As Congressional Hearings Open, The Benghazi Narrative Changes Again

The official narrative on the Benghazi consulate attack has changed again.

It has been just under a month since the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans and it seems like it’s only now that we’re starting to learn the truth, the Obama Administration had, for some reason decided to push the story that the attack was a spontaneous event brought into being by protests over the same obscure and badly made YouTube video that had allegedly motivated protests in Cairo earlier that same day. As we’ve learned since then, though, U.S. intelligence officials had concluded within twenty four hours after the attack that was an terrorist attack, thus making the “spontaneous” part of the narrative all the more implausible. Additionally, the President of Libya and other Libyan officials were saying that the attack was a pre-planned terrorist attack, and even early reports from the ground (where the press arrived before the FBI did) made it seem less and less likely that the attack was anything other than a pre-planned operation.  We also learned that there were multiple warnings about threats in Benghazi against American interests. We’ve also learned that the state department withdrew a security team assigned to Libya just twelve days before the attack despite a request directly from Ambassador Stevens that the team be allowed to stay given the security threats in the country. Additionally, the head of security at the Embassy said Foggy Bottom basically ignored the outpost’s requests for additional security. Despite all of this, the Sunday after the attack, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on multiple news shows continuing to push the narrative that the attack was all about a movie, and it is only through the efforts of journalists like The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake that we’ve come to know what was really going on in Libya in the months and weeks prior to the first murder of an Ambassador since 1979.

Now, in advance of today’s hearings before the House Oversight Committee about the attack, we learn that the State Department is now saying that it never believed that the attack was tied to a movie:

WASHINGTON (AP) — All was quiet outside the U.S. Consulate as evening fell on Benghazi and President Barack Obama’s envoy to Libya was retiring after a day of diplomatic meetings.

There was no indication of the harrowing events that night would bring: assailants storming the compound and setting its buildings aflame, American security agents taking fire across more than a mile of the city, the ambassador and three employees killed and others forced into a daring car escape against traffic.

Senior State Department officials on Tuesday revealed for the first time certain details of last month’s tragedy in the former Libyan rebel stronghold, such as the efforts of a quick reaction force that rushed onto the scene and led the evacuation in a fierce gun battle that continued into the streets.

The briefing was provided a day before department officials were to testify to a House committee about the most serious attack on a U.S. diplomatic installation since al-Qaida bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania 14 years ago.

The account answers some questions and leaves others unanswered. Chief among them is why for several days the Obama administration said the assault stemmed from a protest against an American-made Internet video ridiculing Islam, and whether the consulate had adequate security.

The conference call also revealed several new details about the attack:

On Sept. 11, Stevens did not leave the compound because of security fears due to the 9/11 anniversary. He had arrived in Benghazi the day before with five guards in total. Two additional Diplomatic Security agents from Tripoli were with him in addition to the three agents normally detailed to the compound.

Though some administration officials had initially said that the attack grew out of protests over an anti-Muslim film, the senior State Department official told reporters today that “nothing was out of the ordinary” on the night of the attack.

At 8:30 p.m., the ambassador said goodnight to a visiting Turkish diplomat outside the compound and the streets were empty. But at 9:40 p.m., noises, gunfire and an explosion were heard by the agents located in the TOC and Building B.

The agent in the TOC looked at one of the camera feeds monitoring the perimeter and saw a large group of armed men entering the compound. Asked about the initial reports of the protests, the official said that while “others” in the administration may have said there were protests, the State Department did not.

(…)

This starts a series of events during which Stevens, Information Specialist Sean Smith and the agent locked themselves in a safe area in Building C. The area is set aside from the rest of the building by a metal grille with several locks and contained a small room with water and medical supplies.

From the safe haven room where Stevens, Smith and the agent were hiding they could see the men roaming throughout the house, trying to open grates, looking for them.

When the men didn’t find anyone, they poured diesel fuel all over the rooms and furniture, setting the house on fire. As black smoke, diesel fumes and fumes from the burning furniture filled up the safe haven, the three tried to get to the bathroom area where there was a small window to open it for air, which did not help.

