Taliban claim freed ex-Gitmo prisoners visited by members of terror group

TalibanFox News, by Catherine Herridge, October 21, 2014:

The Taliban are claiming that two senior members of the Haqqani terror network recently visited the five former Guantanamo detainees who were traded for an American soldier, raising new questions about the terms of their one-year house arrest in Qatar and eventual release in the spring as U.S. forces leave Afghanistan.

The Taliban statement, first reported by the Long War Journal, claims that Qari Abdul Rasheed Omari, a military commander for southeastern Afghanistan, and associate Anas Haqqani were taken into Afghan custody after visiting the former Guantanamo detainees in Qatar earlier this month.

At least one of the visitors is said to be related to one of the five detainees under house arrest. Charles “Cully” Stimson, who oversaw detainee affairs under President George W. Bush and heads the Heritage National Security Law Program, told Fox News: “We know that family visits are allowed.”

He added: “I would expect that not only those two guys talked to the Taliban Five but others have already talked to them and they are in constant communications, preparing for their eventual return.”

While the Taliban’s claim of a visit has not been independently verified, the Taliban are not known to provide patently false statements. The release posted online alleges American involvement, saying the two visitors were captured afterward.

“While returning home on 12th October after spending about a week both were captured by the American forces in Bahrain from where they were sent back to Qatar and then handed over to Kabul via United Arab Emirates,” the statement says. “It must be mentioned that the above mentioned journey took place under the watchful eyes of America before both men were handed over to Kabul despite the freed Guantanamo detainees being assured that their relatives may visit them unharmed.”

Asked about the Taliban statement, and the reported meeting between known members of the Haqqani terror network and the former Guantanamo detainees, neither the government of Qatar nor the CIA provided comment. Significantly, no denial was issued.

The Pentagon, contacted about the report in advance of Tuesday’s briefing, appeared to be on the same talking points — also offering no denial, and no detail.

“I have nothing for you on that, right now. I’ll take it for the record and if I can get more information for you, I will but I have nothing for you on it right now,”Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said at Tuesday’s briefing. Asked if the Taliban claim was false, Kirby said, “I have nothing for you right now.I’ll see what I can do to get back to you.”

The Long War Journal’s Thomas Joscelyn describes Anas Haqqani as “the youngest son of veteran jihadist leader Jalaluddin Haqqani,” and Qari Omari as the younger brother of Mohammad Nabi Omari, a senior Taliban official and former Guantanamo detainee who is among the five held by Qatar.

“This provides an additional reason the ‘Taliban Five’ should not have been transferred as the younger Omari oversees suicide operations in south eastern Afghanistan,” Joscelyn said.

The five men in Qatar were part of the Obama administration’s controversial deal in May with the Taliban, to swap the Guantanamo detainees for American Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.Critics describe the five men as a kind of terror “dream team” because of their long-standing ties to the Taliban or Al Qaeda leadership.

“I don’t think we [the Bush administration] would have allowed the five to go to Qatar for a mere year under the conditions that we’ve read about,” Stimson said, adding: “I think we would have struck a much harder bargain than that and maybe forced them to stay in custody for five years or longer under house arrest conditions so that we had more assurances than the one-year deal.”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

West Point report describes Islamic State threat as crisis 4 years in the making

herridgeFox News:

A new report from the West Point counterterrorism center challenges the notion that the Islamic State only recently became a major terror threat, describing the network’s gains in Iraq as a crisis four years in the making.

Meanwhile, Fox News has learned that top aides to President Obama expect the threat from the organization, also known as ISIS or ISIL, to outlast Obama’s time in office.

The details underscore the challenge facing the U.S. government and its allies as the president and military advisers weigh how — and where — to confront the Islamist militant forces.

“ISIL did not suddenly become effective in early June 2014: it had been steadily strengthening and actively shaping the future operating environment for four years,”the report from the West Point center said.

The report said that the “shattering” of Iraq’s security forces in June is a “case-in-point, the result of years of patient preparatory operations.”

The report, obtained in advance by Fox News, was published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, an independent, privately funded research group. It was written by Michael Knights, with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The report pointed to a long trail of warning signs, after leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “re-booted” the organization in 2010. The report said it has developed a “highly-motivated cadre of light infantry forces” since 2012, while launching major attacks like a wave of car bombs across multiple cities that lasted until the end of 2013.

Despite these warning signs, President Obama earlier this year compared ISIS and related groups to a “jayvee team” during an interview with The New Yorker.

The White House has since defended those remarks, claiming the president was not referring only to the Islamic State. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes also claimed earlier this month that the network indeed “has gained capacity in the last several months.”

Rhodes said the Islamic State poses “a greater threat today than they did six months ago.”

Left unclear is when that danger might diminish.

With the Islamic State now controlling large swaths of territory across Syria and northern Iraq, senior Obama administration officials have repeatedly referred to the terrorist army as a “long-term” threat.

Asked if that means that the dangers posed by ISIS will extend beyond Obama’s time in office, a senior State Department official told Fox News: “Probably. Probably.”

