(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on June 21, 2013, it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Obama Department of State seeking records relating to “updates and/or talking points” given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice concerning the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-00951)).
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks the following records pursuant to an October 18, 2012, FOIA request filed with the State Department:
- Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
- Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or related to the talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency.
The State Department acknowledged receiving the Judicial Watch FOIA request on October 26, 2012, and was required by law to respond within 20 working days. As of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the department 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.
Following the Benghazi attack, which left four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya dead, Rice joined Hillary Clinton in a high-profile campaign to portray the attack as solely related to a privately produced YouTube video that Muslims reportedly found offensive. On the Sunday following the attack, Rice went on five TV talk shows, repeatedly claiming that the attack was “a spontaneous – not a premeditated response” to “a hateful video that was disseminated on the Internet.”
Shortly thereafter, on the eve of a Congressional hearing, the Obama administration was forced to admit that Rice and others had provided false information, and that the attack was neither spontaneous nor the result of an Internet video. On September 28, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported that their revised assessment had determined the attack to be “a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists” and that “some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to, al-Qa’ida.”
The lawsuit for the underlying talking points and updates given to Rice for her controversial media appearances is the fourth FOIA lawsuit Judicial Watch has filed in its continuing efforts to uncover the full story of what transpired within the Obama administration before, during, and after the Benghazi attack.
In response to a FOIA lawsuit, on June 6, 2013, Judicial Watch obtained the first seven photos released to the public by the State Department depicting the carnage at the Benghazi consulate.
“The Obama administration hopes that stonewalling Benghazi answers will make the scandal go away. On the contrary, there is a groundswell of Americans who want accountability for Benghazi,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This new FOIA lawsuit further highlights the Obama administration’s utter contempt for transparency.”
In January 2013, Judicial Watch highlighted Rice’s false claims about the Benghazi attack in a Judicial Watch Special Report entitled “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012.”
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on June 6, 2013, it obtained the first seven photos from the Department of State depicting the aftermath of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic and CIA facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Judicial Watch obtained the documents pursuant to a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the State Department on February 25, 2013 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1-13-cv-00242)). These are the first Benghazi photos released by the State Department.
The photos obtained by Judicial Watch seem to depict portions of the so-called “Special Mission Compound” in Benghazi, including: what appears to be a burned and ransacked building; at least two burned vehicles; and Arabic graffiti with militant Islamist slogans.
Judicial Watch filed its FOIA request with the Department of State on December 19, 2012, seeking:
Any and all videos and photographs depicting U.S. Consulate facilities in Benghazi, Libya (including the Special Mission Compound and the Annex) between September 10, 2012, and September 13, 2012, that were provided to the Accountability Review Board (ARB) for Benghazi and/or to any individual member of the ARB.
The State Department acknowledged receiving the Judicial Watch FOIA request on January 4, 2013. When it failed to respond by February 4, 2013, as required by law, Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit resulting in the photos being delivered on June 6.
Judicial Watch became aware that the documents existed when they were referenced by the ARB in issuing its final report on December 31, 2012. According to ARB Chairman Ambassador Tom Pickering, the Board “reviewed thousands of documents and watched hours of video” during the course of its investigation. The Obama administration also reportedly shared Benghazi video with certain members of Congress. Until the State Department released the first seven Benghazi photos to Judicial Watch, however, the State Department had withheld all videos and photos from the American people.
“The fact that it took six months and a federal lawsuit to release these few photos tells you all you need to know about the Obama administration’s Benghazi stonewall,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We now know that every video or photo, along with every additional piece of information we uncover, will tell us more about Benghazi – in contrast to the continued lies and spin coming out of the Obama administration about this atrocity.”
Judicial Watch has three pending FOIA lawsuits against the Obama administration for documents about the Benghazi attack, 14 FOIA requests and one Mandatory Declassification Review Request. Judicial Watch’s special report is available online: “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent.”
