Of course, this diversion has a better chance of succeeding when the challenger overreaches in reaction to an embassy statement and then has to deal with the release of a secret recording at a fundraiser. But it's still a diversion. Here's the Benghazi chronology.
Since last June and prior to September 11th, there were three attacks on diplomatic corps in Benghazi. The first:
U.S. citizens are advised that there was an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on the U.S. Office in Benghazi during the early morning hours of June 6. There were no casualties. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
Britain's ambassador to Libya was in a convoy of cars attacked in the eastern city of Benghazi, a British embassy spokeswoman has said. The convoy was hit about 300m from the British consulate office in the city's al-Rabha neighbourhood on Monday.
A car belonging to an Egyptian diplomat was blown up near his home in the eastern Libyan city Benghazi on Monday, a day after deadly bomb attacks in the capital Tripoli blamed on supporters of deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi. A homemade device exploded under the vehicle of the Egyptian consulate's first secretary Abdelhamid Rifai in one of the city's most affluent neighborhoods but no one was hurt, security sources told Reuters.
Given this, you would think that the powers-that-be would have beefed up security, but they didn't. And there were warnings that attacks on our American missions were imminent.
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.
More on the warnings.
Three days before the deadly assault on the United States consulate in Libya, a local security official says he met with American diplomats in the city and warned them about deteriorating security.
Jamal Mabrouk, a member of the February 17th Brigade, told CNN that he and a battalion commander had a meeting about the economy and security.
And warnings in Egypt were not passed on.
A U.S. intelligence cable warned the American Embassy in Cairo of possible violence in response to Arabic-language broadcasts of clips from an anti-Muslim film, U.S. government sources said on Monday.
Copies of the cable were not sent to other U.S. outposts in the region, including the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where violence took the life of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The ties between the Benghazi violence and the crude anti-Muslim film are still unclear.
The sources said the cable, which is still classified, was sparked by the broadcast on Saturday, September 8 by al-Nas, an Egyptian satellite TV network, of what its presenters described as extracts from an English-language film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad.
Compounding this, there were no Marines at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as a last line of defense.
A senior administration official Wednesday called the Benghazi consulate “an interim facility,” which the State Department began using “before the fall of Qadhafi.” It was staffed Tuesday by Libyan and State Department security officers. The consulate came under fire from heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at about 10 p.m. local time on Tuesday. By the time the attack ended several hours later, four Americans were dead and three others had been injured.
The Benghazi consulate had “lock-and-key” security, not the same level of defenses as a formal embassy, an intelligence source told POLITICO. That means it had no bulletproof glass, reinforced doors or other features common to embassies.
Despite months of violence and a warning leading up to the attack, security was lax at the Benghazi station.
U.S. officials told reporters on Wednesday that the Benghazi consulate had “a robust American security presence, including a strong component of regional security officers.” And indeed, one of the four Americans killed was former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was “on security detail” and “protecting the ambassador,” his sister Katie Quigly told the Boston Globe. Also killed was an information-management officer, Sean Smith. The fourth American who died has not yet been identified. Yet Baja describes a very different picture from his visit on Tuesday morning, even remarking at how relaxed the scene was when he returned to the consulate building a short while after leaving Stevens, in order to collect the mobile phone he had accidentally left behind. “The consulate was very calm, with video [surveillance] cameras outside,” Baja says. “But inside there were only four security guards, all Libyans — four! — and with only Kalashnikovs on their backs. I said, ‘Chris, this is the most powerful country in the world. Other countries all have more guards than the U.S.,’” he says, naming as two examples Jordan and Morocco.
According to a source close to Breitbart News and high up in the intelligence community, the Obama administration's policy following Muammar Gaddafi's death has been to keep a "low profile" during a chaotic time.
For this reason, according to the source, American Marines were not stationed at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli or the American mission in Benghazi, as would typically have been the case. In the spirit of a "low profile," the administration didn't even want an American company in charge of private security. Blue Mountain, the British firm the State Department hired, was willing to abide by the "no bullets" Rules of Engagement (ROE), so were a logical fit for the contract. These sub-standard protections for American diplomats were signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the ROE.
In essence, the Obama Administration tasked an unarmed British firm with security responsibilities that should have been handled by armed American servicemen, and it was all approved by the Secretary of State. Needless to say, the plan failed and an Ambassador was murdered, along with several others.
The warnings communicated that violence would occur on or about September 11th, so it would be reasonable to conclude that a militant Islamist element would be involved. It would also be reasonable to conclude that any rioting and violence would be triggered by those militant Islamist elements. It would also be reasonable to conclude that these anticipated events involved a measure of planning and premeditation.
