Hearing: Benghazi: Where is the State Department Accountability?

 

Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy

Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy

House Committee on Foreign Affairs:

(begins at 12:40)

Opening Statements

Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman
[full text of opening statement]

 

Witnesses

The Honorable Patrick F. Kennedy
Under Secretary for Management
U.S. Department of State
[full text of statement]

 

Upcoming hearings:

7 Things We Learned from the Benghazi Whistleblower Hearing

images (35)By Brian Preston:

The Republicans mishandled the Benghazi whistleblowers’ hearing. What should have been stretched across several days to give the nation time to digest it all, was instead packed into a single day filled with an overwhelming amount of information. The media’s attention span is not that long. The verdict in the Jodi Arias trial came along in the afternoon and blew Benghazi off the networks, most of which didn’t want to cover it at all. Even Fox joined the drive-by media, taking Benghazi off the air in favor of the irrelevant Arias trial. Following the announcement of the Arias verdict, charges were read in the Cleveland kidnapping case. Those were aired live as well, relegating Benghazi again.

Nevertheless, for those who slogged through the entire day of hearings and ignored local crime stories, new information was there to be learned.

1. There were multiple stand-down orders, not just one. Special operations forces were told, twice, by their chain of command not to board aircraft to Benghazi to rescue the Americans then under attack. The U.S. deputy diplomat, Greg Hicks, testified that the military commander, Lt. Col. Gibson, had his team ready to go twice. They were on the runway about to board a flight to Benghazi in the middle of the attack. They were ordered to stand down and remain in Tripoli to receive wounded who would be coming out of Benghazi. One of the orders came in the middle of the attack, the other came toward the end after Hicks’ team had traveled from Tripoli to Benghazi. The fact that Hicks’ team was able get to Benghazi before the end of the assault strongly suggests that the special operations team could have made a real difference.

At the same time, the State Department’s commander on the scene, Hicks, ordered his personnel into Benghazi and went there himself. Hicks testified that Gibson never told him who issued the stand-down orders. He commented that Gibson told him that the military stand-down was a shock: “This is the first time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than someone in the military.”

Hicks also testified that the U.S. government never even requested military overflight to support the Americans in Benghazi. The U.S. had an unarmed drone overhead and could have gotten permission to fly fighters over the scene, at least, but never asked.

2. Ambassador Stevens’ reason for going to Benghazi has been cleared up. Hicks testified that Ambassador Stevens traveled to Benghazi to fulfill one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s wishes. Despite the fact that security was worsening in Benghazi for months leading up to the 9-11 attack, Clinton wanted to make the post there permanent. Her State Department had denied repeated requests from the U.S. team in Libya to upgrade security there, but she wanted to use the permanent post as a symbol of goodwill. Stevens was committed to that goal and told Clinton he would “make it happen.” He was in Benghazi on 9-11 furthering Clinton’s goal. She had denied requests to beef up security at Benghazi and then blamed his death on a YouTube movie. Hicks’ testimony raises the question of Clinton’s competence and grasp on reality, strongly suggesting that she put political perceptions ahead of the facts on the ground in Benghazi.

3. Clinton was briefed at 2 am on the night of the attack, was never told that a movie had anything to do with the attack by those on the ground in Libya, yet blamed the movie anyway. Hicks also testified that he was shocked when Ambassador Susan Rice blamed a YouTube movie for inspiring the 9-11 attack. He testified that he had briefed Secretary Clinton directly via phone at 2 a.m. and told her that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. He never mentioned a YouTube video, which he never once believed had anything to do with the attack. But Clinton shocked him by blaming the movie on Sept 12. She would blame it, again, while standing before the coffins of the slain Americans, on Sept. 14. During the attack, Clinton told Hicks that no help would be on the way to relieve the Americans under sustained assault.

4. Whistleblowers were intimidated into silence. Hicks testified to a pattern of behavior that leads to the reasonable conclusion that many officials within the State Department wanted him to remain silent after the Benghazi attack. He said that on the night of the attack he was personally commended both by Secretary Clinton and President Barack Obama. But he later questioned why Ambassador Rice blamed the YouTube movie, and from that point on his superior, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones, questioned his “management style” and told him directly that no one in State should want him on their team in the field again. He was eventually demoted to a desk job after having been deputy to Ambassador Stevens, and remains in that post. Hick also testified that the Accountability Review Board, convened by Clinton last fall allegedly to determine the facts of the attack, never had stenographers in the room during his tw0-hour interview. Nordstrom concurred. Thompson was not even allowed to testify to the ARB despite having direct knowledge of the attacks due to his position on the U.S. Foreign Emergency Support Team. Thompson testified that the FEST was designed to go from zero to wheels up very quickly but was not deployed at all. He wanted to tell his story to the ARB, but was not allowed to. Hicks also testified that for the first time in his career, the State Department assigned a lawyer/minder to attend witness interviews with the ARB. He also testified that Jones told him not to be personally interviewed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican House member who was investigating the attack on behalf of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee. It all adds up to a pattern of witness control and intimidation.