Obama Administration Stonewalls Release of Videos and Photos Reviewed by “Accountability Review Board for Benghazi” Convened by former Secretary of State Clinton
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State seeking access to “all videos and photographs” depicting the Benghazi, Libya, Consulate between September 10 and September 13, 2012, the period leading up to, during, and immediately following the deadly attack that took the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit on February 25, 2013 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-00242)). This is one of three Benghazi FOIA lawsuits being pursued by Judicial Watch.
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks the following records pursuant to its December 19, 2012, FOIA request: “Any and all videos and photographs depicting U.S. Consulate facilities in Benghazi, Libya (including the Special Mission Compound and the Annex) between September 10, 2012, and September 13, 2012 that were provided to the Accountability Review Board (ARB) for Benghazi and/or to any individual member of the ARB.”
The State Department acknowledged receiving the Judicial Watch FOIA request on January 4, 2013, and was required by law to respond by February 4, 2013. As of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the department had 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.
On December 19, 2012, the Accountability Review Board (ARB) for Benghazi, convened by then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, released its report on the attack on the U.S. Consulate. According to ARB Chairman Ambassador Tom Pickering, the Board “reviewed thousands of documents and watched hours of video” during the course of its investigation. The Obama administration also reportedly shared Benghazi video with certain members of Congress. The State Department, however, has refused to comply with the Judicial Watch FOIA request seeking access to these materials on behalf of the American people.
“It has now been more than five months since the attack on America’s Benghazi consulate, and the American people still don’t know basic facts about what actually occurred,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Any video or photos will tell us more about Benghazi than Obama administration lies and spin. This latest stonewall shows that President Obama’s line, that his administration is the most transparent in history, is laughably false.”
Judicial Watch has a separate FOIA lawsuit seeking access to the controversial internal “speaking points” used by the Obama administration in the days following the attacks when administration officials advanced the false narrative that the attacks were inspired by a rudimentary Internet video perceived as anti-Muslim. Judicial Watch also sued the State Department for records detailing a nearly $400,000 contract awarded to a foreign firm for “Security Guards and Patrol Services” at the Benghazi Consulate prior to the deadly attack of September 11, 2012.
In a rather bizarre move, the U.S. State Department is offering the general public cash to come up with ideas that can help crack down on violators of arms control agreements, especially those involving weapons of mass destruction.
Among the key goals is to find ways to keep “loose nukes from falling into the hands of terrorists,” according to the State Department. Announced this week, the contest is called the “Innovation in Arms Control Challenge” and the agency asks a simple question: “How can the crowd support arms control transparency efforts?” Officials plan to collect new ideas that can affect the implementation of arms control, verification and nonproliferation policy.
That the world’s most powerful nation enlists help from the general public for such a serious matter may seem downright scary, though also somewhat comical. It might lead some to wonder if the State Department, the executive agency responsible for the country’s international relations, is having difficulty in this area. The winner of the contest will get $10,000 from the government and, though legal U.S. residency is necessary to cash in, all ideas are welcome.
The State Department claims to be looking for creative projects that use commonly available technologies, such as smart phones and tablet applications, to support arms control policy efforts. The agency explains that these are treaties or international arrangements addressing weapons, nonproliferation and confidence building measures. The treaties support mutual security and stability, but sometimes parties violate the provisions. “This is commonly understood as cheating,” the agency explains.
So, it seems that Uncle Sam needs help from the public to catch cheaters that may be trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. This probably means that the “diplomatic tools” that governments—especially the Obama Administration—use to keep each other in check aren’t working so well. Otherwise, the administration wouldn’t need to offer civilians money to come up with a more effective tool.
The public is challenged with the following question: “Can apps be created to aid on-site inspectors in verifying and monitoring armaments and sensitive material?” It’s not that the State Department can’t figure it out on its own, the contest is in the spirit of “harnessing the ingenuity of the American people,” while the agency reshapes its diplomatic agenda. At least that’s what it claims in its announcement.
“By creating this platform for public participation, collaboration, and openness, we aim to deepen our understanding and bring to bear the networks, technologies, and human potential of our increasingly inter-dependent and interconnected world,” the State Department further writes in its contest ad.