The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts
Story 1: Benghazi Scandal Is A Massive Cover-up of President Obama’s Secret Finding For Central Intelligence Agency’s Covert Operations In Libya and Syria — American People Demand Declassification And Release of Entire CIA Covert Operations Finding For Libya and Syria and Public Testimony By Former CIA Director General Petraeus, CIA Director Brennan, CIA Libya Station Chief and Chief of Mission and CIA Employees in Benghazi, Libya On September 11, 2012 — Massive Scandal and Foreign Policy Disaster — Stop The Cover-up, Stonewalling and Slow-walking! — “Why Was The United States in Libya?” — No More Behind Closed Doors — Videos
IT TAKES TREY GOWDY JUST THREE MINUTES TO SILENCE THE MEDIA
Trey Gowdy: Congress’ Benghazi probe not aimed at Clinton
Benghazi timeline: “We are under attack”
Malzberg | Clare Lopez, member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi
Media Silent About Obama’s Undeclared Wars
U.S. fighting undeclared wars with six countries? – FoxNews 110610
Wesley Clark ( US 4 Star General ) US will attack 7 countries in 5 years
END WAR: Brzezinski Debates Why Libya War Right Choice, Goal Is Regime Change With A United Libya
Vijay Prashad Urges Re-Evaluation of NATO Attack on Libya in Debate Over Syria Intervention
How Will History Judge U.S., Coalition Intervention in Libya?
Did the Military Intervention in Libya Succeed? (Benjamin Friedman)
Life After Qaddafi — Libya: A Broken State
Libya War: What They Don’t Want You to Know
OBAMA CONFRONTED ON BENGHAZI – Stutters Through Response
Gaddafi gold-for-oil, dollar-doom plans behind Libya ‘mission’?
Where is All the Worlds Gold?(full documentary) HD
Ex-CIA officer: Obama fools himself, Muslims see US bombing Libya
U.S. Intelligence knew in 2012: Rise of ISIS, Arms shipments from Libya to Syria
Ex-CIA Agent: America creates its own enemies
Benghazi US consulate attack: why is no one talking about the CIA mission?
Breaking: CNN Reports CIA Engaged in Massive Intimidation Campaign to Keep Benghazi a Secret
August 1, 2013 – Breaking: CNN Reports CIA Engaged in Massive Intimidation Campaign to Keep Benghazi a Secret — This is HUGE. Basically the CIA is reportedly giving polygraph tests EVERY MONTH to more than a dozen CIA employees that were on the ground in Benghazi during the attack, to ensure that none of them talk about what happened that night. CNN — CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what
Kevin Shipp at AIM’s Citizens Commission on Benghazi Conference
Roger Aronoff Speaks about the newly formed Citizens Commission on Benghazi
Admiral James Lyons Speaks at the Citizens Commission on Benghazi
Lt. General Thomas McInerney Speaks at the Citizens Commission on Benghazi
Ken Timmerman at AIM’s Citizens Commission on Benghazi Conference
Benghazi Attack Cover Up! Obama Armed Al Qaeda?
Bachmann Challenges Former CIA Director on Benghazi
Bachmann: Administration misled public on Benghazi
Benghazi Bombshell – Whistleblower’s Lawyer: 400 Surface To Air Missiles Stolen – Wake Up America
Attorney for Benghazi Whistleblower says 400 missiles stolen during attack
Published on Aug 13, 2013
An attorney for the Benghazi whistleblowers says that some 400 surface to air missles (SAMs) were ‘taken from Libya’ during the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
He added that the U.S. intelligence community is terrified they might be used to shoot down airliners.
Joe diGenova, whose wife Victoria Toensing — a former deputy assistant attorney general — also represents Benghazi witnesses and others with knowledge of the terror attack, told WMAL radio that the loss of those missiles is also one the reasons the U.S. State Department shut down 19 embassies across the Middle East last week.
‘A lot of people have come forward to share information with us,’ he said during the radio station’s ‘Mornings On The Mall’ program Monday morning.
‘We have learned that one of the reasons the administration is so deeply concerned’ is that ‘there were 400 surface-to-air missiles stolen, and that they are … in the hands of many people, and that the biggest fear in the U.S. intelligence community is that one of these missiles will be used to shoot down an airliner. 400 missiles, surface-to-air missiles, taken from Libya.’
Asked if the missiles are now ‘in the hands of al-Qaeda operatives,’ DiGenova replied, ‘That is what these people are telling us.’
DiGenova said his sources are ‘former intelligence officials who stay in constant contact with people in the Special Ops and intelligence community.’
‘And it’s pretty clear that the biggest concern right now are 400 missiles which have been diverted in Libya and have gotten in the hands of some very ugly people.’
diGenova said that while he was uncertain whether the stolen weapons were being kept at the U.S. Consulate’s CIA annex, ‘it is clear that the annex was somehow involved in the process of the distribution of those missiles.’
‘They were afraid that there was going to be a missile attack on one of the embassies. Remember, you can take a shoulder-held missile and shoot it into an embassy. Not just into the sky.’ ‘That’s what this was all about,’ he insisted. ‘That’s why they’re so worried. That’s why they have lied repeatedly about what happened in Benghazi, because they are now responsible for all of the stepchildren of violence that happens as a result of this. This is a very serious matter.’
FSA rocket shoots down Assad helicopter – Truthloader
White House Knew at 6:07 PM EST That Ansar Al-Sharia Was Behind the Benghazi Attack
Death And Deceit In Benghazi – Did Obama Amind Try Hide The Truth? – W Bret Bair
CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say
The Benghazi Select Committee: Many Questions Remain Unanswered
The House Select Committee on Benghazi is gearing up to investigate the many unanswered questions surrounding the attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility on September 11, 2012. Contrary to the Obama Administration’s assertions, numerous questions remain unanswered about what happened that fateful day both in Benghazi and here in Washington. This, despite the determined efforts of members of Congress to extract answered from a reluctant White House and State Department. Yet, in order to prevent a recurrence of unnecessary loss of American lives, systemic failures must be addressed, as well as the lack of accountability among those responsible for diplomatic security. Equally importantly, the families of the victims and indeed Americans need to know why no retaliation or justice has been visited upon those who killed U.S. diplomats.
“Peace President” Obama Let Benghazi Happen
As the Mail Online out it, “The Citizens Commission on Benghazi, a self-selected group of former top military officers, CIA insiders and think-tankers, declared Tuesday in Washington that a seven-month review of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack has determined that it could have been prevented — if the U.S. hadn’t been helping to arm al-Qaeda militias throughout Libya a year earlier.”
Obama “Switched Sides” in War on Terror
Former CIA officer Clare Lopez argues: Libya in 2011 marks the place and the time that the United States (U.S.) and the Obama administration formally switched sides in the Global War on Terror (GWOT). A mere 10 years after al-Qa’eda (supported by Hizballah and Iran) attacked the American homeland in the worst act of terrorism ever suffered by this country, U.S. leadership decided to facilitate the provision of weapons to jihadist militias known to be affiliated with al-Qa’eda and the Muslim Brotherhood in order to bring down a brutal dictator who also just happened to be a U.S. ally in the GWOT at the time.
Obama Let Them Die at Benghazi
Wayne Simmons spent 27 years working with the CIA to combat terrorism, narco-terrorism and narcotics trafficking, arms smuggling, counterfeiting, cyber-terrorists, and industrial and economic espionage. He sits on the Advisory Council for the Intelligence Summit, and is a contributor to the conservative publication Human Events.
