Intelligence Officials Contradict Obama's Libya Narrative

Terrorists had staked out consulate previously

Mideast Libya Prophet Film Islamist Militia / AP
September 21, 2012

Evidence that terrorists planned the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya in advance has forced the White House to alter its original narrative claiming that the violence erupted out of anger over an anti-Islam film, according to the Daily Beast.

One U.S. intelligence officer investigating the attacks told reporter Eli Lake that "the attackers had staked out and monitored the U.S. consulate in Benghazi before the attack, a move that suggests pre-planning," according to the report.

In the days following the attack, the White House was quick to apologize for and condemn an offensive YouTube video that lambasted Islam and the Islamic prophet Mohammad.

However, intelligence officials contradicted this narrative in interviews with the Daily Beast:

Two U.S. intelligence officials told The Daily Beast that the intelligence community is currently analyzing an intercept between a Libyan politician whose sympathies are with al Qaeda and the Libyan militia known as the February 17 Brigade—which had been charged with providing local security to the consulate. In the intercept, the Libyan politician apparently asks an officer in the brigade to have his men stand down for a pending attack—another piece of evidence implying the violence was planned in advance. (Plenty of Libyans, of course, did try to protect the consulate. "Many of those Libyans died in the gunfight fighting off the attackers," one of the officials said. "But there were some bad apples there as well.")

"I think this is a case of an administration saying what they wished to be true before waiting for all the facts to come in," says one senior retired CIA official.

On the other hand, a U.S. intelligence official stressed that it was still early days for the investigation. "It is important to accept that with events like this it takes time to figure out what happened and determine which data points are relevant and accurate," this intelligence official said. "That process is happening right now." The National Security Council declined comment, and the State Department did not respond to requests for comment.