#Benghazi: security contractors claim CIA delayed aid

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**Posted by Phineas

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

Help delayed is help denied

Here we go again.

One of the enduring questions from the 9/11/12 massacre at the US consulate in Benghazi and the subsequent attack on a CIA annex there has been “Where was the cavalry?”, when we had forces available in the area that might have saved the ambassador and three others who died.

An investigation by the Republican-lead House Armed Services Committee determined that American forces in nearby countries could not have responded in time, though they blamed the White House for not being prepared. (As do I.) They also concluded that there was no stand-down order for the quick reaction force in Tripoli and that it could not have arrived in time to save lives.

Fair enough. But what about the CIA team in the “annex?” There had been earlier reports that a rescue force was delayed for roughly half-an-hour, before deciding to go on their own volition. Now, in an interview to air on Bret Baier’s “Special Report” tonight at 7 PST, three of the contractors at the annex who survived the battle have accused their boss of holding them back:

The security contractors — Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen — spoke exclusively, and at length, to Fox News about what they saw and did that night. Baier, Fox News’ Chief Political Anchor, asked them about one of the most controversial questions arising from the events in Benghazi: Was help delayed?

Word of the attack on the diplomatic compound reached the CIA annex just after 9:30 p.m. Within five minutes, the security team at the annex was geared up for battle, and ready to move to the compound, a mile away.

“Five minutes, we’re ready,” said Paronto, a former Army Ranger. “It was thumbs up, thumbs up, we’re ready to go.”

But the team was held back. According to the security operators, they were delayed from responding to the attack by the top CIA officer in Benghazi, whom they refer to only as “Bob.”

“It had probably been 15 minutes I think, and … I just said, ‘Hey, you know, we gotta– we need to get over there, we’re losing the initiative,’” said Tiegen. “And Bob just looks straight at me and said, ‘Stand down, you need to wait.’”

“We’re starting to get calls from the State Department guys saying, ‘Hey, we’re taking fire, we need you guys here, we need help,’” said Paronto.

After a delay of nearly 30 minutes, the security team headed to the besieged consulate without orders. They asked their CIA superiors to call for armed air support, which never came.

Now, looking back, the security team said they believed that if they had not been delayed for nearly half an hour, or if the air support had come, things might have turned out differently.

“Ambassador Stevens and Sean [Smith], yeah, they would still be alive, my gut is yes,” Paronto said. Tiegen concurred.

“I strongly believe if we’d left immediately, they’d still be alive today,” he added.

An unidentified “intelligence official” denied there was a stand down order, but these three swear those exact words were used to them: “stand down.” The question, if this account is true, is did “Bob” act on his own, or did he have instructions from above?

This is a question that needs answers.  We already have a special select committee investigating Benghazi, and the Chairman has said these new allegations will be part of that investigation.

The victims and their families deserve no less than the truth.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Rep. Trey Gowdy: “Universe of [#Benghazi] witnesses is expanding”

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Congressman Trey Gowdy

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC-4
Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

South Carolina’s WLTX reports on the behind-the-scenes prep work going on in advance of the much-anticipated Trey Gowdy-led Benghazi hearings scheduled to start in September:

WASHINGTON (Gannett Washington Bureau/Mary Troyan) – The special House committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi will hold its first public hearing in September about changes the State Department has made to better protect diplomats, Rep. Trey Gowdy said Wednesday.

Gowdy, the committee’s Republican chairman, also said the panel is gaining access to witnesses that didn’t participate in previous congressional investigations into the attacks.

“I know I’m biased, but one of the good parts about running an investigation in a way that appears to be serious-minded is that witnesses who were previously unavailable or not interested in cooperating are now interested in cooperating,” Gowdy said. “The universe of witnesses is expanding.”

U.S. House lawmakers created the committee in May to review the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks that killed four Americans in eastern Libya, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Several previous congressional investigations have looked at security lapses and intelligence failures related to the attacks, along with the military’s response and whether President Barack Obama’s administration initially downplayed the incident for political reasons.

Gowdy, in an interview Tuesday, said the panel is not scheduled to meet during the August congressional recess, but committee lawyers and investigators will be working.

