Friday, May 10, 2013

Revisting the Diary

One of the biggest stories to do with Benghazi is something CNN and Anderson Cooper know intimately but haven't followed up on--the diary:
Three days after he was killed, CNN found a journal belonging to late U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. The journal was found on the floor of the largely unsecured consulate compound where he was fatally wounded.   CNN notified Stevens' family about the journal within hours after it was discovered and at the family's request provided it to them via a third party.  The journal consists of just seven pages of handwriting in a hard-bound book.
So, three days after the event on Friday September 14--the same day the CIA talking points were allegedly massaged by someone (according to Jay Carney, by the CIA itself without any WH input)--CNN found a diary from Stevens that relayed his concerns about rising extremism in eastern Libya and being on an "AQ hit list".  This was of course two days before the Rice Sunday show blitz.

Did the government know CNN had the diary on the 14th? It appears the answer is yes:
The family was informed within hours about the discovery of the journal, a hard-bound book that included seven handwritten pages. CNN gave the document to an Italian official at the State Department's request, and it is now being returned to the ambassador's relative.
Digging deeper into when this diary was given to the Italian official, this link suggests it was the day the diary was found:
CNN said on its website that it notified the Stevens family "within hours" that it had the journal. The Stevens family then reached out to the State Department, which arranged a telephone conference call between members of the family and CNN. In that call, the family asked the news organization to return the journal and to not publish or broadcast any of its contents, according to a Stevens family member and State Department officials. Family members and State Department officials said CNN agreed during the Sept. 14 conference call to hold off on using the diary until the family had a chance to review its contents.
The added bold makes it look pretty solid that the State Dept knew about Stevens' thoughts and feelings on local extremism two days before the administration (or someone) sent Ambassador Rice out on the Sunday shows to fog the issue and mention the video.  The very same day--Friday the 14th, was the day the bodies were brought back to Andrews:
Clinton said the rage and violence aimed at American missions was prompted by "an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with." Amid the somber ceremony, anti-American protests raged across the Middle East and North Africa over the video. U.S. officials are investigating whether the assault in Benghazi was a coordinated terrorist attack that took advantage of just such a protest.
According to U.S. officials, the assault is looking less like a premeditated or pre-planned attack and more like one which took advantage of the demonstration outside the consulate, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. It is still described as well-executed and well-armed. A radical Islamic group called Ansar al Sharia is still the leading suspect.
This was the same ceremony where top government officials allegedly told Smith's mother and Woods' father that they were going to find the filmmaker and put him in jail.   To be fair, it was true the video seemed to be sparking further violence all over the Muslim world with security breaches happening at various embassies as they were speaking.  But the ceremony was for the fallen.  If Gregory Hicks' testimony is to be believed they would have known there was no protest in Benghazi when they spoke.  So it looks like an effort to smear the events together.

Backtracking a moment, the video outrage really got its start from the Tweets sent by Embassy Cairo as the Sheikh Rahman protesters were outside the gates.  The Tweets, themselves politicizing the event, were apologies issued over the movie clip nobody had ever heard of, which prompted Mitt Romney to jump in with a statement after the gates were stormed and the black flag was raised.  He was then immediately accused of politicizing a national security event despite the administration's condemnation of the same Tweets later that evening.   We still don't know who promoted the video or why the video was even used, or whether the filmmaker had any connections to the plots (as opposed to being a Coptic Christian trying to blaspheme Islam, etc).   Maybe someone in the media can get an interview of him in jail.     

Anyway, the whole diary thing then set up a bizarre altercation between Cooper and the State Department, whose spokesman Phillipe Reines lambasted CNN for dishonest journalism over not keeping the diary finding silent. That begs the question--why did CNN piss off State and go back on their word? What forced that?

The most obvious answer is because they, unlike other media outlets, knew of Stevens' personal security concerns on Friday before the Rice appearances and after Sunday they knew the administration was trying to mute direct links to AQ participation.   So CNN was sitting on a rather large scoop.  But they had promised not to reveal the diary findings.  What to do? 

They decided to find corroborating witnesses who could confirm the diary writings without revealing it, which Cooper did on Wednesday the 19th.  This was essentially refuting the Rice narrative from days earlier, blaming the mob.  A few days later Hillary was asked by another news outlet (Thursday the 20th) about the Stevens 'hit list', to which she feigned ignorance.   This ticked off Anderson Cooper, who was trying to break the story without revealing the diary, as State was basically calling him a liar and he knew they knew.

So Cooper and CNN took the unusual step of speaking truth to power by reporting on the diary itself the next day, eventually initiating a public rebuke of CNN and later an F-bomb tirade by Reines during an email exchange with another journalist.  It's clear the feigned outrage was an effort to change the narrative away from the diary contents and towards a sleazy media for reporting on it.  All of which supports the idea of a cover-up.  The diary story, and Hillary's misdirection on it, has never become a huge story but it's a question the congressmen should be asking her if she ever returns to testify.  

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