We don't need an eye-candy president while our diplomats are being murdered because the State Department didn't provide adequate security. Eli Lake had a blockbuster report about how the Obama administration has lied to cover their rear-covering on Libya. First everyone in the administration told us for a week that the attack was due to a video and then finally admitted recently that yes, indeed it was due to terrorism. So why did it take so long? Lake reports that there was a briefing from the CIA blaming the attack on the video. However, the intelligence was based on one intelligence intercept and ignored all the other intelligence that we had about the attack.
The intelligence that helped inform those talking points—and what the U.S. public would ultimately be told—came in part from an intercept of a phone call between one of the alleged attackers and a middle manager from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s north African affiliate, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intercept. In the call, the alleged attacker said the locals went forward with the attack only after watching the riots that same day at the U.S. embassy in Cairo.Now we're hearing that the intelligence community has changed its assessment as new information came in. Lake's reporting reveals that that is absolutely not true. They had the information right at the time and selected only one bit of intelligence to put forth their video story.
However, the intercept was one of several monitored communications during and after the attacks between members of a local militia called Ansar al-Sharia and AQIM, which, taken together, suggest the assault was in fact a premeditated terrorist attack, according to U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials not authorized to talk to the press.
In one of the calls, for example, members of Ansar al-Sharia bragged about their successful attack against the American consulate and the U.S. ambassador.
It’s unclear why the talking points said the attacks were spontaneous and why they didn’t mention the possibility of al Qaeda involvement, given the content of the intercepts and the organizations the speakers were affiliated with. One U.S. intelligence officer said the widely distributed assessment was an example of “cherry picking,” or choosing one piece of intelligence and ignoring other pieces, to support a preferred thesis.
“Even if you push out that one piece of intelligence,” said this intelligence officer, “it is still in the context of a conversation between a group with an affinity to al Qaeda and a manager of an al-Qaeda affiliate. Why were we only hearing about how the attack was inspired and not about that?”
We're assured that President Obama is so dang smart and knows so much that he doesn't need to get personal intelligence briefings. He just can read the report and he automatically knows more than those briefing him. In fact, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor tells us that the President is "among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet." Well, when he was skipping his daily intelligence briefings did he miss asking his briefers whether they were basing their conclusion on all the intercepts they had from Libya or just "cherry-picking" their intelligence.
So why was the Obama administration so eager to glom onto blaming the video? It fits into their whole storyline that Obama is winning the war on terror simply because he ordered the attack on Osama bin Laden. CNN and Fox have also reported that the administration knew within 24 hours that it was a terrorist attack. So why lie? Lake has the answer: it's all political.
Politically, a coordinated Qaeda attack on the anniversary of 9/11 undermines a theme of President Obama’s reelection campaign that the killing of Osama bin Laden has diminished the threat from the group responsible for 9/11.Well, clearly, if al Quada-related groups pull off a coordinated attack on our people in Libya. Kinda ruins the whole narrative, doesn't it?
As Bret Stephens points out, the administration also needs to answer questions about why they provided insufficient protection for our diplomats in Benghazi in the first place.
But it also deserves to be judged in light of what it knew prior to the attack, including an attack on the mission in June and heightened threat warnings throughout the summer.The administration's total performance has been abysmal and provides evidence that Hillary Clinton was correct when warning that Obama wasn't ready for that 3 am phone call.
So how did the administration do on that count? "That the local security did so well back in June probably gave us a false sense of security," an unnamed American official who has served in Libya told the New York Times last week.
The logic here is akin to supposing that because the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center failed to bring down the towers, nobody need have been concerned thereafter.
Let's review:So they cherry picked the intelligence and tried to deceive the public for a week until the evidence was too overwhelming to deny any more. But at least such lies to the American people might have helped Obama push the story off stage a bit so he'd have more time to fund raise in Las Vegas and chat with the gals on The View about how good looking he is.
The U.S. ignores warnings of a parlous security situation in Benghazi. Nothing happens because nobody is really paying attention, especially in an election year, and because Libya is supposed to be a foreign-policy success. When something does happen, the administration's concerns for the safety of Americans are subordinated to considerations of Libyan "sovereignty" and the need for "permission." After the attack the administration blames a video, perhaps because it would be politically inconvenient to note that al Qaeda is far from defeated, and that we are no more popular under Mr. Obama than we were under George W. Bush. Denouncing the video also appeals to the administration's reflexive habits of blaming America first. Once that story falls apart, it's time to blame the intel munchkins and move on.
It was five in the afternoon when Mr. Obama took his 3 a.m. call. He still flubbed it.