A State Department official told Capitol Hill staffers the Islamist attacks in Benghazi, Libya were planned and highly organized the day after they occurred, contradicting the Obama Administration’s scapegoating of a YouTube clip.
Fox News reported on Monday that Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy characterized the attacks that killed ambassador Christopher Stevens as a coordinated terrorist attack. This undermines the explanation of American Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice (pictured above) as she appeared on Meet the Press and other Sunday talk shows four days after the attacks. She claimed they were unplanned — a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam movie posted online.
Over the next several weeks, both conservative and progressive news outlets acknowledged that Ambassador Rice’s statements had been misleading. On Friday, she offered an awkward explanation that those statements were based upon “the intelligence community’s best, current assessment as of the date of my television appearances.”
News that Under Secretary Kennedy’s “best, current assessment” directly contradicted Rice’s public statements further erods the Obama administration’s credibility on the Benghazi attacks:
Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy — who exercises responsibility for all department personnel, facilities, and operations, and who is one of the department’s most respected civil servants, having served in his position under both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations — delivered the assessment in an unclassified, half-hour conference call with staff aides to House and Senate lawmakers from relevant committees, and leadership offices, on the evening of Sept. 12. Capitol Hill sources described the call to Fox News.
That a State Department official of Kennedy’s rank — one with direct oversight of the installations and people targeted in Benghazi — reached such a conclusion so swiftly stands in stark contrast to the opposing narrative pressed at that time, and for several days afterward, by other top officials at State, the White House, and the intelligence agencies.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called on Ambassador Rice to resign last week for her misleading statements on Benghazi.
Congressional hearings on the Benghazi attacks are scheduled to begin on Wednesday.