The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal.
American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.
The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the "safe house" in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed "safe".
Senior officials are increasingly convinced, however, that the ferocious nature of the Benghazi attack, in which rocket-propelled grenades were used, indicated it was not the result of spontaneous anger due to the video, called Innocence of Muslims. Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.
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.
The consulate was described as under siege.
According to guards at the compound, the attack began at about 9:30 p.m., without warning or any peaceful protest.
"I started hearing, 'God is great! God is great!'" one guard said. "I thought to myself, maybe it is a passing funeral." (All the guards spoke on condition of anonymity for their safety.)
The guard said he heard an American calling, "Attack, attack," over his walkie-talkie as the chants came closer. Suddenly, there came a barrage of gunfire, explosions and rocket-propelled grenades.
"I saw the ambassador's personal bodyguard -- the one who was killed -- running toward the villa where the ambassador was," he said. Armed only with a light weapon, the bodyguard "was running there to protect him."
Another Libyan guard said he saw Stevens escorted to the office in a wing off the main mission building, the room with an iron gate behind a wooden door. Three hours later, about 12:30 a.m., witnesses said that a crowd -- possibly looters -- broke through a tall and narrow window and found Stevens.
Yet, in that same article, the administration put forward the inexplicable line that this was "spontaneous and spurred by the Cairo protests". Jay Carney continued the spin last Friday, basically saying that we're not to believe what our eyes tell us. The State Department followed by saying that they won't answer any more questions about the Benghazi attack, enabling them to hide behind an FBI investigation until after the election. UN Ambassador Rice, a loyal foot soldier in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, went on national television spouting the same administration line.
WALLACE: This week, there have been anti-American protests in two dozen countries across the Islamic world.Tthe White House says it has nothing to do with the president’s policies. Let’s watch.
JAY CARNEY: This is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy. This is in response to a video that is offensive.
WALLACE: You don’t really believe that?
AMB. RICE: Chris, absolutely I believe that. Because, in fact, it is the case.
Except, it is not the case.
The somber ceremony came after Panetta briefed senators on angry unrest in the Muslim world that has propelled crowds against the outer walls of American diplomatic missions from North Africa to the Mideast and Asia.
Lawmakers emerging from the closed-door briefing described the onslaught as anything but a spontaneous display of religious-themed rage at an anti-Islam film on the Internet—a movie the White House has been blaming for the spike in violence.
"I think it was a planned, premeditated attack," Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said, according to Roll Call, the newspaper that covers Congress. But he said he did not know who carried out the attack.
"People don't go to demonstrate and carry RPGs and automatic weapons," sad Arizona Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on Levin's committee. "This was not a 'mob' action [or] a group of protesters."
Panetta was telling lawmakers one thing behind closed doors, and administration hacks and flacks were telling the American people something else. You can take FoxNews with a grain of salt, but there's little daylight between this and the above New York Times account.
An intelligence source on the ground in Libya told Fox News that there was no demonstration outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi prior to last week's attack -- challenging the Obama administration's claims that the assault grew out of a "spontaneous" protest against an anti-Islam film.
"There was no protest and the attacks were not spontaneous," the source said, adding the attack "was planned and had nothing to do with the movie."
The source said the assault came with no warning at about 9:35 p.m. local time, and included fire from more than two locations. The assault included RPG's and mortar fire, the source said, and consisted of two waves.
The account that the attack started suddenly backs up claims by a purported Libyan security guard who told McClatchy Newspapers late last week that the area was quiet before the attack.
"There wasn't a single ant outside," the unnamed guard, who was being treated in a hospital, said in the interview.
What's more, the Libyan president takes issue with Obama's spin.
In an interview for "Face the Nation" Sunday, President Mohamed Magariaf also said that evidence "leaves us with no doubt" that the attack was pre-planned.
"It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival," he told Bob Schieffer.
The one part I find less than believable from the Libyan president is the "foreigners" line, which tells me that he's trying to absolve Libyans from the murders (Bashar al-Assad pulls the same BS all the time, blaming the current civil war on outside influences). Although much of this involves unnamed intelligence sources, and I can't speak for the reliability of said sources, it also makes sense.
My information is that Stevens was lured to Benghazi by Libya officials and betrayed to jihadist elements who are fully employed in a private army and as Cyrenaica security forces.
You recall that Cyrenaica Province was the launch point of the rebellion that overthrew and killed Quadhaffi in the summer of 2011. Also, Cyrenaica was long the cauldron of jihadist fighters who traveled to Iraq to fight America in 2004-8. This is well known.
