#Benghazi: Proof of what we knew — the White House is full of lying suckweasels

**Posted by Phineas

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

So, more than 19 months after four Americans –including our ambassador– died at the hands of al Qaeda allies in an attack on our consulate in Benghazi, part of the truth finally comes out: the White House political operation used the story of  a video to protect President Obama reelection, sacrificing the truth, our national security interests, and any shred of decency owed the victims’ surviving families on the altar of his political needs.

Independent reporter Sharyl Attkisson has the story:

Newly-released documents reveal direct White House involvement in steering the public narrative about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, toward that of a spontaneous protest that never happened.

One of the operative documents, which the government had withheld from Congress and reporters for a year and a half, is an internal September 14, 2012 email to White House press officials from Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Assistant and Deputy National Security Advisor. (Disclosure: Ben Rhodes is the brother of David Rhodes, the President of CBS News, where I was employed until March.)

In the email, Ben Rhodes lists as a “goal” the White House desire “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”

The email is entitled, “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET” and refers to White House involvement in preparing then-U.S.Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for her upcoming appearance on Sunday television network political talk shows.

The Rhodes email states that another “goal” is “To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

Via Twitchy. There’s much more, so read it all.

Remember, Obama had been claiming for months that al Qaeda was “on the run,” nearly beaten. It was one of his justifications for reelection: he had crushed our mortal enemy. Then they attacked our consulate and killed our personnel, and suddenly the whole narrative was about to fall like the house of cards it was.

This wasn’t a meeting of a group meant to deal with a foreign policy crisis. No, Rhodes was heading up a political damage control team. That’s where the priority was. Not in determining how this happened, not in pursuing our enemies, and certainly not in our Head of State and Commander in Chief taking responsibility, because that might have meant handing a cudgel to the Republicans. Jim Geraghty weighs in (emphasis added):

Yes, Rhodes’s speechwriting always focused in the foreign-policy realm. He was a longtime assistant to Lee Hamilton, then joined Obama as a speechwriter in 2007. But this guy’s not an expert on Libya. There’s no way he was in any position, from Washington, to overrule the assessment of the folks on the ground. He’s a message guy. And he quickly concluded – accurately – that the administration’s obvious ill-prepared presence in Libya, and failure to organize timely rescue efforts, on the 9/11 anniversary represented a serious threat to the president’s reelection. They needed a scapegoat; the video was the best option at hand.

That included, by the way, trampling the First Amendment rights of the video maker, who was hauled off in the middle of the night and pilloried in the press to play that scapegoat.

And before anyone says things were still unclear and they really thought the attack was a spontaneous reaction to the video, check the dates. Rhodes’ email was dated the 14th; the attack happened on the 11th. By the night of the attack, within hours, they knew that it was a terrorist strike, not an out of control riot against a video:

Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation’s top civilian and uniformed defense officials — headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama — were informed that the event was a “terrorist attack,” declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president’s Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi attacks for two weeks afterward.

Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, told the House in classified testimony last year that it was him who broke the news about the unfolding situation in Benghazi to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The tense briefing — in which it was already known that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens had been targeted and had gone missing — occurred just before the two senior officials departed the Pentagon for their session with the commander in chief.

According to declassified testimony obtained by Fox News, Ham — who was working out of his Pentagon office on the afternoon of Sept. 11 — said he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its commencement, at 9:42 p.m. Libya time, through a call he received from the AFRICOM Command Center.

As I wrote at the time:

But now we have the testimony of the general in charge of the combat command responsible for Benghazi that he, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarded this as a terrorist attack — within minutes of the attack beginning! Panetta and Dempsey then went to a previously scheduled meeting with Obama at which, we’re supposed to believe, they didn’t give their boss their considered opinion? They just let him believe the massacre happened because of some video few ever saw? That they let him and his advisers go on for weeks like this, when they knew the truth?

Garbage. It is inconceivable that Obama did not know that night that our consulate had come under terrorist attack. 

And that was three days before Rhodes’ email, which can only mean this was a deliberate attempt to lie to the American people in order to save Obama’s (and Hillary’s) craven political rear ends.

No wonder they tried to keep this email secret.

RELATED: At PJM, Roger Simon says this is “worse than Watergate” and calls for impeachment.

PS: And this only answers one major question about the Benghazi massacre. Still left begging is the question of just where Obama was that night and what was his role, if he even had one. The question of Hillary’s accountability for her incompetence leading up to the disaster is a whole other matter.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Americans held in Libya, head-meets-desk quote. Update: released?

**Posted by Phineas

There’s breaking news tonight that four Americans, likely military, are in the custody of the Libyan government, having been taken during a visit to the Roman ruins at Sabratha. As of this writing, no information has been released as to any charges, and the State Department has issued no statement. (Probably wise, until we learn more.)

Reading the NYT article, I did a double-take when I read the following:

Since the attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens on Sept. 11, 2012, employees of the American Embassy have operated with extraordinary caution. Rigorous security rules preclude any movements outside the heavily fortified embassy compound without advance planning and an armed guard. The compound is locked at night, and no one is permitted to enter or exit. Counterterrorism has become a central focus of the work there, and the compound brims with well-armed security officers.

Just brilliant. It takes the needless deaths of four US personnel, including an ambassador, at the hands of our sworn enemies for us to finally start providing anything resembling adequate security. Hillary Clinton’s legacy is secure, and I’m sure the souls of Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods are ever so relieved.

Meanwhile, I would suggest to the Libyan government that it remember who put them in power in the first place and that, if any of these men are hurt in any way, we have long memories, and Barack Obama won’t always be president.

UPDATE: Per CNN via KCCI, the four have been released. No confirmation yet, nor any word on their condition or why they were held in the first place.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Congressman Issa gets back to work on getting to the bottom of #Benghazi murders

Great news – via The Politico:

Darrell Issa will resume hammering the White House on Benghazi on Thursday after four months of relative silence on the subject, as his committee interrogates two of the chief independent investigators of the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya.

Issa’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will basically investigate the independent investigation by the Accountability Review Board. The ARB released a December report detailing the Obama administration’s response to the attacks, calling for tighter security at many embassies but stopping short of laying blame on senior officials in the State Department.

Lawmakers will hear from two key witnesses who wrote the ARB report, former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen. Their report has come under fire from Republicans, who say key witnesses weren’t interviewed.

Republicans have accused Pickering and Mullen of “whitewashing” the response to the attacks in order to protect Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time. Democrats call that claim absurd.

Getting the two men into a hearing room has taken months. Both volunteered to testify in May after their report came under fire, but Issa insisted on first conducting closed-door interviews — going so far as to subpoena Pickering. The two sat for interviews in June but getting a public hearing scheduled has dragged on longer.

Democrats, who have been calling for the two to be permitted to testify for months, argue Pickering and Mullen will make the strongest defense against Republican accusations of political motives and coverups around the attacks. Republicans think it will be one of the best opportunities to indict not just the administration but more specifically, Clinton.

Stay tuned ….

Congressman Issa

Keep fighting for the truth, Congressman.

#Benghazi: House Republicans want to talk to key colonel, but the Pentagon can’t find him??

**Posted by Phineas

US Consulate, Benghazi

They’re still waiting for answers

Oh, this is interesting:

Marine Corps Col. George Bristol was in a key position in the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) chain of command the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. As such, he’s high on the list of people that some Republican members of Congress want to interview. But they don’t know where he is and the Pentagon isn’t telling.

Pentagon spokesman Major Robert Firman told CBS News that the Department of Defense “cannot compel retired members to testify before Congress.”

“They say he’s retired and they can’t reach out to him,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told CBS News. “That’s hogwash.”

Bristol, a martial arts master, was commander of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara based in Stuttgart, Germany until he retired last March. In an article in Stars and Stripes, Bristol is quoted at his retirement ceremony as telling his troops that “an evil” has descended on Africa, referring to Islamic militant groups. “It is on us to stomp it out.”

Sure, the Pentagon can’t find him. They have no forwarding address for his mail, no entry for a stateside residence, and no friends who might know how to get in touch with him. Nope. He just retired and walked out that door and vanished, and nobody in the vast US military bureaucracy knows where he is. It’s a real-life case of “Where’s George?”

This is nonsense. At the very least, Col. Bristol has veteran’s benefits, and the VA knows where he lives so they can process those. While Rep. Chaffetz says the DoD has been more forthcoming regarding Benghazi than other government departments, this is a glaring exception. It makes it look very much like the Pentagon (or someone who can give the Pentagon orders) doesn’t want Col. Bristol found, which leads to the question of what he knows about the events of the night of the massacre. Given his position in Africom, if he does know something, it’s likely to do with the failure to send a rescue mission that night, including the orders to the team in Tripoli to stand down. His testimony could be an important piece of the puzzle of what really happened that night. (1) This sounds like a good time for Issa’s committee to subpoena the colonel’s personnel and VA records, so they can look him up.

Passing thought: Bristol has to have known the committee would want to talk to him; he only retired four months ago. So, why hasn’t he come forth on his own, armed with a lawyer, if need be?

(1) Shocking, I know, but I don’t quite trust the White House “official story.”

via Chuck Woolery, who knows how the committee can find the colonel:

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#Benghazi: the President couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone

**Posted by Phineas

One of your embassies is under attack, your ambassador and other Americans  are in grave danger, and forces you’ve sent to their aid are held up at the local airport in a turf dispute. So, what do you do? Do you pick up the phone and call the leader of the host country and ask him to expedite things so your soldiers can go save American lives? Do you remind him of the aid we rendered to his people in throwing off the late dictator, without which they likely would have lost? And, if he demurs, do you remind him of your predecessor’s famous words, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us?”

Oh, hell no:

President Obama didn’t make any phone calls the night of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the White House said in a letter to Congress released Thursday.

“During the entire attack, the president of the United States never picked up the phone to put the weight of his office in the mix,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, who had held up Mr. Obama’s defense secretary nominee to force the information to be released.

Mr. Graham said that if Mr. Obama had picked up the phone, at least two of the Americans killed in the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi might still be alive because he might have been able to push U.S. aid to get to the scene faster.

The White House has said Mr. Obama was kept up to date on the attack by his staff, though after being alerted to the attack in a pre-scheduled afternoon meeting he never spoke again with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin E. Dempsey or then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mr. Panetta told Congress last week that he knew immediately the attacks were a terrorist assault, though the White House downplayed that notion in the first five days after the attack.

Emphasis added. Let’s make this clear: Obama knew early enough that he could have made a phone call to Tripoli. (Somehow, I think Libyan President El-Megrahi would have picked up the line.) We had a rapid reaction squad at the Benghazi airport, where it was delayed due to an argument between rival forces. Had Obama put the weight of his office behind a personal demand that those men be allowed to continue their mission, at least the people at the CIA annex, including the two SEALs who died defending it, might have been rescued. But evidently, no one in this chowderheaded national security team thought to suggest it to Obama, nor did the Commander in Chief think of it himself. Or he did, but didn’t think it was such a big deal.

Well, it was a big deal to the Americans whose blood stained the walls of our consulate:

US Consulate, Benghazi

“Oh hold.”

To say I’m disgusted would be an understatement. “Contempt” is the nicest way I can express my opinion for the man occupying the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, take a look again at the last quoted sentence. Panetta knew immediately it was a terrorist attack. That means Hillary Clinton knew. That means Susan Rice, our UN Ambassador knew. And that means Obama himself knew. And yet for days and weeks after the attack they continued to blame the maker of an obscure YouTube video hardly anyone had seen. Rice went on five Sunday talk shows to push that point. Clinton promised the father of the murdered Ambassador Stevens that they would get the maker of the video. And Obama himself repeatedly denounced the video in his address to the UN General Assembly.

And now —after the election— Panetta admits they knew the truth all along.

Senator Lindsey Graham has often frustrated me, but on Benghazi he’s been a bulldog. He has warned he will put a hold on the nominations of Senator Hagel for Defense Secretary and John Brennan for CIA Director until the administration answers the many questions left over from the Benghazi massacre, including who decided to alter the CIA talking points on the incident to make it look like a spontaneous demonstration over a video. Good, and I hope he can sustain it. The administration thinks they’ve skated on this, and the only way the truth will ever come out is to hold up major appointments.

