Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.
Three emails were obtained.
The first email, timed at 4:05 p.m. Washington time – or 10:05 p.m. Benghazi time, 20-30 minutes after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission allegedly began – carried the subject line “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” and the notation “SBU”, meaning “Sensitive But Unclassified.”
The text said the State Department’s regional security office had reported that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi was “under attack. Embassy in Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well.”
The message continued: “Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four … personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.”
A second email, headed “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi” and timed 4:54 p.m. Washington time, said that the Embassy in Tripoli had reported that “the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared.” It said a “response team” was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel.
A third email, also marked SBU and sent at 6:07 p.m. Washington time, carried the subject line: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”
The message reported: “Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”
Were these just a few emails lost in the rush? Nope. According to the Examiner:
“Fox is told that approximately 300-400 national security figures received these emails in real time almost as the raid was playing out and concluding,” van Susteren added. One of the addresses that received the emails “is the White House Situation address,” she said.
What else do we need to know? Hundreds received these emails, including the White House situation room. There’s no room for confusion. Immediate reports did not suggest a spontaneous protest to a YouTube video. They clearly indicated a terrorist attack.
While I have a hard time calling anyone a liar, it’s getting harder and harder to come up with plausible excuses for how the White House could possibly have maintained in all honesty a position that the attack in Benghazi, which they watched through military drones, was a reaction to the YouTube video. It’s getting nigh impossible to come up with any possible explanation other than utter incompetence or dishonesty. For all Obama’s bluster in Monday night’s debate about “one thing [he] learned” is the need as Commmander-in-Chief to send clear messages and avoid changing positions, his record on this point is disastrously inept.
With this information, how can the White House get to a place where it blames an irrelevant YouTube video for 2 weeks rather than saying it was a terrorist attack? How can it send out the UN ambassador to perpetuate this story with such certitude?
While officials did [early on] mention the possible involvement of “extremists,” they did not lay blame on any specific militant groups or possible links to al Qaeda or its affiliates until intelligence officials publicly alleged that on September 28.
It would be one thing to come out and say “we just don’t know what happened, we are investigating and will let you know when we know something.” But it’s clearly another to blame a cause the evidence before you indicates is wrong.
Here’s CBS’ video report:
If, as this report suggests, the president really thought terrorists were behind the attack, why didn’t the administration slow down and say they just didn’t know? Why take such a definitive position contradicted by the evidence?
Something’s really off here, and the president needs to come clean. Was it that the White House truly believed the CIA report mentioned by the Washington Post that suggested the Benghazi attack was a result of the video? If so is this a case of willingly believing the story that suits you best despite significant evidence to the contrary? What does it say about the president or his administration that he’s willing to ignore facts staring him in the face? My bottom line is that it’s getting tougher to find ways to let the White House off the hook here.
About Paul Johnson:
Paul Johnson is an attorney for venture capitalists and their portfolio companies by day, husband and father of three teenage boys by night. He’s an avid supporter of Mitt Romney for president and, as a graduate of Brigham Young University, a BYU football and basketball fan. Paul also enjoys competing in triathlons. Because he’s in the “Clydesdale” (over 200 lb.) class, he has even had podium finishes from time to time. Paul also has the distinction of being a big enough U2 fan to be willing to travel to Dublin to see them in their native environment.