When last we left the Libya saga the administration was spinning the media that the attack on our consulate was unrelated to al-Qaeda and that the CIA gave incorrect talking points to senior administration figures, which led them to incorrectly insist for nearly two weeks that the assault was a protest against the anti-Muslim video. Both excuses are wrong, for reasons previously explained. Today the indomitable Eli Lake has another bombshell report that undermines these two administration excuses.
First, he reports:
[T]he FBI knew there was no protest as early as Sept. 14, according to U.S. officials familiar with the investigation. These people say that’s when FBI agents interviewed four of the five diplomatic security officers who were at the consulate during the attack. The officers were interviewed at Ramstein Airbase in Germany, where they had been evacuated. They told the FBI that there was no protest outside the consulate on 9-11 and that the men who showed up that evening were there to assault the compound.
Information like this “is ordinarily transferred back to Washington, given to John Brennan in the White House, so the president and White House would be aware of the progress in the investigation,” said Fran Townsend, a former White House homeland security and counterterrorism advisor to President George W. Bush who now serves on the CIA’s external advisory committee.
If senior administration officials wanted to get the most accurate and up-to-date information it was there. Either President Obama’s advisers inexplicably didn’t pass on information concerning the first murder of an American ambassador in 33 years or the White House was too distracted to pick up on the dramatic change in intelligence or too determined to ignore it.
Moreover, Lake’s reporting makes clear how intertwined with al-Qaeda networks were the Libyan jihadists who murdered four Americans. A key suspect, Ali Ani al-Harzi, is now being held in Tunisia. He explains: “Al-Harzi is a member of violent extremist networks in North Africa, one U.S. intelligence officer told The Daily Beast. This person added that he was also connected to jihadist organizations in the Middle East and was headed to Syria when he was detained in Turkey. ”
The president has never been compelled to tell voters what he knew and when he knew it. But voters can draw their own conclusions based on available evidence, fairly concluding that there was either a massive breakdown in communication or willful indifference to facts.
What we do know is the facts will come out. The slaughter of four Americans, like the progress on Iran’s nuclear program and the mass atrocities in Syria, which this president did nothing to stop, will be part of what will surely be a legacy rivaled only by Jimmy Carter’s.