Hillary Clinton’s public vs. private Benghazi facts

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.”

More Benghazi stories

Benghazi story links

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

27 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton’s public vs. private Benghazi facts”

  1. Ms. Atkinson, Thank you for your report. Saw you on C-SPAN and read this now. Hillary is one of those repugnant, characters who seems to get away with every bad act and lie. The thought of her becoming president… no, please. Thanks for nailing it down with with such clarity. So good to have a real investigative reporter to turn to.

  2. Based on initial intelligence, eyewitness accounts and news reports, this was the first assessment provided by the Gen. Petraeus-led CIA:

    “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

    The term “demonstration” is defined in military usage as “a show of force or an attack.” Multiple eyewitnesses testify to the fact that the already well-armed and battle-hardened militants attacked in response to the Cairo protests and regional unrest incited by the anti-Islam propaganda video which was widely televised in the region in the days before the attack. No evidence has arisen to indicate that there was any substantial prior planning any more than hours prior to the attack.

    “…the attackers, recognized as members of a local militant group called Ansar al-Shariah, did tell bystanders that they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the video. They did not mention the Sept. 11 anniversary. Intelligence officials believe that planning for the attack probably began only a few hours before it took place. (The New York Times, 10/17/12)

    Soon after the attacks — and long before the presidential election — the Director of National Intelligence released a statement on the Benghazi attack:

    “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.”

    “It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al-Qa’ida.”

    These intelligence and news reports were the foundation for public statements from the Obama Administration. Ambassador Rice, for instance, described the attack as being perpetrated by well-armed extremists. On September 16, 2012, Rice told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation, “Whether they were al-Qaida affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al-Qaida itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.”

    “Here’s how the senior official described the jumble of events in Benghazi that day: “The attackers were disorganized; some seemed more interested in looting. Some who claimed to have participated joined the attack as it began or after it was under way. There is no evidence of rehearsals, they never got into the safe room . . .never took any hostages, didn’t bring explosives to blow the safe room door, and didn’t use a car bomb to blow the gates.”

    “It was a flash mob with weapons,” is how the senior official described the attackers. “The mob included members of the Ansar al-Sharia militia, about four members of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, and members of the Egypt-based Muhammad Jamal network, along with other unarmed looters.”

    Not only has it long been disproven that the Administration was “lying” about or “covering up” the link between the attacks and the video protests, there was not even any motive for the Administration to do so. While the Administration could rightly take credit for getting bin Laden and decimating the core leadership of al Qaeda, the President never hung a “Mission Accomplished” banner in regard to the war on terror. In fact, President Obama did just the opposite when he addressed the American people on the night bin Laden was killed, reminding us that the work was not over and that the terrorists would continue to target Americans.

    Again, the link between the Benghazi attacks and the anti-Islam propaganda video did not originate with the Obama Administration. The early news reports, including interviews with protesters and militants at the scene, described how the already well-armed members of the attacking militia were prompted to act after viewing on TV the protests in Cairo over the anti-Islam propaganda video:

    — Independent (UK): Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post. “There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.” (September 14, 2012)

    — Washington Post: Stevens arrived Monday from the embassy in Tripoli. “A friend who spent Monday and Tuesday with him said Stevens held meetings with nongovernmental organizations and militia leaders on both days. When the friend dropped Stevens off at the consulate Tuesday afternoon, he said, nothing appeared to be amiss – beyond the protesters.”

    “The first protesters had showed up around noon. Wanis al-Sharif, the deputy Libyan interior minister, said in an interview that the demonstrators were angered by a low-budget American film that portrayed the prophet Muhammad in a blasphemous manner. As the day wore on, Sharif said, the anger escalated and people with weapons infiltrated the crowd.”

