Senators are expected to ask Mr. Clapper and Mr. Petraeus, who has agreed to testify at another time and place, how they came to their conclusions in the face of facts that did not fit the White House’s rush to dismiss Islamic terrorists as the attackers.
The Defense Intelligence Agency on Sept. 12 briefed the Pentagon that Ansar al-Shariah, a Libyan group linked to al Qaeda, likely carried out the attack. An email from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli that arrived at the White House about 5 p.m. said Ansar al-Shariah had claimed responsibility.
Over the next two days, Libyan security officials told the Western press that the attack was planned to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
In Washington, Patrick F. Kennedy, the State Department undersecretary in charge of diplomatic security, told congressional staffers on Sept. 12 that the assault bore all the hallmarks of a well-orchestrated terrorist operation.
Despite the mounting evidence, Mr. Clapper and other Obama officials stuck to the video-made-them-do-it pronouncement, although the president made vague references to terrorism on two occasions.
Perhaps the height of the disconnect occurred Sept. 19, when Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, became the first administration official to testify in public about the attack.
“They were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy,” he told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
That same day at the White House, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters: “Right now, I’m saying we don’t have evidence at this point that this was premeditated or preplanned to coincide to happen on a specific date or coincide with that anniversary.”
‘This is the way we work’
There is also conflict over a reported demonstration outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
The most conspicuous official to back that version is Susan E. Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who made the Sunday talk-show rounds on Sept. 16 to drive home the point that Libyan demonstrators incensed over the video had turned violent.View Entire Story
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