Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s embassy in Tripoli, Libya, warned State Department officials in Washington, D.C., not to blame the Youtube video, Innocence of Muslims, for the Benghazi terrorist attack.
The House Benghazi Committee released a new email Saturday that a Tripoli embassy official sent to Clinton’s underlings in Washington, D.C., on September 14, 2012, two days before Susan Rice appeared on Sunday talk shows to use the administration’s “video” talking point.
“Colleagues, I mentioned to [redacted] this morning, and want to share with all of you, our view at Embassy Tripoli that we must be cautious in our local messaging with regard to the inflammatory film trailer, adapting it to Libyan conditions,” the official wrote.
The official added:
Our monitoring of the Libyan media and conversations with Libyans suggest that the films [sic] not as explosive of an issue here as it appears to be in other countries in the region. The overwhelming majority of the FB comments and tweets we’ve received from Libyans since the Ambassador’s death have expressed deep sympathy, sorrow, and regret. They have expressed anger at the attackers, and emphasized that this attack does not represent Libyans or Islam. Relatively few have even mentioned the inflammatory video. So if we post messaging about the video specifically, we may draw unwanted attention to it.
“And it is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest which escalated into violence,” the official continued. “It is our opinion that in our messaging, we want to distinguish, not conflate, the events in other countries with this well-planned attack by militant extremists. I have discussed this with [redacted] and he shares PAS’s view.”
According to a statement by Matt Wolking, press secretary of the House Select Committee on Benghazi:
This email shows that State Department staff privately raised serious concerns about conflating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi with a video on the Internet, even as the Secretary of State and other Obama administration officials continued to do so publicly. Furthermore, according to the former head of the CIA, intelligence “analysts never said the video was a factor in the Benghazi attacks.” So while Secretary Clinton may use the “fog of war” as a convenient excuse for why she said one thing in private and something else in public, the reality is that’s just another smokescreen.