Despite this season's election-year politics, the
The attack on the American consulate in the eastern city of
Mr. Issa, who seems to see conspiracies everywhere, suggested the initial reports of the incident were part of a coordinated effort by administration officials to mislead the public into believing the attack on the consulate grew out of a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islam movie trailer rather than a carefully planned assault carried out by extremists linked to al-Qaeda. The trailer, whose origins remain murky, sparked protests outside U.S. embassies throughout the Muslim world that were widely reported in the news media. Later intelligence suggested that the consulate attackers seized the opportunity it presented even though there were no demonstrations outside the consulate in Benghazi that day.
But even given the partisan nature of the congressional hearing room debate, it seems unlikely that top administration officials would be so stupid as to believe that a deception on the order of what
More likely is that in the initial hours after the attack, officials in Washington were getting confused and conflicting reports about what happened, and they may have passed on information they received before it was fully vetted. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama indicated as much when he admitted that "the information may not have always been right the first time. And as soon as it turns out that we have a fuller picture of what happened, then that was disclosed." If the administration really were trying to cover something up, it did a remarkably poor job of it.
Nevertheless, the hearings did force the State Department to acknowledge that it had denied repeated requests from