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Obama: editing of talking points to cover-up of Benghazi terrorist attack is a “sideshow”

From Townhall.

Excerpt:

Speaking to reporters during a joint press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron Monday, President Obama called the controversy surrounding the editing of Benghazi talking points a “sideshow.”

“The whole issue of talking points, frankly throughout this process has been a sideshow,” Obama said. “There’s no there, there.”

Despite openly blaming a YouTube video in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack, Obama said Monday at the time of the attack his administration wasn’t sure who was responsible for the deaths of four Americans, including U.S Ambassador Chris Stevens.

“Immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly carried it out, how it occured or what the motivations were,” Obama said. “Nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days.”

Last Wednesday, Whistleblower and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya Gregory Hicks said in sworn testimony that he spoke to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 2 a.m. on the night of the attack and told her, “We are under attack.” He didn’t mention a protest because there wasn’t one. Hicks also said he was shocked when he heard UN Ambassador Susan Rice blame a YouTube video and a spontaneous protest on Sunday talk shows five days after the attack occurred.

ABC News reported late last week that the Benghazi talking points were edited 12 times and that all references to terrorism and al Qaeda were scrubbed. The initial version of unedited talking points were from the CIA and included warnings about terrorism, al Qaeda and a lack of security at the consulate in Benghazi. The best assessment sent from the intelligence community included multiple warnings about the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi. The final talking points with scrubbed references to terrorism and al Qaeda were edited by the State Department after communication and a meeting in the White House.

Just a quick refresher from Mark Steyn about what Benghazi means:

The L.A. Times, a dying newspaper, had a lame headline, even by its own pathetic and abysmal standards, playing up the partisan element. There isn’t actually a partisan element here. All the players involved in this are Democrats. Chris Stevens is in fact the poster boy for the Obama-Clinton view of the Arab Spring. He’s one of their guys. I mean, as chaps like me look on it, he was in large part deluded about the nature of the Arab Spring, that he was a personally courageous and brave man who was on the front line of the Obama-Clinton narrative about the Arab Spring. And they let him die, and then told lies over his coffin. And Democrats, liberals should ask themselves about that, if they are willing to, that’s, no right wingers, no Republicans, no conservatives are involved in this. They did that to one of their own.

[...]…it is now clear that the local militia on who the security of these guys, to whom the security of these guys was entrusted, were actually complicit in the attacks. Elements of the militia participated in the attacks. His body, the dying ambassador was taken to a hospital in the control of one of the radical Islamic groups. He was there in Benghazi on a symbolic day at the personal request of Senator Clinton. In a sense, he not only died for the Obama-Clinton fiction, he was sacrificed to the Obama-Clinton fiction of the Arab Spring. This is absolutely disgraceful. I cannot conceive of how empty and dead you have to be inside to put Ambassador Stevens through that, then leave him to die, and all the nonsense we heard about oh, they couldn’t have got there in time? Oh, really? You had, it’s like a football match, is it? It’s like a football game, you’ve got an end time, you know they’re all going to pack up and go home at 5:00 in the morning or whatever? They didn’t know how long it was going to last. They left him to die. They decided to let their guy die in the confusion of the stuff happening in Egypt and Tunisia over the stupid no-account video.

Stuart Schneiderman has an idea about what is motivating the Democrats with their “protesting a video” cover-up.

He writes:

It might not seem obvious, but the Obama terrorism policy has been run by an idea.

The idea tells us that the fault for Islam terrorism does not lie with the terrorists. It lies with the racism and Islamophobia of the victims. As Jeremiah Wright famously suggested, America was responsible for the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. It got what was coming to it. Some would call it justice.

To the Obama administration Muslims are rightly outraged at being disrespected by many people in the world. Their outrage is so righteous that they must try to restore their honor by committing terrorist acts.

