Judicial Watch Benghazi Special Report
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Date Created:January 21, 2013
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Judicial Watch Special Report: The Benghazi Attack September 11, 2012 Analysis Further Questions from Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent January 22, 2013 Judicial atch 425 Street, Suite 800 ashington, 20024 Tel: 202-646-5172 www.JudicialW atch.org info@ judicialw atch.org Introduction Judicial Watch promotes transparency, integrity and accountability government, politics and the law. carry out mission through investigations, research, litigation and public education. From time time produce Special Reports important public policy matters illuminate the operations government way that informs the public and holds our trusted public servants accountable. have prepared this Special Report with the analysis, insights and expertise Mr. Raymond Fournier, recently retired Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent with more than thirty years extraordinary experience managing all aspects security, include being Regional Security Officer United States Embassies such countries as: Honduras, Sierra Leone, Belgium, and Lebanon well other sensitive overseas postings include Afghanistan and Israel. Specifically, Mr. Fournier possesses expertise in: assessing and managing risk; developing and executing security budgets and plans; organizing dignitary protection details; well technical, procedural security development and implementation augment physical security. Mr. Fournier assistance has been invaluable. Judicial Watch has opened its own investigation the Benghazi attack. Our staff investigators and researchers includes former intelligence officers, analysts, military officers, attorneys, and journalists. Judicial Watch has more than ten (10) Freedom Information Act (FOIA) requests pending with various Executive departments and agencies seeking all manner records relating the attack. are prepared file lawsuits the United States District Court for the District Columbia compel the Obama administration comply with the FOIA law and release the records seek. the interim, pursue additional avenues investigation effort provide the American people with complete, accurate, factual information concerning deadly attack costing the lives United States Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three additional brave Americans. Thomas Fitton President Washington, January 22, 2013 Background 9:40 p.m. the evening September 11, 2012, group approximately 150 heavily armed Islamist militia members attacked the United States diplomatic mission Benghazi, Libya. The ensuing hour assault the Special Mission Compound (SMC, and hereafter: Compound and the nearby CIA annex claimed the lives four Americans: Ambassador Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Specialist Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Stevens, who had previously served the U.S. Special Envoy the Libyan Transitional National Council, was the first Ambassador killed the line duty since the 1979 shooting Ambassador Adolph Dubs Kabul, Afghanistan. the aftermath the attack, President Obama and senior administration officials were quick identify Muslim outrage over obscure Internet video mocking Mohammed the motivation for the attacki. September 12th statement about the incident, the President remarked, Since our founding, the United States has been nation that respects all faiths. reject all efforts denigrate the religious beliefs others. September 14, 2012 event honoring the four victims, Secretary State Hilary Clinton stated, seen the heavy assault our post Benghazi that took the lives those brave men. seen rage and violence directed American embassies over awful Internet video that had nothing with. iii Those Libya did not share this theory. During September 15th television interview, Libyan President Mohamed al- Magarief observed that, clear from the timing September 11th and from the detailed planning the attacks that behind there were experienced masterminds. was not spontaneous act protest movie. This has been prepared for long time this specific day. you take into account the weapons used, like RPGs and other heavy weapons, proves that was preplanned. dirty act revenge, and has nothing with religion. Nevertheless, top administration officials continued claim that the attack was spontaneous and the result the video. During September 16th television interview, U.S. Ambassador the United Nations Susan Rice infamously assessed the situation follows: There was hateful video that was disseminated the Internet. had nothing with the United States government and its one that find disgusting and reprehensible. Its been offensive many, many people around the world. That sparked violence various parts the world, including violence directed against western facilities including our embassies and consulates. That violence absolutely unacceptable, its not response that one can ever condone when comes such video. And have been working very closely and, indeed, effectively with the governments the region and around the world secure our personnel, secure our embassy, condemn the violent response this video. September 18, 2012 press conference, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that, based what knew the time, knew initially, what know now, the facts that have, the video was precipitating cause the unrest the region and specifically Libya. President Obama continued link the attack the video September 25th, telling his audience the United Nations, time when anyone with cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click button, the notion that can control the flow information obsolete. The question, then, how respond? And this must agree: There speech that justifies mindless violence. There are words that excuse the killing innocents. Theres video that justifies attack embassy. vii Eventually, the administration was forced