What did they know, and when did they know it?
This Washington cliché has become the question of the hour, or at least it would be if the mainstream media could feign interest in the terrorist attack against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and anti-American rioting throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Nothing about the constantly evolving tale the Obama administration has been weaving about the attacks in the Middle East makes sense, unless it is seen as a deliberate attempt to mislead Americans into believing al Qaeda has been decimated, as President Obama has been know to assert. After dancing on Osama bin Laden’s grave for a week in Charlotte, the administration was faced with the reality that the war on terror is still quite on.
Rather than acknowledging this, they went into spin mode with the claim that a goofy video posted on YouTube caused the Sept. 11 attack that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice took to the Sunday shows to assert: “What happened in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many parts of the region … was a result—a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated.” She claimed the attack in Libya was “spontaneous” and not preplanned. It just happened to be on the anniversary of 9/11. No reason to read anything into that.
Never mind that a fourth grader could see that the Libya attack was anything but a spontaneous riot over an Internet video the administration, following the lead of the Islamists, has elevated to the genre of “movie.” Protesters generally don’t carry RPGs or use mortars, for starters. Then there was Mohamed Yusuf al-Magarief, president of Libya’s General National Congress, saying on Face the Nation on Sept. 16: “The way these perpetrators acted and moved, and their choosing the specific date for this so-called demonstration, this leaves us with no doubt that this was preplanned, predetermined.” Either the administration was lying with its original Libya story or it is frighteningly naive and clueless.
Whichever is the case, the media could stand to have a lot more curiosity about the safety of the United States. Thankfully, a few reporters are doing their jobs. While most of the media herd was fretting that Mitt Romney paid too much in taxes, The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake discovered that the administration had known within 24 hours that al Qaeda was behind the attack in Benghazi. One official said, according to a Fox News report, “No one ... believed that the mortars, indirect and direct fire, and the RPGs were just the work of a mob—no one.” When I asked the White House and State Department whether they had such information in the hours following the attack, they refused to answer on the record. Suddenly the people who released endless and specific details about the killing of Osama bin Laden find it unreasonable that one would expect them to discuss intelligence matters.
CNN found Ambassador Chris Stevens’s journal, in which he expressed fear that he may be killed by, you guessed it, al Qaeda. For this, the State Department viciously attacked the network in a statement and insinuated, ridiculously, that CNN was only interested in the journal for salacious reasons. When the U.S. government starts pressuring reporters to not report legitimate news, people should wonder why. Another reporter, from BuzzFeed, who was curious about why the area surrounding the U.S. Consulate had not been secured following the attack to ensure classified information didn’t fall into the hands of our enemies, was told by a State Department spokesman to “fuck off.” On Tuesday, Secretary of State Clinton finally got around to acknowleging that al Qaeda may have been involved in the attack.
There are so many unanswered questions, not just about Libya but also about Cairo. Who is it that Rice thinks “widely disseminated” this “movie”? Surely she can’t believe that the Egyptian Coptic Christian who made the video had the capacity or even desire to put it in the hands of the people who did the inciting. Also, has the administration noticed that the mob in Cairo, so spontaneously upset about the video, just happened to be carrying an Islamist flag to hoist over our embassy? On 9/11. What a massive coincidence.
Also, where did Rice get her very detailed information about the attack in Libya? She referred to the attackers as “a small handful of heavily armed mobsters” who merely took advantage of a growing protest over the video, a protest that now appears never to have occurred, as was reported three days before her appearances. The administration is careful to point out that Rice couched everything she said as being the best assessment at the time. Fine. But where did that assessment come from and how could it have been so wrong, especially when all signs pointed to a terrorist attack?
We know now that before the attacks on 9/11 that killed 3,000 Americans, more attention should have been paid to attacks against the U.S. overseas. These were warnings of what was to come. They say curiosity killed the cat. In this case, lack of curiosity on the part of the American media very well may kill more Americans.