Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Clay Waters Rehashes Republican Benghazi Lie

MRC Watch Dept. - Apparently finding it difficult to uncover any examples of press "liberalism" about which to gripe, Clay Waters decided to revisit one of the MRC's favorite faux scandals Wednesday: Benghazi. The New York Times seems to have run an article about the fortunes of the creator of the "Innocence of Muslims" movie, clips of which, displayed on YouTube, led to angry demonstrations and sometimes violent rioting across the Muslim world. I say "seems to" because Waters doesn't link to any such story -- he links to an entirely unrelated one from Monday's Times about Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal -- perhaps he fund it more interesting. That error aside, Waters quotes the Times story as saying "it was unclear when or if the 'Innocence of Muslims' video would return to YouTube. In 2012, it led to wide protests, beginning in Cairo and spreading to countries including Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia." And Waters objects:
"Yet one sub-plot was skipped in that roll call of countries that protested the Youtube video: the deadly protests by radical Islamists against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya... The Obama administration initially (and falsely) blamed those deadly attacks on the Youtube video as well... The Obama administration famously sent U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice onto all five Sunday news shows on September 16, 2012 to argue (falsely) that the attacks were a 'spontaneous' reaction to 'a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.' How convenient, as 2016 draws near and Hillary Clinton bolsters her presidential credentials, for the Times to flush that storyline down the memory hole."
The assertion that the Obama administration deliberately manufactured then tried to sell to the public a false narrative about the Benghazi attacks being in response to the video in question is a very, very tired saw among the right's Benghazi scandal-pimps, the writers of the Media Research Center being particularly ambitious examples of the breed.

The facts: In the immediate aftermath of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community was that the attack had grown from a spontaneous demonstration. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, having investigated this subject, issued a report in January 2014 that concluded:
"A dearth of clear and definitive HUMINT [human intelligence] or eyewitness reporting led IC [intelligence community] analysts to rely on open press reports and limited SIGINT reporting that incorrectly attributed the origins of the Benghazi attacks to 'protests'...  CIA's January 4, 2013, Analytic Line Review  found that '[a ]pproximately a dozen reports that included press accounts, public statements by AAS members, HUMINT reporting, DOD reporting, and signals intelligence all stated or strongly suggested that a protest occurred outside of the Mission facility just prior to the attacks.'"
In November 2014, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which had carried out its own investigation, concurred:
"There was a stream of contradictory and conflicting intelligence that came in after the attacks. The Committee found intelligence to support CIA's initial assessment that the attacks had evolved out of a protest in Benghazi; but it also found contrary intelligence, which ultimately proved to be the correct intelligence. There was no protest. The CIA only changed its initial assessment about a protest on September 24, 2012..."
...which was 8 days after Susan Rice had appeared on those Sunday shows. Both committees concluded there was no intentional effort to mislead on this point. Right after the attack, on 14 Sept., 2012, the CIA's Office of Terrorism Analysis had prepared a memo, one that has been publicly available since early 2013, which said,
"The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex."
...the Cairo protests in question having been in response to the YouTube video. When the administration prepared talking points for Rice prior to her appearance on the Sunday shows, this was cut-and-pasted into them virtually word-for-word and Rice's remarks in those appearances reflected them.

The Wall Street Journal reported that this analysis -- that the violence had spontaneously grown out of a demonstration -- was affirmed in the president's daily intelligence briefing, briefings which only began to question this conclusion on 22 Sept. This is how the intelligence community initially explained the attacks to the administration; the administration's initial public comments reflected this conclusion. That Wall Street Journal report appeared on 22 Oct., 2012, less than six weeks after the attack. In other words, as Waters took his lie to press Wednesday, this has been a matter of the public record for over 2 1/2 years.

And while the intelligence community eventually concluded there had been no demonstration, the New York Times reported on 18 June, 2014 that Ahmed Abu Khattalah, a suspected ringleader of the attack who had just been apprehended by U.S. forces, had said the attack had been in retaliation for the YouTube video:
"On the day of the [Benghazi] attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy’s walls — images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world. As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him."
Waters' attempted resuscitation of the lie that the Obama administration had manufactured and perpetuated a false narrative in this matter helps illustrate how very little facts matter to the writers of the Media Research Center.


[This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog that debunks the Media Research Center's lies.]

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