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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » US diplomat killed in Benghazi attack (Page 3)

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Author Topic: US diplomat killed in Benghazi attack
SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Thesifer:
As more information comes out its looking more and more like the attack in Libya was a 9/11 timed planned attack. While the protests going on in Egypt are unrelated events.

Susan Rice, UN ambassador says the attack was not pre-planned, in direct contradiction to what Libyan officials are saying (which is that this was an al-Qaeda operation, with foreign elements entering the country months ago to begin preparations).

I think that the blog post 'fact-check' is a bit too credulous in accepting President al-Magariaf's statements at face value while questioning Rice's statement because of the administration's self-interest in depicting the attack as spontaneous. I think a good fact checker would have accounted for the self-interest of Libyan officials as well as US officials. Middle Eastern leaders (among others) frequently use the specter of 'foreign influence' to excuse their inability to quell internal dissension and/or to justify military or police actions against citizens.

To me, the statements of a Libyan military official (echoed by statements by Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy) that the accuracy of the attack suggested planning and preparation are somewhat more persuasive than an argument of self-interest, but I think it's pretty hard on the basis of evidence to really question whether Rice was fibbing in her depiction of the attacks as spontaneous events hijacked by extremists.

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Kwea
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I bet it was an attack of opportunity, based on the protests. With that many people rioting/protesting it becomes much harder to trace motives and check movement of individuals.

Not to say there wasn't planning involved, but I doubt they had this specific date or event in mind. But they would be stupid if they didn't see this as a chance to step up to the plate.

There is a real fear in Libya that we will respond with overwhelming force to this, so the government in Libya has a vested self interest in blaming terrorists...true or not. I don't discount what they are saying because of that, but I do keep it in mind when considering their "intel".

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Tinros
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Neil Gaiman posted a letter he received from one of the actresses in the film, detailing what the people involved THOUGHT it was going to be. None of the people shown in the film actually had anything to do with anything anti-Islam, and some (included the actress who wrote the letter linked above) are now scared for their lives if they leave the country.
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AchillesHeel
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Now even aspiring actors have to be afraid of getting work, becuase they may be used to incite international violence. The phrase "I couldn't make this up" comes to mind.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Thesifer:
It appears (directly from interviews) a lot of this comes from undereducated people believing the US government funded the video, and promotes anti-Islam sentiment. Now I'm not sure its all ignorance, I've seen many a politician publicly stating their hatred of Islam. Including some really dicey stuff from Bush years ago.

I'm curious what dicey stuff you're thinking of. Do you remember any specifics, or maybe think you could find one or two on google? Just curious.
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Orincoro
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Devotion to patently insane conspiracy theories is a worldwide phenomenon. Really, you'd have to be surprised if a lot of people *didnt* think the US gov was up to something. And if you live in a world where your access to information is limited to hearsay and sources you ought not trust and don't understand why that is, you'll buy nothing that appeals t you as a consumer. People do it in the US too.
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SenojRetep
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Matthew Olsen, US counter-terror chief also claims the attacks were not premeditated, but several senators including Susan Collins and John McCain push back, essentially claiming that the administration is trying to excuse a planning and intelligence failure.

Does anyone know why Stevens was at the consulate in Benghazi instead of the embassy in Tripoli? I'd heard in passing (I think on NPR) that he'd moved for security reasons surrounding Sept. 11, and there was some speculation about whether his whereabouts had been leaked by the Libyan government to the attackers. However, I can't find any stories referencing that speculation now, and I'm not certain of where or when I first heard it.

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Lyrhawn
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I don't see why it can't be both, to a degree.

You don't plan to attack, then you see a spontaneous riot taking place and grab your RPGs and head out, hoping to get lucky.

In other words, it could have been a target of opportunity that there was no way to foresee.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I don't see why it can't be both, to a degree.

You don't plan to attack, then you see a spontaneous riot taking place and grab your RPGs and head out, hoping to get lucky.

In other words, it could have been a target of opportunity that there was no way to foresee.

That's more or less the administration's line. It's disputed by the Libyan government as well as some earlier statements from US government representatives who say the attack had been planned for months.

