JUNE 21, 2013
(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.”