It happened in Benghazi, third and fourth accounts: What actually happened in Benghazi?
We aren’t able to tell you. But in real time, many journalists, citing eyewitnesses, said there had been a demonstration before the violent attackers arrived. They said the protesters and the attackers cited the offensive YouTube video at the cause of their actions.
To read what the Washington Times reported, just click here. For the report from the New York Times, click this.
Personally, we weren’t present in Benghazi. But below, you see part of what Greg Miller reported in the Washington Post.
Headline: “Libya consulate attack came after militants joined protesters, say witnesses, officials:”
MILLER (9/13/12): At least an hour before the assault began, a stream of cars was seen moving toward the U.S. Consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. By late Tuesday evening, as many as 50 heavily armed militants had gathered outside its high walls.Miller quoted one eyewitness who “said the incident was not a protest.” But as in the Washington Times, the Washington Post quoted witnesses and one Libyan official who described a protest about the offensive video.
They joined protesters outside the consulate who were demonstrating against an American movie that they believed denigrated the prophet Muhammad. But according to one witness, the new arrivals neither chanted slogans nor carried banners.
“They said, ‘We are Muslims defending the prophet. We are defending Islam,’ ” Libyan television journalist Firas Abdelhakim said in an interview.
The gunmen soon opened fire, entered the compound and set the consulate's buildings aflame. Hours later, the compound was overrun and four Americans were dead. Among them were Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, 52, and Sean Smith, a State Department employee.
The chaotic scene was described by senior Obama administration officials, Libyan government officials and witnesses. Details about the attack were still emerging late Wednesday. Key facts remain unclear, particularly how Stevens died and how his body wound up at a Benghazi hospital.
Even as evidence was being assembled, the early indications were that the assault had been planned and the attackers had cannily taken advantage of the protest at the consulate.
"Was this a spontaneous act of violence, was this capitalizing on the opportunity posed by [a protest], or was this separate and apart from al-Qaeda?" asked Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House intelligence committee. "Any of those are possible," Schiff said, but accounts of the attack and the firepower employed "indicate something more than a spontaneous protest."
The first protesters had showed up around noon. Wanis al-Sharif, the deputy Libyan interior minister, said in an interview that the demonstrators were angered by a low-budget American film that portrayed the prophet Muhammad in a blasphemous manner. As the day wore on, Sharif said, the anger escalated and people with weapons infiltrated the crowd.
Preliminary reports speculated that the violence grew spontaneously out of anger over the film. But U.S. and Libyan officials cast doubt on that theory, with some suggesting that the attackers took advantage of the diversion created by protesters.
A similar account appeared in the Los Angeles Times. This was part of Ned Parker’s lengthy front-page report:
PARKER (9/13/12): Witnesses in Benghazi said a small crowd gathered Tuesday night outside the consulate, a villa in a walled compound, to protest the anti-Muslim video, which was disseminated online by Morris Sadek, an Egyptian Christian activist in suburban Washington, D.C. Some in the crowd had learned of the protest through Facebook. Others had heard of the video from Libyan students abroad or seen TV images of the Cairo protest.How accurate are these accounts? We have no idea, although Parker sources his report to statements by named eyewitnesses. Needless to say, that doesn't mean the statements were accurate.
About 10 p.m., Abdel Monem Monem, a former advisor to the leader of the rebels' transitional government, went to check and found about 50 people demonstrating without violence.
"It was normal. We were just showing [the Americans] not to insult our prophet Muhammad," Monem Monem said.
About 11:30 p.m., armed men drove up in about 20 cars bearing Islamic slogans. Sheik Mohamed Oraibi, a young Islamic preacher of the hard-line Salafist movement who was involved in the peaceful protest, watched as what he called "religious extremists" armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades arrived and began firing at the consulate. He said he didn't believe they were affiliated with Al Qaeda.
The compound's security guards fired into the air to try to disperse the attackers, but the attackers fired back with "ridiculous amounts of gunshots," Oraibi said.
Fire gutted the compound, according to U.S. officials, and sent U.S. personnel running for safety.
For ourselves, we don’t know what happened in Benghazi that night. Nor do we think it hugely matters. When she appeared on those TV programs, Susan Rice warned her hosts, again and again, that she was giving a preliminary assessment.
(Please note: Rice didn’t say that the demonstrators staged the killing attack. She said that was done by “extremists” armed with “heavy weapons” who arrived at the scene and “hijacked events.”)
On September 14, the CIA said, in its first account of the incident, that it believed “the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protest at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate.”
The next day, taping those TV shows, Rice offered a version of that account as a preliminary assessment. As career liberals hide in the woods, she has been trashed and savaged from that day right up to this.
This is a very familiar pattern. Career liberals have behaved in this compliant way for at least the last twenty years.
On the brighter side, they’re being paid extremely good wages. The very large salaries they command may help jump-start the economy.