<edit>Perhaps the two versions can be reconciled if the line is 'an attack had been in preparation for months, and when an opportunity presented itself they seized it.' Is that what you were saying? If so, it still leaves open the question of why we weren't better prepared for an attack. Stevens evidently had been saying for months that he was on al Qaeda's hit list, and had expressed concern over al Qaeda making inroads in eastern Libya. In retrospect, it's easy to say the situation should have been handled more carefully, but I guess it's not clear why we weren't better prepared for an attack given the apparent warning signs.</edit>

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Lyrhawn
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They planned for months that Ambassador Stevens would happen to be at the Benghazi consulate that particular day and that there'd be a riot?

Perhaps, but I'd have to see a lot of proof, because it sounds a little farfetched on its face.

To address your edit: That's sort of what I'm saying. But it still seems farfetched. They have a ton of weapons lying around. When militants raided Ghaddafi's armories, people made off with all sorts of goodies. The country is an armed camp of factions. I don't think it's unreasonable to surmise that when the riots broke out, anti-American forces had a target in mind, and the means to do it, so they just did it. Not everything is a shadowy plot planned out months in advance.

I agree though, that he should have had more security, and that's something almost everyone has noted. Honestly though, that seems more like Clinton's fault than Obama's though. Micromanaging embassy security at that level simply isn't his day to day job. But it IS Clinton's job.

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SenojRetep
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One thing I find unlikely about "just a bunch of guys with RPGs" as an explanation is that knowledgeable observers on the ground, both US and Libyan, said the attack was far more coordinated and precisely executed than one would expect from such a situation. I could see, however, a dedicated group planning an attack, waiting for a window of opportunity, training on their weapons for months. Then, when they hear about the riots they rush their plan into action.

<edit>Note in this scenario there need not be (although it also doesn't preclude) specific targeting of Stevens; it could just be he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.</edit>

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Lyrhawn
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A lot of these militants are training constantly in general, not necessarily for a specific attack on a relatively minor US consulate building in a relatively minor city.

Regardless, why would we have heard of it? I have sickening faith in the abilities of the CIA, but come on, at some point there has to be a reasonable expectation that their abilities don't reach into every situation, and this sounds like exactly the sort of thing they couldn't know about.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
So what do you think that we should do instead?

Pour la canaille, la mitrailleuse.
Have you been consulting the Pakistani government?
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SenojRetep
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This is the most detailed reporting on the attack I've seen yet.
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BlackBlade
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Nice try, I'm not subscribing!
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SenojRetep
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That's weird. It showed up for me in my Google News feed. I was able to read the whole article (which I thought was great). But now when I go back it's behind the pay firewall. Bummer.
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Mucus
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I missed this event, I have to give props to them regardless of how I might feel about their religious beliefs.
quote:
Whatever the organizational outcome, the Sept. 14, 2012 attack on Camp Bastion is arguably the worst day in USMC aviation history since the Tet Offensive of 1968. The last time VMA-211 was combat ineffective was in December 1941, when the squadron was wiped out during the 13-day defense of Wake Island against the Japanese. Eight irreplaceable aircraft (the AV-8B has been out of production since 1999) have been destroyed or put out of action – approximately 7 percent of the total flying USMC Harrier fleet. Worse yet, the aircraft involved were the AV-B+ variant equipped with the APG-65 radar and AAQ-28 Litening II targeting pods – the most capable in the force. Given the current funding situation, it’s likely that the two damaged AV-8Bs will become spare parts “hangar queens” and never fly again. A Harrier squadron commander is dead, along with another Marine. Another nine personnel have been wounded, and the nearby Marines at Camp Freedom are now without effective fixed-wing air support.
http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2012/09/us-suffered-its-worst-airpower-loss-vietnam-last-week-and-no-one-really-noticed/57139/
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Lyrhawn
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Pro-democracy Libyan protesters storm jihadist HQs

quote:
Ten days after four Americans were killed in their Libyan city, hundreds marched in Benghazi and took over the headquarters of a radical Islamist group tied to the attack.