    “By late Tuesday evening,” heavily armed militants “joined protesters outside the consulate who were demonstrating against an American movie that they believed denigrated the prophet Muhammad. They said, `We are Muslims defending the prophet. We are defending Islam,’ ” Libyan television journalist Firas Abdelhakim said in an interview.” (September 12, 2012)

    — CNN quoted Libyan officials describing that “an “angry crowd” marched on the U.S. compound Tuesday, furious about an American-produced online film considered offensive to Muslims.” (September 12, 2012)

    — The Daily Telegraph: One eyewitness told “how an armed group infiltrated the ordinary protesters and sounded a warning. They told those nearby to stay back, that they had guns.” (September 12, 2012)

    — The New York Times: The Times, which had two journalists on the ground the night of the attack, also reported on demonstrators on the scene who were motivated by the anti-Islam film. “A group of armed assailants mixed with unarmed demonstrators gathered at the small compound that housed a temporary American diplomatic mission” in Benghazi. “Interviewed at the scene on Tuesday night, many attackers and those who backed them said they were determined to defend their faith from the video’s insults,” the Times reported. (September 12, 2012)

    — AP reported that, “A lawyer passing by the scene said he saw the militants gathering around 20 youths from nearby to chant against the film. Within an hour or so, the assault began, guns blazing as the militants blasted into the compound.” “One of the Benghazi outpost’s private Libyan guards said masked militants grabbed him and beat him, one of them calling him “an infidel protecting infidels who insulted the prophet.” (October 27, 2012)

    — CBS/AP reported that “Wanis al-Sharef, a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi, said the four Americans were killed when the angry mob, which gathered to protest a U.S.-made film that ridicules Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, fired guns and burned down the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.” (September 12, 2012)

    — Reuters, which also had reporters in Benghazi, reported that “the attackers were part of a mob blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.” The article quoted 17-year-old Haman, who took part in the attack, as saying: “The protesters were running around the compound just looking for Americans, [and] they just wanted to find an American so they could catch one.” “Hamam said Ansar al-Sharia cars arrived at the start of the protest but left once fighting started.” (September 12, 2012)

    — Reuters reporter on NPR: “Almost Everybody Here Believes That It Was A Reaction To The Movie.” NPR’s Morning Edition, the network interviewed Hadeel Al-Shalchi of Reuters, who “had been talking with authorities and protestors.” (September 13, 2012)

    — Al Jazeera: Attackers Were Responding To News Of “American Movie Insulting The Prophet Mohammed.” Al Jazeera producer Suleiman El Dressi reported from Benghazi that “a group of people calling themselves as “Islamic law supporters” heard the news that there will be an American movie insulting the Prophet Mohammed. Once they heard this news they came out of their military garrison and they went into the street calling [unintelligible] to gather and go ahead and attack the American consulate in Benghazi.” (September 12, 2012)

    — New York Times: “Libyans Who Witnessed the Assault And Know The Attackers Say They Cited The Video.” The New York Times reported having spoken with “fighters involved in the assault,” who told the paper “in interviews during the battle that they were moved to attack the mission by anger over a 14-minute, American-made video that depicted the Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s founder, as a villainous, homosexual and child-molesting buffoon.”

    “Interviewed at the scene on Tuesday night, many attackers and those who backed them said they were determined to defend their faith from the video’s insults,” the Times reported. “Their attack followed by just a few hours the storming of the compound surrounding the United States Embassy in Cairo by an unarmed mob protesting the same video.” (September 12, 2012 and October 16, 2012)

    New York Times reporter, David Kilpatrick — whose colleagues were actually on the ground in Benghazi — stands by these reports.

    “In the tinderbox of Benghazi, it doesn’t take very much advanced planning or preparation to pull off an attack like this, because there are lots of well-organized, heavily armed brigades or battalions just sitting around, waiting to go. And some of them adhere to an ultra-conservative or extremist Islamist ideology.”

    “It’s a false dichotomy to say either this was an organized attack, or it was a response to the video,” Kirkpatrick said.

    “The people in the crowd were saying they were motivated by this video,” Kirkpatrick said.