“Dark Forces” at Benghazi and Muslim Brotherhood Infiltration
Why didn’t the U.S. military respond in time in Benghazi
Benghazi Victim’s Mother: ‘Why Isn’t Hillary Out Here?’
Rand Paul Questions Hillary Clinton on Benghazi (Flashback)
Benghazi ➡Hillary gave ‘stand down’ order – Cover Up & Deceive America 2016
13 hours in Benghazi FULL VERSION INTERVIEW 5 parts combined.
Benghazi, Victims’ Families & Investigators Testify At House Hearing On Benghazi – Lou Dobbs
9-19-2013 “Reviews of the Benghazi Attack and
Unanswered Questions” Part I
9-19-2013 “Reviews of the Benghazi Attack and Unanswered Questions” Part II
9-19-2013 “Reviews of the Benghazi Attack and Unanswered Questions” Part III
Benghazi Scandal Review Of The Benghazi Attack & Questions That Remain Unanswered
Rep. Gowdy Talks Obamacare and Benghazi with Lou Dobbs
Chairman Issa’s Opening Statement Benghazi
Chaffetz Questions Adm. Mullen About Military Capability During Attack In Benghazi
Chaffetz to Families of Benghazi Victims: “We have a duty to find out the truth.”
Benghazi Victim’s Mother ‘Why Isn’t Hillary Out Here’
Congressman Mica questions Administration on Benghazi
In an exchange with witnesses during our Congressional Oversight Hearing, Congressman John Mica explains to Administration officials that most Americans believe the State Department report on responsibility for the Bengazhi attack was a “whitewash”. Those conducting the review were appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who they failed to interview along with other top State and Administration officials. Mica stated that this looks like an inside job where no one was held accountable, fired and none of the killers captured or brought to justice.
Benghazi Scandal – “It Was Clear Pretty Quickly” – General: Benghazi Was No Demonstration!
Independent Benghazi Review Briefed Clinton, Mills on Report Before Released
House Of Scandals Obama Gives Speech To Distract Americans – Rand Paul (R-KY)- Hannity
The Benghazi Testimony Fox Doesn t Want You To See
Rep. Meehan Questions Officials Responses to Location of Embassy in Benghazi
CNN Benghazi Claims: Report alleges CIA operatives in Libya were sending weapons to Syrian rebels
Obama authorized CIA covert operation in Libya
SYRIA Retired General Suspects A US Covert Operation For Running Libya Arms To Syria
The Daring Early Years of the CIA: Covert Ops from WW2 to Vietnam (1995)
CIA Covert Operations and U.S. Interventions Since World War II Full documentary
DC Scandals – Time To Testify? – Issa: We Call Hillary Clinton Back! – Benghazi Scandal
Benghazi Scandal Investigation Widening Lawmakers Seek Interviews Of 13 Top Officials
Benghazi Scandal Is Obama Admin Trying To Hide Something! Force Into Silence! OReilly
David Petraeus Scandal: Benghazi Attack Testimony Behind Closed Doors
The former CIA head will go behind closed doors to give testimony on the terror attacks.
General Petraeus leaked secret info on Benghazi attack to his mistress?
Glenn Beck: Military Action In Syria Is Designed To Cover Up Benghazi
REVEALED: If This Is True, Benghazi Is Even Worse Than We Ever Thought
Explosive: Rep. Trey Gowdy Unloads Unreleased Email Exposing Benghazi Coverup
YouTube Video Maker Blamed for Benghazi Attacks Breaks Silence on CNN
Issa: Getting the Facts on US Diplomatic Security and the Benghazi, Libya Terrorist Attack
Benghazi Attack: “We Were Fighting A losing Battle. We Couldn’t Even Keep What We Had”
Oversight Hearing Part 1 – “The Security Failures of Benghazi”
Benghazi Whistleblower Hearing part 1
Benghazi Whistleblower Hearing part 2
Benghazi Whistleblower Hearing part 3
Rep. Frank Wolf on Benghazi – Politicizing the FBI & the CIA
Chairman Gowdy Questions State Department and CIA at Benghazi Select Committee Hearing
Trey Gowdy grills at NEW Benghazi hearing (complete testimony) “Why Were We in Libya?”
Benghazi Hearing Trey Gowdy Awesomeness
Rep. Trey Gowdy GRILLS Adm. Mullen on why he didn’t interview Hillary Clinton over Benghazi
House Rules Committee Hearing on Benghazi Select Committee
The House Rules Committee holds a hearing on establishing a special committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The Benghazi select committee hearing begins at 41:00.
Benghazi Select Committee Holds First Public Hearing Trey Gowdy On The Record
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds First Hearing
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds Second Hearing
Chairman Gowdy’s Opening Statement at Third Benghazi Select Committee Hearing
Chairman Gowdy’s Opening Statement at Third Benghazi Select Committee Hearing
CHARLIE RICH Behind Closed Doors
How Obama Ignored Congress, and Misled America, on War in Libya
The feature story that Michael Lewis just published about President Obama’s decisionmaking prior to the war in Libya includes a lot of details that inspire confidence in his leadership. By all accounts he’s intelligent, sober-minded, and inclined to seek out an array of perspectives. And he’s frequently forced to make extraordinarily difficult tradeoffs with imperfect information. I don’t envy his job.
But the article also raises serious questions about his honesty and regard for the constitution. Let’s take them in turn.
On March 28, 2011, Obama gave a televised address about Libya. It included this passage about his actions:
Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition, and the Arab League, appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. At my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass an historic Resolution that authorized a No0Fly Zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.
In his telling, (a) America led the effort to establish the No-Fly Zone; and (b) the No-Fly Zone would stop the Libyan regime’s attacks from the air.
Compare these assertions to the inside account reported by Lewis (which wasvetted by the White House prior to publication):
If you were president just then and you turned your television to some cable news channel you would have seen many Republican senators screaming at you to invade Libya and many Democratic congressmen hollering at you that you had no business putting American lives at risk in Libya. If you flipped over to the networks on March 7 you might have caught ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper saying to your press secretary, Jay Carney, “More than a thousand people have died, according to the United Nations. How many more people have to die before the United States decides, O.K., we’re going to take this one step of a no-fly zone?”
By March 13, Qaddafi appeared to be roughly two weeks from getting to Benghazi. On that day the French announced they were planning to introduce a resolution in the United Nations to use U.N. forces to secure the skies over Libya in order to prevent Libyan planes from flying. A “no-fly zone” this was called, and it forced Obama’s hand. The president had to decide whether to support the no-fly-zone resolution or not. At 4:10 p.m. on March 15 the White House held a meeting to discuss the issue. “Here is what we knew,” recalls Obama, by which he means here is what I knew. “We knew that Qaddafi was moving on Benghazi, and that his history was such that he could carry out a threat to kill tens of thousands of people. We knew we didn’t have a lot of time–somewhere between two days and two weeks. We knew they were moving faster than we originally anticipated. We knew that Europe was proposing a no-fly zone.”
