Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was warned that the Benghazi terrorist attack was carried out by a terrorist group using Youtube video protests as “cover,” in a memo that she received the day after the attack.
Nevertheless, Clinton still went ahead and pushed the false talking point that spontaneous protests incited by the Internet movie Innocence of Muslims caused the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.
Clinton received a memo on September 12, 2012, the day after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, identifying the Ansar Al Sharia Islamist group as the culprits. The memo came from Tyler Drumheller, the now-deceased former-CIA spy who became famous for questioning the intelligence used to justify the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq. It is likely that the person who forwarded the memo to Clinton—whose name is redacted on the State Department’s release of the email—was Clinton’s unofficial political and Libya adviser Sidney Blumenthal, who was using Drumheller as a source.
“On September 12, 2012 Libyan President Mohammed Yussef el Magariaf told senior advisors that the death of the U.S. Ambassador at the hands of Islamist militia forces represents a threat to the future of the newly elected General National Congress (GNC) Government,” the memo stated. It went on:
According to a sensitive source, el Magariaf believes that the primary goal of this and other attacks on Western facilities is to demonstrate that the GNC cannot protect its non-Islamic friends. Libyan security officials believe that the attack was carried out by forces of the Islamist militia group calling itself the Ansar al Sharia brigade; working out of camps in the Eastern suburbs of Benghazi. These officials added that their sources indicate that this group is led by former members of the old Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), some of whom are loyal to Islamist General Abclelhakim Belhaj.
The memo made clear that the attackers were using the video Innocence of Muslims as cover. The memo stated:
They also have no direct information as to whether this assault has anything to do with the death of Libyan born al Qai’da leader Abu Yahya al- Libi, but they are pursuing this theme. These officials do believe that the attackers having prepared to launch their assault took advantage of the cover provided by the demonstrations in Benghazi protesting an internet production seen as disrespectful to the prophet Mohammed.
Clinton obviously trusted the information. She forwarded the memo to her State Department aide Jacob Sullivan, saying, “We should get this around asap.”
But Clinton went ahead and publicly blamed the Youtube video, anyway.
On the morning of September 13, Clinton made a statement pointing the blame at the Youtube film. Clinton said:
Unfortunately, however, over the last 24 hours, we have also seen violence spread elsewhere. Some seek to justify this behavior as a response to inflammatory, despicable material posted on the Internet. As I said earlier today, the United States rejects both the content and the message of that video. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. At our meeting earlier today, my colleague, the foreign minister of Morocco, said that all prophets should be respected because they are all symbols of our humanity, for all humanity.
Clinton later told the father of fallen SEAL Tyrone Woods at a memorial service that she planned to “arrest and prosecute” the filmmaker responsible for the Youtube video. Filmmaker Nakoula Basseley was later arrested on probation violations and sentenced to a year in prison.