The official hastened to add that the U.S. has embraced similarly lengthy time frames in its post-9/11 efforts to combat other major terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that such a view — especially given the success against Al Qaeda in those regions — should not be mistaken for a lack of initiative or zeal in the president’s approach.

The official also stressed that the administration does not see a 9/11-style attack on the American homeland as among the threats the Islamic State presently poses. Rather, the group is thought by U.S. policymakers to threaten Washington’s regional allies and interests, as many administration officials have emphasized in recent weeks.

The State Department source also pointed to the variety of methods the administration is using to address ISIS. These range from “kinetic” operations aimed at “taking their leadership off the battlefield” to online initiatives designed to choke off the group’s financing to diplomatic activities that will stem the flow of foreign fighters to ISIS’ breeding ground, Syria.

“We are also working on getting others to stand up and push them out,” the source said.

The West Point report did detail the organization’s potential weaknesses.

The report said ISIS leaders are “crafting far-sighted political-military campaigns that are resilient enough to survive the deaths of their progenitors,” but their ability to “continually shape and control the conflict will be sorely tested” as the pace of the counteroffensive accelerates.

The Obama administration is currently weighing whether to expand its air campaign from northern Iraq into Syria.

“Although they may boast a deep bench of talented individuals following years of prisoner releases, prison breaks and recruitment, leadership casualties will nonetheless complicate their ability to hold the initiative in the future,” the report said.

The West Point article said ISIS has benefited from the “unpreparedness of its enemies” but such factors “are diminishing.”

“As a defensive force, ISIL may struggle to hold terrain if it is attacked simultaneously at multiple points or if its auxiliary allies begin to defect,” the report said.

Still, the report noted the group is absorbing “whole networks of militants into its ranks.”

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and James Rosen contributed to this report.

US launched raid in Syria to rescue American hostages held by Islamic State

Published on Aug 20, 2014 by Mass Tea Party

 

Long War Journal, By

The US military attempted to rescue “a number of American hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State,” the Department of Defense’s spokesman said today. The rescue attempt failed as the hostages were not at the location of the raid.

“The United States attempted a rescue operation recently to free a number of American hostages held in Syria by the [Islamic State,or ISIL],” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement released on the Department of Defense’s website. “This operation involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL. Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location.”

The exact location of the raid inside Syria was not disclosed by the US military.

Kirby indicated that top tier US special operations forces, likely Navy SEALs or Army Delta teams, were involved in the rescue operation. “In this case, we put the best of the United States military in harms’ way to try and bring our citizens home,” Kirby said.

Kirby indicated that the military will continue to seek to free the US hostages.

“The United States government uses the full breadth of our military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring people home whenever we can,” he said. “The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will work tirelessly to secure the safety of our citizens and to hold their captors accountable.”

The Islamic State is known to hold one American journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, who was captured near the Syria-Turkey border in August 2013. Kirby was clear that there are multiple hostages. At least three other Americans, Austin Tice, and two others who have not been named at the request of their families, are known to have disappeared in Syria. A US intelligence official told The Long War Journal that Tice and the other two Americans are also being held by the Islamic State.

The US has launched at least one other special operations raid in Syria since 2008. In October 2008, special operations forces killed Abu Ghadiya, a senior al Qaeda leader who has been in charge of the group’s Syrian network since 2005, and several aides during a raid in Albu Kamal. The Al Nusrah Fornt, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, have named a training camp after Abu Ghadiya.

Military continues airstrikes against Islamic State despite threats

The military’s announcement of the hostage rescue operation took place just one day after the Islamic State beheaded James Wright Foley, an American journalist who was captured by the group in Binesh, Syria on Nov. 22, 2012. A videotape of the execution was released on the Internet.

The Islamic State has threatened to kill Soltoff if the US does not end the airstrikes against the jihadist group in northern Iraq.

“The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision,” the Foley’s executioner said as he grasped the collar of the orange jumpsuit worn by a terrified Sotloff.

But the US military said today that it is continuing air operations in Iraq. In a press release issued by US Central Command, the military said it executed 14 airstrikes against Islamic State “terrorists in support of Iraqi security force operations, using fighter, remotely piloted and attack aircraft.”

“The strikes destroyed or damaged six ISIL Humvees, three IED emplacements, one mortar tube, and two armed trucks,” CENTCOM said.

CENTCOM confirmed that the US military has launched “a total of 84 airstrikes across Iraq … and of those 84 strikes, 51 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam.”

The US military aided the Iraqi military and Kurdish Peshmerga’s advance to retake the Mosul Dam and nearby towns after the Peshmerga withdrew with little opposition in early August.

Earlier today, US Secretary of State John Kerry referred to the Islamic State as “evil” in a statement condemning the execution of Foley.

Also see:

 

Herridge: Court Filings Reveal Benghazi Attack Had Nothing to Do with Anti-Islam Video

BY: :

Catherine Herridge, Chief intelligence correspondent for Fox News, revealed documents filed by the U.S. Justice Department against Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khatallah hurt the claim made by the Obama administration that the Benghazi attack developed from from an anti-islam video.