[…]

In a notable departure from other House committees that battled with the administration over Benghazi investigations, Gowdy said he is “encouraged” by responses to his panel’s requests for additional documents.

“There is no substitute for sitting down and me sharing my expectations and them telling me their concerns or what their frustrations in the past have been,” Gowdy said. “I’m not looking for the fight or the story. I just want the documents. It’s been easy so far.”

The September hearing will focus on about 24 recommendations issued in December 2012 by the independent Accountability Review Board, which investigated the State Department’s actions before, during and after the attacks. The board was led by former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Adm. Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Their report blamed “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department” for “grossly inadequate” security.

Gowdy, a former prosecutor, is famously pit-bullish when he’s not getting the information he seeks. Let’s hope he’s just as unrelenting when these Benghazi hearings start.  The family members of the four victims of the Benghazi murders have been invited to attend, and they deserve answers.

#Benghazi massacre an Iranian operation?

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**Posted by Phineas

Qassem Suleymani

Qassem Suleymani

That’s the assertion of journalist Kenneth Timmerman in a forthcoming book, “Dark Forces.” In a summary article in the New York Post, Timmerman discusses Qassem Suleymani, the head of Quds Force, Iran’s external special operations forces that have conducted operations against us in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped establish Hizbullah, and carried out terrorist strikes around the world. He then talks about Iran’s concern over our presence in Benghazi, where we were monitoring jihadist groups (and, according to rumor, shipping guns to the Syrian rebels, who were fighting Iran’s client, President Assad), groups that Iran, per Timmerman’s sources, had a hand in creating and supporting. The Iranians were so concerned, in fact, that Suleymani set up an operation in which a Quds Force hit team, disguised as Red Crescent workers, were to kidnap Ambassador Stevens and destroy the CIA annex in Benghazi. The idea was to hit us hard to prove to Washington that there was no safe place for American personnel in the Middle East.

Trouble was, from the Iranian point of view, we were intercepting their communications, knew when the hit team arrived, and had them followed by Libyan militia members in our pay. That’s when things got weird:

Then at 1 in the morning, it happened.

All of a sudden, the deputy chief jumped up from where he had been dozing off. His guys were going nuts.

The ruckus got the chief’s attention. “What’s going on? What are they saying?” he asked.

The deputy translated the excited shrieks from the trackers. It seemed the Red Crescent team had been headed back to the Tibesti Hotel when they were ambushed by a half dozen Toyota pickups with .50-caliber machine guns mounted on the beds.

The militia guys forced the Iranians to get out, cuffed them, then bundled them into a pair of Jeep Cherokees and sped off.

Our guys decided it was more prudent not to follow them, he said.

So they’re gone, the chief said. That’s it. Kidnapped.

Based on information that came in later, the station chief and his deputy assumed the Iranians had been kidnapped in some Sunni-Shia dispute and were being held until they could be shipped back to Tehran.

But, what they didn’t know, per Timmerman’s sources, is that the Iranians were intercepting the CIA annex’s communications and knew we were on to them, so they staged the kidnapping of their team as a bluff, to make us think their operation was thwarted by sectarian rivalries. And it worked; the CIA station chief and his deputy bought it. In other words, we knew what the Iranians were up to, they knew we knew, but we didn’t know that they knew we knew. And that allowed them to play us for suckers, get us off our guard, and for their proxies in Ansar al Sharia (again, per Timmerman) to carry out the attacks on September, 2012. Which, by the way, the Iranians had changed to a straight “kill the ambassador” operation, since we had blown the cover of their original kidnapping squad.

Is it true? The trouble with Timmerman’s account is that it relies on anonymous sources. That’s not surprising in intelligence work, but it makes it impossible for the average person to verify.

On the other hand, I do find it at least plausible. The Iranians have considered themselves at war with us since 1979, a war we’ve only fitfully recognized. They were responsible for the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and there’s widespread opinion that they were somehow involved in the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 (1). Iran has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, via the IEDs they supplied their proxies in both places. That a commander as daring and dedicated to his cause as Qassem Suleymani appears to be might order a hit on his enemy’s embassy is not outside the bounds of reason, however.

