Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified before Congress today that he knew "almost immediately" that the attack in Benghazi on the U.S. mission was a terrorist attack and that those involved, a group called Ansar al-Sharia, were linked to al Qaida.
He also testified that the CIA-prepared talking points given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice were edited by someone in the Administration to downplay any links to terrorism.
According to CNN, Petraeus knew that the attack was terrorism, but the CIA also received about 20 intelligence reports that blamed the attack on an anti-Islam YouTube video. Petraeus had those reports disproved, but only after he testified previously on Oct. 14, giving the impression that the video, not terrorism, was to blame.
Rep. Peter King, who heard Petraeus' testimony this morning, told the media that Petraeus said he did not know who edited the original talking points given to Rice, but that the remarks went through and "inter-agency process."
Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain and others have suggested that Rice was part of the political cover-up of Benghazi prior to the election. But President Obama defended her at his press conference Wednesday, saying that anyone who has a problem with Rice has a problem with him.
The defensive "non-answer" of the president suggests that there is something being hidden, and it does little to dissuade the notion that Rice is in on it. Among her remarks to the media about Benghazi, Rice told Jake Tapper:
"Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.
"We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to — or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in — in the wake of the revolution in Libya are — are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there."
Then on CBS' "Face the Nation" program:
MS. RICE: So we’ll want to see the results of that [FBI] investigation to draw any definitive conclusions. But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy– –sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that– in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?
MS. RICE: We do not– we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Do you agree or disagree with [the previous guest, the president of Libya’s general national congress] that al Qaeda had some part in this?
MS. RICE: Well, we’ll have to find out that out. I mean I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.
Petraeus has been in the news of late because of the affair that led to his resignation last week. As information about the FBI's investigation into the affair has come out, it seems increasingly likely that the entire affair was covered up and not aired until after the election.
That begs the question of whether the affair was used to threaten Petraeus into testifying previously that the YouTube video, not terrorism was to blame. If so, then it appears Petraeus was cut loose the moment he was no longer useful.
President Obama said a few days ago said he gave orders to ensure the safety of Americans in Benghazi. Pretending for the moment that's so, then who didn't follow or relay those orders?
Could it be the same person who redacted the CIA talking points before giving them to Rice?
And here's a thought: Tempting as it is to point the finger at Obama for Benghazi, there is another person who has been alleged to be the "real" power at the White House, who is Iranian-American and has been implicated in aborting several attempts to get Osama bin Laden before he was successfully killed. That person is Valerie Jarrett.
Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen is a tool of Iran. It seems likely the Libya wing would be also. Jarrett was rumored about the time of Benghazi to be in secret talks with the Iranian government about ending its nuclear weapons program.
Is it possible that Jarrett might have been behind U.S. forces being told to stand down in Benghazi, then edited the CIA remarks, possibly for the sake of whatever goals her talks had?
Jarrett is said to have guided the careers of both Obamas. Could the president be covering for his benefactor?