Via The Blaze.
For eight days after the attacks on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, government officials said the attacks were a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam film. Now that officials have acknowledged they were a premeditated act of terrorism, the question some members Congress are trying to answer is why it took so long for the truth to come out.
Unclassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency suggest the answer may have to do with so-called talking points written by the CIA and distributed to members of Congress and other government officials, including Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The documents, distributed three days after the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, said the events were spontaneous.
The talking points say, among other things, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”
In addition, the briefing says this “assessment may change as additional information is collected” and that the “investigation is on-going.”
The theory that the attacks were spontaneous was echoed by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Sept. 14, just three days after the attacks, and again on Sept. 16 by Ambassador Rice. On Sept. 18, Carney said, “Based on information that we—our initial information, and that includes all information—we saw no evidence to back up claims by others that this was a preplanned or premeditated 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 afiliate, 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.
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?”
I was an intelligence analyst for most of my service in the United States Army, and I understand fully the tendency to dismiss the warnings of analysts who raise red flags, especially when it goes against the bureaucratic status quo. But to err on the side of caution can cost lives in the real world.
The attack in Libya was a culmination of the rampage across the Middle East.
There was already an attack on the embassy in Cairo.
Anyone who thinks this was spontaneous has a shit factory for a brain.