By the time UN Ambassador Susan Rice was making the rounds on the Sunday shows describing the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi as a spontaneous protest of a YouTube video that became violent, intelligence analysts already had information indicating that what she was saying was wrong. From an AP story on the topic:
U.S. intelligence officials say in this case the delay was due in part to the time it took to analyze various conflicting accounts. One official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the incident publicly, explained that “it was clear a group of people gathered that evening” in Benghazi, but that the early question was “whether extremists took over a crowd or they were the crowd.”
Emphasis added just to make it clear: This comment was not authorized. Now look at this Wall Street Journal report on the same topic:
Another U.S. intelligence official said initial intelligence reports are often incomplete and can turn out to be false, and that it took time sift through conflicting accounts to conclude that the attack didn’t evolve from a protest.
“The early question was whether extremists took over a crowd, or [whether] they were the crowd,” the official said.
Ah, yes, it’s one of those totally unauthorized leaks where more than one news organization is given exactly the same quote — a quote that just happens to make the case that the administration’s error was understandable.
Flashback: In June, President Obama vehemently insisted that the White House does not intentionally leak politically opportune classified information; Jack Goldsmith explained why that claim is laughable.