White House narrative on Libya all but collapsed

posted at 9:21 am on September 21, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

On Sunday, the White House narrative on the assassination of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi was that they died in a protest that “spun out of control,” as UN Ambassador Susan Rice insisted on multiple talk shows.  That narrative hasn’t even lasted out the week.  By Wednesday, officials in the US government began acknowledging that the so-called “riot” at the consulate in Libya had elements of planning and heavy weapons; by yesterday, Barack Obama himself refused to answer questions about the nature of the attack.  There may not have even been a protest at the consulate before the attack.

Today, The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake looks at the collapse of the Obama narrative on the attack, and the questions it raises about the administration’s handling of consular security in an area known to be rife with Islamist militias and terrorists:

Now there is mounting evidence that the White House’s initial portrayal of the attacks as a mere outgrowth of protest was incorrect—or, at the very least, incomplete. The administration’s story itself has recently begun to shift, with Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, telling Congress on Wednesday that the attackers may have had links to Al Qaeda and Carney characterizing the incident as a “terrorist attack.” (Hillary Clinton announced on Thursday that she was putting together a panel to look into the incident.)

But other indications that the White House’s early narrative was faulty are also beginning to emerge. One current U.S. intelligence officer working on the investigation into the incident told The Daily Beast that the attackers had staked out and monitored the U.S. consulate in Benghazi before the attack, a move that suggests pre-planning.

What’s more, two U.S. intelligence officials told The Daily Beast that the intelligence community is currently analyzing an intercept between a Libyan politician whose sympathies are with al Qaeda and the Libyan militia known as the February 17 Brigade—which had been charged with providing local security to the consulate. In the intercept, the Libyan politician apparently asks an officer in the brigade to have his men stand down for a pending attack—another piece of evidence implying the violence was planned in advance.

This leads to all sorts of questions about the White House’s actions, before and after the assassination.  First, Benghazi is located in the eastern part of Libya, an area where al-Qaeda and other Islamist militias have operated years before the fall of Moammar Qaddafi.  The fall of the previous regime has made operation even easier for these groups, and they didn’t have too much difficulty before; many of the AQ recruits in Iraq between 2003 and the surge came from this area of Libya.  On the anniversary of 9/11, one would have expected the US to have anticipated an attack attempt and provided extra security for its diplomatic missions in Muslim nations, but especially Benghazi.

This might explain the rush to blame the entire mess on a weeks-old YouTube video.  Thanks to that rush to judgment, the White House was able to initially deflect criticism of its security failure to the filmmakers — and claim that its Middle East policy wasn’t to blame for the assassination and the other riots.  That narrative has collapsed, too, writes Charles Krauthammer:

It’s now three years since the Cairo speech. Look around. The Islamic world is convulsed with an explosion of anti-Americanism. From Tunisiato Lebanon, American schools, businesses anddiplomatic facilities set ablaze. A U.S. ambassador and three others murdered in Benghazi. The black flag of Salafism, of which al-Qaeda is a prominent element, raised over our embassies in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Sudan.

The administration, staggered and confused,blames it all on a 14-minute trailer for a film no one has seen and may not even exist.

What else can it say? Admit that its doctrinal premises were supremely naive and its policies deeply corrosive to American influence? …

Islamists rise across North Africa from Mali to Egypt. Iran repeatedly defies U.S. demands on nuclear enrichment, then, as a measure of its contempt for what America thinks, openly admits that its Revolutionary Guards are deployed in Syria. Russia, after arming Assad, warns America to stay out, while the secretary of state delivers vapid lectures about Assad “meeting” his international “obligations.” The Gulf states beg America to act on Iran; Obama strains mightily to restrain . . . Israel.

Sovereign U.S. territory is breached and U.S. interests are burned. And what is the official response? One administration denunciation after another — of a movie trailer! A request to Google to “review” the trailer’s presence on YouTube. And a sheriff’s deputies’ midnight “voluntary interview” with the suspected filmmaker. This in the land of the First Amendment.

Don’t expect Obama to take ownership of this narrative collapse.  In fact, the administration has already offered up its patsy on the altars of five Sunday talk shows last week:

Some wondered why the White House sent a UN Ambassador — who had no direct connection to anything related to the story — out to sell the “protest spun out of control” message.  Answer: Susan Rice is a lot more expendable than Hillary Clinton, who as Secretary of State should have been the one explaining the week’s events, not the UN Ambassador.  Obama sent Rice out to be made a fool — and one has to wonder whether Rice volunteered for that assignment, or Hillary refused it.


