As Eli Lake has previously reported, the basis for blaming the Benghazi assault was a single communications intercept. Take it away, Mr. Lake.
The Daily Beast first reported that the intelligence behind the initial public assessment that the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam film was based in part on a single intercept between one of the attackers and a middle manager in al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the group’s North African affiliate. In the call, the alleged attacker said the locals went forward with the attack only after watching the riots that same day at the U.S. embassy in Cairo. But that intercept was one of many that suggested an al Qaeda link to the attack, none of which were mentioned in the initial eight days.
The Cairo riot was itself a pre-planned attack, but let’s not get lost on that for now. The Libyan branch of al Qaeda might or might not have known whether Cairo was pre-planned or not.
Let’s state this very clearly for the record: The intercept that Lake describes is proof that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. That intercept is proof that it was a pre-planned terrorist attack. That intercept is proof that the movie was nothing more than an opportunistic association, to the terrorists themselves. The Obama administration had that intercept, and used it to explain Benghazi to the American people.
But that intercept also provides evidence that runs hard against an Obama campaign narrative, which is that al Qaeda is “decimated.” Not only is it not “decimated,” according to Lt Col Andrew Wood, al Qaeda is more established in Libya now than it was prior to the 2011 intervention, and it is more established in Libya than the United States is. The evidence provided by another part of the story backs this up: While America was limited to flying a drone helplessly above our besieged consulate, al Qaeda had heavily armed troops on the ground sacking said consulate. While al Qaeda attacked us at a time and place of its choosing, America couldn’t even get investigators to the site for three weeks. If it all seems obvious now, it’s only because the terrorists won the battle and we lost. Oh, it’s also obvious because the Obama team spent a couple of weeks lying about everything.
Now, according to Eli Lake that intercept was among many pieces of evidence the Obama administration had in hand when it came time to explain Benghazi. But that intercept was the one upon which the administration relied to turn a terrorist attack into a riot in response to a film.
When the government rousted a filmmaker at midnight for questioning, it was relying on the convenient part of that intercept. When US government officials asked YouTube to “review” the film and possibly take it down, they were relying on that part of that intercept. When Rice and Clinton and Obama and Carney blamed the film, they were all together using the convenient part of that intercept and ignoring the other evidence that pointed toward al Qaeda terrorism.
Let’s say this clearly: The Obama administration went farther to blame the film than the terrorists did.
Isn’t that interesting.
Ace has more on this. Who developed the administration’s talking points remains an open question. The CIA was involved, which points at Petraeus.
It can’t be said clearly enough: One or more officials in the Obama administration knew from the beginning that the film was not the reason for the attack in Benghazi. They knew that the whole time. The American people deserve to know who, and what they were up to.