At this point, the official said, the security officer, Smith and the ambassador were on the ground gasping for air and suffering from “severe” smoke inhalation and decided to take their chances and get out of the safe haven and building.

The security agent led the way, but when he got outside he realized that neither Smith nor the ambassador had made it after him.

He went back in several times to find them, but eventually had to leave because he was overcome by the strong smoke. He climbed to a safe area outside of the building and radioed for help.

There are more details at the link, but they all support  the conclusion that the attack on our consulate was clearly part of a well-planned paramilitary operation, not something that merely occurred out of the blue during a protest about a movie. Mostly because, well, there was no protest about a movie to speak of that day in Benghazi. 

All of this leads to the question of how the Obama Administration got around to pushing the meme that the protests were related to the movie when there was so much evidence to the contrary. As noted above, we’ve learned over the past month that there had been warnings of threats to Western interests in Benghazi for several days prior to the attack and that Ambassador Stevens had been warning Washington about threats in the nation, and the need to keep the security team that State was planning on withdrawing. Why would Washington then jump to the conclusion that the attack was something else when there was so much evidence pointing them in the rather obvious direction of it being a pre-planned terrorist attack.

Eli Lake suggested in an article last week that much of it is related to a series of talking points that the CIA had prepared for Members of Congress and other government officials in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Those talking points did say that the attacks were apparently the result of spontaneous demonstrations, but as Lake notes, they contradict intercepts that had been made of communications between al Qaeda In The Islamic Maghreb linked Libyan insurgents which clearly suggested that the attack was a premeditated, pre-planned attack. Despite these intercepts, which were available within days after the attack, the CIA talking points never mention the possibility of an al Qaeda link to the attack. Indeed, we now know that there was early information linking the attack to Libyan militants. Why would this be? Could it be that CIA officials wanted to downplay the possibility that this was a terrorist attack because of the allegations that would follow of an intelligence failure. And what of the State Department, why did they seemingly go along with the CIA even though their own people on the ground had given them information that clearly contradicted the talking points?

The other question that remains unanswered is whether there was a security lapse with regard to the Benghazi consulate. Why did the State Department ignore the requests from  Ambassador Stevens and security officials that they provide additional security for the consulate? Why did they withdraw a security team from Libya less than two weeks before the attack? Was the security for the Benghazi embassy inadequate and, if so, why wasn’t it closed given the perilous security situation in the city? These are questions that deserve to be answered.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Intelligence, National Security, Terrorism, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    Why did the State Department ignore the requests from Ambassador Stevens and security officials that they provide additional security for the consulate? Why did they withdraw a security team from Libya less than two weeks before the attack? Was the security for the Benghazi embassy inadequate and, if so, why wasn’t it closed given the perilous security situation in the city? These are questions that deserve to be answered.

    Indeed. What a mess.

  2. Rob in CT says:

    These are questions that deserve to be answered.

    Yes.

    Was the CIA covering its ass, or was the CIA trying to do something else (and, if so, what?)? Some sort of headfake?

    I’m perfectly willing to believe the CIA engage in CYA, but I’m puzzled if anyone at CIA actually believed that suggesting the attack was part of a demonstration that never happened would actually hold up. At best, that story would hold for a brief time (it basically didn’t hold up the day after, let alone a month after). So… huh? If it was an attempt at covering up an intel failure, it’s the lamest coverup ever.

    It’s just plain odd.

  3. stonetools says:

    Well, maybe they did so because Congressional Republicans cut funding for embassy security and there weren’t the resources to cover all eventualities.

    Later in the interview, CNN Anchor Soledad O’Brien asks, “Is it true that you voted to cut the funding for embassy security?”

    Chaffetz answers, “Absolutely. Look we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have… 15,0000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, a private army there, for President Obama, in Baghdad. And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces. When you’re in touch economic times, you have to make difficult choices. You have to prioritize things.”

    O’Brien responds, “Okay, so you’re prioritizing. So, when there are complaints that, in fact, that there was not enough security, you just said, ‘absolutely,’ that you cut, you were the one to vote against to increase security for the State Department, which would lead directly to Benghazi. That seems like you’re saying you have a hand in the responsibility to this. The funding of the security? How am I wrong?”

