More than six months have passed since the 9/11/2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, and we are no closer to the truth about what happened. And this is for one reason and one reason only – Obama secrecy.
The American people have watched the Obama administration trot out witnesses before congressional committees investigating the attacks. Americans have watched Obama officials make the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows. In the end is more lies and more stonewalling and more broken promises to “get to the bottom of it.”
There seems to be a systematic effort by the Obama administration to shield key documentary evidence from the American people. This is where Judicial Watch is focusing its attention. JW has filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests and recently filed three lawsuits against the Obama State Department to try to gain access to records that could shed light on what happened that day, who responded, and how.
Benghazi Lawsuit No. 1: JW Seeks U.S. Consulate Videos at Time of Attack
Judicial Watch sued the State Department seeking “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.
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks the following records pursuant to its December 19, 2012, Freedom of Information Act (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. So far, no documents have been produced.
The Obama administration cannot claim it came up empty in trying to locate the records. The records exist for certain because they are referenced by the ARB, which was convened by then – Secretary of State Clinton last December, in its final report.
In fact, 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 JW’s FOIA seeking access to these materials on behalf of the American people.
“It’s an easy guess as to why the Obama administration is refusing to turn these records over. Any video or photos will tell us more about Benghazi – in contrast to the lies and spin coming out of Obama administration officials,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Benghazi Lawsuit Number 2: JW Seeks Details Regarding Contract with Foreign Security Company
In another FOIA lawsuit against the Obama State Department, Judicial Watch seeks access to records concerning a contract totaling nearly $400,000 that was awarded to a foreign firm for “Security Guards and Patrol Services” at the Benghazi Consulate prior to the Benghazi attacks. This contract was signed on February 17, 2012, and May 3, 2012, and at the time was identified only as “Award ID SAQMMA12COO92.” Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit on February 25, 2013.
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks the following pursuant to a November 7, 2012, FOIA request:
Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the $387,413.68 contract awarded by the Department of State to an unidentified foreign awardee for “Security Guards and Patrol Services.” According to the record of this expenditure on USASpending.gov, the contract was signed on February 17, 2012, and May 3, 2012, and is identified by Award ID SAQMMA12COO92.
The State Department acknowledged receiving the November 7, 2012, Judicial Watch FOIA request on November 12, 2012, and was required by law to respond by December 20, 2012, at the latest. Yet again, as of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, JW has not received a meaningful response.
And what is suspicious about this contract?
According to Breitbart.com, when first questioned about foreign Benghazi security guards on Friday, September 14, 2012, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland emphatically denied that State had hired any private firm to provide security at the American mission in Benghazi:
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the claim was made yesterday that a company that is a spinoff of Blackwater, in fact, proposed or contracted the United States Government for this particular kind of eventuality, and it was caught up in some sort of bureaucratic –
MS. NULAND: Completely untrue with regard to Libya. I checked that this morning. At no time did we plan to hire a private security company for Libya.
QUESTION: Toria [stet], I just want to make sure I understood that, because I didn’t understand your first question. You said – your first answer. You said that at no time did you have contracts with private security companies in Libya?
MS. NULAND: Correct.
However, on September 17, 2012, WIRED magazine broke the story that Nuland had provided false information in her September 14 press conference, saying: “Contrary to Friday’s claim by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that ‘at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya,’ the department inked a contract for ‘security guards and patrol services’ on May 3, 2012, for $387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to $783,000. The contract lists only ‘foreign security awardees’ as its recipient.”
In her daily press briefing on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, Nuland admitted that she had made an “error” concerning the State Department’s hiring of foreign security firms in Benghazi. “There was a group called Blue Mountain Group, which is a private security company with permits to operate in Libya,” Nuland said. “They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening cars, that kind of thing.”
According to Breitbart.com, Blue Mountain was chosen for the Benghazi security operation because it was willing to sign the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya prohibiting guards from carrying weapons with live ammunition.
Benghazi Lawsuit Number 3: JW Seeks “Doctored” Talking Points Memo
Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit on February 14, 2013, against the Obama Administration’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence seeking access to a controversial “speaking points” memo that seems to suggest that intelligence officials believed from the outset that al Qaeda was 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.
Specifically, JW seeks:
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….
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. However, as of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the agency 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 television affiliate in San Francisco, Senator Feinstein said: “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, then-Secretary of State 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.”
Did Hillary Clinton know this was a lie when she said it? She certainly was in no mood to talk about it during her testimony before Congress. When asked about the alleged discrepancy between the intelligence community’s assessment and the Obama administration’s public statements during congressional testimony, Ms. Clinton shouted, “What difference does it make?…I personally was not focused on talking points.”
“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,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “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.”