Speaking to host Bill Hemmer, Herridge said “Based on the documents, what the government is saying is that there was a conspiracy, it began in the days leading up to the 9/11 attack and that it was coordinated and premeditated.”

Herridge also reported “There is no reference in these documents to spontaneity, or the video being a catalyst, and that is significant given that on her recent book tour, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton said that it was entirely possible that some in the crowd may have been motivated by the video. But the people who are filing this against Khatallah say at least at this point was not part of the equation.”

Fact Check: Hillary came up with Benghazi video explanation

Hillary Clinton Repub_CawlBy Catherine Herridge:

Hillary Clinton’s newly released memoir leaves little doubt she was the first member of the Obama administration to publicly link an anti-Islam video to the 2012 Benghazi terror attack – though she does not explain what intelligence she relied on to make the faulty connection.

The former secretary of State and potential Democratic presidential candidate discussed the Benghazi attack in her memoir “Hard Choices.” The 33-page Benghazi chapter sheds some light on events, but it leaves plenty of inconvenient details out.

According to the chronology she offers,Clinton issued the statement linking Benghazi to the video before she called President Obama on the night of the attack to provide an update, suggesting she was the originator of the flawed explanation.

The State Department press release, issued in her name, on Sept. 11, 2012 at 10:07 p.m. tied the death of Foreign Service officer Sean Smith to the video. Later that evening, a mortar strike killed former Navy SEALs Ty Woods and Glen Doherty, permanently maimed another CIA contractor and severely injured diplomatic security agent David Ubben – all of whom were defending the CIA annex. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens also died in the Benghazi assault.

The accuracy of the mortar attack, three out of five rounds on target, from more than a half mile away in the dark of night in under a minute, required military training, and premeditation according to multiple military and intelligence professionals.

“As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss,”Clinton’s press release said. “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.”

In her book, Clinton makes passing reference to the Sept. 11 press release, and the former secretary of State offers this argument for citing the video:that violence was erupting all over the Middle East and the obscure Internet video was to blame, throwing Benghazi, without credible intelligence reporting, into the same category.

“[The video] was unquestionably inciting the region and triggering protests all over, so it would have been strange not to consider, as days of protests unfolded, that it might have had the same effect here, too,”Clinton wrote. “That’s just common sense.”

But sources told Fox News in late September 2012 that U.S. officials knew it was terrorism within 24 hours and U.S. personnel on the ground in Libya reported a direct assault — not a protest gone awry.

Recently released documents to conservative watchdog Judicial Watch show the Obama administration continues to withhold the full contents of a “media strategy” discussion it had weeks after the attack.

Those emails pertained to a Sept. 27. 2012 Fox News report on how U.S. officials learned the attack was terrorism within 24 hours. The emails were circulated to the State Department and at senior levels of the administration, including to White House communications adviser Ben Rhodes, who also linked the anti-Islam video to Benghazi in a Sept. 14 email.

The administration claims that releasing the contents would have a chilling effect on their “frank deliberations.”

Read more at Fox News

*************

Hillary Won’t Hand Over Benghazi Notes To Congress – 

‘They can read it in the book.’

Truth Revolt, by Larry O’Connor:

 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kept private notes about the attack in Benghazi and when asked by NBC News if she would share those notes with the House Select Committee investigating the attacks and the subsequent cover-up by the Obama Administration, she said, “they can read it in my book.”

“They can read it in the book. Let’s see whether this is on the level or not because that really matters to me. I don’t want to be part of something which, in any way, politicizes or demeans the sacrifice that we saw happen there.”

To her credit, reporter Cynthia McFadden ended the report on NBC News by saying, “Of course, there are some who would say it is Hillary Clinton who is politicizing the attack in Benghazi.”

**********

Walid Shoebat has laid out a timeline of events connecting the dots on the genesis of the Benghazi video which points to Clinton and Obama:

Many Fear To Tread Where Benghazi Facts Lead

There is a perfect storm brewing over Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s role. The confluence of events and realities continues to close in around her. Try as she might, the truth is so ugly that her own book may inadvertently reveal some of it. A case in point may be that her account of events on that night indicate that she personally was the one who first decided to link the attacks to the anti-Muhammad video:

According to the chronology she offers, Clinton issued the statement linking Benghazi to the video before she called President Obama on the night of the attack to provide an update, suggesting she was the originator of the flawed explanation.

Up until now, as Shoebat.com has laid out, the timeline of events seemed to afford Clinton a modicum of plausible deniability in this regard. According to then Press Secretary Jay Carney, President Barack Obama called Hillary at 10pm ET and Hillary’s statement pointing to the video was released shortly thereafter. An admission by Clinton that the video narrative originated with her would be explosive indeed, simply by introducing that fact into a larger fact pattern.

Here are some facts as we know them:

1.) The Special Mission Compound (SMC) was woefully short on security prior to the attacks. Clinton herself has conceded that, though has deflected accountability to unnamed security ‘experts’ upon whom she relied.

2.) Muslim fundamentalists in Egypt ginned up anger at the video in the days prior to the attacks. Two in particular – identified by Shoebat.com at the time – professed that exploiting the video was designed to help create the environment for criminalizing speech critical of Islam in non-Muslim countries.

