Did Obama Spin the Benghazi Attack?

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Esam Al-Fetori / Reuters

A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States September 11, 2012

UPDATED 9:20 a.m. 9/28/12

The perpetrators behind the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, had been looking for an opportunity to attack U.S. facilities in the region for some time, according to an Obama Administration official familiar with the latest intelligence

However, the Administration continues to believe the attack was not pre-planned, but rather was the result of extremists seizing the opportunity presented by protests in neighboring Egypt against an American-made anti-Islamic video.

Members of the Benghazi al-Qaeda affiliate, Ansar al Sharia, “Saw the events in Cairo and took it upon themselves to seize that opportunity to do something,” the Administration official says. “They may have intended for some time to attack U.S. facilities, but they did so at the time they did to take advantage of Cairo.”

(PHOTOS: Protests Rage in Middle East, Sparked by Anti-Islamic Film)

The best evidence supporting the idea that the attack was cooked up on the fly, the Administration official says, is that it was seven hours into the assault before mortars were used by the attackers. “Their most lethal weapon wasn’t used until 7 hours in, and I think that’s an important data point that speaks to the fact that this was opportunistic and developed over time. They went and they got their buddies and they got their most lethal weapons and they brought it to bear. And ultimately that contributed to the lethality of the attack.”

The picture that is emerging of the attack is substantially different from what appeared in the first hours. News reports and some administration officials initially described the Benghazi attack as “spontaneous” and likened it to the disorganized protests that had started hours earlier at the American embassy in Cairo.

Now the Administration is saying the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist operation by an al Qaeda affiliate and that there may not have been any protests at the Benghazi consulate the day of the attack. “The most credible assessment is that there was not [a protest] ongoing at the time of the attack,” the official says. “That said there are other reports that there were protests in Benghazi and in other parts of the city that day.”

Congressional Republicans are accusing the Obama Administration of intentionally misleading Americans, and the issue has become the subject of intense debate just over a month before the presidential election.

As early as Sept. 12, there were reports of the involvement of extremists in the attack, including in the New York Times and elsewhere, and some official statements seem to reflect that reporting. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for example, said on Sept. 12, “Yesterday, our U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked. Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings.”

(MORE: Timeline: What Happened in Libya and How the U.S. Reacted)

The intelligence community briefed the President and other members of the Administration that the attack had been “spontaneous” or “opportunistic” in the early hours after it occurred. The following Saturday, ahead of a briefing on Capitol Hill, the intelligence community sent the following unclassified briefing points, obtained by Time, to members of Congress:

–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 diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex.  There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.

–This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated.

–The investigation is on-going, and the US Government is working with Libyan authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

The strongest evidence to support the Republican’s contention that the Administration was putting a positive spin on events came the following day, when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on the Sunday shows to discuss the Benghazi attack.

RICE: Based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is, in fact, what it 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.

MR. SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?

MS. RICE: We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or pre-planned.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Do you agree or disagree with him that al-Qaida had some part in this?

MS. RICE: Well, we’ll have to find that out. I mean, I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined and escalated the violence, whether they were al-Qaida affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremist or al-Qaida itself, I think, is one of the things we’ll have to determine.

Three days later, the head of the National Counter Terrorism Center, Matthew Olsen, when asked by Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security committee, whether Stevens died in a terrorist attack, was more direct:

“Certainly on that particular question, I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.”

Asked if it was preplanned, Olsen said,

A more complicated question, and one, Mr. Chairman, that we are spending a great deal of time looking at even as we speak. And it’s a — it’s a — obviously, an investigation here is ongoing and facts are being developed continually.

The best information we have now, the facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack on our embassy. The attack began and evolved and escalated over several hours at our embassy — our diplomatic post in Benghazi. It evolved and escalated over several hours.

It appears that individuals who were certainly well-armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded that evening and into the — into the morning hours of September 12th. We do know that a number of militants in the area, as I mentioned, are well-armed and maintain those arms. What we don’t have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack.

