I’ve been trying to play catch up on the Benghazi attack this week. It’s rough keeping your head from spinning when there’s so much spin surrounding the topic; but I have tried for your benefit.
Here’s what we all need to know:
At 8:30 pm Benghazi time U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens steps outside the consulate to say goodbye to a Turkish diplomat. There are no protesters at this time. (“Everything is calm at 8:30,” a State Department official would later say at an Oct. 9 background briefing for reporters. “There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside.”)
At Approximately 8:40 p.m. A security agent at the Benghazi compound hears “loud noises” coming from the front gate and “gunfire and an explosion.” A senior State Department official at the Oct. 9 briefing says that “the camera on the main gate reveals a large number of people – a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound.”
The above information is crucial for a number of reasons. First, because the administration spent the next two weeks saying that this was a protest that ended up escalating out of control. Let’s just forget the video (for a moment), was there a protest at all? If so, why was everything “calm” and “nothing unusual”? Exactly how long does it take for a protest to form and then escalate out of control? The security element had cameras on the gate and the first mention of anything was when there was “gunfire and an explosion”. That sounds a lot like a mob moving into the compound.
Now, there are two exists/gates to the embassy consulate; one on the north side (where the attack occurred) and a rear gate on the south side. These gates aren’t close – they’re more than 600 yards apart and you have to go around the block to get from one to the other. These clever and spontaneous protesters thought that protesting on the north gate while simultaneously protesting on the south side would be more effective. That or it would block off an escape route for those inside the consulate grounds. Of course, that assumption would allude to a preplanned attack.
“The attackers gained access to the compound and began firing into the main building, setting it on fire. The Libyan guard force and our mission security personnel responded. At that time, there were three people inside the building: Ambassador Stevens, one of our regional security officers, and Information Management Officer Sean Smith. U.S. security personnel assigned to the mission annex tried to regain the main building, but that group also took heavy fire and had to return to the mission annex. U.S. and Libyan security personnel … regain the main building and they were able to secure it. The mission annex then came under fire itself at around 6 o’clock in the evening our time, and that continued for about two hours. It was during that time that two additional U.S. personnel were killed and two more were wounded during that ongoing attack.” Released from Sept 12 briefing – (emphasis mine)
Let’s ask a simple question – how well armed does a mob have to be to storm an embassy, fight off Libyan guard forces, then reflect U.S. security personnel, then mount an offensive against the U.S. security personnel in a separate building with “heavy fire” for two hours, and win all of those fights? We later find out that the two Navy Seals who were defending the annex were killed by a mortar shell!
Even with all of the above information, Sec. Clinton released the following statement on the day of the attack:
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.” – (emphasis mine)
Sec. Clinton condemned the video and still refused to call it a terror attack. Obama reiterates Clinton’s video response almost verbatim. Every news media outlet starts covering the “Innocence of Muslims” video that the world knew little about racks up millions of hits through various posters between September12th through the 14th. Some of the video names are under titles and descriptions “Video that caused Libya attacks”. The focus was on the video, the protest, and the response seemed adequate since it couldn’t have been foreseen.
Then an unnamed State Department Official released this whopper to CNN:
“It was not an innocent mob… The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective but this was a clearly planned military-type attack.”
This flew in the face of the stance from this administration – something they weren’t prepared for.
The language began to change ever so slightly. Now the administration was referring to the attack as “an act of ugly terror” but still denies that it was preplanned. Carney responds to the State Department’s release that afternoon saying, “I have seen that report, and the story is absolutely wrong. We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent. That report is false.” He follows up with the familiar conclusion that it was still a protest to the said video.
Hours later Defense Secretary Leon Penetta reports that the Senate Armed Services Committee made up of Republicans and Democrats conclude that it was a preplanned attack.
In his weekly address Obama doesn’t refer to a planned attack, a terrorist attack, or an act of terror – but he does, again, reference the video and calls the attackers “a very angry mob”.
Libya President Mohamed Magariaf says on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the attack on the U.S. consulate had been planned for months. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in defiance, tells CBS News’ Bob Schieffer: “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.”
Language change number 2 – the words “initial assessment” are being used to explain questions about Benghazi. This would continue for the next two weeks in an obvious attempt to lessen the responsibility.
Obama tells Letterman that the attack was a response to the video (1 week out).
In response to Magariaf statement about the attack being preplanned, White House Spokesperson begins language change number 3 – saying that they “would rather wait” for the investigation to be completed. A great irony since they didn’t wait to say that it was a protest (which was false) or that it was a response to the film (which was false).
