A defining, e-book length New York Times article on the Benghazi attack is filled with misleading information, including details negated by the U.S. government, Benghazi victims and numerous other previous news reports, a just-released book exposes.
The Dec. 28, 2013, New York Times piece by David D. Kirkpatrick was cited by White House officials and Hillary Clinton as confirming central aspects of the Obama administration’s claims about the Benghazi attack.
However, in his new book, “The REAL Benghazi Story: What the White House and Hillary don’t want you to know,” reporter, radio host and New York Times bestselling author Aaron Klein demonstrates Kirkpatrick’s piece is contradicted not only by the State Department and Benghazi witnesses but by Kirkpatrick’s own previous reporting.
In her memoir “Hard Choices,” Clinton relies on Kirkpatrick’s article, “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi,” to claim an obscure anti-Muhammad video was “indeed a factor” in what happened in Benghazi.
“There were scores of attackers that night, almost certainly with differing motives,” she continues. “It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video. It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well.”
Indeed, in his piece, Kirkpatrick contends that “contrary to claims by some members of Congress,” the Benghazi attack “was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
The Times claimed “there is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers.”
Another Times claim is that there is “no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.”
Kirkpatrick seeks to prove the Benghazi attack was largely not premeditated, although the article allows that some aspects of it were loosely planned the day of the attack.
In “The REAL Benghazi Story,” Klein dismantles Kirkpatrick’s reporting.
Times contradicted by U.S. government
The Times’ contends that al-Qaida or international jihadi organizations played no role in the assault, a claim that clearly seeks to bolster the Obama administration’s talking points that infamously scrubbed Islamic terrorism as a motivating factor in the attacks.
Kirkpatrick asserts “Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests.”
Klein finds the U.S. government may take issue with Kirkpatrick’s claim.
One month before the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, a Library of Congress report detailed al-Qaida established a major base of operations in Libya in the aftermath of the U.S.-NATO campaign that deposed Muammar Gadhafi and his secular regime, writes Klein.
The report warned al-Qaida and affiliated organizations were establishing terrorist training camps and pushing Taliban-style Islamic law in Libya while the new, Western-backed Libyan government incorporated jihadists into its militias.
The document said scores of Islamic extremists were freed from Libyan prison after the U.S.-supported revolution in Libya.
Times reporter contradicts self repeatedly
Embarrassingly for Kirkpatrick, the claim of no al-Qaida infiltration in Benghazi is contradicted by a Times report from Benghazi to which Kirkpatrick contributed, Klein found.
An Oct. 29, 2012, New York Times article titled “Libya Warnings Were Plentiful, but Unspecific” reported “Al-Qaeda-leaning” Islamic extremists were establishing training camps in the mountains near Benghazi.
The article was by compiled by reporters Michael R. Gordon, Eric Schmidt and Michael S. Schmidt, with contributing reporting from Kirkpatrick in Benghazi.
The 2012 article states: “In the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the Obama administration received intelligence reports that Islamic extremist groups were operating training camps in the mountains near the Libyan city and that some of the fighters were ‘Al Qaeda-leaning,’ according to American and European officials.”
Continued the Times article:
Small-scale camps grew out of training areas created last year by militias fighting Libyan government security forces. After the government fell, these compounds continued to churn out fighters trained in marksmanship and explosives, American officials said.
Ansar al-Shariah, a local militant group some of whose members had ties to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a local Qaeda affiliate, operated a militant training camp whose location was well known to Benghazi residents. On the Friday after the attack, demonstrators overran it.
American intelligence agencies had provided the administration with reports for much of the past year warning that the Libyan government was weakening and had little control over the militias, including Ansar al-Shariah.
Klein writes that things only get worse for Kirkpatrick.
In his “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi” article, the Times reporter claims the attacks were largely not premeditated, although, again, he does allow that some parts of it were loosely planned that day.
“Surveillance of the American compound appears to have been underway at least 12 hours before the assault started,” reported Kirkpatrick. “The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements. Anger at the video motivated the initial attack.”
The journalist wrote: “Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack, according to more than a dozen Libyan witnesses as well as many American officials who have viewed the footage from security cameras.”
Both of Kirkpatrick’s major contentions – that al-Qaida was not involved and that the attack was largely not premeditated – are contradicted by a Kirkpatrick piece Sept. 12, 2012, titled “Libya Attack Brings Challenges for U.S.”
“That’s right,” relates Klein. “Kirkpatrick is so committed to his revisionist narrative he is willing to basically repudiate his own reporting without batting an eyebrow.”
In the Sept. 12, 2012 article, Kirkpatrick and co-author Steven Lee Myers reported: “Islamist militants armed with antiaircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades stormed a lightly defended United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.” The two reported “the assailants seemed organized, well trained and heavily armed, and they appeared to have at least some level of advance planning.”
