‘There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy,” the President of the United States told the United Nations last September 25, one of six “video” references in his speech. A fortnight after the deadly attack on America’s mission in Benghazi, Obama still insisted that Innocence of Muslims, an obscure, anti-Islamic YouTube video, had fueled the mayhem. Presumably, a spontaneous protest spun out of control and unleashed lethal violence.
But, as he addressed the General Assembly, Obama surely knew that an al-Qaeda–propelled assault, not a YouTube video, killed U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
As Wednesday’s sworn testimony by three State Department whistleblowers demonstrated, this was just one of many lies deployed by Obama and others high atop the U.S. government. These lies nurtured the myth that “al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat,” as Obama claimed at a Las Vegas campaign rally the evening after the Benghazi onslaught. With the truth conveniently obscured beyond November 6, Obama won reelection as the man who supposedly killed both Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. In fact, only the former is dead.
The truth behind this monstrous cover-up finally is emerging, too late to defeat Obama at the polls, but perhaps in time to speed his early return to Chicago.
In gripping testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, these top diplomats broke their silence and shattered Team Obama’s carefully crafted post-Benghazi narrative.
From the very start of this episode, U.S. officials called it an attack, rather than a video-driven protest.
“Greg, we are under attack,” Ambassador Stevens said in his last words to Deputy Chief of Mission Greg Hicks, just before Stevens’s cell phone clicked off on the night of September 11. Ambassador Stevens did not say, “Greg, we are enduring picket signs and loud chants.”
As Reuters’ Mark Hosenball reported, the State Department Operations Center (SDOC) sent “Sensitive But Unclassified” e-mails to the White House, the FBI, and U.S. intelligence agencies. SDOC dispatched the first e-mail at 4:05 p.m. Eastern Time, about 20 to 30 minutes after the mayhem erupted. “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack,” read the subject line. “Embassy in Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well.” At 6:07 p.m., another SDOC e-mail announced that “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.” A Reuters source says that SDOC transmitted these and other e-mails to Obama’s inner sanctum, the White House Situation Room.
In a newly revealed September 12 e-mail to State Department staffers, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Elizabeth Jones recalls consulting Libya’s ambassador in Washington. Jones wrote: “I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar Al Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.” (Note that Jones delivered this information to the Libyan envoy, not the reverse.)
“The YouTube video was a non-event in Libya,” Hicks testified under oath Wednesday. “The only report that our mission made through every channel was that there had been an attack on our consulate. . . . No protest.”
The father of the late Tyrone Woods says that, as his son’s remains were officially welcomed home on September 14, then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton approached him. “We will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted,” Clinton promised. Five Los Angeles County Sherriff’s deputies soon detained, interrogated, and eventually jailed Nakoula Basseley Nakoula — the Los Angeles–based, Egyptian-born Coptic Christian behind the anti-Islamic video. Never mind that producing anti-Islamic videos is not illegal, for now. (Regardless, the First Amendment-practicing Nakoula remains in Texas’s La Tuna Federal Correctional Institution for using an alias. As Rich Lowry details, employing a false name violated Nakoula’s probation on bank-fraud charges.)
In the May 13 Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes carefully documents how Team Obama sanitized the CIA’s initial talking points to erase al-Qaeda’s fingerprints on this attack and, instead, make it look like a demonstration gone crazy. A September 14 version of this document stated, “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qa’ida participated in the attack. . . . Ansar al Sharia’s Facebook page aims to spread Sharia in Libya and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations of Islam.”
By the time the State Department and the White House had whitewashed these talking points, a third version, on September 15, explained: “There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” Were these extremist Muslims? Extremist vegetarians? Extremist Rotarians? The scrubbed document does not say.
If the records he cites are accurate, Hayes writes, “It is clear that senior administration officials engaged in a wholesale rewriting of intelligence assessments about Benghazi in order to mislead the public.”
[UPDATE: ABC News’ Senior White House correspondent Jonathan Karl reported this morning that the CIA’s original talking points underwent twelve different revisions by top State Department and White House staffers. For instance, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland opposed language that discussed the threat of al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Benghazi and cited five earlier attacks against foreign interests in eastern Libya. In an e-mail to the White House and intelligence agencies, Nuland argued that such information “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned . . .”
That offending paragraph was deleted, as was plenty of other text.
The laundered talking points eventually mirrored Obama’s campaign theme: al-Qaeda killers, no; excitable locals, yes. The extensive and self-serving disinfection of these talking points holistically vacates this November 28, 2012 assertion by Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney: “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”]
The next day, September 16, United Nations ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday-morning talk shows. Relying on the doctored talking points, she told Fox News’s Chris Wallace: “What sparked the violence was a very hateful video on the Internet.” Rice added, “It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States.”
“I was stunned,” Hicks testified, concerning Rice’s TV appearances. “My jaw dropped, and I was embarrassed.” He added that Rice never spoke with him before doing her interviews, even though — after Ambassador Stevens’s assassination — Hicks had become America’s top diplomat in Libya.
The State Department’s Administrative Review Board was supposed to discover the truth about Benghazi. However, it now is being investigated by State’s inspector general to determine whether it adopted a don’t-ask-don’t-tell approach. The ARB never interviewed Hillary Clinton about her role in this disaster. Whistleblower Mark Thompson, a top State Department counterterrorism official, testified Wednesday that he had volunteered to speak with the ARB but was ignored.
Team Obama has hindered Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) as he has tried to solve the Benghazi puzzle. “The first week of October, I did go to Libya,” Chaffetz told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity Wednesday night. “I did meet with Mr. Hicks. And we heard testimony that Mr. Hicks was coached ahead of time not to allow me to speak to three individuals there, including Mr. Hicks. The State Department had sent along a babysitter, a minder, to listen and take notes of everything I did.” Chaffetz continued: “The idea that a member of Congress trying to seek out the truth, and they are being told not to allow that member of Congress to have an individual conversation — I mean, that’s pretty stunning.”
Hicks testified that State Department officials ordered that “we were not to be personally interviewed by Congressman Chaffetz.” He added that Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Miller, called after he met with Chaffetz. “She was very upset with me,” Hicks said. “She delivered a blistering critique of my management style.”
Hicks also ran afoul of State’s aforementioned Elizabeth Jones. “I asked her why the ambassador [Rice] said there was a demonstration when the embassy reported there was an attack,” Hicks explained. “The sense I got is that I needed to stop my line of questioning.”
Hicks also testified that “I’ve been effectively demoted from deputy chief of mission to desk officer” — perhaps because he has failed to toe the Obama line.
In addition to the three whistleblowers who came forward this week, 30 more Benghazi witnesses remain hidden and reportedly afraid to speak up. As American citizens, they should not have fear in their vocabulary.
So, why this abundance of lies and obstruction?
An al-Qaeda–affiliated terror group targeted an American diplomatic facility and killed four American public servants, including Washington’s first ambassador to be murdered on duty since 1979. These facts completely undermined the myth that al-Qaeda had been in retreat since SEAL Team Six liquidated Osama bin Laden in May 2011. So, Team Obama buried these inconvenient truths beneath a sand dune of lies.
Since Obama’s Justice Department cannot be trusted to investigate Obama’s administration, House Speaker John Boehner should assign a select committee to probe Benghazi, subpoena and immunize the 30 remaining survivors of the attack, and invite the sworn public statements of those who can clarify what may be the biggest federal cover-up since Watergate.
The American people — not least the families of Messrs. Stevens, Smith, Doherty, and Woods — deserve to know who perpetrated this fraud, no matter how far the mighty may fall.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based 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.