I suppose, until and if the Iranian government falls and their records become available, this will remain one of the mysteries of the shadow war between the US and Iran.

Footnote:
(1) This was later also attributed to al Qaeda, but there’s nothing that says Iran and bin Laden couldn’t have been working together.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Does the White House know anything about *anything*?

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Obama confused

‘Ummm …’

Great piece from Fox News detailing at least ‘9 times the Obama administration was blindsided’ – or allegedly blindsided, anyway. Here’s a sneak peek:

1. Islamist militants gaining in Iraq

The New Yorker (1/27/2014): “In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been ‘decimated.’ I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Fallujah, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

‘The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,’ Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. ‘I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.'”

The Wall Street Journal (6/11/2014): Iraq Drama Catches US Off Guard

[…]

8. Fast and Furious scandal

Jay Carney during a White House press briefing (6/27/2012): “The president did not know about this tactic until he heard about it through the media; the attorney general did not know about it.”

Read the whole thing and – not to be a downer this weekend – think about it when you’re out and about today that we’ve got a year and a half more to go of this executive office seeming cluelessness on major hot button issues – most of which have significant impact beyond how it plays out here in the United States. The White House’s dangerous feigned ignorance on these issues and more (including Benghazi and the emerging border crisis involving children) has not just caused PR headaches for them but – in some cases – has cost innocent lives, the deaths of which many were preventable.  If that level of willful HISS (Head In Sand Syndrome) doesn’t chill you to the bone, I don’t know what will.

(Video) #Benghazi — why it matters

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**Posted by Phineas

Aside from owing a true accounting to the memories of the dead lost there and their survivors, the truth about the Benghazi massacre matters because of two words: “competence” and “character.”  Bill Whittle explains:

Remember, one of the two top American officials mentioned in the video plainly desires to be President of the United States. Ignore the faux-outrage of her supporters; questions about Hillary Clinton’s conduct, competence, and character before, during, and after the attack are absolutely appropriate.

And the answers should disqualify her from office.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#Benghazi attackers used State Dept. phones the night of the attack

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**Posted by Phineas

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

And we overheard them doing it. If anyone still believes Hillary’s story about blaming a YouTube video based on the best information they had at the time, that person is either dumber than a rock, or hoping for a job in a possible Hillary administration.

Via Bret Baier and James Rosen:

The terrorists who attacked the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 used cell phones, seized from State Department personnel during the attacks, and U.S. spy agencies overheard them contacting more senior terrorist leaders to report on the success of the operation, multiple sources confirmed to Fox News.

The disclosure is important because it adds to the body of evidence establishing that senior U.S. officials in the Obama administration knew early on that Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and not a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video that had gone awry, as the administration claimed for several weeks after the attacks.

Eric Stahl, who recently retired as a major in the U.S. Air Force, served as commander and pilot of the C-17 aircraft that was used to transport the corpses of the four casualties from the Benghazi attacks – then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, information officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods – as well as the assault’s survivors from Tripoli to the safety of an American military base in Ramstein, Germany.

In an exclusive interview on Fox News’ “Special Report,” Stahl said members of a CIA-trained Global Response Staff who raced to the scene of the attacks were “confused” by the administration’s repeated implication of the video as a trigger for the attacks, because “they knew during the attack…who was doing the attacking.” Asked how, Stahl told anchor Bret Baier: “Right after they left the consulate in Benghazi and went to the [CIA] safehouse, they were getting reports that cell phones, consulate cell phones, were being used to make calls to the attackers’ higher ups.”

Funny, but the Accountability Review Board Secretary Clinton set up after the Benghazi massacre never interviewed Mr Stahl, nor, as far as I know, anyone else who might have knowledge of this. Odd oversight for them to make, isn’t it?

Remember, late on the night of the attack, right after a phone call with the president, Clinton released a statement blaming a video for the attack. She then swore before the caskets of the honored dead returning from Benghazi –and to the faces of their family members– that she would see that video maker brought to justice. She and her boss, the President of the United States, later still made a commercial for Pakistani TV denouncing the video. To this day, in her recently release memoirs, Hillary Clinton defends that claim as being based on the best intelligence we had available at the time.

