Meet the Press   |  December 29, 2013

Political implications of Benghazi findings

Kirkpatrick and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell discuss the political implications of the New York Times report.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> program and others, then u.n. ambassador, who is now the president's national security adviser, susan rice , came on the program and i asked her if there was a terrorist element involved. this is what she said.

>> putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in cairo . almost a copycat of the dmon demonstrations in our facilities in cairo which were prompted by the video.

>> she says the video was a part of this, this was a spontaneous event in part by the video. that's being bolstered by this original assessment by the "new york times."

>> if i can interrupt you, i would say, no, we're not bolstering that original assessment. in fact, she made some clear misstatements there. this was not a street protest and it was not a copycat of what happened in cairo . that was an unarmed street protest . this was a group of armed men, who inspired by a video, deliberately attacked the compound. so what she's doing there through her misstatement is actually setting up kind of a false dichotomy. either it was a spontaneous street protest or it was an armed terrorist attack . neither of those turns out to be exactly the case. it was an armed terrorist attack motivated in large part by the video.

>> but that's the point of the role of the video as opposed to an attack that was carefully planned and orchestrated.

>> i think you can parse the words. it's very clear and it was clear from the review board's report that the state department itself had commissioned. that review board led by mike mullen and ambassador pickering said there was a terrorist element here. so the question is how much were they motivated or sparked by the video, and how much was it purely terrorism, anti-u.s. and anti-western terrorism, showing how vulnerable the consulate was. in susan rice 's defense and the state department 's as well, in those first few days everybody was trying to cover up, appropriately, they thought, the fact this was a cia outpost. it was a cover for an outpost to try to disarm the very militias that ended up attacking.

>> so david, a finer point here. one thing that is not removed is the sting against this administration for inadequate security for a diplomatic outpost on the ground in post-war libya.

>> yeah, i would say in addition to inadequate security, there was a real intelligence failure here. there is a substantial cia operation tasked with trying to figure out what are the threats to american interests among these militias, and it's clear that the united states fundamentally understood the dynamics of those militias. the people who attacked the compound were members of the militias the u.s. expected to protect, the same mission.