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« Open Thread | Main | Twelve Years Ago Today: The Bombing of the USS Cole »
October 12, 2012


Bumped. Open thread below.

Sorry if that headline is confusing. Let me unpack it:

The Administration claims it did have some basis for claiming this attack was somehow related to a "protest" about the YouTube video.

There was no protest. But they claimed "intelligence" told them there might be some link to a protest. So they're claiming they might have been wrong, but they weren't deliberately wrong-- also known as lying. In error, but not in deceit, they claim.

Well, we now know the contents of that single strand of intelligence suggesting there might be a protest (which was incorrect intelligence).

That strand of intelligence was a message from an Al Qaeda group saying they would go ahead with their planned attack, given there were protests erupting in other parts of the world.

Thus, the very evidence they claim exonerates them from the charge of deliberately misleading the public in fact damns them -- because this single strand of intelligence came from Al Qaeda, announcing it would go ahead with the attack!

But they never told us that part, did they?

And now, caught out lying to the public about this, they claim this intelligence vindicates them -- but it actually proves that from the first moments of intelligence collection they knew Al Qaeda was behind it, and even if there was a protest (which there wasn't) that was simply a matter of providing cover for the planned attack.

This is actually ten day old news-- Eli Lake reported it October 1.

But I, for one, never appreciated this. I never saw it spelled out in the secondary media with clarity.

I never saw anyone note that that the very intercept the Administration says justifies their claim that it was "due to a protest" actually implicates Al Qaeda in the 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 affiliate, 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.

Further, as you just read, the "protest" in question wasn't in Beghazi-- they were referring to the protests in Cairo giving them a sort of jihadist momentum for the attack.

I'm sorry if you knew this already. I'm also unhappy with myself for not knowing it, for not reading every one of Lake's scoops carefully, and just checking the headlines.

I only now understand what they specifically meant by "cherry-picking intelligence" -- I had no idea it was this clearly damning for Obama. Quite literally, seizing on the word "protest" (in Cairo, as the message meant it) and utterly ignoring the pre-planned Al Qaeda attack part of it.

But as I've been remiss, I'll make up for it now, and promote the information as well as I can.

Remember: When Biden claims that the Administration reported the intelligence as they understood it, they are claiming that this message is cover enough to claim "protest/YouTube video" -- but not, apparently, enough to tell the public Al Qaeda itself had announced it was going forward with the attack in the same message.

Update/Semi-Correction: Gabe points out the Talking Points, prepared by the CIA, did mention a "spontaneous demonstration" in Benghazi. Although the actual intercepted call mentioned demonstrations in Cairo, and no one ever saw a "demonstration" in Benghazi. Ever.

I think -- can't prove; I think -- these Talking Points were prepared in negotiation with the White House, to get the best spin they could, and the CIA went along with this part of it.

Because there was never a damn sighting of a protest in Benghazi. What was seen by the staffers were security officers turned terrorist snapping pictures of the compound, casing the joint.

The whole "protest" claim seems like a fabrication the CIA thought they could support.

They couldn't, and they can't.

But Gabe is right, that was in the Talking Points.

Funny how "Al Qaeda" didn't quite make the cut.

Oh: And open thread. I'm starting the weekend early.

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