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Judicial Watch • Another Benghazi Smoking Gun

Another Benghazi Smoking Gun

Another Benghazi Smoking Gun

DECEMBER 11, 2015

U.S. Military was Prepared to Immediately Protect U.S. Diplomats in Benghazi, Email Records Show
Judicial Watch Takes Deadly San Francisco Sanctuary Policy to Court
JW Sues for Details on Massive Hillary Clinton Russian Uranium Scandal


U.S. Military was Prepared to Immediately Protect U.S. Diplomats in Benghazi, Email Records Show

Contrary to what the Obama administration has told the American people, the U.S. military was poised and ready to respond immediately and forcefully against terrorists in Benghazi, Libya.

That’s what we have learned from an email exchange from then-Department of Defense Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash to State Department leadership immediately offering “forces that could move to Benghazi” during the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. In an email sent to top Department of State officials, at 7:19 p.m. ET, only hours after the attack had begun, Bash says, “we have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak.” The Obama administration redacted the details of the military forces available, oddly citing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption that allows the withholding of “deliberative process” information.

Bash’s email seems to directly contradict testimony given by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2013. Defending the Obama administration’s lack of military response to the nearly six-hour-long attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Panetta claimed that “time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response.”

This latest bombshell your Judicial Watch has released to the public has attracted considerable media attention. Here is how the Washington Examiner reported on these revelations:

While parts of the email were redacted, the message indicates the Pentagon was waiting for approval from the State Department to send the forces in. That help never arrived for the Americans under siege at the Benghazi compound. A spokesman for the House Select Committee on Benghazi said investigators had received the unredacted version of the email, which was obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act and made public Tuesday, last year but had declined to make it public.

Now would be a good time to go back and review the Obama administration’s many prevarications on the Benghazi terrorist attacks. (A significant collection of our history-making work on the Benghazi scandal is available here.)

You may recall that the first assault occurred at the main compound at about 9:40 p.m. local time (3:40 p.m. ET in Washington, DC).  The second attack on a CIA annex 1.2 miles away began three hours later, at about 12 a.m. local time the following morning (6 p.m. ET), and ended at approximately 5:15 a.m. local time (11:15 p.m. ET) with a mortar attack that killed security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

The newly released email reads:

From: Bash, Jeremy CIV SD [REDACTED]

Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 7:19 PM

To: Sullivan, Jacob J; Sherman, Wendy R; Nides, Thomas R

Cc: Miller, James HON OSD POLICY; Wienefeld, James A ADM JSC VCJCS; Kelly, John LtGen SD; martin, dempsey [REDACTED]

Subject: Libya

State colleagues:

I just tried you on the phone but you were all in with S [apparent reference to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton].

After consulting with General Dempsey, General Ham and the Joint Staff, we have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak. They include a [REDACTED].

Assuming Principals agree to deploy these elements, we will ask State to procure the approval from host nation. Please advise how you wish to convey that approval to us [REDACTED].

Jeremy

Jacob Sullivan was Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the time of the terrorist attack at Benghazi.  Wendy Sherman was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the fourth-ranking official in the U.S. Department of State. Thomas Nides was the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources.

The timing of the Bash email is particularly significant based upon testimony given to members of Congress by Gregory Hicks, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli at the time of the Benghazi terrorist attack. According to Hicks’ 2013 testimony, a show of force by the U.S. military during the siege could have prevented much of the carnage. Said Hicks, “If we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them.”

Ultimately, Special Operations forces on their own initiative traveled from Tripoli to Benghazi to provide support during the attack.  Other military assets were only used to recover the dead and wounded, and to evacuate U.S. personnel from Libya.  In fact, other documents released in October by Judicial Watch show that only one U.S. plane was available to evacuate Americans from Benghazi to Tripoli and that raises questions about whether a delay of military support led to additional deaths in Benghazi.

As per usual, we only obtained this document after going to federal court.  The new email came as a result of a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on September 4, 2014 seeking:

  • Records related to notes, updates, or reports created in response to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This request includes, but is not limited to, notes taken by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or employees of the Office of the Secretary of State during the attack and its immediate aftermath.

The Obama administration and Clinton officials hid this compelling Benghazi email for years. The email makes readily apparent that the military was prepared to launch immediate assistance that could have made a difference, at least at the CIA Annex.  The fact that the Obama Administration withheld this email for so long only worsens the scandal of Benghazi.

