A newly release Senate Intelligence Committee report cast blame on the State Department for the attacks on the Benghazi Mission and CIA annex. The report, which details fourteen different findings about the attacks that night, makes it clear that the attack was preventable.
Ultimately, however, the final responsibility for security at diplomatic facilities lies with the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Because the Temporary Mission Facility in Benghazi did not meet the security standards set by the State Department, it would have required a waiver to be occupied. Although certain waivers of the standards could have been approved at a lower level, other departures, such as the co-location requirement, could only be approved by the Secretary of State. At the end of the day, she was responsible for ensuring the safety of all Americans serving in our diplomatic facilities. Her failure to do so clearly made a difference in the lives of the four murdered Americans and their families.
Some key points from the Washington Post link of the report:
P.6 – No stand down order given to the security team at the Annex by “Chief of Base or any other party”. There is no mention of stand down orders given to AFRICOM or other entities, however.
P.7 – By 11:10 pm Benghazi time, an unmanned DoD predator drone arrived overhead, watching the events unfold. The drone was diverted one hour earlier by AFRICOM. The drone observed roadblocks just east of the Mission; in attempting to pass them the teams took heavy fire. The assault began at 9:40pm Benghazi time, which means for the drone to arrive at 11:10 pm it would have been diverted at 10:10 pm; about 30 minutes after the attack on the mission began.
P.8 – The attack on the CIA annex is described as taking place between 11:56pm and 1:00 am Benghazi time. There is an interesting line on this page that reads, “Although officially undercover, the Annex was known by some in Benghazi as an American facility.” What’s interesting there is that AFRICOM and DoD both gave conflicting reports as to even knowing the CIA annex was there (see P.28). Black site?
P.10 – The first finding of the report says that in the months before September 11th, there was ample warning and intelligence that the mission was at risk. In other words, it could have been prevented. The next page also reports that as of July 6th, the CIA had identified Benghazi and Libya in general as becoming an “Al Qaeda Sanctuary”.
P. 12 – Finding number two hits the State Department; they should have increased security but didn’t. The State Department seemingly wrote off improving security because the mission only had a 1 year charter in place. The pages following detail the multiple requests made by Ambassador Stevens for upgrades, more weapons and men. The requests came on June 6, July 9 and again on August 12. All were denied. The final request came in a cable from Stevens on September 11th. NOTE: Something is a little weird, because on P.21/22 of the report, it says in the weeks leading up to the attack, the Ambassador twice rejected an offer from AFRICOM’s General Ham to keep the Libyan SST (Site Security Team) in place. Also, on page 40, it is noted that the local police fled when attackers showed up.
P.23 – Finding number 3 states there was “no tactical warning” in the intelligence reporting leading up to 9/11 that predicted an attack on Benghazi, although CIA and State Department both sent general warnings about the anniversary. This contradicts the statement from then interim President, Mohammed el-Megarif, who claimed Libya had warned the U.S. of a terrorist attack in Benghazi three days before it took place.
P. 29 - Further evidence the State Department had written off the Benghazi mission is found in the fact that there were no U.S. military resources apparently in any relative position to intervene. Yet, somehow at around 2:00 am Benghazi time, Panetta ordered two FAST teams to go in; one to Tripoli and one to Benghazi (P.31). Neither made it there in time. Panetta also ordered two Special Operations teams in between 12:00 am and 2:00 am Benghazi time. So, four teams went in but no air support is mentioned. If they were that far away, their objective was likely retrieval of whoever was left. It’s odd no jets were scrambled or mentioned.
P.33 – It wasn’t a protest and the Intelligence Community said there was, erroneously. The finding also says it took too long to correct. That was likely a feature, not a bug. On P. 36, there’s more about the lack of in-depth analysis of sources used to create the talking point it was a protest.
— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) January 15, 2014
P. 44- 46 Deals with the CIA’s talking points. A full list of the 11 CIA revisions, claiming it was about a spontaneous protest, are found in the appendix on p. 46-53. It’s page 46 that has the money quote:
“This Committee faced significant resistance from the Administration in getting access to emails and documentation that Mr. Litt ultimately provided on February 26th, 2013, and that were made public – in redacted form – on May 15, 2013. This resistance was apparently based, in part, on Executive branch concerns related to executive privilege and the deliberative process which appeared to evaporate when the emails were made public. However, it also served to exacerbate the controversy surrounding the talking points, prolonged media and public speculation and raised questions of trust of the IC as Members attempted to extract information.
P.42 – A disturbing piece of information, with emphasis added:
In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller noted that as many as 15 individuals supporting the investigation or otherwise helpful to the United States have been killed in Benghazi since the attacks, underscoring the lawless and chaotic circumstances in eastern Libya. It is unclear whether their killings were related to the Benghazi investigation.
The full unclassified timeline for the events that night is found on page 52 in Appendix II.
WENSTRUP: “As a military person, I am concerned that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration. I would hope that our military leadership would be advising that this was a terrorist attack.”
HAM: “Again, sir, I think, you know, there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack.”
WENSTRUP: “And you would have advised as such if asked. Would that be correct?”
HAM: “Well, and with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta, that is the nature of the conversation we had, yes, sir.”
In related news, Member of the Senate Committee, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, threw the NY Times under the bus for their assertion that Al Qaeda wasn’t involved and that the revival of blaming a YouTube video:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) rejected the Times’s conclusion that al Qaeda wasn’t responsible for the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. She also took issue with the notion that the Libya strike was sparked by a U.S.-made anti-Islam video online.
“I believe that groups loosely associated with al Qaeda were” involved in the attack, she told The Hill last week. “That’s my understanding.”
She also disputed the notion that the Sept. 11, 2012, assault evolved from a protest against the video, which was widely disseminated by Islamic clerics shortly before the attack.
“It doesn’t jibe with me,” she said. – The Hill
The report and the transcripts all call into question the testimony given by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Mrs. Clinton knew that the YouTube video being to blame was a bogus claim. At best, she was clueless at her job and it cost four Americans their lives. At worst, she knew, she ignored it and then she lied. Repeatedly.