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Mysteries of Benghazi

Nov 12, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 09 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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State Department officials in Washington followed the attacks as they happened and knew instantly, in the words of Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, that the assault in Benghazi was “an unprecedented attack by dozens of heavily armed men.” A CIA timeline provided to reporters late last week notes that at 1:15 a.m. on the night of the attack, less than five hours after it began, CIA -officials attempting to rescue Ambassador Stevens reported that terrorists from Ansar al Sharia had surrounded the hospital in Benghazi. On September 12, the day after the attack, the CIA station chief in Libya cabled Washington to report that the assault had been a terrorist attack. By September 13, the FBI was interviewing CIA officials who were on the ground in -Benghazi, several of whom described a sophisticated terrorist attack on the compound. 

Yet when CIA director David Petraeus briefed members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on September 14, he suggested that the attack was triggered by a YouTube video. Two days later, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice made the same claim about the video on political talk shows. Two days after that, President Obama blamed the video in an interview with David Letterman. And a week after that, the president cited the video six times in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly. Why all the misleading information from senior administration officials?

While President Obama and other administration officials misleadingly tied the attack in Benghazi to an anti-Islam film, they have been reluctant to discuss al Qaeda’s very real ties to the assault. We know that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a terrorist organization that has sworn loyalty to al Qaeda’s senior leadership, was involved. So was Ansar al Sharia, which has al Qaeda ties. CNN has reported that members of Al Qaeda in Iraq, another terrorist organization that has sworn loyalty to Ayman al Zawahiri, are suspected of taking part in the attack. And then there is a terrorist named Mohammed Jamal, an Egyptian with longstanding ties to Zawahiri, whose fighters, according to multiple reports, assaulted the compound. Instead of a “spontaneous” attack that grew out of a protest, the assault on the U.S. consulate was carried out by a consortium of al Qaeda allies. To date, the administration has not identified the terrorists responsible for killing four Americans. When will the administration present the American people with an accurate description of the terrorists responsible, including their al Qaeda ties?

Whether Barack Obama remains president or not, he owes the American people a full accounting of the Benghazi fiasco.



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