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Sounds like someone in the WH was shooting first and aiming later.

txmomof6 on September 21, 2012 at 10:42 AM

If I were Amb Rice, I’d be livid. Looks like she was sent out as pointman to spew the Benghazi spin, while everyone in the Obozo administration hid in the weeds.

I’m sure that she didn’t call up all those Sunday news shows on her own, so whose idea was it to expose her like this? She now is seen as an out of touch fool. I’d be livid.

WestTexasBirdDog on September 21, 2012 at 10:38 AM

True to a point. But most people with a brain knew something stunk about this whole thing from the beginning and it wasn’t about a YouTube video. She could not have been entirely ignorant of what went on, even if she didn’t have access to all the details. She chose to carry the narrative.

dont taze me bro on September 21, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Does anyone know what the status is of any reporting on the State Dept. Rules of Engagement in Libya that supposedly say the guards can’t have ammunition or return fire? I read something about this earlier in the week, but I haven’t seen anything recent about it.

txmomof6 on September 21, 2012 at 10:47 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymLJz3N8ayI

VegasRick on September 21, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Powerful stuff, there.

Lourdes on September 21, 2012 at 10:50 AM

I’m sure that she (Amb. Susan Rice) didn’t call up all those Sunday news shows on her own, so whose idea was it to expose her like this? She now is seen as an out of touch fool. I’d be livid.

WestTexasBirdDog on September 21, 2012 at 10:38 AM

She’s not only a willing fool, she’s an eager one.

No court from me for her, she’s part of the problem. If she gets around to being “livid,” well, no sorry from me. She’s had her Big Chance to be significant and make a difference and what’d she do with it? She proved herself to be a really serious squirrel.

Lourdes on September 21, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Why is it acceptable to have “fall guys” when the truth is known? Why isn’t Congress and the DOJ doing its job by prosecuting the guilty? We have the corrupt investigating the corrupt.

lea on September 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM

See photo at bottom of this post (scroll down):

http://www.barenakedislam.com/2012/09/20/euro-dhimmis-join-arab-league-oic-and-african-union-to-pass-international-agreement-to-make-criticism-of-islam-an-international-crime/

Wondering why Obama has taken his “it’s the video” line of nonsense about alleged cause of the Muslim violence is to ignore the motive of Obama and his PEERS.

The important issue is who are his peers. Not too hard to identify at this point.

Lourdes on September 21, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Hillary is not a fool by a long shot. She’ll bow out if Barry is re-elected. No way does she want to be part of this administration when the economy suddenly tanks. And right now, Barry needs Billy Joe to shill for him on the campaign circuit, so throwing Hillary! under the bus is not an option.

GarandFan on September 21, 2012 at 11:00 AM

txmomof6 on September 21, 2012 at 10:47 AM

I haven’t seen anything new on that since reports this past weekend. But that may have something to do with the State Department’s refusal to answer any more questions. By the way, the rules of engagement with respect to ‘no bullets’ is discussed in that link.

dont taze me bro on September 21, 2012 at 11:01 AM

I wondered aloud why Susan Rice was out doing five Sunday morning shows spouted the “blasphemous movie” line so definitively. She had to know but in this kind of regime, no one is protected except the very top. The State Department did not want the public to know what the real mission of the Seals was…it would be hard to explain. They lied to American public and thought the media would help them long enough to get past the election.

d1carter on September 21, 2012 at 11:01 AM

typical Obama, blame others and make excuses.

Hillary Clinton was right, he got his 3am phone call, and failed.

burserker on September 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM

We all know obama and his thugs are a bunch of despicable liars who support muslim extremists and the destruction of our country as we know it. obama’s closest advisor is a slumlord born in Iran and Hillary’s aide is an Iranian with ties to the muslim brotherhood.

jqc1970 on September 21, 2012 at 11:03 AM

the questions it raises about the administration’s handling of consular security in an area known to be rife with Islamist militias and terrorists

Isn’t this like a naive animal lover who gets too close to wild animals and is mauled by a chimpanzee, gets their arm bit off by a polar bear, or is eaten by a lion? Their guiding principle is “the creature is well-meaning; it meant no harm”. The kind of world view and naivete that gets people killed. Wishing the kind of world Obama described in his 2009 Cairo speech, which is a fantasyland, a Utopia. Wishing doesn’t make it so. Let’s all live in peace in a world of brotherly love, and close our eyes to the realities of Islam. It’s appeasement.

Paul-Cincy on September 21, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Remember the SNL bit with Chevy Chase as “Land Shark”?

From outside the closed door, voice says to naive woman sitting inside her apartment, “Candy-gram.”

