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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Update: NYT Reporter Stands By Benghazi Reporting

David Kirkpatrick is Cairo bureau chief for the New York Times. (Photo via Twitter)

David Kirkpatrick is Cairo bureau chief for The New York Times. (Photo via Twitter)

In Congressional hearings last week, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton said it was a terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

The Obama administration has completely backed away from an earlier statement by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice that the attack was fueled by a spontaneous protest to an anti-Islam YouTube video.

And that prompted one of our listeners to ask whether “the hearings totally debunk the story that the Benghazi attack was all about a Youtube video as put forth by NY Times reporter [David Kirkpatrick] in an interview on H&N?”

We contacted David Kirkpatrick, and he stands by his reporting. He said his colleagues were on the ground when the attack was happening.

“The people in the crowd were saying they were motivated by this video,” Kirkpatrick said. “That crowd definitely included members of organized militant groups, including Ansar al-Shariah. We reported, at the time, there were fighters with pick-up trucks labeled with the Ansar al-Shariah logo outside.”

Kirkpatrick said that the militants could have planned the attack in short order.

“In the tinderbox of Benghazi, it doesn’t take very much advanced planning or preparation to pull off an attack like this, because there are lots of well-organized, heavily armed brigades or battalions just sitting around, waiting to go. And some of them adhere to an ultra-conservative or extremist Islamist ideology.”

Kirkpatrick says people need to understand that the attack was not the result of a singular event.

“It’s a false dichotomy to say either this was an organized attack, or it was a response to the video,” Kirkpatrick said.

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Experts share a range of perspectives on how to combat the Islamic State militant group, and the role the U.S. should play.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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