And another part of the cover-up crumbles. If you haven't already, go back and ready my five-point omnibus post from earlier to get up to speed on how the administration's Benghazi narrative is coming apart at the seams -- thanks largely to an avalanche of leaks from people in the know who refuse to be scapegoats. If Jake Tapper's "drip, drip, drip" analogy is appropriate, here's another major splash from Fox News' Jennifer Griffin this morning. The first portion of the clip is rehashing some of the information we've seen over the last day or so; it's the back half that contains several important items:
Fox News has learned that US military intelligence was reporting as early as 7pm Eastern -- less than four hours after the attack began -- that Ansar al Sharia carried out the attack. The intelligence was relayed to the military with no caveats, according to a source familiar with the intelligence. Further, two State Department cables show that Stevens' team warned Washington...US intelligence officials confirm to Fox that in fact there were reports from the ground in Benghazi three hours before the attack on the consulate that a Libyan militia was gathering weapons and gathering steam.
So not only did the administration know within 24 hours that this had been an act of terrorism, they knew within four hours which specific Islamist group was responsible for the raid. (Remember, those August cables mentioned at least ten active jihadist militias in the city). The US staff in Benghazi sent explicit warnings about a lack of security at the consulate in August, as requests for reinforcements were being routinely denied. They also fired off urgent cables mere hours before the assault began, informing Washington that a terrorist attack had been set into motion. Why do these details matter? Because the White House -- the president, the Secretary of State, the UN Ambassador -- continued to insist for days that this 9/11 terrorist attack was connected to (non-existent) spontaneous protests over an obscure online video. Clinton even denounced the video while standing next to the caskets of the fallen upon their return. This was a completely false storyline, pushed for reasons that remain unclear -- although I think the motives are becoming more readily apparent by the day. The president has said that his administration has been fully transparent, updating the public on critical information as it's come in -- even feigning great offense that anyone would suggest otherwise. The flat truth is that his White House has done nothing of the sort. Let's recall this assertion from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney three days after the massacre:
The White House on Friday said a report stating the president failed to act on knowledge of a potential attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya was “absolutely wrong.” White House press secretary Jay Carney said there was “no actionable intelligence” ahead of the attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. “There was no intelligence that could in any way have been acted on to prevent these attacks,” he said. “The report was false.”
We now know that there was intelligence. Lots of it -- not only in the weeks leading up to the coordinated ambush, but in the hours before it unfolded. That intelligence was bolstered throughout the seven-hour ordeal, during which people "at the most senior level" of the administration denied multiple desperate pleas for back-up for reasons that remain an infuriating mystery. The president still isn't answering questions on this front, seeking political refuge in a haze of "ongoing investigation" obfuscation. It seems the Las Vegas Review-Journal's scathing assessment of our current Commander-in-Chief is very much on target. Parting thought: Are the CIA and State Department "going to war" over this?
UPDATE - Fox News' panel of Kirsten Powers (a Democrat) and Judith Miller (a Pulitzer Prize winner, formerly of the New York Times) just lambasted the media for deliberately ignoring his enormous story to protect their preferred candidate through the election. Some reporters like Eli Lake, Sharyl Atkisson, Jake Tapper and others are doing excellent work on this, but it is strangely not breaking through into major coverage -- with the exception of Fox, which has treated this seriously. By comparison, Jonah Goldberg recalls the mad feeding frenzy over George W. Bush's decades-old DUI revelation in the closing days of the 2000 campaign. It's not a secret what's going on here:
Again, these are not conservative partisans predictably ripping the "lamestream media." This is a Democratic strategist and a long-time MSMer being honest about what is playing out before their eyes, plain as day.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography