Fox News has repeatedly attacked Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration for linking the 2012 Benghazi attacks to protests over an inflammatory anti-Islam YouTube video in the immediate aftermath of the incident, but on the night of the terror attack Fox News reported the alleged connection on several shows. Several investigations into the aftermath of the attacks also show that the intelligence was fluid and the motivations for the attacks “continued to change throughout the week.”
Fox News Criticizes The Obama Administration For Saying The Anti-Islam Video Triggered The Terror Attack In Benghazi
Greta Van Susteren: Why Was The Administration “Peddling This Ridiculous Video Thing?” On the October 22 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox host Greta Van Susteren repeatedly criticized the Obama administration's early explanation that the Benghazi attack was in part inspired by an anti-Islam YouTube video, accusing them of “peddling this ridiculous video thing”:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: What still remains so peculiar to me is this whole business about the video. Think about it, when it happened it was mortars and RPGs. It doesn't sound like protesters. Protesters show up with cardboard placards, screaming and yelling chants. So right from the get-go it sounds like it is terrorism. Then you've got the fact that on Facebook that an Al Qaeda-like group is claiming responsibility. Then you've got the personal email that she was confronted with today to a family member, in which she says an Al Qaeda-like group that did it. And then you've got the situation where the next thing we know is it's a video. [Amb.] Susan Rice is going around saying it's a video, and as late as September 20 to Univision, President Obama is still saying it's a video, and that's the weird stuff. And we haven't gotten to that.
NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): This is a separate fight with Congress on the part of those who believe that Hillary Clinton has been part of a political cabal against her. Is that resonating, was there anything we saw today that's new that will weigh on her? What do you think?
VAN SUSTEREN: I think that -- I think there's still the unanswered question about why the video. Now, that is just a political fight. I mean, it's a mystery to me. I don't know why -- I'd love to know, but those who love Hillary Clinton still love Hillary Clinton. Those who hate her, still hate her. So I don't think it's going to move the dial at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: The side part though, I think, and it's a legitimate one, is like, what in the world is going on with that video? Because if our State Department, and our Defense Department, and our commander-in-chief were still peddling this ridiculous video thing, how did they get so far off the rails when nobody thought it was the video except for them? And they were saying this as late as nine days later. And it's not too keep hit them over the head with it, but you know the problem is that we still don't understand why were they saying it. Did they have a legitimate reason, or was this politics as some have suggested because the president, one, was about to run for reelection and the issue was he had said that Al Qaeda was on the run. So, I think the American people are entitled to sort of a transparency and find out about that. That's a little separate issue than the security of our diplomats and I -- that's a very important issue. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 10/22/15]
Eric Bolling: Obama Administration “Formulated This Elaborate Scheme” To “Blame The Video” For Benghazi Attack. On the October 22 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling claimed that the Obama administration “formulated this elaborate scheme” to “blame the video” for the Benghazi attack:
GREG GUTFELD (CO-HOST): Look, you know, Jim Jordan finally pursued the truth. Who pushed the video and why? And it was to camouflage their incompetence over diplomatic security. She told her family it was a terror attack and told the victims it's a video. Why did she lie? Because she had -- she was trying to save her own skin. Then she goes into this soliloquy about how, if you look at other terror attacks, there's never any partisanship afterwards. After the bombing in Lebanon, there was no partisanship at all, we all came together. That's because there was no cover-up after these bombings. There was nobody blaming it on a video.
