State Dept.: Film Didn't Cause Benghazi Attack

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 10 2012 10:40 AM

State Department Rewrites Benghazi Attack Narrative

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A picture shows the damage inside the burnt US consulate building in Benghazi on September 13, 2012, following an attack on the building late on September 11

Photo by Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/GettyImages.

Remember when U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice made the Sunday talk show rounds to say that the attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was a "spontaneous" outburst prompted by that bizarre anti-Muslim film? Yeah, about that...

The State Department now says it never believed the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a film protest gone awry .... The State Department's extraordinary break with other administration offices came in a department briefing Tuesday, where officials said "others" in the executive branch concluded initially that the protest was based, like others in the Middle East, on a film that ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad. That was never the department's conclusion, a senior official told reporters.
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The disclosure all but assures fireworks at a House hearing later today on diplomatic security. Republicans have accused the State Department of failing to respond to the security fears of its diplomats in Libya in the months before the attack, and have also accused the White House of trying to downplay a threat for which it was unprepared.

Related reading: The Washington Post has a good look today at how the Benghazi attack and the political fallout could mar Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's legacy.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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