Sunday, December 29, 2013

Benghazi Consular attack was Local, not al-Qaeda: NYT ...... Another attempt to revive the offensive islamic video as cause ?



http://hotair.com/archives/2013/12/29/ny-times-hey-that-youtube-did-have-something-to-do-with-benghazi-attack-after-all/



NY Times: Hey, that YouTube video did have something to do with Benghazi attack after all

POSTED AT 10:31 AM ON DECEMBER 29, 2013 BY ED MORRISSEY

  
The New York Times produced a lengthy update on a story that conservatives complain the media ignores, but most won’t like what it says. David Kirkpatrick traveled to Benghazi to dig into the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, a terrorist attack that left four Americans dead — on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. Kirkpatrick argues that one motive for the attack was indeed the YouTube video, “Innocence of Muslims,” clips of which aired days before on Egyptian television and watched by the terror networks in and around Benghazi:
“INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS” PURPORTED TO BE AN ONLINE TRAILER for a film about the mistreatment of Christians in contemporary Egypt. But it included bawdy historical flashbacks that derided the Prophet Muhammad. Someone dubbed it into Arabic around the beginning of September 2012, and a Cairo newspaper embellished the news by reporting that a Florida pastor infamous for burning the Quran was planning to debut the film on the 11th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Then, on Sept. 8, a popular Islamist preacher lit the fuse by screening a clip of the video on the ultraconservative Egyptian satellite channel El Nas. American diplomats in Cairo raised the alarm in Washington about a growing backlash, including calls for a protest outside their embassy.
No one mentioned it to the American diplomats in Libya. But Islamists in Benghazi were watching. Egyptian satellite networks like El Nas and El Rahma were widely available in Benghazi. “It is Friday morning viewing,” popular on the day of prayer, said one young Benghazi Islamist who turned up at the compound during the attack, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
By Sept. 9, a popular eastern Libyan Facebook page had denounced the film. On the morning of Sept. 11, even some secular political activists were posting calls online for a protest that Friday, three days away.
Hussein Abu Hamida, the acting chief of Benghazi’s informal police force, saw the growing furor and feared new violence against Western interests. He conferred with Abdul Salam Bargathi of the Preventive Security Brigade, an Islamist militia with a grandiose name, each recalled separately, and they increased security outside a United Nations office. But they said nothing to the Americans.
Reports of the video were just beginning to spread on Sept. 9 when Mr. McFarland, then the officer normally in charge of politics and economics at the United States Embassy in Tripoli, had his meeting with the Benghazi militia leaders. Among them were some of the same men who had greeted Mr. Stevens when he arrived in Benghazi at the start of the revolt, including Mr. Gharabi, 39, a heavyset former Abu Salim inmate who ran a local sandwich truck before becoming the leader of the Rafallah al-Sehati. Another was Wissam bin Hamid, also 39, a slim and slightly hunched mechanic known for his skill with American cars who by then had become the leader of Libya Shield, considered one of the strongest militias in Libya.




