Even the State Department Initially Believed that Benghazi Was a Terrorist Attack
Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson highlights a newly released email that shows that even within the State Department, the initial belief was that Benghazi was a terrorist attack, not a spontaneous demonstration against a video.
The email is entitled “Libya update from Beth Jones. ” Jones was then-Assistant Secretary of State to Hillary Clinton. According to the email, Jones spoke to Libya’s Ambassador at 9:45am on Sept. 12, 2012 following the attacks.
“When [the Libyan Ambassador] said his government suspected that former Qaddafi regime elements carried out the attacks, I told him the group that conducted the attacks—Ansar Al Sharia—is affiliated with Islamic extremists,” Jones reports in the email.
The State Department released the unclassified email to Congress in August of 2013. But at that time, State requested that Congress not publicly release it. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) sought and obtained permission to release it Thursday, after the Ben Rhodes "goals" email came to light.
Jones leaves no room for doubt in her email, which was copied to a number of officials including Victoria Nuland and Cheryl Mills. At that time, Mills was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's chief of staff. Mills has spent much of her career working closely with Clinton, and is often described as a loyalist to her.
Jones' assessment runs counter to the State Department's statement on Benghazi, which was issued at 10:08 pm on September 11. That statement floated "inflammatory material posted on the Internet" as the cause of the attack. It was issued just a few minutes after President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Clinton spoke together by phone.
Two days after Jones' email, it was Nuland who raised concerns about the CIA's initial Benghazi talking points. Nuland, who was a State Department spokesman, worried that the CIA's inclusion of its warnings of instability in Libya "could be abused by members of Congress to beat the State Department for not paying attention to [C.I.A.] warnings so why would we want to seed the Hill."
Since leaving the State Department following Clinton's own departure, Cheryl Mills has joined the board of global investment firm BlackRock Inc. Nuland remains in the US State Department, where she is currently the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland has played a dubious role in the unrest in Ukraine.
Nuland's concern over the talking points was met when then Deputy Director of the CIA Mike Morell removed the warnings. Morell has since left government to work for Beacon Global Strageties, a PR firm run by numerous former officials from the Clinton and Obama administrations.
Attkisson recently left CBS News, which she says was not willing to fight for answers in the Benghazi scandal.
CBS News named David Rhodes as its president in February 2011. David Rhodes' brother is Ben Rhodes, whose "goals" email is now at the center of the Benghazi scandal.