In a hearing yesterday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, an Obama administration official admitted what all of us already knew through credible reports in foreign media: Amb. Chris Stevens died on September 11 "in the course of a terrorist attack." As Karen DeYoung reported in today's Washington Post, National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen told the committee that "the people involved in the violent assault" on the consulate in Benghazi hailed from "several militant groups, including localized extremists in eastern Libya as well as affiliates of al Qaeda."
An al Qaeda connection to a deadly attack that killed four Americans at a consulate on the anniversary of 9/11 should be front-page news, but it was buried on page A8 of the Post with the bland headline "Intelligence official cites 'terrorist attack' in Libya."*
DeYoung also noted that at least one senator is skeptical of Olsen's claim that the attack was spontaneous and exploitative of a demonstration against an anti-Islam film (emphasis mine):
The hearing came amid mounting questions about security at the consulate and whether the State Department was insufficiently responsive to previous attacks in Benghazi and the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks on the United States.
“I’m just stunned and appalled that there wasn’t better security for all of the American personnel at that consulate, given the high-threat environment,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Olsen, Associate Deputy FBI Director Kevin Perkins and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at the hearing.
Collins also sharply disagreed with Olsen’s statement that the attack did not appear to be planned. “Based on the briefings I have had, I’ve come to the opposite conclusion,” she said. “I just don’t think that people come to protests equipped with RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and other heavy weapons. And the reports of complicity — and they are many — with Libyan guards who were assigned to guard the consulate also suggest to me that this was premeditated.”
Collins is not alone in expressing skepticism about the Obama administration's official line. On Sunday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a former FBI agent, expressed skepticism that the murder of Stevens and three other Americans was a spur-of-the-moment attack engendered by outrage at an obscure YouTube video.
It's difficult to imagine the Post and other media outlets treating such a hearing cavalierly if this had happened under George W. Bush's watch and the Republican president had peddled the official story that the Obama White House is now.
Embassy and consulate security in Libya and other volatile countries in the Middle East is a vital issue that should be given front-page attention by the media. Doing so, however, casts the Obama administration in a potentially negative light, something the Obama-friendly media do not want to risk in a close reelection year.
*The online headline reads "Benghazi attack called 'terrorist'"