The New York Times fired its opening salvo for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign in the form of an investigative piece that in large part absolves her and the Obama administration of the charge that they purposefully misled the public in the wake of the Benghazi attack. Written by David Kirkpatrick, (whom Daniel Greenfield once called “very slimy” in a FrontPageMagazine article), the piece is entitled, A Deadly Mix in Benghazi, and claims that there was no al Qaeda link to the attack and it was fueled by the anti-Mohammed video.
Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.
It should be noted that Republicans have always claimed that Ansar al Sharia, the group behind the attack, was an “al Qaeda affiliate” or supporters of al Qaeda.
Fifteen months after Mr. Stevens’s death, the question of responsibility remains a searing issue in Washington, framed by two contradictory story lines.
One has it that the video, which was posted on YouTube, inspired spontaneous street protests that got out of hand. This version, based on early intelligence reports, was initially offered publicly by Susan E. Rice, who is now Mr. Obama’s national security adviser.
The other, favored by Republicans, holds that Mr. Stevens died in a carefully planned assault by Al Qaeda to mark the anniversary of its strike on the United States 11 years before. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of covering up evidence of Al Qaeda’s role to avoid undermining the president’s claim that the group has been decimated, in part because of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
The investigation by The Times shows that the reality in Benghazi was different, and murkier, than either of those story lines suggests. Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests. The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs.
Rep Peter King (R-NY), a member of the House Intelligence committee (and candidate for president in 2016) took issue with Kirkpatrick’s findings in an appearance on Fox News, Saturday afternoon..
“It’s clear that there was not adequate security”, he declared. “And it’s also clear that this was an organized, systematic attack with very skilled mortar operators – this was no kind of mob at all. And to the extent that a video was involved – it was really peripheral to the whole situation. This was an organized attack by Ansar al Sharia which is an al Qaeda affiliate in actual practice.” He called the report “misleading” because it was “making a distinction without a difference.”
Catherine Herridge appeared on Fox News Saturday evening to share her insights. She also made mention of the five highly accurate mortars that were fired on the CIA annex in less than a minute during the second wave of the attacks, noting that it “takes premeditation, it takes advanced planning, but more specifically – it takes training. And this would fly in the face – or at least contrast with the suggestion that this was just somehow spontaneous and a response to the anti-Islam video.”
The New York Times is out with a revisionist account of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. The Times says that in months of investigating, it “turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.” The Times also claims that the attack “was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
I suspect that the Times story tells us more about Hillary Clinton’s assessment of the threat Benghazi poses to her likely 2016 run for president than it does about what happened in Benghazi. But to the extent that the Times story is viewed as shedding a new, different light on the Benghazi, perhaps the House should hold new hearings on the attack.
The Times bases its claim that neither al Qaeda nor any other international terrorist group had a role in the attack on its view that Ansar al-Shariah is a “purely local extremist organization.” But Peter King, a member and former chairman of the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, points out that Ansar al-Shariah is widely believed to be an affiliate terror group of Al Qaeda. King accuses the Times of engaging in mere semantics, and he is probably right.
Linked by Doug Ross, thanks!