An anonymous State Department official told the Associated Press last Tuesday: “That was not our conclusion” — namely, that a notorious YouTube video that lampooned the Islamic prophet Mohammed unleashed deadly mayhem upon America’s consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
This denial should shock anyone who watched the news after U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were murdered on the eleventh anniversary of September 11. That anti-Islamic video’s culpability certainly was the “conclusion” among top administration officials, including President Obama. They fingered the video for eight days, even as evidence mounted that these Americans were slain in a commando-style operation that involved machine guns and mortar shells, not banners and placards.
September 11: Despite anti-video demonstrations in Cairo, Benghazi is tranquil. According to diplomats, “everything is calm. There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside. No protests all day.”
At 9:40 p.m. local time, however, gunfire and explosions rock the consulate’s front gate.
September 12: As these homicides become clear, President Obama says, “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, but there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.” Obama then skips his daily intelligence briefing and jets to a Las Vegas fundraiser.
September 13: “The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video,” Secretary of State Clinton declares. “We absolutely reject its content and message.” Repeated efforts to distance the U.S. government from the video actually publicize it. Paradoxically, it grows increasingly toxic.
September 14: “We have no information to suggest that it was a pre-planned attack,” White House press secretary Jay Carney announces. “The unrest we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims find offensive.”
That day, as the murdered Americans’ remains reach Andrews Air Force Base, Clinton says: “We have 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.”
September 16: United Nations ambassador Susan Rice tells Fox News Sunday that “this was not a pre-planned, premeditated attack.” She calls it “a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video.”
September 18: “You had a video released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character, who has an extremely offensive video directed at Mohammed and Islam,” President Obama tells comedian David Letterman. Obama adds that “extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of embassies including the consulate in Libya.”
September 19: Team Obama abruptly changes tune. National Counterterrorism director Matthew Olsen informs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, “I would say yes, they were killed in the course of the terrorist attack on our embassy.”
September 20: “It’s self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack,” Carney announces. Somehow, this self-evidence had eluded the public.
Why would Team Obama essentially accuse a video of these murders, even as Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood — leader of a 16-man, dedicated military unit withdrawn from Libya last August — called the hit “instantly recognizable” as terrorism?
During President Obama’s difficult campaign, that fantasy was far more palatable than this reality: A premeditated, well-executed al-Qaeda strike on a U.S. mission eradicated four Americans, even after they longed for the security assistance that might have prevented them from coming home in caskets.
Ambassador Stevens warned Washington that Libya “remains unpredictable, volatile, and violent.”
Eric Nordstrom, a former U.S. security officer in Libya, told the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee on Wednesday that State documented 230 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012. Nordstrom consequently requested twelve more security personnel.
“‘You are asking for the sun, moon and the stars,’” Nordstrom says a State Department regional director complained. Nordstrom then describes his greatest frustration in this assignment.
“It is not the hardships,” Nordstrom says. “It is not the gunfire. It is not the threats. It is dealing and fighting against the people, programs, and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me.” As he told that regional director, “For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”
Nordstrom ultimately concluded that “we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident. And the question that we would ask is again, ‘How thin does the ice need to get until someone falls through?’”
These inconvenient truths would have obviated Team Obama’s “bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda is comatose” reelection theme. Thus, the same government that apparently leaks secrets to make the president look tough evidently oozed falsehoods to keep him from looking weak.
In short: People died, Obama lied.
— Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.