For instance, the movie can't be completely dismissed. Why? Because we don't know enough to completely dismiss it. We don't know if Ansar al-Sharia or other groups used the video to whip up outrage amongst their flock of useful idiots to carry out an attack, opportunistically spurred several hours after the Cairo protest.
We don't know if they were planning an attack already but sped it up due to the opening provided by the movie outrage. We don't even know if the video was legit or a prop secretly made by Islamists to justify all the violence. The filmmaker is still locked up in solitary here in America.
We don't know if Egyptian Islamists coordinated with their counterparts in Libya, or those throughout the Arab-Muslim world, before the fact. We don't know exactly what the facility in Benghazi was being user for or why Ambassador Stevens was there with light security on 9/11 meeting the Turk ambassador.
We DO know a few things, though.
We know the initial protest in Cairo was designed to free the Blind Sheikh. The Obama people haven't mentioned him once, nor have they been asked about him after 9/11.
We know Obama knew early that Benghazi was an organized attack not involving a protest mob. We know that despite just suffering a terror act and loss of an ambassador he jetted off to Vegas for a fundraiser. We know he knows what Benghazi was really being used for, which might explain some reticence (only because the answer might be politically sensitive). We know that in the first interview he gave of the event, on September 12th to 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft, he answered thusly (emphasis added):
In the same story that breaks the news and gives readers the e-mails, CBS News prints an unaired answer that Obama gave Steve Kroft on September 12. It was his first interview after the attacks. "You're right that this is not a situation that was -- exactly the same as what happened in Egypt and my suspicion is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start."That episode aired on Sunday, September 17. Ambassador Rice had been on five TV shows earlier that day, including on CBS, to pump the position that it was a spontaneous reaction to the movie clip, suggesting that just another mob protest spiraled out of control. We know Obama knew it wasn't a protest mob.
We know nobody in the major media has used this event to question our overall policy in Libya or the role going forward.
All of which leaves more unknowns. Why was Rice instructed to say what she said? Who told her to misappropriate the truth (keep in mind they knew by that time it wasn't a protest gone amok)? Why did 60 Minutes cut that segment with Obama saying, "and my suspicion is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start"? It certainly would have looked strange in comparison to Rice's earlier comments. Who told them to cut it and why?
In the end the facts are few because reporters have not aggressively pursued the facts. Dave Weigel blames reporters--heck yeah--the question is why those reporters haven't been doing their jobs. Answers are easy to imagine, even without proof.
CNN reported last night that fighters from AQ in Iraq were involved in the Libyan attack, mixed with locals. There's a history of Libyans working with Iraqis to fight US troops in Iraq; evidently some were returning the favor:
U.S. intelligence believes that assailants connected to al Qaeda in Iraq were among the core group that attacked the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, a U.S. government official told CNN. That would represent the second al Qaeda affiliate associated with the deadly September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.This suggests further that the attack was not spontaneous. If intelligence is leaking this to the press it also suggests a level of foreknowledge. So, will we now have to "send in the military" to Iraq bring to justice these terrorists or will Maliki just round up some usual suspects?
Interestingly, CNN this morning is headlining a story casting doubts on the State Dept's own emails during the event that indicated Ansar al-Sharia was involved based on Facebook and Twitter posts, which were picked up yesterday, inflaming the story even more. In this article is a link to the story above about Iraq, clicking on it simply takes the reader to the email debunking story. Just a glitch, probably.
The bottom line doesn't change, though. Had the president simply stayed with his early comment to 60 Minutes and not tried to pretend the event was just another mob protest flared by the movie trailer, ie, having Ambassador Rice repeat that honest assessment on the Sunday shows, none of this would be at issue. We would simply be faced with the stark reality that AQ may indeed have suffered some setbacks but they remain a lethal enemy not to be used as political fodder.