While most Americans were focused on the Boston Bombings last week, a report on Benghazi terror attack went largely unnoticed. But for those seeking to understand the Obama Administrations curious attitude towards fighting terrorism, the Benghazi attack is a prime case study.
Five Committees of the House of Representatives have completed an interim report on the Benghazi attack that sets the issue in a comprehensive framework for understanding and analysis.
The following is the Executive Summary. The full report is available here.
An ongoing Congressional investigation across five House Committees concerning the events surrounding the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya has made several determinations to date, including:The full report goes into detail on each of these points. I'd like to concentrate on point #2 which examines the talking points which falsely claimed a You Tube video was responsible for the attack.
• Reductions of security levels prior to the attacks in Benghazi were approved at the highest levels of the State Department, up to and including Secretary Clinton. This fact contradicts her testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on January 23, 2013.
• In the days following the attacks, White House and senior State Department officials altered accurate talking points drafted by the Intelligence Community in order to protect the State Department.
• Contrary to Administration rhetoric, the talking points were not edited to protect classified information. Concern for classified information is never mentioned in email traffic among senior Administration officials.
Here are excerpts of the Report on that issue:
The Administration consciously decided not to discuss extremist involvement or previous attacks against Western interests in Benghazi. The U.S. government immediately had information that the attacks were conducted by al-Qa’ida-affiliated terrorists, yet Administration officials downplayed those connections, and focused on the idea that provocation for violence resulted from a YouTube video.
Analysis of the Evolving Drafts of the Talking Points To protect the State Department, the Administration deliberately removed references to al-Qa’ida-linked groups and previous attacks in Benghazi in the talking points used by Ambassador Rice, thereby perpetuating the deliberately misleading and incomplete narrative that the attacks evolved from a demonstration caused by a YouTube video.
The Administration’s talking points were developed in an interagency process that focused more on protecting the reputation and credibility of the State Department than on explaining to the American people the facts surrounding the fatal attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel in Libya. Congressional investigators were given access to email exchanges, in which White House and senior Department officials discussed and edited the talking points. Those emails clearly reveal that Administration officials intentionally removed references in the talking points to the likely participation by Islamic extremists, to the known threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya, and to other recent attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi.
When draft talking points were sent to officials throughout the Executive Branch, senior State Department officials requested the talking points be changed to avoid criticism for ignoring the threat environment in Benghazi. Specifically, State Department emails reveal senior officials had “serious concerns” about the talking points, because Members of Congress might attack the State Department for “not paying attention to Agency warnings” about the growing threat in Benghazi.56 This process to alter the talking points can only be construed as a deliberate effort to mislead Congress and the American people.
After the Deputies Committee Meeting on Saturday, September 15, 2012, at which any interagency disagreement would be resolved by the White House,59 a small group of officials from both the State Department and the CIA worked to modify the talking points to their final form to reflect the decision reached in the Deputies meeting.60 The actual edits were made by a current high-ranking CIA official.61 Those edits struck any and all suggestions that the State Department had been previously warned of threats in the region, that there had been previous attacks in Benghazi by al-Qa’ida-linked groups in Benghazi and eastern Libya, and that extremists linked to al-Qa’ida may have participated in the attack on the Benghazi Mission. The talking points also excluded details about the wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya, an exacerbating factor that contributed to the lethality of the attacks.63
Administration officials have said that modification of the talking points was an attempt to protect classified information and an investigation by the FBI,64 but the evidence refutes these assertions. Administration officials transmitted and reviewed different drafts of the talking points - many of which included reference to al-Qa’ida-associated groups, including Ansar al-Sharia - over unsecure email systems. Also, there were no concerns about protecting classified information in the email traffic. Finally, the FBI approved a version of the talking points with significantly more information about the attacks and previous threats than the version requested by the State Department. Claims that the edits were made to protect the FBI investigation are not credible.
With Hillary Clinton screaming "what difference does it make" when asked in congressional hearings about the above it's pretty clear that the Administration feels it could get away with this charade and they may be right. Too few people are demanding answers to the questions surrounding this attack.
What's clear is that failure to hold Obama and Hillary accountable for the security failures that led to this attack and the coverup following it only puts off the day of reckoning necessary to address the security and leadership weakness that led to the attack in the first place.
As we learned from the Boston Bombing, there is a monumental and systemic failure of our security services to prevent attacks. And what is now becoming increasingly clear is that the failure ultimately comes from incompetence or indifferent leadership in the White House!