Monday, December 30, 2013

NY Times Report Refutes GOP Benghazi Conspiracy Theory

The New York Times has published an extensive multi-media report refuting Republican claims of a cover-up regarding the attack last year on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya. The investigation is critical of the administration's security decisions and lack of information about the dangerous situation at that time; however, it found no evidence for the GOP conspiracy theory that the White House, to enable President Obama to trumpet his counter-terrorism successes during the election campaign, denied Al Qaeda's leadership role in an attack that killed four Americans. Indeed, the investigation found no evidence of Al Qaeda involvement:

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

...Republicans have accused the Obama administration of covering up evidence of Al Qaeda’s role to avoid undermining the president’s claim that the group has been decimated, in part because of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

...
“It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an Al Qaeda-led event,” Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said last month on Fox News.

“This was a preplanned, organized terrorist event,” he said, “not a video. That whole part was debunked time and time again.”

But the Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with Al Qaeda’s international terrorist network. The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda, according to several officials briefed on the call. But when the friend heard the attacker’s boasts, he sounded astonished, the officials said, suggesting he had no prior knowledge of the assault.

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