew Benghazi Attack Was Terrorism Within 24 Hours

For nearly a week after the attack on the Benghazi Consulate that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the Obama pushed the narrative that the attack was a spontaneous action brought about by protests over an obscure YouTube film that had started in Cairo earlier that day. Indeed, the following Sunday U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on multiple news shows pushing exactly that line. It wasn’t until later in the week that the Administration admitted that the attack was the result of terrorism, most likely by an al Qaeda offshoot that has has taken hold in eastern Libya, although they still seem to be equivocating on whether or not the attack was planned. Today, The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake reports that the Administration knew the attack was an act of terror within 24 hours after the attack, and that they even had clues about  who had committed the attack:

 Within 24 hours of the 9-11 anniversary attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, U.S. intelligence agencies had strong indications al Qaeda-affiliated operatives were behind the attack, and had even pinpointed the location of one of those attackers. Three separate U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said the early information was enough to show that the attack was planned and the work of al Qaeda affiliates operating in Eastern Libya.

Nonetheless, it took until late last week for the White House and the administration to formally acknowledge that the Benghazi assault was a terrorist attack. On Sunday, Obama adviser Robert Gibbs explained the evolving narrative as a function of new information coming in quickly on the attacks. ”We learned more information every single day about what happened,” Gibbs said on Fox News. “Nobody wants to get to the bottom of this faster than we do.”

The intelligence officials who spoke to The Daily Beast did so anonymously because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press. They said U.S. intelligence agencies developed leads on four of the participants of the attacks within 24 hours of the fire fight that took place mainly at an annex near the Benghazi consulate. For one of those individuals, the U.S. agencies were able to find his location after his use of social media. “We had two kinds of intelligence on one guy,” this official said. “We believe we had enough to target him.”

Another U.S. intelligence official said, “There was very good information on this in the first 24 hours. These guys have a return address. There are camps of people and a wide variety of things we could do.”

A spokesman for the National Security Council declined to comment for the story. But another U.S. intelligence official said, “I can’t get into specific numbers but soon after the attack we had a pretty good bead on some individuals involved in the attack.”

It’s unclear whether any of these suspected attackers have been targeted or arrested, and intelligence experts caution that these are still early days in a complex investigation.

Assuming for the sake of argument that all of this is true, one has to wonder why the Administration spent the better part of a week pushing the patently ridiculous idea that an attack carried out by men who carried RPG’s and other military-style weapons, and which used military style tactics in both its attack on the main Consulate an the safe house that security personnel attempted to take Ambassador Stevens. One possibility, of course, is that they didn’t want to acknowledge what they knew publicly for fear of tipping off the people who were involved in the attack. In this regard, though, it’s worth noting that the Libyans arrested at least four people, and by some reports as many as 50, in the days after the attack so, if these were the same people the U.S. was looking at there really wasn’t any danger of tipping anyone off. Additionally, I would think that these groups are smart enough to realize that once they pull off an attack like that, they’re going to be targeted by the United States. This cannot be news to them.

You’ll also recall that, last week, Lake reported that the Administration had advance warning of at least unrest in Beghazi and threats to western interests.

In a related story, the Interim President of Libya, who is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meeting, told NBC News that there’s simply no way that the attack had anything to do with the movie:

An anti-Islam film that sparked violent protests in many countries had ”nothing to do with” a deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi earlier this month, Libya’s president told NBC News.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Ann Curry, President Mohamed Magarief discounted claims that the attack was in response to a movie produced in California and available on YouTube. He noted that the assault happened on Sept. 11 and that the video had been available for months before that.

“Reaction should have been, if it was genuine, should have been six months earlier. So it was postponed until the 11th of September,” he said. “They chose this date, 11th of September to carry a certain message.”

Magarief said there were no protesters at the site before the attack, which he noted came in two assaults, first with rocket-propelled grenades on the consulate, then with mortars at a safe house.

(…)

Magarief told Curry that based on the accuracy of the assault, he believes the attackers must have had training and experience using the weapons.

“It’s a pre-planned act of terrorism,” he said, adding that the anti-Islam film had “nothing to do with this attack.”

All of this seems rather obvious from the facts themselves, of course, but Magarief saying it publicly adds extra weight to it, and makes the Administration’s decision to stick with the movie meme for more than a week all the more inexplicable, especially in light of the report that they had intelligence that indicated something entirely different within a day after the attack. Why maintain the charade?

Nick Gillespie comes up with three theories:

1. Using “The Innocence of Muslims” as the proximate cause for a spontaneous attack – as opposed to a cover for an attack on September 11 (of all dates, for christ’s sake) minimizes the adminstration’s responsibility for screwup after screwup. Hey, it’s not American policy that’s causing the problem, it’s thoughtless YouTube provocateurs that are stirring up anti-American hatred in the Middle East.

(…)

2. Similarly, focusing on “Muslim Rage” as the root cause of any and all attacks on Mohammed or Islam also allows Obama to play the role he seems to like best: above-it-all soother of pain and bringer of light to dark situations. That’s precisely what he did at the U.N. yesterday, speaking out of both sides of his mouth by invoking universal rights such as free speech while also pushing for self-censorship. But what if the concept of an unstoppable “Muslim Rage” at the decadent, secular West is simply a form of Orientalism? That is, it’s a fundamentally Western conceit that reduces a huge swath of the world to a pre-rational mob that will have to be dealt with as children or animals?

(…)

3. Both the Muslim Rage and Western insensitivity lines of argument allow the Obama administration to maintain its foreign policy status quo, which is not so very different from what the Bush administration was pursuing. The U.S. pullout from Iraq (such as it is, given the thousands of troops and contractors still working there) followed a timetable set by the Bush administration and Obama’s Afghanistan plans are following the same sort of vaguely defined nation-building mission until the exact moment we pull out that Bush had started. Throughout the Middle East and in North Africa as the Arab Spring unfolded, Obama was slow to voice support for any of the nascent revolts until it was clear who was going to win (and the rebel victory in places such as Egypt ultimately took down American clients).

By minimizing the role of al Qaeda in Benghazi, Obama can simultaneously continue to claim that al Qaeda is weakened (despite its proxies’ ability to kill American diplomats) while not having to revisit the exact reasons for a massive and ongoing U.S. military presence all over the region. If in fact, al Qaeda is no longer the threat it once was, shouldn’t the U.S.’s presence in the region be receding? Especially if, as Obama pledged at the U.N. yesterday, we won’t be dictating the outcomes of democratic elections in the region? And if al Qaeda is still powerful in the region, then what the hell have we been doing the past decade-plus? Are we still on the globo-cop beat foresworn by George W. Bush as he entered the White House in a pre-9/11 world? And if so, why do so many Americans and other residents of the world seem unhappy with our foreign policy?

It is true that the Administration and the Obama campaign have both pointed to things such as the death of Osama bin Laden as proof of the success of American foreign policy. But, at the same time they’re doing that, they’re also engaging in a foreign policy that engenders significant resentment among Muslims in general an Arabs in particular. Our drone strikes have resulted in the deaths of civilians from Pakistan to Yemen. Our invocations of democracy ring hollow when we intervene in Libya but do next to nothing while the Baharanis, with help from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, crack down on the Shiite population. And, we seem to be moving inexorably toward a war with Iran that threatens to inflame the entire region. If people in the Middle East are unhappy with our foreign policy, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise, and it shouldn’t be surprise that groups like al Qaeda are able to exploit that resentment.

More importantly, though, if Lake’s story is true then the Ambassador to the United Nations lied to the American public when she said the attacks were the spontaneous result of a protest over a movie, or at the very least she significantly distorted the truth or was lied to herself and sent out to the talk to the press. The American people are owed an explanation for that.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rick DeMent says:

    I’m going to take a wild stab and say that the reason the administration is not being forthcoming is for the very same reason that Romney won’t share:

    his tax returns
    details of his economic plan
    what deductions he plans on cutting
    his replacement healthcare plan
    Just about everything else

    His political enemy’s will want distort it and use it against him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

  2. john personna says:

    This is completely unsurprising to me. I understood that the administration was “messaging” to listeners both foreign and domestic. I saw no reason that they should dump everything they knew on me, the domestic listener, within 24 hours.

    It’s a kind of hubris, right? That they “owe” me fast answers?

    I’ll be satisfied if reasonable public disclosure (which would exclude intelligence secrets) would be made in something like 90 days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  3. Commonist says:

    Why let the people you know committed the act actually know that you know they were behind it? Why give them time to lace up their sneakers?

