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All Da King's Men

Benghazi Whistles Blow

By David King Published: May 9, 2013

Here's what we know so far about the Obama administration's coverup and culpability for the killings of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012:

1) Five days after the attack, UN Ambassador Susan Rice went on the sunday television talk shows as a spokesperson for the Obama administration and falsely blamed the Benghazi attack on a protest over an anti-Muslim YouTube video. The Obama administration knew full well by that time that there was no protest at Benghazi. What occurred was a planned terrorist attack and nothing else. Why the Obama administration had Ms. Rice promote such a falsehood has been the subject of speculation. Many believe it was because the presidential election was so close, and the Benghazi terrorist attack disproved the President's contention that he had reduced the terrorist threat.

The Washington Post Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, reached the following conclusion:

It is not new that there was no protest. That’s been officially well established. It is also not new that many officials knew it was a terrorist attack.

What is new is that [Benghazi whistleblower Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Libya at the time of the attack] has put a human face on previous reporting. He also disclosed he spoke directly to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton the night of the attack, presumably relaying his conclusions.

The hearings also revealed an e-mail written by Elizabeth Jones, the acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, in which she recounted a conversation with the Libyan ambassador on Sept. 12: “When he said his government suspected that former Gadhafi regime elements carried out the attacks, I told him that the group that conducted the attacks Ansar Al Sharia is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.”

One generally presumes that top government officials have access to classified information and firsthand accounts not available to the media. But in this case either their judgments were colored by media accounts as well — or they took advantage of the media’s reporting to obscure some politically difficult news.

In my opinion, Kessler is being overly kind here. I find it hard to believe the Obama administration's judgment was "colored by media accounts". That's the tail wagging the dog. It was the Obama administration that was getting firsthand information from it's people on the ground, and from the Libyans as well. The media was mostly guessing, as it tends to do whenever there is a unresolved tragedy. Whistleblower Hicks said of Rice's disingenuous talk show rhetoric, "I was stunned. My jaw dropped. And I was embarrassed”.

2) Whistleblower Hicks said he was punished for questioning Rice's testimony. From the WaPo Fact Checker again:

[Hicks] described a phone call by an “upset” Cheryl Mills, State Department chief of staff and close confidante to Clinton, concerning his meeting without the [State Department] lawyer. And he said that when complained about Rice’s statement, asking “why she had said there was a demonstration, when we had reported that there was an attack,” Jones curtly gave him the sense “that I needed to stop the line of questioning.”

After that, he said, relations with his superiors went downhill, especially with Jones, who gave him “a blistering critique of my management style.” He eventually returned from Libya and was given a job that he described as a significant demotion.

The takeaway - One must not question the official dispatches of Glorious Leader, even if they are a steaming pile.

3) The State Department ignored repeated requests for increased security at Benghazi prior to the attacks. From The Hill:

Eric Nordstrom, the regional security officer posted in Libya at the time of the attack — which left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead — said State Department officials had asked for increased security in Benghazi in the months before the attacks. 

But he said those requests never made it to Clinton’s desk, and he slammed State’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) for failing to address the breakdown in communication within the department’s upper levels. 

Nordstrom suggested the board’s report attempted to protect higher-ranking officials, and specifically faulted it for not looking at the key role played by Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy in failing to deliver the request for more security to Clinton. 

He said a similar failure occurred in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, which killed 19 Americans.

“[The ARB] has decided to fix responsibility on the assistant secretary level and below,” said Nordstrom. “And the message to my colleagues is that if you’re above a certain level, no matter what your decision is no one’s going to question it.

“I look back and I see the last time we had a major attack was East Africa. Who was in that same position, when the unheeded messengers ... were raising those concerns? It just so happens it was the same person. The under secretary for management was in that same role before.

“There’s something apparently wrong with the process of how those security recommendations are raised to the secretary.”

The ARB report was ordered by Clinton and conducted by former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.

My takeaway from this is, the ARB consists of the State Department investigating itself and basically exonerating itself from blame (a minor official had to resign), despite the fact that ignoring the requests for increased security resulted in the deaths of four Americans. You're doing a heckuva job, State !!! Or not. Something is seriously amiss there.

4) On the day of the attack, requests for U.S. military assistance at Benghazi were denied by the Obama administration. From the Christian Science Monitor:

[Whistleblower Mark Thompson, the acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism] described how his request for a specialized emergency response team was rebuffed by officials at the White House. He said he got the idea the officials weren’t sure what was happening in Benghazi and therefore weren’t sure if the “FEST” team of special operations forces and intelligence personnel was a suitable option. He also said he considered the response inadequate because “one definition of a crisis is you do not know what’s going to happen in two hours.”

From the Wall Street Journal:

The State Department has said that the [FEST] team, based in the U.S., wouldn't have arrived in Libya in time to make any difference. Daniel Benjamin, the head of counterterrorism at the time of the September attacks and Mr. Thompson's former boss, has said that the question of whether to deploy the team was posed early, and the State Department made the correct decision against sending it.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nordstrom, the security chief, testified that the Benghazi compound failed to meet security standards, even though it faced some of the gravest security threats...The three witnesses also testified they asked for more security before the attacks, but were rebuffed. Mr. Hicks said that at one point, he felt so vulnerable he asked diplomatic security officers if they would train diplomats how to handle guns.

Mr. Nordstrom said he told officials in February 2012 he wouldn't support occupying the diplomatic compound in Benghazi until security upgrades had been completed. A government official waived requirements that the Benghazi compound meet security standards, Mr. Nordstrom said.

This part simply boggles the mind. We have military personnel all over the Middle East, all over Europe, and in some 90 countries around the world, but we couldn't find anyone to go protect our people in Benghazi ? Come on now. I was born, but it wasn't yesterday. And as far as whether anyone could have arrived in time to help, you don't know that until AFTER THE FACT, and it's a pathetically lame excuse for not even trying.

The bottom line is, Benghazi was a huge screwup by the Obama administration, both at State and at the White House. Nobody could look at the facts and reach any other conclusion. This needs to be investigated, addressed, and resolved, so the same thing doesn't recur in the future...but all I see Democrats doing is playing cover-your-you-know-what, calling it a partisan witchhunt, another "vast right-wing conspiracy". What a sad state of affairs. Our dead patriots deserve much better.

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