The story of the 2012 Benghazi, Libya embassy attack generally breaks down into one of two rather distinct narratives. The first, official line being that it was a spontaneous act of aggression by local militants and rioters, in reaction to or fueled by the release of an American low-budget YouTube film which insulted Islam.
The second, which has been favored by congressional Republicans looking for any excuse to attack President Obama and distract from their own tenures of obstructionism and general inaction regarding numerous domestic issues, is that it was a planned, coordinated attack by the global omnipresent boogeyman Al-Qaeda and that Obama and the State Department, actively covered that information up for political purposes. However, after an extensive investigation, information released in a recent New York Times article, may have certain members of Congress looking to distance themselves from what has been routinely called a “witch hunt.”
Over the course of their investigation into the events of that day, the team at The Times, utilizing foreign correspondents and local assets, pieced together the puzzle that was the Benghazi attack, reviewing countless State Department cables and interviewing dozens of witnesses. In the account of what took place, the attacks were neither a spontaneous act of aggression, nor a planned Al-Qaeda mission, but rather a culmination of factors, resulting in a perfect storm which brought a mix of area militants and infuriated locals to attack the US compound, ultimately killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Much of their investigation focused on Islamist group Ansar al-Shariah and a local militant leader named Abu Khattala, who despite his deep-rooted hatred for Mummar Gaddafi, felt little outside of the same for the US and NATO who helped rebel forces oust him. Though having no professed or verifiable connection to Al-Qaeda, the militia leader, who spent over twenty years in a Tripoli prison for militant islamic radicalism, stated openly in an interview prior to his being named a suspect in the attack, that he was no member, but admired their goals.
Not a member or affiliate of Al-Qaeda, Khattala does however sit much in the center of the investigation, as numerous Benghazi sources point to “signs of his leadership,” with some eyewitnesses even claiming to have seen him there at the time of the attack. Beyond the local militias however, who are reported to have been planning some form of attack after reports surfaced of security officials having taken notice of surveillance efforts by unidentified locals, there remains the elements of outrage over the “Innocence Of Muslims” film, which did spark legitimate outrage throughout the Islamic world.
From the very detailed report, witnesses are said to have heard of rumors that circulated, claiming that Americans had murdered local Libyans at the embassy. These, plus the riotous zeitgeist that is said to have overtaken the neighborhoods around the embassy compound, are said to have led to all out “bedlam,” with looters and rioters following close on the heels of the dedicated local militants who stormed the gates. These matters were compounded as well by the regularity of security issues near the compound itself, with Ambassador Stevens being quoted from his journal, having written,
Never ending security threats…
At some point towards the end of 2008 or early 2009, a dramatic policy shift seems to have taken effect in the GOP, causing them to rise and declare that after thirteen separate, perfectly acceptable (if their reactions are were any indications) embassy attacks under the watch of President Bush, such would no longer be tolerated under the new, incoming Democratic President.
Flash forward then to 2012, when after a band of militants and rioters attacked and burned the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, endless calls for investigations flew freely from the right-wing, mirrored perfectly by a plethora of conspiracy theories which declared the incident everything from a planned Al Qaeda attack, to an “inside job” carried out at the behest of President Obama.
However as commonly happens when right-wing pundits and Tea Party darlings begin spinning yarns about conspiracies for political gain, the truth inevitably catches up with them. While few expect the findings of The New York Times report to change any minds of the far right in regards to where the blame for the Benghazi attacks lay, the soundness of reporting and solid, well vetted nature to the data leads to conclusions that only a willful ignorance could look beyond.
h/t: New York Times