Read more at PJ Media

Benghazi Boils Over

Libya Consulate Attack

By :

Damaging new revelations continue to undermine the Obama administration as Congress prepares to resume hearings examining the response to the September 11, 2012, attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead including the U.S. ambassador.

There are new details that administration officials misled the public in its initial public assessments of the attack, withheld relevant information that may have been politically damaging, waged “subtle intimidation” campaigns against multiple government employees who sought to testify about the attack, and neglected evidence in its own internal investigation of the attack and its aftermath.

The new revelations, made ahead of next week’s House Oversight Committee hearing, have propelled the Benghazi issue back into the news cycle and reopened a politically uncomfortable wound for the White House and possible 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The CIA talking points on which administration officials relied during initial public interviews were edited multiple times to remove references to al Qaeda and terrorism at the behest of State Department and White House officials, according to emails obtained by congressional investigators.

Two of these officials were former State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland and White House national security official Ben Rhodes, the Weekly Standard reported Friday.

Nuland said her superiors were not happy with the talking points and were concerned Congress would use them against the State Department, according to the Standard. She did not name the superiors.

The emails were quoted in a recent congressional report suggesting former Secretary of State Clinton had an interest in downplaying the consulate attack since she had approved a plan to reduce security at the U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya in April 2012.

The talking points originally stated the government “know[s] that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack.” The final draft was reportedly edited to remove references to al Qaeda, and “Islamic extremists” was changed to just “extremists.”

The term “attack” was replaced with “demonstrations.”

Read more at Free Beacon

 

 

‘White Out’ on Benghazi: State Dept. Issues Report

Attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Sept. 11, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Sept. 11, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

The real issue — which is what the CIA, the State Department or anyone in the U.S. government has been doing backing regime change operations across the Middle East and North Africa region in the company of and for the benefit of Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood jihadis — never gets addressed, much less explained by the ARB or anyone else.

by: Clare Lopez

On December 19, 2012, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Chairman of the State Department (DoS) Accountability Review Board (ARB) delivered the ‘White-Out” report on Benghazi that he’d been selected to provide. “White-Out” is the perfect term for this report, as Diana West notes, because the entire senior national security leadership of the U.S. is completely missing from it. There is simply no mention whatsoever of President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper or the disgraced former CIA Director David Petraeus.

According to Pickering, who was hand-picked by the Obama administration to head the ARB, none of these officials had anything to do with the failure to provide the reliable armed, trained security that the Benghazi Mission asked for repeatedly and was denied, or for the catastrophic outcome of the terror assault on the mission the night of September 11, 2012 that took the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith and two former Navy SEAL CIA security contractors, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Instead, four lower-ranking State Department officials took the fall: Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security; Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security; Raymond Maxwell, the deputy assistant secretary of state for North Africa; and an unidentified official in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security all resigned on  December 19, after the Pickering report cited a “grossly inadequate” security posture at the Benghazi mission.

This is very convenient, of course, because none of those truly responsible for what happened at Benghazi that night is called to account in the Pickering White-Out for establishing the policies in the first place that sent Americans to work with treacherous Al-Qaeda militias in Libya that ultimately turned on their long-time comrade-in-arms, Christopher Stevens, and killed him.

It is strange, though, that the report would mention that there were “known gaps…in the intelligence community’s understanding of extremist militias in Libya and the potential threat they posed to U.S. interests, although some threats were known to exist.”

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s September 10, 2012 video call for revenge for the June 2012 drone killing of his deputy, the Libyan Abu Yahya al-Libi, doesn’t seem to have made the cut for “immediate, specific tactical warning” and the Pickering White-Out doesn’t even mention the possibility that this message from the commander of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) affiliates just possibly could have been the “green light” for the September 11 attack.

In any case, though, the White House, State Department and Intelligence Community should have been extremely familiar with some of these militia characters, having engaged together with them in the jihad struggle against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi for so many months.

There was Abdelhakim Belhadj, for instance. He was the former self-described jihadist leader of the Al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LFG) who, on behalf of the new, liberated Libyan government, later went on to join forces with the similarly Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian Free Army rebels.

Read more at Radical Islam

Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at RadicalIslam.org and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez served for 20 years as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).