    You know why the British could shoot down so many German bombers? Radar.

    You know what they “accidentally” leaked to the Germans? That their “Feed all our bomber-searchers loads of carrots”-operation was a great success. Don’t let your enemy know how much you really know until you strike.

    The American people are owed squat on this particular issue. Well, some questions regarding security preparedness might be salient.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  4. john personna says:

    Shorter: the President is running a country, not a blog.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 4

  5. Rafer Janders says:

    Indeed, the following Sunday U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on multiple news shows pushing exactly that line.

    Here’s what Rice really said on the shows:

    “Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo….”.

    Yeah, that’s really “pushing it”, isn’t it? “Current best assement”, “based on the information we have at present”, etc. My god, she’s a steamroller!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  6. Nikki says:

    @Commonist, @john personna: Whew. I thought it was just me who couldn’t grasp the outrage in this situation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  7. If this report is true Rafer, then Rice was not providing the “current best assessment”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  8. grumpy realist says:

    Doug, when are you going to start dealing with reality, rather than with the airy-fairy fantasy Libertarian rainbows-and-ponies land you stubbornly insist on living in? I can think of many reasons why the Administration might have been unwilling to jump on the “Thou Art The MAN!!!” bandwagon you seem to think they should have:
    1) there was in fact disagreement among the experts as to what was actually going on. Just because you have a bunch of people right now who ululate that They Knew The Situation Within 24 Hours doesn’t mean that it’s true. Especially since they refuse to get their names on the record. Are we simply hearing the blabbermouths from one side of the opinion?
    2) Said experts might not have been such “experts” after all. It might be that in the beginning, the only people who screeched about Al Qaeda were the ones who saw Al Qaeda under every rock. The fact that they just happened to be right in this case doesn’t mean it was incorrect for their original theories to be treated with high suspicion.
    2) Estimate by the Administration that if they were wrong in the accusations, it would be worse if they accused Al Qaeda and then had to walk back their statements than if the whole thing was originally treated as a spontaneously generated riot and then fixed later. You don’t know this, because you have no idea of the secondary effects that they were worried about.

    Doug, please stop embarrassing yourself like this. It is quite obvious that you have no experience of living in a foreign country or carrying out diplomacy in a volatile situation. I doubt you even can speak a foreign language. Don’t make judgments in areas you know nothing of.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

  9. Rafer Janders says:

    For one of those individuals, the U.S. agencies were able to find his location after his use of social media.

    “Ahmed Hakim Belhadj checked in at safe house, Benghazi. Four friends and two U.S. intelligence agencies like this.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  10. pylon says:

    Prety big if, consiering the source.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Doubter4444 says:

    I’m kind of the feeling as JP above says:

    This is completely unsurprising to me. I understood that the administration was “messaging” to listeners both foreign and domestic. I saw no reason that they should dump everything they knew on me, the domestic listener, within 24 hours.

    It’s a kind of hubris, right? That they “owe” me fast answers?

    Why the need for speed?
    I took it as massaging the situation for the best possible response, and no, I’m not naive enough to think that political considerations were not front and center.
    Still, investigations take time, assets are questioned and need to be protected (I seem to remember that people wee outraged that details of the Bin Laden episode were leaked – screaming for a disinformation campaign and claiming it endangered lives).

    Why is this different?

    Governments need to put out statements – right?

    Statements are crafted for multiple reasons and audiences – right?

    With information so easily accessed these days (an issue Obama actually brought up in his speech at the UN), different statements to different audiences are very difficult to do without cross contamination – right?

    So let’s go with occam’s razor: A pablum response was crafted to mitigate more unrest and violence, to allow the governments involved a reasonably face saving way to support the US, to gain time and access the situation, without outing resources…. and this is wrong why, again?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  12. An Interested Party says:

    Doug is going to write something about distorting the truth after putting out a post accusing the President of “capitulating” on free speech? Really? In these parts it’s starting to look like those places where they are pushing alternate polling because the real world is too painful for them to acknowledge…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  13. MMR says:

    How does this square with the movie maker being brought in for questioning? Was he just another scapegoat?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  14. Jeremy R. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    On the same show Mike Roger’s agreed it was the current intelligence assesment, though he also communicated his personal doubts:

    http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-news-sunday/2012/09/16/amb-susan-rice-rep-mike-rogers-discuss-violence-against-americans-middle-east?page=3

    WALLACE: Well, Congressman, you just heard Ambassador Rice say that her latest indications are that the attack on the consulate in Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration about that video control that spun out of control. Do you agree with the ambassador?

