Fox News hosts accused President Obama and his administration of perpetuating a "cover-up" of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. But the Obama administration is conducting an investigation into the attack, the State Department is setting up an independent panel to investigate it, and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center has testified about the attacks to a congressional committee.
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Fox Hosts Accuse Obama Admin. Of "Widespread Cover-Up" To Protect Terrorists And "Murderers"
Hannity: "We Are Witnessing A Widespread Cover-Up Based On Flat-Out Lies." Hannity began his September 20 Fox News show by airing a montage of White House officials speaking about the attacks on the U.S. embassy and consulate. He then said:
HANNITY: All right now, how this event can evolve from an impromptu riot about a YouTube video to a premeditated terrorist attack in the span of a week -- well, that can be explained one of three ways. Number one, this administration is stupid, simple as that. Number two, this administration is on the receiving end of some of the worst intelligence in American history. Or number three, we are witnessing a widespread cover-up based on flat-out lies, all aimed to protect a president who happens to be running for re-election. I'm going with number three, and in a moment, I'm going to show you the evidence to back it up. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/20/12]
Hannity Accuses Obama Admin. Of Lying To Protect "The Perpetrators Of Terror, The Murderers Of Americans," And Possibly Al Qaeda. Later during his show, while discussing the attacks with Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, Hannity said: "This lie that they told, they're protecting the perpetrators of terror, the murderers of Americans. I -- help me out. Is it Al Qaeda they're protecting, too, in the process? Because why? They don't want to admit that, you know, saying they stopped torture worked, and the apology tour didn't work? What is the thinking behind this?" [Fox News, Hannity, 9/20/12]
Van Susteren: "Incompetence, Or Cover-Up, Or Something Else?" During Fox News' On the Record, host Greta van Susteren said, after showing a montage of clips related to the attacks, "Why does the Obama administration keep changing its tune? Incompetence, or cover-up, or something else?" [Fox News, On the Record with Greta van Susteren, 9/20/12]
But The Obama Administration Is Conducting Investigations Into The Attacks ...
AP: "The Obama Administration ... Is Investigating Whether The Assault On The U.S. Consulate In Libya Was A Planned Terrorist Strike." The Associated Press reported on September 13 that the FBI is investigating whether the attack was a terrorist attack or not:
The Obama administration, roiled by the first killing of a U.S. ambassador in more than 30 years, is investigating whether the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya was a planned terrorist strike to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and not a spontaneous mob enraged over an anti-Islam YouTube video. [Associated Press, 9/13/12]
State Dept. Spokesperson Nuland: FBI And Libyan Government Are "Going To Have A Full Investigation" Into Whether Libya Attack Was Terror Act. In a press briefing, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland explained that the FBI and Libyan government have launched investigations to determine whether the consulate attack was terrorism:
QUESTION: The Libyan Interior Minister said today that he dismissed two security officers in relation to the attack on the Consulate in Benghazi. Is this something that you are expecting? Do you think this is a step in the right direction? And do you think that the Libyans should have taken more fully a responsibility for protecting the Embassy in Benghazi? And how close are you in terms of cooperation with the investigation? I mean, what level, I mean?
MS. NULAND: Well, we talked about this a little bit last week, and I'm going to stand by what I said, which is obviously the Libyans are leading an investigation. We have our own FBI investigation. We also have close FBI and Libyan cooperation as we both pursue these. But I'm not going to get into the back and forth of who's arrested, what we think, what we know about any of this. And the investigation is obviously going to lead us to the appropriate conclusions about precisely what happened and how it happened.
QUESTION: Simply on the basis of what Ambassador Rice has publicly disclosed, does the United States Government regard what happened in Benghazi as an act of terror?
MS. NULAND: Again, I'm not going to put labels on this until we have a complete investigation, okay?
QUESTION: You don't - so you don't regard it as an act of terrorism?
MS. NULAND: I don't think we know enough. I don't think we know enough. And we're going to continue to assess. She gave our preliminary assessment. We're going to have a full investigation now, and then we'll be in a better position to put labels on things, okay? [U.S. State Department, 9/17/12]
... The State Department Is Setting Up An Independent Panel To Investigate The Benghazi Attack ...
Foreign Policy Blog: "State Department Setting Up Independent Panel To Investigate Benghazi Attack." From the Foreign Policy blog The Cable:
The State Department is setting up an independent, bipartisan panel to investigate what happened in the Sept. 11 attack on the Benghazi consulate that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) said Wednesday that Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides told him the State Department had already begun setting up the panel, which Kerry said would be independently appointed and accountable to Congress. Kerry said the panel's existence preempted the need for Congress to quickly pass a bill, put forth by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), requiring State to report to Congress on last week's attacks in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen within 30 days.
"The State Department must convene an Accountability Review Board (ARB) in instances in which there has been loss of life or significant destruction of property at a U.S. mission abroad. The Secretary must provide the SFRC with a report on the findings and recommendations of the ARB," Kerry said at Thursday's SFRC business meeting.
Kerry said the law requires the panel be convened within 60 days of the attack, would examine all aspects of the attacks, and is required to report to Congress its findings. If the panel does not satisfy Congress's desire for information about the attacks, Kerry would then support legislation calling for more thorough reporting on the attacks as well as security procedures at all U.S. diplomatic posts, he said. [The Cable, Foreign Policy, 9/19/12]
... And The National Counterterrorism Director Testified About The Attack At A Senate Committee Hearing
Director Of National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen Testified At Senate Committee Hearing About The Attack. From The Washington Post:
The U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed last week in Libya died "in the course of a terrorist attack," a senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers Wednesday.
Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, repeated earlier statements by the Obama administration that initial conclusions do not point to a planned assault. Instead, he said, "the facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack," in which heavily armed militants took advantage of an ongoing demonstration at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
But Olsen went beyond those conclusions to say that the people involved in the violent assault appeared to have come from several militant groups, including localized extremists in eastern Libya as well as affiliates of al-Qaeda.
"The picture that is emerging is one where a number of different individuals were involved, so it's not necessarily an either/or proposition," Olsen told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. [The Washington Post, 9/19/12]