Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received information from Sidney Blumenthal, just two days after the Sept. 11, 2011 Benghazi attacks, stating that the assault was a premeditated terrorist attack, in contradiction of Obama administration assertions at the time that attacks were committed by a mob angry about an anti-Muslim video.
Blumenthal was one of Clinton’s unofficial sources of information about Libya, and she took his missives seriously. From the New York Times, which got a hold of a couple of the Sidneygrams:
The day after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on American outposts in Benghazi that killed Mr. Stevens and three other Americans, Mr. Blumenthal sent Mrs. Clinton a memo with his intelligence about what had occurred. The memo said the attacks were by “demonstrators” who “were inspired by what many devout Libyan viewed as a sacrilegious internet video on the prophet Mohammed originating in America.” Mrs. Clinton forwarded the memo to Mr. Sullivan, saying “More info.”
The next day, Mr. Blumenthal sent Mrs. Clinton a more thorough account of what had occurred. Citing “sensitive sources” in Libya, the memo provided extensive detail about the episode, saying that the siege had been set off by members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan terrorist group. Those militants had ties to Al Qaeda, had planned the attacks for a month and had used a nearby protest as cover for the siege, the memo said. “We should get this around asap” Mrs. Clinton said in an email to Mr. Sullivan. “Will do,” he responded. That information contradicted the Obama administration’s narrative at the time about what had spawned the attacks. Republicans have said the administration misled the country about the attacks because it did not want to undermine the notion that President Obama, who was up for re-election, was winning the war on terrorism.
It occurs to me that the Blumenthal missive could help explain why Clinton didn’t appear on the Sunday talk shows that week touting the administration’s line that the attack was spontaneous, leaving the job instead to then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice. She may not have felt comfortable spinning a message she knew might not be correct.