And yet, if this story is true, we now know we had overheard the enemy calling their leaders and reporting a successful operation. Not a demonstration that got out of control, but an attack.

And, again, they knew that night.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had evidence that State and the White House knew that evening what was really happening, but this is explosive and, if it holds up, should destroy any remnant of Lady MacBeth’s credibility.

As I’ve said before, the only intended target for this deception could have been us. Not the enemy. In addition to getting the truth for its own sake, we the voters need to ask ourselves a question: Do we really want as president someone who not only and so casually lies to us, but to bereaved families?

I can’t wait for these hearings to get started.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Hillary: House GOP is “playing politics” on the backs of dead #Benghazi Americans

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Hillary Clinton testifies on Benghazi

HIllary Clinton testifies on Benghazi. – January 2013

Just in case you thought possible 2016 presidential contender La Clinton was going to maintain a moderate tone on the issue that is turning into her defining moment as Sec. of State, her upcoming book makes it clear she most definitely will not:

“I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans,” read an excerpt from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s book which deals with the response to the Benghazi attack. In that excerpt from the book Hard Choicesreleased exclusively to Politico, Clinton attacked Republicans for playing politics with the investigation into the attack .

“It’s just plain wrong, and it’s unworthy of our great country,” Clinton said of what she called the “political slugfest” that the investigation has become. “Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me.”

While Clinton took responsibility for the attack and its aftermath, she scolded the press for propagating a “regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit.”

She added that there is no reason for the continued investigation. “Many of these same people are a broken record about unanswered question,” Clinton wrote. “But there is a difference between unanswered questions and unlistened to answers.”

There’s also a huge difference between candid, truthful answers and dishonest political spin, ma’am.  But …. I know, what difference at this point does it make, right?  The families of the victims, and the American people, deserve the truth about what happened to the four murdered Americans and the administration’s disastrous response to it.  But apparently Mrs. Clinton believes that when it comes to Congressional investigations and oversight, you should simply take the statements of her and her former State Department team … and the administration … at face value, because they just tried to do “what’s in your best interest.”  I don’t think so.

I suspect Fox News’ Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren will ask her about this in their upcoming interview with her in mid-June.  Hope so, anyway.

Team Clinton ‘worried’ about #Benghazi investigation, pushed for Dems on panel

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Hillary Clinton testifies on Benghazi

HIllary Clinton testifies on Benghazi. – January 2013

The Politico reports that in spite of the grandstanding of several House Democrats in response to the creation of the Benghazi special committee led by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Team Clinton played a large role in getting them to agree to participate:

Hillary Clinton’s world was so worried about a Republican investigation of the Benghazi attacks, they sent a message to House Democrats: We need backup.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) publicly considered boycotting the panel, an idea that Clinton supporters feared would leave the potential 2016 candidate exposed to the enemy fire of House Republicans.

So Clinton emissaries launched a back channel campaign, contacting several House Democratic lawmakers and aides to say they’d prefer Democrats participate, according to sources familiar with the conversations. Pelosi’s staff said they have not heard from Clinton’s camp.

On Wednesday, Pelosi appointed five Democrats to the committee, giving Democrats another crucial mission in the months ahead of what was already a tough election year: act as Clinton’s first line of defense.

[…]

Clinton and her allies know from experience the kind of damage an emboldened Republican House committee can inflict.

If Clinton testifies, it will almost certainly be one of the blockbuster moments for the committee and an important prelude as she considers a second run for the White House.

Some Democrats are already worried that they have been too slow to prepare for the expected partisan battles on Benghazi. Republicans have been teeing up for months.

The Democrats on the committee may be able to blunt some of the damage, but I think it’s Clinton herself who will be her own worst enemy if called to testify.   When on the defensive, she comes off as such – taking the typical Clintonian attitude that she shouldn’t dare be called to account, that everything she does is “for the greater good” and shouldn’t be questioned … and that attitude shows in her responses, as it did the last time around.  

As always, stay tuned.

(Via Memeorandum)

CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker: Our network has no shame whatsoever

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CNN Jeff Zucker

Image via Salon.com

There’s really no other way to interpret Zucker’s remarks, as quoted from a Monday interview he did with thew New York Times – which was recorded by Capital New York (via):

Last night, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker gave a hint of where the network will go next now thats its two-plus-month coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is subsiding.

“I don’t think there’s any question about our commitment to breaking news, as evidenced by all the questions about the plane,” he told New York Times television reporter Bill Carter during an interview at the Deadline Club’s annual awards dinner. “So we’re still there whenever that happens, but we’re going to supplement that with some different kind of storytelling.”

[…]

CNN’s round-the-clock coverage of the search for the missing Malaysian flight was mocked widely for its obsessiveness, and was the “so-called 777 in the room” at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in midtown, where the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was celebrating its annual awards.

Asked whether he considered his channel’s ratings-elevating coverage of the event was ever excessive, Zucker said, “If I take a step back from our coverage of the Malaysian plane’s disappearance, I’m incredibly comfortable with it. I believed early on, right from the start, that it was an enormously important story: an American-made Boeing jet liner, with Rolls Royce engines with 239 people, disappears into thin air…That’s why we devoted the resources that we did to it.”

CNN continues to mention the story every day, Zucker said, noting that the families of the 239 people aboard the plane still ask for updates. Yesterday, CNN reported that raw satellite data about the plane’s course could soon be made public.

Zucker was also asked if his network would devote any significant amount of time covering the upcoming Benghazi special committee hearings where House Republicans will try to get to the bottom of who knew what and when:

“We’re not going to be shamed into it by others who have political beliefs that want to try to have temper tantrums to shame other news organizations into covering something,” he said. “If it’s of real news value, we’ll cover it.”

Translation: If they can figure out a way to sensationalize the hell out of the murders of four innocent Americans on foreign soil for ratings, as they did the MH 370 disaster, they’ll be all over it.  Keeping a watchful eye on government hearings purely for the sake of a little thing like oversight and accountability is not enough. As far as politically “shaming” his network into covering an issue, it all depends on who is having the “temper tantrums” and doing the “shaming”, however (natch):

Carter asked if the network, which has been criticized for its oversight of climate change, might devote more live airtime to the subject.

“Climate change is one of those stories that deserves more attention, that we all talk about,” Zucker said, “but we haven’t figured out how to engage the audience in that story in a meaningful way. When we do do those stories, there does tend to be a tremendous amount of lack of interest on the audience’s part.”

Don’t ever change, CNN.  Please don’t ever change.

Eleanor Clift doubles down on #Benghazi “smoke inhalation death” stupidity

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Eleanor Clift

The fail is strong with this one.

Still acting in the role of human shield for possible 2016 contender Hillary Clinton, liberal commentator Eleanor Clift is standing by her remarks that Ambassador Chris Stevens wasn’t ‘technically’ murdered in Benghazi:

A longtime political pundit under fire for claiming the American ambassador to Libya was not “murdered” in Benghazi is standing by her claim he died of smoke inhalation.

“I’d like to point out that Ambassador (Chris) Stevens was not ‘murdered;’ he died of smoke inhalation in that safe room in that CIA installation,” Eleanor Clift, a columnist at The Daily Beast, said Sunday on “The McLaughlin Group.”

While Clift may be technically correct in light of reports that Stevens died from smoke inhalation, she was criticized because the ambassador died as a result of a fire ignited during a terrorist raid on the Benghazi consulate on Sep. 11, 2012.

She stood by her comment Tuesday during a radio interview.

“I was taking issue with the sort of glib use of the word ‘murdered,'” Clift told radio host Steve Malzberg. “My point is that it was a very chaotic event. The CIA was involved, which is why there was a lot of confusion initially, and that all the questions that this special committee is raising have been asked and answered in previous investigations.”

Malzberg asked if she would feel the same way if it was her relative. She replied, “I would say he died of smoke inhalation.”

Right. In the same way a man whose house was deliberately set on fire wasn’t “murdered” but instead “died of smoke inhalation” – or “died of 1st degree burns on their entire body.” The same way a woman whose car was intentionally wrecked while she was still in it “died from blunt force windshield trauma” or “drowned in the river.” Would someone please buy this woman a 55 gallon drum of clues when it comes to murder classifications, please? She sure as hell needs it.  Dum dum. o=> :-w