  3. How disrespectful, dishonest, insulting, insensitive can a person be to tell the families of the Benghazi victims and the American people that a video was the cause of the attack. Well, the president used the same narrative for weeks after the attack. This is America today. You can thank the main stream media for their lack of honest reporting. You know what, if the media does not do its work we all loose. Politicians will take and do anything and everything if they are not held accountable.

    The country will not survive without honesty, moral values and following the rule of law. At the present time all are values are eroding.

  4. Amazing that the only thing people care about is how our politician’s “perform” they will play up how she held steady from committee accusations, how she responded with authority, and yes they will say she looked “presidential”. And they will knock the committee for “attacks” and “political” questions and how “this is old news” portraying the committee as less competent than Clinton. — Somehow, somewhere we lost our purpose and our focus on the truth. Nobody really cares that our President and Secretary of State flat out, undeniably lied to the American people to preserve his re-election. Flat out, undeniable and true. yet that is not really important to anyone. Also not important that our State Department failed to prepare the security needed, not important that 600 requests for security were denied and that the Secretary claims she wasn’t aware of the requests. nah – we only care about the way she looks and sounds. The real tragedy here is that there is not a media outcry for non- response and refusal to supply public documents since the incident — the reason the committee cannot complete its work is because it cannot get the documents from the government — yet that does not seem to bother the press at all !! the biggest tragedy for Americans is the continual slide into less and less transparency. And they shout down the only people who try to find the truth. Soon nobody will try to find the truth any longer.

  5. The situation was fluid all right. They had precious few minutes to come up with phony excuses so Obama’s campaign did not get derailed.

    And to stand next to the cold dead warriors in their caskets and blatantly lie to their families is despicable.

  6. I agree with you Sam , however i would like to add a few points to you excellent observation.
    The fact that our media has abdicated its journalistic responsibility is indeed a grave and moral
    collapse of both democracy and values. However to me and and good size of this country that abdication began with a deterioration of our Judeo-Christian values that opened the door the to a new class of people and along the way a new intellectual class. You are seeing the outcome of that new world in what you said about the journalism and our political class i.e. Hillary R, Clinton, Barak H. Obama Harry Reid etc. I do not say that this is the only problem to our present ills , I am saying that morals and values are the only base in which our system can work and hold the country together and that base has presently and for a while now experienced relentless attacks on both cultural and political sides. thanx

  7. Sharyl,

    It takes courage and self-confidence to do true unbiased investigative reporting in our current polorized political environment. I can’t thank you enough for your continued coverage of important issues that mainstream media has turned a blind eye. Keep up the good work.

  8. Sam writes “The country will not survive without honesty, moral values and following the rule of law.” What ‘rule of law?’ Something for the little people? Like someone named Ed Snowden?

  9. The Arab Spring was spearheaded by Internet and Twitter organized advanced teams of malcontents. By the time they tried this tactic in Kiev, to overthrow the elected Ukranian government; Vladimir Putin was wise to the game plan. It surprises me that there was no talk of these social media teams in the Benghazi Commitee hearings. Their ability to organize the communities of Arabs, first to overthrow Libya, and later to flash mob the Benghazi Consulate, were highly effective. I presume those message swarms have long since been scrubbed from the Twitter Servers, or were they?

  10. Great summarization. Especially for those that haven’t followed Benghazi & know little about it. Thank you for the time and reporting you have put into this horrible attack. For months after it happened, I would search for hours each night trying to find information. That’s when I got hooked on politics & realized what Obama was going to do if he won. Anyway, if it were not for you and several of the people on Fox, we would not know what we do today.
    Also, I loved your book.

