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.

Related articles

House Intelligence chair: Benghazi attack ‘Al Qaeda-led event’

565x264xliars-benghazi1-e1350921614537.jpg.pagespeed.ic.ZXNibWKeYuBy Catherine Herridge:

The 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya was an “Al Qaeda-led event” according to multiple on-the-record interviews with the head of the House Intelligence Committee who receives regular classified briefings and has access to the raw intelligence to make independent assessments.

“I will tell you this, by witness testimony and a year and a half of interviewing everyone that was in the ground by the way, either by an FBI investigator or the committee: It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an Al Qaeda-led event. And they had pretty fairly descriptive events early on that lead those folks on the ground, doing the fighting, to the conclusion that this was a pre-planned, organized terrorist event,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told Fox News in a November interview.

“Not a video, that whole part was debunked time and time again,” Rogers added of the attack which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, “which just leads to questions of why the administration hung with that narrative for so long when all the folks who participated on the ground saw something different.”

The comments challenged the findings of a New York Times “investigation” which pointed instead to local militias and claimed an anti-Islam video played a role in inciting the attackers.

Asked in November what might explain the initial narrative that an anti-Islam film triggered the attack, Rogers did not answer directly but said all evidence points to the State Department, whose leadership skirted the security requirements for the Benghazi mission. “We think we can fairly sense what was going on here and I will tell you, the answers, I think, are going to lie within the State Department and the decision-making in the State Department,” he said. “Lots of questions to be answered there.”

In the same interview,  Rogers also suggested there were attempts to connect between the assailants and the Al Qaeda senior leadership in Pakistan. “I can tell you we know the participants of the event were clearly Al Qaeda affiliates, had strong interest and desire to communicate with Al Qaeda core and others, in the process — we believe before and after the event.”

While there was no immediate response from the White House, State Department, National Security Council or Rogers to a New York Times investigation that “turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault,”  the Republican congressman who leads the House Intelligence Committee has consistently maintained, in on-the-record interviews, that the attack was premeditated terrorism and not linked to the anti-Islam film initially blamed by the Obama White House.

Read more at Fox News

Questions They Won’t Answer

aBY STEPHEN F. HAYES:

“I will say, you know, the question has always been who, exactly, the attackers were, what their motivations were and how they—the attack evolved,” Psaki said. “We’ve always said that there were extremists that we felt were involved. There’s an ongoing criminal investigation, as you are very familiar with, that you just referred to, so I’d refer other questions to them.”

In a follow-up, Psaki was asked: “When you call them ‘extremists,’ will you not say ‘al Qaeda’ from that podium?”

She would not. “It’s an ongoing FBI investigation,” she said.

The reticence is odd. Reporting by The Weekly Standard, as well as by Lara Logan of 60 Minutes and Fox News’s Catherine Herridge, has uncovered multiple al Qaeda ties. The chief Benghazi suspects include men who not only have been involved with al Qaeda for years but also have direct ties to al Qaeda’s founding leaders: Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri. According to U.S. officials familiar with the investigation, they include an Egyptian who was trained by al Qaeda in the late 1980s, served as a terrorist commander under Zawahiri in the 1990s, and was in direct contact with Zawahiri in the months leading up to the Benghazi attack. Another is a Libyan who served as one of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards and is suspected of delivering materials taken from the Benghazi compound after the attack to al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Pakistan. Still another is a former Guantánamo detainee who worked for bin Laden as a driver during the 1990s, and whose alias was found on the laptop of one of the 9/11 conspirators. In addition, intelligence officials tell The Weekly Standard that a trusted al Qaeda courier was involved in the attacks.

Read more at Weekly Standard

 

 

Wolf Renews Call For Select Committee On Benghazi

images (100)Washington, D.C. (October 30, 2013) – In a 30-minute speech today on the House floor, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) again called on House leadership to create a Select Committee on Benghazi, saying the threshold for creating the special panel has been reached in terms of the number of cosponsors and endorsements of the measure, as well as several revelations about the attack that have been covered in the press in recent weeks.

Wolf said that in the nearly 11 months since he first introduced the measure, the broad support that has been built “makes it clear we have more than passed the threshold for a Select Committee now … Let’s get to the truth once and for all so we can find out what happened and restore the American people’s confidence in congressional oversight.”

Just last week, a bipartisan national poll revealed that 63 percent of Americans think the Obama Administration is covering up the facts about the Benghazi attack, and just 29 percent of registered voters believe the administration has been honest.  Further, 83 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Independents support the idea, and notably, nearly half of Democrats said it was important to create a bipartisan committee to learn the truth.

“Bottom line: Americans from across the political spectrum recognize that not only are they not being told the truth [about Benghazi], but they feel Congress needs to change its approach to the investigation by creating a special committee,” Wolf said.

