Big Benghazi News
I’ve always believed that the Benghazi cover-up was about two presidential campaigns: Barack Obama’s reelection campaign and Hillary Clinton’s nascent presidential campaign.
Why else would Hillary Clinton personally send out lies about Benghazi within hours, and then keep on pushing these lies until the truth could no longer be ignored. The truth about an attack by an al Qaeda group that killed our ambassador and three other brave Americans in the days before Obama’s reelection would not only have put Obama at risk of losing, but also would have potentially dashed the hopes of his successor-in-waiting, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The desperation by Obama, Clinton, and their political teams must have been potent. It was so potent that they – rather than admitting to the Islamist conflagration they caused in Libya by ousting and killing Gadhafi – preferred to ignore pleas for increased security from Ambassador Stevens; to abandon him and his colleagues to rampaging terrorists; refuse to follow up with force against those who attacked us; and to lie to the American people about the nature of the attack. Rather than admit that it was a planned attack by a terrorist group in league with al Qaeda, the Obama/Clinton machine knowingly put out the lie that the killings were the result of a spontaneous demonstration in response to an obscure Internet video supposedly offensive to radical Islamists. The message: don’t blame us – blame those who offend Islamists (conservatives, Republicans, etc.). Indeed, rather than sending our military to eliminate the enemy in Libya, the Obama administration arrested the poor sap who made the offending video.
Strong stuff you might think. But the most recent documents forced out of the State Department will make you think I’m being too kind to the Benghazi betrayers controlling the Executive Branch.
On February 11, 2015, JW struck smoking-gun gold in another cache of documents we forced out of the State Department. The documents show that top aides for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, including her then-chief of staff Cheryl Mills, knew from the outset that the Benghazi mission compound was under attack by armed assailants tied to a terrorist group. The documents we’ve extracted from the Obama administration only through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (1:14-cv-01511).
Unsurprisingly, the documents make no reference to a spontaneous demonstration or Internet video, except in an official statement issued by Hillary Clinton.
The JW lawsuit that uncovered this material focused on Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in the Benghazi scandal:
Any and all records concerning, regarding, or 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.
Mrs. Clinton had said she took notes on Benghazi for her recent book but suggested no one could see them. She isn’t above the law. Congress is asleep, the media is a cheerleader, so hence, our lawsuit.
We haven’t yet gotten Hillary’s notes, but the chain of internal emails we did get are extraordinary and track the events surrounding the terrorist attack in real time.
On September 11, 2012, at 4:07 PM, Maria Sand (who was then a Special Assistant to Mrs. Clinton) forwarded an email from the State Department’s Operations Center entitled “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi is Under Attack (SBU) [Sensitive But Unclassified]” to Cheryl Mills (then-Chief of Staff), Jacob Sullivan (then-Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy), Joseph McManus (then-Hillary Clinton’s Executive Assistant), and a list of other Special Assistants in the Secretary’s office:
The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack. Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM [Chief of Mission] personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.
This email was sent about 30 minutes after the terrorist attack began!
On September 11, 2012, 4:38 PM, State Department Foreign Service Officer Lawrence Randolph forwarded Mills, Sullivan and McManus an email from Scott Bultrowicz, who was the former director of the Diplomatic Security Service (ousted following review of the attack), with the subject line, “Attack on Benghazi 09112012”:
DSCC received a phone call from [REDACTED] in Benghazi, Libya initially stating that 15 armed individuals were attacking the compound and trying to gain entrance. The Ambassador is present in Benghazi and currently is barricaded within the compound. There are no injuries at this time and it is unknown what the intent of the attackers is. At approximately 1600 DSCC received word from Benghazi that individuals had entered the compound. At 1614 RSO advised the Libyans had set fire to various buildings in the area, possibly the building that houses the Ambassador [REDACTED] is responding and taking fire.
Nearly seven hours later, at 12:04 am, on September 12, Randolph sends an email with the subject line “FW: Update 3: Benghazi Shelter Location Also Under Attack” to Mills, Sullivan, and McManus that has several updates about the Benghazi attack:
I just called Ops and they said the DS command center is reporting that the compound is under attack again. I am about to reach out to the DS Command Center.
This email also contains a chain of other, earlier email updates:
September 11, 2012 11:57 PM email: “(SBU) DS Command reports the current shelter location for COM personnel in Benghazi is under mortar fire. There are reports of injuries to COM staff.”