Before dismissing this out of hand, the Times isn’t the only voice reporting on this sequence of events. Lee Stranahan has independently reported on the same thing, and has spent considerable time on Twitter and his website arguing that Benghazi was a planned terrorist attack triggered by the video — essentially a syncretism of the story from both sides. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a cover-up:
In the days following the attack, the Obama Administration and CNN tried to paint the events in Benghazi that night as muddled and confusing. In official White House statements and news stories, they convinced the American public that nobody could really know what happened. They told the nation that uncovering the truth about Benghazi would be a long process.
Ambassador Susan Rice made five now-infamous appearances on Sunday morning talk shows five days after the attack on September 16, 2012. She repeated the same thing that she told Jake Tapper on ABC’s “This Week”:
Well, Jake, first of all, it’s important to know that there’s an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed.
Ambassador Rice didn’t mention in the any of the five appearances what the Obama administration knew within hours: that the attacks were well organized and had been carried out by Ansar Al Sharia. With the election so close, they needed to run out the clock by muddling the facts.
Part of this cover-up involved not telling the public that they were actually many eyewitnesses at the Embassy that night.
Those eyewitnesses to the attack provided immediate testimony that was clear and consistent; Ansar Al Sharia blocked the roads around the mission and attacked with RPGs and rifles. No witness reported a demonstration like the one in Cairo earlier that day, because there was no such demonstration in Libya. In Benghazi, there was an attack.
There was no demonstration, Kirkpatrick also concludes, only a planned attack:
Mr. Stevens, who spent the day in the compound for security reasons because of the Sept. 11 anniversary, learned about the breach in a phone call from the American Embassy in Tripoli. Then a diplomatic security officer at the Benghazi mission called to tell the C.I.A. team. But as late as 6:40 p.m., Mr. Stevens appeared cheerful when he welcomed the Turkish consul, Ali Akin, for a visit.
There was even less security at the compound than usual, Mr. Akin said. No armed American guards met him at the gate, only a few unarmed Libyans. “No security men, no diplomats, nobody,” he said. “There was no deterrence.”
At 8:30 p.m., British diplomats dropped off their vehicles and weapons before flying back to Tripoli. At 9:42 p.m., according to American officials who have viewed the security camera footage, a police vehicle stationed outside turned on its ignition and drove slowly away.
A moment later a solitary figure strolled by the main gate, kicking pebbles and looking around — a final once-over, according to the officials.
The attack began with just a few dozen fighters, according to those officials. The invaders fired their Kalashnikovs at the lights around the gate and broke through with ease.
In other words, the White House story that this was a demonstration that just got out of control was false. As we have discovered through Congressional testimony and the release of communications from that night, the White House and State Department knew immediately that it was a terrorist attack. If the YouTube video played a part in the motivation, it was nevertheless only possible because of a planned attack on an egregiously undefended facility, in the middle of a region controlled by Islamist militias, on the anniversary of 9/11 — when the US should have had its highest readiness.
In other words, this only addresses the relative import of the YouTube video, not any of the questions of the incompetence from State and the White House. Paul Mirengoff at Power Line calls this a “revisionist account” intended to serve as a distraction:
The New York Times is out with a revisionist account of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. The Times says that in months of investigating, it “turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.” The Times also claims that the attack “was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
I suspect that the Times story tells us more about Hillary Clinton’s assessment of the threat Benghazi poses to her likely 2016 run for president than it does about what happened in Benghazi. But to the extent that the Times story is viewed as shedding a new, different light on the Benghazi, perhaps the House should hold new hearings on the attack.
The Times bases its claim that neither al Qaeda nor any other international terrorist group had a role in the attack on its view that Ansar al-Shariah is a “purely local extremist organization.” But Peter King, a member and former chairman of the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, points out that Ansar al-Shariah is widely believed to be an affiliate terror group of Al Qaeda. King accuses the Times of engaging in mere semantics, and he is probably right. …
The Times’ claim that the Benghazi attack “was fueled in large part by anger” at the video about Islam also seems unpersuasive. Greg Hicks, the deputy to Ambassador Christopher Stevens who was killed in the attack testified to Congress that the video was “a non-event in Libya.” Moreover, an independent review of more than 4,000 social media postings from Benghazi found no reference to the video until the day after the attack.
The New York Times seems to have uncovered social media references to the video that precede the Sept. 11 attack. Even so, the relative absence of such references undermines its claim that the video played a significant role in the attack.
I don’t mean to deny that some of those who attacked the U.S. compound were influenced by the video. But the Times’ own reporting shows that a “grave” threat to American interests in Benghazi predates the controversy over the video. The failure of the Obama administration, and especially Hillary Clinton, to prepare to meet that threat remains indisputable.
Indeed. The recounting of the attack itself reminds us that the Obama administration, including Clinton, tried to avoid blame by casting it as a kind of “black swan” event that no one could have predicted. The YouTube video was used as the basis of this claim, which led critics into attacking that part of the claim itself. But the YouTube video only accounts for a small part of the Benghazi fiasco. Even if one accepts that the YouTube video had something to do with the motive for the attack and the ability of terrorists to recruit fighters for it (and the timing of the broadcast certainly lends that significant credibility), the Times’ reporting doesn’t even begin to answer the larger and more important questions about the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the attack:
  1. The State Department was repeatedly warned about the chaos in Benghazi and the increasing aggressiveness of the Islamist militias and terror networks in the area after the US-prompted NATO mission decapitated the Qaddafi regime — including escalating demands for security from the US mission in Libya. Why did State ignore these demands?
  2. Other Western nations bailed out of Benghazi because of increasing terrorism. Why did the US stay put when even the UK pulled out? Especially without increasing security?
  3. The attack took place on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 in an area with active al-Qaeda affiliates, as well as terrorist networks with murkier alliances. Why wasn’t the US prepared to respond to an attack on its most vulnerable diplomatic outpost?
  4. Where was Barack Obama and what was he doing after his 5 pm meeting with Leon Panetta at the beginning of the attack?
  5. If the YouTube video was such an issue, why didn’t anyone in Benghazi or Tripoli know it, and why did the White House end up retracting that claim after a couple of weeks?
  6. Who told the Accountability Review Board to ignore the actions of higher-ranking State Department officials such as Patrick Kennedy, who ignored the pleas for more security, and focus blame on lower-ranking career officials for the unpreparedness of State for the attack?
  7. What was the CIA doing in Benghazi, and how did they miss the rise of Ansar al-Shariah? Kirkpatrick notes that no one seemed aware of its danger until after the attack.
Frankly, the YouTube story is the least of the issues in Benghazi, and for Clinton’s leadership in the events that led up to it.
Addendum: Does anyone else think it strange that the Times published this on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the Christmas doldrums?