    REP. MIKE ROGERS, CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think it’s just too early to make that conclusion. There are — there’s analysts in Department of Defense and CIA. There’s operatives in both places.

    As an FBI agent, I get to look at all of that. I come to a different conclusion. They are only moderately confident it was a spontaneous event because there’s huge gaps in what we know.

    If you’ll recall, days later, this still appeared to be the operative intelligence assessment when Matt Olson, director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, testified before congress:

    http://www.sfgate.com/business/bloomberg/article/Libya-Attack-Not-Coordinated-in-Advance-U-S-3878107.php

    “The best information we have now indicates that this was an opportunistic attack,” Olsen, who cautioned that the investigation isn’t finished, said at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing today in Washington.

    “What we don’t have at this point is specific intelligence that there was significant advance planning or coordination for this attack,” he said.

    In Rice’s appearances she offered tons of qualifications on the preliminary nature of the intelligence and counseled waiting for the results of the FBI investigation for more clarity.

    Calling this a “lie” is getting into pretty ridiculous territory.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  15. ralphb says:

    It seems to me the Daily Beast and some other blogs should receive a nice bouquet of roses for serving as a possible early warning system for Al Qaeda operatives who may be under surveillance. This is a case where leaks could screw the pooch on finding others who may have been involved or actually set up these attacks.

    The American people do have some right to know, but not in the middle of what could be an ongoing operation against Al Qaeda. Tina Brown can’t go out of business fast enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. bk says:

    Keep choking that chicken, Doug.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  17. Doubter4444 says:

    @ralphb:
    What the hell are you talking about?
    Seriously, I don’t understand your comment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. C. Clavin says:

    After the OBL killing they got lambasted for spilling info too soon.
    Now they spilled info too slow.
    Shorter Doug…”I hate Obama no matter what”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  19. bk says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    for the very same reason that Romney won’t share his tax returns

    Yes, because concerns about national security and the compromising of intelligence are EXACTLY THE SAME as the disclosure of personal tax returns. That’s a bunch of crap.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  20. george says:

    @Commonist:

    Why let the people you know committed the act actually know that you know they were behind it? Why give them time to lace up their sneakers?

    Kind of sums up my opinion. Release the info publically afterwards (say within a couple of months). They should release the info to the house committees as it comes in, as an oversight, but general release not until later.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. PGlenn says:

    @grumpy realist: you and your “progressive” cohorts in this thread are the ones embarrassing yourselves, not Doug.

    The bizarre rationalizations coming from otherwise intelligent people like john personna are almost breathtaking. Hmmm . . . let’s see . . . 90 days after the attack puts in December, about a month after the election. Voila, 90 days = “reasonable public disclosure.”

    Do you people have any idea how ridiculous you sound?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  22. nitpicker says:

    Jesus, there’s nothing more embarrassing that people like Doug sitting well outside of an operation claiming there’s no possible valid reason someone might do something as basic as keep certain information going public. When I was in Afghanistan, we loved these kind of coffee shop flights of fancy in which they’d attribute to military actions (or inactions) all kinds of motives and hints of conspiracy when, if they had even the slightest bit of intelligence (of either kind), they’d know to STFU and not emabarrass themselves.

    Not having information myself, I don’t know why the information was kept under wraps. Doug does write:

    One possibility, of course, is that they didn’t want to acknowledge what they knew publicly for fear of tipping off the people who were involved in the attack. In this regard, though, it’s worth noting that the Libyans arrested at least four people, and by some reports as many as 50, in the days after the attack so, if these were the same people the U.S. was looking at there really wasn’t any danger of tipping anyone off.

    So, basically, Doug wants the Libyans to decide within 24 hours they have the right guys and then he wants the US government to announce that ASAP, regardless of how many terrorist connections that might instantly sever; or the fallibility of the Libyan intelligence system; or the possibilitly that more folks might be out there; or the further possiblity that they know they don’t have the right people, but are watching the right people and want them to think they’ve gotten away with it to lead them to someone bigger; or all kinds of other reasons.

