A major New York Times investigation sheds new light on the debate over the attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Initially, officials' accounts suggested an anti-Islam video had sparked the violence on Sept. 11, 2012, but Republicans have argued that al-Qaeda was involved, citing a "cover-up." The truth is more complex than either of these versions of the story, the Times reports—but its reporters find "no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault."
In fact, "anger at the video motivated the initial attack," writes David Kirkpatrick. But that doesn't get US intelligence officials off the hook. There were "warning signs": Months earlier, for instance, Ahmed Abu Khattala—whom many Libyans say was key to the attack—had said his militia could "flatten" the mission, which was under surveillance 12 hours before the violence. The fighters that led the attack had received NATO's help in battling Moammar Gadhafi; the Times notes that the US appears to have put too much trust in militias it believed could become allies. Washington may also have focused too exclusively on fighting al-Qaeda, the newspaper suggests. Click for its full report.