As you'll recall, I was very skeptical this morning of initial US government assertions that there was "no intelligence" indicating the deadly Benghazi raid was premeditated or planned in advance. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeated this heavily-parsed denial at his briefing today (note that he appears to be reading a verbatim statement), only to give a markedly different answer just 45 minutes later:
ABC's Jake Tapper notes that the Defense Secretary briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee on the attack, telling Senators that the US Government believes it was a premeditated terrorist act. At first Carney ducks, suggesting that reporters "wait to hear more from administration officials" (does he not qualify?), then concludes that the violent incidents are "under active investigation." So which is it? No indication of premeditation, or substantial indication of premeditation with an ongoing investigation? I'll repeat the point I made earlier: Administration officials are very carefully denying something that nobody is alleging. They're saying, "no, there was no direct, actionable intelligence that the Benghazi mission specifically was at risk of an imminent attack. False, wrong, bad." But the Independent story said the intel warned of attacks on our diplomatic missions in the region more generally. They're not denying that. In fact, they're taking pains to write out statements that sound like broader denials, but that are actually extremely narrow, by design. Even so, might our government have extrapolated which locations were most likely to be in the cross-hairs based on, say, previous bombings and specific threats? From CNN:
A pro-al Qaeda group responsible for a previous armed assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is the chief suspect in Tuesday's attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya say. They also note that the attack immediately followed a call from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for revenge for the death in June of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior Libyan member of the terror group. The group suspected to be behind the assault -- the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades -- first surfaced in May when it claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross office in Benghazi. The following month the group claimed responsibility for detonating an explosive device outside the U.S. Consulate and later released a video of that attack.
I wonder if this information was in any of the intelligence briefing books that our president supposedly reads cover-to-cover every single day. Even if these seemingly obvious bread crumbs didn't exist -- although we cannot escape the fact that they do -- it's still an enormous scandal that no security reinforcements were provided. If you want an idea of how pathetic our diplomats' defenses were prior to their brutal murders, go back and read these posts. But what about Romney's gaffes?! While we're on that subject, kudos to Obama supporter Kirsten Powers for mercilessly slamming the press over their outrageous and overtly partisan concern-trolling about Mitt Romney's accurate (and eventually echoed by the White House) statement about the Cairo embassy's pathetic response to violent protests. This video is a day old, but it's worth a watch. Powers is en fuego: