Old Benghazi Lighthouse.

Old Benghazi Lighthouse (Zoha Trebelsi/flickr)

In a triumph of GOP propaganda, most Americans now believe that the Benghazi attack was a preplanned, highly coordinated action by Al Qaeda or one of their affiliates, which shows that Al Qaeda is still strong, contrary to Obama’s claims.

Per an article by David Ignatius in yesterday’s WaPo, nothing could be further from the truth. (But he buried that lede in his last paragraph):

“Talking points” prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

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Here’s how the senior official described the jumble of events in Benghazi that day: “The attackers were disorganized; some seemed more interested in looting. Some who claimed to have participated joined the attack as it began or after it was under way. There is no evidence of rehearsals, they never got into the safe room . . . never took any hostages, didn’t bring explosives to blow the safe room door, and didn’t use a car bomb to blow the gates.”

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The official said the only major change he would make now in the CIA’s Sept. 15 talking points would be to drop the word “spontaneous” and substitute “opportunistic.” He explained that there apparently was “some pre-coordination but minimal planning.”

Also per this ThinkProgress posting by Hayes Brown, entitled “Fox Admits Libya Attack May Have Been Caused By Anti-Muslim Video”:

The right-wing is beginning to reverse itself on insisting that a anti-Muslim YouTube video had nothing to do with the attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. Republicans and Fox News have scorned the Obama administration for weeks for initial statements that the assault in Benghazi, that took the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens, was an outgrowth of a protest sparked by this video.

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ThinkProgress also has an excellent time-line regarding who said what and when in the aftermath of that attack.

UPDATE: The sixth item on that timeline reads:

September 12: The New York Times reports that “[f]ighters involved in the assault…said in interviews during the battle that they were moved to attack the mission by anger over a 14-minute, American-made video that depicted the Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s founder, as a villainous, homosexual and child-molesting buffoon.” The Times continues to stand by its story.