A black-clad Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, brushing away a tear and standing a few feet away from the coffins of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others who died in the attack on our consulate in Libya, may well turn out to be the indelible image of the Libyan fiasco.
As you may recall (and as Charles Krauthammer astutely noted), the secretary was at that solemn moment blaming the Libyan disaster on an internet video.
But from this AP report, it appears that the State Department entertained no such belief:
The State Department says it never concluded that an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya was simply a protest gone awry, a statement that places the Obama administration's own foreign policy arm in sync with Republicans.
That extraordinary message, appearing to question the administration's initial description of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, came in a department briefing Tuesday — a day before a hearing on diplomatic security in Libya was to be held by the Republican-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. …
Briefing reporters Tuesday ahead of the hearing, [State] Department officials were asked about the administration's initial — and since retracted — explanation linking the violence to protests over an American-made anti-Muslim video circulating on the Internet. One official responded, "That was not our conclusion." He called it a question for "others" to answer, without specifying.
The hearing was not short on shocking revelations: we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our personnel were not being adequately protected, despite the ambassador's repeated pleas to the State Department for more security. But the video somehow encapsulates everything else.
Right Turn blogger Jennifer Rubin notes today:
The spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told me, “The State Department has an obligation to explain how the Secretary’s public comments linking the attack to a video comport with the Department’s recent comments that it never drew such a conclusion.”
Scott Taylor, president of a nonprofit dedicated to stopping national security leaks, thinks that blaming the video was may have also further inflamed the Middle East:
Five days after the raid, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice deliberately confirmed that the attack had been spontaneous, not planned, and had come in response to an obscure anti-Islam film. All of the media coverage repeated the administration’s falsehoods, thus helping spur more protests around the Arab world. Media from the Middle East, meanwhile, reported on what was being discussed in the U.S. media, covering words from high-level U.S. officials. The irresponsible dissembling from the Obama administration thus incited, perhaps even promoted, more protests in the Middle East. All the while, the facts on the ground in Libya portrayed a different reality.
We have a right to expect nothing less than the truth in a national emergency. Honorable men and women speak the truth, even when it does not comport with their policies and ambitions.