"We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the consulate to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told ABC's "This Week" Sunday. "And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons."
For all its high-level thinking, the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge the distinct possibility that last week's attack in Benghazi, Libya, which left Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead, was an orchestrated event meant to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Ditto, possibly, the protest that ended with activists scaling the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
There is no evidence, Rice claimed, the attacks were "preplanned." The catalyst, she said, was the trailer for a movie, "Innocence of Muslims," produced in the United States.
House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers is not so sure. He told "Fox News Sunday" that the attackers "were able to launch two different separate attacks on locations there near the consulate, and they repelled a fairly significant Libyan force that came to rescue the embassy."
Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif scoffed at the notion that the murders were the product of "a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control."
But the White House won't budge on its blame-the-video scenario. "This is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims," White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted Friday. And there's no proof the Benghazi attack was "preplanned."
This administration desperately wants to blame American anti-Islamic extremists who made the trailer for fueling the violence in Benghazi.
So the administration is going into shutdown mode. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Friday that her department won't "be in a position to talk at all about what the U.S. government may or may not be learning about how any of this ... happened" until an FBI investigation is completed.
And: "This is now a crime scene."
As George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley blogged, "the latest White House move appears to be an effort to get YouTube to remove the video without taking responsibility for expressly asking for the removal." Turley added, "If this video is removed, then why not any video that is deemed insulting to a given religious or religious figure."
Oddly, the news media seem more upset with Mitt Romney for criticizing a State Department tweet than with the White House for not answering unwelcome questions and flirting with censorship.
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