The Obama Administration’s story on the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens has changed yet again.
In advance of a hearing on diplomatic security in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today, more details have leaked out—and the State Department is now saying it never thought that the attack in Benghazi was prompted by a YouTube video.
“The State Department now says it never believed the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a film protest gone awry,” the Associated Press reports. “Department officials were asked about the administration’s initial—and since retracted—explanation linking the violence to protests over an American-made anti-Muslim video circulating on the Internet. One official responded, ‘That was not our conclusion.’ He called it a question for ‘others’ to answer, without specifying.”
Those “others” are top Obama Administration officials, who maintained for days that the attack stemmed from a spontaneous demonstration against the video trailer for Innocence of Muslims. These officials now find themselves under the proverbial bus.
A U.S. security officer named Eric Nordstrom, who will testify in today’s hearing, has said he asked his State Department superiors twice for more security at the post in Benghazi, but received no response. Reuters reports that “Nordstrom also argued for more U.S. security in Libya by citing a chronology of over 200 security incidents there from militia gunfights to bomb attacks between June 2011 and July 2012. Forty-eight of the incidents were in Benghazi.”
Heritage’s Helle Dale has laid out the timeline of events, including security concerns, leading up to the Benghazi attack and the Administration’s message bungling that followed. The State Department now has a chronology of the attack in Benghazi on September 11.
President Obama’s response to the attack—which turned into an embarrassing speech to the United Nations with a less than robust defense of free speech—has been a disaster.
Last week, Heritage’s James Carafano said that a statement from the Director of National Intelligence seemed to be “more about providing political cover for the White House than answering serious questions about the misstatement from the President’s spokespersons.”
The Administration’s official line on embassy attacks was already shaky, after Twitter posts, press statements, and other official pronouncements related to the attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo were pulled from State Department websites.
But the worst was Ambassador Susan Rice’s defense of the Administration on television last weekend. Rice vigorously asserted that the attack in Benghazi was not “premeditated,” even as she must have known top Libyan officials were already declaring that the attacks were planned.
Now the story is that there was never a protest of the YouTube video in Libya. It was simply a terrorist attack.
Around the world, Americans put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect their fellow Americans and our interests. We know they are targets. We know we can’t win every battle or prevent every terrorist attack. We don’t expect our government to be perfect. We do, however, expect it to be honest. We also expect, in a post-9/11 world, for our government to do a better job at “connecting the dots” and sharing information before the enemy strikes. The lesson of Benghazi is clear. One way or another, our government has failed us.