Wintery Knight

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Benghazi hearings: CIA director altered talking points from “attack” to “demonstration”

From the Wall Street Journal, a summary on the Benghazi congressional hearings.

Excerpt:

Last week’s encounter between former acting CIA Director Michael Morell and the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence may have brought us a bit closer to the truth of how four Americans came to be killed at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, and how their countrymen came to be lied to about it. But the progress toward truth was probably not made in a way that Mr. Morell intended. The encounter on Capitol Hill also made clear that the forum that will take us all the way to the truth must be something other than a congressional hearing.

[...]Critics of the government’s performance on Benghazi have charged that Mr. Morell’s revisions principally although not exclusively involved changing the description of the violence and its perpetrators, and removing the suggestion that they might have had ties to a terrorist organization. These changes, it is argued, enabled Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, to promote the discredited and since abandoned narrative that the violence was a reaction to an anti-Muslim YouTube video produced by a probationer in Los Angeles.

The acting CIA director’s changes to the talking points did indeed enable the blame-it-on-the-video fiction, which served the interest of a president seeking re-election based in part on having put al Qaeda on the run, although in fairness it is not clear that was Mr. Morell’s motive. Thus he edited out a description of the warnings that the CIA had provided to the State Department of earlier terrorist attacks on the British embassy and on the Red Cross that caused them to withdraw their personnel, and a description of an attack that blew a hole in the U.S.’s own installation—events that might have suggested that Sept. 11, 2012, was not an isolated event.

Morell believed “analysts” who are desk employees, and disregarded statements of the station chief, who was on the scene, and in contact with the eyewitnesses:

He substituted “demonstration” for “attack” despite the direct statement by the CIA’s Libya station chief in Tripoli that there was no demonstration; Mr. Morell changed “terrorist” to “extremist.” His explanation is that he relied on the CIA’s analysts, who he said had comprehensive information available to them, rather than on the CIA’s station chief, who relied on the testimony of eyewitnesses who arrived soon after the attack started. 

The directorate of intelligence functions according to a protocol whose rigidity we more often associate with the military. So analysts whose deductions put them at odds with those on the scene wouldn’t have considered, and apparently didn’t consider, simply ringing up those on the scene and getting their input. To the contrary, analysts deal only with information that comes in the prescribed way. The CIA station chief’s communication to headquarters came in an email and did not get circulated within the intelligence community as it would have if it had been contained in a cable.

There was plenty of information disconfirming his “demonstration” lie:

There was, as it happens, other information available. A private company, Agincourt Solutions, had followed the Twitter, Facebook and other social media in the vicinity of the U.S. installation attacked in Benghazi. The company found no evidence of a “demonstration.” There were video cameras trained on the front gate of the consulate that showed no demonstration. Days before the attack, al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri had been calling for an attack to avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior al Qaeda member who was, as his name suggests, a Libyan. And Sept. 11 is a date of highly symbolic value to people who set great store by symbols.

The last two data points were certainly available to the CIA analysts, and the camera feed should have been. But all this was discounted, apparently in favor of their consensus view that the attack at Benghazi had started with a demonstration that drew inspiration from violence inflicted on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo—allegedly as part of a protest against the video.

Both Obama and Clinton blamed the Youtube video for a “demonstration”, and denied that there was a terrorist attack:

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton told the grieving families that the producer of the video would feel the weight of the law. It was one promise they kept: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was arrested in the middle of the night in the glare of TV lights for a probation violation—the only arrest thus far growing out of the Benghazi attack, even though the identity and whereabouts of the principal suspects, one of whom is an alumnus of Guantanamo Bay, have long been known.

The Obama administration blamed the Youtube video in order to win the 2012 election. They were afraid if the real story came out, people would know that they had screwed by underestimating the threat and ignoring the warning signs and the requests for additional security. Democrats can’t do national security – they just give speeches about spending taxpayer money.

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Transcripts show that top U.S. military officials briefed Obama on Benghazi terrorist attack

Investors Business Daily reports.

Excerpt:

Newly declassified transcripts show top defense officials who briefed Obama on the day of the Benghazi attack described it as a terrorist attack and told the president so, yet he pushed a false narrative about a video.

Just as the new book by former Defense Secretary Bob Gates confirmed what many believed, that President Obama was a politically motivated commander-in-chief who had no faith in an Afghan surge he put 30,000 Americans in harm’s way to execute, transcripts of congressional testimony by military leaders confirm that President Obama knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack before he went to bed to rest for a Las Vegas fundraising trip.

Fox News reporter James Rosen examined 450 pages of declassified testimony given by senior Pentagon officials in closed-door hearings held last year by Congress. In those hearings, Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time headed Africom, the Defense Department combat command with jurisdiction over Libya, testified that he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its start, at 9:42 p.m. Libya time, from the Africom Command Center.

Ham said he immediately contacted Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey to say he was coming down the hall at the Pentagon to meet with him.

“I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta,” Ham testified, adding “they had the basic information as they headed across for the meeting at the White House.”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, asked 29-year Army veteran Ham what he told Panetta and Dempsey. “As a military person, I am concerned that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration. I would hope that our military leadership would be advising that this was a terrorist attack,” Wenstrup said.

Ham responded that “there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack” and that was the “nature of the conversation” Ham had with Panetta and Dempsey moments before their 30-minute meeting with President Obama.

This confirms Panetta’s testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in February of last year that it was he who told the president “there was an apparent attack going on in Benghazi.”

“Secretary Panetta, do you believe that unequivocally at that time we knew that this was a terrorist attack?” asked Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.

“There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack,” Panetta replied.

