THE TRUTH LEAKS OUT – AT 9:22 A.M. ET: The intelligence community is not amused by attempts by Obama operators to blame it for failures in Libya. It is leaking information to the press, giving its side. This will not help Obama's cause:
WASHINGTON (AP) - The CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington within 24 hours of last month's deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about an American-made video ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, U.S. officials have told The Associated Press.
It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information went. The Obama administration maintained publicly for a week that the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was a result of the mobs that staged less-deadly protests across the Muslim world around the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S.
Those statements have become highly charged political fodder as the presidential election approaches. A Republican-led House committee questioned State Department officials for hours about what GOP lawmakers said was lax security at the consulate, given the growth of extremist Islamic militants in North Africa.
And in their debate on Tuesday, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney argued over when Obama first said it was a terror attack. In his Rose Garden address the morning after the killings, Obama said, "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for."
But Republicans say he was speaking generally and didn't specifically call the Benghazi attack a terror attack until weeks later, with the president and other key members of his administration referring at first to the anti-Muslim movie circulating on the Internet as a precipitating event.
Now congressional intelligence committees are demanding documents to show what the spy agencies knew and when, before, during and after the attacks.
The White House now says the attack probably was carried out by an al Qaida-linked group, with no public demonstration beforehand. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton blamed the "fog of war" for the early conflicting accounts.
The officials who told the AP about the CIA cable spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to release such information publicly.
COMMENT: State Department officials testified that they were in touch with the consulate in Benghazi during the assault. They knew what was happening, and it wasn't a spontaneous demonstration over a YouTube video.
The presidential debate Monday night will be on foreign policy. In last Tuesday's debate, Romney blew the Libya question, in part because he was thrown off by Candy Crowley's intervention on Obama's behalf. Romney must be ready to make a firm Libya indictment on Monday.
October 19, 2012