As I’ve said before, the only people who did not know what really happened on September 11th, 2012, in Benghazi were the American people. Our government knew. The jihadis knew. The Libyan government knew. Everybody knew except us, because someone made the decision to hide it from us.

And if you recall that September comes before November, you’ll know the likely reason why this colossal screw up was covered up.

via Hot Air

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Benghazi Consulate Massacre: the deaths are real, the punishments were fake.

**Posted by Phineas

US Consulate, Benghazi

They didn’t escape so lightly.

This is just outrageous. Four Americans died in Benghazi and the people held accountable for it in the official review whitewash, who supposedly were forced to resign, were instead just given a timeout:

The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.

The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.

The four were made out to be sacrificial lambs in the wake of a scathing report issued last week that found that the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, was left vulnerable to attack because of “grossly inadequate” security.

State Department leaders “didn’t come clean about Benghazi and now they’re not coming clean about these staff changes,” a source close to the situation told The Post., adding, the “public would be outraged over this.”

What a miserable farce. The entire Libya misadventure, from the initial, off-the-cuff decision of the president to loan out our Armed Forces in the service of a European agenda like some 18th-century monarch contracting out mercenaries to a royal cousin, down to the post-war security arrangement and rules of engagement — signed off on by Secretary Clinton herself! — was a pathetic, deadly joke.

And now, heaping insult upon injury, the people we were told were punished for the massacre at Benghazi turn out to not to have even received a slap on the wrist. No dismissals, no resignations, no demotions, no loss of pay — nothing but a “Wait a bit until the smoke clears, and then it’s back to normal.”

DiploPundit was right back on the 19th: this was a smokescreen to cover for political appointees. And you can bet it included Madame Secretary, herself.

The Diplomad, a now-retired Foreign Service Officer, thinks he has a pretty good idea what happened:

I will go out further on the limb. Once even the little dust created by the scandal has dissipated, the four bureaucrats asked to take the mini-spear for Chicago will–mark my words–get monetary awards. They will be written up for showing courage and fortitude under difficult circumstances. The senior people will evade all responsibility; ol’ whats-her-name will slip out of the building and leave her desk to John “Xmas in Cambodia” Kerry, the dead will be forgotten, the Islamist Morlocks will lick their fingers and get ready for another helping of Eloi.

Move along, there’s nothing to see here.

Nothing except a nauseatingly cynical game in which the real losers are the truth and the dead at Benghazi.

via Michelle Malkin

Postscript: In a related editorial, the Post closes with a truly brutal line:

“…the only State Department official who lost his job due to Benghazi was Ambassador Stevens.”


(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Benghazi Consulate Massacre: the responsibility for not launching a rescue mission

**Posted by Phineas

Obama said “no.”

One of the enduring mysteries of the Benghazi massacre is the lack of any serious attempt to render assistance to those trapped in the consulate and the CIA annex building. We know the resources were available at Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily, one to two hours away by air. We know that Special Forces units were moved from Central Europe to Italy in anticipation of a “go” order. So why didn’t they go?

At PJ Media, former Navy SEAL Matt Bracken explains that the authority to cross a national border on a hostile mission, such as a rescue in Benghazi, can only come from the President. Not the Vice President, not the Secretary of Defense, not the Joint Chiefs of Staff, not even from regional commanders in the area. They can preposition all they want, but, in the end, the only person with “cross-border authority” is, for now, Barack Obama:

The Benghazi debacle boils down to a single key factor — the granting or withholding of “cross-border authority.” This opinion is informed by my experience as a Navy SEAL officer who took a NavSpecWar Detachment to Beirut.

Once the alarm is sent – in this case, from the consulate in Benghazi — dozens of HQs are notified and are in the planning loop in real time, including AFRICOM and EURCOM, both located in Germany. Without waiting for specific orders from Washington, they begin planning and executing rescue operations, including moving personnel, ships, and aircraft forward toward the location of the crisis. However, there is one thing they can’t do without explicit orders from the president: cross an international border on a hostile mission.

That is the clear “red line” in this type of a crisis situation.

