"What happened this week in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many other parts of the region ... was a result -- a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting." So said America's United Nations Ambassador, Susan Rice, in a Sept. 16 appearance on ABC's "This Week," discussing the Sept. 11 embassy attacks.
President Obama's spokesman, Jay Carney, was even more emphatic about who was and was not to blame in his Sept. 14 briefing for reporters: "[I]t is in response not to United States policy, not to, obviously, the administration, not to the American people. It is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting."
This implausible, ridiculous explanation -- that the embassy attacks were the result of an anti-Islamic YouTube video that practically no one had seen up to that point -- was already an insult to Americans' intelligence in the days immediately after the attacks. It became more so when CBS reported that there had been no protests of a film or of anything else outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi before the military-style attack that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans, including two Navy SEALS.
It became even more of an insult to the nation's intelligence when CNN obtained Stevens' diary and reported on his fears during his final days of a coordinated terrorist attack. And then yesterday, the Daily Beast's Eli Lake, citing multiple intelligence sources, reported that the White House knew the Libyan strike was an al Qaeda attack within 24 hours of the ambassador's death, and in fact was given leads on four of the terrorists who conducted it.
The inescapable conclusion is that the White House has been lying to the American people about what happened on Sept. 11, 2012. And with his United Nations speech on Tuesday, which mentioned the YouTube video as the cause of the attacks no fewer than six times, the president of the United States lied to the whole world.
It's not that Americans are buying it. A Rasmussen poll released this week shows that only 23 percent of them believe Obama's video explanation. In fact, the White House's motives for telling such an obvious lie are hard even to fathom. Does Obama believe that other world leaders, who have their own intelligence sources, are falling for this any more than the average American for whom it doesn't pass the smell test? Is it somehow important to preserve this as a polite fiction? Or is Obama still vainly attempting to project the illusion that the Islamic world is newly friendly to U.S. interests thanks to his charm offensive in the Middle East?
Whatever the original reasons for the White House's deception, it's time to stop digging the hole. Obama's insistence that an obscure video is to blame has already led his administration to bad-mouth his fellow citizens' constitutional right of freedom of speech and to attempt to intimidate YouTube into removing the offending video. The White House is making its own bad political problem even worse.
And, as The Examiner's Noemie Emery pointed out Wednesday, what will Obama do when the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" comes out in December, glorifying the special forces invasion that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan? How will Obama, who actually did assist in creating the film, apologize his way out of that one?