The Obama administration/campaign’s story about what happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11 keeps having run-ins with the facts. The latest comes from Reuters:
Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.
The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.
The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Benghazi assault, which President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials ultimately acknowledged was a “terrorist” attack carried out by militants with suspected links to al Qaeda affiliates or sympathizers.
Administration spokesmen, including White House spokesman Jay Carney, citing an unclassified assessment prepared by the CIA, maintained for days that the attacks likely were a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film.
The story goes on to say officials referred to evidence that the violence “erupted spontaneously” — an apparent reference to the alleged protests about an alleged anti-Muslim video. But as we now know, there was no protest leading up to the attacks on the consulate, so it’s hard to understand what sort of evidence they could have been describing. A claim of responsibility by an al-Qaida affiliate, on the other hand, would seem to have been sufficient evidence not to frame the issue even once as a matter of First Amendment freedoms gone wrong.
Unless, of course, one happened to be running for re-election and basing one’s pitch to voters in large part on the idea that al-Qaida is on its way to defeat.
– By Kyle Wingfield