The Shocking, World-Changing New Libya Emails

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 24 2012 9:08 AM

The Shocking, World-Changing New Libya Emails

The next bend in the Libya story—sorry, Libya scandal—began last night, when CBS News and other organizations scooped a series of emails from the State Department on Sept. 11. At 4:05 p.m., State emails that the Benghazi consulate is "under attack." At 4:54, the "firing has stopped." At 6:07 p.m., "Ansar al-Sharia [has claimed] responsibility" for the attack.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Allahpundit explains why this is should be so disturbing.

The White House had plenty of reason to suspect more was going on than a protest that got out of hand, even from the very beginning. But that would meddle with one of O’s strongest reelection narratives, i.e. the president who demolished Al Qaeda (read this for a stark illustration of how certain key supporters are helping him out with that), so we didn’t hear about it until Eli Lake and CNN and Reuters all but dragged it out of him.
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One problem. In the same story that breaks the news and gives readers the emails, CBS News prints an unaired answer that Obama gave Steve Kroft on Sept. 12. It was his first interview after the attacks.

You're right that this is not a situation that was—exactly the same as what happened in Egypt and my suspicion is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.

The next day, Obama was in Colorado, where he addressed the killings in Libya.

A couple of days ago, for four Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Libya. ... So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.

Obama didn't pretend that this was merely "a protest that got out of hand." The trouble, when we look back at the timeline, is that reporters didn't really glom onto the Libya story for a few days. When they did, by the Sunday shows and Sept. 19, you had administration representatives soft-peddling the "target Americans from the start" story.

Before that, though, if you followed the story, you knew that Ansar al-Sharia took credit for the attacks and that Obama was calling them "acts of terror." This is the oddity of the story we now call "Benghazigate." One "scandal," that Obama pretended the attacks were only spontaneous results of a protest, is baseless. The next scandal, that the administration didn't beef up security in Benghazi, is just harder to pin on a villain. So we hear more about the "shifting timeline," even though the president had implied that the attacks were terrorism four times in the 48 hours afterward.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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