She questions that it’s “Candy-Gram” from behind her still-closed door and the voice says, instead, “I’m a dolphin.”

So she opens the door and the Land Shark eats her.

Lourdes on September 21, 2012 at 11:03 AM

They. Lied. Again.

That’s all they do…

UnderstandingisPower on September 21, 2012 at 11:04 AM

On the anniversary of 9/11, one would have expected the US to have anticipated an attack attempt and provided extra security for its diplomatic missions in Muslim nations, but especially Benghazi.

This is the big news item that the MSM won’t go into.

Why hasn’t the family of Christopher Stevens spoken out about this? Loyalty to the incredibly incompetent Obama?

Chessplayer on September 21, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Has the FBI made it to the “crime scene” yet..?

d1carter on September 21, 2012 at 11:06 AM

typical Obama, blame others and make excuses.

Hillary Clinton was right, he got his 3am phone call, and failed.

burserker on September 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM

They Both Failed and Americans died

workingclass artist on September 21, 2012 at 11:08 AM

They lied to American public and thought the media would help them long enough to get past the election.

d1carter on September 21, 2012 at 11:01 AM

And the media would have, too, if it hadn’t been for those meddlesome foreign media. Everything we think we know about what happened in Benghazi comes from the UK Independent, the Mail, and a couple of M.E. papers suggesting that the ambassador was sodomized. We get nothing from the State Department, the Post, or the NYTimes.

U.S. press is useless. Dangerous, in fact.

de rigueur on September 21, 2012 at 11:09 AM

The French magazine’s cartoon doesn’t seem to have been as offensive to the perpetually offended as the faux movie trailer..?

d1carter on September 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

typical Obama, blame others and make excuses.

Hillary Clinton was right, he got his 3am phone call, and failed.

burserker on September 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM

They Both Failed and Americans died

workingclass artist on September 21, 2012 at 11:08 AM

What “workingclass artist” wrote ^^.

Lourdes on September 21, 2012 at 11:12 AM

ABC News – American Killed in Libya Was on Intel Mission to Track Weapons

sandspur on September 21, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Nothing to see here…Holder was cleared in IG report on Fast & Furious…now move along…Remember folks Romney is having a bad week

workingclass artist on September 21, 2012 at 11:12 AM

CurtZHP on September 21, 2012 at 10:06 AM

The only thing wrong with your theory is the fact that Obama’s narrative is that there is no such thing as terrorism because of his “open hand” groveling to the animals who adhere themselves to the so-called religion of peace. The Fort Hood shooting is still classified as “workplace violence.” The last thing rat-ears needed heading into the election is a terrorist attack where it is clear that security was non-existent.

Happy Nomad on September 21, 2012 at 10:12 AM

I’d go along with that if not for the fact that everything he says comes with an expiration date.

CurtZHP on September 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM

‘One has to wonder why the White House even attempted to lie about this.’

blink on September 21, 2012 at 9:26 AM

It is their first fall back. Lie first, evolve next.The media will not question, and the people won’t remember.

Sheerie on September 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Obama sent Rice out to be made a fool — and one has to wonder whether Rice volunteered for that assignment, or Hillary refused it.

A coward hiding behind the skirts (or maybe stilettos) of a woman. Who’d have thunk?

MNHawk on September 21, 2012 at 11:19 AM

The White House is still evolving on what happened.

de rigueur on September 21, 2012 at 11:21 AM

This is all about Bill Clinton.
What?…you are thinking.

In the end Hillary is to blame for all this. (Well, Obama, too…but)

If Obama puts the blame on Hillary,
then Bill Clinton is really POed
(Because this would hurt Hillary in 2016.)
AND
then Bill won’t help Obama anymore on his campaign.

So Obama talks Rice into being the front person on this lie/fiasco/death.
Rice agrees knowing (a. She is out of this administration no matter who wins, b. Obama has promised her a cabinet position of her choice if he does win.)

Bottom line: Obama must not upset Bill Clinton between now and the election.

albill on September 21, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Lourdes on September 21, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Interesting info and this has been what has been going on for many years here.

These wolves in sheep clothing are now new to mankind.

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

So how are we to know them? “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

We also saw his fruit and he should never have been put in Office. Sad that many American people didn’t know the difference between
good fruit and bad fruit. Now the bad fruit has turned more rotten, day by day.

Hopefully, those that voted for him in 2008, have learned to recognize good fruit from rotten fruit.

bluefox on September 21, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Hillary is not a fool by a long shot. She’ll bow out if Barry is re-elected. No way does she want to be part of this administration when the economy suddenly tanks. And right now, Barry needs Billy Joe to shill for him on the campaign circuit, so throwing Hillary! under the bus is not an option.

