NOVEMBER 18, 2013
Obama State Department Withholds Videos of Attack
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on November 12, 2013, it obtained 30 pages of records from the Department of State, including 13 previously withheld photos depicting the devastating 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)). In June, Judicial Watch released the first seven photos of the devastation obtained in response to its February FOIA lawsuit.
The new photos obtained by Judicial Watch seem to depict portions of the so-called “Special Mission Compound” in Benghazi, including: a car on fire; what appears to be the exterior of a burned out building; ransacked rooms within the building with files and office supplies strewn across the floor; 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.
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.
Despite being forced to release the 30 new Benghazi pages of records to Judicial Watch, the State Department continued to withhold the videos reviewed by the ARB. A Justice Department attorney informed Judicial Watch last week that the State Department is withholding all videos in full, citing privacy and law enforcement exemptions.
“The new photos reveal a level of total devastation thoroughly belying Obama’s original cover story that the carnage was perpetrated by a bunch of random malcontents upset over an unpleasant video,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The fact that we’ve had to wait nearly a year and file a federal lawsuit for basic documentary material of the attack shows that this administration is still in cover-up mode. And now the Obama administration brings the Benghazi stonewall to a whole new level by withholding video of the attack using frivolous arguments such as ‘privacy.’”
Judicial Watch has four 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 about the deadly assault 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.”