Wolf also pointed to several recent developments that confirm the individuals involved in the Benghazi attack were senior al Qaeda associates with ties to the group going back decades, and that the plot appears to have been weeks, if not months, in the making.

Wolf said that according to Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, “sources said one of the suspects was believed to be a courier for the Al Qaeda network, and the other a bodyguard in Afghanistan prior to the 2001 terror attacks,” noting that “the direct ties to the Al Qaeda senior leadership undercut early characterizations by the Obama administration that the attackers in Benghazi were isolated “extremists” – not Al Qaeda terrorists – with no organizational structure or affiliation.”

Further, Wolf described a 60 Minutes piece that aired this past Sunday in which CBS’ sources confirmed what Wolf had detailed on the House floor this past July: “a quick reaction force from the CIA Annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound, at time running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there.”  Alarmingly, the piece also included information saying that when the terrorists stormed the consulate property, they said “We’re here to kill Americans, not Libyans” and spared the lives of the Libyan guards, Wolf said.

CBS’ Lara Logan also addressed the pressure on witnesses she encountered during the 60 Minutes investigation, saying “An extraordinary amount of pressure on anyone in the government – the military side, the political side – not to say anything outside of official channels.”

“This is consistence with the concerns I have repeatedly raised on the House floor about efforts by this administration to silence survivors and witnesses to the Benghazi attack and response,” Wolf said.  “What are they afraid of these witnesses sharing with the American people?  And how can the Congress stand by and allow this to happen, knowing full well it is taking place?”

Wolf pointed out numerous intelligence failures that occurred prior to and following the attack.

“The administration’s response to the Benghazi attack over the last year has been nothing short of shameful – and that also merits a full investigation by a Select Committee,” Wolf said.  “From the first hours of the attack, when it became apparent that no help was coming to assist those under attack – either from U.S. forces or our allies in the region – to the failure of the FBI to gain access to key suspects in Tunisia and Egypt over the last year, this administration has sent a signal to terrorists that the U.S. will not strongly respond to an attack on Americans abroad.”

Wolf’s measure to create a House Select Committee on Benghazi currently has 178 cosponsors – more than a supermajority in the House.  It has been endorsed by the family members of the victims, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the Special Operations community and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents the Diplomatic Security agents who were at the consulate in Benghazi.

For a full list of endorsements, click here.

For more on Wolf’s work on Benghazi, click here.

The full text of Wolf’s floor speech.

Excerpt:

We need a public hearing with the principals involved in the decision making process in Washington on September 11, 2012, including former Secretary Panetta, former Secretary Clinton, former CIA Director Petraeus, former White House advisor and current CIA director John Brennan and former AFRICOM commander General Ham, as well as the White House.

We also need a similar hearing with each of their deputies and others who were witness to the calls for help and the decisions surrounding the response.

Unless we hear from these people publicly, the American people will never learn the truth about whether there were warnings prior to the attack, what calls for help were made that night, whether the CIA security team was in fact delayed in leaving to respond to the initial attack at the consulate and what the response was from Washington, among many other questions.

Until these key individuals are sitting side-by-side answering questions under oath, we will never get a clear picture of who made decisions that night and why.  Failure to get those answers means there will never be any accountability, which further erodes public confidence in government.

Absent a Select Committee, the Congress will fail to learn the truth about what happened that night because the administration will continue to use the jurisdictional barriers between each committee to continue to slow walk or deny information.

There are a number of new developments in recent weeks that make a Select Committee more timely than ever.

First, our colleague Mike Rogers, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, confirmed earlier reports telling Fox News that the plot against the consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi appears to have been weeks, if not months, in the making and that at least two of the plot’s leaders had close connections to senior al Qaeda leadership.

Nearly a year ago, I circulated a memo to all Members prepared by respected terrorism analyst Thomas Joscelyn detailing the apparent connections and likely coordination between al-Qaeda affiliates in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen that resulted in threats and attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in those countries the week of September 11, 2012.  Unfortunately the committees have not held public hearings looking at the connection between these threats.

Last week, Fox News’ Catherine Herridge first reported that: “At least two of the key suspects in the Benghazi terror attack were at one point working with Al Qaeda senior leadership, sources familiar with the investigation tell Fox News. The sources said one of the suspects was believed to be a courier for the Al Qaeda network, and the other a bodyguard in Afghanistan prior to the 2001 terror attacks.”

Herridge noted that, “The direct ties to the Al Qaeda senior leadership undercut early characterizations by the Obama administration that the attackers in Benghazi were isolated “extremists” — not Al Qaeda terrorists — with no organizational structure or affiliation.”

