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              William Hague, right, U.K. Foreign Minister, and Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., listens during a meeting on Syria in the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.  Turkey  William Hague, right, U.K. Foreign Minister, and Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., listens during a meeting on Syria in the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Turkey's foreign minister urged the Security Council on Thursday to set up a safe zone in Syria to protect thousands of civilians fleeing the civil war. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)   

In Libya story reversal, State Department appears to lie about involvement

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

While President Barack Obama’s State Department is now finally admitting that the deadly Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, were pre-planned terrorist attacks and no protests occurred, it appears to be lying about whether it had any hand in the inaccurate claims getting out.

ABC News reported late Tuesday that, when “asked about the initial reports of the protests” that are now agreed to have been inaccurate by everyone, a State Department official said “that while ‘others’ in the administration may have said there were protests, the State Department did not.”

“That was not our conclusion,” the official said, according to ABC News. “I’m not saying that we had a conclusion.”

That claim is inaccurate.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice — a cabinet-level member of the State Department – claimed on national television that the attack in Libya that led to the murders of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others was “a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo.”

“In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated,” Rice told ABC News’ Jake Tapper on Sept. 16.

“We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to – or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo,” Rice continued. “And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in – in the wake of the revolution in Libya are – are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.”

Additionally, in the day after the Benghazi assault, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton statements formed the basis of Rice’s later claims.

“We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault,” Clinton said on Sept. 12. “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear – there is no justification for this, none.”

And on September 20 — four days after Rice’s Sunday show appearance — Clinton decried the video yet again as a precursor to “violence,” saying, “We have condemned in the strongest possible terms the violence that has erupted from these protests. And as I have said, the video that sparked these protests is disgusting and reprehensible, and the United States Government, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with it.”

The State Department did not immediately respond to TheDC’s request for comment.

Vince Coglianese contributed to this report.

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