3.) The maker of the video – Nakoula Basseley Nakoula – became a federal informant in 2009 after a plea deal involving a lighter prison sentence in exchange for his help in nabbing the ringleader of his bank fraud scheme operation. Shoebat.com has clearly demonstrated that when that ringleader was apprehended by Canadian authorities, the FBI refused to take him. It can be logically concluded that Nakoula became an agent of the Feds for reasons other than those stated.

4.) In the same month that Nakoula began casting for his video (July of 2011), Hillary traveled to Istanbul, Turkey and chaired the first of several meetings that would constitute “The Istanbul Process”. That first meeting took place on July 15, 2011. It was chaired by Hillary, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, and the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The shared timing of these two events was laid out by Shoebat.com in great detail.

5.) On March 26, 2011, the impetus for “The Istanbul Process” was born. On that day, the UN Human Rights Council passed Resolution 16/18. It was designed to help thread the needle between freedom of expression and being allowed to criticize religion (Islam). Hillary championed its passage.

6.) Barack Obama’s envoy to the OIC (State Department employee) and Muslim Brotherhood infiltrator of the U.S. Government – Rashad Hussain – is intricately involved in “The Istanbul Process”. At this year’s annual summit, Hussain continues to push the same agenda the anti-Muhammad video was supposed to push – an assault on the first amendment.

7.) A Muslim agent who is also an employee of the White House – Mehdi K. Alhassani – was on the distribution list of the September 14, 2012 email from White House Deputy Ben Rhodes, as Shoebat.com reported. The email instructs that Susan Rice is to blame the video for the Benghazi attacks. As someone with Muslim Brotherhood ties (Alhassani was the President of the George Washington University chapter of Muslim Brotherhood front group, Muslim Students Association), Alhassani’s agenda would have mirrored that of Hussain and the OIC’s “Istanbul Process”.

8.) Charles Woods – the father of Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who was murdered in the attacks – relayed that Hillary told him the man behind the video would be arrested. Again, this comports with the agenda of “The Istanbul Process” and the OIC.

9.) Nakoula was ultimately arrested one month prior to the second annual “Istanbul Process” summit in London, as Shoebat.com reported. In the U.S., Nakoula’s arrest was pinned on a parole violation but the not-so-subtle message was that he was being punished for making the video.Note: Re-read item #3. Nakoula’s plea bargain for a lesser sentence in 2009 was not for the reason stated. Again, what was it for? It is known that at that time, Nakoula was beholden to the Feds for something.

10.) Cindy Lee Garcia – an actress who appeared in the video – has come forward to state that Nakoula confessed to her that he is a Muslim, as Shoebat.com EXCLUSIVELY reported.

11.) Barely more than hour prior to the Benghazi attacks, Ambassador Stevens said good night toTurkey’s Consul General, Ali Said Akin.

All of this says nothing about Hillary’s very close Muslim Brotherhood agent and former Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin. What happened in Benghazi is clearly drawing the most media interest in Hillary’s new book. In a very surreal – and rather brazen – development, Abedin has joined Hillary on the tour…

Fact Check: Clinton’s Benghazi chapter has holes

benginternal1615114By Catherine Herridge:

Excerpts of Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming memoir obtained by Politico conflict with the factual record about what happened during and after the 2012 Benghazi terror attack.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., who sits on the newly formed Benghazi select committee and the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News before the excerpts were released that he is concerned the administration has not fully grasped the impact of the terrorist assault.

“We know that intelligence analysts on the ground knew instantaneously that this was Al Qaeda and its affiliates who had led this attack. And yet it took an awfully long time — indeed today, it’s still not clear this administration has acknowledgedthe depth and the risks associated with what it means to have an Al Qaeda affiliate actually take down an American [consulate],” he said.

In the limited excerpts published Friday from Clinton’s Benghazi chapter, the former secretary of State continued to defend the administration from what she termed a “political slugfest.”

Specifically, she defended the flawed explanation — used by then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice five days after the attack — that an obscure anti-Islam video fueled a protest gone awry in Benghazi.

“There were scores of attackers that night, almost certainly with differing motives,” Clinton wrote, according to Politico. “It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video.It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were.Both assertions deny not only the evidence but logic as well.”

Further, she reportedly wrote that Rice relied on existing intelligence in making her statements.

But former CIA deputy director Mike Morell, who now works for Clinton’s principal gatekeeper Philippe Reines at the D.C. consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies, testified in April that it was Rice who linked the video to the Benghazi attack.Morrell, who still faces allegations he misled Congress over the so-called talking points, said the video was not part of the CIA analysis as Clinton seems to suggest.

Morell told members of the House Intelligence Committee that Rice’s claims about the attacks evolving from a protest were “exactly what the talking points said, and it was exactly what the intelligence community analysts believed.”

However, he said: “When she talked about the video, my reaction was, that’s not something that the analysts have attributed this attack to.”

An independent review of more than 4,000 social media postings, conducted by a leading social media monitoring firm in December 2012, also found the YouTube video was a non-event in Benghazi.

