Video: Sitreps from Benghazi described “coordinated attacks by extremists”
posted at 10:01 am on February 15, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
Just how did the “talking points” issued after the sacking of our Benghazi consulate come to the conclusion that it started as a spontaneous demonstration over a video? A new report from Fox News shows that situation reports from the ground in Benghazi starting on September 12th made clear that the attack was a coordinated, planned assault by terrorists and not a protest run amok. Three days later, a teleconference with survivors of the attack confirmed this. Yet the Obama administration chose to insist that it was a demonstration rather than an attack — frustrating the survivors (via Instapundit):
Fox News has confirmed that three days earlier, the CIA Chief of Station and the agency’s team in Libya also sent situation reports, known as sitreps, to Washington.The raw intelligence reporting described a coordinated attack by extremists, not an out-of-control protest.
“In a crisis like Benghazi, you would expect it’s going directly to the seventh floor,” Sam Faddis, who recently retired from the CIA and writes extensively about the intelligence community, said. The “seventh floor” refers to CIA leadership – at the time, Director David Petraeus and his second-in-command Morell, among others. “In a situation like this, you’re going to be looking at it immediately … your aides are going to be asked to flag it to your attention the second that it comes in and bring it to your desk — right in front of you,” he said.
Further, Fox News has learned new details about a secure video teleconference some 72 hours after the attack.Two sources familiar with the call say it included Morell, the CIA chief of station and Benghazi survivors who were evacuated to Germany — as well as Greg Hicks, the late Ambassador Chris Stevens’ deputy.
Fox News is told that after an update from personnel on the ground, Washington’s singular focus on the video left participants in Libya baffled, angry and dismayed that Morell seemed to dismiss their on-the-ground reporting.
Instead, Hillary Clinton and the White House insisted that it was a demonstration over the video:
“We’ve done a forensic on that event. We’ve never found a reference to demonstrations from individuals who were on the ground — whether it’s the chief of station in Tripoli, whether it’s the diplomatic security, or the GRS (Global Response Staff) that went … from day one, all referrals were an attack that was underway that continued well into the night and to the (CIA) annex.”
Yet on Sept. 14 — when the bodies of Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, as well as Woods and Doherty, were flown to Andrews Air Force base – then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued to talk about the video.
“We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men,”Clinton told the somber gathering.”We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing do to with.”
That’s not to say that the video might not have played a role in motivating the attack, although that’s still speculative, too. The New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick wrote that the news of the video enraged locals in his lengthy report from December, but that report has its problems, too. Kirkpatrick wrote that there was no evidence that al-Qaeda terrorist leader Abu Sufian bin Qumu had nothing to do with the attack, only to have the Obama administration declare that he did.
That doesn’t mean AQ didn’t use the video as a recruiting tool — they probably did, and it had recently aired on Egyptian television in order to inflame such a reaction. But AQ had been escalating attacks on Western targets in Benghazi long before the video was even made, including one on the same US compound that later fell to the attackers on the anniversary of 9/11. AQ and its affiliates don’t need a video to motivate them to attack American targets, especially when the US leaves such an easy target to hit in a failed-state area we helped to create.
That’s why Washington wanted to blame this on a video and a demonstration, rather than admit that AQ and its affiliates had succeeded. To tell the truth in this instance is to expose the shockingly incompetent policies of the administration on Libya and the shocking incompetence at State in dealing with its consequences. The Obama administration could not afford that accountability two months before an election.