State Department officials: We never concluded the Benghazi attack was related to protest about a video
**Written by Doug Powers
The administration’s version of the Benghazi attack continues to evolve on an hourly basis ahead of Wednesday’s House hearing. Here’s the latest:
The State Department said Tuesday it never concluded that the consulate attack in Libya stemmed from protests over an American-made video ridiculing Islam, raising further questions about why the Obama administration used that explanation for more than a week after assailants killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
The revelation came as new documents suggested internal disagreement over appropriate levels of security before the attack, which occurred on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S.
Briefing reporters ahead of a hotly anticipated congressional hearing Wednesday, State Department officials provided their most detailed rundown of how a peaceful day in Benghazi devolved into a sustained attack that involved multiple groups of men armed with weapons such as machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars over an expanse of more than a mile.
But asked about the administration’s initial — and since retracted — explanation linking the violence to protests over an anti-Muslim video circulating on the Internet, one official said, “That was not our conclusion.”
If “protest over a video” was not the State Department’s conclusion regarding the Benghazi attack, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice still hadn’t received the memo several days after the attack:
Also, the day after the attack, September 12, Hillary Clinton didn’t draw any conclusions but certainly seemed to be leaning heavily in the “the video made them do it” direction:
There is no higher priority than protecting our men and women wherever they serve. We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. 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. Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith. And as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.
A U.S. security officer formerly stationed in Libya has told lawmakers he sent two cables to the State Department requesting more security agents for the American mission in Benghazi but received no response.
Wrapping it up, below is a video timeline of the administration’s spin on the Benghazi attack. As you watch keep in mind that not only was there never a reason to believe the attack came about as the result of an escalated protest over a video, but there was never even a protest over the video in Benghazi. Also remember that the attack occurred on the anniversary of 9/11, so it seems that if any honest spur-of-the-moment speculation was going to take place, it would have leaned in the “terrorist attack” direction — but it didn’t:
There would probably be new administration spin to add to this story, but the White House hasn’t held a press briefing for over two weeks.
Side note: The State Department held a conference call on the Benghazi attack, and Fox News was not invited. I don’t know why not — some of the stories most skeptical of the administration’s version of events I’ve seen about this so far have been on CBS and CNN. Maybe the State Dept. didn’t get that memo either.
**Written by Doug Powers
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