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Obama and Benghazi-gate

by George Landrith

The most recently revealed State Department e-mails regarding the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi show that President Barack Obama has not been shooting straight with America. Whatever national security errors were made in the months and weeks leading up to the Benghazi attack, engaging in a cover up always makes things worse.

We now know that an e-mail was sent from American embassy personnel in Libya to hundreds of officials in the Obama Administration only minutes after the attack began. This e-mail’s subject line was “US Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” and stated that “approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four [embassy] personnel are in the compound safe haven.”

There was no mention of any protests. The video that the Administration was watching in real time showed the same thing — no protest. The testimony of those on the ground confirmed the video.

Two hours after the attack started, an e-mail update stated that an al Qaeda affiliated terrorist group, Ansar al-Sharia, had claimed credit for the attack.

Almost six hours after the attack began, another update reported a second phase of the attack — an intense mortar bombing — on a secret “safe house” located about a mile and a half from the consulate. The coordinated mortar attack on two locations, one of which was secret, lasted more than six hours. It required intelligence, expertise, training and specific military equipment — none of which spontaneous protestors would have had.

This e-mail is an arrow through the heart of the “spontaneous protest” claim. This was all known to the White House only hours after the attack began.

The day after the attack, Obama filmed a previously scheduled interview with CBS. While this segment of the interview was not originally broadcast, we now know that Obama admitted, “[The Benghazi attack] is not a situation that was — exactly the same as what happened in Egypt and my suspicion is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.”

Obama’s own words show that the White House understood that there was no spontaneous protest or offensive video at play in Benghazi.

But after reviewing the political realities of admitting that terrorists had just killed the ambassador and three diplomats, team Obama decided to change its story and blame a video and a spontaneous protest. This would preserve an important and oft repeated campaign theme — that Obama’s “lead from beyond” strategy had brought al Qaeda to its knees.

While there was no credible evidence to support this new theory, team Obama cynically proceeded with the phony storyline because it was viewed as helpful to his campaign. A cover-up was born.

Team Obama believed that the lapdog media would help him hide the truth. And the corrupt media dutifully did precisely that for several weeks. The media even went the extra mile of attacking Romney on the issue while giving Obama a pass.

Whatever one thinks of Romney’s response, which was in fact, quite measured, there can be no doubt that Obama’s cover-up of the facts surrounding the assassination of four Americans by terrorists is far more troubling and sinister.

Team Obama hoped that if it could change the narrative and blame a spontaneous protest and an obscure YouTube video, Obama could escape blame and could continue to spike the football claiming victory over al Qaeda.

Five days after the attacks, the Obama Administration sent UN Ambassador Susan Rice out to appear on five Sunday news shows and pitch the “spontaneous” reaction to the video storyline. The only problem is that none of the evidence suggested anything of the sort.

A week after the Benghazi attack, and while Obama’s CBS interview was still hidden, Obama press secretary Jay Carney said, “[W]e saw no evidence to back up claims … that this was a preplanned or premeditated attack.”  That is categorically false. “[W]e saw evidence that it was sparked by the reaction to this video.” There was no such evidence because that didn’t happen. Carney said, “we know” based on “concrete evidence, not supposition.” None of that was true. The cover-up was on.

For about the next three weeks, Obama himself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Jay Carney all blamed the video and a spontaneous protest, not once, but dozens of times.

Yet, there was no credible evidence to support this story. It was purely a fabrication. Live video from the consulate that was viewed in real time during the attack, eyewitness reports from American embassy personnel, Libyan officials, and everything else pointed to a planned attack by an al Qaeda affiliated group. Nothing pointed to a spontaneous protest.

The Administration has even tried to blame the CIA with the help of the New York Times and others, claiming that the CIA provided “talking points” which blamed the attack on a spontaneous protest. However, this must be false. There was no protest in Benghazi. Period. That was known from day one.

If political appointments on the intelligence side or if a pro-Obama faction in the CIA decided to fabricate “talking points” supporting Obama’s false narrative, they should be fired immediately.

What happened in Benghazi proved that one of Obama’s primary talking points — that Obama has al Qaeda on the run — was false. So Obama created a story that made the attack seem random, spontaneous, and unforeseeable. If he could sell that story for six weeks, he could continue spiking the football right through election day.

But with the facts catching up with the President’s fictions, Obama must now hope that for two more weeks the lapdog media will not fully disclose his deceptions or his personal blame for Benghazi-gate.

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George Landrith is the president of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. Mr. Landrith is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Business Editor of the Virginia Journal of Law and Politics. In 1994 and 1996, Mr. Landrith was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. You can follow George on Twitter @GLandrith.