GarandFan on September 21, 2012 at 11:00 AM

The first word I thought of when reading your comment was “Accomplice”

bluefox on September 21, 2012 at 11:39 AM

OBL is dead.

al Qaeda is very much alive and lethal.

Obama runs from responsibility of responding to an act of war by al Qaeda against the US.

This is what Leftists want for the world: ignoring barbarism, appeasing barbarians and never standing up to them and, instead, blaming free people for the activities of the barbaric.

No good shall come of this.

ajacksonian on September 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Pic of the Day: ‘Nuff Said.

M2RB: Barry White

Resist We Much on September 21, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Hi Susan,

I’m going to need you to fall on this sword over her if you don’t mind.

Thanks.

- Barry

pain train on September 21, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Collapse is inevitable when you live in a house of (race) cards.

Flange on September 21, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Libya wasn’t about the video but obama and hillary are ginning it up now with their apology ads to make it look like everything else was and will be henceforth. Their goal is to make the murders in Libya fade in import. I hate this administration…such liars.
Go Mitt.

gracie on September 21, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Meanwhile Barry was seen attacking that very tough par 5 on the back nine… So, we got that going for US…

RalphyBoy on September 21, 2012 at 12:03 PM

This story and the fact that O’s regime lied to the American people will fully break before the election and not even the LSM will be able to ignore it.

This is not some ‘gaffe’; this is an ELE on the order of Watergate.

SittingDeadRed on September 21, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Better for U.S..

Ms Rice and Ms Clinton etal, whisper to the Sunni, the Shia made the movie, to the Shia, those radical Sunni made the movie, to the Saudi madrassas, look what the Shia and Sunni are doing fighting one another.

Eric Holder runs guns to both sides.

We stand back and watch for 1500 or so more years.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on September 21, 2012 at 12:14 PM

What no liberal trolls on this thread? I am sooo surprised./

CW on September 21, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Ms. Rice proves the point that some people are too stupid to do anything but work for government. A real 47%er.

pat on September 21, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Jonah Goldberg: “Now they are trying to figure out a way that they can walk back from it without looking like they jumped the gun. I don’t know how they can do that.”

They never intend to try. And they don’t need to. They will never be held accountable by the masses since the media is controlled.

We keep treating this as if it is a fair fight. It isn’t. The enemy fights dirty. Either we learn to fight dirty as well, or all is lost.

Carnac on September 21, 2012 at 12:33 PM

This narrative collapse has nothing to do with Obama, because as I read each new article backtracking on the false narrative about the video and the Benghazi attack, and highlighting yet another anti-American riot, I never even see the word “Obama”.

On the contrary, what’s clear from the media coverage is that Romney’s gaffes are the root cause of all of this, while Obama is valiantly trying to inspire us to a more nuanced understanding of Islam from the David Letterman show.

drunyan8315 on September 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM

One has to wonder why the White House even attempted to lie about this.’

blink on September 21, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Because it is in their DNA. They LIE.

Next question.

ToddPA on September 21, 2012 at 12:50 PM

They are all corrupt liars from Chicago.

ultracon on September 21, 2012 at 12:52 PM

This story and the fact that O’s regime lied to the American people will fully break before the election and not even the LSM will be able to ignore it.

This is not some ‘gaffe’; this is an ELE on the order of Watergate.

SittingDeadRed on September 21, 2012 at 12:05 PM

I sure hope that will come out but I’m not going to hold my breath. Rush has a theory that the reason why the trailer was blamed. He said the guy who promoted it was a PASTOR. And all pastors are EXTREME RIGHT WINGERS. They like to place blame on conservatives and the tea party whenever possible. That is why they immediately rushed out and blamed the film.

AZgranny on September 21, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Im less concerned at this point as to what caused the attacks (whether pre-planned or protest of this trailer) than I am the seemingly complete lack of response to the fact that numerous embassies and consulates were overrun and foreign flags raised over them.

Everyone is running around trying to explain why it happened, and I have yet to hear word one about how we plan to respond to the fact that our sovreign territory was invaded in multiple countries.

Our embassies were attacked and a foreign flag was raised above them!! I repeat that for emphasis, as it seems to have been completely overlooked in the hussle and bussle to find someone to blame for it!

gravityman on September 21, 2012 at 12:55 PM

“Ms. Rice, we’re going on a little trip. But first, please step in front of the bus along side those ATF agents for a photo. Okay everyone please scrunch up close. We don’t want to have to drive over, I mean, have to take a second photo.”

onomo on September 21, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Tell us again, President Obama, who shoots first then aims later?