acknowledge what many observers knew from the beginning- that the attack Benghazi was neither spontaneous nor the result Internet video. September 28th, the Office the Director National Intelligence reported that their revised assessment had determined be, deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out extremists and that, some those involved were linked groups affiliated with, sympathetic al- Qaida. viii ARB Report/Summary Findings required the Omnibus Diplomatic and Antiterrorism Act 1986, the State Department convened Accountability Review Board (ARB, and hereafter Board investigate the attack October 2012.ix Secretary Clinton chose former Ambassador Thomas Pickering chair the board. Pickering also member the advisory board the National Iranian American Council (NIAC)x, left- wing advocacy group that opposes the imposition economic sanctions against Iran and that, the estimation national security expert Kenneth Timmerman, has been lobbying Congress win support for agenda that mirrors the goals the Tehran regime. 2009, former FBI counterterrorism agent Kenneth Piernick reported that the group, may lobbying behalf Iranian government interests. Were running the counterintelligence program the bureau now, would have cause look into this further. xii her 2009 paper Rise the Iran Lobby, published the Center for Security Policy, former CIA officer Clare Lopez wrote that, Ambassador Pickering positions Iran include calls for bilateral talks without preconditions and plan for multinational uranium enrichment consortium Iran. Iran has proposed similar plan the Security Council. Ambassador Pickering advocates process leading mutual diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. also cites positive experiences tourist Iran, where recalls that ordinary Iranians the streets expressed friendliness towards him. xiii The other members the Board were former Chairman the Joint Chiefs Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, former United Nations Undersecretary for Management Catherine Bertini, former State Department Interim Director Overseas Building Operations Richard Shinnick, and former Deputy CIA Director Hugh Turner. Despite State Department regulations requiring that Board members, must possess expertise that will contribute the work the Board, e.g., knowledge, experience training areas such foreign affairs, law, security, embassy construction, intelligence, and other areas appropriate the Board work, xiv security professionals were selected the board convened investigate the Benghazi attack. December 18th, the Board released the unclassified version its final report regarding the attack Benghazi. The report highlights myriad failures State Department officials and contains five key findings: The attacks were security related, involving arson, small arms and machine gun fire, and the use RPGs, grenades, and mortars against U.S. personnel two separate facilities the SMC and the Annex and route between them. Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies senior levels within two bureaus the State Department resulted Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate deal with the attack that took place. Notwithstanding the proper implementation security systems and procedures and remarkable heroism shown American personnel, those systems and the Libyan response fell short the face series attacks that began with the sudden penetration the Special Mission compound dozens armed attackers. Intelligence provided immediate, specific tactical warning the September attacks. Certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated lack proactive leadership and management ability their responses security concerns posed Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack reliable host government protection.xv Notably, the report contradicts the earlier claims administration officials that the attacks resulted from protest that escalated into violence. The Board, concluded that there was protest prior the attacks, which were unanticipated their scale and intensity. Despite its finding that security the Compound was, grossly inadequate, that State Department officials demonstrated lack proactive leadership and management ability, and that systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies led the inadequacy the security posture the compound, the board incredibly reported that it, did not find reasonable cause determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his her duty. The extent which the unclassified version the report that was released the public omits pertinent information about the attack has also drawn congressional scrutiny. Shortly after its release, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrel Issa told reporters that was, deeply concerned that the unclassified report omits important information the public has right know. This includes details about the perpetrators the attack Libya well the less- than- noble reasons contributing State Department decisions deny security resources. Relevant details that would not harm national security have been withheld and the classified report suffers from enormous over- classification problem.xvi Advance Warning Congressional testimony senior State Department officials and other evidence that has come light since September demonstrate that, the months before the attack, the government had ample reason believe that the security situation Benghazi was deteriorating rapidly. The Board report identified specific security incidents involving the Compound, international organizations, non- governmental organizations, and other diplomatic facilities 2012. These include bomb being thrown over the perimeter wall the Compound April, improvised explosive device (IED) attack against the motorcade the Special Envoy Libya, RPG attack against Red Cross facility, the kidnappings several aid workers, and RPG attack against the British Ambassador convoy. June 2012, IED attack targeting the Compound blasted