With a New York Times story on the Benghazi terrorist attack fresh off the press, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board quickly took issue with a factual assertion I have made many times and repeated the morning the story ran: “There was a group that was involved that claims an affiliation with al-Qaida.”
The editorial (“Issa squanders position with his bombast,” Dec. 31) concluded that my comment “exemplified (my) stubborn adherence to (my) partisan view of the vicious attack on the consulate in Benghazi.”
So what supports my statement, which I still stand behind?
Reacting to The New York Times report, California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who serves on the committee with jurisdiction over our intelligence agencies stated that same day, “intelligence indicates al-Qaida was involved” and called the report “deficient.”
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Eli Lake of The Daily Beast offered a laundry list of counterpoints to misleading aspects of the Times story’s assertion that there was no link to al-Qaida. Lake notes that although the Times story describes Ansar al-Sharia – a group linked to the attack – as separate and distinct from al-Qaida, an August 2012 report commissioned by a Pentagon terrorism research organization found that Ansar al-Sharia “has increasingly embodied al Qaeda’s presence in Libya, as indicated by its active social-media propaganda, extremist discourse, and hatred of the West, especially the United States.”
The prime minister of Tunisia, a neighbor of Libya, also recently noted the connection between Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaida noting, “There is a relation between leaders of Ansar al-Sharia, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. We are coordinating with our neighbors over that,” according to a report by Reuters.
Even intelligence information in the White House’s own hands when Ambassador Susan Rice made her infamously false claims about a “protest” noted, “The crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan society. That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaida participated in the attack.”
The Times report included meaningful information on the view from the streets of Benghazi about the terrorist attack that killed four brave Americans. But the reporter’s inability to find Benghazi residents who would or could second conclusions reached by our intelligence community far from disproves them. Unfortunately, The Bee’s editorial view appears limited by a journalistic cocoon in which The New York Times is undeservedly worshipped and contrary information is simply omitted.
I remain committed to pursuing the facts about the attack on our diplomatic compound so it never happens again. Essential oversight will continue unchecked by partisan criticism and other efforts to mislead the public.