After weeks of characterizing the attack on the Libyan consulate, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and four others, a result of protests that were due to an anti-Islam video, the issue came to the forefront at last night’s second presidential debate.
When the question of the actions of the administration following the debate came up,claimed that top administration officials trumped up the narrative that the Sept. 11 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi was a “spontaneous” act, and played down accounts that it was a coordinated terror strike and that the president had not called it a terror attack until almost two weeks later. Romney also criticized the president for flying off to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser shortly after the attack.
“The president, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser. These actions taken by a president and a leader have symbolic significance." Allvoices
Moderator Candy Crowley intervened with a fact check, which she later walked back during an interview with Anderson Cooper. Crowley falsely and incorrectly claimed that the president had called it a terrorist attack in the Rose Garden, although the president said that acts of terror would not go unpunished.
This was enough to deflect off the actual question of who knew what, where and when.
To set the record straight there are comprehensive timelines on the Libyan situation, which call the administration’s response into questions. Those are contained in a letter by the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee on Government Reform to Secretary of Stateand timelines prepared by several media outlets.
So what was the timeline? Christopher Stevens arrived in Libya April 5, 2011 as special envoy. His task was to forge ties with the Libyan rebels who battled with Gadhafi. Stevens was appointed ambassador to Libya May 22.
Libya Timeline 2012:
February - US Embassy requests four months extension for 16-strong Special Ops team until August - Request granted.
March - State Department Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom sends cable to request additional security for Benghazi. No response.
April 6 - Two former security guards who were fired throw an IED over the consulate compound fence.
May 22 - IRC office in Benghazi attacked, followed by a Facebook message: “Now we are preparing a message for the Americans.”
June 6 - A hole is blown into the consulates gate, which is described big enough to let 40 men through. This could have been a trial run to test the effectiveness of the Sept. 11 attack.
August 14 - The end of the extension for the Special Ops Security Team and it leaves Libya. Their commander has testified that the ambassador wanted them to stay.
Prior to the attack, family members of Libyan Security guards warn of an impending attack on the consulate.
Sept. 10 - Al-Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahiri calls on Libyans to avenge the death of his Libyan deputy, Abu Yahya al Libi, killed in a June drone strike in Pakistan.
Sept. 11 - A well-planned armed attack is executed on the Benghazi consulate. According to witness statements the attack was observed live via video by State Department personnel. Video also reveals that there were no protests prior to the attack.
Of note is that the anti-Islam video "Innocence of Muslims" has been on YouTube since July at that time.
At the same time there are also protests at the embassy in Cairo and the embassy issues a statement virtually apologizing for the video. Romney makes a press statement condemning the apology. Hillary Clinton responds by saying, in part, “some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
Sept. 12 - President Obama denounces the attack, not characterizing it as a terrorist attack, but including at the end of his statement that acts of terror would not go unpunished.
Media outlets start reporting the killing of Ambassador Stevens murder along with three others, characterizing it as a well armed attack.
Sept. 13 and 14 - White House Press Secretary James Carney repeated the administration's position that this attack was the result of the video. The administration had “no actionable intelligence” about a pending attack, he said.
Sept. 16 - US Ambassador to the UN,, makes the Sunday News Shows rounds and states, “Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous, not a premeditated, response to what had transpired in Cairo."
On the same day, interim Libyan president Mohamed Magarief insists “it was planned, definitely.”
Note: It is not likely that Susan Rice went to six news shows on her own accord, without the administration’s approval. Who send her there and why the charade?
Sept. 19 - The video story starts to unravel when National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen testifies before the Senate Homeland Security Committee and categorizes the assault as a “terrorist attack” but calls it an “opportunistic” attack in which armed militants took advantage of an ongoing protest. Of course the live feed from Benghazi debunks the ongoing protest part.
Sept. 20 - The main stream media now confirms that witnesses said there were no protests prior to the attack, while President Obama tells an audience at a townhall meeting that “What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm US interests.”
On the same day Carney declares that "it is self-evident that the attack was a terrorist attack.
Sept. 21 - Hillary Clinton acknowledges that it was a terrorist attack.
Sept. 25 - President Obama addresses the UN General Assembly and mentions the video six times. The president also sees the ladies on "The View" and on a direct question if it was a terrorist attack, skirts around the answer.
Sept. 27 -says that it’s “clear that there were terrorists who planned that attack.”
Sept. 28 – Oct. 1 - State Department officials make various statements regarding why the video blame game continued. Clinton defends Ambassador Rice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence takes responsibility for linking the Benghazi attack to the video.
In view of the live feed there is either total incompetence in the intelligence community or someone is distorting the truth.
Oct. 3 - The FBI finally arrives on the ground in Benghazi.
Oct. 6 - Susan Rice sends a letter to Senate Republicans. Rice says she “relied solely and squarely on the information the intelligence community provided to me and other senior US officials.”
Oct. 9 - Senior State Department officials finally acknowledge that there were no protests prior to the attack, during a media call with reporters, and said the video was “not our conclusion,” suggesting they’re blaming intelligence officials.
Oct. 10 - Lt. Col. Wood and Eric Nordstrom testify that their requests for more security were denied by their superiors in Washington. This was confirmed by cables obtained by the House Oversight Committee.
Oct. 11 - Vice President Biden, during the vice presidential debate, denies that the White House, specifically the president and himself were aware of any security requests.
Oct. 12 - The White House said that such decisions were made by the State Department.
This is where the timeline stood up last night's debate. The president was spared from answering the question because of a gaffe made by Crowley. This however will not be the end of the debate and is sure to be raised during the third and final presidential debate Monday, Oct. 22.
While the economy is still the biggest issue for Americans, the Benghazi story has legs. The Obama campaign will obviously try to skirt this issue, which could hurt the president’s chances for re-election. It will, however, not be unavoidable.
Sources: The Hill