I don’t know, I wasn’t there, and we may never know, not with Republicans attempting to politicize the whole affair in order to embarass and humiliate the President. And if they can hijack the current congressional investigations into the issue, the truth will be covered up for sure. They have already compromised our Libyan allies by blabbing about them in the halls of Congress.
But this is the narrative that fits what we do know. The CIA was conducting a covert operation in Libya. It was doing so with the knowledge, perhaps even the cooperation, of the Libyan authorities. CIA was certainly on top of and working against the flow of Islamist radicals and extremists that have poured into the political vacuum of Libya after the fall of Khadaffy. The attack on the Consular office was an attempt by the Islamists to fight back. It was clearly planned ahead of time, perhaps to coincide with the Sept 11 anniversary, although I believe it may also have been rushed ahead of schedule to take advantage of the worldwide rash of spontaneous embassy riots due to the infamous video. Attacking soft targets on anniversaries is propaganda gold, attacking potentially defended targets on anniversaries is very risky. And this target was defended, although as we know now, not very effectively.
Either way, the troubles in Cairo and elsewhere certainly caught the CIA off guard. As for the State Department, they have little to do with what happened, although I am certain they were aware of the CIA activity. All embassies and consular facilities are nests of spies. Ours and theirs.
Rice’s UN office was totally out of the loop. As the President made clear, she had nothing to do with any of it. The invective directed at the UN ambassador is a transparent attempt to attack Obama, she spoke using the same CIA briefing notes Congress had already been presented with. If any further information was available, neither the CIA nor the President was in a hurry to broadcast it to the public, Romney’s knee jerk campaign reference and Congress’ premature betrayal of CIA assets there had already done enough damage.
Besides, it was clear that the timing of the attack, coming at a time when a score of our consular facilities all over the world were simultaneously caught off-guard by the video riots, had the Administration and the Agency, as well as State, scrambling to try and figure out what was going on. Central Intelligence was caught with its pants down. Perhaps Director Petraeus was distracted by other conerns.
If this is indeed the case, and even if the Director testifies so in the closed hearing, I doubt if we will ever hear about it. Petraeus was a Conservative hero and potential GOP Presidential candidate, and a trusted Obama appointee. No one is in a hurry to hear what he might have to say.