http://www.infowars.com/ex-cia-analyst-nyt-benghazi-article-an-effort-to-revive-discredited-theory-of-anti-islam-video/



Ex-CIA analyst: NYT Benghazi article ‘an effort to revive discredited theory’ of anti-Islam video

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Brendan Bordelon
Daily Caller
December 29, 2013
A former CIA analyst poured cold water over the New York Times’ new report suggesting al-Qaida was not involved in the September 11, 2012 attack against American targets in Benghazi, Libya — calling the article “an effort to revive this discredited theory that the anti-Islam video was behind it.”
Fred Fleitz spoke with Fox News’ Jamie Colby about the “bombshell” New York Times report published Saturday, which claims the murder of Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was carried out by Libyans angry over an American-made anti-Islamic video posted on Youtube.com months before the attack.
That was the line peddled by the State Department’s Susan Rice immediately following the attack. But a slew of reports in the days and weeks that followed forced Rice and the Obama administration to backtrack, after it became clear that international Islamic terrorists — including al-Qaeda — had planned and executed at least a portion of the assault. The New York Times article is the first news contradicting that account in well over a year.
“I read this report and I was really incredulous,” Fleitz began. “It’s seems to be an effort to revive this discredited theory that the anti-Islam video was behind it. But when you read behind the article closely, there’s various statements where the author seems to downplay the links to terrorist groups. He says the main leader of the attacks did not have clear terrorist links, but he also says that this leader participated in a convoy of trucks in Benghazi in June 2012 where they were flying the black radical Islamist flag.”

Full story here.

http://dailycaller.com/2013/12/28/ex-cia-analyst-nyt-benghazi-article-an-effort-to-revive-discredited-theory-of-anti-islam-video/

****


Fleitz noted that many other outlets have run recent reports directly contradicting the author’s claim that Anwar al-Sharia, the group behind the attack, is not affiliated with al-Qaida. He also noted the story directly counters the claims of high-ranking lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee.
“This article is based on interviews with Libyans,” he pointed out. “Most of the Libyans deny they had anything to do with this attack. Well of course they’re going to say that. They don’t want to be prosecuted. They don’t want to be arrested.”
Fleitz wondered whether the New York Times was attempting to deliberately discredit Republican talking points against the Obama administration. “I thought it was a politicized article,” he said. “It tries to say that Anwar al-Sharia — that the Republican attempts to tie that to terrorism is a stretch, when even CNN says they’re at least sympathetic to al-Qaida.”
The former CIA analyst claimed the article “really doesn’t” pass the smell test. “I think there were a lot of omissions,” he continued. “I think there were a lot of statements about terrorism that really don’t add up . . . Al-Qaida has changed it’s tactics. It is now a decentralized organization. It is relying on affiliated organizations and franchises. It is encouraging terrorist attacks through this decentralized organization. That should have been discussed in this article so the reader would understand the real threat.”









http://www.juancole.com/2013/12/benghazi-correspondent-demolishes.html



Benghazi Consular attack was Local, not al-Qaeda: NYT Correspondent Demolishes GOP Talking Points