“From the data we have, it’s hard for us to reach the conclusion that the consulate attack was motivated by the movie. Nothing in the immediate picture — surrounding the attack in Libya — suggests that,” Jeff Chapman, chief executive with Agincourt Solutions (now Babel Street), told Fox News.

Chapman said his analysts reviewed postings in Libya, including those from Benghazi, over a three-day period beginning on Sept. 11, and saw “no traffic in Benghazi in the immediate lead-up to the attack related to the anti-Islam film.”

The first reference to the anti-Islam film appears to be a retweet of a Russia Today story that was not posted until Sept. 12 at 9:12 a.m. local time. The translation reads, “U.S. ambassador killed in Libya during his country’s consulate in Benghazi – Russia Today http://t.co/SvAV0o7T response to the film abuser.”

Read more at Fox News

 

Herridge: State Dept Withholding Benghazi Media Strategy Email

BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
May 6, 2014 

National Security correspondent Catherine Herridge reported on the planned activities of the new Benghazi Select Committee Tuesday on Fox News.

Herridge said the committee will interview all relevant witnesses including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, something the State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) failed to do.

Additionally, Herridge said new information is surfacing about a 7 page email chain circulated at the highest levels of the Obama administration in the aftermath of a September 27, 2012 Fox News report indicating the intelligence community knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack within 24 hours. The email concerned the White House’s media response to the story and included senior administration officials including Ben Rhodes, John Brennan, and Dennis McDonough. The State Department is withholding the email, citing executive privilege.

According Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell, “this report from Fox News would run counter to what the Obama administration was attempting to put out there as their position. And there was a contrarian news report that didn’t align with their position and they were clearly reacting to it in a way that would help reinforce their position.”

Herridge added Fox News does not know the content of the emails given the redactions. However, the FNC reporter said some of the redactions are curiously missing legal justifications. The State Department is required to provide legal justifications for the redactions.

Benghazi emails suggest White House aide involved in prepping Rice for ‘video’ explanation

 

Sept. 13, 2012: A Libyan man investigates the inside of the U.S. Consulate after the attack that killed four Americans.AP

Sept. 13, 2012: A Libyan man investigates the inside of the U.S. Consulate after the attack that killed four Americans.AP


Fox News, April 29, 2014 By 
:

Newly released emails on the Benghazi terror attack suggest a senior White House aide played a central role in preparing former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice for her controversial Sunday show appearances — where she wrongly blamed protests over an Internet video.

More than 100 pages of documents were released to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Among them was a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

The Rhodes email, with the subject line: “RE: PREP Call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET,” was sent to a dozen members of the administration’s inner circle, including key members of the White House communications team such as Press Secretary Jay Carney.

In the email, Rhodes specifically draws attention to the anti-Islam Internet video, without distinguishing whether the Benghazi attack was different from protests elsewhere.

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.”

“To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

The email goes on to state that the U.S. government rejected the message of the Internet video. “We find it disgusting and reprehensible. But there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence,” the email stated.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the documents read like a PR strategy, not an effort to provide the best available intelligence to the American people.

“The goal of the White House was to do one thing primarily, which was to make the president look good. Blame it on the video and not [the] president’s policies,” he said.

The Rhodes email was not part of the 100 pages of emails released by the administration last May — after Republicans refused to move forward with the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director until the so-called “talking points” emails were made public.

The email is also significant because in congressional testimony in early April, former deputy CIA director Michael Morell told lawmakers it was Rice, in her Sunday show appearances, who linked the video to the Benghazi attack. Morell said the video was not part of the CIA analysis.

“My reaction was two-fold,” Morell told members of the House Intelligence Committee, regarding her appearances. “One was that what she said about the attacks evolving spontaneously from a protest was exactly what the talking points said, and it was exactly what the intelligence community analysts believed. When she talked about the video, my reaction was, that’s not something that the analysts have attributed this attack to.”

Incidentally, three leading Republicans on Monday night sent letters to the House and Senate foreign affairs committees asking them to compel the administration to explain who briefed Rice in advance of the Sunday talk shows and whether State Department or White House personnel were involved.

“How could former Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, during the five Sunday talk shows on September 16, 2012, claim that the attacks on our compounds were caused by a hateful video when Mr. Morell testified that the CIA never mentioned the video as a causal factor,” said the letter, from Sens. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina; Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire; and John McCain, of Arizona.

The Sept. 14 Rhodes email does not indicate whether there was a “prep call” for Rice, as it suggests. If the call went ahead, it does not indicate who briefed her. Fox News has asked the White House if Rhodes prepped Rice for the Sunday shows, and, if he didn’t, who did — as well as what intelligence Rhodes relied upon.

The newly released emails also show that on Sept. 27, 2012 a Fox News report — titled “US officials knew Libya attack was terrorism within 24 hours, sources confirm” — was circulated at the most senior levels of the administration. This included going to then-deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough; then-White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan; Morell; and Rhodes, among others, but the comments were redacted, citing “personal privacy information.”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Clinton calls Benghazi terror attack ‘biggest regret’ on her watch

Sept. 11, 2012: A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group.

