On the night of Sept. 11, 2012 -- before former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed by a terrorist mortar strike -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a public statement linking the attack against the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, with an anti-Muslim video, which she referred to as "inflammatory material posted on the Internet."
Clinton's statement, still posted on State's website, is dated Sept. 11, 2012, and headlined: "Statement on the Attack in Benghazi."
The statement first notes that a State Department officer had been killed in Benghazi -- an apparent reference to Information Management Officer Sean Smith, whose body had been recovered at the U.S. mission in Benghazi by U.S. security officers by about 5:30 p.m. Washington, D.C., time on Sept. 11 -- or 11:30 p.m. Benghazi time.
The statement then talks about Clinton's communications that night with Libya's president and refers to what Clinton calls "inflammatory material posted on the Internet."
"I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today," Clinton said in the statement. "As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack.
"This evening, I called Libyan President Magariaf to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya," Clinton continued. "President Magariaf expressed his condemnation and condolences and pledged his government's full cooperation.
"Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet," Clinton said. "The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."
"In light of the events of today, the United States government is working with partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide," Clinton's statement concluded.
On Jan. 8, I contacted the State Department press office three times by telephone and once by email to ask when exactly on Sept. 11, 2012, the department released this statement by Clinton.
"I just want to know at what time on Sept. 11, 2012, this statement was released," I asked in an email that I sent at 2:20 p.m. Eastern time after my second phone inquiry.
I was later told that a group that answers questions on Benghazi for the State Department was working on an answer for me.