As someone who supported Hillary’s campaign for President in 2008, I am not happy to write this. I admired the woman I met in her Washington, DC Senate office when I had the chance to brief her on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the fall of 2007. But I am shocked and ashamed of her and her appalling behavior as Secretary of State, especially with respect to what she did and did not do in Libya in general, and specific handling of Benghazi. The Chairs of five separate House Committees investigating the Benghazi attack, including the prelude and postlude, issued a damning preliminary report today.
The evidence shows that Hillary lied repeatedly, to both Congress and the American people, about what she knew, about what she did and about what she failed to do. The record is shameful. She failed the diplomats and intelligence officers under her charge on 11 September 2012 and she failed the people of America.
Here are the main findings:
Before the Attacks:
After the U.S.-backed Libyan revolution ended the Gadhafi regime, the U.S. government did not deploy sufficient U.S. security elements to protect U.S. interests and personnel that remained on the ground.
Senior State Department officials knew that the threat environment in Benghazi was high and that the Benghazi compound was vulnerable and unable to withstand an attack, yet the Department continued to systematically withdraw security personnel.
Repeated requests for additional security were denied at the highest levels of the State
Department. For example, an April 2012 State Department cable bearing Secretary Hillary
Clinton’s signature acknowledged then-Ambassador Cretz’s formal request for additional
security assets but ordered the withdrawal of security elements to proceed as planned.
The attacks were not the result of a failure by the Intelligence Community (IC) to
recognize or communicate the threat. The IC collected considerable information about the
threats in the region, and disseminated regular assessments to senior U.S. officials warning of the deteriorating security environment in Benghazi, which included threats to American interests, facilities, and personnel.
The President, as Commander-in-Chief, failed to proactively anticipate the significance of September 11 and provide the Department of Defense with the authority to launch offensive operations beyond self-defense. Defense Department assets were correctly positioned for the general threat across the region, but the assets were not authorized at an alert posture to launch offensive operations beyond self-defense, and were provided no notice to defend diplomatic facilities.
During the Attacks:
On the evening of September 11, 2012, U.S. security teams on the ground in Benghazi exhibited extreme bravery responding the attacks by al-Qa’ida-affiliated groups against the U.S. mission.
Department of Defense officials and military personnel reacted quickly to the attacks in
Benghazi. The effectiveness of their response was hindered on account of U.S. military
forces not being properly postured to address the growing threats in northern Africa or to respond to a brief, high-intensity attack on U.S. personnel or interests across much of Africa.
After the Attacks:
The Administration willfully perpetuated a deliberately misleading and incomplete narrative that the attacks evolved from a political demonstration caused by a YouTube video. U.S. officials on the ground reported – and video evidence confirms – that demonstrations outside the Benghazi Mission did not occur and that the incident began with an armed attack on the facility. Senior Administration officials knowingly minimized the role played by al-Qa’ida-affiliated entities and other associated groups in the attacks, and decided to exclude from the discussion the previous attempts by extremists to attack U.S. persons or facilities in Libya.
Administration officials crafted and continued to rely on incomplete and misleading
talking points. Specifically, after a White House Deputies Meeting on Saturday, September 15, 2012, the Administration altered the talking points to remove references to the likely participation of Islamic extremists in the attacks. The Administration also removed references to the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya, including information about at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi. Senior State Department officials requested – and the White House approved – that the details of the threats, specifics of the previous attacks, and previous warnings be removed to insulate the Department from criticism that it ignored the threat environment in Benghazi.
Evidence rebuts Administration claims that the talking points were modified to protect
classified information or to protect an investigation by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI). Email exchanges during the interagency process do not reveal any
concern with protecting classified information. Additionally, the Bureau itself approved a version of the talking points with significantly more information about the attacks and previous threats than the version that the State Department requested. Thus, the claim that the State Department’s edits were made solely to protect that investigation is not credible.
The Administration deflected responsibility by blaming the IC for the information it
communicated to the public in both the talking points and the subsequent narrative it
perpetuated. Had Administration spokesmen performed even limited due diligence inquiries into the intelligence behind the talking points or requested reports from personnel on the ground, they would have quickly understood that the situation was more complex than
the narrative provided by Ambassador Susan Rice and others in the Administration.
The Administration’s decision to respond to the Benghazi attacks with an FBI
investigation, rather than military or other intelligence resources, contributed to the
government’s lack of candor about the nature of the attack.
Responding to the attacks with an FBI investigation significantly delayed U.S. access to key witnesses and evidence and undermined the government’s ability to bring those
responsible for the attacks to justice in a timely manner.
I am aware of other sources that will shortly speak with members of these Committees and provide additional information that will show that a military intelligence element knew as early as May of 2012 that there was a specific and expanding threat to the American presence in Libya by Ansar Al Sharia.
What the Congressional report fails to highlight is that the special operations forces operating inside Libya prior to 11 September 2012 were under Chief of Mission authority and not COCOM authority. What does that mean? Those units primary reporting chain was thru the Ambassador and up to the Secretary of State. COCOM aka Combatant Commander in this case was General Ham in AFRICOM. The Special Ops forces in Libya prior to and during the 11 September attack was under the control of State Department.
There will be more breaking news on this terrorist attack this week. Stay tuned.