“[I]t looks like the administration’s been involved in a cover up claiming that it was all caused by this YouTube video, when in fact, it was clearly the result of the developments with respect to al Qaeda and terrorism in North Africa,” Dick Cheney told Sean Hannity yesterday. “The battle is not over by any means. They keep wanting to say that there is no War on Terror, we don’t use the word terror. They refuse to recognize the situation we are in and that’s the first step towards ultimate failure and ultimately future terrorist attacks.”
You know who agrees with him, at least on the cover-up part? Jon Stewart, not exactly a bastion of sympathy for conservative foreign policy views.
Meanwhile, Britain’s The Telegraph notes that the Brits pulled their diplomats out of Benghazi two months before the attacks citing an increasingly hostile an environment, making it hard to believe that American intelligence would lead anyone to believe that this was a spontaneous attack inspired by a YouTube video:
Within 24 hours of the attack taking place, Washington was informed by a variety of intelligence sources that the attack had indeed been pre-planned and was undoubtedly the work of al-Qaeda which, apart from attacking the consulate, had also attacked the CIA’s safe house in Benghazi.
As a result, rather than absolving itself of any blame for this tragic incident, the White House – and Mr Obama – now find themselves at the centre of a mounting storm over what precisely they knew about the attack on the consulate, and when.
Now that Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, has confirmed there was an explicit link between al-Qaeda and the attack, questions are being asked about the role Dr Rice played in trying to play down the significance of the attack. The Republicans have already called for her to resign from her post for misleading the American people.
But the real smoking gun is whether the Obama administration was warned in advance that al-Qaeda was planning an attack. A number of Israeli newspapers have suggested that Washington was warned as early as September 4 – a week earlier – that the environment in Benghazi was becoming increasingly hostile and anti-American, while in London the Foreign Office took the decision to withdraw all its consular staff from Benghazi two months before the murders. This decision was based on an intelligence assessment made by MI6 that al-Qaeda was openly operating in the area following a failed assassination attempt on Sir Dominic Asquith, Britain’s ambassador to Libya, in June.
In short, not only did the Obama administration know that an attack was likely, but they refused to beef up security in Benghazi to protect or diplomats. Or, as the Brits did, pull our personnel out of harm’s way.