CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For a year, various Republican leaders have accused President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of "lying" about the Muslim attack on U.S. compounds at Benghazi, Libya, that killed an ambassador and three other Americans.
Sarah Palin protested: "President Obama's shuck-and-jive schtick with these Benghazi lies must end." Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and presidential nominee Mitt Romney joined the GOP claim that the White House and State Department concealed evidence that the al-Qaida terror group masterminded the assault.
Now, however, an exhaustive New York Times investigation has found that the GOP barrage was mostly groundless. The Benghazi attack was fueled largely by a local Libyan crackpot extremist who hates Western "infidels" and by Libyan public outrage over an amateur U.S. video that mocked the Prophet. No al-Qaida involvement occurred.
Local Libyan militia leaders had tried to warn Americans in advance about possible danger, but 20 CIA agents stationed in Benghazi failed to notice the growing peril.
Chief sponsor of the attack was Ahmed Abu Khattala, who was regarded by other Libyan militia leaders as "erratic," the Times reported. He ranted that America was an "infidel enemy" as bad as dictator Moammar Qaddafi, who had been eliminated with Obama administration help. Khattala often accused fellow militiamen of being "insufficiently committed to theocracy."
In addition to fighters incited by this fanatic, other Benghazi Muslims joined the assault because they were enraged by a tacky American video, posted on YouTube, that sneered at the Prophet Muhammad. The video had caused rioting in Egypt and other Islamic spots.
Monday, a Times editorial said the paper's in-depth probe "turned up no evidence that al-Qaida or another international terrorist group had any role in the assault, as Republicans have insisted without proof for more than a year." The paper added:
"Republicans long ago abandoned common sense and good judgment in pursuit of conspiracy-mongering and an obsessive effort to discredit President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who may run for president in 2016."
It said the "Benghazi tragedy represents a gross intelligence failure" because 20 CIA agents and "highly skilled commandos" at the site didn't listen to warnings about festering local hatred.
We hope this investigation finally silences the U.S. political hysteria that has flared during the past year.