The long-awaited report from the House Select Committee on Benghazi will be released Tuesday and we’re learning some important and damning conclusions the congressmen, led by Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC,) have reached.
After 26 months of hearings, public testimony and in-depth investigation, the committee has uncovered significant failures on behalf of the Obama Administration and the Clinton State Department in the months leading up to the September 11, 2012 attack, indecision and lack of focus or direction during the attack, and spin, finger-pointing, obfuscation and political damage control in the days and weeks following the deadly terror attacks.
You will hear from the Obama/Clinton defenders in the mainstream media that there are “no smoking guns” implicating Hillary Clinton directly in the Benghazi affair, but rest assured, this is just sloppy reporting (and sloppy thinking, for that matter.) A smoking gun is not needed by a thinking person to draw reasonable the reasonable conclusion that Hillary Clinton engineered a foreign policy failure in Libya that ended up costing four Americans their lives. And after that deadly failure, the Obama/Clinton spin machine lied for political purposes.
BEFORE: Clinton should have known an attack was imminent
CNN has an advance look at the report’s findings on the lead-up to the Sept 2012 attacks:
The portion of the report obtained by CNN doesn’t offer a scathing indictment of Clinton. But it does argue that intelligence was available suggesting an attack was possible and Clinton and a top aide, Patrick Kennedy, should have realized the risks posed to the Benghazi mission by extremist groups.
“It is not clear what additional intelligence would have satisfied either Kennedy or the Secretary in understanding the Benghazi mission compound was at risk — short of an attack,” the report says.
The report goes on to detail the mountain of evidence that proves the Clinton State Department knew full well that the annex in Benghazi was woefully unsecured and they did nothing to fix the problem. Benghazi was the birth-place of the revolution that over-turned the Libyan government. It was a hot bed of radical activity. It should have been the most secure place for American diplomats in Libya. Instead, it was a security disaster:
— A diplomatic security agent in the city in November 2011 told the committee that security was “woefully inadequate” with no perimeter security, low walls and no lighting.
— The report said the Benghazi mission made repeated requests for new agents in late 2011 and early 2012. After a series of attacks on international targets in the city, more requests were made. But “no additional resources were provided by Washington D.C. to fortify the compound after the first two attacks. No additional personnel were sent to secure the facility, despite repeated requests for security experts on the ground.”
— At one point, then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland emailed Stevens to ask how to publicly describe the security incidents in 2012 : “Washington D.C. dismissed Stevens’ multiple requests for additional security personnel while also asking for help in messaging the very violence he was seeking security from,” the report said.
— The report, citing a cable from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, suggests there simply were not sufficient resources in the unstable nation to send to properly protect Benghazi. In early August 2012, there were only 34 security staff at the embassy. By the end of the month there were only six.
— Such shortages might explain the over reliance on the February 17 local militia in Benghazi to help secure the outpost — but a diplomatic security agent quoted in the report said the group was “undisciplined and unskilled.”
— In 2011 and early 2012, security sometimes became so difficult in Benghazi that staff were unable to do their jobs reaching out Libyans to report back to Washington on the restive political situation in the city. But the report says that in February 2012, the lead diplomatic security agent at the Tripoli Embassy told the post that “substantive reporting” was not its job anyway.
“[U]nfortunately, nobody has advised the (principal diplomatic officer) that Benghazi is there to support [redacted] operations, not conduct substantive reporting,” the agent wrote, in a possible sign that the primary purpose of the mission was in fact to support the CIA.
As the Clinton spin machine begin their distractions and deflections on the damning details of the mess that was Libya pre-Sept 11, 2012, let’s not forget that one of Clinton’s closest advisers, Sidney Blumenthal, encouraged Clinton to “take credit” for the Libya “success”:
“This is an historic moment and you will be credited for realizing it,” he wrote August 22, 2011. “When Qaddafi is finally removed, you should of course make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation house. You must go on camera. You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment.” Mrs. Clinton didn’t appear to respond to that message, either.
Libya was historic alright. And if Clinton should have been “credited” for it, than she should also shoulder the blame for the disaster it ended up being for the Benghazi four, as well as the continued debacle it is for the Libyan people and the entire region. Even President Obama has called the Libya aftermath the “greatest mistake” of his presidency.
DURING: Americans died because the Obama/Clinton team failed to deploy military assets
Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner has details on the portion of the report that focuses on the events in Washington DC during the attacks chronicled so vividly in the film 13 Hours. The most compelling aspect of this stage of the events in Benghazi is that the Administration could have interceded through military support, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave an order to deploy which mobilized forces to a staging area in Italy where they sat ready for orders that never came.
A two-hour long “deputies meeting” took place during those fateful 13 hours. Secretary of State Clinton participated in the meeting. At the time of the meeting, the whereabouts and well-being of Ambassador Chris Stevens and Information Management Officer Sean Smith was unknown. At this critical time, rather than focus on the military assets and strategy involved in saving American lives, the DC team our people in Libya were counting on for leadership and support were spending their time debating what our military assets should be wearing:
“What has also emerged is a picture of the State Department eating up valuable time by insisting that certain elements of the U.S. military respond to Libya in civilian clothes and that it not use vehicles with United States markings. Both restrictions appear to have been concessions to the Libyan government that did not want an identifiable U.S. military presence on the streets of Libya. We will never know exactly how long these conditions delayed the military response but that they were even a part of the discussion is troubling.
