Four Pinocchios for Obama one day, and a timeline of the Obama administration’s Libya misdirection the next. What has gotten into Glenn Kessler?
For 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 Sept. 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. With key phrases and message discipline, the administration was able to conflate an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt — which apparently was prompted by the video — with the deadly assault in Benghazi.
Actually, the fact-checker is wrong here. Terrorists demanding the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman threatened the Cairo embassy on Sept 8. We posted an English translation of that threat on Sept 10. The jihadist threat to burn the US embassy in Cairo to the ground turned out to be very similar to what the jihadists in Benghazi actually did to the consulate there. That similarity points to a possible connection between the attacks.
Officials were also able to dismiss pointed questions by referring to an ongoing investigation.
Ultimately, when the head of the National Counterterrorism Center was asked pointblank on Capitol Hill whether it was a an act of terror — and he agreed — the administration talking points began to shift. (Tough news reporting — as well as statements by Libya’s president — also played a role.) Yet President Obama himself resisted using the “t” word, even as late as Tuesday, while keeping the focus on the video in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly.
On Wednesday, however, White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged also that Obama himself believes the attack was terrorism — and so more than two weeks after the attack the Rubicon finally was crossed.
The timeline includes US Ambassador Susan Rice’s series of lies about the attack, and Secretary of State Clinton’s whopper as well.
— Clinton, transfer of remains ceremony, Sept. 14
“I have seen that report, and the story is absolutely wrong. We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent. That report is false.”
If the Tatler had the Cairo warning, the administration had it. And the Libyans have said that the administration had been warned three days in advance. Ambassador Stevens’ journal included information that he felt threatened and was on an al Qaeda hit list.
No one in the administration has any credibility left on this issue, and because of this cascade of misdirection, on the broader war on terrorism. They lied about the big story — whether the attack was terrorism or not — and they lied about the little details.
— Susan E. Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sept. 16
“We had a substantial security presence with our personnel and the consulate in Benghazi. 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.”
Nope. Security at Benghazi was virtually non-existent. The ambassador was in a position to know the truth.
Ambassador Rice, it now appears, simply made up a version of what happened in Benghazi that was based on no actual facts at all.
“There’s no question, as we’ve seen in the past with things like ‘The Satanic Verses,’ with the cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, there have been such things that have sparked outrage and anger and this has been the proximate cause of what we’ve seen,” Rice said.
“What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video,” Rice said.
There’s no question, now, that none of that description is true. There was no demonstration. The movie had nothing to do with the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. We now know that the US government was aware that the attack was terrorism within 24 hours.
The question is, why the lies?
One possible motivation for the administration to paint over the possible connection between the Cairo and Benghazi attacks, is the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s role in the Cairo attack. The Brotherhood was initially supportive of the “demonstration” and Egyptian President Morsi lent his personal support in the early going. The US embassy even caught the Brotherhood tweeting peace in English while exhorting the “demonstrators” in Arabic. If, it turns out, the Egyptian government had anything to do with the attack in Cairo, the probability that it had something to do with the attack in Benghazi as well has to be looked into. Our government might prefer to lie about that, though, than acknowledge that the new Egypt has perpetrated an act of war on the United States, on the anniversary of 9-11.
Not only would the entire Arab Spring idea finally and deservedly unravel, but the administration would then have a major foreign policy crisis very much of its own making on its hands. The similarity between how Jimmy Carter lost Iran, and how Barack Obama would have lost Egypt, would be impossible to ignore.