Then, on Sunday, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a segment by Lara Logan further explaining what happened that night and the increasingly clear connection to al-Qaeda.  Logan reported that “Just a few weeks ago, Abu Anas al-Libi was captured for his role in the Africa bombings and the U.S. is still investigating what part he may have played in Benghazi.  We’ve learned that this man, Sufian bin Qumu, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee and long-time al Qaeda operative, was one of the lead planners along with Faraj al-Chalabi, whose ties to Osama bin Laden go back more than 15 years.  He’s believed to have carried documents from the compound to the head of al Qaeda in Pakistan.”

It is particularly notable that al-Chalabi reportedly delivered documents from U.S. facilities in Benghazi to “the head of al Qaeda in Pakistan,” establishing a direct link between the Benghazi attacks and most senior leadership of al Qaeda.

Among the other revelations in the 60 Minutes segment:

•    Al-Qaeda stated its intent to attack Americans in Benghazi, along with the Red Cross and the British mission well in advance of September 11.  Lt. Col. Andy Wood, the top American security official in Libya in the months leading up to the attack told CBS that both the State Department and Defense Department were well aware of the threat and the attacks on the Red Cross and British mission and it was “obvious” to the Americans in Libya that it was only a matter of time until an attack on the U.S. facilities.

•    When the terrorists stormed the consulate property, they said: “We’re here to kill Americans, not Libyans” and spared the lives of the Libyan guards.

•    Confirmation of information I detailed on the House floor in July noting that “a quick reaction force from the CIA Annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound, at times running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there.”

•    The Americans faced a “professional enemy” as they encountered waves of intense fighting on the CIA annex in Benghazi during the early morning of September 12.   Mortars fired during the final wave of the assault hit the roof of the annex three times in the dark.  Lt. Col. Wood described hitting a target like that as “getting the basketball through the hoop over your shoulder” and that it took “coordination, planning training, experienced personnel” to pull off such a “well executed attack.”

•    Two Delta Force operators who fought at the CIA annex, apparently as part of the impromptu team that flew in from Tripoli with Glen Doherty during the attack without permission from Washington, have “been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross – two of the military’s highest honors.”

•    The U.S. already knew that senior al Qaeda leader Abu Anas al-Libi was in Libya and was “tasked by the head of al Qaeda to establish a clandestine terrorist network inside the country.  Al-Libi was already wanted for his role in bombing two U.S. embassies in Africa.”  Notably, the administration made no mention of his connection to the Benghazi attacks in its announcement of his capture last month.

•    Some of the key questions that remain unanswered are why the CIA security team was ordered not to respond to the attack at the consulate and “why no larger military response ever crossed the border into Libya – something [U.S. deputy chief of mission] Greg Hicks realized wasn’t going to happen just an hour into the attack.”

It’s particularly noteworthy that Logan addressed the pressure on witnesses she encountered during her investigation, saying: “An extraordinary amount of pressure on the people involved not to talk.  And an extraordinary amount of pressure on anyone in the government – the military side, the political side – not to say anything outside of official channels.”
This is consistent with the concerns I have repeatedly raised on the House floor about efforts by this administration to silence survivors and witnesses to the Benghazi attack and response.

What are they afraid of these witnesses sharing with the American people?    And how can the Congress stand by and allow this to happen, knowing full well it is taking place?
CNN in July reported that: “Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings. The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.”

Fox News, in a separate piece in July, reported: “At least five CIA employees were forced to sign additional nondisclosure agreements this past spring in the wake of the Benghazi attack.”

As someone who represents thousands of federal employees and contractors, including many who work for the CIA, FBI, State Department and the Defense Department, I know from years of firsthand experience how agencies can sometimes use various forms of pressure and intimidation to keep employees from sharing information of concern with Congress.
I know the Benghazi survivors and other witnesses that night from those agencies need the protection of a “friendly subpoena” to compel their testimony before Congress, particularly on a matter as sensitive as this.

So far, the committees have failed to provide this protection to allow survivors and other witnesses to allow them to share their story publicly.

Based on disclosures in recent news reports, I now believe that the Benghazi plot represents a significant intelligence failure by the U.S. at several levels.  Understanding these failures – as well as the government’s inexplicable response during and after the attack – is critical to preventing future attacks.

I want to outline a number of the apparent intelligence failures leading up to the attack, which I believe a Select Committee investigation would confirm:

First, the State Department and CIA apparently failed in their assessment of the militia groups working for the Americans in Benghazi, including the February 17 Martyrs Brigade responsible for guarding the consulate property, which abandoned the Americans and may have even facilitated access to the compound for the terrorists.  According to a May 21 article by Eli Lake on The Daily Beast, CIA “officers were responsible for vetting the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, the militia that was supposed to be the first responder on the night of the attack, but melted away when the diplomatic mission was attacked.”

