- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 14, 2012

“The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today, is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack,” Mrs. Rice said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“What happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video.

“People gathered outside the embassy, and then it grew very violent, and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in postrevolutionary Libya, and that then spun out of control. But we don’t see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack,” she said.

That may have been consistent with Mr. Clapper’s briefing, but not with a lot of other evidence, including Western press interviews with eyewitnesses who said there were no protesters.

Two weeks later, a State Department official held a conference call with reporters and disowned the public remarks of one of its own. The official said the State Department never concluded that an anti-Muslim video provoked the attack.

“That was not our conclusion,” the official said.

What’s more, the official acknowledged that there had never been a demonstration, spontaneous or otherwise. Security cameras showed no activity outside the consulate walls. Then, at 9:40 p.m. Libya time, streams of armed men began an assault.

Their onrush raised another key question. Why did mission security seem so thin? There were a handful of Libyan private security guards outside the wall. Three members of a friendly militia resided in a barracks inside. Mr. Stevens had five American security guards; ultimately, they were no match for the invaders. Some reports said a Libyan guard joined the attackers.

Two days later at the State Department’s press briefing with spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, a reporter asserted that “very few” security personnel were there.

“I’m going to reject that,” Mrs. Nuland said. “Let me tell you what I can about the security at our mission in Benghazi. It did include a local Libyan guard force around the outer perimeter. This is the way we work in all of our missions all around the world, that the outer perimeter is the responsibility of the host government.

“There was obviously a physical perimeter barrier, a wall. And then there was a robust American security presence inside the compound,” she said. “This is absolutely consistent with what we have done at a number of missions similar to Benghazi around the world.”

It may have been consistent with missions around the world, but in this case the consulate sat in a city that was becoming home to an increasing number of Islamic militants.

Troubling signs

Whistleblowers inside the State Department began leaking internal memos that found their way to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and told a story that differed from the official line.

Personnel on scene told Washington that security was inadequate. Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, an Army Green Beret who headed three site-security teams, said he repeatedly asked to keep them in Libya, but was rebuffed by State Department officials.

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