What is also known is that the Tripoli government employs Cyrenaica jihadists — grouped in an alphabet soup of units including the rebel militia LIHJ — to police Libya from pro-Quadhafi elements and in general. This means the US endorses these cutthroats as native troops.
Did State and the Obama administration know this? Yes. Did State know … that there was an alert out for several months that Al Qaeda was going to revenge the drone killing of Yahya al-Libi, the senior Al Q lieutenant to the Egyptian al-Zawahiri? Yes.
Did State know that al-Libi’s older brother is a senior commander in the Cyrenaica jihadist militia? Yes.
Could State put all this together and refuse the Libyan authorities invitation to Stevens to visit Benghazi on 9-11? Yes.
Did State have enough information to arrange that Stevens escort was an armored convoy and full ambassadorial security, including advance teams, aircraft, bomb detecting units, waves of bodyguards, even snipers? Yes.
My information is that the Benghazi officials, and the so-called witnesses all have excellent cause to mislead and distort the facts in order to conceal the scale of the jihadist operation. Asking the FBI to rely upon local eyewitnesses is a fool’s errand similar to what played out in all the terrorist attacks in the Middle East since Khobar Towers in 1995 (Tehran op), USS Cole in 2000 (Al Qaeda op) etc.
The FBI is not an intelligence entity. The intelligence ops have already put all this together as a military strike on the basis of who commanded, paid for, planned and executed the operation (Russian weapons from the Quadhafi arsenals).
The suggestion so far is that Stevens was lured to Benghazi by Tripoli/Benghazi authorities working with Al Q linked jihadists, and then Stevens steered to the safe house on purpose by local Benghazi authorities and then betrayed to the fighters. This is the so-called “blacked-out period.”
The Obama administration approach to treat this assassination as a spontaneous or even accidental crime by hot-headed miscreants is not only an imitation of the Clinton administration years before the World Trade Towers 2 attack, but it is also certain to empower the jihadists to strike again at the impotent police state power of the US.
So either the Susan Rice is either woefully misinformed or she's lying to protect her boss from adverse political repercussions. An ex-CIA guy and current Internet bully goes with the latter. Jon Landay spells out both the Libyan and American motivations for their storylines, and he also confirms that there were no protests at the consulate when it was attacked.
The consulate compound's landlord, Mohammed al Bishari, and a 27-year-old guard, who was wounded and asked to remain anonymous, told McClatchy Newspapers last week that no protest was taking place when the attack was launched at 9:35 p.m. local time. They described the assault as sudden and well-coordinated.
The assailants were carrying the black flag of a local Islamic extremist group, Ansar al Shariah, Bishari said.
Al-Qaida is suspected of playing a role because a video posted on the Internet the evening before featured Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's successor, calling for revenge for the death of his second in command, Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan cleric, who was killed in a June 4 CIA drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region.
Aaron Zelin, an expert on Islamic extremist groups at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said he agreed that the attack was most likely planned in advance because the assailants launched a second attack on the consulate's safe house, which U.S. officials have been referring to as the annex.
"Not only was there the attack on the consulate, but they knew where that safe house was," he said. "They had to have some kind of reconnaissance ahead of time."
"I think that has more to do with the anniversary of 9/11 than anything else," he said.
What is the bottom line? What's the point of this diary? This is a classic case of Obama blame-shifting, putting all the blame on a bad movie and distracting attention from the fact that security precautions were not taken despite a record of past violence and despite warnings of future violence. The reasoning for the spin is obvious. An American ambassador and three others were killed because the Obama administration failed to do enough to protect them. Obama, being a Democrat, does not want to be perceived as weak on national security, not when there is an election at stake, so he's sending out hacks and flacks to call it "spontaneous", with the deaths stemming from reactions by excitable movie critics. The attack also puts into question Obama's claims that he's kept Americans safe from al Qaeda and that al Qaeda is on the ropes. I'm suggesting that Obama, via his mouthpieces, is deliberately misleading the American people about what actually transpired in Benghazi, and quite frankly that pisses me off. He's lucky to have such an opponent as Romney, because Obama is going to get away with it.
UPDATE 1: Carney's and Rice's vociferous claim that the attack on the U.S. consulate was "spontaneous" is becoming inoperative.
The Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was in fact "a terrorist attack" and the U.S. government has indications that members of al Qaeda were directly involved, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday morning.
"I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy," Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in response to questioning from Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) about the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
As for who was responsible, Olsen said it appears there were attackers from a number of different militant groups that operate in and around Benghazi, and said there are already signs of al Qaeda involvement.
"We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda's affiliates; in particular, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," he said.
The U.S. government just isn't sure yet whether the terrorist attack was pre-planned or whether it was an example of terrorists taking advantage of protests against an anti-Islam film, Olsen said.
