Can we please get past the argument over whether the attack on the Benghazi consulate was premeditated? Of course it was, and that obvious as soon as it was known that the attackers had such weapons as grenade launchers. Now we are having anguished investigations over what the people in the White House knew and when they knew it. Yes, the intelligence may have been bad, but that's not the point.
Here is the point: demonstrations, let alone riots and assaults, almost never happen "spontaneously". Oh, I suppose it is possible that people in a crowded scene get excited and destructive after some event, such as a police raid or auto accident. But political demonstrations (in supposed response to Danish cartoons or a US-based video) are planned by somebody.
Think of the WTO demonstrations in Seattle in December, 1999. Even before the events, the plans for peaceful demonstrations were well known, but so were plans by anarchists in Oregon, California and British Columbia to come to Seattle to engage in agitprop. The only question was how much damage did they intend and how will far would they get with it?
Likewise, the supposed anti-video riots in Cairo and elsewhere didn't just happen. Some group, likely Salafists, took advantage of the video (which had been out for some time) as an excuse for organized mayhem. The more violent and consequential attack in Benghazi, as the government there recognized at once, was something beyond propaganda--terrorism. Even the initial Arab Spring demonstrations in Tunisia were the product of local leaders. The self-immolation of a vendor harassed by officials sparked anti-regime resistance that already existed.
Why is this so hard to fathom?
Well, one reason why the US Government didn't fathom it in Libya is because someone didn't want to fathom it. As others have noted, the truth ran against the quixotic White House "narrative" that with the assassination of Osama Bin Laden Al Qaida has been put to rout. That was untrue before, and is glaringly untrue now. But if one recognizes that the narrative is not accurate, then questions have to be asked about our policy failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention Syria, etc. The Obama Administration is like a sleeper who has heard the alarm go off, but wants to press the snooze button and get a bit more shut eye--at least until the election.
There is an added reason why the truth was covered up. Somebody screwed up at the State Department in not providing adequate security protection for Ambassador Chris Stevens and his staff in Libya. It now seems that repeated requests were made. Surely, if there is one part of the world where the bureaucrats and their budget masters should not skimp on security it is in the Middle East, Arab Spring or not. However, the embarrassment would be rather less if the failure was seen in the light of a "spontaneous" riot caused by an anti-Islamic video than in the light of a planned attack.
The media are having a hard time parsing all this and even the best are failing to say what, again, should be obvious: riots are almost always planned, not spontaneous. That doesn't mean they don't represent some public sentiment (or take advantage of it), only that knowing that they are planned should lead us to find the source, not just the excuse.