They are trying.

In headline after headline, media outlets have been pushing the message that the raging violence across the Middle East in the past week and continuing to erupt in new places is due to a ‘video,’ a virtually unknown, small and stupid little 14 minute trailer that’s been out since June or July and almost nobody saw. But everybody’s heard about now. We’re expected to believe the serious street demonstrations and violent eruptions around the world that spread even to Europe are because people have seen this thing. It requires ‘the willing suspension of disbelief’, as now Sec. Hilary Clinton once famously opined about another turbulent time.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, opened her questioning of Petraeus and Crocker with the standard “I honor you for your service.” And then she let the two of them have it.

“You have been made the de facto spokesmen for what many of us believe to be a failed policy” in Iraq, Clinton said. “Despite what I view is your rather extraordinary efforts in your testimony both yesterday and today, I think that the reports that you provide to us really require a willing suspension of disbelief.”

And now the shoe’s on the other foot, as her State Department is reporting the outburst of violence in Libya that killed the US Ambassador and others was from a spontaneous demonstration and not a planned and organized attack. In the face of evidence to the contrary. (Note: Link was broken at last check)

At first blush, it appears Libyan and Obama administration officials are offering two completely different accounts. The Libyans, including the Libyan president, say the attack was pre-planned. The Obama administration says it was spontaneous. Both sides are sticking to their version of events…

Fox News was told that the assault on the consulate came without warning, and, to strengthen the view that it was pre-meditated, the assault included RPGs and mortars — including at least one round that hit the consulate roof.

There were two waves to the assault, Fox News was told. According to the intelligence source, in the first wave, the attackers were heard to say “we got him” — a reference to Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack. Word spread, the attackers regrouped and the second wave went after the motorcade and support personnel.

The account relayed by the intelligence source on the ground in Libya is consistent with statements by the Libyan president that the attack was pre-mediated and the work of foreign fighters, which is code for Islamist extremists, including the Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa. It is also consistent with an interview by McClatchy Newspapers with a purported Libyan security guard who was injured in the assault. The guard said the consulate area was quiet and “there wasn’t a single ant outside” until dozens of armed men descended on the compound. 

These accounts stand in contrast to some statements made by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday talk shows. In several separate appearances, Rice said the assault on the U.S. Consulate began as an ongoing demonstration that spiraled out of control.

On “Fox News Sunday,” she said: “The best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack, that what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video.

And that has been the media meme all along. In spite of reports in the early going that it was a coordinated strike timed on the anniversary of 9/11, forewarned days before.

A senior administration official told Fox News they are exhaustively investigating every angle of the attack in Benghazi, and an earlier assault on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and there are early signs the Benghazi assault may have been planned. The official cautioned, though, that the administration has not jumped to any conclusions about what happened, saying it would be “premature” to do so.

But current and former U.S. lawmakers, and others, claimed Wednesday that the attack looked like a coordinated strike.

“Absolutely, I have no doubt about it. It was a coordinated, military-style, commando-type raid,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told Fox News. Based on his own briefings, Rogers said “military movements” were involved.

“This was a well- planned, well-targeted event. No doubt about it,” Rogers said. He said the Al Qaeda-linked Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades is one group being looked at by officials.

However, media stayed on the point they wanted to make.

New York Times.

Facing Afghanistan’s first significant outbreak of violence over an anti-Islam film that has inflamed mobs elsewhere, the police moved swiftly on Monday to contain rampaging groups of young men who were burning tires and throwing stones along a thoroughfare leading east out of Kabul, keeping the protesters from advancing toward the city and dispersing them within hours.

CNN.

Protests sparked by an online film that mocks Islam’s holy prophet entered a second week Monday, raising questions about whether the furor is isolated or a sign of broader anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world.

On Monday, demonstrators took to the streets in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. Answering a call from the leader of Hezbollah — deemed a terrorist organization by the United States — thousands packed the streets of Beirut’s southern suburbs and chanted “Death to America!”

Monday’s protests weren’t on the scale as those last week, nor did they provoke the same level of international crisis by endangering U.S. diplomatic missions. Still, the fact the demonstrations are continuing — and that they have occurred, now, in more than 20 countries — suggests the anti-American furor tied to the inflammatory film isn’t going away.

The BBC, too.

The leader of Lebanon’s Shia movement Hezbollah has appeared in public for the first time since December 2011 to denounce the amateur anti-Islam film which has sparked worldwide protests.

Speaking at a rally in Beirut, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the US faces “very dangerous” repercussions if it allows the full video to be released.

New protests erupted around the Muslim world on Monday over the US-made video.

And now, a tightrope act. (Link broken)

The Obama administration is walking a tightrope on its explanation over what led to the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya — sticking to its claim that the attack was “spontaneous” while allowing that the situation may have been exploited by militants.

The latest clarification from the administration came in response to an intelligence source on the ground in Libya telling Fox News there was no significant or sizeable demonstration when the attacks unfolded sometime after 9:30 p.m. in Benghazi last Tuesday. That appeared to challenge the view, espoused by the Obama administration, that ongoing demonstrations over an anti-Islam film had simply spun out of control.

“There was no protest, and the attacks were not spontaneous,” the intelligence source said. “The Libyan attack was planned and had nothing to do with the movie.”

The administration can’t keep a lid on this much longer.

NBC News asks “Where was the security?” Good question.

For years, the United States has been concerned about al-Qaida’s recruiting along a coastal highway in eastern Libya. The stretch of highway, extending from Derna in the east, through Benghazi — the scene of the attack on a U.S. consulate that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last week — to Ajdabiya in the southwest, has earned a reputation as a breeding ground not just for Libya’s indigenous Islamists, but also for al-Qaida central on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Counterterrorism experts inside and outside the U.S. government argue that it is not an exaggeration to suggest that the region around Benghazi has become a crucial wellspring for al-Qaida that rivals even its historic breeding ground — Saudi Arabia.

The area has produced many members of the terrorist organization’s leadership, supplanting or at least complementing Saudi and Egyptian roles.

Following Tuesday’s deadly attack, U.S. and Libyan officials are trying to determine what role homegrown radical Islamists played in the violence. Many U.S. and Libyan officials now believe the attack was planned, possibly by Libyan jihadists who have returned to their old stomping grounds after having traveled the Islamic world in recent years.

And CNN’s Anderson Cooper pushed for answers. “U.S. was warned of threats”. Watch the video of this news report.

And consider who’s controlling what.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....