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.

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.