Let me get this straight. Members of al Qaeda are involved in the attack on the U.S. consulate, which occurred on the 11th anniversary of its most famous attack against the United States, yet this most recent attack wasn't planned or premeditated? Somebody pull my finger. More.
Sufyan Ben Qumu is thought to have been involved and even may have led the attack, Fox News' intelligence sources said. Qumu, a Libyan, was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007 and transferred into Libyan custody on the condition he be kept in jail. He was released by the Qaddafi regime as part of its reconciliation effort with Islamists in 2008.
His Guantanamo files also show he has ties to the financiers behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The declassified files also point to ties with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a known Al Qaeda affiliate.
UPDATE 2: Those right-wingers at CBS News have eyewitness accounts that directly contradict the Obama administration narrative.
Witnesses of last week's deadly attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya have told CBS News that the alleged anti-American protest that U.S. officials say morphed into the assault never actually took place.
The reporter is right. We won't get a detailed account from the Obama administration until after the election. Convenient for Barry.
UPDATE 3: That right-winger Anderson Cooper is reporting that Ambassador Stevens had told a source that he was on al Qaeda hit list.
In the months leading up to his death, Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, worried about constant security threats in Benghazi and mentioned that his name was on an al Qaeda hit list, a source familiar with his thinking told CNN.
Stevens spoke about a rise in Islamic extremism and al Qaeda's growing presence in Libya, the source said.
It's unclear if those concerns were relayed up the organizational chain.
UPDATE 4: Excluding his pacifist anti-military stance, Glenn Greenwald channels Bird Dog.
UPDATE 5: With Romney not having made any tactical mistakes for several days running, The Diversion is looking less successful. I guess it's one thing to churn out implausible and false spin, it's another to spin it so bad that nobody believes it, not even his most loyal media transcribers want to look like mindless idiots. The WSJ has a lengthy breakdown of the security breakdown. In short, there were all kinds of miscues from all kinds of levels, including from the ambassador himself. The main question is: With the approaching anniversary of 9/11 and given militant Islamist activity, why wasn't his administration better prepared to secure America's embassies and consulates? Barry dodged the question in his three-minute "answer".
But the false narrative continues to unravel.
The protests, White House spokesman Jay Carney said last week, were “in response to a video—a film—that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting.”
Now there is mounting evidence that the White House’s initial portrayal of the attacks as a mere outgrowth of protest was incorrect—or, at the very least, incomplete. The administration’s story itself has recently begun to shift, with Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, telling Congress on Wednesday that the attackers may have had links to al Qaeda and Carney characterizing the incident as a “terrorist attack.” (Hillary Clinton announced on Thursday that she was putting together a panel to look into the incident.)
But other indications that the White House’s early narrative was faulty are also beginning to emerge. One current U.S. intelligence officer working on the investigation into the incident told The Daily Beast that the attackers had staked out and monitored the U.S. consulate in Benghazi before the attack, a move that suggests pre-planning.
What’s more, two U.S. intelligence officials told The Daily Beast that the intelligence community is currently analyzing an intercept between a Libyan politician whose sympathies are with al Qaeda and the Libyan militia known as the February 17 Brigade—which had been charged with providing local security to the consulate. In the intercept, the Libyan politician apparently asks an officer in the brigade to have his men stand down for a pending attack—another piece of evidence implying the violence was planned in advance. (Plenty of Libyans, of course, did try to protect the consulate. “Many of those Libyans died in the gunfight fighting off the attackers,” one of the officials said. “But there were some bad apples there as well.”)
One other aspect of the administration’s story appears shaky as well. Speaking to ABC News on Sunday, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice responded to allegations that there wasn’t enough security at the embassy by saying, “Tragically, two of the four Americans who were killed were there providing security. That was their function. And indeed, there were many other colleagues who were doing the same with them.”
Rice was referring to two ex-Navy SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who died during the violence.
But two former special operators and a former intelligence officer, two of whom had worked with Doherty, told The Daily Beast that Doherty and Woods’s job was not to protect Ambassador Chris Stevens. That job falls to Regional Security Officers or RSOs. During the fighting, some RSOs who were supposed to protect the ambassador apparently became separated from him.
“Glen died for Tyrone and Tyrone died for Glen,” one of the former special operators told The Daily Beast. “They fought bravely, but they did not die protecting the ambassador.”
Since there were no actual protests at the consulate (as verified by multiple media sources), "the movie made them do it" storyline falls apart, and you can add Tommy Vietor to the list of Obama hacks and flacks who keep flogging falsehoods. The White House has a Benghazi problem and it'll remain a problem if they keep being dishonest about what happened.