Sept. 11, 2012: A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group.

Fox News, By Catherine Herridge:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called the Benghazi terrorist attack — which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Ty Woods and Glenn Doherty — the most significant failure on her watch.

In a question and answer session at Simmons College Wednesday night, Clinton listed the terrorist assault on the diplomatic compound in eastern Libya as her “biggest regret.”

“It would certainly be the attack on our facility in Benghazi, and the loss of, uh, two State Department personnel and two CIA contractors from the terrorist attack and the terrible consequences of that,” she said.

“It’s very, very painful and it was certainly the biggest regret that I had as Secretary of State.”

While Benghazi’s impact on a possible presidential run is unknown, Clinton focused on the emotional toll.

“They weren’t the only people that we lost, but we lost them in such a terrible, senseless, terrorist action that, you know, it’s just deeply sorrowful and it went on for hours, because the CIA annex was attacked after the State Department facility was attacked,” she said of the Sep. 11, 2012 assault.

Her comments stand in sharp contrast to her defiant congressional testimony in January 2013, when she appeared before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The fact is we had four dead Americans, was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?” she asked.

Those who have followed Benghazi from the day of the attack, including national security correspondent Eli Lake of the Daily Beast, said it was a significant change in tone.

“At the beginning of 2013 when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she’s feeling beaten up. This has become a major issue, it seems like the Republicans are not going to let it go, and she was combative,”Lake said, adding the contrite statement may be highly effective.

“It almost says, listen I acknowledge it’s a mistake, you can go back to this, you don’t have to hound me on this point, we regret and I think that, you know, speaks volumes for her.”

Now there also is new scrutiny of Clinton’s closest associates, including then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who went on national television five days after the attack and blamed an obscure internet video for the assault. Rice is now the president’s national security adviser.

In surprising testimony earlier this month, former deputy CIA director Michael Morell said it was Rice, not the CIA, who connected the video to Benghazi.

“When she talked about the video, my reaction was, that’s not something that the analysts have attributed this attack to,”Morell testified.

The flawed video explanation was also cited by Clinton when the remains of the four dead Americans were flown to Joint Base Andrews on Sep.14, 2012.

“This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men,” she said. “We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with.”

When Congress returns next week, Fox News has learned that Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and others in the Senate will push for Rice to fully explain to lawmakers exactly who briefed her in advance of the 2012 talk shows, where she blamed the video for the assault.

Given the CIA was not the source of the video explanation, according to Morell, lawmakers want to know whether State Department or White House personnel were involved in the Rice briefings. Some lawmakers believe it would be difficult for Rice to now assert executive privilege because her old job as U.N. ambassador required Senate confirmation.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Wayne Simmons: Obama Let Them Die at Benghazi:

Top Al Qaeda commander relocates to Syria

Sanafi al NasrFox News, By Catherine Herridge:

A member of Al Qaeda’s senior leadership, Sanafi al Nasr, has relocated to Syria, where he is living openly and publicly courts his followers on twitter, according to counter-terrorism analysts and social media messages.

“This is a guy who fought with Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula. He’s a spokesman for the Nusra Front. He’s connected, if not a planner, for the Al Qaeda core. This demonstrates the integration of Al Qaeda and all its levels,”  Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said.  “And the fact that it’s (Al Qaeda leadership) now seeking out Syria as a core area of operations, this explains a lot about, I think, the new direction of Al Qaeda today.”

While Nasr is not a household name, his pedigree is well established, according to counter-terrorism analysts, who say he is the third cousin of Usama bin Laden and almost all of his six brothers have fought alongside the Al Qaeda network. At least one of his brothers was held at Guantanamo Bay.

The Saudi, who is on that nation’s most wanted list, was first identified by the Long War Journal as relocating to Syria, and as a member of Al Qaeda’s so-called Victory Committee, which sets policy and long term strategy for the network.

“This is a sort of policy planning group for Al Qaeda,”  Schanzer said of the Victory Committee, adding, “These are people who are trying to think about what happens next, how to plan for the future.”

Nasr’s emergence is seen as another indicator that the network is sending members of its senior or “core” leadership to Syria to build alliances with other radical groups, and thereby extending the brand and reach of the senior leadership, which is traditionally based in Pakistan.

In recent congressional testimony, the head of the national  counter-terrorism center, Matt Olsen, told Congress that Al Qaeda is making a significant play for Syria with its operatives and its cash.

“Syria has become the pre-eminent location for Al Qaeda-aligned groups to recruit and to train, and to equip what is now a growing number of extremists some of whom seek to conduct external attacks,”  Olsen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in early March.

Nasr has coordinated with other senior “core” Al Qaeda members inside Syria, including Abu Khalid al Suri until al Suri’s recent death.

“Al Qaeda and terrorist networks in general – international terrorist networks – will go, they’ll follow the path of least resistance,  said Fox News military analyst Ralph Peters. “We’ve seen them moving into Syria in significant numbers. It tells me that they actually feel not only safer there, but that they have more flexibility there than they do in Pakistan.”