That much had been in the news. One crucial piece of information had not. “We knew that a no-fly zone would not save the people of Benghazi,” says Obama. “The no-fly zone was an expression of concern that didn’t really do anything.” European leaders wanted to create a no-fly zone to stop Qaddafi, but Qaddafi wasn’t flying. His army was racing across the North African desert in jeeps and tanks. Obama had to have wondered just how aware of this were these foreign leaders supposedly interested in the fate of these Libyan civilians. He didn’t know if they knew that a no-fly zone was pointless, but if they’d talked to any military leader for five minutes they would have. And that was not all. “The last thing we knew,” he adds, “is that if you announced a no-fly zone and if it appeared feckless, there would be additional pressure for us to go further. As enthusiastic as France and Britain were about the no-fly zone, there was a danger that if we participated the U.S. would own the operation. Because we had the capacity.”
To summarize, (a) America did not lead the effort to establish a no-fly zone — it reluctantly signed on to the idea after its hand was forced by the French; (b) the no-fly zone wouldn’t stop the regime’s attacks because they weren’t coming from the air. It was, rather, a preamble to escalation.
Due to the nature of the Libya conflict, these misrepresentations weren’t nearly as consequential as, say, the way George W. Bush spoke out about weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war. It is nevertheless an example of the president deliberately misleading the American people in order to facilitate false impressions about foreign military actions that he finds convenient.
ZERO REGARD FOR CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL
It’s long been established that Obama failed to secure a congressional declaration of war, as the constitution and Senator Obama’s understanding of it dictated; and that he violated the War Powers Resolution. It is nevertheless worth revisiting the subject given these new details about his thought process:
Obama insists that he still had not made up his mind what to do when he returned to the Situation Room — that he was still considering doing nothing at all. A million people in Benghazi were waiting to find out whether they would live or die, and he honestly did not know. There were things the Pentagon might have said to deter him, for instance. “If somebody had said to me that we could not take out their air defense without putting our fliers at risk in a significant way; if the level of risk for our military personnel had been ratcheted up–that might have changed my decision,” says Obama. “Or if I did not feel Sarkozy or Cameron were far enough out there to follow through. Or if I did not think we could get a U.N resolution passed.” Once again he polled the people in the room for their views. Of the principals only Susan Rice (enthusiastically) and Hillary Clinton (who would have settled for a no-fly zone) had the view that any sort of intervention made sense. “How are we going to explain to the American people why we’re in Libya,” asked William Daley, according to one of those present. “And Daley had a point: who gives a shit about Libya?”
From the president’s point of view there was a certain benefit in the indifference of the American public to whatever was happening in Libya. It enabled him to do, at least for a moment, pretty much whatever he wanted to do. Libya was the hole in the White House lawn.
Obama made his decision: push for the U.N resolution and effectively invade another Arab country. Of the choice not to intervene he says, “That’s not who we are,” by which he means that’s not who I am. The decision was extraordinarily personal. “No one in the Cabinet was for it,” says one witness. “There was no constituency for doing what he did.” Then Obama went upstairs to the Oval Office to call European heads of state and, as he puts it, “call their bluff.” Cameron first, then Sarkozy. It was three a.m. in Paris when he reached the French president, but Sarkozy insisted he was still awake. (“I’m a young man!”) In formal and stilted tones the European leaders committed to taking over after the initial bombing. The next morning Obama called Medvedev to make sure that the Russians would not block his U.N. resolution. There was no obvious reason why Russia should want to see Qaddafi murder a city of Libyans, but in the president’s foreign dealings the Russians play the role that Republicans currently more or less play in his domestic affairs. The Russians’ view of the world tends to be zero-sum: if an American president is for it, they are, by definition, against it. Obama thought that he had made more progress with the Russians than he had with the Republicans; Medvedev had come to trust him, he felt, and believed him when he said the United States had no intention of moving into Libya for the long term. A senior American official at the United Nations thought that perhaps the Russians let Obama have his resolution only because they thought it would end in disaster for the United States.
And it could have. All that exists for any president are the odds. On March 17 the U.N. gave Obama his resolution. The next day he flew to Brazil and was there on the 19th, when the bombing began. A group of Democrats in Congress issued a statement demanding Obama withdraw from Libya; Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich asked if Obama had just committed an impeachable offense. All sorts of people who had been hounding the president for his inaction now flipped and questioned the wisdom of action. A few days earlier Newt Gingrich, busy running for president, had said, “We don’t need the United Nations. All we have to say is that we think slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening.” Four days after the bombing began, Gingrich went on the Today show to say he wouldn’t have intervened and was quoted on Politico as saying, “It is impossible to make sense of the standard of intervention in Libya except opportunism and news media publicity.” The tone of the news coverage shifted dramatically, too. One day it was “Why aren’t you doing anything?” The next it was “What have you gotten us into?” As one White House staffer puts it, “All the people who had been demanding intervention went nuts after we intervened and said it was outrageous. That’s because the controversy machine is bigger than the reality machine.”
Put more succinctly, going to war in Libya was a close call; there are things various folks could have said to deter him; he ran the decision through executive branch and international channels; most people told him not to do it; but if Congress came into the picture at all, it wasn’t enough to merit mention in the retelling, and certainly not enough to follow the constitution and put the prospective war to a vote. The people’s representatives were excluded.
The imperial presidency is so well entrenched that a journalist like Michael Lewis needn’t really question circumventing Congress to feel as though he’s including all the crucial parts of the story about going to war.
That remains a scandal.
And it is telling that Michael Lewis, one of America’s finest journalists, didn’t even ask Obama about failing to put the decision about Libya before Congress. He didn’t ask despite the plain language of the Constitution, Obama’s prior statements indicating he fully understood his legal obligations, and the fact that various members of Congress complained about his unilateral action. The imperial presidency is so well entrenched that a journalist like Lewis needn’t really question those things to feel as though he’s including all the crucial parts of the story about going to war.
That is quite a precedent Obama has set. And Mitt Romney is ready to exploit it if he wins. As he put it: “I can assure you if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I will be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now.”
Why the Libyan War Is Unconstitutional
War is commonly defined as “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations.” By that definition, the United States and its allies have been at war with Libya since late last week. “At my direction,” President Obama told Congress, “U.S. military forces commenced operations” in Libya.
Article I, section 8 of the United States Constitution states that “Congress shall have the power … to declare war…” Since Congress has not declared war on Libya, is American involvement in the Libyan war unconstitutional?
Some members of Congress think so. Rep. Scott Ringell, a freshman from Virginia, said that the Libya hostilities “should trigger a debate within Congress and [among] the American people about proper interpretation and application of [the] Constitution. I’m surprised more conservatives aren’t speaking out about this issue.” Some Democrats have spoken out questioning the validity of the action. In the past, Senators Obama and Biden both said the president lacks the authority to do what President Obama has done.
The question of the constitutionality of the Libyan effort depends on the original public meaning of Article I, section 8 of the Constitution. Vice President (then Senator) Joseph Biden recalled that meaning in a speech on the Senate floor on July 30, 1998. He noted that the original draft of the Constitution would have empowered Congress to “make war.” James Madison and Elbridge Gerry moved that the language be changed to “declare war” so that the president would have the power “to repel sudden attacks.” Biden pointed out that only one framer, Pierce Butler of South Carolina, thought the president should have the power to initiate war.
Biden concluded that under the Constitution, the president could not use force without prior authorization unless it was necessary to “repel a sudden attack.” Presidential candidate Barack Obama agreed in 2007: “the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Senator Biden also expounded on the framers’ reasons for limiting presidential discretion:
The rationale for vesting the power to launch war in Congress was simple. The Framers’ views were dominated by their experience with the British King, who had unfettered power to start wars. Such powers the Framers were determined to deny the President.