Again, we’re still developing facts and still looking for any indications of substantial advanced planning; we just haven’t seen that at this point.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Benghazi attack was linked to an al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa. “Now with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions… and they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions under way in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi.”

On Thursday, House Republicans sent a letter [pdf] to President Obama saying they were “disturbed by the public statements made by members of the Administration that would lead the American public to believe this attack was a protest gone wrong, rather than what it truly was.” Four GOP Senators wrote Rice saying, “By the date of your comments, it was already clear that the attack in Libya was a terrorist attack.”

Aside from the Administration’s initial representation of the attack, there are several important questions that remain:

-What was Stevens doing in Benghazi?

-Have any perpetrators been detained?

-Are they in American or Libyan custody, or in the custody of another power?

-Are they being questioned by U.S. officials?

Administration officials declined to answer.

UPDATE: Regarding Rice’s statements on Sept. 16, the spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Erin Pelton, says, “During her appearances on the Sunday talk shows September 16, 2012, Ambassador Rice’s comments were prefaced at every turn with a clear statement that an FBI investigation was underway that would provide the definitive accounting of the events that took place in Benghazi.  At every turn Ambassador Rice provided–and said she was providing–the best information and the best assessment that the Administration had at the time, based on what was provided to Ambassador Rice and other senior U.S. officials by the U.S. intelligence community.”

MORE: Agents of Outrage: Behind the Middle East’s Anti-American Violence

158 comments
louiscrane
louiscrane

So......on 9/11.  They all just happened upon the same video on youtube on their laptops coincidentally, on 9/11.....
While surfing the net... in Libya ... all at the same time ... coincidentally, on 9/11.....
But 9/11 didn't have anything to do with it......


tracydavisgop
tracydavisgop

President Obama deliberately mislead the American people regarding The Benghazi Terrorist attack, blaming the attack on a video to [protect his own political gains to get re-elected. It is so clear. He blamed the attack on the video on The View and even at the United Nations way after he knew it was an act of terrorism but it did not fit his campaign narrative that he had successfully crushed Al Quada.

Lydia
Lydia

This is way beyond spin.  This was a malicious attempt to deceive the American public and the press.  They knew the story, they lied about the story and tried desperately to throw shiny things out there hoping people would look the other way.  I voted for the President but have to say, I have never seen a more deceitful, manipulative President and administration since Nixon - I voted for him too.  Even though she only has few months left, Hillary Clinton should resign - now. 

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

Apart from Issa probe, President

Magarief  of Libya  has confirmed  deadly attack on US Consulate was 'pre-planned

act of terrorism,' not reaction over film.

Islamist protesters stormed the

U.S. Embassy in Egypt’s capital Tuesday, destroyed the American flag, and

replaced it with a black Islamist flag similar to the one used byAl-Qaeda — all on the 11th

anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In Cairo, mobs of angry protesters invaded the U.S. Embassy

compound, and at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, attackers killed four

Americans, including the ambassador.The Cairo mob lowered U.S. flags and

hoisted a black Islamic flag instead.

 How did the U.S. embassy respond? By

apologizing to the rioters for hurting “their religious feelings“:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by

misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”

And again, it was only after the speech of Obama at the UN, “The

future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” that Nakura,

the film maker was arrested. .

So, on the 11th anniversary of

9/11, rioting Egyptians stormed the American embassy, destroyed American flag,

and hoisted the Islamist flag — and Obama administration’s U.S. embassy apologizes for hurting their

feelings?

If this shocks you, you are not

alone. Many Americans expressed their outrage on Twitter and

other social mediums

  .

frankDtank
frankDtank

What exactly is Obama accused of doing? I know you right wing nuts think he is lying about the attacks, but to what end? What is he trying to gain? I don't see much difference between an angry mob with terrorists mixed in attacking the embassy, and an angry mob OF terrorists attacking the embassy.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Persnickety Romney FAILED to learn the precept of "noblesse oblige" while DRAFT DODGING in France. Every REALISTIC Repub concedes DEFEAT.  