September 11, 2012 6:06 PM (Subject: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU): “(SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli”
September 11, 2012, 4:54 PM: “Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on site to locate COM personnel.”
The DOS emails reveal the first official confirmation of the death of Ambassador Stevens. On September 12, 2012, 3:22 AM, Senior Watch Officer Andrew Veprek forwarded an email to numerous State Department officials, which was later forwarded to Cheryl Mills and Joseph McManus, with the subject line “Death of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi”:
Embassy Tripoli confirms the death of Ambassador John C. (Chris) Stevens in Benghazi. His body has been recovered and is at the airport in Benghazi.
Two hours later, Joseph McManus forwards the news about Ambassador Stevens’ death to officials in the State Department Legislative Affairs office with instructions not to “forward to anyone at this point.”
Despite her three top staff members being informed that a terrorist group had claimed credit for the attack, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, issued an official statement, also produced to Judicial Watch, claiming the assault may have been in “a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
Cheryl Mills asks that the State Department stop answering press inquiries at 12:11 am on September 12, despite the ongoing questions about “Chris’ whereabouts.” In an email to State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, Jacob Kennedy, and Phillipe Reines (then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications and Senior Communications Advisor), Mills writes:
Can we stop answering emails for the night Toria b/c now the first one [Hillary Clinton’s “inflammatory material posted on the Internet” statement] is hanging out there.
Earlier in the chain of emails, Nuland told Mills, Sullivan, and Patrick Kennedy (Under Secretary of State for Management) that she “ignored” a question about Ambassador Steven’s status and whereabouts from a CBS News reporter.
Think about this: Cheryl Mills, Hillary’s top aide, would rather go to bed and let hang out there the lie that Hillary Clinton put out about the attack than tell reporters the truth about the attack, which by that time had escalated to include mortar fire.
Another top State Department official is eager to promote a statement from Rabbi David Saperstein, then-Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, a liberal group. The September 2012 statement condemns “the video that apparently spurred these incidents. It was clearly crafted to provoke, offend, and to evoke outrage.” Michael Posner, then-Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, forwarded the statement on September 12, 2012, to Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and Jacob Sherman with the note:
This is an excellent statement – our goal should be to get the Conference of Presidents, the ADL etc. to follow suit and use similar language.
(President Obama nominated the left-wing Rabbi Saperstein to be Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom in July 2014. The U.S. Senate confirmed him in December 2014. Posner, by the way, is another far left activist installed at State by Obama.)
Also included in the documents are foreign press reports establishing the cause of Ambassador Chris Steven’s death as being from asphyxiation. According to the reports, doctors attending Stevens said he could have been saved had he arrived at the hospital earlier.
The Obama administration has blacked out reactions from White House and top State Department officials to news stories published on September 14, 2012. One of the stories quoted a visitor who criticized the lack of security at the Benghazi Special Mission Compound and another headlined, “America ‘was warned of attack and did nothing.’” What was the reaction of key Obama officials to this truth-telling about the media. They don’t want you to know. If it were helpful, it would have been released to us!
Other emails list well over 20 invited participants in a “SVTC” (secure video teleconference). The invited participants for the September 14, 2012, early morning call include senior White House, CIA, and State Department political appointees. Details about that call, which likely documents the cover-up operation on Benghazi, haven’t been produced to Judicial Watch.
These emails leave no doubt that Hillary Clinton’s closest advisers knew the truth about the Benghazi attack from almost the moment it happened. And it is inescapable that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knowingly lied when she planted the false story about “inflammatory material being posted on the Internet.”
The contempt for the public’s right to know is evidenced not only in these documents, but also in the fact that we had to file a lawsuit in federal court to obtain them. The Obama gang’s cover-up continues to unravel, despite its unlawful secrecy and continued slow-rolling of information.
Congress, if it ever decides to do its job, cannot act soon enough to put Hillary Clinton, Cheryl Mills, and every other official in these emails under oath.
Islamic terrorists connected to al Qaeda attacked the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi on the evening of September 11, 2012. U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith were both killed. Just a few hours later, a second terrorist strike targeted a different compound about one mile away. Two CIA contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, were killed and 10 others were injured in the second attack.
The families of those four men deserve the truth and accountability. And so do those who suffered injuries and others haunted by the attacks.
