John McCain asked yesterday on CBS’ Face the Nation, “What did the president know? When did he know it? And what did he do about it?” Fox News has more on the first two questions this morning. According to their sources, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center briefed lawmakers two days after the attack on al-Qaeda’s connections to the Benghazi attack, one day before the CIA director showed up on Capitol Hill to tell a completely different story:
Two days after the Libya terror attack, representatives of the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center gave Capitol Hill briefings in which they said the evidence supported an Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-affiliated attack, Fox News has learned.
The description of the attack by those in the Sept. 13 briefings stands in stark contrast to the now controversial briefing on Capitol Hill by CIA Director David Petraeus the following day — and raises even more questions about why Petraeus described the attack as tied to a demonstration. …
FBI and NCTC also briefed that there were a series of Al Qaeda training camps just outside of Benghazi, where the attack occurred and resulted in the deaths of four Americans. The area was described as a hotbed for the militant Ansar al-Sharia as well as Al Qaeda in North Africa.
Fox News is told there was no mention of a demonstration or any significant emphasis on the anti-Islam video that for days was cited by administration officials as a motivating factor.
Petraeus has been the quiet man in all of this, and this could be the reason why. According to Fox’s report, Petraeus left very little room for equivocation in his briefing. According to their sources, Petraeus dismissed the significance of the use of a mortar position in the attack and insisted that the event started as a spontaneous demonstration that got out of control when radicals took advantage of the confusion.
But there’s another problem in this report for the White House. Since having to back away from Susan Rice’s attempt to sell the same story to the media five days after the attack on five different Sunday talk shows, they have insisted that the Obama administration shared the assessments it received from the intel community as they received them. Did anyone ever share the FBI and NCTC assessments in the 13th that al-Qaeda was linked to the attack? Not to my recollection.