Libya

Report: CIA knew within three days that Benghazi attack wasn’t a protest

In the hours following the 2012 attack on the American outpost in Benghazi, during which four Americans were killed, senior Obama administration officials — including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney — tried to advance a talking point that the incident was a protest over an anti-Islam YouTube video that had gone awry.

Even President Obama focused on religious tolerance in the days after the attack, giving passive mention to it as an “act of terror.” Eight days later, however, administration officials conceded that the incident in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.

It’s not hard to figure out why the administration didn’t want to immediately admit that the incident was a terrorist attack, after all, 2012 was a presidential election year and the Obama campaign was trying to boost his foreign policy credentials against Republican criticism. As it turned out, Mitt Romney’s campaign mishandled Benghazi at a presidential debate, and the issue was a nonfactor in the election.

Report: al-Qaeda elements involved in Benghazi attack

The claims recently made by The New York Times about the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack continues to crumble. Just last month the “paper of record” stated that there was “no evidence” that suggested al-Qaeda was involved in the attack on the American outpost in the Libyan city.

But a declassified, bipartisan report released this morning by the Senate Intelligence Committee lays waste to that claim by implicating regional affiliates of al-Qaeda —including Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — in the attack:

The administration initially claimed the attack sprung out of a protest, but has since given a more complicated assessment. Still, administration officials all along have downplayed Al Qaeda involvement, recently seizing on a New York Times report that supported those claims.

While the report does not implicate Al Qaeda “core” — the leadership believed to be in the Pakistan region — it does blame some of the most influential Al Qaeda branches, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, including AQIM, Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP, and the Mohammad Jamal Network, participated in the September 11, 2012, attacks,” the report said. The militant Ansar al-Sharia was, separately, labeled by the State Department as a terror group last week, in part over its alleged involvement in the Benghazi strike.

Declassified testimony reveals administration officials knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack

There’s been a lot of wrangling recently over Benghazi. At the end of December, for example, The New York Times ran a report stating that the attack on the American outpost in the Libyan city “was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”

The Times report also suggested that al-Qaeda wasn’t involved in the attack, though that has been disputed by members of Congress from both parties, including Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Whether or not the anti-Islam played a part in the attack or there was involvement from al-Qaeda affiliates will continue to be the subject of debate. But virtually everyone agrees that the assault on the compound, which lead to the deaths of four Americans, was a planned attack.

But questions, however, remain about the initial narrative that the White House and State Department tried to set about the attack. If you’ll recall, they blamed the incident on the anti-Islam YouTube video, calling it a protest gone awry.

James Rosen of Fox News has revealed declassified congressional testimony showing that top Defense Department officials knew from the beginning that the assault on Benghazi was a terrorist attack:

“Bridgeghazi” may not be far off, actually

In the latest episode of Twitter-spawned outrage, Politico tweeted about the New Jersey bridge scandal with a #Bridgeghazi hashtag. It turns out Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed had used it six hours earlier, and some random yahoo spawned it first on December 16. Regardless of who started it, the fury was swift and strong.

How could you compare the lane closure on a bridge in New Jersey to a terrorist attack that killed four American public servants? Seems crazy. However, the more you examine the details of the events and the responses to them, the more uncanny the similarities between the two events become.

Four Americans died in the attack on Benghazi, including two military personnel and the US Ambassador to Libya. It turns out someone may have died as a result of the bridge closure too. No, the New Jersey death isn’t directly attributable to the bridge issue, but a body count is a body count, and political foes will be sure to use it exhaustively going forward.

Jennifer Rubin’s incoherent, contradictory attack against Rand Paul

It’s no secret that Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post blogger who writes from a “conservative perspective,” is not a fan of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). She had frequently written screeds attacking his foreign policy views, which she erroneously labels as “isolationism,” and his approach to politics.

Rubin is, strangely, obsessed with Paul. She’s also written missives against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), classlessly calling him a “jerk” because he got under the skin of some of his Republican colleagues for challenging them on gun control legislation.

But Rubin’s latest post on Paul is breathtakingly incoherent and downright silly. She assails Paul for comments he made earlier this week on Fox News about proposed sanctions against Iran.

“The Kentucky right-winger apparently didn’t learn anything from the reception to his speech at the Heritage Foundation earlier this year, which suggested containment as an option for Iran.” wrote Rubin on Tuesday. “In a Fox appearance, he came out with this muddled mess: Containment ‘shouldn’t be our policy. But I don’t think we should also say the extension of that, that we will never have containment as a policy. Containment actually, for 70 years, was a great policy.’”

ICYMI: Threat made against Darrell Issa during Libya trip due to Democrats’ complaints

Darrell Issa

While this story has flown largely under the radar due to the political battles raging in Congress over the Continuing Resolution, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, recently took what was supposed to be unannounced trip to Libya to further investigate last year’s Benghazi terrorist attack.