Even more troubling is the fact that nearly half of the action items that came out of this critical meeting involved the YouTube video, Innocence of Muslims, which the Obama Administration falsely claimed to be the impetuous for the deadly terror attack:
“And at the same time the State Department appeared to waste time on what our soldiers would wear, it also appeared to waste time and focus on the YouTube video that the administration would later blame, falsely, for the attack. It has emerged that during an emergency call at 7:30 p.m. on the night of the attack involving Secretary Clinton and other high-level officials from the Department of Defense, State Department, and CIA that a full five of the eleven action items from the meeting related to the video.”
But most maddening is the fact that despite Panetta’s order to deploy earlier in the afternoon, the military was never able to get their act together. Why? NBC News details this part of the report:
The report highlights the military’s failure to carry out Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s order to deploy forces to Benghazi and the lengthy delay that prevented the military assets from arriving at the embassy in Tripoli until 2 p.m. the day after the Benghazi attack.
“What was disturbing from the evidence the Committee found was that at the time of the final lethal attack at the Annex, no asset ordered deployed by the Secretary had even left the ground,” the report states.
So what happened? According to the report, the non-military geniuses in the Obama Administration and the Clinton State Department assumed the attack was over, despite the assets on the ground telling them they were still in danger:
Further, several witnesses told the committee that despite Panetta’s orders, the operating plan was not to insert any asset into Benghazi. “Their understanding was that the assets needed to be sent to Tripoli to augment security at the Embassy, and that the State Department was working to move the State Department personnel from Benghazi to Tripoli.”
Republicans on the committee were critical of high-level officials in Washington for mistakenly thinking that the attacks were over and the crisis had passed by the time the emergency video conference convened, which the report alleges contributed to the confusion.
The highest ranking official from the Defense Department attending this video conference meeting was Panetta’s Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash (ex-husband of CNN reporter Dana Bash.) Where was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs during this critical time? The report finds that “he had left to return to his residence to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries.”
AFTER: White House, Clinton pushed YouTube video lie for political purposes
Any thinking person knows by now that the Administration lied about the cause of the attack. They refused to even call the attack what it was, a terror attack planned and executed by radical Islamic terrorists, and instead claimed that it was a reaction to a video that, they claimed, “insulted the prophet Mohammed.”
The Benghazi report expands on this fact and proves that the YouTube video excuse was a fiction created by political appointees in the Obama Administration.
“None of the information coming directly from the agents on the ground in Benghazi during the attacks mentioned anything about a video or a protest. The firsthand accounts made their way to the office of the Secretary through multiple channels quickly,” the Benghazi report says.
Fox News has the details on this part of the report:
Clinton issued the only statement that night from the administration, following the White House meeting. It read in part: “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
However, Clinton said something very different privately.
In an email provided to the Select Committee, Clinton told daughter Chelsea, “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like [sic] group.”
Clinton also told Egypt’s prime minister the following day: “We know that the attacks in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack — not a protest.”
Fox spoke with Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) a member of the committee and he expanded on the definitive findings that prove the lie of the YouTube video. He said the evidence shows “the administration knew immediately it was a terror attack. And the story of fog of war was known to be false immediately by everyone in the administration.”
So how did the YouTube lie take form? If the direct evidence and eyewitness accounts of the events on the ground proved that the Benghazi attack was Islamic terrorism, how did the famous talking point from UN Ambassador Susan Rice that it was a protest that got out of control come to be? According to the report, all roads lead to Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, brother of CBS News President David Rhodes:
In fact, a Sept. 14, 2012 memo from Rhodes included the subject line: “RE: PREP Call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.”
The email was sent to a dozen members of the administration’s inner circle, including key members of the White House communications team such as then-Press Secretary Jay Carney, who also pushed the video narrative in the days after the attacks.
In the email, Rhodes specifically draws attention to the anti-Islam Internet video, without distinguishing whether the Benghazi attack was different from protests elsewhere, including one day earlier in Cairo.
The Rhodes email, which was a catalyst for the Select Committee, was first obtained by Judicial Watch through a federal court lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.
The email lists the following two goals, among others: “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video and not a broader failure of policy” and “to reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”
Rhodes was the same official who signed off on Clinton’s statement the night of the attack linking the video to Benghazi.
The official, full report will be released a little later today, but based on these initial excerpts the summary of the entire Benghazi affair is as follows:
- The Obama/Clinton policy in Libya was a disaster but for political purposes warnings were ignored and political ends were prioritized over security needs in the months leading up to the September 11 attacks.
- During the attacks American lives could have been saved by the swift deployment of military assets, but political desires created a bureaucratic paralysis preventing key decisions from being made.
- In the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks, the Obama/Clinton teams chose politics and deception rather than tell the American people the truth.
As Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told me this morning on WMAL radio in Washington DC, they told one story, which was the truth, and they told another story publicly, about the YouTube video,” because they were 50 days before an election and their legacy was on the line.