ERIC BOLLING: So, as Dana points out, the very night of the attacks, now remember, these attacks were exactly 10 years to the day of the initial World Trade Center bombings - I mean, hello? So that very night she emails Hillary Clinton, calls out, looks like an Al-Qaeda-type attack. Jim Jordan came with the second one, which this is -- here's your smoking gun, guys. This is it right here. Clinton emails the prime minister, saying, “We know that the attack in -- we know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.” Now, that is the day after the attack, 9/12/11. OK, that day. Three days later after that, they blame the video over draped caskets at Andrews Air Force Base. Five days later, Susan Rice goes on the talk shows, blames the video. Eleven days, or 12, maybe 13 days later President Obama goes to the U.N. and blames the video. The question -- we now know that they lied. They formulated this elaborate scheme, but why? Greg asks why. Yes, obviously number one reason, because Hillary Clinton was asked for security, she turned it down and four Americans died. That's her end of why. His end of why, President Obama? Well on 9/12, the same day that Clinton just outs it and lets everyone know it's a terror attack, President Obama flies to Las Vegas for a campaign event to raise money after he makes a speech from the Rose Garden. Both of these two made massive errors and the only way to get out of it was to blame the video and not blame what really happened, which they knew from the very moment. [Fox News, The Five, 10/22/15]
Megyn Kelly: Administration Referencing Anti-Islam Video's Role In Benghazi Attack Was Deceitful. On the October 22 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly attacked Hillary Clinton for supposedly “withholding evidence” that would have proven the “deceit” in the Obama administration's references to the role of the anti-Islam video in the Benghazi attacks:
MEGYN KELLY: As news broke of the attack here at home, the Obama administration immediately and repeatedly blamed the deadly assault on protesters outraged over an anti-Mohammed video, made by a filmmaker in California.
KELLY: The media investigated and the story began to fall apart. It was revealed that there were no protests in Benghazi that night and this was, indeed, a pre-planned terrorist attack. Mrs. Clinton's State Department was investigated repeatedly. And while it became clear that the video was not to blame, no smoking gun proving deceit was ever found. And then it emerged that Mrs. Clinton had been withholding evidence. In all of the investigations, she never turned over her own emails. Not from her time at State, not from her days dealing with Benghazi. The committee now investigating the Benghazi attack demanded those emails and her testimony. And today, for the first time, we heard Mrs. Clinton's truth, at least in the hours right after the attack, what she really believed as she told the public a video was to blame. And the truth is, that what Mrs. Clinton said publicly was very different from what she claimed privately. She knew that this attack had nothing to do with a video, nor with a protest. That it was a pre-planned terrorist attack and she said she knew it. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 10/22/15]
But During The Night Of The Benghazi Attack, Fox News Itself Reported That The Video Inspired The Attack
Greta Van Susteren: “Both Attacks Were Triggered By A Movie Produced In The United States That Protesters Say Is Anti-Muslim.” On the September 11, 2012 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Van Susteren twice repeated an Associated Press story that cited an anti-Islam video as a trigger for the Benghazi attack:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: This is a “FOX News Alert.” An American consulate worker murdered and at least one other wounded in the American consulate in Libya, that according to the Libyan security officials. The Associated Press is now reporting the American was shot to death when gunmen stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and clashed with security forces.
And there is more violence against America tonight, this time in Cairo, Egypt, thousands of protesters marching on the U.S. embassy. They climbed the embassy walls, they ripped down our American flag, they burned our flag, and then they replaced our flag at our embassy with a black Islamist flag!
According to the A.P., both attacks were triggered by a movie produced in the United States that protesters say is anti-Muslim. The AP further reports that movie was made by an anti-Muslim extremist. “On the Record” is tracking these breaking news stories and will bring you developments throughout the hour.
VAN SUSTEREN: This is a “FOX News Alert,” an American State Department officer killed in Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton now confirming the killing at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. At least one other person was reportedly wounded after gunmen stormed the consulate. There are also reports of looting.
And there is even more violence tonight in Cairo, Egypt, thousands of protesters marching on the U.S. embassy. According to the Associated Press, both attacks were triggered by an anti-Muslim film produced here in the United States. [Fox News, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, 9/11/12, via Nexis]
Fox's Bret Baier: “There Was ... Protest Over The Video At The U.S. Consulate In Benghazi.” On the September 11, 2012 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Baier reported that there was a “protest over the video” in Benghazi:
BAIER: There was also protest over the video at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Report says an armed mob set fire to that building. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/11/12]
Fox's Dana Perino: “An American Citizen Died ... It Is Happening Across The Middle East Because Of A Video That Was Produced In The United States.” On the September 11, 2012 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox host Dana Perino explained that there were many protests occurring throughout the Middle East and North Africa over the anti-Islam video, and blamed a protest over the video for the death of Americans in Benghazi:
DANA PERINO: There has been a lot of talk in the last couple weeks about hard truths. But the people in the Muslim world -- can deal with hard truths as well. They need to be communicated to in a way that they could understand. The other thing is that there were other protests that were sparked today and an American person -- an American citizen died --
DOUG SCHOEN: In Libya!