    Rep. Chaffetz says, “When you’re in Libya, after a revolution… you [have to] prioritize things. And what clearly didn’t happen is Libya was not a priority. I believe what I heard is that it’s because they wanted the appearance of normalization. That’s what they wanted. And that fit with Obama narrative moving forward.”

    CNN

    Soledad O’Brien has been on fire the last couple of months, btw. Send a couple Likes her way.

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    All of this leads to the question of how the Obama Administration got around to pushing the meme that the protests were related to the movie when there was so much evidence to the contrary.

    Jesus, why can’t the writers on this site learn to use the word “meme” correctly? Meme is not a synonym for story. A meme is a self-replicating mechanism that reproduces itself by inducing behavior in its host that causes the host to forward the meme to others, i.e. it has a viral property. It can be a story, prhase, tune, melody, image, etc. that strikes its observers with such force, clarity, humor, etc. that they feel compelled to pass it on. While a story can attain meme-like characteristics, merely telling a story does not make it a meme.

  5. Geek, Esq. says:

    I imagine Joe Biden will be ready with “Congressman Ryan, you voted several times to cut security for our overseas diplomatic personnel. The budget you and Mitt Romney have offered would cut that security even further. Because you preferred to give a tax break to the top 1%. What we see is the consequences of faulty priorities.”

  6. Rafer Janders says:

    Was the security for the Benghazi embassy inadequate

    Well, it would have been, had we had an embassy in Benghazi. But we don’t, since the US Embassy is in Tripoli. We do have a consulate in Benghazi, but consulates around the world are always smaller and less well-defended than embassies.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    @ Rafer…
    Doug hates Obama…a severe case of ODS.
    Meme has a negative conotation.
    It doesn’t matter if the usage is correct.
    What matters is the implication of something more nefarious than it is.

  8. mantis says:

    @C. Clavin:

    What matters is the implication of something more nefarious than it is.

    Actually, that’s how I would characterize your assessment of Doug’s use of the word meme.

  9. Septimius says:

    @stonetools:

    1. Civics lesson: House Republicans cannot unilaterally cut funding for anything. Appropriations bills still need approval of both Houses of Congress and must be signed by the President to become law.

    2. The “Republican” appropriations bill that cut funding for embassy security received more Democrat votes than Republican votes.

    3. The funding cuts had absolutely nothing to do with the decision of the State Department to withdraw security personnel from the Benghazi consulate over the objection of the ambassador, nor with the decision of the Obama administration to spend a week falsely claiming that the attack was the result of a youtube video.

    Other than that, your post is very clever. Give yourself a gold star.

  10. stonetools says:

    Whenever there is a successful surprise attack, there are always a bunch of second guessers who pontificate and ask a bunch of questions that after the fact make sense but no one ever thought of BEFORE the fact, when it matters.

    Why didn’t the US Navy prepare for the possibility of a Japanese carrier raid on Pearl Harbor?
    Why didn’t General Hooker foresee that Lee would split his army in defiance of all military theory and launch an attack on his flank at Chancellorsville?
    Why didn’t the CIA predict that a handful of militants in the USA would crash planes into the WTC towers and kill 3,000 Americans?

    The reason is simple: no one can cover, or think of , all eventualities. Surprise attacks happen, and will happen again. The issue should be on what the response is.

    Another point-logistics. Amateurs discuss tactics and professionals discuss logistics. Did the State Department have the resources to cover all options? Had the Libyan consulate been secured and the attack happened in Indonesia, what would we have said? “Why wasn’t there adequate security and quality intelligence in Indonesia, where there have been attacks on westerners in past?” Criticizing the Administration in this way is a mug’s game that the Administration can’t win.

  11. Mikey says:

    @stonetools: This is just a lame excuse. Nordstrom’s testimony, and the associated documentation, indicate the security posture in Benghazi was the way it was because State thought the “safe house” was sufficient, and had nothing whatsoever to do with funding.

    State failed to prioritize security in Benghazi, and that’s it. Don’t try to shift the blame.