Second, the State Department, Defense Department and CIA apparently failed to adjust their security posture to support the Americans in Benghazi based on the growing number of attacks on Western targets in Benghazi during the summer of 2012.  To date, no one has explained or been held accountable for why the U.S. mission was so poorly secured, despite pleas for assistances from the Embassy staff in Tripoli to Washington.  No one has adequately explained why the Defense Department’s emergency response team was on a routine training mission in Croatia during the week of September 11, when it should have been on alert to respond – especially given the threats to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt earlier in the day before the Benghazi attacks.

Third, the intelligence community apparently failed to understand the size and scope of the attack brewing in Benghazi in the months leading up to September 11.  As Chairman Rogers acknowledged to Fox News’ Catherine Herridge last week, this was a well-coordinated attack that was many weeks, if not months in the making.  Earlier this year, CNN reported on the number of foreign fighters that arrived in Benghazi to participate in the attack in the days leading up to September 11.

A witness in the 60 Minutes report noted how black al-Qaeda flags were openly flying in the months before the attack, and also noted the announced threat against U.S., British and Red Cross facilities.  How did the government miss these warnings?  Or were they simply ignored?

Fourth, the intelligence community seems to have more broadly failed to understand and anticipate how al-Qaeda was metastasizing in North Africa.

This administration has been quick to take credit for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and declared throughout the 2012 presidential campaign that as a result of its efforts that “core al-Qaeda” had been decimated.

However, the facts don’t support the administration’s narrative.

As CNN reported on Monday, terrorist attacks hit a record high in 2012 and, “More than 8,500 terrorist attacks killed more than 15,500 people last year as violence tore through Africa, Asia and the Middle East.”  Increasingly, this includes North African countries, like Libya.

CNN also said that “Despite the death of Osama bin Laden and capture of other key al Qaeda leaders, the group has exported its brand of terrorism to other militant Muslims.”  These groups include affiliates like Ansar al Sharia in Libya.

Additionally, CBS’ Lara Logan noted earlier this week following her report on Benghazi that, “it became evident to us during the course of our research that very little is known publicly about the true nature of al Qaeda’s network in Libya.  And that has consequences beyond Benghazi and beyond Libya. It has consequences that speak to the national security interests of the United States of America.”

Most of these affiliate terrorist groups have sworn an allegiance to al-Qaeda and appear to closely coordinate their activities and plots with the “core al-Qaeda” leadership, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s successor.  To dismiss or minimize their relationship with al-Qaeda’s senior leadership is misguided and dangerous, as we have seen over the last several years.

I fear that this administration’s insistence in treating “core al-Qaeda” in Afghanistan and Pakistan differently than groups like Ansar al Sharia in Libya has led to a dangerous mischaracterization of the threat – and has apparently resulted in a failure to anticipate attacks like the one that occurred in Benghazi.

Fifth, it appears that documents were taken from the consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi in the wake of the attacks.  As I said earlier, 60 Minutes reported that terrorist Faraj al-Chalabi, whose ties to bin Laden go back nearly two decades, is “believed to have carried documents from the compound to the head of al Qaeda in Pakistan.”  What was taken from the consulate and annex and given to al Qaeda’s leadership?

Additionally, as Lara Logan noted following her report, “We did not expect that we would find the U.S. compound in the state that we found it.  There was still debris and ammunition boxes and a whiteboard that had the day’s assignment for the security personnel at the compound as of September 11, 2012.”  Clearly in the chaos of the fighting and evacuation that night, information was left behind at the facilities that may have consequences for Americans operating in the region.

I also believe the administration’s response to the Benghazi attack over the last year has been nothing short of shameful – and that also merits a full investigation by a Select Committee.  From the first hours of the attack, when it became apparent that no help was coming to assist those under attack – either from U.S. forces or our allies in the region – to the failure of the FBI to gain access to key suspects in Tunisia and Egypt over the last year, this administration has sent a signal to terrorists that the U.S. will not strongly respond to an attack on Americans abroad.  The failure to either arrest or kill any of the scores of terrorists responsible for the attacks more than a year later is inexcusable and reflects unwillingness by this administration to bring diplomatic pressure to bear on countries harboring these terrorists.