 

Only President Obama and the DEMOCRATS PROTECT the MIDDLE CLASS.  

 

Get the VOTE OUT! GO BIG! VOTE THE DEMOCRATIC TICKET!

Nicodemuus
Nicodemuus

As a former Republican, I can tell you that they are hemorrhaging

traditional voters.   They have begun to resemble the phaerisees in the

Bible.  The people who act righteous on the outside, but it is all

appearance and  not real.  Pure and clean on the outside, full of

corruption on the inside

http://www.alecexposed.org/wik... 

Phaerisee
Phaerisee

As a former Republican, I can tell you that they are hemorrhaging

traditional voters.   They have begun to resemble the phaerisees in the Bible.  The

people who act righteous on the outside, but it is all appearance and

not real.  Pure and clean on the outside, full of corruption on the

inside

http://www.alecexposed.org/wik...

ahandout
ahandout

Why did Obama and Hillary and Rice lie about this for two weeks?  Could it be politics? They knew within 24 hours it was terrorism.  They even had suspects.

http://www.govexec.com/defense...

Three separate U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to The Daily

Beast said the early information was enough to show that the attack was

planned and the work of al Qaeda affiliates operating in Eastern Libya

... They said U.S. intelligence agencies developed leads on four of the

participants of the attacks within 24 hours of the fire fight that took

place mainly at an annex near the Benghazi consulate.

For one of those individuals, the U.S. agencies were able to find his

location after his use of social media. “We had two kinds of

intelligence on one guy,” this official said. “We believe we had enough

to target him.” Another U.S. intelligence official said, “There was very

good information on this in the first 24 hours. These guys have a

return address. There are camps of people and a wide variety of things

we could do.”

JohnSwifty Esquire
JohnSwifty Esquire

Did Masimo Calibresi spin the title to his piece and essentially abdicate any real attempt at this thing we used to call journalism?

We slant the title, and the facts...you decide.

Chris
Chris

More to the point, the vehicle that is spinning is main stream media outlets...

No matter what the pundits are pontificating, their lackeys will continue to do what is in their best interest... and keep the readership wanting. 

Attacks continue all over - on western world embassies - and many groups are taking credit - but we wont see the factual aspects of these important developments reported without clever censorship.

The loose organization of 9/11 anniversary blowbacks, the catalyst of the film, decades of oppressive western foreign policy, centuries of culture clash - are all consistent with each other - but hey why look for Occom's delight when you can divide and confuse, placate and incite.

Instead, the providence of media sophism is all that matters - to hell with your free thinking soul - its simply not allowed to be fed.

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

Benghazi attack is a terrorist attack to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.Obama's foreign policy is a total failure. He claimed that he has succeeded in vanquishing al-Qaeda. But on the streets of Cairo, Benghazi, Baghdad, Kabul, Tunis, Islamabad, and Damascus young boys are chanting, OBAMA! WE ARE THE OSAMAS.'  Yesterday  in Iraq, there was a massive prison break in which dozens of baddies broke out of a prison in Saddam Hussein’s hometown. The inmates, including suspected al Qaeda members, took control of the prison and then shot their way out, leaving 10 guards dead. 

Another stupidity of Obama is to make friends foes. Nixon opened the bamboo curtain by his historic visit to Beijing. Now Obama is flexing his muscles on China. Pakistan has been a friendly country right from its birth. During the Cold War period American spy planes used Pakistan airport to make reconnaisance raids into Russia. Obama has been irritating Pakistan right from the beginning of his administration. Nixon and Reagan's vision to have Beijing Washington axis to face the challenge of Moscow and even the Middle East has been wrecked by Obama.

paulejb
paulejb

mantisdragon91,

 So a mosque wasn't torched in Missouri this summer, goofy?