  12. Mikey says:

    @stonetools:

    Whenever there is a successful surprise attack, there are always a bunch of second guessers who pontificate and ask a bunch of questions that after the fact make sense but no one ever thought of BEFORE the fact, when it matters.

    Oh, PLEASE. The guys on the ground in Benghazi KNEW what a risky place it was. This isn’t a case of someone putting the puzzle together after the fact. We had a bunch of people there who knew they were at great risk, and they repeatedly requested beefed-up security. They were denied, then ignored.

    This is, plainly and simply, the failure of the leadership at the State Department to properly prioritize security at the Benghazi consulate.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @ Mantis…
    And I suppose it was completely without agenda that yesterday Doug refused to call Romney a liar…just because he repeats the same mis-representation of fact over and over and over again.
    It is your perogative to give the benefit of the doubt where you see fit.
    I’ve read too many ODS influenced posts to do that.
    Besides…Doug is an Attorney. Attorneys know that word choice matters.

  14. J-Dub says:

    @Rafer Janders: So maybe on the anniversary of 9/11 the Ambassador should have been in the better protected embassy in Tripoli, not in Benghazi.

  15. stonetools says:

    @Septimius:

    1. Civics lesson: House Republicans cannot unilaterally cut funding for anything. Appropriations bills still need approval of both Houses of Congress and must be signed by the President to become law.

    2. The “Republican” appropriations bill that cut funding for embassy security received more Democrat votes than Republican votes.

    Well then, both the Democrats AND the Republicans are to be blamed for weakening embassy security. Thanks for the lesson about shared responsibility. I’ll remember that when the Republicans falsely try to apportion blame solely to the Democratic Administration.

    3. The funding cuts had absolutely nothing to do with the decision of the State Department to withdraw security personnel from the Benghazi consulate over the objection of the ambassador, nor with the decision of the Obama administration to spend a week falsely claiming that the attack was the result of a youtube video.

    The decision to withdraw security may also have absolutely nothing to do with whether the attack succeeded that night. More security may have defeated the attack, or have led to greater loss of life. The Obama Administration did not falsely claim for a week that attack was a result of the video, but even if it had, so what? It wouldn’t have made the loss of the life any less tragic.

    Other than that, your post is very clever. Give yourself a gold star.

    Thank you, I think I will.

  16. mantis says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And I suppose it was completely without agenda that yesterday Doug refused to call Romney a liar

    I’ve been reading and commenting here for a long time now. I don’t think Doug’s agenda is to protect Romney. I would imagine he was not quite comfortable saying that particular statement was a “lie” as he understood it. The idea that Doug would bother to write a post titled “Mitt Romney Once Again Misrepresents The Status Of The U.S. Navy” and then want to protect Romney from accusations of being dishonest strains credulity. If he was so in the tank for Romney, why bother writing the post at all? It makes no sense.

    It is your perogative to give the benefit of the doubt where you see fit.

    Indeed, and in this case it is based on my knowledge of Doug from his own writing over the years. He’s no fan of Obama, to be sure, but he does not seem to harbor some irrational hatred of him (at least not beyond what I consider his irrational dislike of all Democrats).

    Besides…Doug is an Attorney. Attorneys know that word choice matters.

    Have you considered that the word “meme” has expanded in common use to basically be synonymous with “story” or “explanation,” especially in the political realm? You may not like that, but it does seem to be the case.

    I’m all for calling out nefarious motives where they exist. I just don’t see it here. You are reading too much into things.

  17. C. Clavin says:

    FYI…
    The Romney/Ryan budget would cut discretionary spending by 20%…which comes to around $400M in Embassy Security dollars.
    That should help matters considerably.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    @ Mantis…
    Over time I agree with you far more than I disagree with you.
    But here we will agree to disagree.

  19. stonetools says:

    @Mikey:

    This is, plainly and simply, the failure of the leadership at the State Department to properly prioritize security at the Benghazi consulate.

