MARCH 31, 2016
Long after it was established that the Obama administration lied about an anti-Muslim internet video sparking the riot that killed the U.S. ambassador in Libya, the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, cited the tale as fact in a federal court hearing involving Judicial Watch. Here is an official transcript of the proceeding.
JW was arguing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Garland was one of the three judges on the panel. The case involves a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit requesting the release of dozens of images of Osama bin Laden’s body captured after the Al Qaeda leader was killed in a 2011 raid by U.S. Special Forces. The hearing took place on January 10, 2013, long after it had been confirmed that the president and his cohorts lied to cover up the facts surrounding the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks. The administration said a home-made, anti-Muslim internet video somehow ignited spontaneous riots that led to death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, the first diplomat to be killed overseas in decades, and three other Americans. An accurate account of the violent attack, carried out by a group of approximately 150 heavily armed Islamist militia members, on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi can be found in this JW special report.
The amateur YouTube video had absolutely nothing to do with the slaughter. Nevertheless, the federal appellate judge Obama recently picked to sit on the Supreme Court repeated this falsehood during an official court proceeding. On that day in Washington, D.C., in a packed courtroom before Garland and judges Harry Edwards and Judith Rogers, JW was appealing the administration’s claim that releasing dozens of bin Laden postmortem photos would hurt national security. A Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official had already testified that some images show the burial and bin Laden’s corpse being prepared for the event at sea. It’s difficult to imagine how this could possibly hurt national security. JW also argued that withholding the images undermines the president’s transparency claims, which his administration is notorious for violating.
Judge Garland suggested that it was within the executive branch’s right to claim the images would negatively impact national security and pointed to what he asserted were examples of Americans getting killed after certain information got released. One news outlet that covered the 2013 hearing tore apart the cases cited by Garland, which included “wrongly” stating that Ambassador Stevens was killed in Benghazi during riots that were triggered by a YouTube video. The other was an inaccurate 2005 Newsweek report that suggested a Koran was flushed down a toilet at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Newsweek eventually apologized for the false report that got picked up by media in Afghanistan and Pakistan, igniting violent anti-American demonstrations that killed four and injured dozens.
As JW pointed out at the time, a federal appellate court’s misimpression of reality shows that the Obama administration can’t be trusted to determine whether a certain video or photo will cause harm. The internet video that the president and his staff initially blamed for the premeditated Benghazi massacre had nothing to do with the attack, even though the story got repeated by a number of administration officials as well as the jurist that Obama has chosen to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. JW lost the 2013 appeal and the bin Laden photos have not been released to the public. In its unanimous ruling the D.C. appellate court agreed with the government’s claims that the images are being withheld to “prevent the killing of Americans and violence against American interests.”
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