A 45-page analysis of the Benghazi Committee’s investigative report released Tuesday by a pair of Republican congressmen lays out in devastating detail the lengths to which Hillary Clinton went to obscure the motives behind the murder of four Americans in Libya in 2012.
The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others on Sept. 11, 2012. Reps. Jim Jordan and Mike Pompeo amassed ample evidence that then-Secretary of State Clinton quickly learned that the killings resulted from a organized terrorist attack.
“Yet, Secretary Clinton and the administration told one story privately — that Benghazi was a terrorist attack — and told another story publicly.”
“Yet, Secretary Clinton and the administration told one story privately — that Benghazi was a terrorist attack — and told another story publicly — blaming a video-inspired protest,” wrote Jordan and Pompeo, who said they wrote their report to highlight what they regard as the most important parts of the forthcoming official report of the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Indeed, in her Oct. 22 testimony before the Select Committee, Clinton blamed conflicting reports for the differences in her public and private statements on the motivations behind the attack. The report issued Tuesday by Jordan and Pompeo indicates there was overwhelming and immediate evidence in Clinton’s hands that it was a coordinated attack that had nothing to do with the video.
Democrats on the committee released their own report Monday, dismissing the investigation as “the ongoing Republican obsession with conspiracy theories that have no basis in reality.”
But it is hard to refute the written record showing Clinton and other administration officials clinging to their story that the attack started as a spontaneous protest over on obscure anti-Muslim internet video made by an American. Here is a timeline in the report:
Sept. 11, 2012
What they said in public: Clinton issued a statement at 10:08 p.m., before the attack was even over: “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.”
What they said in private: Hours earlier, though, at 6:49 p.m., Clinton told Libyan President Mohammed al Magariaf that there was “a gun battle ongoing, which I understand Ansar as-Sharia [sic] is claiming responsibility for.” In an email to daughter Chelsea at 11:23 p.m., she made no mention of the video. “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like [sic] group.”
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Sept. 12, 2012
What they said in public: Clinton said in public remarks that officials were trying to determine the motives for the assault. “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet,” she said.
What they said in private: In a summary of a call between Acting Assistant Secretary Beth Jones and Libyan Ambassador Ali Aujali, Jones said, “I told him that the group that conducted the attacks — Ansar Al Sharia — is affiliated with Islamic extremists.”
An email from State Department official Jacob Sullivan to the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, rejected the public contention that the attack in Libya was linked to a protest that had occurred in Cairo, Egypt.
“There was not really violence in Egypt [and] we are not saying that the violence in Libya erupted ‘over inflammatory videos,'” he wrote.
Clinton herself rejected the protest theory in a statement to then-Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Mohamed Qandil: “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack — not a protest … Based on the information we saw today we believe the group that claimed responsibility for this was affiliated with al Qaeda.”
Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy, in briefing with congressional staff, said, “No, the attack was a direct breaching attack.” He also differentiated it from the Cairo incident. “Attack in Cairo was a demonstration. There were no weapons shown or used. A few cans of spray paint.”
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Sept. 13, 2012
What they said in public: In remarks in Morocco, Clinton again blamed the online anti-Muslim film. “To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.”
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What they said in private: A summary of a call between Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides and the Egyptian ambassador to the United States states: “Nides said he understood the difference between the targeted attack in Libya and the way the protest escalated in Egypt.”
Sept. 14, 2012
What they said in public: White House press secretary Jay Carey said at a news conference, “We have no information to suggest that it was a pre-planned attack. The unrest we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims find offensive.”
That is consistent with an email sent that evening by White House adviser Ben Rhodes to Carney and others that it was important “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
The father of Tyrone Woods, one of the fallen Americans, wrote in his diary that during a ceremony for the return of his son’s body, “I gave Hillary a hug and shook her hand, and she said we are going to have the filmmaker arrested who was responsible for the death of my son.”
The mother of another victim, Sean Smith, similarly said, “We were nose-to-nose at the coffin ceremony. She told me it was the fault of the video. I said ‘Are you sure?’ She says, ‘Yes, that’s what it was … it was the video.'”
What they said in private: An email from a State Department press officer in the embassy in Tripoli urged colleagues not to draw attention to the video. “And it is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest which escalated into violence,” the officer wrote.
Sept. 15, 2012
What they said in public: That did not stop President Obama in his weekly radio address from declaring that the “tragic attack takes place at a time of turmoil and protest in many different countries.”
What they said in private: Clinton made no mention of a protest or video in call with the Libyan prime minister-elect.
Sept. 16, 2012
What they said in public: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, in interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Channel, said, “But we don’t see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack.”
What they said in private: In an email to media officers, a public affairs officer at the U.S. embassy in Libya wrote that there was evidence that a second attack on the diplomatic mission’s safe house could not have occurred without coordination and organization by the attackers. “This goes against statements that the attacks were not carried out by a single group but by an angry multitude protesting,” the officer wrote.
Sept 17, 2012
What they said in public: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stood by Rice’s remarks on the Sunday news shows. “Ambassador Rice, in her comments on every network over the weekend, was very clear, very precise, about what our initial assessment of what happened is,” she said.
What they said in private: Responding to instructions to link the attack in Benghazi to the protest in Egypt, a press officer in Libya wrote in an email, “I really hope this was revised. I don’t think we should go on the record on this.”
Sept. 18, 2012
What they said in public: Carney told reporters, “I would point you to what Ambassador Rice said and others have said about what we know thus far about the video and its influence on the protests that occurred in Cairo, in Benghazi and elsewhere.”
What they said in private: In a written statement to a congressional panel, Deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell wrote, “The critically important point is that the analysts considered this a terrorist attack from the very beginning.”
In an email exchange about an article quoting White House officials as seeing no signs of a premeditated attack, one State Department security agent asked another, “Can you believe this?” The second agent asked the first if there had been any rioting reported in Benghazi before the attack.
“Zip, nothing, nada,” the agent responded.
Sept. 19, 2016
What they said in public: In a cable to all U.S. embassies, Clinton warned of widespread violence at diplomatic posts across the Muslim world. “The proximate cause of the violence was the release by individuals in the United States of the video trailer for a film that many Muslims find offensive,” she wrote.
Sept. 20, 2012
What they said in public: At a Univision Town Hall event, Obama was still trying to determine what happened in Libya. “What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”