Tripoli embassy to Hillary: Don't push the video angle on the Benghazi attack

Three days after the attacks on the consulate in Benghazi and the deaths of four Americans, the US embassy in Tripoli urged Hillary Clinton and other State Department officials not to blame it on the YouTube video, “Innocence of Muslims.” In fact, the thus-far anonymous official warned that the video hadn’t actually created that much of an issue in Libya — and that putting an international spotlight on it would make the situation in the failed state exponentially worse. Yet two days later, Susan Rice went on five Sunday talk shows to push that meme, and Hillary and the Obama administration would continue to cite it for another two weeks:

Hillary Clinton and other State Department officials were warned against saying that an anti-Muslim video contributed to the the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a new email released on Friday reveals.

The warning came from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, Libya, on Sept. 14, 2012, three days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in which four Americans were killed.

“Our monitoring of the Libyan media and conversations with Libyans suggest that the films [sic] not as explosive of an issue here as it appears to be in other countries in the region,” the email said.

“And it is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest which escalated into violence,” it continued.

The memo reads in full, emphases mine:

Colleagues, I mentioned to [redacted] this morning, and want to share with all of you, our view at the Embassy Tripoli that we must be cautious in our local messaging with regard to the inflammatory film trailer, adapting it to Libyan conditions. Our monitoring of the Libyan media and conversations with Libyans suggest that the films [sic] not as explosive an issue here as it appears to be in other countries in the region. The overwhelming majority of the FB comments and tweets we’ve received from Libyans since the Ambassador’s death have expressed deep sympathy, sorrow, and regret. They have expressed anger at the attackers, and emphasized that this attack does not represent Libyans or Islam. Relatively few have even mentioned the inflammatory video. So if we post messaging about the video specifically, we may draw unwanted attention to it. And it is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest which escalated into violence. It is our opinion that in our messaging, we want to distinguish, not conflate, the events in other countries with this well-planned attack by militant extremists. I have discussed this with [redacted] and he shares PAS’s view.

In other words, this wasn’t just a stream-of-consciousness e-mail. This was the considered analysis of the State Department’s best resources left on the ground in Libya. Not only did they reject out of hand the idea that the YouTube video played any role in the attack, they specifically warned Hillary and State that pushing that line would create the potential for a lot more violence.

So what did Hillary, Rice, and Barack Obama do? They pushed the video line until it became painfully obvious that the sacking of the Benghazi consulate was a planned action by Ansar al-Sharia, deliberately timed for the anniversary of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks. Rice went on national television to push that narrative, and Obama went to the United Nations to scold the filmmakers for insulting Mohammed. They couldn’t have possibly done more to disregard the Tripoli embassy’s advice. Not long afterward, the US had to flee from Tripoli, leaving behind a failed state and a breeding ground for terror networks.

With this memo coming just two days before the White House and State started peddling a false narrative, it’s becoming clearer than ever that they wanted to deflect blame for being asleep at the switch for an easily predictable terrorist attack. Instead of acknowledging the failure a few weeks ahead of a presidential election, Hillary and Obama turned it into an opportunity to attack free speech rather than confront radical Islamist terrorism. They knew immediately that the attack was a planned operation by an al-Qaeda affiliate, and yet deceived Americans for more than two weeks as to the nature of the attack — including the families of the deceased.