Of course, in 1998 and today, some claim the president has broad powers to initiate and carry on war under the “executive power” and the commander-in-chief clauses of Article II. But the framers rejected this “monarchist view” of the presidency.
The framers of the Constitution knew that the English king possessed certain prerogatives or discretionary powers to act for the public interest. Among these prerogatives was the power to declare war. He could also carry on undeclared wars. Yet the framers explicitly gave Congress the power to declare war. Apart from repelling sudden attacks, the Constitution is silent on the president’s power to conduct undeclared wars. Read against the English background, the text of the Constitution creates a constrained executive for the new nation.
What does this history imply for the present? President Obama told Congress that the use of force in Libya was intended “to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya.” But the framers did not empower the president to initiate war to prevent humanitarian catastrophes, deal with threats to international peace and security, or protect the lives of foreign nationals. The framers stated that the Constitution was instituted to provide for the common defense of We, the People, not the defense of people everywhere.
They did recognize a limited power to repel sudden attacks. The Libyan regime did not suddenly attack the United States or its citizens. There is nothing to repel. America’s war in Libya thus cannot be constitutional.
What now? The Supreme Court is unlikely to invalidate presidential actions in Libya. The task of vindicating the Constitution falls to Congress. It needs to hear from its conservatives, those who believe in the original meaning of the Constitution. Congress also needs to hear from its liberals, those who believe what Senators Biden and Obama once said about presidential power. Together members of Congress could finally live up to their constitutional obligations and impose restraints on a president who has become too much of a king.
John Samples directs the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government and is the author of The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History.
The Complete Chronology of the Benghazi Deception
by PETER KIRSANOW
March 2011: U.S. secretly approves arms shipments from Qatar to Libyan rebels.
May 2011: Al-Qaeda flags raised over Benghazi. November 2011: Rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi admits a significant number of Libyan rebels were al-Qaeda fighters who fought American troops in Iraq.
April 19, 2012: State Department rejects ambassador to Libya’s request for more security personnel.
June 20, 2012: Assassination attempt on the British Ambassador to Libya.
July 9, 2012: Ambassador Stevens asks the State Department for more security personnel.
August 8, 2012: The number of security personnel at Benghazi reduced by State Department.
August 16, 2012: U.S. Site Security in Benghazi alerts the State Department that conditions are perilous. September 4, 2012: Gallup presidential tracking poll: Obama 47 percent; Romney 46 percent. September 4–6, 2012: Democratic National Convention (“al-Qaeda decimated; bin Laden is dead and GM is alive; al-Qaeda is on the run”).
September 11, 2012: Ambassador Stevens alerts the State Department that conditions in Benghazi are deteriorating.
3:40 p.m. (D.C. time): Stevens calls deputy chief of mission Greg Hicks in Tripoli and alerts him that the consulate in Benghazi is under attack.
4:00 p.m.: The White House is advised that the consulate is under attack. 10th Special Forces Group in Croatia is three hours away; Brigadier General (Ret.) Robert Lovell, Deputy Director of Intelligence for AFRICOM, later testifies that intelligence knew immediately that it was not a protest but a terrorist attack; no request for aid comes from the State Department.
5:00 p.m.: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discusses attack with President Obama.
6:00 p.m.: U.S. Embassy in Tripoli advises the White House and the State Department that al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Sharia has claimed responsibility for the attack. CIA deputy director Mike Morrell later testifies that “analysts knew from the get-go that al Qaeda was involved with this attack.”
8:00 p.m.: Greg Hicks calls Clinton and tells her that consulate is under terrorist attack.
10:00 p.m.: Clinton and Obama talk.
10:30 p.m.: Clinton issues a statement linking the attack to an inflammatory internet video.
11:00–11:30 p.m.: Former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Ty Woods killed.
September 12, 2012: Redacted e-mail from a State Department official says the official advised the Libyan government that the attack was carried out by Ansar al-Sharia. No mention of video.
September 12–15, 2012: CIA drafts several iterations of talking points; contains no known references to video as cause of the attack.
September 13, 2012: State Department memo blames the attack on terrorists.
September 13, 2012: Defense Intelligence Agency assigns blame for the attack on Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. No mention of a video.
September 13, 2012: Clinton condemns violence against U.S. consulate in Libya due to a video. September 13, 2012: Jay Carney condemns attack due to a video.
September 14, 2012: State Department says the attack was a spontaneous demonstration due to a video.
September 14, 2012: Obama and Clinton receive the families of the fallen as their caskets arrive at Andrews Air Force Base; blame the attack on a video. Clinton tells Ty Woods’s father, Charles, that they will “get” the producer of the video.
September 14, 2012: Jay Carney blames the video.
September 14, 2012, 8:00 p.m.: Deputy national-security adviser Ben Rhodes sends an e-mail regarding the preparation of Susan Rice for the Sunday talk shows, advising Rice to underscore the video and that the attack is “not a broader failure of policy.” September 15, 2012: Obama blames the video.
September 16, 2012: Susan Rice appears on five Sunday talk shows and characterizes the attacks as a spontaneous reaction due to a video. September 16, 2012: Libyan president disputes Rice’s comments, asserting Benghazi was a planned attack.
September 18, 2012: Obama appears on the David Letterman show, blames the video.
September 19, 2012: The head of the National Counterterrorism Center testifies that the attack was not a protest but a terrorist attack.
September 20, 2012: Obama blames the video. September 20, 2012: Obama and Clinton run an ad on Pakistani TV apologizing for the video.
September 21, 2012: Clinton says it was a terrorist attack.
September 24, 2012: Obama appears on The View, blames the video.
October 4, 2012: Clinton establishes the Accountability Review Board (“ARB”) to examine the circumstances surrounding the loss of personnel in Benghazi. Clinton not interviewed by ARB.
October 11, 2012: At the vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden claims the administration was not informed about requests for more security at the consulate in Benghazi.
October 16, 2012: Obama, in a response to a question from a reporter about whether he denied requests for aid to Benghazi on September 11 responds, “The minute I found out this was going on, I gave three directives. Number one, make sure we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we are going to investigate exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so that we can bring them to justice.”
October 18, 2012: Judicial Watch makes a Freedom of Information Act request to the administration for talking points and communications regarding the events in Benghazi. The administration ignores the request.
October 20, 2012: Obama claims that he was not aware of any requests for additional security in Benghazi.
January 23, 2013: Clinton asks, “What difference, at this point, does it make whether it was a terrorist attack or a spontaneous demonstration?”
June 21, 2013: Judicial Watch sues the administration for unlawfully withholding documents pertaining to Benghazi.
July 25, 2013: Obama slams the “endless parade of distractions, political posturing, and phony scandals.”
August 2013: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requests Benghazi e-mails. The Ben Rhodes e-mail is not among those produced.
April 18, 2014: Federal court orders the administration to turn over documents to Judicial Watch. 41 documents are released, including the Ben Rhodes e-mail.
May 1, 2014: Tommy Vietor tells Fox News the president was not in the Situation Room on September 11, 2012.
May 2, 2014: Speaker John Boehner announces a vote to form a select committee on Benghazi.
May 4, 2014: Representative Adam Schiff (D.., Calif.), member of the House Intelligence Committee, suggests Democrats boycott the House select committee as a “colossal waste of time.”