In order to put an end to terrorism, the administration has chosen to remove all references to Muslim terrorism, whether it involves the massacre perpetrated by Major Nidal Hasan or the attack on the Benghazi consulate. Associating Islam with terrorism is offensive, and, since offensive language is the root of the terrorism problem, eliminating it will eventually eliminate terrorism.

No one should have been surprised when Jonathan Karl of ABC News reported on the extensive bowdlerization of administration talking points about Benghazi.

Unfortunately, the government does not exercise absolute control over the marketplace of ideas. So, despite the best efforts of the Obama administration, a random Islamophobe might well do or say something that offends Muslims to the point that they feel obliged to defend the honor of their religion by killing a few Americans.

In that case, the fault lies with the instigator, not with the perpetrator. As Hillary Clinton famously said to the mother of one of the murdered Navy SEALs, the administration would stop at nothing to punish the person responsible: the filmmaker.

Peggy Noonan described what happens when this theory was put into practice in Benghazi:

Because of that, it [The White House] could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications, and demand certain actions. And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away, or at least to bleed the meaning from it.

Because the White House could not tolerate the idea of Benghazi as a planned and deliberate terrorist assault, it had to be made into something else. So they said it was a spontaneous street demonstration over an anti-Muhammad YouTube video made by a nutty California con man. After all, that had happened earlier in the day, in Cairo. It sounded plausible. And maybe they believed it at first. Maybe they wanted to believe it. But the message was out: Provocative video plus primitive street Arabs equals sparky explosion. Not our fault. Blame the producer! Who was promptly jailed.

If what happened in Benghazi was not a planned and prolonged terrorist assault, if it was merely a street demonstration gone bad, the administration could not take military action to protect Americans there. You take military action in response to a planned and coordinated attack by armed combatants. You don’t if it’s an essentially meaningless street demonstration that came and went.

By Noonan’s analysis, the Obama administration was conducting policy in a fictional world. In its alternative world, what happened in Benghazi was a spontaneous protest provoked by an offensive video. You do not send in commandos to gun down righteous protesters.

[...]If the world does not correspond to your vision, you act as though it does. Your job, if you work for the Obama administration is to change the world by changing the fictional lens through which we see it.

Of course, this looks suspiciously like government by propaganda. Naturally, sophisticated academic thought has offered a theoretical rationalization for it.

Many of the smartest academics in the best universities have convinced themselves that reality is just another fictional world, one that has been constructed by the powerful to exploit the weak.

When put upon to explain why so many people accept that reality is real, they explain that all of these people have been brainwashed by the ruling powers.

When lots of people say it’s real, more and more people act as though it’s real. Then, it becomes real.

By this theory, what we inaccurately call Islamic terrorism is really just a spontaneous and understandable expression of Muslim outrage. It represents a moral reckoning for insults, injuries and slights dating back to the Crusades. It might be a crime, but it does not reflect on individual Muslims.

It’s government by postmodernism. There is no reality independent of our ideology. If you just believe our propaganda about America being to blame for everything that evil people freely do, then there will be world peace. Islamic terrorists just want us to blame ourselves for their killing of us, then they’ll stop killing us.

The main goal of the Obama administration is to make sure that the Islamic world is not judged by the actions of Islamic terrorists. That’s why terrorist attacks can never be the fault of Islam. It must always be America’s fault. We caused the protest with our YouTube videos. Major Nidal Hasan’s shooting up Fort Hood was not terrorism… it was “workplace violence”. The terrorists are always the victims. This is what you get when you put leftists in charge of national security. There will be more violence against us in the future, because the truth is that weakness emboldens aggressors to attack more. That’s not what Obama and his leftist ilk learned in university, but that’s what history teaches.

UPDATE: Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard has a podcast up on Obama’s dismissal of the evolving talking points scandal.

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BBC News covers whistle-blower testimony: “After Benghazi revelations, heads will roll”

And now the radically secular and leftist BBC News is on board, because of the ABC News story.