    Just silly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  23. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders: She was saying those things even though the administration knew–and had known for several days–the true nature of the attacks. The “current best assessment” as she spoke was actually the opposite of what she was saying.

    In short, she was pushing a scenario she knew was not true, and regardless of all the weasel-wording with which she padded it, she–and by extension, the administration–wanted people to believe it was “spontaneous” rather than planned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  24. ralphb says:

    @Doubter4444: Simple really. If US intelligence knew the location of one of the attackers, they would likely watch him and find out who he contacts and where he goes. That should help find other attackers etc. Since the story is now in the open, and al Queda has access to the internet, they know we may be watching.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  25. nitpicker says:

    @Mikey: Right, Mikey, but which people is up for debate. Do you think you deserve the full story immediately even if it would alert our enemies we have important intelligence about them, or would you prefer people use “weasel words” in the short term if it aids in catching terrorists?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. Rob in CT says:

    Obviously the admin engaged in spin. The question is why. Was it to try and fool terrorists so we (or Libyan forces) could nab them, or was it simply ass-covering.

    I don’t know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. john personna says:

    @PGlenn:

    Why should details of the attack be an election issue, seriously?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  28. john personna says:

    (No sane observer is going to think State, let alone the President, should have micromanaged the Amb.’s trip.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  29. jan says:

    I know that the end game of politics is about your guy winning. Whether you’re a liberal or conservative, one’s ideological perspective gives leniency to whom they support. But, I would assume that in cases dealing with national security and foreign policy, which effects everyone in a country equally, people could put aside their partisan colored glasses and assume a rational moment impartially analyzing an important event such as the recent Libyan violence resulting in 4 deaths — one being a prominent and well liked ambassador.

    Kisten Powers of the Daily Beast, usually a sympathetic pundit for the Obama administration, even has the guts/courage to step up and say that the stance taken by Obama was either the result of horrible incompetence or a deliberate cover-up by lies. Either way you look at it, anyone refusing to question what is going on with Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and President Obama, in their lack of openness/honesty with the people as well as their handling of this mayhem, is a reflection of their own stupidity, political correctness, and general myopia.

    It appears that most posters on OTB have become pathetically off the charts in doubling down for their social progressive candidate of choice, no matter the cost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  30. Mikey says:

    @nitpicker: I would expect the administration to be non-specific in the immediate aftermath of the incident (although even then they were pushing the “spontaneous outgrowth of a demonstration” line). But Rice made her comments on Sunday, a full five days after the attack, and after the Libyan government had clearly stated they believed it was planned.

    Also, simply acknowledging the entirely obvious–that the attack was not a spontaneous escalation of a protest, but had been planned in advance–would have posed no intel risk, because it would simply be acknowledging what many people already thought was the case.

    There may have been other, valid reasons for pushing the narrative, but they kept on with it well past when they should have stopped, and it has made them look a bit foolish.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  31. Mikey says:

    @ralphb: They know we’re watching regardless. I highly doubt any were tricked into complacency by Susan Rice going on the Sunday talkers with the “spontaneous demonstration” story. That was solely for U. S. consumption.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  32. anjin-san says:

    To think that just a few short years ago, the Jans of the world were reminding us that the President is a unitary executive, and to even question him during a time of war put forth more than a hint of treason…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  33. john personna says:

    Let me give you an example of normal delays. Yesterday I went to jury duty. I was sent to court for an attempted murder, but my number was not called and I got to go.

    The attempted murder on trial happened in 2008.

    Four years ago.

    And yet some are actually claiming here that 4 deaths must be fully investigated and reported to them by November … why exactly?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. nitpicker says:

    @Mikey: Unless you have access to intelligence, you have no idea “when they should have stopped.” Period.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. Jim Treacher says:

    @Rick DeMent: Um, except this is a MURDERED AMBASSADOR.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  36. Mikey says:

    @john personna: That’s a bit of a stretch, John. I don’t know of anyone who’s demanded “4 deaths must be fully investigated and reported to them by November” (although I may have missed it).

    What we’re talking about here is pretty basic and central to the events of September 11: whether or not it was a planned terrorist attack. We don’t have to do CSI: Benghazi to find that out, and indeed, it appears the administration knew pretty quickly what the answer was. And yet, they pushed an entirely contrary narrative for a week.