Thousands of protesters had taken to the street earlier Friday, loudly declaring that they -- and not those behind last week's deadly attack -- represent the real sentiments of the Libyan people.

"I am sorry, America," one man said. "This is the real Libya."


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Thesifer
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by Thesifer:
It appears (directly from interviews) a lot of this comes from undereducated people believing the US government funded the video, and promotes anti-Islam sentiment. Now I'm not sure its all ignorance, I've seen many a politician publicly stating their hatred of Islam. Including some really dicey stuff from Bush years ago.

I'm curious what dicey stuff you're thinking of. Do you remember any specifics, or maybe think you could find one or two on google? Just curious.
I actually stand corrected here. I blame the revisionist ability of memory for this, so my fault. I was equating the Islamaphobia from the "Sharia Law" crap from 2010, the Mosque debacle, and some other politicians comments from earlier than that, that I must have equated to Bush in memory somehow. From what I can see, he took about the same position Obama, Clinton, Bush 1, and Reagan appear to have taken. "Don't believe all Muslims as terrorists." and stand against offensive cartoons, novels, etc. As all of them have done, while admitting that freedom of speech allows people to be asshats.
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Rakeesh
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I don't follow your last post, Mucus.
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Blayne Bradley
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Knocking out a squadron of irreplaceable aircraft from the world's foremost air power is a remarkable achievement for a group of militia insurgents and anyone who considers warfare a serious hobby should rightly be impressed. Knowing the enemy requires you respect them and their abilities.

There's this major political show which I think airs in Canada called "No Agenda" put forward an interesting theory, that this is orchestrated as a conspiracy by Israel under Bibi and the Romney campaign to become Obama's "Iranian Hostage Crisis" moment and cost him his chance at reelection, but virtually everything at every step of the process went FUBAR'ed and so the whole thing has backfired for all involved.

I haven't watched the show and don't know what evidence they are using for this speculation, for instance if they're relying on the Mohammed movie for instance then it largely falls apart.

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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Pro-democracy Libyan protesters storm jihadist HQs

quote:
Ten days after four Americans were killed in their Libyan city, hundreds marched in Benghazi and took over the headquarters of a radical Islamist group tied to the attack.

Thousands of protesters had taken to the street earlier Friday, loudly declaring that they -- and not those behind last week's deadly attack -- represent the real sentiments of the Libyan people.

"I am sorry, America," one man said. "This is the real Libya."


This is wonderful news. If anything, it demonstrates that the culture of fear that the extremists have created is not strong enough to subdue any attempt at dissent. It is an example of Muslims taking initiative to show that their cultural identity, as Libyans and Muslims, does not have to lump them in with the violent, reactionary hatemongers storming around.

As long as there are people from within brave enough to fight the culture of fear, there is hope for democracy and freedom in the region. It is from these vocal moderates that any substantive change to the culture that promotes violence in response to blasphemy will come.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
I don't follow your last post, Mucus.

Well, as an "radical"* atheist Chinese Canadian, the Taliban would probably sooner kill me than talk to me.

But one does have to have a respect for their achievements. In guerilla warfare terms, this sounds like an achievement that compares favourably to individual achievements by the CCP during the civil war/Korean war or by the Americans during the revolutionary war.

* in the Douglas Adams sense

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Rakeesh
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Yes, that's about what I thought you probably meant. Though generally (and this may be an unusual interpretation), giving props means to express approval and respect-that is of something worthwhile (even if conventional society frowns on it) done well. But that may be a regional thing, or just my own twist on the phrase. Giving props to people engaged in a campaign of murder, repression, and mayhem, particularly being unavoidably provincial against American soldiers rang very, very nastily to me so I had to decide you didn't mean it that way.

Anyway, yes, the Taliban and al Qaeda are certainly serious enemies, particularly in areas like this.

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Mucus
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Hmmmm, I may be old school, but ...
quote:
Both men had the greatest respect for their enemy. Monty kept a portrait of the German in his command caravan while Patton studied Rommel's book on tactics. Rommel returned the compliment: 'Montgomery never made a serious strategic mistake … [and] in the Patton Army we saw the most astonishing achievement in mobile warfare.'
http://www.mastersofbattle.co.uk/prologue.htm

And the guy was literally a Nazi. I'm no general but I think one can have a respect for one's opponent without approving of their cause.

