Terence P. Jeffrey | What did the White House know about Libya, and when?

Upon hearing there had been an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans had been killed there and that this murderous assault had been carried out on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a rational mind might be tempted to conclude that this had been a premeditated act of terror.

The Obama White House and State Department resisted the temptation.

On Sept. 12, the day after the attack, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked whether “the attack in Benghazi was planned and premeditated.” “It’s too early for us to make that judgment,” Carney said.

The next day, Sept. 13, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland subtly pointed to a YouTube video as possibly creating a motivation for the attack. Asked “whether the Benghazi attack was purely spontaneous or was premeditated by militants,” Nuland replied, “[W]e are very cautious about drawing any conclusions with regard to who the perpetrators were, what their motivations were, whether it was premeditated, whether they had any external contacts, whether there was any link, until we have a chance to investigate along with the Libyans … [O]bviously, there are plenty of people around the region citing this disgusting video as something that has been motivating.”

A Sept. 14 Associated Press story described the video in question as 14 minutes of clips from “the amateurish anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ ” which “depict the prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman in an overtly mocking way.” The video had been posted on YouTube.

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