Nasr’s move to Syria, according to some analysts, was by design and it suggests that the traditional view of Al Qaeda, with its leadership based in Pakistan, is at the very least outdated or was wrong to begin with.

“The idea that we were hearing that Al Qaeda was decimated, or that it was destroyed because Usama bin Laden was killed, or because some of the senior operatives were wrapped up, it was absolutely not true,”  Schanzer said.  “This guy demonstrates the fact that people who’ve been fighting for affiliate groups, multiple affiliate groups, that can still be a leader on the battlefield in an area that seems to be apparently far-field from the core, and still seems to be working with the core.”

Sally Persons contributed to this report

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Ex-CIA boss Morell gives unorthodox reasons for omitting key Benghazi details

morell3By :

In his opening statement during highly anticipated testimony Wednesday on Benghazi, former CIA deputy director Michael Morell claimed to be an intelligence professional who was willing to lay out the facts — no matter how damaging.

“I take very seriously the allegations about how the CIA in general and about how I in particular handled the analysis and the talking points,” Morell told the House Intelligence Committee, in his first public testimony on the Benghazi attacks. “The ethical code under which intelligence officers carry out their responsibilities calls for total objectivity.”

But Morell’s own testimony would appear to undercut that statement.

Early on, Morell made a startling claim about the so-called “talking points,” the faulty narrative that initially blamed a protest for the attack.

On the talking points, Morell said he dropped information about CIA security warnings — which were factual and accurate — because he thought it would be unprofessional to embarrass then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

This raised eyebrows, considering those warnings had alerted others that security conditions were rapidly deteriorating in eastern Libya. The warnings were not acted on, and four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in the 2012 attack.

“You take out everything that is even related to warnings and a bunch of other stuff too,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said. “To me it seems like you are more interested in protecting the State Department than the State Department is, and more interested in protecting the FBI than the FBI.”

In his defense, Morell responded: “I simply saw this as a way for CIA to pound its chest and say, ‘look, we warned’; therefore laying all the blame on the State Department. I did not think that appropriate.”

In an email, one day before the talking points were used by then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on national television, where she wrongly blamed a protest, then-CIA Director David Petraeus told Morell the talking points were so devoid of fact that they were useless.

But despite his boss’ reservations, Morell went ahead with the text which limited damage to the State Department.

Read more at Fox News

REPORT: TOP GOP AIDE IN CHARGE OF BENGHAZI INVESTIGATION FORMS BUSINESS WITH CLINTONISTAS

rogers-with-allen-in-bg-apBreitbart, by :

One of the top Republican congressional staffers on the Benghazi investigation founded a consulting firm comprised of numerous former Clinton aides and a former CIA director accused of lying to Congress about the attack, Fox News reported Monday.

J. Michael Allen is the founder and managing director of Beacon Global Strategies. He previously served as the staff director for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by GOP Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan and perhaps the most important panel investigating Benghazi.

Allen’s new business partners at Beacon include:

  • Philippe Reines, a dyed-in-the-wool Clinton hatchet man who worked for Clinton from 2002 until founding Beacon
  • Andrew Shapiro, a former top State Department official (under Clinton) and senior policy adviser to Clinton
  • Josh Kirshner, a former top State Department official under Clinton who also worked for her as a Senate aide in 2006
  • Ashley Woolheater, who previously led a team “responsible for crafting and executing the strategic media goals of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton” at the State Department
  • Jeremy Bash, a former chief of staff to Leon Panetta at the Defense Department and CIA under President Obama
  • Julianne Smith, a former top aide to Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sarah Davey, a former aide to Michelle Obama who helped craft the “Let’s Move!” initiative
  • Meredith Steen, a low-level Democratic aide who interned for Democrat James Moran

Eight colleagues. All Democrats. Four worked in senior positions under Clinton, the other three at the Obama White House.

The Fox News report by Catherine Herridge notes that one month after Allen interviewed Morell about the Benghazi attack in May 2013, Beacon approached him to hire him. Allen was then one of the most senior GOP officials on the issue and Morell the deputy director at the CIA.

A representative at Beacon told Fox that no conflict of interest existed because Morell was approached to be hired after he had already conducted the interview.

Benghazi Investigation – Potential Conflict Of Interest – Special Report 3/24/14

Report sheds light on ex-CIA deputy director’s role in Benghazi talking points

michael morellBy :

The recently-released bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi sheds new light on the role of Michael Morell, the CIA’s former deputy director, in the official “talking points” explanations put forward after the attack.

“I think, given what was said by him and others, and where they’re headed, down the political road, would justify revisiting this issue,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Fox News.

The Senate report states that on Sep. 15, 2012, four days after the attack and one day before U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on Sunday talk shows blaming the assault on a demonstration over a video, Morell and others at the CIA received a critical email that reported the attacks were “not/not an escalation of protests.” Fox News was the first broadcast network to report there were no protests outside the consulate at the time of the attack on Sept. 17, 2012.

The email was from the CIA chief of station who was on the ground in Libya.

