In the days after the Benhazi attack, the State Department scurried to cover up its failure to heed warnings of such attacks while the White House scurried to cover up the fact that that attacks were the work of al Qaeda-linked terrorists of the sort President Obama supposedly had largely vanquished. The final Benghazi “talking points” and Susan Rice’s talk show appearances represent the product of this scurrying.
To help advance the narrative that the Benghazi attacks were spontaneous, and thus (a) not to have been anticipated and (b) not linked to al Qaeda, the talking points tied Benghazi to the events of the same day in Cairo. There, unlike in Benghazi, a protest had occurred.
Here is what the final version of the talking points said on this subject:
The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
Through these two sentences, the administration succeeded in misleading Congress about events in both Benghazi and Cairo. The statement about Benghazi is simply false. There was no spontaneously inspired protest; rather, there was a pre-planned attack.
In Cairo, as noted, there were protests. But, as Tom Joscelyn argues, the protests were pre-planned, with jihadists playing a prominent role.
Multiple early versions of the CIA-drafted talking points make this clear. For example, the CIA stated:
On 10 September, the Agency notified Embassy Cairo of social media reports calling for a demonstration and encouraging jihadists to break into the Embassy.
The “social media reports” in question included a September 10 tweet from Mohammed al Zawahiri, the younger brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri. He called on “the sons of the Jihadi Movement to participate tomorrow in the demonstration in front of the American Embassy.” And he included a banner displaying an al Qaeda-style black flag in his tweet.
That banner featured prominently during the 9/11 demonstration in Cairo. Says Joscelyn, protesters waved dozens of them as they chanted “Obama, Obama, we are all Osama.” The message was clear: jihad in general, and al Qaeda in particular, live on without Osama bin Laden.
This was precisely the message the Obama administration wished to suppress. And, for its part, the State Department wanted to suppress the fact that, not only were there warnings about danger to facilities in Libya, but also warnings about planned jihadist activity at the embassy in Cairo on 9/11/12.
Accordingly, the talking points were edited to remove any reference to “jihadists” threatening the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
As Joscelyn concludes:
The early versions of the Benghazi talking points were right to highlight the threat posed by “jihadists” in Cairo. The thread connecting Cairo to Benghazi is plain to see: Al Qaeda-linked jihadists helped orchestrate both.
The Obama administration’s edits removed them from the story.