The Magazine

The Omertà Administration

Nov 5, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 08 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

There was, in fact, abundant evidence of a planned terrorist attack. Emails sent to the White House as the attacks unfolded reported that Ansar al Sharia (AAS), an al Qaeda-linked group in Libya, had claimed credit for the attack. Virtually everything else about the assault suggested planning—from the precision of the mortar attacks to the “blocking maneuver” used by the terrorists to attempt to ambush the Americans as they fled the consulate for the CIA annex.

• The protest outside the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was about a YouTube video. More Carney from September 18: “We saw evidence that [the attack] was sparked by the reaction to this video. And that is what we know thus far based on the evidence, concrete evidence—not supposition—concrete evidence that we have thus far.” The basis for this claim was a telephone intercept between two al Qaeda-linked terrorists, one from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the other from the Libyan branch of Ansar al Sharia. There was no “concrete evidence” that the video played a role. The AAS terrorist, who took part in the attack, reported to the AQIM operative that he had been watching the activities in Cairo before participating in the Benghazi attack. He said nothing about the film. Importantly, he never claimed that the Benghazi attack happened because of the Cairo protests. There was never a direct link between the YouTube video and the Benghazi attack. But the administration claimed—repeatedly, and for weeks—a causal relationship between the video and the attack in Benghazi.

The Obama administration built its entire explanation of Benghazi around this detail it learned from a call between two al Qaeda-linked operatives. But as the administration made its public case that the 9/11/12 attacks resulted from a mob spun out of control, top Obama officials emphasized (and manipulated) that detail while excluding the far more relevant fact that the conversation took place between .  .  . two al Qaeda-linked operatives. Beyond that, there was no protest in Benghazi, as virtually everyone now acknowledges.

So where the administration didn’t hide information, it cherry-picked what it would share. And where the administration shared information, it manipulated that intelligence. Now, as Americans seek information about what happened in Benghazi, the administration stonewalls.

The State Department’s Accountability Review Board is due to report on November 15—9 days after the election. “We don’t play politics when it comes to American national security,” Obama says. What will the State Department have learned in 65 days that it won’t know after 56 days?

And what about the president’s claim, “Everything we get, every piece of information we get—as we got it we laid it out for the American people”? 

It’s simply not true. And trust matters.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers