On Sept. 14, 2012, three days after the assault at Benghazi, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the transfer of remains ceremony to honor the four Americans killed. The White House published video of their remarks.
After lauding the four slain Americans, Clinton said “This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with. It is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable.”
Emails released late Tuesday provide evidence that, contrary to Clinton’s remarks on 9-14, on the evening of 9-11 and just two hours into the attack, Clinton had been made aware that terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia was claiming responsibility for the attack. The United States had a drone or maybe multiple drones overhead, feeding video of the battle back to the State Department and the White House Situation Room. That video allowed members of the administration to monitor the battle in real time.
While President Obama did not blame the YouTube video during his remarks at the transfer of remains ceremony, he stood behind Clinton during her remarks, which he surely read and approved beforehand. He did not describe the assault as a terrorist attack. He did turn some of his remarks toward the families of the fallen: “To you — their families and colleagues — to all Americans, know this: Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. We will bring to justice those who took them from us. We will stand fast against the violence on our diplomatic missions. We will continue to do everything in our power to protect Americans serving overseas, whether that means increasing security at our diplomatic posts, working with host countries, which have an obligation to provide security, and making it clear that justice will come to those who harm Americans.”
Weeks later Americans learned that Ambassador Stevens and security officers in Libya had repeatedly asked for increased security, and had been repeatedly turned down by the State Department in Washington. The prime suspect remains at large, and feels free enough to grant an interview with the New York Times.