As CIA Director, David Petraeus testified before the House Intel Committee in a closed hearing on Benghazi on September 14.
(Mistake #1: These hearings should have been open.)
A recap from a post of October 20 titled "What Did the CIA Know and When Did It Stop Knowing It":
On September 14, ABC established that a bifurcated narrative was emerging from different wings of the administration. On the one hand, CIA Director David Petraeus was putting out the (non-existent) protest story; on the other hand, the Pentagon was already talking terrorist attack.
(Worth tucking away as background from an earlier Ignatius column is that the CIA Director "is also said to have pushed hard in Libya, rushing case officers there to work with the opposition" -- a.k.a. al Qaeda.)
The attack that killed four Americans in the Libyan consulate began as a spontaneous protest against the film “The Innocence of Muslims,” but Islamic militants who may have links to Al Qaeda used the opportunity to launch an attack, CIA Director David Petreaus told the House Intelligence Committee today according to one lawmaker who attended a closed-door briefing.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intel committee, said Petraeus laid out “a chronological order exactly what we felt happened, how it happened, and where we’re going in the future.”
“In the Benghazi area, in the beginning we feel that it was spontaneous – the protest- because it went on for two or three hours, which is very relevant because if it was something that was planned, then they could have come and attacked right away,” Ruppersberger, D-Md., said following the hour-long briefing by Petraeus. “At this point it looks as if there was a spontaneous situation that occurred and that as a result of that, the extreme groups that were probably connected to al Qaeda took advantage of that situation and then the attack started.”
This is damningly concrete information to hang onto like an anchor now that Petraeus and his Democratic allies are trying to slip away on an oily re-interpretation of the September briefing.
Based on Ruppersberger's on-the-record impressions of the closed-door Petraeus briefing on September 14 we know:
1) In a one-hour-briefing, Petraeus laid out for members in chronological order the what-happened, how-it-happened and where-we're-going story.
2) The first thing that happened in this Petraeus chronology was a "spontaneous" protest in Benghazi that lasted "two to three hours."
3) The spontaneity of the protest was "very relevant" to the Petraeus presentation because it was evidence that the attack that followed the protest was also unplanned.
4) With the spontaneous protest raging, extremist groups "probably connected" to al Qaeda "took advantage of the situation, " as Ruppersberger put it, "and then the attack started."
We, the People now know without a doubt that no protest, "spontaneous" or other, took place outside the US compound in Benghazi on 9/11/12. On the contrary, the compound had come under a planned al-Qaeda-linked attack.Within one to two to twelve to 24 hours of the start of the Ansar al Sharia-led assault, the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies knew this, too.
Nonetheless, on September 12, President Obama in his Rose Garden statement "went out of [his] way to avoid the use of the word `terrorism' in connection with the Libya attack," as CBS' Steve Kroft put it (and Obama agreed). On September 14, Petraeus went before the House Intel Committee and identified the "spontaneous protest" as the trigger for the terrorist violence that killed four Americans in Benghazi; also, on September 14, SecState Hillary Clinton went to the father of slain ex-SEAL Tyrone Woods and furthered the administration's Big Lie that the video was responsible, promising arrest and prosecution of the video-maker. (He is now serving one year in prison on "unrelated" charges.) Two days later on September 16, UN Ambassador Susan Rice put out the same story on five Sunday talk shows; On September 25, President Obama, after having given various interviews blaming the video for the Benghazi violence, cited the video six times before declaring: "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam." Obama lied. Petraeus lied. Clinton lied. Rice lied. Obama lied.
Why? Why did the O administration claim a "spontaneous protest" over the Mohammed video triggered a similarly spontaneous attack on the US compound in Benghazi -- and hang onto that lie until President Obama addressed the UN on September 25?
There are domestic and international reasons -- all of them bad -- which Congress must explore to expose this festering scandal. These include probable Obama concerns that an admission of the facts would have adversely affected his re-election campaign, and, in the international arena, his administration's policy to prohibit criticism of Islam in accordance with the aims of the OIC, the Islamic bloc, through UN Resolution 16/18. Then there is the whole "Arab Spring" policy which should come under scrutiny for aligning the US with al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the facts of the matter become only more obscured.
On November 16, Petraeus went before the House Intel committee, again in a closed hearing.
(Mistake #2: These hearings should have been open.)
News reports based on members' statements following the November 16 briefing indicate Petraeus is no longer pushing the administration's Big Lie of 14 days in September; namely, that a (non-existent) protest over a video in Benghazi spontaneously combusted into an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist attack. However, Petraeus insisted that his briefings in September and November are entirely consistent, as if he had never, ever identified a "spontaneous" protest lasting "two to three hours," as Rep. Rupperberger declared on September 14 immediately after Petraeus' briefing, as the trigger for the "probably" al-Qaeda-linked attack.
So far, the only thing between this latest Petraeus lie and its total acceptance is Rep. Peter King (R-NY). As a member of the House Intel committee, King heard both Petraeus testimonies, and came out last week to note the discrepancies, although all too politely and with misplaced protestations of his respect for Petraeus. King's statements have been boiled down to King saying "I had a very different recollection of what he told us on September 14."
King's complete comments to Fox News' Megyn Kelly were more emphatic.
Gen. Petraeus said that when he came to the committee back on Friday September 14 he had then told us that he thought it was a terrorist attack and the CIA had believed that. He said there were different streams coming in but they definitely believed it was a terrorist attack.
Again, I have a great regard for Gen. Petraeus, I emphasized that today.
But I told him I had a very different recollection of what he told us on September 14. He barely mentioned terrorism at that time, he deemphasized it. He emphasized the video, he emphasized spontaneous demonstration, and as far as the terrorist question, he really minimized it totally.
In September, Petraeus blamed a spontaneous protest for an unplanned terrorist attack. In November, Petraeus attributed the violence that left four Americans dead in Benghazi to a planned terrorist attack.
There's a big difference between the two. It matters because it leaves the crucial question unanswered: Why did the Obama administration lie to the American people about 9/11/12 in Benghazi? Why are they still lying?