Benghazi witness: "The YouTube video was a non-event in Libya"

Via the Examiner. John Sexton had a nice post at yesterday weighing the evidence, pro and con, for the “movie backlash” theory of the attack. Verdict: Yes, there were people at the scene who mentioned the movie when a camera was stuck in their faces, but no, there’s no hard evidence that the attack itself was driven by the movie. Here’s what the AP had to say about it last year:

It began around nightfall on Sept. 11 with around 150 bearded gunmen, some wearing the Afghan-style tunics favored by Islamic militants, sealing off the streets leading to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. They set up roadblocks with pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, according to witnesses.

The trucks bore the logo of Ansar al-Shariah, a powerful local group of Islamist militants who worked with the municipal government to manage security in Benghazi, the main city in eastern Libya and birthplace of the uprising last year that ousted Moammar Gadhafi after a 42-year dictatorship.

There was no sign of a spontaneous protest against an American-made movie denigrating Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. But a lawyer passing by the scene said he saw the militants gathering around 20 youths from nearby to chant against the film. Within an hour or so, the assault began, guns blazing as the militants blasted into the compound.

We know now that at least three of the attackers were bona fide members of Al Qaeda’s franchise in Yemen, apart from the various Libyans at the scene associated with Ansar al-Sharia and similar groups. You make the call: Does a huge, hardcore jihadi crew like that, armed with heavy machine guns and sufficiently well organized to put up roadblocks, pull an attack together quickly in response to their outrageous outrage over a movie or was the bit in the excerpt about forcing people to chant an opportunistic exploitation of some Muslim grievance? Before deciding, remember that Stevens and his advisors warned State repeatedly over the summer of a growing jihadi presence in and around Benghazi and that they feared the consulate might come under attack. That’s the core of the outrage over State’s refusal to boost security. There was every reason to believe an attack would come, movie pretext or no movie pretext. So why was the White House so interested in blaming the movie early on?

By the way, has any media followed up on what Tyrone Woods’s father told Glenn Beck about what Hillary said to him? Did she really vow that the filmmaker would be punished? Or, because that claim came from a ghettoized media outlet, is it not worth pursuing?