    Now, as I said above, they may have had good reasons for doing so. But, again, they kept it up for so long that they began to look a bit ridiculous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  37. Septimius says:

    It seems like only yesterday (or maybe a few weeks ago) that the liberals around here were completely discounting that Obama’s rush to the podium to announce that bin Laden was dead had any negative impact on U.S. counter terrorism efforts. After all, some guy in Abbottobad had tweeted about the raid.

    Now, suddenly the Obama administration is completely justified in pushing a bogus story about the embassy attack in Benghazi because we didn’t want to tip off the terrorists that we knew it was a terrorist attack? What do you think the first clue was? When dozens of men with automatic weapons and RPG’s stormed the embassy in a coordinated attack under the cover of darkness or when al Qaeda took credit for it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  38. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    Right here:

    The bizarre rationalizations coming from otherwise intelligent people like john personna are almost breathtaking. Hmmm . . . let’s see . . . 90 days after the attack puts in December, about a month after the election. Voila, 90 days = “reasonable public disclosure.”

    That would be PGlenn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. Mikey says:

    @nitpicker: You don’t need to be DCI Petraeus to know that when everyone has figured out the line you’re pushing is bullshit, you stop pushing it. And that was about three days before they actually stopped.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  40. john personna says:

    @Septimius:

    Let me ask you a question in turn:

    In September 2012, where were the United States greatest loses of military and diplomatic personnel?

    Can you see why “tell us, tell us” sounds a little odd when focused on a skirmish and not a war?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. Mikey says:

    @john personna: I was thinking about media figures, not OTB commenters, but OK.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  42. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    For what it’s worth, I do have an example of the worst possible way a media figure can play this:

    “I think there’s been a very, very serious breach of decorum by Mrs. Clinton in not offering to resign over failure to protect her diplomats adequately,” Stein, a Republican, told POLITICO. “She’s in charge of the ambassadors, she’s in charge of the foreign service. She absolutely should not have let those people go to Benghazi, which she knew was in a state of extreme unrest, without having adequate protections. That was a very serious mistake that cost several people their lives, and she’s responsible.”

    Ben Stein: Hillary Clinton should resign

    According to Stein, she is actually “responsible” for those deaths.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  43. john personna says:

    BTW, let’s drive this forward a little. Many (though not all) of the people asking for Libya details are doing it to support Mitt Romney for President.

    The irony is that Mitt Romney wants to stay longer in Afghanistan, and tolerates more deaths there. Many more than 4.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  44. Mikey says:

    @john personna: Yeah, Stein’s being pretty ridiculous (not at all unusual for him, really). Ambassador Stevens would have had a far greater level of insight into conditions in Libya than Clinton would. And the ambassadors are adults, you know, capable of making their own decisions. They’re not appointed by the Secretary, they’re appointed by the President, and they serve at his pleasure, not hers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    That sounds reasonable to me.

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  46. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’m taking this as a sign they actually learned from the idiocy they put on display with the assassination of Bin Laden. However, they fail at parallels.

    With Bin Laden, there was no immediate news coverage of the event, no press on hand, no “loose” documentation or video of the raid. Almost no one knew about it until Obama started slam-dunking it.

    In this case, the story was out there almost immediately, so there was very little value in trying to keep the story under cover.

    Of course, in both cases, the actions taken have the effect of making Obama look good (or less bad), but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence…

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  47. nitpicker says:

    @Septimius: And vice versa, smart guy. You have no idea what intel was harmed or saved by either, but you change your own tune to match your party’s needs. So, if it’s hypocrisy, considered yourself painted with that same brush. By your own hand.

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  48. nitpicker says:

    @Mikey: And, yet again, you have no idea what they know. I’m not saying they’re right. I don’t know that. But neither do you know they’re wrong. You simply wish to push a complaint because you’re trying something, anything to tarnish Obama.

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  49. nitpicker says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: So, when a murderer is running around a city and the cops keep some information secret for investigative purposes, you think they’re doing that for political reasons?

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  50. Ron Beasley says:

    It was certainly not for political reasons – the Obama team is not that stupid, they knew that the truth would come out in a couple of weeks. Whatever the reason it was done in spite of the political downside.

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  51. Murray says:

    So basically we are left with two narratives:

    1/ The WH staff panics and tries to BS the country because terrorism attack + election = bad

    2/ The WH plays stupid while tracking down the authors of the attack.