Resist We Much on September 21, 2012 at 12:59 PM

It appears there’s a lot of “throw me under the bus” scenarios in this administration.

fistbump on September 21, 2012 at 1:02 PM

This story and the fact that O’s regime lied to the American people will fully break before the election and not even the LSM will be able to ignore it.

This is not some ‘gaffe’; this is an ELE on the order of Watergate.

SittingDeadRed on September 21, 2012 at 12:05 PM

I sure hope that will come out but I’m not going to hold my breath. Rush has a theory that the reason why the trailer was blamed. He said the guy who promoted it was a PASTOR. And all pastors are EXTREME RIGHT WINGERS. They like to place blame on conservatives and the tea party whenever possible. That is why they immediately rushed out and blamed the film.

AZgranny on September 21, 2012 at 12:55 PM

The guy who made the film (from whence “the trailer”/video is) IS A DONOR TO OBAMA.

Another key element the Leftmedia is utterly ignoring.

Lourdes on September 21, 2012 at 1:06 PM

Hillary Clinton was right, he got his 3am phone call, and failed.

burserker on September 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Actually, CLINTON failed FIRST. It was HER department and her responsibility to provide adequate protection to an Ambassador in her charge. She is as guilty, if not more so, than Hussein.

riddick on September 21, 2012 at 1:12 PM

The guy who made the film (from whence “the trailer”/video is) IS A DONOR TO OBAMA.

Another key element the Leftmedia is utterly ignoring.

Lourdes on September 21, 2012 at 1:06 PM

Same as the shooter in Giffords attack as well as the shooter in the Aurora (CO) attack. Both are rabid liberals.

Have no idea why no one in GOP keeps pointing out this fact, DAY AFTER DAY.

Liberals are absolutely right: no liberal can be trusted with gun ownership.

riddick on September 21, 2012 at 1:16 PM

The WH narrative is nearly as dead as the consulate staff.

viking01 on September 21, 2012 at 1:37 PM

CHECK THIS OUT FOR A GOOD STORY ON HOW THE WAR WITH ISLAM IS WON.

Mutnodjmet on September 21, 2012 at 1:49 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFoIv1zf5to

Cindy Munford on September 21, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Have the “three other Americans” been named? They are heroes who volunteered their lives. I just think a little more respect is due.

Honest Debate on September 21, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Honest Debate on September 21, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Yes they have. The story on the two former SEALS is a little bit sketchy, I have heard that they were not part of his security but just tried to help. I guess it will get cleared up eventually, how it reflects on The Won will probably determine whether it is before or after election day.

Cindy Munford on September 21, 2012 at 2:31 PM

The two former SEALs should be buried with full honors at Arlington.

Hopefully as far away as possible from Ted Kennedy.

viking01 on September 21, 2012 at 2:51 PM

The French magazine’s cartoon doesn’t seem to have been as offensive to the perpetually offended as the faux movie trailer..?

d1carter on September 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Savin’ it up for the next time they need to inflame the masses, most of whom never see the “offensive” item, but are only told about it by their imams.

If not for the PR required to keep the non-Muslim apologists in line, they would not even bother citing something that actually happened, having a good stock of all-purpose inflammatory remarks at hand for as long as Israel and the US exist.

AesopFan on September 21, 2012 at 3:39 PM

It’s amazing what an unearned Nobel Peace Prize will do to your abilities of denial.

Scrappy on September 21, 2012 at 4:47 PM

“________________ acted stupidly”

/.

CaveatEmpty on September 21, 2012 at 5:08 PM

The media and idiot voting bloc of Obamabots will not notice that the initial Big Lie has turned out to be untrue.

Obama knows this and lies at will.

profitsbeard on September 21, 2012 at 9:53 PM

So.. The Romney campaign has a little competition for the title of “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight”!

socalcon on September 21, 2012 at 11:14 PM

Amb Rice must have missed the “The Scorpion and the Frog” story when she was growing up. That’s a shame because she really seems like an intelligent lady.

She attempted to help Obozo’s administration across this trouble spot and in return has received a badly stung reputation. She is now and will forever be an equal to Baghdad Bob.

WestTexasBirdDog on September 22, 2012 at 11:55 PM

The Lie was bought by the complicit Media, who will pretend it was never corrected now.

Ben Ghazi? Wasn’t he a TV actor from the 1960′s?”

Winning!

profitsbeard on September 23, 2012 at 2:58 AM

Susan Rice should have figured something was up when they asked her to wear a red shirt.

jms on September 23, 2012 at 7:40 PM

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