On September 14, just three days after the attack in Benghazi, Breitbart News published a story titled “Pattern of Targeting Diplomats in Benghazi Should Have Been Warning.” The same day that story went up, the State Department and the White House were working to remove identical information from their Benghazi talking points.
There was a clear pattern of attacks on western targets in Benghazi in the five months leading up to the 9/11 attack. I highlighted four attacks which had been barely reported, mostly in British news sources:
- A bomb thrown at the convoy of the head of the UN Mission to Libya during a visit to Benghazi.
- An RPG fired at the Red Cross HQ in Benghazi in May.
- A bomb thrown over the fence of our consulate on June 6.
- An RPG fired at the convoy of the British ambassador a week later, also in Benghazi.
Obviously, a pattern of attacks on diplomats and western interests suggests an attack on our consulate is not an outlier and probably not the result of a spontaneous protest. As I wrote at the time:
All of the previous attacks on diplomats and western outposts in Benghazi took place before the film, Innocence of Muslims, was uploaded to You Tube. There is ample reason to think the attack would have happened with or without the pretext of the film.
Incredibly, it turns out the same day the pattern of attacks story went up the Obama administration was busy removing any mention of the same attacks from their Benghazi talking points. Here is what the talking points said on the morning of the 14th according to a new report by the Weekly Standard:
Since April there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has [sic] previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.
By the next day, all of that information had been removed. Why? According to the Weekly Standard, the State Department was worried it would be criticized.
an individual identified in the House report only as a “senior StateDepartment official” responded to raise “serious concerns” about thedraft. That official, whom The Weekly Standard has confirmed was StateDepartment spokesman Victoria Nuland, worried that members of Congresswould use the talking points to criticize the State Department for “notpaying attention to Agency warnings.”
In an attempt to address those concerns, CIA officials cut allreferences to Ansar al Sharia and made minor tweaks. But in a follow-upemail at 9:24 p.m., Nuland wrote that the problem remained and that hersuperiors–she did not say which ones–were unhappy. The changes, shewrote, did not “resolve all my issues or those of my buildingleadership,” and State Department leadership was contacting NationalSecurity Council officials directly. Moments later, according to theHouse report, “White House officials responded by stating that the StateDepartment’s concerns would have to be taken into account.” Oneofficial–Ben Rhodes, The Weekly Standard is told, a top adviser toPresident Obama on national security and foreign policy–further advisedthe group that the issues would be resolved in a meeting of topadministration officials the following morning at the White House.
Notice that cutting references to Ansar al Sharia was not enough. What Nuland, and her unnamed superiors, wanted was the removal of any information about prior attacks. So all that was left was the claim of a spontaneous demonstration with no antecedents.
It wasn’t that the administration was unaware of the pattern of prior attacks in Benghazi. It’s that they didn’t want anyone else to be aware of them.