While Ambassador Chris Stevens was missing on September 11, 2012, and while Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty were fighting for their lives, with military assets within a quick flight to provide aid, the Obama White House decided to call…YouTube.
A still-classified State Department e-mail says that one of the first responses from the White House to the Benghazi attack was to contact YouTube to warn of the “ramifications” of allowing the posting of an anti-Islamic video, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The memo suggests that even as the attack was still underway — and before the CIA began the process of compiling talking points on its analysis of what happened — the White House believed it was in retaliation for a controversial video.
The subject line of the e-mail, which was sent at 9:11 p.m. Eastern Time on the night of the attack, is “Update on Response to actions – Libya.” The was written hours before the attack was over.
Issa has asked the White House to declassify and release the document. In the meantime he has inserted a sentence from the e-mail in the Congressional Record.
“White House is reaching out to U-Tube [sic] to advice ramification of the posting of the Pastor Jon video,” the e-mail reads, according to Issa.
What did the White House want YouTube, a privately-owned website, to do?
Wouldn’t a call to the military have been more appropriate?
The White House spin on this is that the memo shows that senior officials genuinely believed that the video had caused the attack. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, it was always obvious that the attack was pre-planned. It was also obvious that the movie was being used by terrorists who had major plans for the unrest they were causing.
None of that excuses anyone at the White House for continuing to blame the video for weeks after the attack. It doesn’t excuse Hillary Clinton for blaming the movie with the bodies of the dead resting behind her, on September 14, 2012, and vowing to jail the filmmaker. It doesn’t excuse Ambassador Susan Rice blaming the movie, and it doesn’t come within a country mile of excusing Barack Obama for saying this to the UN on September 26.
“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
Issa has a different take on the memo.
He contends the document contradicts the White House assertion that it was the CIA who first pinned blame for the attack on protests in response to the anti-Islamic video.
“The e-mail shows the White House had hurried to settle on a false narrative — one at odds with the conclusions reached by those on the ground — before Americans were even out of harm’s way or the intelligence community had made an impartial examination of available evidence,” Issa said.
While the White House was ringing up YouTube, Americans on the ground in Benghazi were reporting that Ansar al-Sharia jihadists were running the attack. Personnel in Tripoli wanted to help. The White House settled on blaming a movie, rather than re-examining its own policies and decisions leading up to the attack, or sending in troops and air assets that could have saved lives, pretty darn early.
And the terrorists who mounted the attack remain at large.