So as Congress is set to acquiesce in Obama’s deadly nullification of our nation’s immigration laws…
So as the mainstream media spends all of its time covering presidential wanna-be’s with all the depth of entertainment media coverage of the Oscars…
So as “Rome burns,” your Judicial Watch will, alone it seems, continue with the hard work of conducting government oversight in a city otherwise bereft of it. The Benghazi Four deserve no less.
We expect more Benghazi documents over the next few months, so stayed tuned for more disclosures.
Just as we haven’t forgotten about Benghazi, your JW is diligently pursuing the Obama IRS scandal.
Just last week, we filed another Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seeking “any and all records related to the destruction of damaged hard drives from IRS employee computers from January 1, 2010, to the present.” The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v Internal Revenue Service (No 1:15-cv-00237)). The lawsuit is part of an investigation into the Obama IRS’ claim that the emails of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials were contained on hard drives that were subsequently damaged and destroyed.
The suit was filed after the IRS responded to a July 18, 2014, FOIA request for records, saying that it did not find “documents specifically responsive” to the Judicial Watch request. In the same letter, dated October 14, 2014, the IRS contradicted this claim, asserting that “records that pertain to the destruction of damaged hard drives are not maintained in a searchable manner.”
On November 18, 2014, Judicial Watch appealed the IRS decision, and requested another search of records and full access to all responsive documents. In its letter of appeal, Judicial Watch argued that it was “extremely unlikely” that no searchable records existed, given the extensive media coverage of the “lost” records. On December 10, the IRS denied the Judicial Watch appeal.
Imagine playing that type of game during an IRS audit. “I don’t have records.” “Well, maybe I do, but I can’t search them.” “Actually, it is now ‘extremely unlikely’ I have any documents.” “Now stop asking me for documents.” You can imagine why are in federal court!
This new FOIA lawsuit is related to the obstruction and the misleading explanations of allegedly destroyed computer records in another Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit (Judicial Watch v Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:13-cv-01559)).
You may remember how back on July 10, 2014, Judge Emmet Sullivan granted a Judicial Watch request for a status hearing to discuss allegedly missing emails from Lerner and other IRS officials. The hearing resulted in Judge Sullivan issuing two orders (dated July 10 and August 14). The IRS was ordered to detail under oath how some of the emails of former agency official Lois Lerner went missing or became destroyed, where they might be located, and what steps were being taken to retrieve them.
As a result of a court-ordered investigation, it was disclosed to Judicial Watch by Department of Justice attorneys for the IRS that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed-up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search. In an October 2014 federal court filing, the IRS did not deny that the government-wide back-up system exists, and, moreover, acknowledges to the court that 760 other email “servers” have been discovered but had not been searched. Citing critical comments by citizens on blogs that it was monitoring, the IRS also refuses to disclose the names of the IRS officials who may have information about the IRS scandal and the missing emails. The IRS has only searched a “database” that it knows does not contain the missing records being sought by a federal court, Judicial Watch, and Congress.
In fact, Politico reports that in recent congressional testimony “Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said IRS tech employees told them that IRS management never asked for the tapes.” (Do you notice how Congress is once again following our groundbreaking investigative work with follow-on hearings?)
In its February 18 FOIA lawsuit, Judicial Watch points out that the IRS has already admitted to this federal court that documents about the destruction of hard drives exist:
In a related FOIA lawsuit filed by [Judicial Watch], Defendant [IRS] submitted a sworn declaration on August 11, 2014 that describes, in part, the process for the destruction of damaged hard drives, and specifically the damaged hard drive of former IRS employee Lois Lerner …
The declaration specifically references “standard Internal Revenue Procedure disposal procedures for any equipment with data storage capability.” Defendant later submitted another declaration, which referenced and attached IRS FORM 1933 and IRS Standard Form 120 Rev. Both forms refer to and concern the removal and disposal of equipment with data storage capability in June 2012, including a Blackberry device issued to Lois Lerner …
At a minimum, IRS Form 1933, IRS Standard Form 120 Rev., “the standard Internal Revenue Procedure disposal procedures” and any other records describing or related to the destruction of damaged hard drives during the time frame of Plaintiff’s FOIA request are responsive to Plaintiff’s request in this case.
The Obama IRS, aided and abetted by the Department of Justice, continues to engage in a pattern of deception, delays, and clear violations of federal law.
Again, in this latest game, the IRS first denies there are records about the destruction of Lois Lerner’s hard drive and then suggests that there may be records, but it would too difficult to look for them.
