Fox News follows up on Eli Lake’s excellent reporting on the intel after the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens, confirming from their own sources that the US knew within the first twenty-four hours that the sacking of the Benghazi consulate was no “spontaneous demonstration” that spun out of control. In fact, they already suspected al-Qaeda of masterminding the planned terrorist attack on the compound days before even admitting that it had been a terror attack at all — and had designated the incident as terrorism in order to pursue one suspect:
U.S. intelligence officials knew within 24 hours of the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that it was a terrorist attack and suspected Al Qaeda-tied elements were involved, sources told Fox News — though it took the administration a week to acknowledge it.
The account conflicts with claims on the Sunday after the attack by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice that the administration believed the strike was a “spontaneous” event triggered by protests in Egypt over an anti-Islam film.
Two senior U.S. officials said the Obama administration internally labeled the attack terrorism from the first day in order to unlock and mobilize certain resources to respond, and that officials were looking for one specific suspect.
Four days later, the White House sent UN Ambassador Susan Rice to five different Sunday talk shows to claim that the sacking and assassination sprang from a “spontaneous” demonstration. That no longer can be explained as initial confusion over conflicting reports; it is now clearly a lie told by the White House. Jennifer Rubin pointed this out at the Washington Post even before the Fox report, and wondered where the national media that screeched at every claim by George W. Bush has suddenly become so comfortable with an administration that flat-out lies to them:
Eli Lake let loose a bombshell yesterday: “Within 24 hours of the 9-11 anniversary attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, U.S. intelligence agencies had strong indications al Qaeda–affiliated operatives were behind the attack, and had even pinpointed the location of one of those attackers. Three separate U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said the early information was enough to show that the attack was planned and the work of al Qaeda affiliates operating in Eastern Libya.”
Obviously the report, if true, suggests that the White House lied to the American people by insisting for over a week that this was a spontaneous attack. It is one thing for the president to be so benighted as to think a video sets off multiple attacks on Sept. 11. It is quite another to send out his advisers, including his own spokesman, to mislead voters. …
And finally, now is the time when we see if reporters and pundits are more than shills for the president. The incompetency, and perhaps mendacity, of thee White House here is severe. The media’s glaring unwillingness to hold the president accountable for his actions can be at least partially remedied if they pursue the story vigorously. Even though Bush in good faith believed his intelligence community’s take on weapons of mass destruction, the left-leaning elites hollered, “Bush lied, people died!” But here we have dead Americans and an cover story in shreds. Why is there not, at a bare minimum, a call for answers? Isn’t this a top-of-the-fold issue? Well, my guess is that pundits and reporters alike in the mainstream media will do their best to soften and downplay the story.
I hope I’m wrong and that the media live up to their journalistic responsibilities, but I see little evidence that an epidemic of fairness is breaking out in the mainstream media. All the more reason, then, for lawmakers and Romney to push for answers. Certainly, we shouldn’t have a president in office who would lie to the American people about a critical national security issue for the sake of his own reelection, right?
Jennifer should start by asking her own colleagues at the Post. Aside from Glenn Kessler, who began pointing out the politics involved in the cover story today, the newspaper hasn’t done much to challenge Rice’s account or the fallout from its collapse.
Update: Jim DeMint called for a complete investigation into the White House’s “misleading” statements even before Fox broke this news:
Officials claimed the attacks were “spontaneous” and a result of a protest that had “spun out of control.” Ambassador Rice denied it was premeditated, stating that the protest was “hijacked by some individual clusters of extremists…and then it evolved from there.”
Then, finally, the National Counterterrosim Center Director Matthew Olsen stated in a Senate hearing the four Americans were killed “in the course of a terror attack” that may have connections to al Qaeda, but that we do not have specific intelligence of “significant advance planning”.
Again, this is a different narrative described by Libyan President Megariaf, who said the attack was carried out by foreign militants who had infiltrated Libya and had been planning these events for months. The contradictory and changing stories stemming from the same events are worrisome.
It’s far past time to get all the facts. We need a comprehensive detailed report rather than waiting for various officials to dribble them out one interview at a time.
Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and I have introduced legislation to require the Obama Administration to conduct an official investigation and issue a report on the September 11-13, 2012 attacks on United States missions in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen within 30 days. It also requires the Secretary of State to submit recommended changes to security procedures.
It’s time to flush out the liars. As Glenn Reynolds says — faster, please.