Times: al-Qaida had no role in Benghazi

Staff report Published:

A New York Times investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, found no evidence that al-Qaida or other international terrorists groups had a role in the assault, the newspaper reported Saturday.

The report calls into question Republican allegations of an Obama administration cover-up of the events that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

U.S. House members on Sunday disputed the report and its determination that al-Qaida had no role in the attack.

"I dispute that, and the intelligence community, to a large volume, disputes that," Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told "Fox News Sunday."

California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff also said that "intelligence indicates al-Qaida was involved."

According to the Times, the attack was fueled in large part by an anti-Islam video circulating on the Internet. This explanation was offered by Susan Rice, now President Barack Obama's national security adviser.

However, neither the spontaneous street protest nor the carefully planned attack theories are completely accurate. The reality is murkier, the Times says.

SDLqBenghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests," the report says. "The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs."

The report singles out a militia leader, Ahmed Abu Khattala, who denies participating in the attack but was placed there by witnesses, as one of the prime suspects identified by the U.S. investigation. He has no known links to terrorist groups, but Abu Khattala placed the United States not far behind longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi on his enemies list.

However, the violence also had spontaneous elements. The report says anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters. Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack.

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  • Betrayal that whitewash won't cover
    By Wesley Pruden
    Monday, December 30, 2013

    Transparency, the current vogue word for truth-telling, is usually a good thing, unless you're trying to fool all the people some of the time, like spending 7,000 words to resurrect a fairy tale in Benghazi, all to give a helping hand to a lady in distress.

    The New York Times understands that Hillary Clinton is likely to be the only credible hope the Democrats have for 2016 and that she already needs lots of remedial help. The Times huffed and puffed to deliver an excuse for betrayal in Benghazi, meant to second Mrs. Clinton's famous alibi for her tortured misfeasance as secretary of state -- "What difference, at this point, does it make?"

    The right response might have made a lot of difference to an American ambassador who lay dead, slain at the hands of Islamic terrorists, and three other Americans who had to give up their lives because nobody at the White House could be bothered to ride to the rescue. President Obama and his frightened and timid acolytes, including Mrs. Clinton, insisted that this was not Islamic terror or the perfidy of al Qaeda, but merely the reaction of innocent Muslims offended by a video posted on YouTube mocking the religion of the Prophet Muhammad.

    Even after the White House dispatched Susan Rice, who was then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to push the confection about the video as revealed truth, almost nobody believed it. The White House couldn't even find anybody else who would say he believed it.

    David Kirkpatrick, the Cairo bureau chief of The New York Times, grunted, burped and produced a tiny mouse of special pleading, an account with nothing new of much importance, except a few colorful facts of the sort that were once the popcorn of newsmagazine journalism. He describes, for example, the vase in the living room of the mother of one of the suspects in the Benghazi attack. Vases are no doubt important, but mostly to interior decorators. This account, so transparent to anyone who reads it even with casual attention, seems hardly worth the effort of a good reporter who was willing to take certain risks to himself.

    It's important to Hillary and her presidential campaign, now in its early planning, to repeat the con that al Qaeda was not in any way involved, because Mr. Obama was supposed to have killed al Qaeda graveyard dead when he dispatched Navy SEALs to terminate Osama bin Laden with extreme prejudice.

    The length and timing of the account naturally whetted appetites for more in Washington, where the art of the reading of the entrails of exotic animals in search of hidden meanings has been raised to science. But why was such work, once accomplished, relegated to publication, front-page placement or not, in the deadest news week of the year? This is the week when news editors usually must be satisfied with a factory fire in Lower Volta or a flood in Upper Slobbovia to fill their pages. The Benghazi whitewash, such as it was, appeared unexpectedly and disappeared just as quickly. The Drudge Report, read in every newsroom as an invaluable tip sheet, treated it as a top story on Sunday morning, when it was fodder for the Sunday morning talk shows, and on Monday the story was gone, replaced by stories about two men planning their same-sex wedding on a float in the Rose Bowl parade, a Florida woman arrested for beating up her boyfriend because he wouldn't take her to bed for a cuddle, and a Louisville man who disturbed the peace in a bingo parlor by dropping his pants and racing through the hall shouting, "Bingo!"

    Hearts among Hillary's campaigners no doubt quickened when they saw the front page of The New York Times on Sunday, but the story is hardly likely to change anybody's game. The early word is that Congress was not impressed, and not just the usual Republican suspects. Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, complimented The Times for adding "valuable insights" (unidentified), but observed that The Times' account was "heavily reliant obviously on people … who had reason to provide the story that they did."

    Benghazi remains the most toxic example of feckless incompetence and criminal impotence in the face of crisis that will be the legacy of Barack Obama's presidency. Hillary Clinton was part of that, and she shares the legacy of Benghazi that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Ours, too, alas.