Friday, November 16, 2012

Petraeus, in testimony, emphasizes Al Qaeda, downplays role of amateur film in Libya attack

Former CIA director and former Army commander David Petraeus testified Friday that the attack on the consulate at Benghazi , Libya was a pre-meditated attack with support from Al Qaeda.

Peter King (R-NY) had said that as late as three days after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, Congress had been left with the impression that it had been spontaneous, as a result of the “offensive” amateur YouTube film, “Innocence of Muslims”.

The attack appears to have been a hybrid storm, started intentionally, but then able to feed on the sudden opportunity for protests against the film.  It appears that the film was deliberately circulated “virally” with Arabic subtitles in the middle East in the days before Sept. 11. So there is the opportunity for some to say that asymmetric speech in the west is capable of creating security problems overseas because of different worldviews about responsibility for the effects of speech.

Petraeis indicated that some intelligence about Al Qaeda was not at first shared publicly, so as not to tip off enemies and impede investigation. It may have been advantageous (although harmful to web speakers) to allow the public to believe that the video had caused the "riot" when it hadn't.  But wasn't the president told the right information immediately?

Susan Rice, when she gave a briefing a few days after the attack, limited her remarks to what was unclassified, which would have comprised speculation about the role of the video (the "movie rage").

It's clear that the State Department did not provide proper security for the consulate.  
The was no discussion of the Petraes scandal today, other than to note it had no effect on operations.

CNN has a comprehensive story link here.

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In this matter, the GOP seems more willing to protect amateur speech from downstream blame than the Democrats. 

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