Despite a briefing by Dempsey and Panetta that it was a terrorist attack, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would trumpet the false narrative that four Americans were murdered due to an inflammatory video — something Obama would repeat six times before the U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice would say on five Sunday talk shows five days after the terrorist attack.

It is a disgrace that the only person ever jailed for the Benghazi attack was the maker of that irrelevant video. The terrorists got away with it.

The terrorists got away with it, because the Obama administration didn’t bother to conduct an investigation, or hold anyone accountable. And now we know why – because the person who should have been fired was Barack Obama. He should have been fired in the 2012 election. This whole Benghazi cover-up was just another case of “if you like your doctor, you can keep him” and “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it”. The wonder was that the American people were stupid enough to believe that someone with no experience of any kind at running anything could do a good job as President.

And don’t count on the mainstream media to investigate these stories. They are Democrats. This was their Watergate, and they covered it up.

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Democrats try to block whistleblower’s Fast and Furious expose

Fox News reports on the latest Democrat cover-up scandal. (H/T Dad)

Excerpt:

The ATF agent who blew the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious has been denied permission to write a book on the botched anti-gun trafficking sting “because it would have a negative impact on morale,” according to the very agency responsible for the scandal.

After first trying to stop the operation internally, ATF Agent John Dodson went to Congress and eventually the media following the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. Two guns found at the murder scene were sold through the ATF operation.

Dodson’s book, titled “The Unarmed Truth,” provides the first inside account of how the federal government permitted and helped sell some 2,000 guns to Mexican drug cartels, despite evidence the guns killed innocent people.

Dodson, who is working with publisher Simon & Schuster, submitted his manuscript to the department for review, per federal rules. However, it was denied.

Greg Serres, an ATF ethics official, told Dodson that any of his supervisors at any level could disapprove outside employment “for any reason.”

[...]Dodson says “The Unarmed Truth” will come out in January, with or without the ATF’s permission.

I hope this book sells a lot of copies.

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Benghazi liar Susan Rice to be appointed National Security Adviser by grateful Obama

Katie Pavlich of Townhall explains how Obama rewards those who lie to the American people on his behalf, just before an election.

Excerpt:

President Obama won’t condemn Attorney General Eric Holder for spying on reporters and now, he’s tapped Benghazi YouTube video liar Susan Rice to serve as a top security adviser.

President Barack Obama plans to appoint Susan Rice as his national security adviser, replacing Tom Donilon, who is resigning, in a major shift to the White House’s foreign policy team.

Obama plans to make the appointment, first reported by the New York Times, later on Wednesday. He will also fill Rice’s current position, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

It’s no surprise Rice is getting a promotion. After all, she served as a good foot soldier for the Obama administration when she went in five Sunday talk shows five days after the attack and lied about a YouTube video.

We know a YouTube video was never part of the equation the night of the attack. Acting Libyan Ambassador and whistleblower Greg Hicks called former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 2 a.m. from Libya and said, “We were under attack.” Hicks told Congress under oath that a YouTube video was a “non-event” in Libya. A lack of security was one of the main reasons why the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked on 9/11. Many security requests were sent to the State Department and Clinton but were repeatedly denied.

I noticed that the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol did a podcast on the pick, and he was very concerned.

Description:

THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on Susan Rice’s promotion, the nomination of Samantha Power to be the next ambassador to the United Nations, and Congress’s investigation into the Internal Revenue Service scandal.

Here is the MP3 file of the podcast.

How serious could this administration be about national security when appointments like this are made?

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Released e-mails show that State Department edited terrorism out of talking points

Fox News reports on the newly released e-mails.

Excerpt:

State Department officials repeatedly objected to — and tried to water down — references to Islamic extremist groups and prior security warnings in the administration’s initial internal story-line on the Benghazi attack, according to dozens of emails and notes released by the White House late Wednesday.

[...]Individual emails leading up to that assessment show State officials repeatedly objecting to the intelligence community’s early version of events. 

The early versions stated that “Islamic extremists with ties to Al Qaeda” participated in the assault and discussed links to militant group Ansar al Sharia — and referenced prior attacks against western targets in Benghazi, as well as intelligence warnings. 

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland complained that she had “serious concerns” about “arming members of Congress” to make assertions the administration was not making. “In same vein, why do we want Hill to be fingering Ansar al Sharia, when we aren’t doing that ourselves until we have investigation results … and the penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either? Concerned …” 

She also wrote that the line saying the administration knows there were extremists among the demonstrators “will come back to us at podium,” voicing concern that some would question how the administration knows that. She said she would “need answers” if that line is used.

In response to her concerns, Assistant Secretary of State David S. Adams voiced agreement. He said the line about prior incidents “will read to members like we had been repeatedly warned.”

The emails show Petraeus’ deputy Mike Morell involved in circulating revised points. In one email, he too noted the State Department had “deep concerns” about referencing prior “warnings.”

A page of hand-written notes showed Morell scratching out mentions of Al Qaeda, the experience of fighters in Libya, Islamic extremists and a warning to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on the eve of the attacks of calls for a demonstration. Ultimately, all of that was scrubbed from the talking points. The final version said “extremists” participated, without mentioning prior attacks and warnings in the region.

This editing of the talking points is what Barack Obama called “a sideshow”. Not worth talking about.

The motivation behind the State Department’s editing was pretty clearly to avoid identifying the attackers as Muslim terrorists. The timing of the election was undoubtedly a factor in the decision making. They edited the talking points in order to create the impression for voters that Obama had been effective at reining in terrorism with his weak foreign policy and appeasement. Democrats are weak on foreign policy. They do ignore warnings. They do prefer to blame America for the bad actions of Muslim extremists. This approach does not deter aggression. Rather than admit their mistake and toughen up, the Democrats preferred to cover up the facts. And they won the election.

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