No administration wants to stumble into a war because a jet jockey in hot pursuit (or a mixed-up SEAL squad in a rubber boat) strays into hostile territory. Because of this, only the president can give the order for our military to cross a nation’s border without that nation’s permission. For the Osama bin Laden mission, President Obama granted CBA for our forces to enter Pakistani airspace.

On the other side of the CBA coin: in order to prevent a military rescue in Benghazi, all the POTUS has to do is not grant cross-border authority. If he does not, the entire rescue mission (already in progress) must stop in its tracks.

Ships can loiter on station, but airplanes fall out of the sky, so they must be redirected to an air base (Sigonella, in Sicily) to await the POTUS decision on granting CBA. If the decision to grant CBA never comes, the besieged diplomatic outpost in Benghazi can rely only on assets already “in country” in Libya — such as the Tripoli quick reaction force and the Predator drones. These assets can be put into action on the independent authority of the acting ambassador or CIA station chief in Tripoli. They are already “in country,” so CBA rules do not apply to them.

How might this process have played out in the White House?

Read the rest to see Mr. Bracken’s speculations regarding what happened that night in the White House. It’s an enlightening piece from someone who knows how these situations operate.

It also sheds light on another mystery. It’s been reported that one of the former SEALs defending the Annex had put a targeting laser on a jihadi mortar crew, something he would do only if he expected help and was trying to direct incoming fire. This lead to speculation that there was an AC-130 gunship over Benghazi at time time, but that it was denied permission to fire. If Mr. Bracken’s analysis is correct, it’s quite possible a craft was launched from Sicily with the expectation that CBA would be coming soon. Did the SEAL trapped in Benghazi know that the gunship was close, and was painting the target to be ready for it?

We may never know.

But what we do know, thanks to Mr. Bracken, is that sole responsibility for the American response that night lies with President Barack Obama. Whether by actively denying permission or passively not making a decision (by going to bed?), President Obama left those men to die.

Remember that next Tuesday.

RELATED: Some other articles of interest.

What kind of lasers did they have in Benghazi?

The consulate knew it was being watched.

During the attack, Obama failed to convene a key group created for just this situation.

The consulate in Benghazi warned State of a possible attack three hours before it happened.

Egypt arrests pro-al Qaeda jihadist tied to Benghazi suspect

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Benghazi Consulate Massacre: embassy warned DC that consulate could not withstand attack

**Posted by Phineas

US Consulate, Benghazi

Well, there goes Obama and Biden’s insistence that they never knew our diplomatic mission in Libya was worried about security in Benghazi before the terrorist attack of September 11th:

The U.S. Mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, because Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and the consulate could not defend against a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News.

Summarizing an Aug. 15 emergency meeting convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Aug. 16 cable marked “SECRET” said that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, did not believe the consulate could be protected.

“RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound,” the cable said.

According to a review of the cable addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Emergency Action Committee was also briefed “on the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi … these groups ran the spectrum from Islamist militias, such as the QRF Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia, to ‘Takfirist thugs.’” Each U.S. mission has a so-called Emergency Action Committee that is responsible for security measures and emergency planning.

(Emphasis added)

In other words, weeks before Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were murdered by Muslims waging jihad, the embassy told State that their position in Benghazi was untenable, it could not be defended. This wasn’t an empty intellectual exercise, either. The warning was sent in the wake of months of increasing assaults against the consulate, including a bombing last June. The head of security for the mission, the Ambassador, and others repeatedly asked for more help. Not only were they denied, but their security was reduced. And this was after being told there were al Qaeda training camps in the area.

But wait! There’s more.

As for specific threats against the U.S., the cable warned the intelligence was not clear on the issue, cautioning that the militias in Benghazi were not concerned with any significant retaliation from the Libyan government, which had apparently lost control in Benghazi. A briefer explained that they “did not have information suggesting that these entities were targeting Americans but did caveat that (there was not) a complete picture of their intentions yet. RSO (Regional Security Officer) noted that the Benghazi militias have become more brazen in their actions and have little fear of reprisal from the (government of Libya.)”


In a three-page cable on Sept 11, the day Stevens and the three other Americans were killed, Stevens wrote about “growing problems with security” in Benghazi and “growing frustration” with the security forces and Libyan police. The ambassador saw both as “too weak to keep the country secure.”

