Debate over whether al Qaeda took part in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, has raged since the New York Times published a 7,000-word investigative story that found "no evidence" of the international terrorist group's involvement.

Republicans and some Democrats disputed that conclusion, backed up by reports from other media that said al Qaeda had taken part.

Not to coin a phrase, but what difference does it make? The Times story makes clear that Benghazi was teeming with "local" Islamist extremists who wanted to hurt Americans, confirming past reports from other news organizations.

And while the Times story resurrects the idea that the attack "was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam," it fails to note the role played by extremist groups in rescuing that video from obscurity and waving it like a red flag in front of like-minded Libyans.

Benghazi is just one example of how the Obama administration has consistently ignored or downplayed the threat posed by Islamist extremists who don't have "al Qaeda" in their name but share the same basic ideology.

That blind spot played a role in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012. And more will die if that policy is not reversed.

To rephrase Bill Clinton's famous campaign slogan: "It's the ideology, stupid."