Excerpt:

There’s new evidence, obtained by ABC, that the Obama administration did deliberately purge references to “terrorism” from accounts of the attack on the Benghazi diplomatic mission, which killed four people including the US ambassador to Libya.

Conservatives have long maintained that the administration deliberately suppressed the truth about the attacks.

This is the first hard evidence that the state department did ask for changes to the CIA’s original assessment.

Specifically, they wanted references to previous warnings deleted and this sentence removed: “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.”

There’s little doubt in my mind that this will haunt Hillary Clinton if she decides to run for president, unless she executes some pretty fancy footwork.

State department spokesperson Victoria Nuland is directly implicated, and the fingerprints of senior White House aides Ben Rhodes and Jay Carney are there as well.

And look at this closely:

In the interests of full disclosure I have to say I have not in the past been persuaded that allegations of a cover-up were a big deal. It seemed to me a partisan attack based on very little.

I remember listening to reports from the BBC and others at the time that did suggest the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to a rather puerile anti-Islamic video.

I understand President Barack Obama’s careful use of the word “terrorism” when it actually means something, rather than as a knee-jerk description of any violence by foreigners against Americans, often in order to justify a “war on terror”.

But the evidence is there in black and white, unless we doubt the documents obtained by ABC, which I don’t.

Mr Obama’s critics are often not very clear what is behind their allegations. I presume they think that the White House wanted to avoid claims the murders were the result of terrorism because this would undermine his claim that al-Qaeda was seriously “degraded”. There’s also a vague sense he’s “soft on terror”.

The purpose of this deception was to make the American people re-elect Democrats who are soft on terrorism, by hiding the fact that Democrats are soft on terrorism. Democrats prefer to think that Tea Party, low-tax, small government, pro-life conservatives are terrorists. Not the radical Muslims who actually do terrorist attacks in the real world. Democrats think they need to be affirmed and defended from criticism.

Frankly, I think that Obama should feel obligated to resign over this self-serving deception. If the media had done their jobs before the election, we wouldn’t have this man as President. As it stands, we’ll just have to vote his America-blaming, terrorist-sympathizing Democrat Party out in 2016.

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ABC News: State Department scrubbed terrorism details from Benghazi talking points

The mainstream media is slowly discovering the Benghazi scandal, eight months after it happened.

This time, it’s ABC News reporting.

Excerpt:

When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story.

ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.

Related: Read the Full Benghazi Talking Point Revisions

White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.

That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.

[...]Summaries of White House and State Department emails - some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard - show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points.

State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:

“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”

In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”

The paragraph was entirely deleted.

Like the final version used by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday shows, the CIA’s first drafts said the attack appeared to have been “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” but the CIA version went on to say, “That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” The draft went on to specifically name the al Qaeda-affiliated group named Ansar al-Sharia.

Once again, Nuland objected to naming the terrorist groups because “we don’t want to prejudice the investigation.”

The radically leftist BBC now has a story up as well.

Should Hillary Clinton be President after this revelation? This isn’t the first time she’s been caught in a lie and had to recant. The woman embellishes her past in order to appear more experienced and competent than she really is. Period. Like a little child tells lies about himself to seem more grown up.

In case you aren’t following the story, Guy Benson has a list of 12 revelations from the Benghazi hearings in this article.

Here are the ones I thought were most significant:

  1. The Democrats prevented Gregory Hicks from talking to the Congressional investigator.
  2. The Democrats demoted Hicks for objecting to the falsified talking points about the Youtube video.
  3. Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lied about the Youtube video and protest.
  4. American forces were ordered to “stand down” rather than intervene to stop the terrorist attack.
  5. Hilary Clinton was aware of the repeated requests for more security in Libya.
  6. The ambassador was put in a dangerous situation at the behest of Hilary Clinton.
  7. No U.S. Marines were present to defend the Consulate during the attacks.
  8. The attack lasted eight hours, so there was ample time for the Obama administration to intervene.
  9. Reduced funding because of “austerity” had nothing to do with the lack of security.

