Why the Benghazi terrorist attack still dogs Obama
When it comes up in the presidential candidates’ foreign policy debate Monday night, President Obama will have some serious explaining to do about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month that killed the US Ambassador and three other Americans.
When it comes up in the presidential candidates’ foreign policy debate Monday night – and it certainly will – President Obama will have some serious explaining to do about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month.Skip to next paragraph
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His answer could be pivotal in the debate, perhaps even in the election. Meanwhile, new information about what happened that night – the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States – and in the weeks afterward continues to emerge.
David Ignatius, the Washington Post’s well-regarded foreign policy columnist, reports that initial CIA “talking points” supported UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s early contention that the attack in Benghazi – which took the life of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy personnel – was tied to region-wide protests against a crude anti-Islam YouTube video.
According to the CIA account, provided to Mr. Ignatius by a senior US intelligence official, “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. 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 Sept. 15 CIA document continued.
“We believe the timing of the attack was influenced by events in Cairo,” the senior official told Ignatius. “The attackers were disorganized; some seemed more interested in looting. Some who claimed to have participated joined the attack as it began or after it was under way. There is no evidence of rehearsals, they never got into the safe room … never took any hostages, didn’t bring explosives to blow the safe room door, and didn’t use a car bomb to blow the gates.”
It was, the intelligence official said, “a flash mob with weapons,” adding that the only thing he would change in the CIA’s initial talking points would be to drop the word “spontaneous” and substitute “opportunistic.”
“This may sound like self-protective boilerplate,” Ignatius observes, “but it reflects the analysts’ genuine problem interpreting fragments of intercepted conversation, video surveillance and source reports” – in essence, the “fog of war” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to earlier this week.