Judicial Watch Seeks the “Speaking Points” Intelligence Memo Referencing Link to Terrorism that was Allegedly Scrubbed by Obama Administration Officials
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Administration’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence seeking access to records detailing the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks a controversial “speaking points” memo indicating that intelligence officials believed from the outset that terrorists were behind the attack despite public statements to the contrary issued by Obama administration officials, including UN Ambassador Susan Rice and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The lawsuit was filed on February 14, 2013 (Judicial Watch v. Office of the Dir. of National Intelligence (No. 13-0198)).
Judicial Watch seeks the following records pursuant to its October 19, 2012, FOIA request:
Any and all memoranda, assessments, analyses, and/or talking points regarding the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and/or the killing of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence between September 11, 2012 and September 20, 2012. This request includes, but is not limited to, the “speaking points” memorandum referred to by Senator Dianne Feinstein during a televised interview on October 17, 2012, (see http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/10/17/ feinstein-intelligence-flaw-lax-security-to-blame-for-libyan-terror-attack/).
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged receiving JW’s request on October 19, 2012, and was required by law to respond by November 26, 2012. As of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the agency has failed to produce any records responsive to the request, indicate when any responsive records will be produced, or demonstrated that responsive records are exempt from production.
Regarding the “speaking points” memorandum requested by Judicial Watch, according to the CBS Affiliate in San Francisco: “When asked by CBS 5 if there was an intelligence flaw, the senior California senator [Feinstein] who hails from San Francisco replied: ‘I think what happened was the director of intelligence…put out some speaking points on the initial intelligence assessment. I think that was possibly a mistake.’”
Former CIA Director General David Petraeus reportedly testified before Congress that the initial speaking points produced by the CIA “stated there were indications the attack was linked to al Qaeda,” and suggested the terrorism reference was removed sometime during an interagency review process.
In the days and weeks following the Benghazi attacks, the Obama administration blamed the incident on a rudimentary Internet video deemed offensive to Muslims. This false claim was repeated by both Ambassador Rice and Secretary Clinton in multiple public statements and press interviews. 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.”
Later, when asked about the alleged discrepancy between the intelligence community’s assessment and the Obama administration’s public statements during congressional testimony, former Secretary of State Clinton shouted, “What difference does it make?” “I personally was not focused on talking points,” she stated.
“With all of the Benghazi lies coming out of the Obama administration, the only way to get at the truth is to release these records immediately,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “From the beginning, the Obama White House has been more concerned with self-protection than to disclosing the truth about Benghazi. The Obama administration’s lawless Benghazi cover-up is a disgrace and an insult to the victims of the attacks and their families. The Obama Benghazi scandal makes Iran-Contra seem like patty-cake by comparison.”
In December, Judicial Watch released its special report, “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent.” The report closely examined the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the assault, as well as the State Department’s commitment to protect overseas diplomats.
In addition to Judicial Watch’s Benghazi investigation, Congress also seeks answers from the Obama administration. Republicans in the Senate have indicated they plan to put a hold on the nomination of John O. Brennan, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, who is President Obama’s pick to serve as Director of the CIA, until the Obama White House releases more details on the Benghazi attacks, including the speaking points memos.
Judicial Watch Analysis on Eve of Hillary Clinton Hill Testimony Finds Continued State Department Duplicity, Questions Department Commitment to Protect Security of Overseas Diplomats
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today 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, as well as the State Department’s commitment to protect overseas diplomats.
The new report contains in-depth analysis, conducted exclusively for Judicial Watch by former State Department Security Special Agent Raymond Fournier, examines the critical time period leading up to the Benghazi attack, when repeated requests for increased security were shunned by top State Department officials. It also examines the Obama administration’s official 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 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.
“As the [Accountability Review] Board’s report makes clear,” the Judicial Watch Special 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.”
Among the questions raised by the Judicial Watch Benghazi report:
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?
“Our Special Report shows that the State Department has conspicuously avoided many issues about the Benghazi attack,” stated Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “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.”
Hillary Clinton was instrumental in advancing the false narrative that the internet video sparked the attacks. For example, as the Judicial Watch Special Report documents, at a September 14, 2012, even 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.”
Judicial Watch has more than 10 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests pending with various Executive departments and agencies seeking records relating to the Benghazi attack.