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The Benghazi Scandal

Oct 22, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 06 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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* On September 14, a U.S. official told Reuters that while the question of planning was an open one, “Everything I have seen says this was a highly armed, organized attack. Not a mob reacting to a movie.”

The officials who gave these assessments—elected and unelected, Democrat and Republican—were in a position to do so for one reason: the intelligence. Most important: There is no intelligence whatsoever linking the Benghazi attack to the anti-Muslim video.

Notice that all of those assessments came before U.N. ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five political talk shows September 16 and linked the Libya attack to the video. And they came well before Barack Obama appeared on David Letterman on September 18 and did the same.

Obama: You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, a sort of shadowy character who is extremely offensive video directed at Muhammad and Islam.

David Letterman: Making fun of the Prophet Muhammad.

Obama: Making fun of the Prophet Muhammad. And, so, this caused great offense. In much of the Muslim world. But, what also happened was extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.

There are two possibilities. Either the intelligence community had a detailed picture of what happened in Benghazi that night and failed to share it with other administration officials and the White House. Or the intelligence community provided that detailed intelligence picture to others in the administration, and Obama, Biden, Clinton, Susan Rice, and others ignored and manipulated the intelligence to tell a politically convenient—but highly inaccurate—story.

If it’s the former, DNI James Clapper should be fired. If it’s the latter, what happened in Benghazi—and what happened afterwards—will go down as one of the worst scandals in recent memory.

It seems far more likely that it’s the latter. After all, is it conceivable that White House officials at the highest levels were not actively engaged in interagency meetings to determine what happened in Benghazi? Is it conceivable that intelligence officials, knowing there was no evidence at all of a link between the film and Benghazi, would fail to tell the president and his colleagues that their claims were unfounded? Is it conceivable that somehow the latest intelligence on the 9/11 attacks was left out of Obama’s intelligence briefings in the days after 9/11? It would have been a priority for every professional at the CIA, the State Department, and the National Security Council to discover exactly what happened in Benghazi as soon as possible. Is it conceivable that the information wasn’t passed to the most senior figures in the administration?

No, it’s really not. And therefore, the fact that these senior figures misled us—and still mislead us—is a scandal of the first order.

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