It is State Department policy to rely on local forces for their missions’ primary protection, in order to avoid antagonizing local sensibilities. In many places, this makes sense. But in Libya and, especially, in Benghazi? Where we knew our enemies had camps in the area and, as the quote above shows, the militias had no fear of the central government?

Didn’t anyone in Washington see the problem here?

There is no way this warning stopped at Secretary Clinton’s desk, either. She has meetings weekly with the President, and that she didn’t bring up Libya at some point is unthinkable. There were many requests for help before September 11th, too many to think it wasn’t brought up by Clinton or others in meetings with Obama. He had to have known there was a problem and, by either actively denying help or passively agreeing with the recommendations of others, did nothing about it.

There are three scandals here: first, the incompetence of judgement that lead to our mission and our ambassador having inadequate protection in a highly dangerous region. Second is the truth about what happened —and what didn’t happen— on the night of the battle, itself. Third and last are the serial lies and evasions of the Obama administration in the wake of the Benghazi disaster, including blaming an obscure video and throwing its maker in jail as a scapegoat, his First Amendment rights be damned.

The latter two scandals are fruits of the first: if the Obama administration had acted with reasonable caution in the face of evident danger in Benghazi, then there might not have been any attack, or it would have been fended off. We almost certainly would not have lost four Americans, and the President wouldn’t have felt the need to rip up the Bill of Rights in order to cover for his fecklessness.

Some have written lately that this scandal is worse than Watergate. I agree. Watergate was just a coverup of a petty burglary; Benghazi (and Fast and Furious) has cost lives — the Obama administration’s scandals get people killed.

On November 6th, we have the chance to throw these “felony stupid” bums out of office. I’m confident we’ll do just that. But, in the next year, Congress or the Romney administration must press for the truth of what happened in both scandals, regardless of where it leads.

The dead and their survivors are owed no less.

RELATED: From Walter Russell Mead, more on how Mali and other countries continue to pay the price for Obama’s Libyan adventure. We’ll pay, too, warns The Diplomad, a recently retired Foreign Service Officer.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Benghazi Consulate Massacre: pushback for Petraeus, and what’s important

**Posted by Phineas

What really matters

In an earlier post, I quoted news reports that called into question the role General David Petraeus, the CIA director, regarding his analysis of the attack on our consulate in Benghazi. Since then, PJM’s Bryan Preston published information that speaks in Petraeus’ defense:

A U.S. intelligence official disputed the characterization of Petraeus’ briefing to lawmakers on Sept. 14, saying: “The first briefing (to the Hill) carefully laid out the full range of sparsely available information, with briefers noting that extremists — including those with possible links to AQIM and Ansar al-Sharia — were involved in attacks that appeared spontaneous. The talking points (from that weekend) clearly reflect the early indications of extremist involvement in a direct assault.”

As for the current assessment of the Benghazi attack, a U.S. intelligence official said no one is ruling out the idea militants may have aspired to attack the U.S., though the bulk of available information supports the early assessment that extremists — with ties to al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia — did not plan the attacks for day or weeks in advance.

One source who heard Petraeus brief also told Fox News, “I can confirm that he explicitly stated both to the House and the Senate oversight committees that members of AQIM and AAS participated in the attack in Benghazi. That assessment still stands.”

So, who’s right? Right now it’s the word of one side’s source against another, with, it seems, the White House and its political appointees on one side, and the Defense and Intelligence bureaucracies on the other, both with daggers drawn. Meanwhile those of us outraged over the multiple scandals apparently wrapped in the Benghazi affair are left to throw our hands in the air and demand someone —anyone— tell us the truth.

Amidst all the details of who said what when, let’s not forget what’s important here: After months of Washington failing to give adequate security to our diplomatic mission in Libya, the consulate in Benghazi was attacked by an al Qaeda-aligned force, resulting in the death of our ambassador and three other Americans, two of whom were former SEALs who fought like lions to defend their fellow Americans until help could come.

But that help never came, denied by someone for some reason never adequately explained. And the Ambassador, the mission staff member, and the two SEALs died.