PERINO: In Libya. So it is not just happening in Egypt. It is happening across the Middle East because of a video that was produced in the United States. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/11/12]
Associated Press Report Cited By Fox Was Based On Information From The Libyan Government
AP Report Cited By Fox Got Information From Libyan Government Official, Not Clinton Or The Obama Administration. The Associated Press reported at 5:17 pm, prior to the airing of Fox's Special Report or On the Record, that a Libyan official said the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi was stormed “after a protest against a video deemed insulting to Islam's prophet, Muhammad.” From the AP report:
A Libyan Interior Ministry official says armed men have stormed the US consulate in east Libya's Benghazi and set it ablaze after a protest against a video deemed insulting to Islam's prophet, Muhammad, which was reportedly produced in America.
Witnesses say Tuesday's attack left much of the consulate burned. It came hours after ultraconservative Islamist demonstrators in Egypt climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to protest the film.
Wanis al-Sharef, an interior ministry official in Benghazi, says the attackers stormed the consulate after firing in the air. [Associated Press, 9/11/12]
Initial Intelligence Regarding Attackers And Their Motivations Was “Piecemeal” And “Conflicting” And “Continued To Change Throughout The Week”
House Intelligence Committee: Initial Intelligence Surrounding The Attackers' Identities And Motives Was “Piecemeal” And “Conflicting.” The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's Benghazi investigation found that in the wake of the attacks, “intelligence analysts and policymakers received a stream of piecemeal intelligence regarding the identities/affiliations and motivations of the attackers,” and that “much of the early intelligence was conflicting”:
After reviewing hundreds of pages of raw intelligence, as well as open source information, it was clear that between the time when the attacks occurred and when the Administration, through Ambassador Susan Rice, appeared on the Sunday talk shows, intelligence analysts and policymakers received a stream of piecemeal intelligence regarding the identities/affiliations and motivations of the attackers, as well as the level of planning and/or coordination. Much of the early intelligence was conflicting, and two years later, intelligence gaps remain.
Various witnesses and senior military officials serving in the Obama Administration testified to this Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Armed Services Committee that they knew from the moment the attacks began that the attacks were deliberate terrorist acts against U.S. interests. 125 No witness has reported believing at any point that the attacks were anything but terrorist acts.
Along those lines, in the Rose Garden on September 12, 2012, President Obama said that four “extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi,” and said that: "[n]o acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for."
However, it was not clear whether the terrorist attacks were committed by al-Qa'ida or by various groups of other bad actors, some of who may have been affiliated with al-Qa'ida. Early CIA, NCTC, DIA, and CJCS intelligence assessments on September 12th and 13th stated that members of AAS and various al-Qa'ida affiliates “likely,” “probably,” or “possibl[y]” participated in the attacks. [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, 11/21/14]
Democratic Staff Report On Benghazi Committee Results Concluded That Clinton's Conversation With Egyptian Prime Minister Included “Information Consistent With Reporting At The Time ” As Intelligence “Chang[ed] Throughout The Week.” As reported by the October 2015 Democratic staff report on the Benghazi attacks, intelligence about the cause of the attack “continued to change throughout the week,” and Clinton “relayed information consistent with reporting at the time” to Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil during their September 12, 2012 conversation:
The evidence obtained by the Select Committee confirms previous accounts that the information being gathered in the aftermath of the attacks--and intelligence assessments of that information--continued to change throughout the week. For example, although initial reports claimed that Ansar al-Sharia was responsible for the attacks, the group later disavowed responsibility.
Later that afternoon, Secretary Clinton had a call with the Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil regarding the events in Cairo and Libya. The notes from that call indicate that the Secretary relayed information consistent with reporting at the time: “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack--not a protest.” The notes also indicate that she acknowledged that Ansar al-Sharia reportedly claimed responsibility for the attacks: “Your [sic] not kidding. Based on the information we saw today we believe the group that claimed responsibility for this was affiliated with al Qaeda.” [Democratic Staff Report, Results Of Interviews Conducted By The House Select Committee On Benghazi, October 2015]