    Its always plain and simple AFTER the fact. Hey, maybe there shouldn’t have been a consulate in Benghazi.
    Maybe there should have been a consulate only if one had been hardened to Embassy standards.
    Maybe the ambassador should have ordered Stevens to stay his a$$ in the Tripoli embassy , at least during sensitive times like 9-11.
    Or maybe if all those things had been done, the attack would have happened at some other time and place better for the militants.
    The advantage of the militants is they can attack at any time and place they choose, and we have to be eternally vigilant and foresee all sensibilities. Unsurprisingly, we aren’t going to foil every attack. Hey, its a war, and in a war, battles are lost and casualties happen. Its only in Hollywood that the good guys never lose.

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    @mantis:

    Have you considered that the word “meme” has expanded in common use to basically be synonymous with “story” or “explanation,” especially in the political realm? You may not like that, but it does seem to be the case.

    But…it hasn’t. It really hasn’t. This is just misuse, and very sloppy writing.

  21. Mikey says:

    @stonetools:

    Its always plain and simple AFTER the fact.

    And sometimes it’s plain and simple BEFORE the fact.

    As it was here.

    And “well, shit happens sometimes” is not a valid excuse. They had the chance to do what the people on the ground in Benghazi said was necessary to improve security, and they did not.

    You seem to think because it was impossible to “foresee all possibilities” then State is off the hook. Nonsense. The security posture requested by the consulate’s personnel and rejected by State’s hierarchy probably wouldn’t have prevented the attack, but it very well could have saved the lives of Ambassador Stevens and the three who died with him.

    But we’ll never know, because State failed to prioritize security at the Benghazi consulate.

  22. Rafer Janders says:

    @mantis:

    Have you considered that the word “meme” has expanded in common use to basically be synonymous with “story” or “explanation,” especially in the political realm? You may not like that, but it does seem to be the case.

    Would you ever write “Susan told me the funniest meme about her date last night” or “so tell me the meme about how you guys met”? Or “I’d like you to give me a meme about how this mistake happened in the first place”?

    No, you wouldn’t, because you’d recognize that it sounds wrong in common usage, and you’d recognize that because meme is not actually synonymous with story or explanation.

  23. stonetools says:

    @Mikey:

    You seem to think because it was impossible to “foresee all possibilities” then State is off the hook

    I’m certainly willing ton apportion SOME blame to the State Department. Other parties are also to blame, including Republicans who cut funding for embassy security, then who want to lay ALL blame on the State Department.
    I also blame those who somehow think you can participate in and fight a war and never suffer casualties or a reversal. That’s BS and Ambassador Stevens would have been the first to agree. Had he put his safety first, he wouldn’t have even been at the Benghazi consulate. He understood as many here don’t, that he was taking a risk accepting the Benghazi consulate assignment, and that he and the others were putting their lives on the line for the USA.
    In the big scene of things, the Libyan campaign has been a huge success that until now , hasn’t cost any American lives. We were naive to think that it would always be thus.

  24. mantis says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    No, you wouldn’t, because you’d recognize that it sounds wrong in common usage, and you’d recognize that because meme is not actually synonymous with story or explanation.

    On the web, in politics, it certainly seems to be commonly used that way, right or wrong. Your examples are something else.

  25. C. Clavin says:

    Can someone rescue me from the spam filter???

  26. Mikey says:

    @stonetools: Sorry, until someone demonstrates a connection between the funding cut and the security reduction, I’m not buying that the former had anything whatsoever to do with the latter. It’s obvious State had the money to put a security team in Benghazi, because one was there until shortly before the attack. And, as I mentioned before, security specialist Nortstrom’s testimony indicates the primary reason for keeping security “artificially low” was for appearance’s sake, and had nothing to do with funding.

    Of course, as a combat veteran, I understand completely that wars do not come without cost. But accepting that is an entirely different thing than deliberately weakening your security posture.

  27. jukeboxgrad says:

    septimius:

    The “Republican” appropriations bill that cut funding for embassy security received more Democrat votes than Republican votes.

    Really? I hope you’ll tell us what bill you’re talking about. The bill I’m aware of is here:

    (Sec. 2117) Decreases appropriations for Administration of Foreign Affairs: (1) embassy security, construction, and maintenance; and (2) worldwide security upgrades, acquisition, and construction.

