Hillary Clinton presented one set of Benghazi facts to her own family; another to the family of the victims and the American public.
Within hours of the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Clinton emailed her daughter, Chelsea, that Americans had died at the hands of an al-Qaeda like group. Al-Qaeda is the Islamic extremist terrorist group that was led by Osama bin Laden. Clinton also informed Egypt’s prime minister and Libya’s president that the attacks were “preplanned” and “had nothing to do with” an anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube.
Yet Clinton told the American public and families of the Benghazi victims that the maker of the video was to blame for sparking protesters who got out of hand in Benghazi and spontaneously launched assaults. In fact, there had been no protests in Benghazi.
The newly-revealed emails were reported today at a House Benghazi Committee hearing where Clinton testified. They were sent via a private server that Clinton set up and used for official government business when she was secretary of state. They were not originally turned over in response to public records requests and subpoenas. The existence of Clinton’s private server was discovered last year by the Benghazi committee.
The information indicates for the first time that Clinton had direct knowledge of, and accepted almost immediately, the terrorist nature of the attacks. She not only told a different story publicly; she also stood silent as her ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, and other Obama administration officials advanced alternate narratives. The attacks happened amid President Obama's re-election campaign in which he had touted al-Qaeda's supposed demise.
Clinton was first to publicly introduce the video narrative at 10:08 p.m. the night of the attacks. In a statement, she said, “some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” An email revealed last year indicates White House officials were concerned about the appearance that the attacks were the result of failed policy. Obama adviser Ben Rhodes had instructed Rice via email to point to the video to emphasize the attacks were not the result of a "broader failure" in U.S. policy.
Today, in explaining the contradictions, Clinton said, “There was a lot of conflicting information that we were trying to make sense of...The situation was fluid. It was fast-moving.” She said there were no political calculations involved.
"I still believe the video played a role," she said.
Democrats again accused Republicans of pursuing a "witch hunt," and criticized the nearly $5 million spent on the Benghazi committee to date as a "waste."