================================

Sort of like the black churches burning in Arkansas that never happened despite Bill Clinton's claims.

"Fanning Imaginary Flames: A Look Back At The Great Church Fire Propaganda Campaign"Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com...

I can provide links to stories of liberal fantasies, bugs.

sixtymile
sixtymile

Are we really going back to the place where we call this a War on Terror again?  Ok, it was a terrorist attack, not a Terrorist Attack. Some of us know the difference, many it seems do not. This merely shows that our current President knows the difference where the former one did not.

carolerae
carolerae

After reading today's NYT, I'm not sure anyone knows.  The Investigators in Bengahzi seem to be having problems getting close to the Embassy due to safety concerns.  MAYBE THE PRESS IS SPINNING THE BENGAHZI STORY!  On Fox amp; in the Senate, the GOP are, along with Drudge amp; Wingnut Blogs.  They just make crap up so who the Hell knows??

Bill Pearlman
Bill Pearlman

Obama could say martians came and visited him in the White House and Time magazine would congratulate him for opening relations with another planet

paulejb
paulejb

"Intercepts Show Attackers on U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Bragged to Al Qaeda"

"In the hours following the 9/11 anniversary attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. intelligence agencies monitored communications from jihadists affiliated with the group that led the attack and members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s North African affiliate."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/a...

The Obama regime deliberately lied to the American people. They must be thrown out of office.

paulejb
paulejb

"Tell Us Something We Don’t Know… Jay-Z Says He’ll Vote For Obama Because He’s Black"

http://www.thegatewaypundit.co...

OMG! Imagine if a celebrity had said that he is voting for Romney because he is white. The feigned outrage by the politically correct, left wing media would be deafening.

paulejb
paulejb

'Benghazi-gate'

"Bombshell: Obama Administration Deleted State Dept. Memo From Internet After Discovering Al-Qaeda Was Behind Benghazi Attack"

Read more: http://nation.foxnews.com/us-c...

It's not spin when it's deliberate deception.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Oh, good.... a tasty mish-mash of old and new troll material....

Or was there a link to Drudge I failed to notice?

slygirl
slygirl

The only relevant communication in all this is the diary of the late Ambassador who suffered horrifically as our representative before he died. Kudos to CNN for snatching the diary and going on-air with it: his fears of terrorist activity in Libya; of the lack of security at our embassy and consulate; of himself as a target. What more did the State Department need?

Did they think that the anniversary of 9/11 is relevant only to Americans?

Should we demand that Secretary Clinton's resign because she is the one in charge? 

paulejb
paulejb

'Yahoo News: White House treated Benghazi as a terrorist attack on “Day One” '

"However, that ignores the fact that the White House pushed its own version of events far ahead of the FBI investigation, insisting that the attack came from a “spontaneous” demonstration that “spun out of control.”  They blamed it on a months-old YouTube video, which had the effect of distracting attention from the connection to the anniversary of 9/11 and the al-Qaeda networks operating in eastern Libya, including in Benghazi itself.  The White House sent Susan Rice out five days afterward to make that case, apparently four days after they themselves had already concluded that it was a terrorist attack."

http://hotair.com/archives/201...

The Obama regime was perpetrating a lie from day one.

Its_Not_A_Tax_LOL
Its_Not_A_Tax_LOL

If you can't see what Obama has to gain by lying about the attacks you are a little slow on the uptake. There's an election around the corner and if Obama looks weak on combating terrorism, that is not good for him.  Reports have come out that the American consulate in Benghazi repeatedly asked for stronger security but was turned down by the Obama administration even though there have been several attacks on the Benghazi compound by extremists over the past year.

Timothy Bladel
Timothy Bladel

Get real, it is not Republican voter registration that is bleeding around the country bud. 

ahandout
ahandout

 You shouldn't lie Nicodemus.  A comparison to religious leaders? of 2000 years ago?  That's a real stretch there.

http://hotair.com/archives/201...