    The number of Democrats who voted for this? Zero. Only 5 Rs didn’t vote for it. So please tell us where we can find support for this claim you made.

    More here:

    … Issa seems unaware of the irony that diplomatic security is inadequate partly because of budget cuts forced by his fellow Republicans in Congress.

    For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program — well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. (Negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate restored about $88 million of the administration’s request.) Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security” — a charge Republicans rejected.

    Ryan, Issa and other House Republicans voted for an amendment in 2009 to cut $1.2 billion from State operations, including funds for 300 more diplomatic security positions. Under Ryan’s budget, non-defense discretionary spending, which includes State Department funding, would be slashed nearly 20 percent in 2014, which would translate to more than $400 million in additional cuts to embassy security.

    mikey:

    until someone demonstrates a connection between the funding cut and the security reduction

    The connection is obvious. Have you ever been a manager and had your budget cut? It effects all your decisions.

  28. stonetools says:

    @Mikey:

    Has someone demonstrated a connection between the security reduction and the success of the attack? No? Then we are both speculating and we should wait for the hearings before we draw conclusions. My guess is that there is blame to go around, including possibly even Ambassador Stevens.
    I also believe that the Republicans will try to lay all blame on the Obama Administration for political gain, and I’ll be watching for that. You apparently don’t think that’s an issue.

    In the end, though, it maybe simply that the nature of the business is that if you serve in the Middle East, you are in danger of being killed by Islamic militants. Embassies and consulates have been attacked repeatedly and people have been killed before this . Zero casualties all the time in such circumstances? That’s unrealistic.

  29. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Hell, this is nothing. By late-October, especially if Obama’s internal polling is very bad, the “narrative” regarding this Libya fiasco will be that it was Bush’s fault and further that you’re a racist for asking about it. Or whatever.

    Speaking of which, exactly how retarded is the State Department and the other administration components that were responsible for this tragedy? Coming up on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 and regarding the diplomat corps in Libya of all places and they were reducing security?? Ugh. That fails the basic EEG flatline test. This is one of the worst scandals in history. If we had a real media and real history book writers it would be deemed at least on par with ABSCAM and Iran-Contra and more realistically on par with Watergate.

  30. Mikey says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    Have you ever been a manager and had your budget cut? It effects all your decisions.

    Yes and yes. And you know what I did? I put money into important stuff. I didn’t say “no” when people came to me with an urgent need. I listened to them and responded.

    None of which State did when the security specialists at the Benghazi consulate asked for more security.

    Seriously, the amount of spin in which the Obama defenders are engaging on this is unbelievable. It’s everyone’s fault but the guy actually in charge. I haven’t heard excuse-making like this since the GOP was trying to defend Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

  31. steve says:

    Then we should increase security at all embassies on 9/11. How much should we increase it? Are we willing to pay for it?

    Steve

  32. Mikey says:

    @stonetools:

    Has someone demonstrated a connection between the security reduction and the success of the attack? No? Then we are both speculating and we should wait for the hearings before we draw conclusions. My guess is that there is blame to go around, including possibly even Ambassador Stevens.

    OK, we’ll wait. But keep in mind, the regional security guy Eric Nordstrom has already testified he thinks his requests were denied because “there was too much political costs to doing that.” Not money, politics.

  33. David M says:

    @Mikey:

    Seriously, the amount of spin in which the Obama defenders are engaging on this is unbelievable. It’s everyone’s fault but the guy actually in charge. I haven’t heard excuse-making like this since the GOP was trying to defend Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

    That pretty much sums up why I can’t get worked up over a consulate being attacked Libya, it just doesn’t seem to matter.

  34. Dazedandconfused says:

    Why wasn’t the administration sharing all incoming intelligence with the US public in real time?

    Because they might want to keep some things to themselves, even issue dis-information, during the initial assessment and reaction planning phase.

  35. jukeboxgrad says:

    mikey:

    you know what I did? I put money into important stuff.

    When I cut your budget, some things that used to be on your ‘important’ list get moved to a different list. When your budget shrinks, your definition of ‘important’ changes. That’s how it works. But your 20/20 hindsight is impressively acute.

    It’s everyone’s fault but the guy actually in charge.

