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InsiderOnline Blog: October 2012

State Department: Don’t Blame Us for Wrong Benghazi Assessment

Something definitely went wrong with the administration’s initial assessment that the 9/11/12 attack in Libya was not a planned al-Qaeda attack, but rather grew out of a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muhammad film. That bad assessment, however, didn’t come from the State Department, says the State Deparment. In fact, reports Josh Rogin, the State Department says it was never on board with that view:

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, two senior State Department officials gave a detailed accounting of the events that lead to the death of Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The officials said that prior to the massive attack on the Benghazi compound by dozens of militants carrying heavy weaponry, there was no unrest outside the walls of the compound and no protest that anyone inside the compound was aware of.

In fact, Stevens hosted a series of meetings on the compound throughout the day, ending with a meeting with a Turkish diplomat that began at 7:30 in the evening, and all was quiet in the area.

“The ambassador walked guests out at 8:30 or so; there was nobody on the street. Then at 9:40 they saw on the security cameras that there were armed men invading the compound,” a senior State Department official said. “Everything is calm at 8:30 pm, there is nothing unusual. There had been nothing unusual during the day outside.”

The official was asked about why senior officials said in the immediate aftermath of the attack that it was related to the anti-Islam video and the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo earlier in the day. […]

“That was not our conclusion,” the State Department official said. “We don’t necessarily have a conclusion [about that].” [Foreign Policy, October 10]

Posted on 10/10/12 06:00 PM by Alex Adrianson

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