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Posted at 09:45 AM ET, 10/11/2012

Real-time Libya: Who knew what, when?

Liz Cheney on Fox News last night spoke about the Libya fiasco, zeroing in on the actions of Charlene Lamb, the State Department official who denied requested security but also followed events in Libya on 9/11/2012 in real time :

She followed minute by minute. She, and one would presume the State Department higher-ups, were then aware there was an organized assault on the consulate. My gosh, if only she had briefed Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice or gotten to the president before his Sept. 25 speech to the United Nations so many false impressions could have been prevented. There would never have been any confusion about a spontaneous film protest, right?

Seriously, something doesn’t make sense. Do we think no one else ever got the benefit of that information that mid-level bureaucrat Charlene Lamb had? This was the most urgent issue of the moment in which everyone (the White House, the public, the media) wanted to know what happened in Benghazi. So why not look at the real-time video? Why not ask Lamb what she saw and heard?

If Rice was going on five Sunday news shows to give the official account of events, wouldn’t she have had the benefit of that information? If the White House spokesman was going to come out day after day to tell what happened, wouldn’t Lamb’s real time-intelligence be the first thing he’d be told about?

You have to either assume Lamb kept this critical information under wraps or that she did send it into the stream of intelligence that was used by the secretary of state and the White House. If the latter, why did so many people, including the president, tell a story that wasn’t true?

One other incident deserves immediate, further scrutiny. On Sept. 28, not the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper but his spokesman put out a statement saying that the intelligence community had given wrong information about the attack. It read in part: “As the Intelligence Community collects and analyzes more information related to the attack, our understanding of the event continues to evolve. In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available. Throughout our investigation we continued to emphasize that information gathered was preliminary and evolving.”

Did DNI not have access to the same information that Lamb did? It was a curious statement even before Lamb testified, giving no time frame as to when DNI knew it was a terrorist attack. Lt. Col. Andrew Wood knew it was a terror attack immediately, he testified. We had intercepts between the attackers and al-Qaeda operatives within 24 hours. So why was DNI giving out information to support a theory unsupported by existing information? Maybe it is time for Clapper, not his spokesman, to come testify as well.

We are reaching that point in the course of all scandals in which the participants fall into two camps — the honest public servants and whistleblowers, on one side, and the rest, who by omission or commission have helped deceive the public. History, not to mention U.S. attorneys, are not kind to the latter, most especially when they aren’t candid under oath. So now is the time for those in the State Department and the intelligence agencies to come clean, tell us who knew what when and let the chips fall where they may. Better to tell the story than have it told by others, don’t you think?

By  |  09:45 AM ET, 10/11/2012

 
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