Hillary Clinton’s underlings have thrown her under the bus.
The State Department now says it never believed the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a film protest gone awry, giving congressional Republicans new fodder for criticizing the Obama administration’s initial accounts of the assault.
The State Department’s extraordinary break with other administration offices came in a department briefing Tuesday, where officials said “others” in the executive branch concluded initially that the protest was based, like others in the Middle East, on a film that ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad.
That was never the department’s conclusion, a senior official told reporters.
Briefing reporters Tuesday ahead of the hearing, department officials were asked about the administration’s initial – and since retracted – explanation linking the violence to protests over an American-made anti-Muslim video circulating on the Internet. One official responded, without specifying, that it was a question for others to answer.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter, and provided no evidence that might suggest a case of spontaneous violence or angry protests that went too far.
Two of those others who need to answer the question include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice. Both Clinton and Rice blamed the YouTube film, and Clinton or someone at State authorized the production and airing of ads that ran in Pakistan that also blamed the film. It turns out that there had been 230 security incidents in Libya in the months leading up to the deadly assault. None of those had anything to do with a YouTube clip.
We now know that the intelligence community believed that Benghazi was a terrorist assault from the beginning. One of Clinton’s own aides, Patrick J. Kennedy, briefed several members of Congress the day after the attack, that it was most likely terrorism. State confirmed yesterday that there was no protest at any point outside the Benghazi consulate prior to the attack.
Kennedy is on today’s witness list. It will be interesting to hear his take on how Susan Rice arrived at the conclusion, which she said was based on the best information she had at the time, that the assault started as a protest of the YouTube clip. Where did Rice and Clinton get that information? Did the two, who sponsored the illegal Libya war in 2011, have their own intelligence channel outside State and the US intelligence community? Or did they just make it up to cover up the colossal and rolling security failure that left four Americans dead?