Further contrasting with Kirkpatrick’s later piece, the Kirkpatrick of Sept. 12, 2012, quoted Col. Wolfgang Pusztai, Austria’s defense attaché to Libya, as saying he believed the attack “was ‘deliberately planned and executed’ by about a core group of 30 to 40 assailants who were ‘well trained and organized.’”
The same Sept. 12 Kirkpatrick piece also states that the “assault was led by a brigade of Islamist fighters known as Ansar al-Sharia, or the Supporters of Islamic Law. Brigade members emphasized at the time that they were not acting alone.” Ansar al-Sharia, an al-Qaida-linked group.
The Kirkpatrick of 2012 continued: “On Wednesday, perhaps apprehensive over Mr. Stevens’s death, the brigade said in a statement that its supporters ‘were not officially involved or were not ordered to be involved’ in the attack.
“At the same time, the brigade praised those who protested as ‘the best of the best’ of the Libyan people and supported their response to the video ‘in the strongest possible terms.’”
Times vs. State Department, Benghazi witnesses
More al-Qaida and organized extremist connections to the Benghazi attack were reported by the Daily Beast, which confirmed an October 2012 Wall Street Journal report that fighters affiliated with the Egypt-based, al-Qaida-linked Jamal Network participated in the Benghazi attack.
Later on, the 88-page Senate report on the Benghazi attacks released Jan. 2-14 would confirm Jamal’s involvement.
Klein found Kirkpatrick’s claim the attacks were mostly not premeditated doesn’t fit with the State ARB investigation into Benghazi, either.
The ARB described a well-orchestrated attack by militants who apparently had specific knowledge of the compound. The State Department investigation focused on “men armed with AK rifles” who “started to destroy the living room contents and then approached the safe area gate and started banging on it.”
In another detail bespeaking a plan, Klein writes, the ARB states the intruders smoked up Villa C, likely to make breathing so difficult that anyone inside the safe room where Stevens was holed up would need to come out.
Continued Klein: “It further may be difficult for keen observers to swallow the Times’ claim of unplanned looters in light of events that demonstrated the attackers knew the location of the nearby CIA Annex, or that they set up checkpoints, as they did, to ensure against the escape by Americans inside the Special Mission.”
Fox News reported the late Florida Rep. Bill Young said he spoke for 90 minutes with David Ubben, one of the security agents severely injured in the attack. Young said the agent revealed to him the intruders knew the exact location of Stevens’ safe room.
“He (Ubben) emphasized the fact that it was a very, very military type of operation [in that] they had knowledge of almost everything in the compound,” stated Young. “They knew where the gasoline was, they knew where the generators were, they knew where the safe room was, they knew more than they should have about that compound.”
Klein dismantles Kirkpatrick’s claim, repeated by Clinton, that the Benghazi attack was motivated by an anti-Muhammad film.
The storyline doesn’t jibe with an independent investigation that reportedly found no mention of the film on social media in Libya in the three days leading up to the attack.
A review of more than 4,000 postings by the leading social media monitoring firm, Agincourt Solutions, found that the first reference to the film was not detected on social media until the day after the attack.
The Times claim of popular protests against the Muhammad film doesn’t hold up to logic, adds Klein.
The U.S. special mission was not a permanent facility, nor was its existence widely known by the public in Libya. Indeed, The State Department’s ARB report on the Benghazi attack itself documented the facility was set up secretively and without the knowledge of the new Libyan government.
Kirkpatrick may not have realized, writes Klein, but he undermined his own claims about the Muhammad film later in the article, where he may have inadvertently alluded to some of the real motivation for the attackers.
Kirkpatrick’s article seeks to link the Benghazi attack to protests planned outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Reads the Times piece: “[O]n Sept. 8, a popular Islamist preacher lit the fuse by screening a clip of the video on the ultraconservative Egyptian satellite channel El Nas. American diplomats in Cairo raised the alarm in Washington about a growing backlash, including calls for a protest outside their embassy.”
However, the Cairo protest on Sept. 11 was announced days in advance as part of a movement to free the so-called “blind sheik,” Omar Abdel-Rahman, held in the U.S. for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The State Department’s ARB report described a group acting to free Rahman was involved in previous attacks against diplomatic facilities in Benghazi. Kirkpatrick fails to report the anti-U.S. protest movement outside the Cairo embassy was a long-term project about freeing Rahman.
On the day of the Sept. 11, 2012, protests in Cairo, CNN’s Nic Robertson interviewed the son of Rahman, who described the protest as being about freeing his father. No Muhammad film was mentioned. A big banner calling for Rahman’s release could be seen as Robertson walked to the embassy protests.