(By Juan Cole)
David D. Kirkpatrick at the New York Times has settled the controversy over events in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, by actually going to Benghazi and digging into the story. Admittedly, it was a somewhat dangerous assignment, but Kirkpatrick risked it.
The take-away of this careful investigation, depending on a range of interviews with Libyans who had been at the scene of the attack on the US consulate in the Libyan port city, is that al-Qaeda had nothing to do with it.
The chief suspect is an eccentric local militia leader, Ahmad Abu Khattala and his Obeida Ibn Al Jarra Brigade, which fought against Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 revolution. Abu Khattala had no gratitude to the Americans who helped his people against the dictator, and is viewed as one bulb short of a chandelier by many of his acquaintances. He, like many Benghazi fundamentalists, had spent years incarcerated by the Gaddafi government in the notorious Abu Salim prison, where in the 1990s Gaddafi dealt with a prison revolt by just having hundreds of inmates mowed down.
Another fundamentalist organization in the city, Ansar al-Sharia, was also involved, though it continues to deny involvement in the consulate attack.
The ginned up Islamophobic attack “film” on the Prophet Muhammad probably produced secretly by the Islamophobic network in the US in hopes of causing trouble abroad for President Obama in an election year did provoke demonstrations at the US consulate, which morphed into the attack on it. In fact, in my darker moments I suspect that some US GOP officials knew about the “film” and the likelihood it would get the Muslims’ goat, and had a narrative ready to go that Barack Obama on the Middle East was another helpless Jimmy Carter. Whatever the origin of their narrative, they clearly weren’t willing to let go of it simply because it flew in the face of the facts as known.
US officials in Benghazi knew that there were dangerous fundamentalist militias in the city. But they had dozens of CIA operatives at a nearby safe house, who they were sure could protect them. And they had allied with the fundamentalists against Gaddafi and so expected if not gratitude at least tolerance for their presence.
The Republican attack propaganda on President Obama and his team maintained that the consulate attack was the work of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s al-Qaeda, that it was preplanned, and that the “Silence of the Muslims” film had nothing to do with it. Sen. Lindsey Graham alleged that “everyone knew” that Benghazi was controlled by al-Qaeda in summer of 2012. Rep. Mike Rogers, who is more of a prevaricator even than most politicians, asserted the same thing.
I was in Benghazi in late May of 2012 for a few days and gave a talk at a community center there. The city most certainly was not in the control of “al-Qaeda.” There were a few fundamentalist militias, but they were not representative of the city, which had municipal elections in late spring.
On the occasion of the appearance of Kirkpatrick’s important reportage, I’ll leave you with my own deconstruction of the false GOP narrative, from last year. I think it is largely vindicated by what Kirkpatrick was able to find out on the ground.
“Top Ten Republican Myths on Benghazi:
1. Republican senators keep saying that it should have been “easy” to find out what happened on September 11, 2012, by simply debriefing US personnel who had been there. John McCain, Ron Johnson and the others who make this charge are the most cynical and manipulative people in the world. The Benghazi US mission was very clearly an operation of the Central Intelligence Agency, and that is the reason that the Obama administration officials have never been able to speak frankly and publicly about it. McCain and the others know this very well, and they know that their public carping cannot be “simply” answered because the answers would endanger sources and methods. The consulate was amazingly well-guarded by some 40 CIA operatives, many of them ex-special forces, in a nearby safe house. These were viewed by consular officials as “the cavalry.” It is still not clear what Ambassador Chris Stevens and the CIA were doing in Benghazi, and unless we know that we can’t know why they were attacked. (They were not overseeing the shipping of weapons to Syria; the Syrian revolutionaries complain bitterly that the US *prevents* them from getting medium and heavy weapons).
2. Republicans keep posturing that their questions about Benghazi are intended to bolster US security. In fact, they are harming it. Republican hearings in the House of Representative have disgracefully revealed the names of Libyans talking to the US consulate, thus endangering their lives and harming US efforts to understand the situation in the country, since who would risk talking to the embassy if they know about Darrell Issa’s big mouth?
3. The GOP figures keep saying that it was obvious that there was no demonstration at the Benghazi consulate against the so-called “film,” the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ that attacked the Prophet Muhammad. But in fact Libyan security officials repeatedly told wire services on September 12 that there was such a demonstration, and that the attack issued from those quarters. An American resident in Benghazi at that time confirms that there were such demonstrations that day. The secular-minded revolutionary militia that guarded the US consulate for the Libyan government kept the demonstrations far enough away from the consulate gates that they would not have shown up in security videos.
4. Benghazi, a city of over a million, is not dominated by “al-Qaeda,” contrary to what Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has repeatedly said or implied. The city had successful municipal elections in May, just before I got there. The number one vote-getter was a woman professor of statistics at the university. While political Islam is a force in Benghazi, only some relatively small groups are militant, and it has to compete with nationalist, tribal and regional ideological currents. In Libya’s parliamentary elections of July, 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood did very poorly and nationalists came to power. Women won 20% of the seats! The elected Speaker of Parliament, Muhammad Magarief, called for a secular constitution for Libya and a separation of religion and state.
