Extremists from groups linked to al Qaida struck the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack,” the top U.S. intelligence agency said Friday, as it took responsibility for the Obama administration’s initial claims that the deadly assault grew from a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video.
The unusual statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence appeared to have two goals: updating the public on the latest findings of the investigation into the assault, and shielding the White House from a political backlash over its original accounts.
“In the immediate aftermath (of the assault), there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo,” spokesman Sean Turner said in the statement. “We provided that initial assessment to executive branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly.”
On Sept. 12, the day after the attack, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked whether “the attack in Benghazi was planned and premeditated.” “It’s too early for us to make that judgment,” Carney said.
The next day, Sept. 13, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland subtly pointed to a YouTube video as possibly creating a motivation for the attack. …
“We certainly don’t know, we don’t know otherwise,” said Carney. “You know, we have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack. The unrest we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims, find offensive. And while the violence is reprehensible and unjustified, it is not a reaction to the 9/11 anniversary that we know of or to U.S. policy.”
What did they know and when did they know it?
This Washington cliché has become the question of the hour, or at least it would be if the mainstream media could feign interest in the terrorist attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and anti-American rioting throughout the Middle East and North Africa. …
Never mind that a fourth-grader could see that the Libya attack was anything but a spontaneous riot over an Internet video the administration, following the lead of the Islamists, has elevated to the genre of “movie.” Protesters generally don’t carry RPGs or use mortars, for starters. …
Also, where did Rice get her very detailed information about the attack in Libya? She referred to the attackers as “a small handful of heavily armed mobsters” who merely took advantage of a growing protest over the video, a protest that now appears never to have occurred, as was reported three days before her appearances. The administration is careful to point out that Rice couched everything she said as being the best assessment at the time. Fine. But where did that assessment come from and how could it have been so wrong, especially when all signs pointed to a terrorist attack?
And that’s where I think that you get a failure of the Romney campaign. This was an opportunity for Romney to make the case, to make a speech, to make at least an argument about how the policy of this administration, which essentially [is] apology and appeasement, has simply been tried and not worked. Instead, Romney made one statement about the Cairo embassy dispatch, in which I think that Romney was correct, but he was savagely attacked by the media over that even though it was vindicated when the Obama administration said the exactly the same thing. It was an awful statement a little bit later. …
The problem that Romney has is the fact that people don’t see him as a leader or sort of endowed stature when they see him. That was an opportunity that was missed and it remains missed. It’s a mystery why Romney can’t seize the moment on this.