NEW YORK TIMES: A boyish-looking American diplomat was meeting for the first time with the Islamist leaders of eastern Libya’s most formidable militias. It was Sept. 9, 2012. Gathered on folding chairs in a banquet hall by the Mediterranean, the Libyans warned of rising threats against Americans from extremists in Benghazi. One militia leader, with a long beard and mismatched military fatigues, mentioned time in exile in Afghanistan. An American guard discreetly touched his gun. “Since Benghazi isn’t safe, it is better for you to leave now,” Mohamed al-Gharabi, the leader of the Rafallah al-Sehati Brigade, later recalled telling the Americans. “I specifically told the Americans myself that we hoped that they would leave Benghazi as soon as possible.” Yet as the militiamen snacked on Twinkie-style cakes with their American guests, they also gushed about their gratitude for President Obama’s support in their uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. They emphasized that they wanted to build a partnership with the United States, especially in the form of more investment. They specifically asked for Benghazi outlets of McDonald’s and KFC. The diplomat, David McFarland, a former congressional aide who had never before met with a Libyan militia leader, left feeling agitated, according to colleagues. But the meeting did not shake his faith in the prospects for deeper involvement in Libya. Two days later, he summarized the meeting in a cable to Washington, describing a mixed message from the militia leaders. Despite “growing problems with security,” he wrote, the fighters wanted the United States to become more engaged “by ‘pressuring’ American businesses to invest in Benghazi.” The cable, dated Sept. 11, 2012, was sent over the name of Mr. McFarland’s boss, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Later that day, Mr. Stevens was dead, killed with three other Americans in Benghazi in the most significant attack on United States property in 11 years, since Sept. 11, 2001. MORE
RELATED: Republican House members argued that a New York Times investigation into the 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, was inaccurate. The report, published Saturday, contends that local militias — not al-Qaeda — were responsible for the attack that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Republican Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan told Fox News Sunday that the Times story was based on the wrong sources, while Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California used a Meet the Press interview to reaffirm his criticisms of how the Obama Administration handled the attacks. Times reporter David Kirkpatrick, who authored the story, defended the monthlong investigation and blamed lawmakers for obscuring the facts. Kirkpatrick said there’s a semantic difference in identifying the forces behind the deadly attack. MORE
James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma said his panel would focus on the military’s response to the assault. But, he said, “as bad as everything that I’ve stated is, what I think is worse is the cover-up.” “It was obvious from the information we had on Sept. 11 that the second wave … of attacks on the annex was unequivocally a terrorist attack, and we knew it right at the time,” he said, accusing the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, of lying to the American people.
Here’s what I don’t get: what exactly does Inhofe think Obama gained from this nefarious plot to wait a week before admitting Benghazi was a terrorist attack? The best explanation I’ve gotten when I asked this before revolves around the weird idea that Obama’s reelection chances all hinged on the public believing that he was the guy who won the war on terror once and for all. So if he admitted that Benghazi was a terrorist attack, then poof—Mitt Romney is the 45th president of the United States. This makes even less sense than the claim that Susan Rice lied in the first place. MORE