I am increasingly convinced that this administration is more comfortable using the ongoing FBI investigation as an excuse not to answer questions than they are in bringing these terrorists to justice.  As I said on the House floor in July, last year, Tunisia detained the first suspect in the Benghazi terror attacks, Ali Harzi, after he was deported from Turkey in the weeks following the attack.  Tunisia, despite being the beneficiary of more than $300 million in U.S. foreign aid, refused to allow the FBI access to this suspect for nearly five weeks.  It was only after Congressional threats to cut off the aid that the government of Tunisia reconsidered its position.  Ultimately, the FBI interrogation team returned to Tunisia and was allowed just three hours to interview Harzi, with his lawyer and a Tunisian judge present.  Not long after the FBI interview, Harzi was inexplicably released by Tunisian authorities, and his release was celebrated by Ansar al Sharia terrorists.

Last month, it was confirmed that Harzi has been involved in at least one assassination of a Tunisian political leader.

In another equally concerning case in Egypt, the FBI has been denied access to Muhammed Jamal, an al Qaeda-connected terrorist who ran training camps in Egypt and eastern Libya prior to the Benghazi attacks.  Several of Jamal’s associates are believed to have participated in the Benghazi plot, and terrorism analysts believe that Jamal may have communicated directly with Zawahiri and al Qaeda leadership about this and other terrorist attacks.  Although Jamal has been in Egyptian custody for more than a year on other terrorism-related charges, the U.S. has never been provided access to him under both the Morsi government and now the military government.  I personally delivered a letter to former Ambassador Patterson in Cairo asking then-President Morsi to provide the FBI access to Jamal and his documents.  I don’t believe the ambassador ever even delivered my letter, despite her assurances.  Jamal’s connection to the Benghazi attack is particularly noteworthy given that both the U.S. and the United Nations formally designated him as a terrorist earlier this month.  However, in another example of this administration’s aversion to discussing terrorist connections to the Benghazi attack, the UN designation clearly notes Jamal’s connection to the Benghazi attack, whereas the State Department designation omits it.

I believe there has been pressure from the administration to omit this type of information from U.S. intelligence products, sending conflicting signals to both our allies and to countries that may have Benghazi suspects of interest to the FBI.  But if we’re unwilling to identify their involvement in the attacks, it further erodes U.S. credibility in asking for access to these individuals.  This willful blindness is disingenuous and, ultimately, dangerous.

In early January, when I offered an amendment to create a Select Committee in the House Rules package for the 113th Congress, Speaker Boehner told the Republican Conference he didn’t believe that we had “reached the threshold” for a Select Committee.  He suggested that we might get to the threshold, but the committees of jurisdiction just needed a little more time.

That may have been the case in January, but nearly 11 months later, I think the broad support that has built over the last year makes clear we have more than passed the threshold for a Select Committee now.  I believe the “threshold” has clearly been reached in terms of cosponsors, endorsements and new revelations from press reports.

I was particularly struck by comments made by Ambassador Stevens’ deputy Greg Hicks in the 60 Minutes segment on Sunday: “for us, for the people that go out onto the edge, to represent our country, we believe that if we get in trouble, they’re coming to get us.  That our back is covered.  To hear that it’s not, it’s a terrible, terrible experience.”

It is not enough for the administration to just say there’s nothing more that could have been done, especially given that evidence indicates that they didn’t try much at all to assist the Americans under fire in Benghazi.

Mr. Speaker, it’s time for a unified, bipartisan Select Committee. Let’s get to the truth once and for all so we can find out what happened and restore the American peoples’ confidence in congressional oversight. 

 

 

Plans to try Benghazi attackers in US courts blocks case, congressman says

download (38)By Catherine Herridge:

Plans by the administration to use U.S. criminal courts to prosecute those responsible for last year’s terror attack in Benghazi have thrown up yet another roadblock to investigating the case, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told Fox News Friday.

“This whole plan has been, all along, to bring them to a criminal court in the United States. I’m not sure that’s in our national security best interest,” Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan said in an exclusive interview. “I don’t know how anyone could come to the conclusion that it hasn’t slowed it down.”

“Certainly I’m frustrated, I think the committee’s frustrated, and by the way, I think the people who do this for a living are really frustrated,” Rogers said.

Based on intelligence reporting, the delay has allowed the Benghazi suspects to remain free and engaged within their terrorist organizations.

As for possibly targeting them with drone strikes, counter terrorism analysts say the administration’s prosecution strategy has effectively pushed that option aside.

“U.S. intelligence officials, and our war fighters in the Defense Department, are hamstrung by a law enforcement model,” said Thomas Joscelyn of the Center for Defense of Demcracies.

“There are a lot of guys who are known terrorists, who are known suspects in the Benghazi attack, who could be taken off the battlefield today.”

The military detention center at Guantanamo Bay is also off the table for holding and questioning the Benghazi suspects

“Our position on GTMO is certainly clear, that we are not sending anyone to GTMO, that in fact, we are working to reduce the population at GTMO, ultimately with the goal of closing it.” Marie Harf. State Department spokeswoman, said Friday.

Another problem is that while a criminal case requires physical evidence, by the time the FBI reached the consulate where four Americans died on Sep. 11, 2012, the crime scene was contaminated.

Read more at Fox News

 

 

Exclusive: Cleric may have booked pre-9/11 flights for hijackers, FBI documents show

imagesCAX75C8TBy

The FBI suspected within days of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that  the American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki may have purchased tickets for some  of the hijackers for air travel in advance of the attacks, according to newly  released documents reviewed exclusively by Fox News.

The purpose of these flights remains unclear, but the 9/11 Commission report  later noted that the hijackers had used flights in the lead-up to the attacks to  test security and surveillance.

The heavily redacted records – obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom  of information Act request – suggest the FBI held evidence tying the  American-born cleric to the hijackers just 16 days after the attack that killed  nearly 3,000 Americans.

“We have FBI documents showing that the FBI knew that al-Awlaki had bought  three tickets for three of the hijackers to fly into Florida and into Las Vegas,  including the lead hijacker, Mohammad Atta,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial  Watch, told Fox News.

He added that the records show the cleric, killed in September 2011 by a U.S.  drone strike in Yemen, “was a central focus of the FBI’s investigation of 9/11.  They show he wasn’t cooperative. And they show that he was under  surveillance.”

One FBI investigative report known as a 302 summarizes the bureau’s investigation  of Al-Awlaki’s Visa transactions. While heavily redacted, the document  indicates a credit transaction for “Atta, Mohammed — American West Airlines,  08/13/2001, Washington, DC to Las Vegas to Miami,” the document says.

The mid-August flight, according to the Joint Congressional Inquiry into  9/11, which first investigated the attacks, was one of Atta’s numerous and  crucial surveillance flights.

“On August 13, Atta flew a second time across country from Washington to Las  Vegas on a Boeing 757 (seated in first class) returning on August 14 to Fort  Lauderdale,” the 9/11 report reads.

The FBI documents also show a credit card record for a “Suqami, S. —-Southwest Airlines, 07/10/2001, Ft. Lauderdale to Orlando.” Satam al-Suqami  was one of the muscle hijackers on American Airlines Flight 11, which slammed  into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

The third individual, identified in the records is a “W. al-Sheri — National  Airlines, 08/01/2001, San Francisco to Las Vegas to Miami.”  This appears  to be either Waleed al-Shehri or Wail al-Shehri. The two brothers were also  muscle hijackers, according to the 9/11 Commission report.

As part of its ongoing investigation of the cleric, Fox News was first to  report in the special “Fox  News Reporting – The Secrets of 9/11,” broadcast in September 2011, that the  cleric was an overlooked key player in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Read more at Fox News

 

Benghazi attack suspect list expands to include Egyptians

By :

The list of suspects in the Libya terror attack now extends to a handful of  suspected militants aligned with an Egyptian group known as the Jamal Network,  Fox News has learned.

A U.S. official said the Jamal Network is committed to violence to attain its  political ambitions, adding they are “hard-core, violent extremists in Egypt who  are trying to develop a relationship with Al Qaeda.”

Fox News is told that there are between two- and three-dozen suspects  actively being investigated at any one time in connection with the Benghazi  attack. The suspect list is fluid, drawn from intelligence ranging from  intercepts to witness accounts, with new names being added and dropped on a  regular basis.

The majority of the suspects were described to Fox News as “locals” who come  from Libya and are followers of the group Ansar al-Shariah, which wants to  establish an Islamic state with adherence to strict Shariah law.

The additional suspects are being investigated after one Tunisian suspect,  Ali Ani al-Harzi, was first arrested in Turkey — after being identified through  telephone intercepts where he bragged to friends about his involvement — and  transferred to Tunisian custody. There is also at least one suspect with ties to  Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The radical ties of the suspects further raises questions about the degree of  planning that may have been involved in an attack initially described as  “spontaneous.”

The Jamal Network takes its name from Mohammed Jamal Abu Ahmed, who was  released from an Egyptian jail during the Arab Spring and is now trying to  establish himself as a leader in Jihadi circles. U.S. officials believe he  established training camps in Libya, and it was in these camps that some of the  fighters linked to the attack were trained.

Read more at Fox News with video

Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Herridge, Gives NEW INFO on BenghaziGate

Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Catherine Herridge: “There’s no way the administration can deny that they did not know what was happening in Benghazi, in real-time”.

Herridge:”Senator McCain told me, that he is incredibly disappointed with the CIA Director (David Petraeus)…. someone who for many years, has been untouchable, because of his military accomplishment, and there has not been a good explanation. I believe, that much of this will come back to WEAPONS… and the movement of WEAPONS out of Libya, to Turkey, and then into Syria…”.

If there wasn’t a leftist liberal leading the Senate, Barack Hussein Obama would probably be impeached for smuggling guns to Syria. This cover-up gets bigger everyday.

 

See also The Counter Jihad Report’s You Tube Channel Benghazi Playlist

Media Blackout: Aside from FOX, Sunday News Hosts Fail to Raise Benghazi (breitbart.com)

via LittlebytesNews: Benghazigate call to action –> Patriots, WE NEED A FULL COURT PRESS ALL THIS WEEK!

 

Contact the media and demand coverage of the Benghazi scandal and thank Fox News for their excellent reporting:

FAIR’s Media Contact List

Let your voice be heard! Talk back to the media.


Network/Cable Television

ABC News 147 Columbus Ave., New York, NY 10023 Phone: 212-456-7777 Good Morning America: email form Nightline: email form 20/20: email form

 

BBC Television Center, Wood Lance, London, W12 7RJ, United Kingdom Phone: 44 20 8743 8000 Website: feedback page

 

BBC America 747 Third Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10017 Phone: 212-705-9300 Website: email form

CBS News524 W. 57 St., New York, NY 10019 Phone: 212-975-4321

 

Email forms for all CBS news programs CBS Evening News: evening@cbsnews.com The Early Show: earlyshow@cbs.com 60 Minutes II: 60m@cbsnews.com 48 Hours: 48hours@cbsnews.com Face The Nation: ftn@cbsnews.com

 

CNBC 900 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632 Phone: 201-735-2622 Email: info@cnbc.com

CNN One CNN Center, Box 105366, Atlanta, GA 30303-5366 Phone: 404-827-1500 Email forms for all CNN news programs

 

Fox News Channel 1211 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10036 Phone: 212-301-3000 comments@foxnews.comList of Email addresses for all Fox News Channel programs Special Report With Bret Baier: special@foxnews.com Fox Report With Shepard Smith: Foxreport@foxnews.com The O’Reilly Factor: oreilly@foxnews.com Hannity: hannity@foxnews.com, On the Record With Greta: ontherecord@foxnews.com

 

MSNBC/NBC30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112 Phone: 212-664-3720List of Email addresses for all MSNBC/NBC news programs Dateline NBC:dateline@nbcuni.com Hardball with Chris Matthews: http://thechrismatthewsshow.com/html/contact.html MSNBC Reports with Joe Scarborough: email form NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams: nightly@nbc.com NBC News Today: today@nbc.com NBC Weekend Today: WT@nbc.com

 

PBS2100 Crystal Drive, Arlington VA 22202-3785 Phone: 703-739-5000 , Phone: 703-739-5290 (Ombudsman) 

The NewsHour (corrections and complaints): onlineda@newshour.orgg Frontline: frontlineworld@flworld.org Ombud Michael Getler Email


National Radio Programs

National Public Radio 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001-3753 Phone: 202-513-2000
List of Email addresses for all NPR news programs List of phone numbers for all NPR news programs

 

The Rush Limbaugh Show 1270 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 Phone (on air): 800-282-2882 (Between 12 and 3 PM)
E-mail: ElRushbo@eibnet.com 

 

Sean Hannity Show Phone (on air): 800-941-7326 (3-6 PM Mon-Fri) Sean Hannity:212-613-3800  James Grisham, Producer: 212-613-3832 E-mail: Phil Boyce, Program Director phil.boyce@citcomm.com Email: the Sean Hannity Show 


National Newspapers

The Los Angeles Times 202 West First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Phone: 213-237-5000

L.A. Times Contact Information by Department Letters to the Editor: email form Readers’ Representative: readers.representative@latimes.com

The New York Times620 8th Ave., New York, NY 10018 Phone: 212-556-1234 D.C. Bureau phone: 202-862-0300

Letters to the Editor (for publication): letters@nytimes.com Write to the news editors: news-tips@nytimes.com Corrections: nytnews@nytimes.com New York Times Contact Information by Department How to Contact New York Times Reporters and Editors

 

USA Today 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22108 Phone: 703-854-3400

Corrections: accuracy@usatoday.com Give feedback to USA Today

The Wall Street Journal 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036 Phone: 212-416-2000

Letters to the Editor: wsj.ltrs@wsj.com Comment on News Articles: wsjcontact@dowjones.com Comment on News Coverage:newseditors@wsj.com Submit Op-Ed

The Washington Post 1150 15th St., NW, Washington, DC 20071 Phone: 202-334-6000 Ombudsman: 202-334-7582

Letters to the Editor: letters@washpost.com Ombudsman: ombudsman@washpost.com Contact Washington Post Writers and Editors


Magazines

Newsweek 7 Hanover Square, Newyork, Ny, 10004 Phone: 212-445-4000

Letters to the Editor: letters@newsweek.com

Time Time & Life Bldg., Rockefeller Center, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020-1393 Phone: 212-522-1212

Letters to the Editor letters@time.com

 


NewsServices/Wires

Associated Press 450 West 33rd St., New York, NY 10001 Phone: 212-621-1500

General Questions and Comments: info@ap.org Partial Contact Information for the Associated Press by Department and Bureau

 

ReutersThree Times Square, New York, NY 10036 Telephone: 646-223-4000

Reuters Editorial Feedback

 

United Press International1133 19th Street, NW Washington, DC 20036 Telephone: 202-898-8000

Comments and Tips: newstips@upi.org


FAIR wants to hear about your media activism. Please send copies of your letters to journalists to

FAIR 104 W. 27th St. 10th Floor New York, NY 10001 fair@fair.org

The Government’s Awlaki Story Does Not Pass the Laugh Test

by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY

In the early morning hours of October 10, 2002, Anwar al-Awlaki, the notorious al Qaeda operative, was detained by U.S. Customs agents when he arrived at JFK International Airport in New York City after a flight from Saudi Arabia. At the time, he was a prime suspect in the 9/11 attacks and had been placed on terrorist watch-lists. Nevertheless, the Bush Justice Department directed Customs to release him. That decision enabled Awlaki to continue his jihadist campaign against the United States until he was finally killed in Yemen last September, in an American drone attack.

For nearly a decade since Awlaki was permitted to go free at the airport, the government has maintained that he was released because an arrest warrant for him, based on a 1993 felony passport fraud charge, had been vacated before his arrival, due to insufficient evidence. The government has suggested, moreover, that sheer coincidence explained the dismissal of the fraud charge right before Awlaki showed up at JFK: just a random assessment that a case was too weak, made by prosecutors and investigators who were unaware of Awlaki’s imminent arrival.

Now, Fox’s Catherine Herridge breaks the news that the government’s story is untrue. In House testimony this week, a top FBI official admitted that the Bureau and federal prosecutors knew Awlaki was about to return to the United States before he arrived at JFK. Furthermore, it emerged at the House hearing that the passport fraud warrant had not been vacated when Awlaki was briefly detained. The warrant remained valid and pending; it could have been used to arrest him. Instead, the Justice Department intervened to “un-arrest” him. With apologies extended by federal agents to both Awlaki and the Saudi government representative conveniently on hand to assist him, the terrorist was sprung.

I would also throw this into the hopper: The Justice Department’s rationale for dismissing the warrant is fatally flawed. Awlaki should have been arrested and prosecuted on the passport violation in 2002. That would not just have been a worthy effort in its own right; it would have had the added benefit of giving terrorism investigators more time, and more leverage, to develop a convincing terrorism case against Awlaki and other suspects. Why the case was dropped is a question that deserves much more scrutiny. After all, the release at JFK marked the second time, in a matter of months, that Awlaki wriggled free despite the heavy cloud of 9/11 suspicion that hovered over him.

To be blunt, the government’s Awlaki story does not pass the laugh test.

It was always incredible to suggest, as the Justice Department has, that Awlaki’s release was the result of a series of remarkable coincidences. Until this week, the story went something like this: After obtaining a valid arrest warrant in Denver federal court, the FBI case agent and assistant U.S. attorney assigned to the matter decided, out of the blue, to review the file. It just happened to be the day before Awlaki tried to reenter the country. There was nothing going on in the case that called for a review at that time – Awlaki was out of the country, there was no urgency to file an indictment, and an indictment on the simple charge would have been easy to obtain once the time came. One would think the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in a major city would have more pressing matters to attend to. Yet, they undertook to scrub their evidence and concluded – to the astonishment of federal terrorism investigators then probing Awlaki in San Diego – that the passport fraud complaint they had only recently filed against Awlaki was too weak to stand.

Abruptly, they decided to dismiss it – not sleep on it, not think about what evidence might shore it up, not consider how the information they’d amassed might warrant new charges against Awlaki. No, they just dismissed the only existing charge against a pivotal 9/11 suspect – even though many other suspects had been held for weeks, without any charges at all, on “material witness” warrants.

The government has disingenuously represented that, with the warrant already purportedly “pulled” due to the latently discovered “weakness” of its passport fraud case, there was no legitimate basis to detain Awlaki when Customs agents unexpectedly encountered him at JFK in October 2002. Thus the agents simply had no choice but to release him into the waiting arms of his Saudi handler.

 
Read more: Family Security Matters

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor  Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad and blogs at National Review Online’s The Corner.