After two long years and much political drama surrounding their investigations, the House Select Committee on Benghazi released its final report Tuesday morning, showing, among other bombshells, that the YouTube video narrative was crafted in Washington by Obama administration appointees, and contradicted eyewitness accounts and real time reports from the attack.
One witness, an agent at the American outpost in Benghazi, told committee members that before the attack began he heard “some kind of chanting.” Immediately afterwards came explosions, gunfire, and dozens of people storming the compound. This series of events was backed up by a senior watch officer at State’s diplomatic security command, who, when asked whether a protest was seen or heard prior to the attack, answered: “zip, nothing, nada.” Rather, it was a “full on attack against our compound,” the officer said, according to the report.
Furthermore, the report details how then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seems to have known immediately that the attack was a result of terrorism, not a YouTube video, despite claiming this to be the case publicly.
A White House meeting was held three hours into the attack, the report found, and it was after this meeting that Clinton issued a statement that read in part: “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” But she said something very different in an email to her daughter, Chelsea, writing that: “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like [sic] group.”
Furthermore, the next day Clinton told Egypt’s prime minister: “We know that the attacks in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack -- not a protest.”
So why did Susan Rice go on five Sunday shows and explain it was the result of a YouTube video?
At the time Rice claimed that her statements were made from the best information available but she was not briefed by anyone in the intelligence community. She was prepped for the Sunday shows by Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, and political adviser David Plouffe.
In an email to Rice and others in the Obama administration’s inner circle on Sept. 14 with the subject line: “RE: PREP Call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET,” Rhodes discussed the attack in the context of the YouTube video. He also stated these noteworthy goals: "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video and not a broader failure of policy” and “to reinforce the President and Administration's strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges."
But it wasn’t just the official talking points that were flawed—those from the CIA were as well, containing contradictions to eyewitness accounts of the night. “When editing the CIA's version, Deputy Director Michael Morell knew his personnel on the ground disputed the protest analysis, but he gave the final say to his analysts in Washington, thousands of miles away,” FoxNews.com reports.
All Republican members of the House Select Committee will be at a 10 a.m. press conference about the report’s release. Stay tuned for more analysis of the report.