State Won’t Say Who Told Clinton Benghazi was ‘Response to Inflammatory Material Posted on Internet’

Sean Smith, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton
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President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton bowed their heads at Andrews Air Force Base on Sept. 14, 2012, when the caskets of the Americans murdered by terrorists in Benghazi returned to the United States. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

( – When asked Monday who told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sept. 11, 2012–while the terrorist attack was still ongoing in Benghazi and before former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed there—that the attack was being justified as “a response to inflammatory material posted on Internet,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell would not answer.

Greg Hicks, who was the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, and who will testify in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, has told investigators for that committee that department personnel on the ground in Libya believed the assault on the Benghazi mission was a terrorist attack from the moment it started.

“I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go,” Hicks reportedly told the committtee. “I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”

Yet in the 10:00 p.m. hour Washington, D.C. time on Sept. 11, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a written “Statement on the Attack in Benghazi” that said: “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious belief of others.”

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That statement–which also said that an unnamed State Department officer (later revealed to be Information Management Officer Sean Smith) had been killed–was released while what was in fact a series of terrorist attacks was still unfolding in Benhazi. In the course those attacks, which lasted more than seven and a half hours, four Americans were killed, including Smith and Amb. Chris Stevens (who died at the U.S. State Department’s mission) and Woods and Doherty (who died at the CIA Annex).

At Monday’s briefing, asked: “That statement was put out before former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods died in Benghazi. Who specifically told Hillary Clinton that there were some people blaming this on inflammatory response to–inflammatory material on the internet? Where did she get that idea at 10 p.m. on September 11th?”

Ventrell responded: “Look, these are issues that have been looked at in great detail, that have been answered in great detail to the Congress, to the American people, and you’re asking about something that is many months prior. And we’ve been very clear, and the ARB has looked at all of these issues and done so in great detail.”

The State Department previously failed to respond to a question from seeking the precise time on Sept. 11 that it released this statement by Secretary Clinton. However, the Associated Press quoted the statement in a news story published before 11:00 p.m. Eastern time that day. According to the State Department’s own Accountability Review Board report, former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed by a terrorist mortar attack on the CIA’s Annex in Benghazi that began at about 11:15 p.m. Eastern time.

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