Asked how the White House could cling for nearly two weeks to a story that the attack was ignited by a demonstration, Gen. Ham said: “I’m not [privy] to those conversations. Mine were with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and with the secretary. And I think we were pretty clear on, you know, pretty shortly thereafter kind of the nature of the attack.”
Mr. Panetta testified before the Senate in February that he later became convinced the incident was terrorism, not a demonstration, and told Congress as such three days later.
Mr. Panetta testified that he had no other contact with the president during the seven-hour siege of the CIA annex.
The record of Benghazi now shows that Mr. Obama’s entire military leadership concluded that it was a planned terrorist attack within hours or a few days. It also shows that the CIA drafted an initial public statement, known as “talking points,” that said the attack was terrorism and made no mention of a demonstration. Likewise, the U.S. diplomatic mission never reported a demonstration that day. The CIA reviewed security video Sept. 18 that showed no demonstration outside the walls.
Yet Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper clung to the false report of a demonstration until Sept. 24, the day before Mr. Obama went before the United Nations and continued to blame the violence on spontaneous demonstrations against an American-produced anti-Muslim video, the Senate report said.