I’ll just post the first two with video, because I blogged about 3 and 4 already.

Point #1:

(1) Murdered US Ambassador Chris Stevens’ second in command, Gregory Hicks, was instructed not to speak with a Congressional investigator by Sec. Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills.  Hicks said he’d “never” faced a similar demand at any point during his distinguished 22-year diplomatic career. When he refused to comply with this request, the State Department dispatched an attorney to act as a “minder,” who insisted on sitting in on all of Hicks’ discussions with members of Congress (higher quality video is available here):

Video:

Point #2:

(2) When Hicks began to voice strenuous objections to the administration’s inaccurate talking points with State Department higher-ups, the administrationturned hostile.  After being lavishly praised by the president and the Secretary of State for his performance under fire, Assistant Secretary of State Beth Jones instantly reversed course and launched into a “blistering critique” of Hicks’ leadership.  He was subsequently “effectively demoted.”  Hicks called Rice’s talking points “stunning” and “embarrassing.”

Video:

This is important, so be sure and read the whole list.

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What we learned from the Benghazi whistle-blowers

From the PJ Tatler, seven points:

  1. There were multiple stand-down orders, not just one.
  2. Ambassador Stevens’ reason for going to Benghazi has been cleared up.
  3. Clinton was briefed at 2 am on the night of the attack, was never told that a movie had anything to do with the attack by those on the ground in Libya, yet blamed the movie anyway.
  4. Whistleblowers were intimidated into silence.
  5. “The YouTube movie was a non-event in Libya.”
  6. Democrats were uninterested in getting at most of the facts, but were very interested in destroying Mark Thompson.
  7. House hearings are a poor way to determine who did what and why during and after the attack.

Here’s my favorite one:

5. “The YouTube movie was a non-event in Libya.” Hicks directly testified that the YouTube movie, for which a man remains in jail, was not in any way relevant to the attack in Benghazi. Why Obama, Clinton, Rice et al blamed that movie for the attack remains an unanswered question. Hicks said that no American on the ground in Libya that night believed the movie was to blame. He also testified that there was no protest prior to the attack. When the attack began, he was in Tripoli. He texted Stevens, who was in Benghazi, to advise him of the riot in Cairo at the U.S. embassy. In that riot, jihadists had stormed the walls and replaced the American flag with the black flag of Islam. Stevens had not been aware of the Cairo situation at all, but shortly after Hnicks texted him about it, Stevens called and told Hicks that the Benghazi consulate was under attack. He never mentioned a protest.

Hicks also testified that blaming the movie had strongly adverse real-world effects. According to him, it humiliated Libya’s president, who had correctly stated that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Blaming the movie, Hicks said, did “immeasurable damage” to our relations with Libya and delayed the FBI investigation. On Sept. 12, Ambassador Susan Rice told the first of her many untruths, claiming in an email that the FBI investigation into the attack was already underway. It would not actually get underway for 17 days after the attack, by which time the scene of the attack had been compromised and contaminated.

We still do not know who decided to change the original CIA talking points and blame the movie, but the finger is pointing directly at Hillary Clinton. She was briefed by Hicks during the attack, the movie was never mentioned, but in her first public statement on September 12, she blamed the movie. Her subordinate, Ambassador Susan Rice, also blamed the movie the following weekend. The fact that Obama himself blamed the movie repeatedly, though, strongly suggests that he took part in the decision as well.

The Obama administration just flat out lied, because they didn’t want the American people to know that their policies of appeasement and moral equivalence make us less safe. Democrats aren’t serious about national security and foreign policy. Their goal with national security, as with anything, is to feel good about themselves. And they do that by pretending that our actual enemies are our allies, and that America is to blame for any attacks against us. Benghazi is the direct result of this attitude of apologizing, disarming and bowing to dictators. Weakness invites aggression. Strength deters aggression. That’s the way the world works, like it or not.

