Contrary To Right-Wing Media Claims, Report Confirms Anti-Islam Video Was Catalyst For Libya Attack

››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

Media outlets have continued to suggest that the Obama administration lied when it said that an anti-Islam video served as a catalyst for the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, The New York Times reports that the attackers said they were motivated by the video.

NY Times: People Who Attacked Libya Consulate Said They Were Motivated By Anti-Islam Film

NY Times: Attackers Said They Struck U.S. Consulate In Benghazi "In Retaliation For the Video." An October 15 New York Times article reported that the people who attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi said that an anti-Muslim film prompted the attack. Furthermore, Libyans "who witnessed the assault and know the attacks" also said the video was the catalyst for the attack:

To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video. That is what the fighters said at the time, speaking emotionally of their anger at the video without mentioning Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or the terrorist strikes of 11 years earlier. And it is an explanation that tracks with their history as a local militant group determined to protect Libya from Western influence.

[...]

The fighters said at the time that they were moved to act because of the video, which had first gained attention across the region after a protest in Egypt that day. The assailants approvingly recalled a 2006 assault by local Islamists that had destroyed an Italian diplomatic mission in Benghazi over a perceived insult to the prophet. In June the group staged a similar attack against the Tunisian Consulate over a different film, according to the Congressional testimony of the American security chief at the time, Eric A. Nordstrom.

At a news conference the day after the ambassador and three other Americans were killed, a spokesman for Ansar al-Shariah praised the attack as the proper response to such an insult to Islam. "We are saluting our people for this zeal in protecting their religion, to grant victory to the Prophet," the spokesman said. "The response has to be firm." Other Benghazi militia leaders who know the group say its leaders and ideology are all homegrown. Those leaders, including Ahmed Abu Khattala and Mohammed Ali Zahawi, fought alongside other commanders against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Their group provides social services and guards a hospital. And they openly proselytize for their brand of puritanical Islam and political vision.

They profess no interest in global fights against the West or distant battles aimed at removing American troops from the Arabian Peninsula. [The New York Times, 10/15/12]

State Department Official Nordstrom Testified That The Benghazi Attack Was Similar To Another Incident Where A Tunisian Consulate Was Attacked Over An Anti-Islamic Film. The Times article cited testimony from a recent congressional hearing about the attack. Asked at this hearing whether he had come to a conclusion as to "whether the Benghazi attack was a terrorist act or whether it was based on some film that was on the Internet," State Department regional security officer Eric Nordstrom said that it reminded him of a similar incident where an extremist group attacked the Tunisian consulate in Benghazi over "what they claimed was an anti-Islamic film:

REP. RAUL LABRADOR (R-ID): I just have a quick question for Lieutenant Colonel Wood and Mr. Nordstrom. Given the information that you saw on TV and your knowledge of the situation in Libya, did you come to a conclusion as to whether this was a terrorist act or whether it was based on some film that was on the Internet?

[...]

NORDSTROM: The -- the first impression that I had was that it was going to be something similar to one of the brigades that we saw there, specifically the -- the brigade -- and it's been named in the press -- that came to my mind was Ansar al-Sharia.

It was a -- a unit or a group that Lieutenant Colonel Wood's personnel and I had -- had tracked for quite some time, we were concerned about. That specific group had been involved in a similar but obviously much smaller scale incident at the end of June involving the Tunisian consulate in Benghazi where they stormed that facility and it was in protest to what they claimed was an anti-Islamic film in Tunis. [House Oversight Committee hearing on consulate security in Benghazi, 10/11/12, via Nexis]

Times Report Undermines Right-Wing Media Narrative That Obama Covered Up Libya Attack By Pointing To Video

Fox's Carlson: The Administration Knew The Attack "Wasn't Because Of The Video." Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson pushed the claim that the State Department knew the attack was not related to an anti-Muslim video, but said it anyway, suggesting that the Administration's response to the attack was dishonest.

CARLSON: What catches my attention is the way in which the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describes this as the fog of war, the confusion you get in any type of combat situation. Is that true? I mean, was there confusion about what actually was going on? Because remember last week, Brian just alluded to this, when the State Department officials were testifying under oath, they basically admitted that they were watching this unfold if not in real time pretty close to it. So they knew that there was no protest. They knew it wasn't because of the video. And they probably knew that it was a well-orchestrated terror attack. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/16/12]

Hannity Referred To The Administration's Citation Of The Video To Claim "We Are Witnessing A Widespread Cover-Up Based On Flat-Out Lies." Hannity aired a montage of White House officials mentioning the anti-Islam film while speaking about the attacks on the U.S. embassy and consulate. He then said:

HANNITY: All right now, how this event can evolve from an impromptu riot about a YouTube video to a premeditated terrorist attack in the span of a week -- well, that can be explained one of three ways. Number one, this administration is stupid, simple as that. Number two, this administration is on the receiving end of some of the worst intelligence in American history. Or number three, we are witnessing a widespread cover-up based on flat-out lies, all aimed to protect a president who happens to be running for re-election. I'm going with number three, and in a moment, I'm going to show you the evidence to back it up. [Media Matters, 9/21/12]

Limbaugh: Obama Admin. "Engage[d] In A Cover-Up. They Concocted A Phony Scenario" About The Libya Attack. Rush Limbaugh declared that the Obama administration was covering up the true story of the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi by blaming the violence on an anti-Islam video. From the segment:

Right. So, Carney lies. Two weeks ago. Susan Rice lies. Two weeks ago, Sunday. And they've been lying every day since. They engage in a cover-up. They concocted a phony scenario.

[...]

They got their political mileage out of this. They established the narrative that it was the video. They had a solid week of doing that, no matter who was protesting and saying it wasn't. They had the world believing it. The U.S. media spreading that it was the video. And now the guy who did the video is in jail. And there's nothing to see here anymore. We move on. [Media Matters, 9/28/12]

Fox's Krauthammer: "They're Trying To Sell The Video ... When They Know It Isn't True."  Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed everything UN Ambassador Susan Rice had said in relation to the Libya attack "was a confection" and an "invention."

KRAUTHAMMER: So everything that Susan Rice said was a confection, it was an invention. And as you showed, it was repeated again and again. You had Hillary Clinton speaking about the video as the body of the ambassador was lying next to her. Then you had Susan Rice spinning the tails. You had the president of the United States addressing the General Assembly more than two weeks later talking about the video, the insult to Islam, et cetera. You have this entire story going all along.

They're trying to sell the video, they're trying to sell extremism and they're trying to sell all of this at the time when they know it isn't true. So that's number one. And that's a scandal and I think it has to do with the fact that they were spiking the football over the death of bin Laden and al-Qaeda a week earlier in Charlotte and this was a contradiction of it. [Media Matters, 10/11/12]

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