The IRS scandal isn’t going away, and it is beginning to look like the IRS destroyed evidence about its abuse of Obama’s enemies list of Tea Party groups and conservatives.
In anticipation of the 2013 sequestration budget cuts, the federal government turned thousands of illegal aliens loose into the country. If that’s not disconcerting enough, over 600 convicted criminals were included in the mix of previously detained illegal aliens the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency saw fit to release. But not to worry; ICE was very mindful of each individual alien’s criminal record. In fact, ICE officials assured Congress and outraged citizens the 600-plus criminals released were only guilty of petty offenses. That was a lie. We had experience exposing Obama’s dishonesty on the dangerous nature of his administration’s executive amnesty, so it was no surprise to us.
Records obtained by USA Today revealed that some of the criminals released were guilty of more serious offenses including kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide.
In response, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said it is “deeply troubling that ICE would knowingly release thousands of undocumented immigrant detainees – many with prior criminal records – into our streets, while publicly downplaying the danger they posed.”
It occurs to me that one might ask Senator McCain why then he wants to give taxpayer money that he knows would be used to enact this type of dangerous lawlessness. For instance, just this week, according to National Review Online, 1,000 of these illegal aliens “have already been convicted of new crimes.” The National Review report also details how another illegal alien released twice by the Obama administration allegedly murdered Grant Ronnenbeck for a pack of cigarettes in Mesa, Arizona.
This threat to the public safety is one reason why we acted to file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on behalf of concerned citizen Edward “Bud” Tuffly II against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to obtain records regarding the release of thousands of illegal aliens allegedly in anticipation of “sequestration” budget cuts. Mr. Tuffly, a former agent of the Border Patrol, is bringing the lawsuit in his personal capacity.
This lawsuit asks asking for records that will enable us to identify all ICE detainees released in late February or early March 2013 from the following detention facilities due to alleged fiscal or budget uncertainty: (a) Central Arizona Correctional Center in Florence, Arizona; (b) Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Arizona; (c) Florence Correctional Center in Florence, Arizona; (d) Florence SPC in Florence, Arizona; and (e) Pinal County Adult Detention Center in Florence, Arizona. Arizona suffers directly from Obama’s lawless amnesty and open borders policy.
The lawsuit also, for the public safety wants information about the criminal backgrounds of the illegal aliens that ICE officials so blithely dismissed. That’s why the suit also asks for (a) the date the detainee was released; (b) the facility from which the detainee was released; (c) the detainee’s criminal history or criminal charges at the time of release; (d) methods of supervision to which the detainee was subjected; and (e) whether the detainee appeared for subsequent removal or other proceedings and/or was removed from the United States.
This episode provides further proof of something we have already known for some time: the Obama administration has reached such a level of incompetency – or, perhaps, even duplicity — that it is endangering Americans on a daily basis.
While the DHS has not complied with our FOIA request, we do have the benefit of an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report that was released in August 2014. The report tells us that Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers sent disproportionate numbers to their field offices and even told some offices to increase detention density, while releasing detainees at the same time. A Field Office in Minnesota was told to release 2 detainees, but ended up releasing 49. More than two dozen of the criminals released had been placed in the “mandatory detention” category.
While the OIG report did not find any direct linkage between the White House and ICE’s decision to release the detainees, suspicious types have noted that just three days prior to ICE’s announcement, President Obama had stated in regards to sequestration, “Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go.”
Your JW has been well ahead of the curve in exposing the dangers associated with illegal immigration. Back in March 2011, we reported on government figures that show almost 60,000 “Other Than Mexican” (OTM) illegal aliens were apprehended in 2010 while crossing the border from Mexico. This figure includes hundreds of illegal aliens from Special Interest Countries where terrorist activities have taken root.
In July 2014, Judicial Watch filed a separate FOIA lawsuit against DHS to obtain records relating to the total number of illegals and criminals released in 2013. A Center for Immigration Studies report revealed that a total of 36,000 criminal illegal aliens were released by ICE in 2013 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:14-cv-01237)). According to National Review Online, 1,000 of these illegal aliens “have already been convicted of new crimes.” The National Review report also details how another illegal alien released twice by the Obama administration allegedly murdered Grant Ronnenbeck for a pack of cigarettes in Mesa, Arizona.
The fact that ICE has knowingly released criminal illegal aliens into the U.S. population is just the latest in a long series of episodes that show how the federal government’s lawless approach to border security and immigration law enforcement jeopardizes the American people.