Dem report contests political role in Benghazi talking points

“From my perspective, where I was, it was all meshing together as one,” Brian Papanu, the diplomatic security desk officer in the command center in Washington the night of the attack, told lawmakers last month. “So we really didn't have time to analyze one in particular from another.

“The way they all — one of them right after another and then stopped, it seems to signify to me that they were related in some way, shape or form. And the only common thread that I can see is the video.”

ADVERTISEMENT
The former office director for Maghreb Affairs, William Roebuck, told lawmakers there was legitimate confusion among the “experts” for a week after the attack.

Protests and attacks across the region and beyond, from Tunisia to Pakistan, happened “in the same timeframe,” and “to a certain degree it colored in the initial few days, it colored how people looked at that attack.”

“I think that the first week after 9/11 there was significant uncertainty about what had happened and disagreement among key people who shaped opinion,” he said. “And I don't mean people with ideas. I mean people with information.”

Roebuck acknowledged that the second-highest-ranking diplomat in Libya at the time of the attack, Gregory Hicks, told the administration the day after the attack that there was no protest. But he said there was “legitimate disagreement” between agencies among officials with a wider view of the whole region.

“People ... on the intelligence side," Roebuck told lawmakers, "disagreed about what had taken place, and that played itself out over five or six days or even a week after September 11th.”

“There was a dispute among people who were looking very carefully at all of the evidence on the ground, and there was a legitimate disagreement about what had sort of been the precursor to the attack.”

Eric Boswell, who stepped down as the State Department's security chief in the wake of the attack, told lawmakers in July that the administration still doesn't have a full picture of what happened in Benghazi.

“To this day I don't think the U.S. [government] — and we'll know when the FBI finally comes out with its report and investigation — but to this day I don't think we have a good fix ... on what exactly caused that attack or was motivating that attack.”


Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @TheHillGlobal and @JPecquetTheHill