Sec. Clinton goes back to language change number 2 and 3 after meeting with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Patricia Espinosa. When pressed whether Magariaf was wrong about his preplanned attack she invokes the initial assessment and further investigation speech.
Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center calls the act a “terrorist attack” but continues to deny any planning was evident. In response, Carney invokes all language changes saying, “Based on the information we had at the time — we have now, we do not yet have indication that it was preplanned or premeditated. There’s an active investigation. If that active investigation produces facts that lead to a different conclusion, we will make clear that that’s where the investigation has led.”
In a town hall meeting Obama backs up but still invokes language changes, “Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.” (emphasis mine)
Sec. Clinton calls the attack “a terrorist attack”.
Sec. Clinton again calls the attack “a terrorist assault”. President Obama, however, doesn’t get the message and on The View (that’s right, Letterman and The View) he again references the response to the video, protests, and pleads language change number 2 when asked about whether or not it was a terrorist attack; “We’re still doing an investigation.”
Suddenly jumping to conclusions with simple definitions is not only adopted by the White House, but part of their clear message. Carney says, “The president — our position is, as reflected by the NCTC director, that it was a terrorist attack. It is, I think by definition, a terrorist attack when there is a prolonged assault on an embassy with weapons. … So, let’s be clear, it was a terrorist attack and it was an inexcusable attack.”
Later Deputy Secretary of State William Burns tells Al Jazeera, “It’s clear that the attack which took the lives of Chris Stevens and three other colleagues was clearly choreographed and directed and involved a fair amount of firepower, but exactly what kind of planning went into that and how it emerged on that awful night, we just don’t know right now.”
So suddenly it’s clear with no new information given? Am I on crazy pills? For weeks the White House was fighting the assumption that Romney, McCain, and everyone who has an ounce of grey matter realized this was the case based on the information released immediately after the attack. If a bunch of Muslims on the anniversary of 9/11 suddenly, without staging a protest, successfully attack an embassy with weapons, murder the ambassador and others, fight for hours, raise an Al Qaeda flag, and later claim responsibility what the heck are you supposed to call it?
Fast forward to November – the administration spent an entire month making excuses as to why they didn’t know. The President said that they gave us the “best information” they had throughout. Sec. Clinton later blamed the “fog of war” for their lack of clarity.
Three points here.
The administration that rallied with democrats against President Bush for his bad intelligence on Iraq’s WMD program is suddenly caught with his hand in the same basket. It doesn’t help that three weeks after the attack Leon Panetta also admitted to have no clue as to where the Syrians had moved their nuclear weapons – though they know that they were moved. Does this mean this President also doesn’t have the intelligence capabilities that are needed to make decisions?
Or does this mean that the President is lying about his intelligence? We’re now getting reports that the President watched the whole attack unfold via military drones. Having live cameras on drones isn’t a luxury that Bush had.
Lastly, is coming out and saying that your intelligence is so convoluted a good thing? This isn’t just intelligence in ANY area, this is intelligence in a country where only months ago you toppled the government. This is a Muslim country that is currently unstable. Which also begs the question, why do you not protect the embassy? I know it isn’t customary to guard embassies – but then not all embassies are in Muslim nations in the middle of a quasi-revolution and power struggle.
Allow me to finally get around to the title. So far I’ve been talking about the cover up (which I will get back to), but that might not be the worst part of this story. Two heroes, Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, disobeyed orders when twice told to “stand down” when shots were first heard at the complex gate. Instead, at around 9:30 p.m. they walked more than half a mile under fire to the Consulate compound from the CIA Annex. These two men secured 20-30 employees at the annex (to include Sean Smith who had been killed), positioned themselves on top of the building, and called for airpower support. The reported quote is “Where the **** is the Spectre“, referencing the AC-130 Gunship he anticipated would be overhead by then. The reports say that there were no communication problems and that they had a laser on the target that was firing at them. This went on for 4 hours! Obviously nothing was sent. Sadly, we had assets all over the area that were ready to be deployed, but never requested for. These two men died to a mortar shell at 4:00am – 7 freaking hours after the first shot!
If this is true then this is truly criminal. How in God’s name does this happen? How does the administration, who obviously knew the information above, still go on for weeks claiming this was a protest mob gone awry?
The President isn’t handing the Medal of Honor to these heroes, he’s dodging their story. Why? Because we’re days from an election and he cannot afford for this sickening story to come out. The President healed the Middle East, the world loves us now, Obama got bin Laden, and the world is safer…and two heroes die at the hands of cowards. I will leave it to you to determine who those cowards are.
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