And the ultimate responsibility for that lies with President Barack Obama, who has been blowing smoke in our eyes over this since the day it happened, hoping to get past the election.

Like the deaths in Operation Fast and Furious, the dead of Benghazi and respect for their survivors demands answers, accountability, and, if need be, punishment.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Benghazi Consulate Massacre: lawmakers briefed on al Qaeda role two days after the attack

**Posted by Phineas

US Consulate, Benghazi

And yet the White House and its spokespeople maintained for weeks afterward that the attack on September 11th was the result of a mob demonstrating against a video, a spontaneous “happening,” like a 60s love-in. They went so far as to have our UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, proclaim this on all five Sunday shows the week after the attack. Secretary Clinton swore to get the maker of the video. And Obama himself repeatedly blamed the video in his speech before the UN General Assembly on September 25th.

So why, then, were the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) telling lawmakers it was likely an al Qaeda operation on September 13th, just two days after the massacre?

Two days after the deadly Libya terror attack, representatives of the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center gave Capitol Hill briefings in which they said the evidence supported an Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-affiliated attack, Fox News has learned.

The description of the attack by those in the Sept. 13 briefings stands in stark contrast to the now controversial briefing on Capitol Hill by CIA Director David Petraeus the following day — and raises even more questions about why Petraeus described the attack as tied to a demonstration.

The Sept. 13 assessment was based on intercepts that included individuals, believed to have participated in the attack, who were celebratory — as well as a claim of responsibility.

FBI and NCTC also briefed that there were a series of Al Qaeda training camps just outside of Benghazi, where the attack occurred and resulted in the deaths of four Americans. The area was described as a hotbed for the militant Ansar al-Sharia as well as Al Qaeda in North Africa.

Fox News is told there was no mention of a demonstration or any significant emphasis on the anti-Islam video that for days was cited by administration officials as a motivating factor.

The FBI and NCTC did not immediately respond to a request from Fox News for comment.

(Emphasis added)

This raises several troubling issues, including the recurrent question of why the administration stuck to its ludicrous story about an obscure video being at fault for weeks after the event, even when their own counter-terrorism people were saying otherwise. Remember, the only target of this… “fable spinning” was us, the American people. Everyone else, including al Qaeda, knew the truth.

My own guess is that the Obama administration, facing a tight election and having promoted itself as the slayers of bin Laden and the team that beat al Qaeda, now found themselves facing proof that not only were they wrong, but fatally so. In a panic they latched onto some reports about this video, which had been mentioned in jihadist forums in the weeks preceding the attack, and decided that would be their scapegoat, so they could avoid blame for their incompetence. And once the lie was told, they couldn’t abandon it without looking even more foolish, until they were finally forced to, and then lied about having lied.

The main issue raised by this report, though, is the role of CIA Director Petraeus, who apparently insisted to Congress that fault had to lie with the video and its maker, and that the deaths of our people were the result of demonstrations that got out of hand. We have to ask ourselves, and Congress must ask Director Petraeus, why he…

…characterized the attack as more consistent with a flash mob, where the militants showed up spontaneously with RPGs. Petraeus downplayed to lawmakers the skill needed to fire mortars, which also were used in the attack and to some were seen as evidence of significant pre-planning. As Fox News previously reported, four mortars were fired — two missed the annex, but the mortar team re-calibrated and the next two mortars were direct hits.

Fox News is told that Petraeus seemed wedded to the narrative that the attack was linked to a demonstration and was spontaneous as opposed to pre-meditated.

Fox News is told that Petraeus was “absolute” in his description with few, if any, caveats. 

Petraeus, of course, is the architect of our victory in Iraq in 2007-08, literally saving was was becoming a losing effort, and so he has a lot of credit banked with Congress. One can understand their anger at being given such a faulty, even nonsensical, report by someone they trusted, presented as fact when it flew in the face of information being reported by other intelligence agencies.  It calls into doubt his judgment, and perhaps his integrity.

There are many, many questions unanswered about the massacre in Benghazi, from the decisions leading up to it, to the events and decisions made that night and the evident coverup that’s taken place since.

To that list of questions we now have to add the role of the CIA Director.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)