  11. Here is another typical Clinton maneuver. When appointed SofS she asked the President if she could have Sydney Blumenthal on her staff. He emphatically said no! She put him on her staff anyway, unofficially. No body tells HC what she can or cannot do, not even the President. Bill and her are walking on a cloud above everyone else.
    She was in constant contact with him about Libya more so than Amb. Stevens. She said they were unsolicited e-mails but Gowdy blew that out of the water as he read e-mails where she would ask Blumental to follow-up with her on this or that. Than she started to forward his e-mails but took his name off them so those who received them didn’t know they were from him. Gowdy asked her if the President was informed that she was receiving info. from Bluementhal. She hymned and hawed and never answered the ?. It became evident in further questioning that SB had direct access to her but not our Ambassador. This lady is duplicitous, untrustworthy and a cold-hearted fabricator of the truth. I’ll bet she still cannot raise her pitiful untrustworthy status with the American people even if they felt she stood-up to the Republicans on the committee and sent those exhilarating “tingle down the leg” feelings to the Democratic sycophants lobbing beach-balls in her direction on Gowdy’s left side of the committee room.

  12. If Hillary walks away clean from all the investigations surrounding her at the present time. This country is no longer America. ” That’s a bold statement, you just don’t like Hillary” No my friends, I don’t like what Hillary represents. Do you know what it would mean to millions of people if the F.B.I. found something wrong and admitted it to the country? This is bigger than all of us. Our country is at stake. I just hope there is one honest person in charge. It would help start turning this country back in the right direction.

  13. The “loyal opposition” continues to stonewall, as Democrats accuse Republicans of a “witch hunt,” and wail about the cost of the Benghazi investigation. This is standard procedure for Congressman Cummings and his cohorts. It’s part of the same obstructive tactics he and other Democrats used in the House investigations of Fast and Furious and the IRS.

    Ironically, the day after the Benghazi hearings the Justice Department announced it had found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by former IRS executive Lois Lerner or any other IRS employee. How marvelous is that? Perhaps Lois Lerner can run as Hillary Clinton’s Vice President.

  14. Hillary needed a foreign policy win that she could use for her 2016 presidential election campaign, which is evidenced by Sid Blumenthal’s directive to make a public statement about her leadership and success, on TV, even if from the driveway of her vacation home. And, less than 60 days before the 2012 election, Obama needed to be re-elected, so there was ample reason to blame the video and cover up the real cause, arrest and jail the innocent filmmaker on trumped-up charges and lie to the families of the four dead Americans and the American public. That’s Hillary’s world, like it or not. That’s why she is so dangerous.

  15. I’m assuming that the e mail she sent to her daughter that night was not part of the official State Department e mails that Clinton turned over. I’m guessing that one was considered personal and was also deleted along with the wedding plans and the Yoga work out…..Am i correct ?

  16. Lying to the American people and a Congress and justice system that treats perjury as acceptable behavior for a high Government Official….. it is not about the $5M dollar cost of Hillary’s deception, it is about deceiving us of the truth that effects other political outcomes!
    If Hillary isn’t indicted, tried, convicted and sent to Federal prison,
    (Ft. Leavenworth or Terra Haute) for High Crimes and Misdemeanors…..our country is in very serious trouble!
    Top Secret National Security breech is a felony…… regardless of whose server the information/E:Mails reside on.

  17. Ms. Atkisson,

    On what charges was the maker of the video jailed? It seems the government violated his right to free speech, due process and probably reasonable bail. The government has since freed him. Why? Will he talk to a reporter – why or why not? America should meet the man “responsible” for Benghazi. Thank you for your thorough, objective reporting.

    1. recall it was some trumped up probation violation. What is amazing and seemingly overlooked is that the public even accepted such an excuse. Basically the administration was making the point that our right of free speech is wrong if it offends some foreign (Muslim) mob.
      No, we went to war for that right and many patriots died for us to have that right. Even if the video explanation was true, the response should have been that the US believes and practices free speech. If you dont like it and decide to attack and kill US citizens or our allies, we will deliver justice to you with extreme prejudice.
      So with 4-dead and many injured we run for the hills and jail a filmmaker and one Libyan scapegoat. Crickets.

Scroll to Top