Earlier this morning, McClatchy asked why the Obama administration changed its story on the Benghazi terrorist attack after three days from an initial, vague reference to terrorist attacks to a demonstrably false narrative about a “spontaneous demonstration” that never took place, and a YouTube video that had been on line for two months. That question got more pressing this morning, as the Associated Press reports that the CIA linked the attack to “militants” in eastern Libya:
The CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington within 24 hours of last month’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about an American-made video ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, U.S. officials have told The Associated Press.
It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information went. The Obama administration maintained publicly for a week that the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was a result of the mobs that staged less-deadly protests across the Muslim world around the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S.
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to read all of McClatchy’s report on the shifting narratives from the Obama administration. The CIA report would generally align with most of the messaging from the White House in the first two days. It’s not until the 14th that the Obama administration went all-in on the YouTube-video blameshifting that continued for more than a week.
The AP wonders whether anyone read the CIA cable with this information. Let’s parse that out for just a moment. We suffered the death of a US Ambassador and three other Americans in the sacking of a consulate in a key area of the world. Wouldn’t one of the first items to check be information from the CIA’s station in the area? Given the fact that this came from the station chief and not just some lower-level scuttlebutt, either we can assume it got read immediately, or that the people running the show in Washington DC are so incompetent that it’s a wonder we have any diplomatic missions left at all.
The leak of this information is very interesting indeed, too. The defense from Barack Obama himself at the last presidential debate, as well as Susan Rice in the Wall Street Journal, is that the “spontaneous demonstration” story is what they were hearing from the intel community. This makes it very clear that their excuses are false, at least in large part, let alone the fact that State watched the attack unfold in real time and has video of the event, a fact revealed at the House Oversight Committee hearings last week. Unlike Hillary Clinton, the intel community apparently has no intention of being scapegoated for the White House’s cover story. That’s a big, big problem for Barack Obama and his righteous indignation.
Update: We’ve heard that intel had linked this to “militants” before; Eli Lake, Fox News, and Yahoo’s Olivier Knox all had good reporting on this in September. This is, though, the most specific reporting yet, and the first reporting of which I’m aware that the CIA station chief cabled Washington with that information himself. It’s one thing to claim that some intel data may have gotten lost in “the fog of war,” but it’s hard to explain how no one would have known about intel of that significance. Even if the national security people didn’t have it on their desks, they should have been consulting with the CIA station chief in Libya on a constant basis.