NEW YORK - An anonymous State Department official told the Associated Press last Tuesday: "That was not our conclusion" -- namely that a notorious YouTube video that lampooned the Islamic prophet Mohammed unleashed deadly mayhem upon America's consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
This denial should shock anyone who watched the news after U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were murdered on the 11th anniversary of September 11.
That anti-Islamic video's culpability certainly was the "conclusion" among top administration officials, including President Barack Obama. They fingered this video for eight days, even as evidence mounted that these Americans were slain in a commando-style operation that involved machine guns and mortar shells, not banners and placards.
As Fox News Channel's Bret Baier and Bill O'Reilly each detailed on Wednesday, Team Obama energetically promoted this now-repudiated "conclusion." September 11: Despite anti-video demonstrations in Cairo, Benghazi is tranquil. According to U.S. diplomats, "everything is calm. There's nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside. No protests all day." At 9:40 PM local time, however, gunfire and explosions rock the consulate.
September 12: As these homicides become clear, Obama says, "We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, but there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence. None." Obama then skips his daily intelligence briefing and jets to a Las Vegas fundraiser.
September 13: "The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declares. "We absolutely reject its content and message." September 14: "The unrest we've seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims find offensive," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announces.
That day, as the murdered Americans' remains reach Andrews Air Force Base, Clinton says: "We have seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with."
September 18: Obama tells comedian David Letterman that he rejects the "extremely offensive video directed at Mohammed and Islam." Obama adds that "extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya."
September 19: Team Obama abruptly changes tunes.
National Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen informs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, "I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy."
Why would Team Obama essentially accuse a video of these murders, even as Lt. Col. Andrew Wood -- leader of a 16-man, dedicated military unit withdrawn from Libya last August -- called the hit "instantly recognizable" as terrorism?
During Obama's difficult campaign, that fantasy was far more palatable than this reality: a pre-meditated, well-executed al-Qaida strike on a U.S. mission eradicated four Americans, even after they longed for the security assistance that might have prevented them from coming home in caskets.
Amb. Stevens warned Washington that Libya "remains unpredictable, volatile, and violent." Eric Nordstrom, a former U.S. security officer in Libya, told the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee on Wednesday that State documented 230 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012. Nordstrom consequently requested 12 more security personnel.
"You're asking for the sun, moon and the stars," a regional director complained. Nordstrom concluded that "we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident." He wondered, "How thin does the ice need to get until someone falls through?"
These inconvenient truths would have obviated Team Obama's "bin Laden is dead/al Qaida is comatose" re-election theme. Thus, the same government that apparently leaks secrets to make the president look tough evidently oozed falsehoods to keep him from looking weak.
In short: People died, Obama lied.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.