May 5, 2014: Carney will not say whether White House will cooperate with the select committee. (Clearly, much remains to be filled in by the select committee. Numerous questions and lines of inquiry are prompted by the above. The chronology is based on congressional testimony and reports from, among others, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the New York Times, the New York Post and Fox News, and the reporting of Steve Hayes and Jennifer Griffin.)
The long road from “spontaneous protest” to premeditated terrorist attack.
- By Eugene Kiely
- Posted on October 26, 2012 | Updated on May 2, 2014
The question won’t go away: Did President Obama and administration officials mislead the public when they initially claimed that the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi began “spontaneously” in response to an anti-Muslim video?
The question surfaced again on Oct. 25 — more than six weeks after the incident — when government emails showed the White House and the State Department were told even as the attack was going on that Ansar al-Sharia, a little-known militant group, had claimed credit for it.
We cannot say whether the administration was intentionally misleading the public. We cannot prove intent. There is also more information to come — both from the FBI, which is conducting an investigation, and Congress, which has been holding hearings.
But, at this point, we do know that Obama and others in the administration were quick to cite the anti-Muslim video as the underlying cause for the attack in Benghazi that killed four U.S. diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. And they were slow to acknowledge it was a premeditated terrorist attack, and they downplayed reports that it might have been.
What follows is a timeline of events that we hope will help put the incident into perspective. We call attention in particular to these key facts:
- There were no protesters at the Benghazi consulate prior to the attack, even though Obama and others repeatedly said the attackers joined an angry mob that had formed in opposition to the anti-Muslim film that had triggered protests in Egypt and elsewhere. The State Department disclosed this fact Oct. 9 — nearly a month after the attack.
- Libya President Mohamed Magariaf insisted on Sept. 16 — five days after the attack — that it was a planned terrorist attack, but administration officials continued for days later to say there was no evidence of a planned attack.
- Magariaf also said the idea that the attack was a “spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous.” This, too, was on Sept. 16. Yet, Obama and others continued to describe the incident in exactly those terms — including during the president’s Sept. 18 appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman.”
- Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, was the first administration official to call it “a terrorist attack” during a Sept. 19 congressional hearing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did the same on Sept. 20. Even so, Obama declined opportunities to call it a terrorist attack when asked at a town hall meeting on Sept. 20 and during a taping of “The View” on Sept. 24.
Here is our timeline:
Sept. 11: The Attack
2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (8:30 p.m. 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.”)
3 p.m.: Ambassador Stevens retires to his bedroom for the evening. (See Oct. 9 briefing.)
Approximately 3:40 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.”
About 4 p.m.: This is the approximate time of attack that was given to reporters at a Sept. 12 State Department background briefing. An administration official identified only as “senior administration official one” provides an official timeline of events at the consulate, but only from the time of the attack — not prior to the attack. The official says, “The compound where our office is in Benghazi began taking fire from unidentified Libyan extremists.” (Six of the next seven entries in this timeline — through 8:30 p.m. EDT — all come from the Sept. 12 briefing. The exception being the 6:07 p.m. entry, which comes from Reuters.)
About 4:15 p.m.: “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.”
Between 4:15 p.m.-4:45 p.m.: Sean Smith is found dead.
About 4:45 p.m.: “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.”
About 5:20 p.m.: “U.S. and Libyan security personnel … regain the main building and they were able to secure it.”
Around 6 p.m.: “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.”
6:07 p.m.: The State Department’s Operations Center sends an email to the White House, Pentagon, FBI and other government agencies that said Ansar al-Sharia has claimed credit for the attack on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. (The existence of the email was not disclosed until Reuters reported it on Oct. 24.)
About 8:30 p.m.: “Libyan security forces were able to assist us in regaining control of the situation. At some point in all of this – and frankly, we do not know when – we believe that Ambassador Stevens got out of the building and was taken to a hospital in Benghazi. We do not have any information what his condition was at that time. His body was later returned to U.S. personnel at the Benghazi airport.”
About 10:00 p.m.: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issues a statement confirming that one State official was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Her statement, which MSNBC posted at 10:32 p.m., made reference to the anti-Muslim video.
Clinton: 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.
Sept.12: Obama Labels Attack ‘Act of Terror,’ Not ‘Terrorism’
Sept. 12: Clinton issues a statement confirming that four U.S. officials, not one, had been killed. She called it a “violent attack.”
Clinton: All the Americans we lost in yesterday’s attacks made the ultimate sacrifice. We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future.
Sept. 12: Clinton delivers a speech at the State Department to condemn the attack in Benghazi and to praise the victims as “heroes.” She again makes reference to the anti-Muslim video in similar language.
Clinton: Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear — there is no justification for this, none.
Sept. 12: Obama delivers a morning speech in the Rose Garden to address the deaths of U.S. diplomats in Libya. He said, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” He also makes reference to the anti-Muslim video when he says: “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.” He uses the term “act of terror” later that night when talking about the attack at a campaign event in Las Vegas.
Sept. 12: After his Rose Garden speech, Obama tapes an interview for “60 Minutes.” Obama says he didn’t use the word “terrorism” in his Rose Garden speech because “it’s too early to know exactly how this came about.” Steve Kroft, the show’s host, wonders how the attack could be described as a “mob action” since the attackers were “very heavily armed.” Obama says “we’re still investigating,” but he suspects “folks involved in this . . . were looking to target Americans from the start.”
Kroft: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya attack.
Kroft: Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?
Obama: Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans and we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice one way or the other.
Kroft: It’s been described as a mob action. But there are reports that they were very heavily armed with grenades. That doesn’t sound like your normal demonstration.
Obama: As I said, we’re still investigating exactly what happened. I don’t want to jump the gun on this. But you’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt. And my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this, who were looking to target Americans from the start.
Sept. 12: Senior administration officials, who did not permit use of their names, hold a briefing with reporters to answer questions about the attack. Twice officials characterize those involved in the attack as “extremists.” In one case, an official identified only as “senior administration official one” is asked by Fox News reporter Justin Fishel if the administration had ruled out the possibly that the attack was in response to the anti-Muslim video. The official says, “We just don’t know.”
Senior administration official one: With regard to whether there is any connection between this Internet activity and this extremist attack in Benghazi, frankly, we just don’t know. We’re not going to know until we have a chance to investigate. And I’m sorry that it is frustrating for you that so many of our answers are “We don’t know,” but they are truthful in that.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asks officials to address news reports that the attack has been “linked to a terror attack, an organized terror attack,” possibly al Qaeda. The official refers to it as a “complex attack,” but says it is “too early to say who they were” and their affiliation.
Senior administration official one: Frankly, we are not in a position to speak any further to the perpetrators of this attack. It was clearly a complex attack. We’re going to have to do a full investigation. We are committed to working with the Libyans both on the investigation and to ensure that we bring the perpetrators to justice. The FBI is already committed to assisting in that, but I just – we’re – it’s just too early to speak to who they were and if they might have been otherwise affiliated beyond Libya.
Sept. 12, 4:09 p.m.: At a press briefing en route to Las Vegas, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is asked, “Does the White House believe that the attack in Benghazi was planned and premeditated?” He responds, “It’s too early for us to make that judgment. I think — I know that this is being investigated, and we’re working with the Libyan government to investigate the incident. So I would not want to speculate on that at this time.”
Sept. 12: Libya’s deputy ambassador to London, Ahmad Jibril, tells the BBC that Ansar al-Sharia was behind the attack. The little-known militant group issues a statement that says it “didn’t participate as a sole entity,” neither confirming nor denying the report.
