Benghazi Report Does Not Answer Scandal Accusations [Op-Ed]
Commentary | The Benghazi report by the Accountability Review Board for Benghazi (click for full text report) focused on the events of the attack and whether the State Department could have done anything to prevent the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the Consulate. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Benghazi report does fault the State Department for failing to put in place a coordinated approach for handling security, and puts down rumors that anyone might have purposefully ignored cries for help, but even then the report does not single anyone out for disciplinary action. Despite this fact, three State Department employees have voluntarily stepped down from their positions.
But the report does not consider the question that made Benghazi a scandal in the first place: who decided to change the initial CIA reports to remove references to purposeful terrorism, favor the Obama administration right before elections, and blame a YouTube video and a random protest for the whole incident?
Secretary Hillary Clinton said on September 12th:
“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.”
Later on, Hillary Clinton was apparently still convinced this was true since she privately told grieving parents that they would arrest the man responsible for the anti-Muslim video. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was eventually arrested, but fortunately not in violation of free speech rights. According to the Los Angeles Times, Nakoula was guilty of violating the terms of his probation based upon previous charges of bank fraud. As part of these terms he was not even supposed to use the internet…including YouTube.
The Associated Press also reported on September 12th, with the AP following the media narrative set in place by the Obama administration:
“The protest in Cairo and the attack in Benghazi appear to have been responses to an inflammatory anti-Muslim video posted on the Internet.”
On September 16th, five days after the Consulate attacks, Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif told NPR a version of the Benghazi attack that completely contradicted the Obama administration’s version as told by Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice:
“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 pre-calculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. Consulate.”
Even earlier, between the 11th and the 16th, I recall hearing radio interviews with witnesses living in Benghazi and everyone seemed to think it was a terrorist attack. But by then the media narrative was set in stone.
On the same day, Ambassador Susan Rice went on record to directly contradict the Libyan President’s statements. Further, she claimed the protests were spontaneous and were related to the protest in Cairo. This claim is apparently so false it’s not even mentioned in the ARB Benghazi report’s timeline of events, although it is briefly mentioned that the “Ambassador was informed by his Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in Tripoli of the breach of the Embassy Cairo.”
The last date when the media repeated this false information was on December 4 with the Wall Street Journal. Even as late as November 27th the White House was still directly claiming that the Benghazi attacks were in response to protests in Cairo and were somehow related to the YouTube video:
“They saw what was the breach of our embassy in Cairo and decided to act in Benghazi. And as you know, the breach of our embassy in Cairo was directly in response to the video and was started as a protest outside of our embassy in Cairo.
“And I would refer you to numerous reporting — numerous pieces of reporting by serious journalists and serious publications that demonstrate that people who participated in the assault on Benghazi were aware of what was happening in Cairo and were partly motivated by what was happening in Cairo.”
Based upon the closed door testimony of ex-CIA Director David Petraeus we know that someone in either the Federal agencies or the Obama administration changed the CIA reports to downplay Al Qaeda, terrorism, and national defense right before elections. Petraeus said he doesn’t know who deleted the terrorist references from his presentation notes. He even drafted talking points on the Benghazi terrorist attacks for the White House and was surprised by Susan Rice’s announcement.
Susan Rice claims she was only relaying the intelligence information she was handed by the White House. The Rice narrative included Al-Qaeda losing ground and that the Middle East’s public sentiment toward the United States was improving. The Benghazi attack was specifically stated by to not be connected to any U.S. foreign policy decisions by the Obama White House.
Critics say Susan Rice should have known better, and would have had access to the information necessary to correct the story early on. One retired CIA officer went so far as to say that if you accept President Obama’s explanation then “Susan Rice is shockingly guilty of being dumb.”
All this might explain why Susan Rice is apparently no longer in the running for replacing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. According to NBC, her reason for dropping out was that the confirmation process “was very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting and very disruptive.”
The Obama administration may have hopes that the ARB Benghazi report will put the lid on further controversy. But I predict that critics of the Obama administration will use the Benghazi report as a platform for further attacks on Obama.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is already under the microscope. According to The Hill, former Ambassador John Bolton accused Clinton of lying about having a stomach flu in order to avoid giving public testimony to Congress:
“I think she was waiting for the report so she could find out what it said and then fashion her testimony accordingly. There is nothing more embarrassing than to say something and then have it contradicted and have to change your story later.”
Who do you think is responsible for creating the false information that put a spin on the Benghazi terrorist attacks that favored the actions of the Obama administration immediately before a Presidential election?