    If I have the power to cut your budget, then the list of people “actually in charge” includes me.

  36. jukeboxgrad says:

    Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea for the GOP to call a public hearing which “accidentally blew the CIA’s cover” (link).

  37. Mr. Replica says:

    While the White House is not doing itself any favors or hasn’t done itself any favors with this Libya matter.
    It seems republicans in the house have decided to join in on the FAIL.

    When House Republicans called a hearing in the middle of their long recess, you knew it would be something big, and indeed it was: They accidentally blew the CIA’s cover.

    The purpose of Wednesday’s hearing of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee was to examine security lapses that led to the killing in Benghazi last month of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others. But in doing so, the lawmakers reminded us why “congressional intelligence” is an oxymoron.

    Through their outbursts, cryptic language and boneheaded questioning of State Department officials, the committee members left little doubt that one of the two compounds at which the Americans were killed, described by the administration as a “consulate” and a nearby “annex,” was a CIA base. They did this, helpfully, in a televised public hearing.

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was the first to unmask the spooks. “Point of order! Point of order!” he called out as a State Department security official, seated in front of an aerial photo of the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, described the chaotic night of the attack. “We’re getting into classified issues that deal with sources and methods that would be totally inappropriate in an open forum such as this.”

    A State Department official assured him that the material was “entirely unclassified” and that the photo was from a commercial satellite. “I totally object to the use of that photo,” Chaffetz continued. He went on to say that “I was told specifically while I was in Libya I could not and should not ever talk about what you’re showing here today.”

    Now that Chaffetz had alerted potential bad guys that something valuable was in the photo, the chairman, Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), attempted to lock the barn door through which the horse had just bolted. “I would direct that that chart be taken down,” he said, although it already had been on C-SPAN. “In this hearing room, we’re not going to point out details of what may still in fact be a facility of the United States government or more facilities.”

    May still be a facility? The plot thickened — and Chaffetz gave more hints. “I believe that the markings on that map were terribly inappropriate,” he said, adding that “the activities there could cost lives.”

    In their questioning and in the public testimony they invited, the lawmakers managed to disclose, without ever mentioning Langley directly, that there was a seven-member “rapid response force” in the compound the State Department was calling an annex. One of the State Department security officials was forced to acknowledge that “not necessarily all of the security people” at the Benghazi compounds “fell under my direct operational control.”

    And whose control might they have fallen under? Well, presumably it’s the “other government agency” or “other government entity” the lawmakers and witnesses referred to; Issa informed the public that this agency was not the FBI.

    “Other government agency,” or “OGA,” is a common euphemism in Washington for the CIA. This “other government agency,” the lawmakers’ questioning further revealed, was in possession of a video of the attack but wasn’t releasing it because it was undergoing “an investigative process.”

    Or maybe they were referring to the Department of Agriculture.

    That the Benghazi compound had included a large CIA presence had been reported but not confirmed. The New York Times, for example, had reported that among those evacuated were “about a dozen CIA operatives and contractors.” The paper, like The Washington Post, withheld locations and details of the facilities at the administration’s request.

    But on Wednesday, the withholding was on hold.

    The Republican lawmakers, in their outbursts, alternated between scolding the State Department officials for hiding behind classified material and blaming them for disclosing information that should have been classified. But the lawmakers created the situation by ordering a public hearing on a matter that belonged behind closed doors.

    Republicans were aiming to embarrass the Obama administration over State Department security lapses. But they inadvertently caused a different picture to emerge than the one that has been publicly known: that the victims may have been let down not by the State Department but by the CIA. If the CIA was playing such a major role in these events, which was the unmistakable impression left by Wednesday’s hearing, having a televised probe of the matter was absurd.

    The chairman, attempting to close his can of worms, finally suggested that “the entire committee have a classified briefing as to any and all other assets that were not drawn upon but could have been drawn upon” in Benghazi.

    Good idea. Too bad he didn’t think of that before putting the CIA on C-SPAN.

  38. Mikey says:

    @jukeboxgrad: It doesn’t take 20/20 hindsight to figure out State hosed this up royally.

