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Obama Administration's Libya Spin Unravels

11:14 AM, Sep 27, 2012 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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At the Washington Post this morning, Glenn Kessler posts a collection of the Obama administration’s evolving statements on Libya and some important reporting of facts surrounding the attacks.

“This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with. It is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable.”

—   Clinton, transfer of remains ceremony, Sept. 14

 “Based on the best information we have to date ... it began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.... We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.

—   Susan E. Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sept. 16

“Well, you’re conveniently conflating two things, which is the anniversary of 9/11 and the incidents that took place, which are under investigation and the cause and motivation behind them will be decided by that investigation.”

—   Carney, news briefing, Sept. 17

“Witnesses tell CBS News that there was never an anti-American protest outside of the consulate. Instead they say it came under planned attack. That is in direct contradiction to the administration’s account.”

—   Margaret Brennan CBS News correspondent, CBS News report aired Sept. 20

Kessler writes: “We will leave it to readers to reach their own conclusions on whether this is merely the result of the fog of war and diplomacy — or a deliberate effort to steer the storyline away from more politically damaging questions. After all, in a competitive election, two weeks is a lifetime.”

Several other data points, however, help us resolve this question.  There is considerable contemporaneous reporting that demonstrates the Obama administration knew long before it said so publicly that the attacks were planned and likely the work of al Qaeda-related terrorists.

From the start, prominent Democrats, and even an administration official, told reporters that the attacks were planned. Senator Carl Levin, emerging from a briefing on the attacks with Secretary of Defense, responded to a question about whether the attacks were planned. “I think there’s evidence of that. There’s been evidence of that,” he responded, adding: “The attack looked like it was planned and premeditated.”

Representative Adam Smith, a Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, offered the same assessment. “This was not just a mob that got out of hand. Mobs don’t come in and attack, guns blazing. I think that there is a growing consensus it was preplanned.”

According to CNN, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy “has said that the attack appeared to be planned because it was so extensive and because of the ‘proliferation’ of small and medium weapons at the scene.”

And when did the administration understand the attacks were acts of terror?

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