Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Judicial Watch Benghazi Report Finds 'Wide Range' of State Dept. Failures

 Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified last Wednesday to congressional committees regarding the terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which led to the murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American citizens. At times evasive, seemingly emotional, defensive, and aggressive, Clinton delivered her version of events in the days before and after the murders in Benghazi. In the end, the Secretary of State pretended to take “responsibility,” but ultimately gave a predictable response regarding who is to blame: “…the level of responsibility for the failures… was set at the Assistant Secretary of State level and below,” Clinton said, referring to an investigation of the incident. In other words, “This was not my fault.”

In the epitome of Obama-era contempt for accountability, Clinton yelled “what difference does it make” in response to a reasonable question about why the attack transpired and the administration’s obvious lie that an obscure Internet video caused it. This response is also typically Clintonian, who infamously mocked “shoulda, coulda, woulda,” when asked many years ago about her and Bill’s Whitewater shenanigans.

Secretary Clinton’s attempt to kick the whole sordid mess down to her underlings did not go over well with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY): “I think ultimately with your leaving you accept culpability for the worst tragedy since Sept. 11,” Paul said. “If I'd been president at the time and I'd found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post… Not to know of the requests for security, really I think cost these people their lives.”

And leaving aside the issue of security for the moment, what about the lies coming out of the Obama administration, which blamed the attacks on an amateur Internet video? And what of Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points which scrubbed any reference to the terrorist connection?

“I personally was not focused on talking points,” Clinton said. “We didn't know who the attackers were or what their motives were," she said. "The picture remains somewhat complicated.”

It certainly didn’t seem “complicated” to Secretary Clinton back in September 2012. Remember, it was Clinton herself who was instrumental in advancing the false narrative that the Internet video sparked the attacks. For example, at a September 14, 2012, event honoring the four victims of the Benghazi attack, Secretary Clinton made the following statement: “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen the rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful video that we had nothing to do with.” This was one of many statements blaming the terrorist attacks on the video.

That bogus claim came directly from the Obama administration’s talking points, and it was repeated ad nauseam by Clinton and Ambassador Susan Rice. Rice wasn’t picked by Hillary Clinton, she told Congress this week, to go out and spin for the Obama administration. This means the Obama White House is also responsible for the lies from Rice.

Now, if you want to know more of the truth behind Benghazi-gate, don’t look to Clinton’s testimony. I have a more reliable source to offer.

On the eve of Clinton’s testimony, Judicial Watch released “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012:

Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent,” a special report closely examining the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the assault. The report also covers the State Department’s commitment to protect overseas diplomats.

Our report contains in-depth analysis conducted exclusively for Judicial Watch by former State Department Security Special Agent Raymond Fournier. It examines the critical time period leading up to the Benghazi attack, when repeated requests for increased security were ignored by top State Department officials.

The report also examines the Obama administration’s ridiculous claim that “an obscure Internet video” triggered the attacks, as well as apparently false claims that four top State Department officials had resigned in response to the Department’s December 18, 2012, Accountability Review Board report on the attack.

And it raises questions as to the internal problems within the Department that may continue to leave overseas diplomats without adequate security.

The report concludes:
The September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi resulted from a wide range of strategic and tactical failures by State Department officials. Chief among them was the fateful decision to circumvent established security regulations by designating the diplomatic post in Benghazi a “Special Mission Compound,” ignoring repeated requests for additional security resources by Diplomatic Security personnel on the ground, and entrusting the security of the SMC [Special Mission Compound] to a local militia group with suspected ties to radical Islamists. As Special Agent Fournier notes in his assessment of the tragedy, there were also long-standing cultural problems within the Department of State that hinder the ability of Diplomatic Security agents to adequately protect our diplomats overseas.
Inasmuch as the report draws some disturbing conclusions, it also suggests areas for further investigation. For example:

Who at the State Department was responsible for opening up and continuing the operation of the “Special Mission Compound” in the unstable environment of Benghazi, overriding physical security standards for diplomatic facilities?
  • According to Fournier, “The Department’s unexplained decision to create a new category of diplomatic structure, i.e. the ‘Special Mission Compound,’” for the purpose of “skirting the established physical security standards” for embassies and consulates was the “critical error” leading to the deadly attack.
Did the Director of Diplomatic Security or his immediate subordinates have authority to countermand the Department’s desire to open “SMC Benghazi?”
  • In the Judicial Watch report, Fournier cautions that, “Frequently, security policy and standards are set aside as inconvenient, restraining, time consuming or simply less important relative to loftier goals foreign policy goals prosecuted by the Department’s elite. One need go no further than Benghazi to see an example of the aforementioned managerial arrogance with the Department.”
Why did Ambassador Stevens travel to Benghazi, so close to the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks?

  • The Judicial Watch Special Report reveals State Department warnings in July, August, and September of 2012 advising against travel to the Mideast in general and Benghazi in particular.
Why were two unmanned aerial vehicles requested to record the deadly events as they unfolded in Benghazi while more lethal air support options were not on station?

I don’t expect we’ll be getting answers from the Obama administration any time soon. And so our investigation continues. Judicial Watch currently has more than 10 Freedom of Information Act requests pending with various Executive departments and agencies seeking records relating to the Benghazi attack.

We will go to court, if necessary, to force the Obama administration to come clean on Benghazi.

In summary, our special report shows that the State Department has conspicuously avoided dealing with many issues about the Benghazi attack. Our concern is that security has taken a back seat to politics at the State Department. The willingness of the State Department and the White House to lie about the Benghazi attack does not inspire confidence that the Benghazi security failures will be seriously addressed. In the meantime, our diplomatic personnel may remain at risk as politicians and bureaucrats avoid accountability.

Big Peace