large hole its exterior wall. security contractor the U.S. African Command presciently reported July 2012, Benghazi has seen notable increase violence recent months, particularly against international targets. These events point strong anti- Western sentiments among certain segments the population, the willingness Salafi- jihadi groups the city openly engage violence against foreign targets, and their capacity carry out these attacks. xvii addition these overt incidents, U.S. intelligence agencies issued numerous classified reports documenting the dangerous situation Benghazi the months preceding the attack. The Senate Committee Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs December 30, 2012 report regarding Benghazi noted, The Committee has reviewed dozens classified intelligence reports the evolution threats Libya which were issued between February 2011 and September 11, 2012. are precluded this report from discussing the information detail, but overall, these intelligence reports (as the ARB similarly noted) provide clear and vivid picture rapidly deteriorating threat environment eastern Libya one that believe should have been sufficient inform policymakers the growing danger U.S. facilities and personnel that part the country and the urgency them doing something about it. xviii State Department personnel Libya were well aware the escalating violence Benghazi and the potential threat posed the U.S. Diplomatic mission there. several occasions, our diplomats Libya requested additional security resources address the growing threat; tragically, those requests were not honored. October 2012 letter Secretary Clinton, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R- CA) and Subcommittee National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R- UT) wrote that, multiple U.S. federal government official have confirmed the Committee that, prior the September attack, the U.S. mission Libya made repeated requests for increased security Benghazi. The mission Libya, however, was denied these resources officials Washington. xix The State Department was clearly aware the security situation Libya, evidenced the fact that the danger pay allowance for diplomats stationed there was increased from percent percent July 15, 2012.xx Nevertheless, the ARB found, the number Bureau Diplomatic Security (DS) security staff Benghazi the day the attack and the months and weeks leading was inadequate, despite repeated requests from Special Mission Benghazi and Embassy Tripoli for additional staffing. Board members found pervasive realization among personnel who served Benghazi that the Special Mission was not high priority for Washington when came security- related requests, especially those relating staffing. Despite the self- evident fact that the security resources dedicated the Compound Benghazi were insufficient, State Department officials continued defend their staffing decisions the aftermath the attack. Under questioning Rep. Darrell Issa during House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing investigating the attack, State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs Charlene Lamb asserted, had the correct number assets Benghazi the time 9/11. xxi According published reports, the Regional Security Officer Libya, Eric Nordstrom, told Congressional investigators that Lamb, wanted keep the number U.S. security personnel Benghazi artificially low. xxii Fallout The day after the release the Board report, numerous media outlets reported that four State Department officials responsible for the management and security the Compound Benghazi had resigned. Three were identified Assistant Secretary State Eric Boswell, Charlene Lamb, and Deputy Assistant Secretary State Raymond Maxwell.xxiii the weeks that followed, however, became unclear whether the officials had really resigned even faced any significant disciplinary measures. December 26th, the New York Post reported that, The highest- ranking official caught the scandal, Assistant Secretary State Eric Boswell, has not resigned from government service, officials said last week. just switching desks. And the other three are simply administrative leave and are expected back.xxiv The uncertainty over the situation has outraged least one member Congress. the day the Posts report, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros- Lehtinen (R- FL) told reporters, State Department officials proclaimed the world that heads would roll after the deception related the deceitful video excuse and the non- existent spontaneous protest outside the consulate. Now see that the discipline lie and all that has happened the shuffling the deck chairs.xxv The State Department has given only vague and evasive descriptions the officials current status, reporting that Boswell had resigned Assistant Secretary Diplomatic Security but declining comment his current duties. According State Department spokesman, The Secretary has accepted Eric Boswells decision resign Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, effective immediately. The other three individuals have been relieved their current duties. All four individuals have been placed administrative leave pending further action.xxvi Additional Questions Raised The degree which State Department officials are guilty the systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies Benghazi just one the unresolved issues regarding the event. According analysis conducted exclusively for Judicial Watch former State Department Diplomatic Security Special Agent Raymond Fournier, the Board report leaves number critical questions unanswered. Who the Department State was responsible for opening and continuing the operation the Special Mission Compound the unstable environment Benghazi, overriding physical security standards for diplomatic facilities? Special Agent Fourniers assessment, the most critical error leading the deadly attack Benghazi was, the Departments unexplained decision create new category diplomatic