Bombshell in the Benghazi e-mails: The CIA warned of impending jihadist attack

Special to

By Grace Vuoto

The White House recently released more than 100 pages of e-mails between the CIA, State Department and the White House regarding the now infamous talking points.

President Barack Obama insists “there is no there, there,” as he stated during a May 13 press conference. Yet, the opposite is true. There is a bombshell there.

Thousands of Egyptian protesters demonstrate outside U.S. embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012.  /AP
Thousands of Egyptian protesters demonstrate outside U.S. embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012. /AP

The CIA had warned on Sept. 10, 2012, one day before the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, of the possibility of a jihadist attack on an American embassy.

We now know that on Sept. 15, 2012, when then-CIA Director David Petraeus read the final version of the talking points, he wrote in an e-mail: “No mention of the cable to Cairo, either? I’d just as soon not use this, then…NSS’s (National Security Staff) call to be sure…”

At that point, all references to the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack, Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan Al Qaida affiliate, had been redacted. The cable to Cairo contained a warning that Al Qaida-linked jihadists might strike the American embassy there, according to The Weekly Standard.

As an earlier version of the talking points put it: “On September 10 we warned of social media reports calling for a demonstration in front of the Embassy Cairo and that jihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy.”

In other words, America’s intelligence community feared there was danger in Cairo even before the rally occurred the following day. On September 11, there was no “spontaneous demonstration” protesting an anti-Muslim video in Egypt (or in Benghazi for that matter), as the administration would later claim, especially by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice who misled the public Sept.16 on five Sunday talk shows.

Instead, there was a rally in Cairo organized by five well-known Al Qaida-linked jihadists who had previously been jailed for terrorist activity, according to an Oct. 26 report by Thomas Joscelyn in The Long War Journal. This rally was an Al Qaida love-fest. Flags floated in the crowd honoring Al Qaida and the crowd chanted: “Obama, Obama! We are all Osama!” The five senior jihadist organizers were simply using the anti-Muslim video to gin up even more outrage and anti-American sentiment. The video was merely an appendage in their greater quest to proclaim, loudly and boldly that “Al Qaida’s ideology lives,” according to the detailed report.

Thus, Mr. Petraeus expressed his dismay on Sept.15 that a key piece of information — the essential context — was omitted. Without this, the talking points were one giant mess.

Yet, if this key piece of information were indeed revealed, the Obama administration would be exposed as having lied about the receding Al Qaida threat around the world. They would also appear to be incompetent in preventing another attack on sovereign American soil, right after having been warned that it might occur.

It was precisely this that Mr. Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were determined to conceal amidst the heated and closely contested 2012 presidential campaign. If they could convince the American people that both the Cairo and Benghazi events were spontaneous, then they could not be accused of failing to prevent the violent outbreaks that occurred.

The truth is now simple, stark and a scathing indictment of the Obama administration: On Sept. 10, the CIA knew that Al Qaida-linked jihadists posed a threat; they were stirring animosity, possibly endangering the American embassy in Cairo.

The Obama administration did not heed the warning of the intelligence community, nor have the good sense to fortify defenses in a “high-risk” outpost such as the consulate in Benghazi. Hence, when jihadists struck in Libya and four Americans died, Mr. Obama and his entourage grasped immediately that if the public understood the correct sequence of events, the Obama team would be lampooned out of office.

Every part of this story reveals the glaring failures of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy: The pro-jihadist rally in Cairo exposed the president as having badly miscalculated from the start of his term. There, in the very place where on June 4, 2009, he had proclaimed “a new beginning” for America and the Muslim world, terrorists now spewed hatred on the United States and celebrated Osama bin Laden as their champion and hero. And they also continued to threaten imminent violence.

In addition, the emails and cables the intelligence community had sent, warning of danger to a U.S. embassy on Sept. 11, 2012 (even if it was that in Cairo) should have put every security team in every American outpost on high alert for a possible strike, with contingency plans in place to counterattack and rescue Americans who might be in harm’s way. By contrast, Mr. Obama’s staff was caught completely flat-footed when jihadists struck in Benghazi.

When terrorists attacked in Libya, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens called his second-in-command, Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks and said, “Greg, we are under attack.” Mr. Hicks, as he testified in a May 8 congressional hearing, then called Mrs. Clinton and relayed that the U.S. diplomatic mission was besieged. And somewhere, somehow, as the horror unfolded, in the middle of that fateful night, an evil order to “stand down” was issued. A military rescue would not even be attempted. For the dark secret had to be preserved at all costs. If Americans had to die, so be it. In other words, the plot to conceal Mr. Obama’s glaring failures was concocted.

Thus, Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty became four casualties in the glorious cause of the re-election of the very man whose entire foreign policy had just gone up in smoke.

Dr. Grace Vuoto is the Executive Director of the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal.