A much clearer picture of the Sept. 11, 2012, debacle at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including our ambassador to Libya — and the Obama administration's dishonest, self-serving misrepresentation of that organized terrorist act — comes Wednesday.I want to skip a paragraph and start with the braintrust's the first of three bullet points on what to expect from the hearings:
Details about watering down initial talking points to remove mentions of al-Qaida and terrorism in favor of the spurious “spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim U.S. video” line. The Weekly Standard's Stephen F. Hayes writes that emails sent during that process make it “clear that senior administration officials engaged in a wholesale rewriting of intelligence assessments about Benghazi in order to mislead the public.”Ah, the incredible Stephen F. Hayes. He was the guy who argued in 2003 (against all evidence) that:
[T]here can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein's Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans.Something that just wasn't true:
Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.So yea, let's continue to treat Stephen F. Hayes as a credible pundit.
The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.
The Braintrust does, anyway.
But let's take a look at how Hayes' article actually undermines what the Braintrust says Hayes says. Remember he said that it was the administration that was "rewriting of intelligence assessments about Benghazi in order to mislead the public" specifically removing mentions of al-Qaeda in favor of the "it was a protest against the video" story.
So if we compare the first and last draft, we might get some where. This is what Hayes writes about where the first draft came from:
After a briefing on Capitol Hill by CIA director David Petraeus, Democrat Dutch Ruppersburger, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, asked the intelligence community for unclassified guidance on what members of Congress could say in their public comments on the attacks. The CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis prepared the first draft of a response to the congressman, which was distributed internally for comment at 11:15 a.m. on Friday, September 14.And this is what Hayes says is the first draft:
We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.And the last:
The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.The part that should pique your interest is the part (in both versions) about the "protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo." What were those protests about?
Ultraconservative Islamist protesters climbed the walls of the United States Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday and took down the American flag, replacing it with a black flag with an Islamic inscription to protest a movie attacking Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.Um...so the idea that the Benghazi attacks were in response to the Cairo protests (which themselves were triggered by the anti-Islam film) were in the talking points from the beginning? And those talking points came from the CIA?
So how could the administration be rewriting them?