Three days later, however, in sworn testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Mathew Olson, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, testified that “[y]es, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy. 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.”
Nevertheless, ignoring Olson’s testimony and the mounting evidence that Benghazi constituted a coordinated terrorist attack on an American diplomatic facility, the next day, at the Univision Town Hall, President Obama again raised the specter of a protest over the offensive video being to blame for the murders of Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues:
Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.
Based on extensive reporting by CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox News, there is not only no longer any doubt that Benghazi was a sophisticated and pre-planned terrorist attack against the United States. Indeed, the Obama administration very likely knew this at a much earlier stage than they have admitted.
In the face of congressional hearings, the State Department asserts that it never concluded the consulate attack in Benghazi arose from protests over the video. When asked about the Obama administration’s initial explanation linking the attacks in Benghazi to protests over the video, a State Department official said, “That was not our conclusion.” The implication being that those talking points had come from the White House.
The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker,” Glenn Kessler, wrote that “[f]or political reasons, it certainly was in the White House’s interests to not portray the attack as a terrorist incident, especially one that took place on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Instead the administration kept the focus on what was ultimately a red herring — anger in the Arab world over anti-Muslim video posted on You Tube.” The political reasons for the Obama administration’s portrayal of the attack arise from the fact that Benghazi fundamentally undermines White House claims that “leading from behind” resulted in success in Libya, that extremely conciliatory gestures to the Muslim World would defuse Islamic extremism, that the global war on terror is over and al-Qaeda defeated with the killing of Osama bin Laden, and that the administration had given proper consideration to the safety of American diplomats operating in Libya.
On Monday, in his speech at VMI, Governor Romney gave voice to what Americans already knew to be true:
The attack on our consulate in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012, was likely the work of forces affiliated with those that attacked our homeland on September 11th, 2001. This latest assault cannot be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the Administration’s attempts to convince us of that for so long. No, as the Administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially women and girls; who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today; and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West.
Just as Spanish voters figured out in a mere three days between the Madrid bombings and the election (despite their government’s effort to point the finger at ETA) that it was al-Qaeda that was responsible, American voters are determining, as congressional hearings unfold and common-sense analysis takes over, that the Benghazi murders were a coordinated and pre-planned attack on America — not spontaneous mob violence arising from an offensive video as the administration has clinged to for so long.
In less than 30 days, we will know if the Obama administration will pay a price at the polls for its handling of Benghazi and its aftermath, just as the Spanish government did for Madrid.