Sept. 12, 6:06 p.m.: Beth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Near East, sends an email to top State Department officials that reads in part: “[T]he group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic extremists.” (An excerpt of Jones’ email was read by Rep. Trey Gowdy at the May 8, 2013, House oversight hearing.)
Sept. 12: Citing unnamed “U.S. government officials,” Reuters reports that “the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance” and that members of Ansar al-Sharia “may have been involved.” Reuters quotes one of the U.S. officials as saying: “It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack.”
Sept. 13: ‘Clearly Planned’ or ‘Spontaneous’ Attack?
Sept. 13: Clinton meets with Ali Suleiman Aujali — the Libyan ambassador to the U.S. — at a State Department event to mark the end of Ramadan. Ambassador Aujali apologizes to Clinton for what he called “this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya.” Clinton, in her remarks, does not refer to it as a terrorist attack. She condemns the anti-Muslim video, but adds that there is “never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
Clinton: Religious freedom and religious tolerance are essential to the stability of any nation, any people. Hatred and violence in the name of religion only poison the well. All people of faith and good will know that the actions of a small and savage group in Benghazi do not honor religion or God in any way. Nor do they speak for the more than 1 billion Muslims around the world, many of whom have shown an outpouring of support during this time.
Unfortunately, however, over the last 24 hours, we have also seen violence spread elsewhere. Some seek to justify this behavior as a response to inflammatory, despicable material posted on the Internet. As I said earlier today, the United States rejects both the content and the message of that video. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. At our meeting earlier today, my colleague, the foreign minister of Morocco, said that all prophets should be respected because they are all symbols of our humanity, for all humanity.
But both of us were crystal clear in this paramount message: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind. And we look to leaders around the world to stand up and speak out against violence, and to take steps to protect diplomatic missions from attack.
Sept. 13: At a daily press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was asked if the Benghazi attack was “purely spontaneous or was premeditated by militants.” She declined to say, reiterating that the administration did not want to “jump to conclusions.”
Nuland: Well, as we said yesterday when we were on background, we are very cautious about drawing any conclusions with regard to who the perpetrators were, what their motivations were, whether it was premeditated, whether they had any external contacts, whether there was any link, until we have a chance to investigate along with the Libyans. So I know that’s going to be frustrating for you, but we really want to make sure that we do this right and we don’t jump to conclusions.
That said, obviously, there are plenty of people around the region citing this disgusting video as something that has been motivating. As the Secretary said this morning, while we as Americans, of course, respect free speech, respect free expression, there’s never an excuse for it to become violent.
Sept. 13: Clinton met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani. She condemned what she called the “disgusting and reprehensible” anti-Muslim video and the violence that it triggered. She said, “Islam, like other religions, respects the fundamental dignity of human beings, and it is a violation of that fundamental dignity to wage attacks on innocents. As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of religion, the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.”
Sept. 13: At a campaign event in Colorado, Obama again uses the phrase “act of terror.” He says: “I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.”
Sept. 13: CNN reports that unnamed “State Department officials” say the incident in Benghazi was a “clearly planned military-type attack” unrelated to the anti-Muslim movie.
CNN: “It was not an innocent mob,” one senior official said. “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.”
Sept. 14: White House Says No Evidence of Planned Attack
Sept. 14: Clinton spoke at Andrews Air Force Base at a ceremony to receive the remains of those killed in Benghazi. She remarked that she received a letter from the president of the Palestinian Authority praising Stevens and “deploring — and I quote — ‘an act of ugly terror.’ ” She, however, did not call it an act of terror or a terrorist attack and neither did the president.
Sept. 14: At a State Department press briefing, spokeswoman Nuland says the department will no longer answer any questions about the Benghazi attack. “It is now something that you need to talk to the FBI about, not to us about, because it’s their investigation.”
Sept. 14: At a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Carney denies reports that it was a preplanned attack. “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.” Later in that same briefing, Carney is told that Pentagon officials informed members of Congress at a closed-door meeting that the Benghazi attack was a planned terrorist attack. Carney said the matter is being investigated but White House officials “don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this was not in reaction to the film.”
Question: Jay, one last question — while we were sitting here — [Defense] Secretary [Leon] Panetta and the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee. And the senators came out and said their indication was that this, or the attack on Benghazi was a terrorist attack organized and carried out by terrorists, that it was premeditated, a calculated act of terror. Levin said — Senator Levin — I think it was a planned, premeditated attack. The kind of equipment that they had used was evidence it was a planned, premeditated attack. Is there anything more you can — now that the administration is briefing senators on this, is there anything more you can tell us?
Carney: Well, I think we wait to hear from administration officials. Again, it’s actively under investigation, both the Benghazi attack and incidents elsewhere. And my point was that we don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this was not in reaction to the film. But we’re obviously investigating the matter, and I’ll certainly — I’m sure both the Department of Defense and the White House and other places will have more to say about that as more information becomes available.
Sept. 14: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets with the Senate Armed Services Committee. Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, reports that Republicans and Democrats came away with the conclusion that the Benghazi attack was a planned terrorist attack.
The Hill: Senators spoke with Panetta about the response to the situation in Libya. Four Americans were killed in an attack Tuesday on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Senators said it has become clearer the attack was coordinated, although they would not say anything specific about any connection to the broader protests that came after an anti-Muslim video was released.
“I think it was a planned, premeditated attack,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said. He added he did not know the specific group responsible for the assault on the complex.
[Sen. John] McCain expressed a similar view.“People don’t go to demonstrate and carry RPGs and automatic weapons,” he said, adding that the facts suggest “this was not a ‘mob’ action [or] a group of protesters.”
Sept. 15-16: Susan Rice Contradicts Libyan President
Sept. 15: Obama discusses the Benghazi attack in his weekly address. He makes no mention of terror, terrorists or extremists. He does talk about the anti-Muslim film and “every angry mob” that it inspired in pockets of the Middle East.
Obama: This tragic attack [in Benghazi] takes place at a time of turmoil and protest in many different countries. I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths. We stand for religious freedom. And we reject the denigration of any religion — including Islam.
Yet there is never any justification for violence. There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women. There is no excuse for attacks on our Embassies and Consulates.
Sept. 16: Libya President Mohamed Magariaf says on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the attack on the U.S. consulate was planned months in advance. But Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tells CBS News’ Bob Schieffer: “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.” She says it began “spontaneously … as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo,” and “extremist elements” joined in the protest. (It was later learned that Rice received her information from talking points developed by the CIA.)
Update, May 16, 2013: The talking points given to Rice were extensively revised, largely at the request of the State Department. The original CIA talking points said, “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” And they said that “[i]nitial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia.” References to al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia were removed. However, all of the drafts say the attack began “spontaneously” in response to the Cairo protest. Read our article “Benghazi Attack, Revisited” for more information on what changes were made to the talking points.
Update, May 2, 2014: Two days before Rice’s appearance on the Sunday talk show circuit, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes sent an email to other administration officials, including White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, with the subject line “PREP CALL with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.” Rhodes’ email outlined four “goals” for Rice’s TV appearances. One of the goals: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” The email contained a mock Q&A session, and the third question asked whether the Benghazi attack was “an intelligence failure.” The answer in the email parroted — nearly word for word — Rice’s talking points when it said: “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex.” The Rhodes email was released April 29 by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that obtained 41 State Department documents under the Freedom of Information Act.
