A new book contains additional confirmation of what we already know about the Obama administration's response to the Benghazi attacks. Namely, that pretty much everyone up and down the chain of command understood the raid to be a terrorist attack almost immediately:
Just minutes after 35 jihadists crashed through the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, nearly one year ago, the facility got word to the State Department, FBI and Pentagon that terrorists were attacking, according to a forthcoming book that provides the fullest review of the assault to date. In “Under Fire, the Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi,” it is revealed that an unidentified security official in the Benghazi compound protecting Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens messaged the U.S. embassy in Tripoli: “Benghazi under fire, terrorist attack.” Stevens and three others died that night. Twenty-five minutes after it began, the operation center at State received an electronic cable announcing the attack, according to authors Fred Burton, a former State Diplomatic Security agent and Samuel Katz, an author and expert on international special operations and counterterrorism.
Their findings in "Under Fire," based on exclusive interviews of those in the battle, refute days of claims by the administration that the attack was sparked by Muslim anger at a U.S.-made anti-Muslim film, and raise new questions as President Obama eyes military action in Syria that U.S. diplomatic posts in the region are properly protected. The authors note that at the time of the attack in Benghazi there were riots against U.S. embassies in Cairo, Tunis and elsewhere related to the film, “Innocence of Muslims.” That could have been the cause of initial confusion about the attackers, but the eyewitness accounts by State and CIA agents in the battle — backed by live video feeds from drones — should have erased any doubt.
The book's authors appear to be credentialed and credible people, and several of the reported nuggets within their volume come directly from exclusive interviews with sources who were on the group during the hours-long firefight. (Are any of these sources among those who have been ordered to keep their mouths shut?) As I indicated above, Under Fire's 'revelations' aren't necessarily revelatory, but they serve an important purpose by backing up previous accounts. For instance, we already knew that the administration was aware of Benghazi's terrorism signature virtually instantaneously. The White House equivocated on the point for weeks, over which span the president refused to clearly label the raid an act of terrorism. Former CIA Director David Petraeus told members of Congress that the intelligence community knew Benghazi was terrorism "almost immediately," disdaining the White House's false 'spontaneous protest' talking points as "useless." During his explosive testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Benghazi whistleblower Gregory Hicks -- who was second in command to the late Amb. Stevens in Libya -- stated that he'd personally debriefed Sec. Clinton about the nature of the attacks on the very night they were carried out. Indeed, an Assistant Secretary of State
One of the great fears of western intel in deposing Qaddafi was that his supply of anti-aircraft weapons would end up confiscated by jihadis and then used against western passenger jets. (Collecting MANPADs may — may — have been what the CIA was up to in Benghazi.) Presumably O has something different in mind for the anti-aircraft weapons we’ll be sending our new allies. Maybe something with a shorter range? As goofy and counterproductive as this Syrian adventure is, I can’t quite believe the White House would be so incompetent as to introduce jet-killing weapons into the maelstrom. But then, I’ve been on vacation and haven’t been watching this clusterfark moment by moment. It’s been one amateurish embarrassment after another on Syria — first O blathering about a “red line” that he apparently had no real interest in enforcing, then vowing to arm the rebels while quietly withholding armaments, then rattling his saber about an impending attack before crawling to Congress to bail him out when even the British wouldn’t join the new mission.
Yup. Remember this? What, exactly, is our goal in Syria? Given our track record in Libya, this plan seems like an awfully risky needle to thread. But hey, at least this time around, the president is half-pretending to care about Congress and the law