More Benghazi Details; More Left-Wing Obfuscation

The New York Times has an in-depth report on the Benghazi incident from a reporter who went there and interviewed dozens of people on the ground. Quick summary:

Fifteen months after Mr. Stevens’s death, the question of responsibility remains a searing issue in Washington, framed by two contradictory story lines.

One has it that the video, which was posted on YouTube, inspired spontaneous street protests that got out of hand. This version, based on early intelligence reports, was initially offered publicly by Susan E. Rice, who is now Mr. Obama’s national security adviser.

The other, favored by Republicans, holds that Mr. Stevens died in a carefully planned assault by Al Qaeda to mark the anniversary of its strike on the United States 11 years before. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of covering up evidence of Al Qaeda’s role to avoid undermining the president’s claim that the group has been decimated, in part because of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The investigation by The Times shows that the reality in Benghazi was different, and murkier, than either of those story lines suggests. Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests. The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs.

The person they finger in the attack is Ahmed Abu Khattala and Ansar Al-Sharia. I would point out that, to many, distinguishing them from Al-Qaeda is academic. Ansar Al-Sharia are an Islamist organization that wants Sharia law implemented and are certainly on the same page as Al-Qaeda even if they are not technically affiliated. But the Times also shows that the US had ample signs that something very serious was about to go down in Libya and distinctly failed to account for it. The video was part of the motivation, but this appears to have mainly affected the timing of the attack. The Islamists were going to hit the US at some point.

As you might expect, the reaction to the Times piece is falling along partisan lines. Republicans are claiming it’s all a cover-up and the NYT is full of crap (although NYT’s reporting is based on far more witnesses (and fewer fraudulent ones) than the 60 Minutes report). Democrats are claiming vindication and that the Benghazi scandal is all a hoax. Ed Morrissey has a great take, pointing out that this confirms what Lee Stranahan has been saying for months.

In other words, the White House story that this was a demonstration that just got out of control was false. As we have discovered through Congressional testimony and the release of communications from that night, the White House and State Department knew immediately that it was a terrorist attack. If the YouTube video played a part in the motivation, it was nevertheless only possible because of a planned attack on an egregiously undefended facility, in the middle of a region controlled by Islamist militias, on the anniversary of 9/11 — when the US should have had its highest readiness.

In other words, this only addresses the relative import of the YouTube video, not any of the questions of the incompetence from State and the White House.

In short, we’re slowly converging on the reality somewhere between the two political poles.

  • Benghazi had become a hotbed of extremist activity and the US had ample reason to believe their personnel were in danger. Nevertheless, security was weak and heavily dependent on locals.
  • Ansar Al-Sharia, an organization not part of Al-Qaeda but sharing its goals, had planned to attack the US for a long time. The “Innocence of Muslims” video served as a spark, but an attack would have come at some point.
  • The first attack wound up with the security forces retreating and Stephens and Smith in a safe room. The attackers set the villa on fire and the smoke inhalation killed Smith and Stephens. The CIA response team arrived within 20 minutes. They rescued the security team and recovered Smith’s body. Stephens’ body was pulled out by sympathetic Libyans and not, contrary to initial reports, violated. It was taken to the hospital and then, eventually, to the airport where the Americans were secured.
  • A seven-man response team was quickly dispatched from Tripoli but ran into problems at the Benghazi airport. By that point, the Americans were in the CIA annex. The compound had come under sporadic initial attack, but this had stopped by the time the response team reached Benghazi airport.
  • About eight hours after the initial attack, shortly after the Tripoli team reached the CIA compound, it was attacked by mortar rounds which kill the two SEALS. The personnel were then evacuated to the airport and from there to Tripoli.
  • In short, both sides were full of it on some points. The Right Wing’s talking points that proved wrong: that Obama had real-time video of events, that the attack was continuous for eight hours, that no response was sent from Tripoli, that Stephens was raped or violated, that the video had nothing to do with what happened, that this was Al-Qaeda. The Left Wing’s talking points that proved wrong: that it was a spontaneous protest, that it was any kind of a protest, that all possible assets were used, that AQ-sympathizing elements had nothing to do with it, that his attack could not have been anticipated.

    In short, the Benghazi conspiracy theories are garbage (with the exception of speculation about the CIA’s presence) but the “there’s nothing to see here; move along” Left Wing knee-jerk defense is garbage too. We’re back to where we were on September 11, 2012: an incompetent State Department that left US personnel in a vulnerable position and then tried to pretend the awful events in Benghazi could not have been foreseen. By the time the attack happened, the die had been cast.

    Sorry, Obama Defense Derangement Syndrome sufferers. This is not a “vindication” of the President.

    Comments are closed.

    1. Seattle Outcast

      I’ve pretty much been of the opinion that “every time the government tells you something it’s a total lie” since I was ten. It holds true for most of what passes for journalism – everywhere.

      As always, the real truth is somewhere in the middle of competing lies.

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    2. AlexInCT

      I am a lot less worried about what went wrong and far more concerned with the massive cover-up efforts that followed. I have no doubt they were engaged in something illegal or down right disgusting, but the real shit happened after the people were killed and the massive lying machine went to work. I doubt we will get the full story until we find out about all the lying, obfuscating, and covering to hide the shit they were doing.