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Mucus
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(Technically, he may have been working for Nazis as opposed to being a Nazi party member, but you know what I mean and it doesn't affect the larger point for me)
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Rakeesh
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I didn't think you approved of their cause. It was just the way the term rang to me, is all.

Now, that said, the comparison is only loosely appropriate I think. The relationship between Montgomery and Rommel, and the British and German militaries, was not the same as that between Western forces and various Taliban and al Qaeda groups. But I don't think you mean to suggest the relationship or respective standings are the same, either.

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Mucus
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I'm not sure what you mean by relationship or standing or in what manner that would affect our respect.
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Rakeesh
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Well, it seems appropriate in some respects, or at least most cultures tell us so, for soldiers to respect even enemies while trying their best to defeat them in battle. You know?

Al Qaeda and Taliban forces, on the other hand, aren't entirely soldiers or at least certainly not in the way Montgomery or even Rommel were. I suppose what I'm getting at is that I recoil from things that smack of legitimizing them, even things that seem reasonable, such as a respect for their tenacity and skill at guerilla warfare.

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Lyrhawn
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I'll bet we felt the same about the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War, but decades later, their tactics are taught in military schools, and we spend multiple classes on them in military history classes.

Sometimes I wonder what "legitimizing" means in this context. What legitimacy are you afraid of giving them by acknowledging that they're capable fighters?

Lord knows we've seen enough videos of them on monkey bars over the years, they should be good at something.

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Mucus
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Rakeesh: Ah, I understand that there always has been tension and variations in how much people "legitimize" guerilla warfare. But that's sort of why I gave the examples of the American revolutionary war, the Korean War, the Chinese Civil War, etc. Ultimately, for me it is sort of a "There but for the grace of God, go I" thing, especially when you get down to the individual level of the soldier.
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SenojRetep
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Director of National Intelligence spokesman says attack was "deliberate and organized". The more intelligence is gathered, the more the story looks like extremists, some affiliated with al Qaeda in the Islamic Meghreb, ran a disciplined and organized attack. There is still no statement on whether the attack had been pre-planned, or whether it was a spontaneous reaction to the opening provided by the protests.
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SenojRetep
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The Daily Beast, working from an unclassified CIA 'talking points' memo and some anonymously-sourced intelligence officials, try to give a sense for how and why the assessment of the attack has varied over time. There's an accusation by one intel operator of "cherry picking" data, which is then disputed by official spokesmen. And there's the interesting wrinkle (which I hadn't previously considered) that if al Qaeda was found responsible for the attack, then a military response would be valid under our current declaration of war against the organization.

What I'd be most interested in, but which isn't part of the article, is why the assessment changed. There is no indication of what additional intelligence was gathered that changed the assessment from a spontaneous riot turning violent to a deliberate and coordinated attack.

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Lyrhawn
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So you'd like an explanation of the internal workings of CIA analysts and you'd like to know what pieces of information they did and didn't use at certain times to formulate their theories?

Let me know how that goes.

You should also keep in mind that it's fairly normal for two people to look at the same evidence and draw from it two different conclusions.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
So you'd like an explanation of the internal workings of CIA analysts and you'd like to know what pieces of information they did and didn't use at certain times to formulate their theories?

Let me know how that goes.

You should also keep in mind that it's fairly normal for two people to look at the same evidence and draw from it two different conclusions.

