Hillary Clinton walks from her C-17 military transport upon her arrival in Tripoli Libya, Oct. 18, 2011.
Two days after the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received an email from confidante and former Bill Clinton White House staffer Sidney Blumenthal punching holes in the administration narrative that blamed the attack on an anti-Islam YouTube video.
One day earlier, Blumenthal presented Clinton with information from a “sensitive source” supporting the video narrative. But he followed up that correspondence with a contrary report that the attack was carried out by a jihadist group that had planned it at least one month in advance.
Yet Clinton and the Obama administration persisted for weeks in blaming the obscure anti-Islam video as the primary motivation. In her memoir, “Hard Choices,” published last June, Clinton continued to defend the Youtube-video storyline, claiming it was a reflection of what the U.S. intelligence community believed at the time.
The latest information comes as Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House committee investigating the Benghazi attack, on Tuesday asked Clinton to appear for a private interview regarding her controversial use of a private email account during her tenure as secretary of state.
Gowdy sent a letter to Clinton’s attorney characterizing the former secretary’s “email arrangement with herself” as “highly unusual, if not unprecedented.” He added Clinton’s disclosure that she deleted all emails from her private server “only exacerbates our need to better understand what the secretary did, when she did it and why she did it.”
In an article jointly published last week by Gawker and ProPublica, the websites disclose Blumenthal prepared detailed intelligence briefs that were sent regularly to Clinton’s private email address.
They report that the dispatches, sent under Blumenthal’s name, were actually based on information gathered and prepared by Tyler Drumheller, a former chief of the CIA’s clandestine service in Europe who left the agency in 2005 and now serves as a private contractor.
The leaked emails were posted on the Internet by Gawker in 2013. The website says it was forwarded the emails from Blumenthal’s AOL account by the hacker using the alias “Guccifer.”
“Guccifer” reportedly hacked Blumenthal’s email in March 2013. Guccifer has since been identified as Marcel Lazar Lehel, a Romanian hacker serving a seven-year sentence for hacking into the accounts of Romanian government officials.
Ansar al Shariah
The leaked emails show that on Sept. 12, 2012, one day after the Benghazi attack, Blumenthal sent an email to Clinton citing a “sensitive source” saying the interim Libyan president, Mohammed Yussef el Magariaf, was told by a senior security officer the attack was provoked by the anti-Islam YouTube film and also by allegations from political opponents that Magariaf had CIA ties.
The memo reads: “A senior security officer told [interim Libyan President Mohammed Yussef] el Magariaf that the attacks on that day were inspired by what many devout Libyans viewed as a sacrilegious internet video on the prophet Mohammed originating in America.”
However, the next day, Blumenthal sent an email titled “Re: More Magariaf private reax.” It said Libyan security officials believed the terrorist group Ansar al Shariah was behind the attack and that the group prepared it a month in advance.
The email further states the Brigade “took advantage of the cover” provided by the purported demonstrations against the YouTube video.
Despite the emails and other evidence, Clinton and the Obama administration persisted in blaming the attack on anger over the YouTube video.
In her initial comments on the Benghazi attack, Clinton referenced the video.
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” she said. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
In “Hard Choices,” Clinton defended the actions of then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, infamously appeared on five morning television programs to offer the official Obama administration response to the Benghazi attack.
In nearly identical statements, Rice asserted that the attack was a spontaneous protest in response to a “hateful video.”
Writes Clinton in her book: “Susan stated what the intelligence community believed, rightly or wrongly, at the time. That was the best she or anyone could do. Every step of the way, whenever something new was learned, it was quickly shared with Congress and the American people. There is a difference between getting something wrong, and committing wrong. A big difference that some have blurred to the point of casting those who made a mistake as intentionally deceitful.”
Clinton’s claim that the intelligence community believed the attack was a spontaneous protest in response to a “hateful video” is further called into question by numerous revelations.
Gregory Hicks, the No. 2 at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli during the time of the attack, testified to Congress he knew immediately it was a terrorist attack, not a protest turned violent.
According to Hicks, “everybody in the mission” believed it was an act of terror “from the get-go.”
The CIA’s station chief in Libya reportedly emailed his superiors on the day of the attack that it was “not an escalation of anti-American protest.”
With additional research by Joshua Klein.
Hacked Hillary emails punch holes in Benghazi story
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 23:15:43 GMT