New York Times Report Is Littered With Errors The New York Times Saturday piece on the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack is filled with misleading information, including details contradicted by the U.S. government, Benghazi victims, and numerous other previous news reports. Furthermore, the article’s author, David D. Kirkpatrick, contradicts his own previous reporting on the topic.
In his extensive Times piece entitled, “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi,” Kirkpatrick asserts that “Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda.” He further argues that there is “no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.”
However, this claim is directly contradicted by Kirkpatrick’s own previous reporting from Benghazi. An October 29, 2012 New York Times article entitled, “Libya Warnings Were Plentiful, but Unspecific,” documents that there were “Al-Qaeda-leaning” Islamic extremist training camps in the mountains near Benghazi. That article further discusses the Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Al Shariah camp in Benghazi.
Furthermore, the Times’s Saturday report itself contradicts its claim that Al Qaeda was not involved. It writes, “The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi.” But scores of news media reports have documented that those “fighters” included Al Qaeda groups among their ranks. Many militants were widely quoted in news media reports as fighting under the Al Qaeda banner.
One of the main contentions of the Times piece is that “contrary to claims by some members of Congress,” the Benghazi attack “was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.” It states, “There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers.”
But this claim, too, doesn’t jibe with the facts. An independent investigation found no mention of the film on social media in Libya in the three days leading up to the attack. A review of more than 4,000 postings was conducted by the leading social media monitoring firm Agincourt Solutions, reportedly finding that the first reference to the film was not detected on social media until the day after the attack.
The Times’s “popular protest” theory about the Muhammad film may also not hold up to logic. The U.S. Special Mission which was attacked was not a permanent facility, nor was its existence widely known by the public in Libya.
Indeed, the State Department’s 39-page Accountability Review Board report, or ARB, on the Benghazi attack documents that the facility was set up secretively and without the knowledge of the new Libyan government.
Yet another main claim by the Times piece is that the Benghazi attack was largely not premeditated, although the article allows that some aspects were loosely planned that day. The Times claims, “Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack, according to more than a dozen Libyan witnesses as well as many American officials who have viewed the footage from security cameras.”
That description, however, doesn’t fit with the State Department’s ARB report. The ARB describes a well-orchestrated attack with militants who seemingly had specific knowledge of the compound. It doesn’t focus on looters but rather on “men armed with AK rifles” who “started to destroy the living room contents and then approached the safe area gate and started banging on it.”
In another detail bespeaking a plan, the ARB states that the intruders smoked up Villa C, likely to make breathing so difficult that anyone inside the safe room where Ambassador Chris Stevens was holed up would need to come out.
It may be difficult for keen observers to swallow the Times’s claim of an unplanned attack in light of events that demonstrated that the attackers knew the location of the nearby secret CIA annex, or in light of the fact that they set up checkpoints to prevent the escape of Americans inside the Special Mission.