And then there is this to consider:

Jews today who subscribe to Pharisaic Judaism typically find this insulting and some consider the use of the word to be anti-Semitic.[32]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...

Seems you're not so holier than thou yourself.

Timothy Bladel
Timothy Bladel

You are telling the truth. I am a journalism student, and I've done one ethics class, and have one to go. I can tell you that most of the so-called journo's today do not do their work the way we are taught to do it.  Having said that, some of the best at their jobs right now are doing it for Box and the Daily Beast. This is odd I know, but this is happening. Washington Post and New York Times have great journo's, but they use them to get facts and cover for Obama. They will come out with these facts only after others have and they no longer want to be seen as inept.  This is why they have lost their former glory. 

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

 He is the resident apologist for The Obama Administration. He wears his badge proudly. 

ahandout
ahandout

 Yeah, pretty much.  Wouldn't want to actually do some work and report how the administration lied about the attack, and why.

ahandout
ahandout

In your view they were miniature terrorists not TERRORISTS. OK, that makes as much sense as any thing else the left has said about this. 

paulejb
paulejb

sixtymile,

Was it a frat party that got out of hand, Sixty?

paulejb
paulejb

carolerae,

CNN had no trouble getting into the Consulate and securing the Ambassador's diary.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Martians? is that what we are calling Romney these days? I always thought he came from Uranus.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Mosques in Missouri burned in a case of arson... So does that mean the Christian terrorists are operating in the US?

CanofSand
CanofSand

Obama is a liar. That's a proven fact. It's not trolling to point out facts. Furthermore, this article and its headline - which calls lies "spin" and sticks a question mark at the end as if it's not certain - are, themselves, a pack of lies. Time is, like most media, nothing but propaganda and damage control for the left.

paulejb
paulejb

slygirl,

How odd that CNN can go where the FBI cannot. Maybe CNN should conduct the investigation?

sixtymile
sixtymile

Completely inconsistent with the point of my comment that Terrorist as a proper noun was the "original spin" used to conflate tactics into an enemy, and employed in the politics of fear and perpetual war. Fear as a political tactic to win elections: Good for politicians, bad for America, really bad for those on the front-lines whether they are soldiers or diplomats.

ahandout
ahandout

 Disqus.

Sixty is saying that those 4 people were expendable, FORWARD.  See, that other president got all excited when Al Qaeda killed Americans.  This super cool Barry just buries them under the road and drives FORWARD.

ahandout
ahandout

Sixty is saying that those 4 people were expendable, FORWARD.

ahandout
ahandout

 They don't work for Obama.

paulejb
paulejb

mantisdragon1,

Or it could merely be a figment of your imagination, bugs.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

CanofSand maybe a good description for what you have between your ears if you believe any of the stuff you wrote above.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Thought you conservatives didn't trust CNN? You flop almost as much as Mittens.

sixtymile
sixtymile

Unfortunately, you are right. We responded in fear and attacked Iraq which was the enemy of our enemy before that, and then created more opportunities for our real enemy, al-Qaida and other Islamic fundamentalist groups. The result was a waste of lives and military power, and a stronger Iran to contend with now.

ahandout
ahandout

 There was real fear during the 9/11 attack and after, perpetuated by real live Terrorists.  I don't think that they give a damn if you think it was all spin.

ahandout
ahandout

 So there really are no Terrorists.  Those people that plot to kill innocent people all around the globe, just don't exist.  Why don't you go ride a bus in Israel?  This didn't really happen: http://www.haaretz.com/news/16...

Or this: http://news.hayatk.net/files/i...

Real fear from this attack caused people to stop flying after 9/11.  The economy nose dived because of fear, real fear. Or, are you one of those nutjobs that believe 9/11 was done by Dick Cheney?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 So a mosque wasn't torched in Missouri this summer, goofy?