structure, i.e. the Special Mission Compound, for the purpose of, skirting the established physical security standards for embassies and consulates around the world. describes the level security the Compound as, meeting slightly exceeding the established security standards for residence (not diplomatic mission workplace) high critical threat environment. Diplomatic personnel Benghazi were apparently aware these shortcomings. August 16, 2012 cable summarizing emergency meeting held the previous day reported that the State Departments Regional Security Officer, expressed concerns with the ability defend Post the event coordinated attack due limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size the compoundxxvii The unique designation our diplomatic outpost Benghazi and the inadequate security posture that designation allowed posed unique concerns with regard the safeguarding classified information. Fournier notes that, one can reasonably assume that the Compound contained classified documents and/or classified communications equipment. However, self- evident that the Compound failed meet security standards required all diplomatic facilities regarding the minimum stand- off time required for cleared American staff destroy classified holdings and equipment. The Board report contains details regarding the classified documents and equipment that may have been lost during the attack. Regarding the consequences the unique SMC designation applied the Compound Benghazi, the Board report notes that, Another key driver behind the weak security platform Benghazi was the decision treat Benghazi temporary, residential facility. even though was also full time office facility. This resulted the Special Mission Compound being excepted from office facility standards and accountability. comprehensive upgrade and risk- mitigation plan did not exist, nor was there comprehensive security review conducted Washington for Benghazi 2012. The unique circumstances surrounding the creation the mission Benghazi temporary mission outside the realm permanent diplomatic posts resulted significant disconnects and support gaps. Because the Benghazi mission appears have been designated SMC something anomalous amongst the Departments inventory approximately 285 embassies and consulates worldwide- for the purpose evading appropriate security protocols, the question what State Department official authorized the leasing the house utilized the Compound critically important. The Board reported that State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, approved one year continuation the U.S. Special Mission Benghazi December 2011. Fournier points out, however, the Board failed identify the person persons within the Department responsible for leasing the unsecured house otherwise known SMC Benghazi the first place, i.e., before its operation was continued December 2011. Arguably the organizational entity within the department that had the authority continue the U.S. Mission Benghazi was the same entity that initiated the mission leasing the house. review the Departments organizational chart reflects that the Undersecretary for Management has the Bureau Diplomatic Security and the Bureau Overseas Buildings under its authority. Therefore, can reasonably assume that Undersecretary Kennedy approved the initial lease. Fournier also questions the Departments decision depart from accepted practice contracting with local militia group loosely connected central government forces provide security for the Compound. The militia, February Martyrs Brigade, had been one several militias that participated the overthrow the Qaddafi regime. This, according Fournier, led Department officials use old paradigm, enemys enemy friend, trust the February Martyrs Brigade protect American lives and property. During the attack, however, the militia members failed respond repeated calls for assistance. Did the Director Diplomatic Security his immediate subordinates have authority countermand the Department desire open SMC Benghazi? noted, the decision lease the Compound Benghazi and the approving authority for security and staffing decisions was Undersecretary Kennedy. What remains unknown, however, whether security professionals within the State Department advised against this action; what their initial recommendations for appropriate security measures were; the extent which Department management took those recommendations under advisement; and, whether the Director Diplomatic Security had the authority prevent the opening the Compound. After almost two decades Diplomatic Security Agent, Fournier identifies systemic cultural problems within the Department that hinder the efforts the security professionals keep our diplomats safe: far- reaching idea touched upon the Board report suggested that the Department reexamine reorganization with emphasis span control for security policy planning for all overseas U.S. diplomatic facilities. Although good recommendation matter academic discussion, the reality that the Department has historically not seen equal partners the day- to- day pursuit diplomacy. Frequently, security policy and standards are set aside inconvenient, restraining, time- consuming simply less important relative loftier foreign policy goals prosecuted the Departments elite. One need further than Benghazi see example the aforementioned managerial arrogance within the Department. Why did Ambassador Stevens travel Benghazi, close the anniversary the September 11, 2001 attacks? noted above, the extreme risk anti- Western violence Benghazi was well know State Department officials the months before September 11th. July 18, 2012 worldwide travel caution advisory the Department reported that, Credible information indicates terrorist groups also seek continue attacks against U.S. interests the Middle East and North Africa.xxviii August 27th, the Department issued travel warning specific Libya that read part, The Department State warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel Libya. Political violence the form assassinations and vehicle bombs has increased both Benghazi and Tripoli.xxix And, course, the Department was well aware the increased threat terrorist activity significant anniversary dates. The travel warning issued advance September 11, 2011 noted that, U.S. citizens should aware that al- Qaeda affiliates and allies have demonstrated the intent and capability carry out attacks against the United States and our interests around the world. the past, terrorist organizations have occasion planned their attacks coincide with significant dates the calendar.xxx this context, the decision for Ambassador Stevens travel Benghazi that date seems odd. According the Board report, his travel was, timed part fill the staffing gaps between TDY [temporary duty] principal officers well open American Corner local school and reconnect with local contacts. also known that the Ambassador met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin the evening the attack. The purpose that meeting has not been disclosed. October, Fox News reported that Stevens, was Benghazi negotiate weapons transfer, effort get SA- missiles out the hands Libya- based extremists.xxxi Some experts believe that the Ambassadors work Benghazi may have been related Administration efforts transfer arms Syrian opposition groups. former Deputy Assistant Secretary State and President the Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney wrote, One the places Libya most awash with weapons the most dangerous hands Benghazi. now appears that Stevens was there particularly risky day, with security speak and despite now copiously documented concerns about his own safety and that his subordinates for another priority mission: sending arms recovered from the former regime stocks the opposition Syria.xxxii Former CIA Officer Clare Lopez has characterized U.S. activities Benghazi gun running and reported that Administration officials were, working with the very same al- Qaeda linked relationships Libya gather and buy back and collect weapons from Gaddafis stockpile that were missing from the revolution Libya last year and what looks like that they were shipping them onwards Syria.xxxiii Further substantiating the theory that the Obama administration was involved arms transfers Syrian groups Times London report published September 14, 2012, Syrian Rebels Squabble Over Weapons Biggest Shipload Arrives from Libya. xxxiv According the report: Among more than 400 tonnes cargo the vessel was carrying were SAM- surface- to- air anti- aircraft missiles and rocket- propelled grenades (RPGs), which Syrian sources said could game- changer for the rebels. The connection Benghazi was established The Times through examination the ship port authority papers, The Times was shown the Libyan ship, The Intisaar The Victory, the Turkish port Iskenderun and papers stamped the port authority the ship captain, Omar Mousaeeb, Libyan from Benghazi and the head organisation called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support, which supporting the Syrian uprising. Why were two unmanned aerial vehicles requested record the deadly events they unfolded Benghazi while more lethal air support options were not station? According the Board report, United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) deployed two unmanned aerial vehicles survey the events Benghazi one the Compound and the other the airport during the evacuation American personnel. However, the report gives description the images captured the UAVs. addition, the involvement AFRICOM the response raises the important question why lethal air support other military assets were not deployed response the attack. According the Department Defense, there was not sufficient time deploy resources Benghazi once the attack began. addition, Secretary Defense Leon Panetta later claimed that officials lacked sufficient real- time information about the situation commit troops, saying, You dont deploy forces into harms way without knowing whats going on.xxxv Conclusion the Boards report makes clear, the September 11, 2012 attack Benghazi resulted from wide range strategic and tactical failures State Department officials. Chief among them were the fateful decision circumvent established security regulations designating the diplomatic post Benghazi Special Mission Compound, ignoring repeated requests for additional security resources Diplomatic Security personnel the ground, and entrusting the security the Compound local militia group with suspected ties radical Islamists. Special Agent Fournier notes his assessment the tragedy, there were also long- standing cultural problems within the Department State that hinder the ability Diplomatic Security agents adequately protect our diplomats overseas. Even after the Board report and separate investigations the House Oversight and Government Reform and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees, numerous questions remain: Who the State Department authorized the lease the house utilized mission facility Benghazi? What input from the Bureau Diplomatic Security did the authorizing State Department official receive, and was that input acted upon? Have the officials responsible for the systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies identified the Board been disciplined, and what positions, any, they now hold the State Department? What was the purpose Ambassador Stevens travel Benghazi the anniversary the worst terror attack American history? the administration involved transporting weapons from Libya Syrian opposition forces? Hopefully, Secretary Clinton will forthcoming addressing these issues during her scheduled Congressional testimony. REFERENCES the date the report, the video question can viewed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAiOEV0v2RM. Obama, Barack. Remarks the President the Deaths U.S. Embassy Staff Libya. 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