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Judicial Watch • Judicial Watch: State Department Almost Immediately Labeled Benghazi Attack as “Terrorism Event”

Judicial Watch: State Department Almost Immediately Labeled Benghazi Attack as “Terrorism Event”

Judicial Watch: State Department Almost Immediately Labeled Benghazi Attack as “Terrorism Event”

MAY 26, 2015

State Department Counterterrorism Official Complains About Hillary Clinton-tied Request to FBI

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released new State Department documents showing the Benghazi attack was called a “terrorism event” almost immediately after the attack took place.  Another document suggests that Hillary Clinton tasked an official to contact the FBI, evidently not knowing that the FBI was already on the Benghazi matter under longstanding State Department counterterrorism response protocols. The new documents were forced from the U.S. State Department under court order in a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request on June 12, 2014, and subsequently a lawsuit on October 16, 2014, seeking:

Any and all activity logs, reports, or other records produced by the Diplomatic Security Command Center between September 10, 2012 and September 13, 2012 regarding, concerning, or related to the attack at the U.S. Special Mission Compound and Classified Annex in Benghazi, Libya.

Though the State Department has yet to release to Judicial Watch any documents from Hillary Clinton’s secret email records (or the secret email records of other top State Department officials) as required by law and court order, earlier this month the agency released 49 records totaling over 70 pages.

Less than eight hours after the attacks, around 6 a.m. on September 12, 2012, the State Department Diplomatic Security “Command Center Team Site” sent out a “Benghazi Event Notification” to “ALCON:”

The DS Command Center is sharing the following terrorism event information for your situational awareness…

As of 0500 EST the US Mission in Benghazi has been evacuated due to ongoing attacks that resulted in the deaths of 4 Chief of Mission personnel including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and 3 additional COM wounded.  At this time everyone has been evacuated to Tripoli and is receiving medical aid and awaiting further movement.

This is initial terrorist incident report from the DS Command Center…[emphasis original]

Among the recipients of this email was the regional security officer for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, who received the email just before a briefing he had with then-Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. At 6:24 a.m., September 12, 2012, the RSO official was given the “terrorism incident report” and responded:

It is a tragic day for us.

I expect to speak with Ambassador Susan Rice and the rest of the senior staff about this here at USUN New York in a couple of hours.  I would appreciate any details we can know and share in a couple of hours, either here or on my SIPR [Secure Internet Protocol Router] account.

It so happens that the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] will discuss Libya this morning.  While the meeting had been previously scheduled, the situation will certainly change the tone and timbre of those deliberations – not to mention the substance.

I will call in around 0800 for the latest as well.

Despite knowing it was an attack, the State Department, including its Security Command Center, continued to falsely tie “demonstrations” to the Benghazi terrorist assault. A prior State Department document production in this lawsuit contains a press release issued by the Diplomatic Security Command Center, on September 12, 2012, that falsely states that “violent demonstrations took place at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and at the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in damages in both locations and casualties in Benghazi.”

On the evening of the attack, a member of the State Department’s Counterterrorism (CT) Bureau complained about a request to the FBI on behalf of Hillary Clinton:

FBI just called me indicating DOS ops center [Redacted](sp?) had called FBI ops center to request FBI assistance, ala evidence response team, investigators, etc. on behalf of Secretary Clinton..

To remind, the State (CT) led Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST) would include these folks…We should avoid multiple requests for assistance and rely on the comprehensive FEST approach, which had been used for repeated real-world events (including hostage takings) over the past 20 years.

Another State Department document lists 18 Embassy and other State Department sites in the Middle East, Africa, and UK, all but one of which are listed as being targeted by “protests.” Benghazi is the only city that has no listing of “protests,” and lists instead the situation as “Attack on US Consulate.” The document is undated but seems to have been created a few days after the Benghazi attack.

An email on September 11, 2012, from Rebecca Thompson, director of the Bureau of Public Affairs’ Rapid Response Unit, passes along an “intriguing” Internet post suggesting the Germans might have been warned days before the attack “about personalities who were officials in the Qaddafi regime and now work with Al-Qaida affiliated organizations to execute terrorist operations and explosions in Libya and outside of it…”

The following day, Rebecca Brown Thompson reported to the Command Center:

Nahla Qader, one of our media analysts, found this tweet:  Mohammed Fadel Fahmy@Repent11 in Egypt says “Threat to kill all Americans in Gaza, after Libya/Egypt due to film insulting prophet Mohamed forces UN staff to bunker in and placed on curfew!”

Nahla also reports that some Twitter users in Libya and Egypt are spreading reports that the attacks in Libya may not be related to the infamous film but to the killing of Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, who is Libyan.

This information echoes the Defense Intelligence Agency report released by Judicial Watch last week that immediately tied the Benghazi terrorist attack to retaliation for the death of Libyan Abu Yahya al-Libi. The Associated Press reported that Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, on September 10, 2011,

[U]rged Libyans — al-Libi was born in the north African country — to attack Americans to avenge the late militant’s death, saying his “blood is calling, urging and inciting you to fight and kill the Crusaders.”

Further undermining the false claim that the Benghazi attack arose from a spontaneous protest, a September 12 email with the subject line “Benghazi Killings of USGOV personnel” from an unidentified sender notes the Benghazi “attack was a complex attack including [Redacted].”

Last week, Judicial Watch reported that it had obtained more than 100 pages of previously classified “Secret” documents from the Department of Defense and the Department of State revealing that DOD knew almost immediately that the Benghazi attack was committed by the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood-linked “Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman” (BCOAR), and had been planned at least 10 days in advance. Rahman, known as the Blind Sheikh, is serving life in prison for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and other terrorist acts. The new documents also provided the first official confirmation that the U.S. government was aware of arms shipments from Benghazi to Syria.

“The Obama administration – including Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice – knew immediately that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack. The State Department’s new smoking gun documents put to rest any question about what Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice knew – and when they knew it,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Within minutes of the attack, the administration, specifically Hillary Clinton, began lying to the American people by blaming an obscure Internet video. No wonder Hillary Clinton is the great destroyer of State Department emails. One can assume that Mrs. Clinton would not have stolen and destroyed emails in violation of law and various court orders if she didn’t have something to hide. And it shouldn’t take a federal court order to find out that Hillary Clinton evidently had no clue how the State Department and the FBI responded to terrorist attacks on State Department personnel.”

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