The Wall Street Journal reported today that the President’s Daily Intelligence Briefing, presented to the President daily when he wakes up, reported every day for over a week that the Benghazi attack followed protests at the Benghazi consulate, presumable over the YouTube anti-Muslim video. The Daily Intelligence Briefing is prepared by the National Intelligence Director, an office created as a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to coordinate information from the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence agency, as well as State Department and various military branch intelligence agencies. This followed the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission that conflicting information from various agencies was not coordinated, and that if it had been, the 9/11 attacks might have been averted.
According to the article, CIA had information from witnesses supporting the existence of protests, and was unwilling to alter their conclusions, despite conflicting reports, until they could verify it. Thus the delay in modification of public statements by senior administration officials, including the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State and the Ambassador to the United Nations.
John Tepperman, senior editor of Foreign Affairs Magazine, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, was interviewed on C-Span the other day about the Benghazi attack. He pointed out that the critical issue of security at the consulate has been lost in what he believes is a lot of political spin about who in the administration said what after the attack regarding its source. The Republicans have been quick to cook up a conspiracy theory and taken a mid-level State Department security decision, and an extremist Libyan militia attack, and conflated it with a “terror” attack, and then re-conflated that with an Al Qaeda attack.
In sworn testimony, the head of regional security for the State Department made clear that the additional security requested would have increased State Department guards from 3 to 5, or perhaps to 8 personnel. The head of military security for Libya, a retired U.S. Army general, said there was no comparison between State Department security personnel and military resources. Both witnesses made clear that the few more State Department security personnel requested would have made no difference in the outcome of the attack.
Which gets back to the issue of security at these embassies and consulates, which is woefully short in many parts of the world due to budget cuts – by the Republicans.