But the trip became public when Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member on the Committee, slammed Issa for taking the trip without inviting any House Democrats to tag along. Cummings and his colleagues have been dismissive of congressional inquiries into the attack.

Cummings’ public complaint, however, had the unintended consequence of potentially putting Issa’s life in danger. CBS News reported last week that a “general threat” was made against the California Republican while he was on the trip:

[Last] Monday, a State Department email showed the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli reported that a Libyan national known as Eyad “shared his concern and his opinion that Representative Issa should not come to Libya for his own safety.”

Eyad told the embassy “The Sen. Mr. Darrell Issa if he would like to keep his luxury life with a half billion $$$ Do not come to Libya. Who is gonna [guard] the guy? And whom you gonna put a blame if the worst happened…Cuz all he gonna gained a several bullets in his smart skull.”

Director cancels CNN’s Hillary Clinton documentary

Hillary Clinton

In a post at the Huffington Post on Monday, Charles Ferguson, who was slated to directed a documentary on Hillary Clinton for CNN, announced that he has canceled the project because of lack of cooperation from Clinton and her allies:

The day after the contract was signed, I received a message from Nick Merrill, Hillary Clinton’s press secretary. He already knew about the film, and clearly had a source within CNN. He interrogated me; at first I answered, but eventually I stopped. When I requested an off-the-record, private conversation with Mrs. Clinton, Merrill replied that she was busy writing her book, and not speaking to the media.

Next came Phillipe Reines, Hillary Clinton’s media fixer, who contacted various people at CNN, interrogated them, and expressed concern about alleged conflicts of interest generated because my film was a for-profit endeavor (as nearly all documentaries and news organizations are). When I contacted him, he declined to speak with me. He then repeated his allegations to Politico, which published them.
[…]
Next came David Brock, who published an open letter on his highly partisan Democratic website Media Matters, in which he endorsed the Republican National Committee’s position, repeating Reines’ conflict of interest allegations and suggesting that my documentary would revive old, discredited Clinton scandal stories.

Ferguson — who gushed over Clinton-era “reform” proposals, including a carbon tax and government-run healthcare — noted that the answer to his inquires for an interview with Clinton were denied. Since he wouldn’t get the documentary he wanted, he decided to cancel the project:

HBO to produce movie on Benghazi terrorist attack

HBO has announced that it will produce a movie about the Benghazi terrorist attack, according to The Hollywood Reporter, based on bestseller, Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi (emphasis added):

HBO is getting political.

The premium cable network has optioned New York Times best-seller Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi,with Jerry Weintraub on board to executive produce. The telepic, much like the book by Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz, will offer an inside account of the attack against U.S. diplomatic and intelligence outposts in Benghazi, Libya.
[…]
The book, published this month, has been billed as a heart-stopping narrative of the diplomatic mission’s efforts to fend off and escape a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012, which resulted in the death of four, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Fire reveals the 12-hour ordeal confronted by Stevens, Sean Smith, his Diplomatic Security contingent and the CIA security specialists who raced to rescue them.

CIA suspends employee who refused to sign Benghazi non-disclosure agreement

CIA

A month after CNN reported that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had gone to great lengths to keep who were working on the ground the night of the Benghazi terrorist attack from talking to the media, agency director John Brennan reportedly cleared survivors to be able to talk to lawmakers and congressional investigators.

But one CIA employee who has refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) on Benghazi has been suspended by the agency, according to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) via the Washington Free Beacon:

A CIA employee who refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement barring him from discussing the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, has been suspended as a result and forced to hire legal counsel, according to a top House lawmaker.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) revealed at an event on Monday that his office was anonymously informed about the CIA employee, who is purportedly facing an internal backlash after refusing to sign a legal document barring him from publicly or privately discussing events surrounding the Benghazi attack.
[…]
“My office received a call from a man saying that he knew a CIA employee who has retained legal counsel because he has refused to sign an additional NDA regarding the Sept. 11, 2012, events in Benghazi,” Wolf said in Sept. 9 remarks at a panel discussion hosted by Judicial Watch.

House Republicans challenge State Department’s official Benghazi report

State Department

A little more than a year after the deadly attack on an American outpost in Benghazi, Libya, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is challenging the official report produced late last year by the State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB).

The ARB report noted that lax security and leadership failures at the State Department were part of the blame for the attack. But the 100-page report released yesterday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been investigating the Benghazi attack, says that the ARB report was deficient and lacked accountability.

“The ARB was not fully independent,” said Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) in a statement from the committee. “The panel did not exhaustively examine failures and it has led to an unacceptable lack of accountability.”

“While Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen have honorably served their country, the families of victims and the American people continue to wait for more conclusive answers about how our government left our own personnel so vulnerable and alone the night of the attack,” he added.

The report, Benghazi Attacks: Investigative Update Interim Report on the Accountability Review Board (embedded below), alleges that the ARB was not comprehensive, lacking thorough interviews with key officials.

 


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