‘There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy,” the President of the United States told the United Nations last September 25, one of six “video” references in his speech. A fortnight after the deadly attack on America’s mission in Benghazi, Obama still insisted that Innocence of Muslims, an obscure, anti-Islamic YouTube video, had fueled the mayhem. Presumably, a spontaneous protest spun out of control and unleashed lethal violence.
But, as he addressed the General Assembly, Obama surely knew that an al-Qaeda–propelled assault, not a YouTube video, killed U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
As Wednesday’s sworn testimony by three State Department whistleblowers demonstrated, this was just one of many lies deployed by Obama and others high atop the U.S. government. These lies nurtured the myth that “al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat,” as Obama claimed at a Las Vegas campaign rally the evening after the Benghazi onslaught. With the truth conveniently obscured beyond November 6, Obama won reelection as the man who supposedly killed both Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. In fact, only the former is dead.
The truth behind this monstrous cover-up finally is emerging, too late to defeat Obama at the polls, but perhaps in time to speed his early return to Chicago.
In gripping testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, these top diplomats broke their silence and shattered Team Obama’s carefully crafted post-Benghazi narrative.
From the very start of this episode, U.S. officials called it an attack, rather than a video-driven protest.
“Greg, we are under attack,” Ambassador Stevens said in his last words to Deputy Chief of Mission Greg Hicks, just before Stevens’s cell phone clicked off on the night of September 11. Ambassador Stevens did not say, “Greg, we are enduring picket signs and loud chants.”
As Reuters’ Mark Hosenball reported, the State Department Operations Center (SDOC) sent “Sensitive But Unclassified” e-mails to the White House, the FBI, and U.S. intelligence agencies. SDOC dispatched the first e-mail at 4:05 p.m. Eastern Time, about 20 to 30 minutes after the mayhem erupted. “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack,” read the subject line. “Embassy in Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well.” At 6:07 p.m., another SDOC e-mail announced that “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.” A Reuters source says that SDOC transmitted these and other e-mails to Obama’s inner sanctum, the White House Situation Room.
In a newly revealed September 12 e-mail to State Department staffers, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Elizabeth Jones recalls consulting Libya’s ambassador in Washington. Jones wrote: “I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar Al Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.” (Note that Jones delivered this information to the Libyan envoy, not the reverse.)
“The YouTube video was a non-event in Libya,” Hicks testified under oath Wednesday. “The only report that our mission made through every channel was that there had been an attack on our consulate. . . . No protest.”
The father of the late Tyrone Woods says that, as his son’s remains were officially welcomed home on September 14, then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton approached him. “We will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted,” Clinton promised. Five Los Angeles County Sherriff’s deputies soon detained, interrogated, and eventually jailed Nakoula Basseley Nakoula — the Los Angeles–based, Egyptian-born Coptic Christian behind the anti-Islamic video. Never mind that producing anti-Islamic videos is not illegal, for now. (Regardless, the First Amendment-practicing Nakoula remains in Texas’s La Tuna Federal Correctional Institution for using an alias. As Rich Lowry details, employing a false name violated Nakoula’s probation on bank-fraud charges.)
In the May 13 Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes carefully documents how Team Obama sanitized the CIA’s initial talking points to erase al-Qaeda’s fingerprints on this attack and, instead, make it look like a demonstration gone crazy. A September 14 version of this document stated, “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qa’ida participated in the attack. . . . Ansar al Sharia’s Facebook page aims to spread Sharia in Libya and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations of Islam.”
By the time the State Department and the White House had whitewashed these talking points, a third version, on September 15, explained: “There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” Were these extremist Muslims? Extremist vegetarians? Extremist Rotarians? The scrubbed document does not say.
If the records he cites are accurate, Hayes writes, “It is clear that senior administration officials engaged in a wholesale rewriting of intelligence assessments about Benghazi in order to mislead the public.”
[UPDATE: ABC News’ Senior White House correspondent Jonathan Karl reported this morning that the CIA’s original talking points underwent twelve different revisions by top State Department and White House staffers. For instance, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland opposed language that discussed the threat of al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Benghazi and cited five earlier attacks against foreign interests in eastern Libya. In an e-mail to the White House and intelligence agencies, Nuland argued that such information “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned . . .”
That offending paragraph was deleted, as was plenty of other text.
The laundered talking points eventually mirrored Obama’s campaign theme: al-Qaeda killers, no; excitable locals, yes. The extensive and self-serving disinfection of these talking points holistically vacates this November 28, 2012 assertion by Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney: “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”]