TODAY   |  December 29, 2013

Report claims ‘no evidence’ of al Qaeda involvement in Benghazi attack

A new report in The New York Times sheds fresh light on the Benghazi attack last year that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press” is interviewed by TODAY’s Erica Hill.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> there is a new report out shedding light on the attack in benghazi last year that killed four americans including ambassador chris stevens . in the piece the new york sometimes is reporting there is no evidence the attack was the work of al qaeda and, in fact, it was largely triggered by an american made film which mocks islam. david grepgry is meet eigoderator of meet the pace. what are some of the ramifications of this reports and its findings.

>> originally it was claimed there was this anti islamic video part of the reaction that caused widespread rioting in egypt and feared to be behind the attack in benghazi as well. critic lambasted that saying it was al qaeda , a well orchestrated preplanned attack and the video had nothing to do with it. kirkpatrick and "the new york times" is saying it was the video largely behind it and al qaeda was not involved. this does bolster some of the initial claims of the administration and detracts from what is becoming a very aggressive narrative on the part of republicans attacking this president and attacking the state department , hillary clinton and all the rest.

>> kirkpatrick also points to what he says are two lessons to take away here. one being that involvement with militia groups -- aid doesn't necessarily guarantee that some of these folks will be loyal to the u.s. and these are all things that should be taken into account before getting involved in other potential crises like that in syria. how much could this potentially impact those decisions for middle east involvement going forward?

>> i think any time there's an aftermath of military action , in this case u.s. and nato, the aftermath has to be managed very carefully. there's every indication, and i think both political parties believe this, that security was totally inadequate at this military installation in benghazi . you also had an ambassador who chose to go to a lightly fortified outpost on 9/11, ambassador chris stevens who kirkpatrick describes as incredibly optimistic ability a future in benghazi . the conclusion of the article is you can't count on the loyalty, shifting allegiances, and that was part of the security makeup and also the ability to accurately anticipate attacks like this when they start to materialize.

>> real quickly, before we let you go, wednesday, january 1st , health care coverage kicks in for those who signed up for obamacare. how could this affect the politics for obama in 2014 .

>> the president said there's demand and the product is good. both of those things are being put to the test. they've had a surge in enrollment, but they're still way behind. that matters, because for the whole program to work you have to have young and healthy people signing up in significant numbers. is the product a good one? we'll see as people start to test it, whether they can go to their doctors, whether they end up paying more, what happens if you don't have a policy that measures up to the mandates. all these things will be put