“The chief of station is the senior intelligence officer for the entire United States government,” said Sam Faddis, who writes extensively about the CIA and intelligence community. “You would really have to have some incredibly overwhelming factual evidence to disregard that and there is no indication of that in the report at all.”

Five former intelligence officials contacted by Fox News agreed with Faddis’ assessment of the importance of the chief of station’s email, but declined to speak on camera, citing personal reasons.

“The way the agency works, he’s been running 24 hours a day to nail every fact, and probably they have been sending dozens of messages a day to Washington D.C.,” Faddis said of the CIA station chief.

“And now he’s reaching out four days into this, emailed directly to the most senior levels of his organization, saying again with the big red crayon as clearly as he can, there were no protests.”

While the report does not explain when Morell read the email, it says that on the same day, September 15, he twice edited the talking points about the incident, excising about half the text– including prior warnings to the State Department.

The word “Islamic” was cut, but “demonstrations” stayed in.

The report goes on to explain that the next day, Sep. 16, the same day Susan Rice appeared on television, Morell then asked “CIA staff at Embassy Tripoli” for more information.

On Sep. 18, the CIA and FBI “reviewed the closed circuit television video from the mission facility that showed there were no protests prior to the attacks.”

But on Sep. 20, in an interview with Univision, when pressed on the Benghazi attack and whether it was an Al Qaeda-led event, President Obama responded, “What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”

Given the available intelligence, including the security video from the consulate that showed there was no protest, Graham questioned whether Morell or others in the intelligence community immediately updated the administration.

“Why didn’t somebody correct the president? Within the system, who knew better? This is why you need a joint select committee,” Graham said.

The bipartisan Senate report found that intelligence analysts stayed with the protest explanation “…without sufficient intelligence or eyewitness statements to corroborate that assertion. The IC (intelligence community) took too long to correct these erroneous reports…”

Read more at Fox News

Herridge: Fmr. CIA Director Morell May Have Altered Benghazi Talking Points to Benefit Obama Admin.

morrelBY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
February 3, 2014 

Former CIA Director Mike Morell may have altered the Benghazi talking points to benefit the Obama administration during the 2012 election, Catherine Herridge of Fox News reports.

On September 15 one day before Susan Rice made her infamous appearances on various Sunday shows, according to the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report Morell received an email from the CIA station chief in Libya indicating the Benghazi attacks were “not/not an escalation of protests.” The report does not indicate when Morell read the email, but that same day Morell cut the word “Islamic” from the talking points and left the word “demonstration.”

On September 16, Morell emailed embassy staff in Tripoli asking for more information. The FBI and CIA reviewed the closed circuit footage on September 18 showing there were no protests. Yet, President Obama still employed the “demonstration” verbiage just days later.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said Morell accompanied Susan Rice in a closed November meeting to discuss the attack. According to Graham, Morell defended Rice and tried to emphasize there was confusion about what happened in Benghazi. Moreover, Graham alleged Morell did not accept responsibility for altering the talking points, instead blaming the FBI. ”I called the FBI. They went ballistic. Within 24 hours, his statement was changed where he admitted the CIA had done it,” Graham said.

Adding another layer of complexity to the Morell’s backstory, Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.) told Fox News many of Morell’s recent statements on the war on terror run contrary to what he told Senate committees over the previous decade as a CIA employee.

Herridge goes on to report some speculate Morell may have higher political ambitions considering his employment at Beacon Global Strategies, a government relations firm founded by close Hillary Clinton confidante Philippe I. Reines.

Morell declined to comment on the story but said the Senate Intelligence Committee report supports the contention that the Benghazi talking points were not politically altered in a written statement.

Senate Report on Benghazi: Strong Evidence of Al Qaeda in Libya

Fox News graphic

Washington Free Beacon:

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge discussed the contents of the newly released Benghazi Report, produced by the Senate Intelligence Committee, with Martha MacCallum on Wednesday morning.

The report focuses on the Al Qaeda presence in Libya, specifically on former Guantanamo detainee Abu Sufyan bin Qumu. He was the primary suspect in the Benghazi attack. He is also one of the suspects with “historic” connections to Al Qaeda senior leadership.

In July of 2012, just a few months prior to the Benghazi attack, the CIA wrote a report titled “Libya, Al Qaeda Establishing Sanctuary.” The report detailed the activities of Al Qaeda affiliated groups and associates’ efforts to exploit the environment in Libya in order to “enhance their capabilities.” They also reported that they saw a mirror image of Al Qaeda “establishing a presence in Libya and neighboring Egypt under the Jamal network.” The report, in conjunction with reports by the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA, demonstrates that Al Qaeda was establishing their presence in that area prior to the Benghazi attack. The link to Bin Qumu further solidifies this claim.

Herridge added that Fox News had also previously brought to attention a declassified report, produced by the Library of Congress, that noted Al Qaeda’s growing presence in Libya.

She stressed two main takeaways from the report: first, Bin Qumu, the former Guantanomo detainee, is referenced in the report as the “primary suspect in the attack.” Secondly, the report provides strong evidence that a considerable amount of planning went into the Benghazi attack and its execution.

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