    Both are perfectly plausible. On the one hand American history is ripe with silly attempts at cover ups from the WH and this administration doesn’t employ more geniuses than its predecessors. On the other hand we have the example of Obama laughing at Bin Laden jokes at the white house correspondent’s dinner while …. navy SEALS are in the middle of an audacious operation to take him out.

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  52. Nikki says:

    Well, what if the video was intended to induce the riots to provide cover for the terrorist attack? You know, it is possible that all of the above are somehow connected.

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  53. Nikki says:

    I think I get it. The righties are ticked off that Obama managed to diffuse the situation before the al-Qaeda connection could be ginned up into a political football.

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  54. Carson says:

    When will those responsible be captured? What’s going on with that? Obama should give them a deadline and if they are still not in custody, send in the Seals, Delta, or some other special ops force and find them.

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  55. Mikey says:

    @nitpicker: That’s a pretty specific inference you’ve drawn. In reality, I’d be just as hard on a Republican administration that tried to pull this same nonsense. Also note that I’ve refrained from speculating about the administration’s motive in pushing the narrative it pushed, and at one point stated myself that they might have a good reason of which the public is not aware. That doesn’t change the fact they tried to bullshit the American people.

    “You don’t have all the facts, so you can’t make a judgment” is just plain false. I drew on my 20 years of military experience (which includes time in a special operations unit) and significant training in small-unit tactics to determine pretty early on that the administration’s statements could not have been accurate.

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  56. Mikey says:

    @Nikki: And it doesn’t bother you that he did it, essentially, by lying?

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  57. An Interested Party says:

    But, I would assume that in cases dealing with national security and foreign policy, which effects everyone in a country equally, people could put aside their partisan colored glasses and assume a rational moment impartially analyzing an important event such as the recent Libyan violence resulting in 4 deaths — one being a prominent and well liked ambassador.

    Tell that to Mitt Romney, as he obviously didn’t follow your advice…

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  58. Mike says:

    @Mikey:

    And there’s the rub. Effectively employing mortars (something requiring more skill/training than point and shoot AKs or RPGs) against a safe house (requiring effective surveillance ahead of time) during the time period when a top official is going to be visiting (requiring effective intelligence gathering ahead of time) with a high sustained rate of fire (requiring the logistical planning to have enough rounds on hand to employ) indicated pretty clearly that this was not an opportunistic attack where some dudes brought AKs to a protest and things got out of hand or whatever. All of those four of those points were pretty widely reported within a day or two of the incident, yet the administration was still pushing the “spontaneous attack” narrative. That is just dumb regardless of motive. If I (dumb AF officer who doesn’t know too much about small unit tactics) can figure it out, it’s not exactly a state secret.

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  59. Mike says:

    And as far as the OPSEC concerns…saying “the best information we currently have indicates that this was a pre-planned attack” without singling any organization out really reveals nothing. It could’ve been performed by a local al-Qaida affiliate, remnants of the regime, folks from another region…the possiblities are numerous. I really am sensitive to OPSEC concerns, but I really don’t see how those are legitimate in this example…especially when if that truly was a concern for some reason I can’t think of why couldn’t the administration simply refused comment? Pushing a narrative you know to be false (and which is easily proven false by anyone with a couple brain cells and basic knowledge of small unit tactics) instead of just not saying anything pushes it beyond OPSEC concern into dumb behavior.

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  60. Septimius says:

    @nitpicker:

    So, when a murderer is running around a city and the cops keep some information secret for investigative purposes, you think they’re doing that for political reasons?

    When a murderer is running around a city and the cops deny that there is a murderer and falsely claim that all the victims committed suicide, then yes, they’re usually doing that for political reasons.

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  61. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @nitpicker: So, when a murderer is running around a city and the cops keep some information secret for investigative purposes, you think they’re doing that for political reasons?

    No, they’re being smart.

    However, that’s a BS analogy.

    After the Bin Laden assassination, the Obama administration/campaign (I can’t see the difference) blabbed pretty much every single detail about the whole thing.

    This time, despite how pretty much the whole world realized what had happened almost immediately, the Obama administration kept putting out a totally false narrative until they simply couldn’t keep saying it with a straight face.

    Why the total reversal? One theory: they learned from the stupid way they handled the Bin Laden assassination.

    The other: in both cases, they acted to best boost Obama’s standing and reputation.

    My money’s on B.

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