The multiple different narratives from the Obama Administration about the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya was already certain to be a central issue in the foreign policy presidential debate on Oct. 22 as it was in the Oct. 16 debate in New York. But, an Associated Press report published today confirming revelations made last Sunday by Sen. Lindsay Graham raises further questions that demand answers from President Obama.
Following are excerpts from the AP story as published by The Washington Post:
WASHINGTON — The CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington within 24 hours of last month’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about an American-made video ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, U.S. officials have told The Associated Press.
It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information went. The Obama administration maintained publicly for a week that the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was a result of the mobs that staged less-deadly protests across the Muslim world around the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S.
The two U.S. officials said the CIA station chief in Libya compiled intelligence reports from eyewitnesses within 24 hours of the assault on the consulate that indicated militants launched the violence, using the pretext of demonstrations against U.S. facilities in Egypt against the film to cover their intent. The report from the station chief was written late Wednesday, Sept. 12, and reached intelligence agencies in Washington the next day, intelligence officials said.
Yet, on Saturday of that week, briefing points sent by the CIA to Congress said “demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) cited the same 24 hour conclusion about the Benghazi attack in an interview with Bob Schieffer of CBS News on Face the Nation Sunday, October 14, 2012. Below is a crucial part of that interview:
GRAHAM: "My belief is that that was known by the administration within 24 hours. And, quite frankly, [U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations] Susan Rice, on your show on September 16, the president on the 18th, and the 25th, kept talking about an attack inspired by a video. They`re trying to sell a narrative, quite frankly, that the Mid-East, the wars are receding and al Qaeda's been dismantled, and to admit that our embassy was attacked by al Qaeda operatives and Libya leading from behind didn't work. I think undercuts that narrative. They never believed the media would investigate. Congress was out of session, and this caught up with them.
"I think they have been misleading us, but it finally caught up with them."
SCHIEFFER: "Well, that is a very serious charge you just leveled, Senator Graham. Are you saying the administration deliberately misled the American people to make it look as if terrorism is not as much of a threat as apparently it is?"
GRAHAM: "Either they are misleading the American people or incredibly incompetent. There was no way with anybody looking at all that you could believe five days after the attack it was based on a riot that never occurred. There was no riot at all. So, to say that, you`re either very incompetent or misleading."
SCHIEFFER: "Where did you get this information that led you to this conclusion? Did you talk to officials there? Did you talk to people in the CIA? Did you talk to people in the administration? How are you so convinced of what you have just stated?"
GRAHAM: "The intelligence community on the ground in Libya has told Senators Corker and myself that within 24 hours, they communicated up to Washington that this was a terrorist attack."
In Other News: Can We Ask Al Qaeda for a Refund on the Bowe Bergdahl Prisoner Swap? | Michael Schaus