The Weekly Standard has an excellent podcast summarizing the findings, as well.

UPDATE: Guy Benson lists twelve findings from the Benghazi hearings on Townhall.com.

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Whistle-blower: State Department cut counterterrorism experts out of Benghazi decisions

Fox News has the latest on another of Benghazi whistle-blowers.

Excerpt:

On the night of Sept. 11, as the Obama administration scrambled to respond to the Benghazi terror attacks, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a key aide effectively tried to cut the department’s own counterterrorism bureau out of the chain of reporting and decision-making, according to a “whistle-blower” witness from that bureau who will soon testify to the charge before Congress, Fox News has learned.

That witness is Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for operations in the agency’s counterterrorism bureau. Sources tell Fox News Thompson will level the allegation against Clinton during testimony on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Fox News has also learned that another official from the counterterrorism bureau — independently of Thompson — voiced the same complaint about Clinton and Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy to trusted national security colleagues back in October.

[...]Sources close to the congressional investigation who have been briefed on what Thompson will testify tell Fox News the veteran counterterrorism official concluded on Sept. 11 that Clinton and Kennedy tried to cut the counterterrorism bureau out of the loop as they and other Obama administration officials weighed how to respond to — and characterize — the Benghazi attacks.

“You should have seen what (Clinton) tried to do to us that night,” the second official in State’s counterterrorism bureau told colleagues back in October.  Those comments would appear to be corroborated by Thompson’s forthcoming testimony.

[...]Documents from the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, first published in the May 13 edition of “The Weekly Standard,” showed that senior officials from those agencies decided within days of the attacks to delete all references to Al Qaeda’s known involvement in them from “talking points” being prepared for those administration officers being sent out to discuss the attacks publicly.

Those talking points — and indeed, the statements of all senior Obama administration officials who commented publicly on Benghazi during the early days after the attacks — sought instead to depict the Americans’ deaths as the result of a spontaneous protest that went awry. The administration later acknowledged that there had been no such protest, as evidence mounted that Al Qaeda-linked terrorists had participated in the attacks. The latter conclusion had figured prominently in the earliest CIA drafts of the talking points, but was stricken by an ad hoc group of senior officials controlling the drafting process. Among those involved in prodding the deletions, the documents published by “The Weekly Standard” show, was State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who wrote at one point that the revisions were not sufficient to satisfy “my building’s leadership.”

The allegations of the two counterterrorism officials stand to return the former secretary of state to the center of the Benghazi story. Widely regarded as a leading potential candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, Clinton has insisted she was not privy to decisions made by underlings about the inadequate security for the U.S. installations in Benghazi that were made in the run-up to the attacks. And she has portrayed her role — once the attacks became known in Washington — as that of a determined fact-finder who worked with colleagues to fashion the best possible response to the crisis.

[...]The counterterrorism officials, however, concluded that Clinton and Kennedy were immediately wary of the attacks being portrayed as acts of terrorism, and accordingly worked to prevent the counterterrorism bureau from having a role in the department’s early decision-making relating to them.

Also appearing before the oversight committee on Wednesday will be Gregory N. Hicks, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya at the time of the Benghazi terrorist attacks. Like Thompson, Hicks is a career State Department official who considers himself a Benghazi whistle-blower. His attorney, Victoria Toensing, a former chief counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee, has charged that Hicks, too, has faced threats of reprisal from unnamed superiors at State.

Be sure and check out the previous article on Hicks’ testimony. I personally think that this is enough to impeach Obama and rule Hillary Clinton out as a candidate in 2016. But only if people find out about it. I’m not optimistic about the media doing its job on this, though, especially given that CBS News spent 30 minutes on the gay basketball player and still has not mentioned Gosnell. The liberal media is covering up for Obama. They have become Watergate co-conspirators.

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