Schieffer: Was this a long-planned attack, as far as you know? Or what– what do you know about that?
Magariaf: The way these perpetrators acted and moved … this leaves us with no doubt that this has preplanned, determined– predetermined.
Schieffer: And you believe that this was the work of al Qaeda and you believe that it was led by foreigners. Is that — is that what you are telling us?
Magariaf: It was planned — definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who — who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their — since their arrival. …
Schieffer: And joining us now, Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador, our U.N. ambassador. Madam Ambassador, [Magariaf] says this is something that has been in the planning stages for months. I understand you have been saying that you think it was spontaneous? Are we not on the same page here?
Rice: Bob, let me tell you what we understand to be the assessment at present. First of all, very importantly, as you discussed with the president, there is an investigation that the United States government will launch led by the FBI, that has begun and —
They are not on the ground yet, but they have already begun looking at all sorts of evidence of — of various sorts already available to them and to us. And they will get on the ground and continue the investigation. So we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.
But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy — sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that– in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.
Schieffer: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?
Rice: We do not– we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.
Schieffer: Do you agree or disagree with him that al Qaeda had some part in this?
Rice: Well, we’ll have to find out that out. I mean I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.
Sept. 16: Magariaf says in an interview with NPR: “The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous. We firmly believe that this was a precalculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. consulate.”
Sept. 17: State Defends Rice and ‘Initial Assessment’
Sept. 17: Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, is asked about Rice’s comments on “Face the Nation” and four other Sunday talk shows. Nuland says, “The comments that Ambassador Rice made accurately reflect our government’s initial assessment.” Nuland uses the phrase “initial assessment” three times when discussing Rice’s comments.
Sept. 18: Obama Says ‘Extremists’ Used Video As ‘Excuse’
Sept. 18: Obama was asked about the Benghazi attack on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The president said, “Here’s what happened,” and began discussing the impact of the anti-Muslim video. He then said, “Extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.” He also said, “As offensive as this video was and, obviously, we’ve denounced it and the United States government had nothing to do with it. That’s never an excuse for violence.”
Sept. 18: Asked about Magariaf’s assessment that the video had nothing to do with the terrorist attack in Benghazi, the White House spokesman says Obama “would rather wait” for the investigation to be completed. “But at this time, as Ambassador Rice said and as I said, our understanding and our belief based on the information we have is it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo, and the video and the unrest in Cairo that helped — that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi and elsewhere,” Carney says. “What other factors were involved is a matter of investigation.”
Sept. 18: After meeting with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Patricia Espinosa, Clinton speaks with reporters and is asked if the Libyan president is “wrong” that “this attack was planned for months.” Clinton says, “The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has said we had no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent.” She does not say if Magariaf is right or wrong.
Sept. 19: Olsen Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 19: Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, tells a Senate subcommittee (at 1:06:49 in the video) that the four State Department officials in Benghazi “were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.” It is the first time an administration official labeled it a “terrorist attack.” But he also tells the senators that he has no “specific evidence of significant advanced planning.”
Olsen: Yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy. … The best information we have now, the facts that we have now, indicate that this was an opportunist attack on our embassy. The attack began and evolved and escalated over several hours. … [I]t appears that individuals who were certainly well armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded. … What we don’t have, at this point, is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack.
Sept. 19: At a State Department briefing, the department spokeswoman is asked if she now believes that the attack was a “terrorist attack”? She says, “Well, I didn’t get a chance to see the whole testimony that was given by Matt Olsen of the NCTC, but obviously we stand by comments made by our intelligence community who has first responsibility for evaluating the intelligence and what they believe that we are seeing.”
Sept. 19: The White House spokesman does not call it a “terrorist attack” in his press briefing. Carney says, “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.”
Sept. 20: W.H. Spokesman Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’ — Not Obama
Sept. 20: Carney calls it a “terrorist attack” after being asked how the White House now classifies the attack. But he says the White House has no evidence that it was “a significantly preplanned attack” and blames the video for igniting the incident in Benghazi.
Carney: It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that’s self-evident. I would point you to a couple of things that Mr. Olsen said, which is that at this point it appears that a number of different elements were involved in the attack, including individuals connected to militant groups that are prevalent in Eastern Libya.
He also made clear that at this point, based on the information he has — and he is briefing the Hill on the most up-to-date intelligence — we have no information at this point that suggests that this was a significantly preplanned attack, but this was the result of opportunism, taking advantage of and exploiting what was happening as a result of reaction to the video that was found to be offensive.
Sept. 20: Obama, at a town hall meeting, says “extremists” took advantage of the “natural protests” to the anti-Muslim video to attack the consulate in Benghazi. He does not call it a “terrorist attack.”
Question: We have reports that the White House said today that the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack. Do you have information indicating that it was Iran, or al Qaeda was behind organizing the protests?
Obama: 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.
Sept. 21: Clinton Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 21: Clinton, speaking to reporters before a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, calls it a “terrorist attack” for the first time. She says, “Yesterday afternoon when I briefed the Congress, I made it clear that keeping our people everywhere in the world safe is our top priority. What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans.”
Sept. 24-25: Obama Refuses to Call It a Terrorist Attack
Sept. 24: Clinton meets with the Libyan president and calls the Benghazi attack a “terrorist assault.” She says, “As we all know, the United States lost a great ambassador and the Libyan people lost a true friend when Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the terrorist assault on our consulate in Benghazi.”
Sept. 24: Obama tapes an appearance on “The View,” and he’s asked by co-host Joy Behar whether the Libya attack was an act of terrorism or caused by the anti-Muslim video. He does not call it a terrorist attack and says, “We’re still doing an investigation.”
Joy Behar: It was reported that people just went crazy and wild because of this anti-Muslim movie, or anti-Muhammad, I guess, movie. But then I heard Hillary Clinton say that it was an act of terrorism. Is it? What do you say?
Obama: Well, we’re still doing an investigation. There’s no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action. Now, we don’t have all the information yet, so we’re still gathering it. But what’s clear is that around the world, there’s still a lot of threats out there. That’s why we have to maintain the strongest military in the world, that’s why we can’t let down our guard when it comes to the intelligence work that we do and staying on top of — not just al Qaeda, the traditional al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. …
Sept. 25: Obama speaks at the United Nations. He praises Chris Stevens as “the best of America” and condemns the anti-Muslim video as “crude and disgusting.” He does not describe the Benghazi attack as a terrorist attack.
Sept. 26: ‘Let’s Be Clear, It Was a Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 26: Carney is asked at a press briefing aboard Air Force One en route to Ohio why the president has not called the Benghazi incident a “terrorist attack.” He said, “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.”
Sept. 26: Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, in an interview with Al Jazeera, is asked whether he agrees with the president of Libya that the Benghazi attack was premeditated and had nothing to do with the anti-Muslim video. He said: “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. But I’m confident we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
Sept. 27: When Did Administration Know?
Sept. 27: At a press briefing, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that “it was a terrorist attack,” but declines to say when he came to that conclusion. “It took a while to really get some of the feedback from what exactly happened at that location,” he said. “As we determined the details of what took place there, and how that attack took place, that it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack.”
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the same briefing addresses what the U.S. knew in advance of the Benghazi attack. He says there was “a thread of intelligence reporting that groups in … eastern Libya were seeking to coalesce, but there wasn’t anything specific and certainly not a specific threat to the consulate that I’m aware of.”
