Former CIA Director David Petraeus stoked the controversy over the Obama administration’s handling of the Libya terror attack, testifying Friday that references to “Al Qaeda involvement” were stripped from his agency’s original talking points — while other intelligence officials were unable to say who changed the memo, according to a top lawmaker who was briefed.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told Fox News that intelligence officials who testified in a closed-door hearing a day earlier, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Acting CIA Director Mike Morell, said they did not know who changed the talking points. He said they went out to multiple departments, including the State Department, National Security Council, Justice Department and White House.
The real postelection mystery is why we ever had a secondary consulate in Benghazi in the first place, when most nations had long ago pulled their embassies out of war-torn Libya altogether.
Why, about a mile from the consulate, did we have a large CIA-staffed “annex” that seems to have been busy with all sorts of things other than providing adequate security for our nearby diplomats?
Before the election, the media was not interested in figuring out what Ambassador Christopher Stevens actually was doing in Benghazi, what so many CIA people and military contractors were up to, and what was the relationship of our large presence in Libya to Turkey, insurgents in Syria and the scattered Gadhafi arms depots.
But the strangest “coincidentally” of all is the bizarre resignation of American hero Gen. David Petraeus from the CIA just three days after the election — apparently due to a long-investigated extramarital affair with a sort of court biographer and her spat with a woman she perceived as a romantic rival.
If the affair was haphazardly hushed up for about a year, how exactly did Petraeus become confirmed as CIA director, a position that allows no secrets, much less an entire secret life?
How and why did the FBI investigate the Petraeus matter? To whom and when did it report its findings? And what was the administration reaction?
Coincidentally, if it is true that Petraeus can no longer testify as CIA director to the House and Senate intelligence committees about the ignored requests of CIA personnel on the ground in Benghazi for more help, can he as a private citizen testify more freely, without the burdens of CIA directorship and pre-election politics?
Why wouldn’t she have had access to other information? Because Rice had no operational responsibility for anything other than relations with the United Nations. So why did the “White House,” as Obama put it yesterday, ask her to go on five talk shows on Sunday to impart this story to the media and the public? That request had to come from Obama himself, and it bypassed other more likely candidates for that assignment such as Tom Donilon, James Clapper, Hillary Clinton, or David Petraeus, all of whom had some responsibility for the incident. And here’s a related question — why didn’t those five media outlets raise that very question when the “White House” offered Rice as a spokesperson for that explanation? Didn’t that seem even a little curious – especially when the Libyan President was saying exactly the opposite?
Hillary’s not going to testify until the end of December, maybe.
The Washington Post assures its readers that “Obama [is] relatively unscathed by [the] Petraeus investigation.” In the online version, the Post goes further, describing Obama as “untouched” by the affair.
In other (unrelated) news, the Dow’s down 185.23 today, down 674,73 since before election day.
At this rate, the only way we’ll have to to make ends meet is to become “social liaisons”.
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.”
Fox News asked the State Department to respond to a series of questions about the Aug. 16 cable, including who was specifically charged with reviewing it and whether action was taken by Washington or Tripoli. Fox News also asked, given the specific warnings and the detailed intelligence laid out in the cable, whether the State Department considered extra measures for the consulate in light of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks – and if no action was taken, who made that call.
The State Department press office declined to answer specific questions, citing the classified nature of the cable.
Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to “stand down.”
Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The rescue team from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.
At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.
Let’s try this again … you had your people under attack, you had drones on site, you had a spec ops guy on the roof lasing the mortar team and Panetta claims they “didn’t know what was going on?”
That says a hell of a lot more about Panetta and Obama than anyone else. Anyone worth their salt goes for over kill, not “wait and see” in a situation like that. Situations like this are why you have contingency plans and units designated as Quick Reaction Forces (QRF). You can always recall your forces. And, if you give even a stinking whit about force protection you go in and secure the area and personnel who were under attack anyway.
Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.
The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.
The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.
Specifically, they knew terrorists were claiming credit,
The first email, timed at 4:05 p.m. Washington time – or 10:05 p.m. Benghazi time, 20-30 minutes after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission allegedly began – carried the subject line “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” and the notation “SBU”, meaning “Sensitive But Unclassified.”
The text said the State Department’s regional security office had reported that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi was “under attack. Embassy in Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well.”
The message continued: “Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four … personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.”
A second email, headed “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi” and timed 4:54 p.m. Washington time, said that the Embassy in Tripoli had reported that “the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared.” It said a “response team” was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel.
A third email, also marked SBU and sent at 6:07 p.m. Washington time, carried the subject line: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”
The message reported: “Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”
The NY Post reported on Oct 21 that the drone that monitored the final hour of the Benghazi battle was a Predator. So it’s very likely that that drone was armed, as the US used armed Predators during the Libyan revolution and uses them to dispatch terrorists as the opportunity arises. But there is no reporting that the drone fired any of its Hellfire missiles during the battle. It was relaying video back the United States where–
“They stood, and they watched, and our people died,” former CIA commander Gary Berntsen told CBS News.