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    3. AlexInCT

      Not only do investigators say the story is bullshit Hal: sources that were on the ground in Benghazi say the NYT version is absolute bullshit:

      Fifteen months after the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, the narrative of the attack continues to be shaped, and reshaped, by politicians and the press.

      But a New York Times report published over the weekend has angered sources who were on the ground that night. Those sources, who continue to face threats of losing their jobs, sharply challenged the Times’ findings that there was no involvement from Al Qaeda or any other international terror group and that an anti-Islam film played a role in inciting the initial wave of attacks.

      “It was a coordinated attack. It is completely false to say anything else. … It is completely a lie,” one witness to the attack told Fox News.

      The controversial Times report has stirred a community that normally remains out of sight and wrestles with how to reveal the truth, without revealing classified information.

      Fox News has learned that the attack on the consulate started with fighters assembling to conduct an assault.

      “Guys were coming into the compound, moving left, moving right…and using IMT (individual movement techniques). … That’s not a spontaneous attack,” one special operator said.

      “One guy was shooting, one guy was running. There are guys watching the gates. … The bosses on the ground were pointing, commanding and coordinating — that is a direct action planned attack.”

      The community of operators in Libya that night and since includes the CIA, FBI, U.S. military, U.S. State Department and contractors working for the United States in a number of capacities. According to multiple sources on the ground that night, all the intelligence personnel in Benghazi before the attack and there now understand Al Qaeda is a significant threat in Libya.

      The NYT is nothing but a shill for the left. This piece was nothing but a piss poor attempt at damage control for Billary. They know they can’t pretend that they actually gave Benghazi its due diligence, and come the 2016 election Hillary will have some “splaining” to do. These assholes spent three or four days dancing on bin Laden’s grave at the donkey convention just a couple of weeks before Benghazi happened, and they got caught with their hand up each other’s assholes when AQ went to town on that building they were likely using to do the very things they accused the previous administration of doing while doing it themselves. Fuck them all.

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    4. Hal_10000 *

      I think it’s likely that the video did play some role. But it was a minor one. At most, it was the spark that lit the fuse or motivated of the looters in the protest that started *after* the attack (according to the NYT).

      The reaction to the Times piece, however, reminds me of why I could never be a Democrat. The entire Left Wing Echosphere is saying that this vindicates Obama and exposes the “hoax” of Benghazi (hoax?! So four guys didn’t die?) They refuse to believe that this Administration fucked up at all because that would mean agreeing with the “crazies”. Utterly disgusting.

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    5. Mook

      The “Innocence of Muslims” video served as a spark, but an attack would have come at some point.

      That point is refuted by Greg Hicks.

      UN Ambassador Susan Rice has been the focus of outrage from Republicans in Congress, for giving the news media what has been acknowledged as an incorrect explanation for the attack.

      She said on a Sunday chat show on 16 September that the attack had grown out of an anti-US protest, while other officials have said they knew at the time it was an organised, armed assault, possibly by an Islamist militant group.

      “My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” Mr Hicks said on his reaction to her interview.

      Also confirmed by Ambassador Stevens himself when he said “we’re under attack”. Attack, not ‘protests’. Susan Rice never spoke with Hicks before making the bogus spontaneous protest filmmaker story. Where is the evidence Hal, that the video served as a ‘spark’?

      Also, Special Operations Command Africa commander Lt. Col Gibson’s claim that he was told to stand down still stands unrefuted, does it not? Hicks testified that Gibson was “furious” at the stand down order.

      <blockquote.The Right Wing’s talking points that proved wrong: that Obama had real-time video of events He was told in “real time” that it was a terrorist attack, and then he proceeded to lie his ass off blaming it on a filmmaker even weeks afterward.

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    6. Hal_10000 *

      Mook, we’re not disagreeing. I’m not saying there was a protest that spun out of control. I’m saying it’s possible part of what motivated the attack at that particular moment was the video. It’s funny because I’m an argument at another blog with some nitwit who says Republicans should now apologize to Rice despite the NYT noting *very* specifically that the attack started first and then a bunch of people showed up “protest” (i.e, loot).

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    7. stogy

      That point is refuted by Greg Hicks.

      The Libyan prime minister was saying for at least a week afterwards that the video was the cause of the attacks. It was hardly just Susan Rice saying this – there were other people much closer to the actual events saying it too.

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    8. Mook

      The Libyan prime minister was saying for at least a week afterwards that the video was the cause of the attacks. It was hardly just Susan Rice saying this – there were other people much closer to the actual events saying it too.

      Yeah, it was pretty much just Susan Rice and paid cronies saying those lies

      “The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous,” Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif told the liberal National Public Radio network.

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    9. Mook

      It’s funny because I’m an argument at another blog with some nitwit who says Republicans should now apologize to Rice despite the NYT noting *very* specifically that the attack started first and then a bunch of people showed up “protest” (i.e, loot).

      Just curious, do you believe the truth lies “somewhere in between” or are you arguing with an irrational leftwing loon with no valid point whatsoever?

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