Sept. 27: In a report on “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees,” Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush, says the administration knew early on that it was a terrorist attack. “The law enforcement source who said to me, from day one we had known clearly that this was a terrorist attack,” she says.
Sept. 27-28: Intelligence ‘Evolved’
Sept. 27: The White House spokesman is asked yet again why the president has refused to call the incident a terrorist attack. “The president’s position [is] that this was a terrorist attack,” Carney says.
Question: If the president does not call it, label it a terrorist attack as you and others have, is there some legal or diplomatic trigger that that brings? Why hasn’t he said that?
Carney: I think you’re misunderstanding something here. I’m the president’s spokesman. When the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matt Olsen, in open testimony in Congress answered a question by saying yes, by the definitions we go by — this is me paraphrasing — this was a terrorist attack — I echoed that, because this president, this administration, everybody looks to the intelligence community for the assessments on this. And it has been since I said so, the president’s position that this was a terrorist attack.
Sept. 28: Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, says in a statement that the office’s position on the attack evolved. It was first believed that “the attack began spontaneously,” but it was later determined that “it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack,” he says.
Turner: In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available. Throughout our investigation we continued to emphasize that information gathered was preliminary and evolving.
As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate.
Oct. 2-3: Clinton Cites ‘Continuing Questions’
Oct. 2: White House spokesman Carney at a press briefing in Nevada: “At every step of the way, the administration has based its public statements on the best assessments that were provided by the intelligence community. As the intelligence community learned more information they updated Congress and the American people on it.”
Oct. 3: Clinton tells reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov: “There are continuing questions about what exactly happened in Benghazi on that night three weeks ago. And we will not rest until we answer those questions and until we track down the terrorists who killed our people.”
Oct. 9: ‘Everything Calm’ Prior to Benghazi Attack, No Protests
Oct. 9: At a background briefing, senior state department officials reveal there were no protests prior to the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi — contrary to what administration officials have been saying for weeks. A senior department official says “everything is calm at 8:30 p.m.” (Libya time) when Stevens was outside the building to bid a visitor goodbye. The ambassador retired to his bedroom for the evening at 9 p.m. The calm was shattered by 9:40 p.m. when “loud noises” and “gunfire and an explosion” are heard. (The background briefing provided on Sept. 12 also said the attack began at about 10 p.m., or about 4 p.m. EDT, but it did not provide information about what happened prior to the attack.)
A senior official says it was “not our conclusion” that the Benghazi attack started as a spontaneous protest to the anti-Muslim video. He also said “there was no actionable intelligence of any planned or imminent attack.”
Question: What in all of these events that you’ve described led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?
Senior state department official two: That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion. I’m not saying that we had a conclusion, but we outlined what happened. The Ambassador walked guests out around 8:30 or so, there was no one on the street at approximately 9:40, then there was the noise and then we saw on the cameras the – a large number of armed men assaulting the compound.
Oct. 10: Administration Says It Gave Public ‘Best Information’
Oct. 10: Carney, the White House spokesman, is asked at a press briefing why the president and administration officials described the anti-Muslim video as the underlying cause of the attack on Benghazi when the State Department “never concluded that the assault in Benghazi was part of a protest on the anti-Muslim film.” He replied, in part: “Again, from the beginning, we have provided information based on the facts that we knew as they became available, based on assessments by the intelligence community — not opinions — assessments by the IC, by the intelligence community. And we have been clear all along that this was an ongoing investigation, that as more facts became available we would make you aware of them as appropriate, and we’ve done that.”
Oct. 10: After testifying before a House committee, Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy is asked at a press briefing what the State Department should have done differently in releasing information about the Benghazi attack. He said, “We are giving out the best information we have at the time.”
Kennedy: [T]his is obviously an incredibly complicated situation. We’ve always made clear from the very beginning that we are giving out the best information we have at the time we are giving it out. That information has evolved over time. For example, if any Administration official, including any career official, had been on television on Sunday, September 16th, they would have said the same thing that Ambassador Rice would have said. She had information at that point from the intelligence community, and that is the same information I had and this – I would have made exactly the same points. Clearly, we know more today, but we knew what we knew when we knew it.
Oct. 10: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform releases State Department memos requesting additional security in Libya. Charlene Lamb, a State Department official who denied those requests, tells the committee that the State Department had been training local Libyans for nearly a year and additional U.S. security personnel were not needed. As reported by Foreign Policy: “We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi on the night of 9/11,” Lamb testified. Others testified differently. “All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources,” testified Eric Nordstrom, the top regional security officer in Libya over the summer, Foreign Policy reported.
Oct. 15: Clinton Blames ‘Fog of War’
Oct. 15: Clinton, in an interview on CNN, blamed the “fog of war” when asked why the administration initially claimed the attack began with the anti-Muslim video, even though the State Department never reached that conclusion. “In the wake of an attack like this in the fog of war, there’s always going to be confusion, and I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence,” Clinton said. “Everyone who spoke tried to give the information they had. As time has gone on, the information has changed, we’ve gotten more detail, but that’s not surprising. That always happens.”
Oct. 15: The New York Times reports that the Benghazi attack came “without any warning or protest,” but “Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers” say it was “in retaliation for the video.”
Oct. 24: White House, State Department Emails on Ansar al-Sharia
Oct. 24: Reuters reports the White House, Pentagon and other government agencies learned just two hours into the Benghazi attack that Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamic militant group, had “claimed credit” for it. The wire service report was based on three emails from the State Department’s Operations Center. One of the emails said, “Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripol.” The article also noted, “Intelligence experts caution that initial reports from the scene of any attack or disaster are often inaccurate.” (It should be noted that Reuters first reported on Sept. 12 that unnamed U.S. officials believed that Ansar al-Sharia may have been involved.)
Oct. 24: Clinton warns at a press conference that you cannot draw conclusions from the leaked emails because “cherry-picking one story here or one document there” can be misleading. She said, “The independent Accountability Review Board is already hard at work looking at everything — not cherry-picking one story here or one document there — but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this. Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be.”
Oct. 24: Carney, the White House spokesman, says that “within a few hours” of the attack Ansar al-Sharia “claimed that it had not been responsible.” He added, “Neither should be taken as fact — that’s why there’s an investigation underway.”
May 8, 2013: At a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, Rep. Trey Gowdy reads excerpts of a Sept. 12, 2011, email written by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Beth Jones. According to Gowdy, Jones wrote, “I spoke to the Libyan ambassador and emphasized the importance of Libyan leaders to continue to make strong statements,” and “When he said his government suspected that former Qaddafi regime elements carried out the attack, I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic extremists.” Gowdy said the email was sent to several top State Department officials, including Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy. The committee did not release the full contents of the email. House Speaker John Boehner said the State Department did not allow the House to keep a copy of it.)
May 15, 2013: The White House releases 100 pages of emails regarding the CIA’s original talking points that were developed for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice during her Sept. 16 Sunday talk show appearances. The emails show there were extensive changes made at the request of the State Department. (See “Sept. 16″ in our timeline for more information.)
Update, Nov. 6, 2012: This article was updated to add the president’s Sept. 12 interview with “60 Minutes,” which did not release the video and transcript until Nov. 4.
Update, May 9, 2013: This article was updated to include testimony from the May 8, 2013, hearing of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.
— by Eugene Kiely
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