The Post also reported:
Fighter jets and Specter AC-130 gunships — which could have been used to help disperse the bloodthirsty mob — were also stationed at three nearby bases, sources told the network.
The Obama national-security team had several hours in which to move forces from Sigonella to Benghazi.
Fighter jets could have been at Benghazi in an hour; the commandos inside three hours. If the attackers were a mob, as intelligence reported, then an F18 in afterburner, roaring like a lion, would unnerve them. This procedure was applied often in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Conversely, if the attackers were terrorists, then the U.S. commandos would eliminate them. But no forces were dispatched from Sigonella.
Sigonella, Sicily, was 480 miles away from Benghazi. Stationed at Sigonella were Special Operations Forces, transport aircraft, and attack aircraft — a much more formidable force than 22 men from the embassy.
The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.
Not so, says National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor… or did he?,
Vietor, however, denied that any such agreement had been reached.
“It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections,” he said. We continue to work with the P5+1 on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally.”
Interestingly, so is the timing of the Zombie Fidel rumors, since both Iran and Cuba would like to influence the outcome of an American presidential election, but I digress.
While the Iran story came out, I was watching Argo, an excellent movie spoiled by Jimmy Carter’s little monologue trying to get some credit for the rescue of the six Americans. The 444-day long Iranian hostage crisis was not the shiniest moment of the Carter administration.
You can’t watch Argo and not think of the September 11 Benghazi attack, particularly during the scenes where we are subjected to the Iranian propaganda and the storming of the embassy. The parallels abound,
In fact, “Argo” may also inadvertently malign the current administration. Once more, the Middle East is on fire, an inept White House is inadvertently fanning the flames with appeasement-style policies and “Death to America” chants are heard across the region.
And now one-on-one negotiations with Iran? Or not?
When the New York Times updated its story late Saturday to reflect [National Security Council spokesman Tommy] Vietor’s statement, the paper made no mention of the update or any correction to the story, leaving readers with the impression that the White House’s denial had been in the story all along. In fact, the initial version of the story portrayed the development as a tentative victory for the Obama administration, which has recently been faced with foreign policy crises in the Middle East and Libya.
The new version of the Times’ story also removed this line about the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions: “Even with possible negotiations in the offing, there is no evidence Iran has slowed its fuel production.”
Normally, a pro forma denial by the White House would not send reporters and editors scurrying to cover up their work. With good sources, and reliable information, journalists could be expected to stand by their story.
Now, with the Times carrying out edits that it apparently hoped ho one would notice, the entire story seems like a desperate attempt to set the stage for the Third Presidential Debate in a way that favors the incumbent.
On the ground, the facts are inconvenient for the Obama victory narrative. That was the message delivered Monday, with all the subtlety of a live grenade, by CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan. Speaking to Chicago’s Better Government Association, she skewered the administration story as a “major lie.”
Al-Qaida is not on the run, Logan noted. The Taliban are not being tamed. Pakistan is not cooperating with us. Our enemies are no less eager to kill Americans than they were before 9/11. They will not stop their war against us just because we stop fighting them.
As Logan put it, “You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.”
Listen to the speech, read the article.
[Correction: I changed her name in the post title. It is now corrected to Lara.]
The Administration is trying to claim that the easy investigation is all wrapped up with and inextricably linked to the more difficult one, so they are claiming they can’t answer the easy questions (easily answered in a day or two) until they answer the hard ones (which will take, fortuitously enough, until after the election to resolve).
Now actually I don’t know if Tapper is being snowed by this or understands it perfectly. He seems like a savvy enough guy.
So I guess what I’m asking for is for Tapper to call Carney out on this deliberate conflation, and ever-so-gently remind him that the FBI is not required to find the memos in which US State Department personnel rejected requests for very necessary security.
State could release these at any time. The search, on their computers, would take no more than 1-2 days.
They are pretending mystifaction about something they already know the answers to.
Sure, they don’t know yet who the terrorists were. But they damn well already know who nixed all the security requests. And they damn well know which higher-ups told the underlings to nix the requests.
We don’t need to find out Which unknown twenty foreign terrorists carried out the attack? to answer the much-easier question Which US personnel denied the requests for security? or Who decided to trot out the “spontaneous protest”/”YouTube video” lie when all intelligence indicated this was a planned terrorist attack having nothing to do with a video or protest?
These are separate questions and separate investigations. The fact that one may take weeks doesn’t change the fact that the other takes hours — hours, plus a willingness of State to tell the truth.