Guest Editorial


Was the Benghazi video story the brainchild of Hillary Clinton?

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lawrence sellinBoth Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had a vested interest in lying about Benghazi and permanently concealing the truth, Obama to ensure his reelection prospects in 2012 and Hillary to protect hers for 2016.

It is noteworthy, however, that Hillary Clinton was the first administration official to associate the video with the Benghazi attack, she was clearly its most aggressive and persistent advocate and, later, the most defensive ("what difference does it make") when doubts were raised in Congressional hearings.

All of the following denote the time in Washington, DC.

September 11, 2012 2:00 p.m., Terrorists begin to set up checkpoints around US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

September 11, 2012 2:30 p.m., US Ambassador Chris Stevens ends a meeting with Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin at the Benghazi Consulate, likely involving the movement of weapons from Libya through Turkey to the rebels in Syria.

September 11, 2012 3:40 p.m., Stevens informs Gregory Hicks, the Deputy Chief of Mission in Tripoli, Libya that the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya is under attack.

September 11, 2012 4 p.m. Hillary claims she was informed of the attack.

September 11, 2012 4:32 p.m., Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are informed of attack.

September 11, 2012 5 p.m., Obama, Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey meet at the White House at which time Panetta informs Obama of the Benghazi attack. After the meeting was over, they did not hear from Obama again or anybody else at the White House for the remainder of the evening.

September 11, 2012 5:46 p.m., Alex McPhillips, Associate Director of Communications for Digital Media U.S. Mission to the United Nations, informs US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and others that Al-Jazeera is reporting that "Witnesses say an armed mob has attacked the US Consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi and set fire to buildings in what they say was a protest at a film deemed offensive to Islam's Prophet Mohammad."

September 11, 2012 6:07 p.m.: The State Department's Operations Center sends an email to the White House, Pentagon, FBI and other government agencies that said al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Sharia has claimed credit for the attack on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

September 11, 2012 6:17 p.m., Alex McPhillips informs Susan Rice that CNN freelance reporter, Jomana Karadsheh, speaking by phone to someone at the scene in Benghazi, says clashes ongoing at the US Consulate in Benghazi between Ansar al-Sharia and security forces.

September 11, 2012 7:18 p.m., first known email received by Susan Rice and US UN staff concerning a "Libyan update from Beth Jones" at Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), Department of State.

September 11, 2012 7:20 p.m., Alex McPhillips informs Susan Rice that Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that "A US official killed and another wounded on Tuesday as an armed mob protesting over a film they said offended Islam attacked the US Consulate  in Benghazi, an official told AFP."

September 11, 2012 9:05 p.m., Susan Rice remarks to Eric Pelofsky, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations at U.S. Mission to the United Nations, concerning something yet unknown contained in the Libyan update from Beth Jones: "Thanks. Stressing this big time."

September 11, 2012 10 p.m., Obama phones Hillary.

September 11, 2012 10:07 p.m., Hillary sends out a press release blaming the Benghazi attack on an internet video.

It seems likely that a press release was prepared well before the 10 p.m. phone conversation between Obama and Hillary at which time she obtained his permission for its public distribution. It appears to be based primarily on initial reports originating from Al-Jazeera and Agence France-Presse rather than from US officials on the ground in Libya.

September 12, 2012 5:42 p.m., Payton Knoph, Deputy Spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, informs Susan Rice about Victoria Nuland's (State Department Spokeswoman) Benghazi backgrounder "4 p.m. EST: Compound begins taking fire from Libyan extremists...she couldn't speak to the identity of the perpetrators, but it was clearly a complex attack...said we could not confirm a connect [with the video] as we simply don't know - and we won't know until there is an investigation."

Sept. 12, 2012 6:06  p.m., Beth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Near East, sends an email to top State Department officials that reads in part: "[T]he group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic extremists."

September 13, 2012 12:29 p.m., Alex McPhillips informs Susan Rice that Agence France-Presse has corrected its story saying: "Initial reports said that Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American were killed by a mob outside the consulate in Libya's second largest city on Tuesday as they tried to flee an angry protest against a US-produced movie deemed offensive to Islam. But it is now believed Stevens died of smoke inhalation after becoming trapped in the compound when suspected Islamic militants fired on the building with rocket-propelled grenades and set it ablaze."

September 13, 2012, Hillary Clinton meets with Ali Suleiman Aujali, the Libyan ambassador to the US, at a State Department event to mark the end of Ramadan. Ambassador Aujali apologizes to Clinton for what he called "this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya." Clinton, in her remarks, does not refer to it as a terrorist attack. She condemns the anti-Muslim video, but adds that there is "never any justification for violent acts of this kind."

September 13, 2012, Hillary Clinton met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani. She condemned what she called the "disgusting and reprehensible" anti-Muslim video and the violence that it triggered.

September 14, 2012 7:11 p.m., Dag Vega, White House Director of Broadcast Media, informs Benjamin Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, and others about the preparation for Susan Rice's Sunday morning September 16th news program appearances, an email in which Benghazi is repeatedly mentioned.

September 14, 2012 8:09 p.m., Benjamin Rhodes follows Dag Vega's email with another about preparing Susan Rice for her TV appearances.

Since September 2012 Americans have learned that the attack on the Benghazi consulate did not originate from a demonstration about an internet video, but it was a premeditated act of terrorism.

If Hillary Clinton indeed was the inventor of the Benghazi video deception, it should forever preclude her from holding any public office.

It would be important to identify the "official" who told Agence France-Presse "A US official killed and another wounded on Tuesday as an armed mob protesting over a film they said offended Islam attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi" in the September 11, 2012 7:20 p.m. email between Alex McPhillips and Susan Rice. If it was from or through a US official, it would suggest the possibility of laying the groundwork for a deceptive narrative.

On September 12, 2012 1 p.m. Washington DC time, Ibrahim al-Majbari of Agence France-Presse reported from Benghazi:

"The attack on September 11, against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, during which the Ambassador of the United States and three other Americans were killed, seems to have been planned, U.S. officials believed on Wednesday. The attack was initially blamed on an overflow from an angry mob protesting against an anti-Islamic film, but was it was later found to result from a coordinated operation a U.S. official told AFP on Wednesday. ‘It is the working hypothesis at the moment,' the official said on condition of anonymity. According to this source, the extremists have used demonstrators protesting against the film as a 'pretext' to attack the U.S. consulate with small arms as well as rocket launchers."

This report indicates that Agence France-Presse had an anonymous American official source, who was promoting the narrative that the video was a pretext for the attack on the Benghazi consulate. This Agence France-Presse report occurs a full day before the September 13, 2012 12:29 p.m. email when Alex McPhillips informs Susan Rice that Agence France-Presse has corrected its original report.  

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of "Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution ". He receives email at