The Campaign Spot

U.S. Intel: Benghazi Attack Wasn’t Spontaneous

Yes, I know that the media is having the biggest meltdown about an accurate Romney comment since . . . Wednesday, but I think the more important bit of news comes in this morning’s Jolt’s second item:

U.S. Intelligence: No, Ambassador Rice, the Benghazi Attack Wasn’t Spontaneous

If you thought U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice’s account of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi didn’t quite add up . . . apparently some U.S. intelligence sources agree with you:

An intelligence source on the ground in Libya told Fox News that there was no demonstration outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi prior to last week’s attack — challenging the Obama administration’s claims that the assault grew out of a “spontaneous” protest against an anti-Islam film.

“There was no protest and the attacks were not spontaneous,” the source said, adding the attack “was planned and had nothing to do with the movie.”

The source said the assault came with no warning at about 9:35 p.m. local time, and included fire from more than two locations. The assault included RPG’s and mortar fire, the source said, and consisted of two waves.

The account that the attack started suddenly backs up claims by a purported Libyan security guard who told McClatchy Newspapers late last week that the area was quiet before the attack.

“There wasn’t a single ant outside,” the unnamed guard, who was being treated in a hospital, said in the interview.

Doug Mataconis has the cockamamie idea that when U.S. diplomatic personnel are killed, the U.S. government should play it straight about what happened and why:

It’s worth noting that initial reports of any incident like this don’t always turn out to be complete. However, up until now, the public story had always been, or at least implied, that the attack occurred contemporaneous with the protests but now even the U.S. Government is admitting that isn’t the case. The attack, clearly, occurred several hours later. This makes the claim that Ambassador Rice made yesterday that the attack was all about a movie and wasn’t pre-planned even harder to believe. The idea that the attack was spontaneous, which doesn’t seem credible to begin with given what we know about how it happened, becomes even less believable once you realize that the attack occurred several hours after a small protest against the movie. That fact alone makes the idea that there was any real connection between the two events even less likely, especially since the attackers clearly used the cover of darkness, and surprise, to launch their attack. That doesn’t seem like the action of a bunch of protesters riled up by a movie. This incident needs to be investigated thoroughly, and the Administration needs to be honest with the American people about what happened, because that does not appear to be what’s happening now.

Separately, over at CNN, we see one more disturbing claim of warnings disregarded:

Three days before the deadly assault on the United States consulate in Libya, a local security official says he met with American diplomats in the city and warned them about deteriorating security.

Jamal Mabrouk, a member of the February 17th Brigade, told CNN that he and a battalion commander had a meeting about the economy and security.

He said they told the diplomats that the security situation wasn’t good for international business.

“The situation is frightening, it scares us,” Mabrouk said they told the U.S. officials. He did not say how they responded.

Mabrouk said it was not the first time he has warned foreigners about the worsening security situation in the face of the growing presence of armed jihadist groups in the Benghazi area.

The main building in the compound is in charred ruins.

That report mentions, “there are numerous questions about what happened at the consulate where protesters had gathered to demonstrate against the film ‘Innocence of Muslims,’” but another account offers a time that seems . . . strange for a protest: “One of five private security guards at the consulate said the surprise attack began around 9:30 p.m. when several grenades that were lobbed over the outer wall exploded in the compound and bullets rained down.”

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