Oct 31, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
FYI, Catherine Herridge is the reporter who, along with Fox colleague Jennifer Griffin, has been busting this whole story wide-open from the beginning. So far, the two of them have the best inside sources actually willing to talk. Jennifer, btw, is the one who first reported that the admin 3 times denied a rescue team for the ambassador…
Excerpted from Catherine Herridge’s report today in Fox News: Two days after the deadly Libya terror attack, representatives of the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center gave Capitol Hill briefings in which they said the evidence supported an Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-affiliated attack, Fox News has learned.
The description of the attack by those in the Sept. 13 briefings stands in stark contrast to the now controversial briefing on Capitol Hill by CIA Director David Petraeus the following day — and raises even more questions about why Petraeus described the attack as tied to a demonstration.
The Sept. 13 assessment was based on intercepts that included individuals, believed to have participated in the attack, who were celebratory — as well as a claim of responsibility.
FBI and NCTC also briefed that there were a series of Al Qaeda training camps just outside of Benghazi, where the attack occurred and resulted in the deaths of four Americans. The area was described as a hotbed for the militant Ansar al-Sharia as well as Al Qaeda in North Africa.
Fox News is told there was no mention of a demonstration or any significant emphasis on the anti-Islam video that for days was cited by administration officials as a motivating factor.
The FBI and NCTC did not immediately respond to a request from Fox News for comment.
Fox News is told that the Petraeus briefing on Sept. 14 conflicted with that of the FBI and NCTC.
On Capitol Hill, Petraeus characterized the attack as more consistent with a flash mob, where the militants showed up spontaneously with RPGs. Petraeus downplayed to lawmakers the skill needed to fire mortars, which also were used in the attack and to some were seen as evidence of significant pre-planning. As Fox News previously reported, four mortars were fired — two missed the annex, but the mortar team re-calibrated and the next two mortars were direct hits.
Fox News is told that Petraeus seemed wedded to the narrative that the attack was linked to a demonstration and was spontaneous as opposed to pre-meditated.
Fox News is told that Petraeus was “absolute” in his description with few, if any, caveats. As lawmakers learned more about the attack, including through raw intelligence reports, they were “angry, disappointed and frustrated” that the CIA director had not provided a more complete picture of the available intelligence.
Intelligence officials have since given a mixed picture of what happened that day, acknowledging that an investigation is under way. The office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last month acknowledged the strike was a coordinated terror attack, but officials have subsequently said the strike could have been opportunistic — taking their cue from protests over the film in Egypt.
Still, some point to the use of mortars and several other strands of evidence to claim the attack involved some premeditation.