5. Contrary to repeated assertions that it was obvious that terrorist groups were rampaging around in the city, members of the Benghazi municipal council told then US ambassador Chris Stevens that security in the city was improving in summer, 2012.
In fact, one Senator John McCain said during a visit to Libya last February, ““We are very happy to be back here in Libya and to note the enormous progress and changes made in the past few months… We know that many challenges lie ahead… but we are encouraged by what we have seen.” Doesn’t sound to me like McCain was running around like Chicken Little warning that the sky was about to fall on US diplomats there. Want to know who else came along on that trip? Lindsey Graham, who likewise didn’t issue any dire warnings in its aftermath.
6. Contrary to the “Libya-is-riddled-with-al-Qaeda” meme of the GOP politicians, there is a strong civil society and tribal opposition to fundamentalist militias in Benghazi, of which Amb. Chris Stevens was well aware. Tripoli-based journalist Abd-al-Sattar Hatitah explained in the pages of the pan-Arab London daily al-Sharq al-Awsat [Sept. 30, 2012, trans. USG Open Source Center]:
“It appears that the simple rule Benghazi’s people thought of applying was based on other experiences in which the radical Islamists or militants in general managed to grow, prosper, and expand by seeking protection from the tribes, as happened in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen. But the civil movements which became very active [in Benghazi] after the fall of Al-Qadhafi’s regime were the ones that formed alliances this time with the tribes, the notables, wise men councils, and civil society figures against the militants. This is akin to the “Sahwat” in Iraq. The alliance managed to expel the brigades from the town and encouraged the nascent Libyan authorities to tighten their restrictions on all armed manifestations…
He adds that [a meeting by secular notables with the tribes] was also attended by representatives from the army chiefs-of-staff and the Interior Ministry as well as a number of members from the National Congress (parliament). “All civil society organizations also took part with us. Everybody consented to issuing the statement against the presence of the [fundamentalist] brigades and we distributed 3,000 copies. “
This was around September 3. After the attack on the US consulate, tens of thousands of people in Benghazi demonstrated against the violence and in favor of the US and Stevens. Then they attemptedto sweep the fundamentalist militias from the city.
7. Al-Qaeda is not for the most part even a “thing” in Libya. The only formal al-Qaeda affiliate in the region is al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is not a Libyan but an Algerian organization. Just calling all Salafi groups “al-Qaeda” is propaganda. They have to swear fealty to Ayman al-Zawahiri (or in the past, Usama Bin Laden) to be al-Qaeda. The main al-Qaeda connection in Benghazi is to Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed in northern Pakistan by a US drone strike in June. Some of his close relatives in Benghazi may have been angry about this (depending on how well they liked him), but they are not known to form a formal al-Qaeda cell. There are also young men from Dirna in the Benghazi area, some of whom fought against the US in Iraq. Their numbers are not large and, again, they don’t have al-Zawahiri’s phone number on auto-dial. Sen. McCain was a big supporter of the US intervention in Libya and seems to have been all right with Abdul Hakim Belhadj being his ally, even though in the zeroes Belhadj would have been labeled ‘al-Qaeda.’
8. Ansar al-Sharia (Helpers of Islamic Law) is just an informal grouping of a few hundred hard line fundamentalists in Benghazi, and may be a code word to refer to several small organizations. There are no known operational links between Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda. It is a local thing in Benghazi.
10. Lindsey Graham and others point to instances of political violence this past summer in Benghazi as obvious harbingers of the September 11 consulate attack. But it was a tiny fringe group, the Omar Abdel Rahman Brigades, that claimed responsibility for setting off a small pipe bomb in front of the gate of the US consulate last June. This is what the US statement said last June:
“There was an attack late last night on the United States office in Benghazi,” a US embassy official said, adding that only the gate was damaged and no one was hurt. The diplomat said a homemade bomb had been used in the attack on the office, set up after the 2011 uprising against Muammar Qadhafi and kept open to support the democratic transition “
You’d have to be a real scaredy cat to pack up and leave because of a thing like that, which is what Sen. Graham keeps saying should have been the response. Likewise the same small cell was responsible for attacks on the office of the Red Cross and on a convoy of the British consulate, which injured a consular employ. Security isn’t all that great in Benghazi, though actually I suspect the criminal murder rate is much lower than in any major American city. I walked around freely in Benghazi in early June, and couldn’t have disguised my being a Westerner if I had wanted to, and nobody looked at me sideways. A pipe bomb and a shooting, neither of them fatal, did not stand out as dire in a city full of armed militias, most of them grateful to the US and Britain for their help in the revolution. You can understand why the Red Cross packed it in after a couple of attacks, but the US government is not the Red Cross.”
Related video:
http://www.infowars.com/ex-cia-analyst-nyt-benghazi-article-an-effort-to-revive-discredited-theory-of-anti-islam-video/