    Here’s a report on the testimonies of the security specialists who were actually on the ground in Libya and whose repeated requests for increased security were denied and then ignored.

    Lamb to the slaughter

    One choice bit (the quoted individual is regional security officer Eric Nordstrom):

    “Once the first team of [temporary personnel] expired, there was a complete and total lack of planning for what was going to happen next,” he said. “There was no plan, there was just hope that everything would get better.”

    No plan. Just hope. Four dead men, a burned-out consulate, a worldwide embarrassment.

    And all the Obama apologists and sycophants trying to shift the blame.

    I heard an audio clip this morning of Sean Smith’s mother talking to Anderson Cooper. She said the administration is hardly telling her anything, and what they have told her has been, in her words, “outright lies.” She said she wants the truth, not the political nonsense they’ve been trying to foist on the American people.

  39. Mikey says:

    Also, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California asked Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lamb, who made the decision to deny the request for additional security assets, straight out if budget concerns had contributed to her decision.

    Her answer: “No, sir.”

  40. Rafer Janders says:

    @mantis:

    On the web, in politics, it certainly seems to be commonly used that way, right or wrong. Your examples are something else.

    Yes, the key word is “wrong”. It is wrongly used that way by poor writers and/or poor thinkers (an area of large overlap). Good writing is clear and concise and gets its message across. What Doug was trying to say was “the Obama administration is pushing a story”, and that’s what he should have written. But either because he is unfamiliar with the word, or wanted to appear in-the-know and sophisticated, he tried, and failed, to use a “fancier” word.

    Certainly there are many on the Web and in politics who are misusing the word “meme.” These are the same people who use impact and message as verbs. They are to be called out, not emulated.

  41. jukeboxgrad says:

    mikey:

    Her answer: “No, sir.”

    The video is here. Scroll to 25:00 to hear her say that. It was the first part of her answer. She was continuing to speak, but Rohrabacher cut her off and prevented her from explaining further. I’d like to know what she was going to say next, and I’d like to know why Rohrabacher doesn’t want us to know what she was going to say next.

    Also see if you can imagine why she would have a personal motivation to give that answer.

    I also hope you can help me find the part of the hearing that addressed this:

    Stevens personally advised against having Marines posted at the embassy in Tripoli, apparently to avoid a militarized U.S. presence

    He was trying “to maintain a low-profile security posture and show faith in Libya’s new leaders.”

  42. Mikey says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    II agree, I’d also like to know what Lamb wanted to say next, but her answer stands as it is.

    I also hope you can help me find the part of the hearing that addressed this:

    Stevens personally advised against having Marines posted at the embassy in Tripoli, apparently to avoid a militarized U.S. presence

    He was trying “to maintain a low-profile security posture and show faith in Libya’s new leaders.”

    My understanding is that was a position he held earlier this year, which he modified as September 11 drew closer. However, I can’t recall where I read that, and it may have been modified or corrected.

    Nordstrom did say in his testimony that everyone on the ground in Libya agreed they needed additional security, but he didn’t mention Stevens specifically that I know of.

  43. stonetools says:

    The Republican witch hunt goes off the rails here:

    however, Republican attempts to accuse the state department of leaving the consulate vulnerable by refusing requests for more security were delivered a blow when Nordstrom was asked how many agents he wanted to protect the Benghazi site. He said he asked for three. The hearing then heard that there were five at the time of the attack.

    This is the key part of the testimony. Regardless of the demands for security, there were MORE security personnel on that day than the embassy official requested. Also too,

    Nordstrom suggested that it might have been difficult to protect the consulate in any circumstance.

    So the consulate raid might have been successful anyway, according to the Republican’s witness.

    Finally, about those claims that Rice covered up the reason for the attack:

    Kennedy said Rice based her assertion on the best information she had at the time and hinted that it came from the intelligence services but said he could not discuss it in public.

    Game, set and match. When you understand that the Republicans blew CIA cover during their in-artful questioning and also voted less funding for embassy security, there is no doubt that the Republicans made a shambles of this investigation.
    Issa is the worst committee head since Joe McCarthy. In a just world, the voters fire this moron and the rest of the Tea Party crowd next month.