The Washington Examiner puts it very well:

The newly disclosed email chain casts doubt on previous testimony from high-level officials, several of whom suggested there was never any kind of military unit that could have been in a position to mount a rescue mission during the hours-long attack on Benghazi.

It came out later that day that the House Select Committee on Benghazi had been withholding from the public an unredacted version of the email released by Judicial Watch. Almost immediately upon Judicial Watch’s release of the devastating email, a spokesman for the House Select Committee on Benghazi made a snide, sour-grapes announcement to The Daily Caller attempting to defend the Committee’s decision to keep the email secret for a year by implicitly criticizing Judicial Watch’s supposed “rush to release or comment on every document it uncovers.”  Bad enough fighting the lawless secrecy of the Obama administration – so it is disappointing to have the unnecessary spitballs from presumed allies for transparency.

The Democrats on the Select Committee thought they helped their cause of defending the indefensible by releasing a complete version of the email.  Hardly. The new details show that the military forces that weren’t deployed, specifically “a SOF [Special Operations Forces] element that was in Croatia (which can fly to Suda Bay, Crete), and a Marine FAST [Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team] team out of Rota, Spain.”  The FAST Team arrived well after the attack and the Special Operations Forces never left Croatia.  In addition to providing confirming details that forces were ready to go, the Democrats expose the Obama administration’s dishonesty in withholding the information in the first place.

All this goes to underscore the value of Judicial Watch’s independent watchdog activities and our leadership in forcing truth and accountability over the Benghazi scandal.

Judicial Watch Takes Deadly San Francisco Sanctuary Policy to Court

Judicial Watch recognizes that local cities’ and states’ “sanctuary policies” for illegal alien criminals are deadly and unlawful – so much so that we’re willing to go to court to try to stop them.

You will be pleased to know that JW just filed a taxpayer lawsuit in San Francisco County, California Superior Court to end a March 2015 expansion of San Francisco’s sanctuary ordinance that prohibits San Francisco Sheriff’s Department personnel from exchanging information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about the citizenship or immigration status of inmates in the Sheriff Department’s custody.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of San Francisco taxpayer Cynthia Cerletti (Cynthia Cerletti v. Ross Mirkarimi (No. CGC -15-54250)).  We’re pleased to be working with Robert Patrick Sticht, a Los Angeles-based attorney, who is serving as lead counsel in the Cerletti litigation.

On March 13, 2015, current San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi put in place a new policy directive, entitled “Immigration & Customs Enforcement Procedures (ICE) Contact and Communications,” mandating that “absent a court issued warrant, a signed court order, or other legal requirement authorizing ICE access . . . SFSD staff shall not provide the following information or access to ICE representatives:  Citizenship/immigration status of any inmate.”

Mirkarimi’s new policy directive, which goes even further than San Francisco’s infamous sanctuary ordinance, runs directly contrary to federal law, which states, “[A] Federal, State, or local government entity or officials may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from [ICE] information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”  (8 U.S.C. § 1373).

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department receives over $200 million in taxpayer support annually to fund its operations, a portion of which is being spent to carry out the new policy directive and train personnel on its requirements.  As California grants its taxpayers the right to sue government officials to prevent expenditures of taxpayer funds on unlawful activities, Judicial Watch filed suit against Mirkarimi, in his official capacity, on behalf of Cerletti.  The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department from expending any taxpayer funds on the policy directive and a judgment declaring the policy directive to be illegal.

Sheriff-Elect Vicki Hennessy, who defeated Mirkarimi in a November 3, 2015 election, has promised changes to Mirkarimi’s policy directive.  Judicial Watch’s lawsuit seeks to ensure that Hennessy makes good on her promise when she takes office.

San Francisco’s sanctuary ordinance gained national attention on July 1, 2015, when Kathryn Steinle was gunned down at one the of city’s most popular tourist spots, allegedly by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal alien who had been released from the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department despite a request from ICE that he be detained for possible deportation.  The Sheriff’s Department not only ignored ICE’s detainer request, but also failed to notify ICE when it released Lopez-Sanchez on April 15, 2015, little more than a month after Mirkarimi issued the new policy directive.

Sheriff Mirkarimi’s expansion of San Francisco’s sanctuary policy is dangerous and violates federal law.  It needs to end.  Our new lawsuit should encourage Sheriff-Elect Hennessy to repeal Sheriff Mirkarimi’s policy directive in its entirety – thereby protecting public safety, and surely saving innocent lives.