I get that; I'm not trying to play a 'gotcha' game or anything. It was more frustration that there has clearly been a shift in the intelligence assessments based on what they can tell us, but there hasn't been a commensurate sense of additional information becoming available, or additional analysis being done. I'm sure both those things are happening to varying degrees, but even a little bit of transparency into why the assessments have evolved would be interesting.
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DarkKnight
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US Officials: We didnt link Libya attack to film
quote:
The State Department said Tuesday it never concluded that the consulate attack in Libya stemmed from protests over an American-made video ridiculing Islam, raising further questions about why the Obama administration used that explanation for more than a week after assailants killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

The revelation came as new documents suggested internal disagreement over appropriate levels of security before the attack, which occurred on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S.

quote:
According to an email obtained Tuesday by the AP, the top State Department security official in Libya told a congressional investigator that he had argued unsuccessfully for more security in the weeks before Ambassador Chris Stevens, a State Department computer specialist and two former Navy SEALs were killed. But department officials instead wanted to "normalize operations and reduce security resources," he wrote.

Eric Nordstrom, who was the regional security officer in Libya, also referenced a State Department document detailing 230 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012 that demonstrated the danger there to Americans.


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SenojRetep
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The mother of one of the men killed in the attack went on CNN to express her personal frustration over the Administration's changing story.
quote:
The things they are telling me about [Sean's death] are just outright lies...they could at least acknowledge that I have a right to know. Something! Something other than 'oh, we're checking up on it' or 'trust me'. I like that one the best of all. 'Trust me, I will let you know'. Well, I don't trust you anymore! I don't trust you anymore. You, you, I'm not going to say lied to me, but you didn't tell me and you knew!

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DarkKnight
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I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the almost complete lack of attention to the facts about this killing. Obama, Clinton, Rice, and on and on all lied about there even being a protest and hardly anyone cares? Watergate was simply a stupid botched break in, this was an attack on 9/11 that President Obama blatantly and knowingly lied about, then went to Vegas for $$$. How is this not front page news?
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SenojRetep
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I think you're considerably overstating things. I agree it's disappointing that the shifting story isn't more important to people, but it seems very premature to assert that "President Obama blatantly and knowingly lied about" the attack. Much more likely to me is that the Administration made a flawed inference based on limited information and is now having a hard time admitting their mistake. I think it would be good, both for the Administration and for the public, if they provided insight into why they got things wrong. I also think that until they do clarify what went wrong and why with their assessment, people will choose to fill in those blanks with the worst possible assumptions (as I think you have here).
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DarkKnight
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I'm pretty sure that they knew, and knew beforehand, or at the very least should have known.
But the almost complete lack of reporting, and the insanely botched 'investigation' by the FBI is stunning.

State Dept denies linking attack to video
US Official says superiors worked against effort to boost security

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DarkKnight
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FBI arrives to investigate, leaves 12 hours later
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Rakeesh
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How much do you know about what's required for an FBI team to perform an investigation in a dubiously friendly (let's just say) country, DarkKnight?

To be clear, it's plain you know very little, but I'm curious what you THINK you know, and to what extent this is just election month posturing.

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Orincoro
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Or how about this: you have literally *no* idea why they were only there for 12 hours. Could have been included in terms set by the Libyan government. Could have been a narrow scope of mission that was determined ahead of time to ensure security.

You have *no* idea. You're just "asking questions."

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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by DarkKnight:
I'm pretty sure that they knew, and knew beforehand, or at the very least should have known.
But the almost complete lack of reporting, and the insanely botched 'investigation' by the FBI is stunning.

State Dept denies linking attack to video
US Official says superiors worked against effort to boost security

Oh, you just "know" it.


Stop the presses.


It couldn't possibly be that there was a reason they didn't want to jump to conclusions. You know, we might invade another country not responsible for it, or kill thousands of civilians....again.

What I saw, over and over again, was the people in our government say "We don't know yet, but as far as we can telll right now...."

But don't let actual facts interfere with your narrative.

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Blayne Bradley
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House GOP admits to cutting funding for embassy security.
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SenojRetep
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White House received emails from State immediately after the attack linking Ansar al-Sharia to the violence.
quote:
Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show...

The message reported: "Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli."

While some information identifying recipients of this message was redacted from copies of the messages obtained by Reuters, a government source said that one of the addresses to which the message was sent was the White House Situation Room, the president's secure command post.

By the following morning, Reuters was also reporting the possible connection. While it's often the case that terrorist organizations claim responsibility for attacks they had nothing to do with in order to raise their profile, this is just another data point about possible gaps in the intelligence process.
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