As the result of earlier Judicial Watch litigation, the San Francisco Police Department was required in 2011 to comply with a California law requiring federal officials be notified whenever an alien is arrested on certain drug offenses.  Our team is separately investigating whether the release of Steinle’s alleged killer violated this court order, so stand by for further developments.

JW Sues for Details on Massive Hillary Clinton Russian Uranium Scandal

The Clintons have a demonstrated record of selling their public office, often to foreign interests and governments who would harm our nation’s security.  They did it with the Chinese during Bill Clinton’s administration and now they seem to have done it repeatedly during the Obama administration.  That’s why we filed a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to gain access to documents involving a uranium deal approved by then-Secretary of State Clinton that is tied to major Clinton Foundation donor Frank Giustra and Russian-state issues.  (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of the Treasury (No. 1:15-cv-01776)).

We filed the lawsuit after the Treasury Department of the “most transparent administration in history” ignored a FOIA request sent on May 29, 2015.  Judicial Watch’s request seeks emails between key Treasury agencies and Hillary Clinton non-governmental email accounts:

  • All records of email communications between the Office of Foreign Assets Control and any “clintonemail.com” address, including but not limited to hrod17@clintonemail.com and hdr22@clintonemail.com;
  • All records of email communications between the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. and any “clintonemail.com” address, including but not limited to hrodl7@clintonemail.com and hdr22@clintonemail.com; and
  • All records of email communications between the Office of the Secretary of the Treasury and any “clintonemail.com” address, including but not limited to hrod17@clintonemail.com and hdr22@clintonemail.com.

Our investigative focus is on a controversial 2010 deal involving Uranium One, the Canadian company currently at the center of the Clinton Foundation donor scandals and ARMZ, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rosatom, the Russian atomic energy agency, which recently took a 51 percent controlling interest in Uranium One.  The lawsuit seeks information about the approval of this deal and whether the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) ignored the mandatory 75-day review approval process, approving the deal in just 52 days.  Mrs. Clinton, as Secretary of State, was a member of CFIUS.

Peter Scheweizer’s book Clinton Cash first raised questions about the Uranium One deal, which benefited many donors to the Clinton Foundation.  One of these donors was Frank Giustra, who, among other dealings, helped set up a Clinton Foundation entity in Canada that had the effect of hiding donations from foreign governments and others from public disclosure, despite promises of disclosure by Hillary Clinton and the Foundation.

As the New York Times reported on April 23, the Clinton Foundation hid many of the beneficiaries of the deal approved by Mrs. Clinton and CFIUS:

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

The documents we are trying to force from Treasury should shed light on the apparent conflict of interest between then-Secretary of State Clinton and the Clinton Foundation regarding the expedited approval process.  Under United States law, uranium is a strategic asset; therefore, a committee of U.S. government officials must approve any such deal.  The CFIUS board, which reviews all foreign acquisitions of American national security assets, consists of seven cabinet members, including the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Treasury.

In 2010, Jose W. Fernandez represented the State Department on the CFIUS board, and the documents sought by Judicial Watch lawsuit could clarify whether Clinton failed to disclose to Fernandez that several executives at Uranium One made millions of dollars in contributions to the Clinton Foundation immediately before and after CFIUS reviewed and approved the ARMZ-Uranium One deal.

This latest conflict of interest is part of a wider investigation into the Clinton cash machine and the related corruption of the Obama administration.

Separate Judicial Watch FOIA litigation forced the disclosure last year of documents that provided a road map for over 200 conflicts-of-interest rulings that led to $48 million for the Clinton’s during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Previously disclosed documents in this lawsuit, for example, raise questions about funds Clinton accepted from entities linked to Saudi Arabia, China and Iran, among others.  The August 13, 2014, investigative report that first disclosed the Clinton financial dealings, “State Department approved 215 Bill Clinton speeches, controversial consulting deal, worth $48m; Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff copied on all decisions,” is available here.

The approval of the uranium deal seemingly resulted in millions of dollars for the Clinton Foundation, gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production in the U.S., and made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers.

Hillary Clinton’s cash and secrecy on this Russian uranium deal looks corrupt and criminal.  And now that his Treasury Department violated FOIA to cover-up yet another Clinton scandal, there is no daylight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on this scandal that placed our nation’s security at risk.