Who should I link to to prepare us to understand and discuss the showdown between the Benghazi Select Committee and Hillary Clinton? How about Stephen Hayes from the Weekly Standard – you can’t do better than that.
Critics of Clinton on Benghazi are most angry about the exchange she had with surviving family members at the solemn ceremony held to receive the bodies of the victims. Pat Smith, the mother of information specialist Sean Smith, who was killed in the attacks, says Clinton told her that the Obama administration would bring to justice the man who made the anti-Islam video that the administration initially blamed for the attacks. “She blamed the video just like all the rest of them did and she also told me she was going to get back to me.”
Charles Woods, father of Tyrone Woods, a NAVY Seal killed in the attacks, says Clinton told him the same thing. “She said we’re going to have the person responsible for that video arrested. I knew she was lying. Her body language, the look in her eyes…I could tell she wasn’t telling the truth.”
But contemporaneous documents and testimony from US officials who were in Libya during the attacks make no mention of the video that would become the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s public narrative about the attacks. Indeed, in messages as the attacks unfolded and in the hours and days that followed, show security and intelligence officials immediately placing blame on al Qaeda and affiliated fighters and pushing back on suggestions from Washington that the video had played a role. Senior State Department officials, including Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, were copied on emails indicating Ansar al Sharia had claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Michael Morell, deputy CIA director at the time of the attacks, and a loyal water-carrier for the administration on Benghazi, testified that the video was simply not part of the intelligence picture during and after the attacks. “There was no mention of the video defaming the Prophet Muhammad as a motivation for the attacks in Benghazi. In fact, there was no mention of the video at all.”
Why did Clinton promise to pursue the filmmaker after the US government understood that the attacks were not a result of an out-of-control protest over the video?
Recall that Hillary Clinton blamed the Benghazi attack on “an Internet video”:
However, we now know that the top Democrats knew from the beginning that this was a terrorist attack:
Judicial Watch announced today that on February 11, 2015, it uncovered documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing 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 were produced as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State ((No. 1:14-cv-01511). The documents make no reference to a spontaneous demonstration or Internet video, except in an official statement issued by Hillary Clinton.
The Benghazi Select Committee was finally able to get 1300 e-mails sent by Ambassador Stevens (after two years of asking for them). Many of those e-mails requested additional security right before the attack, and they were ignored:
Two months before the fatal 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, then-Ambassador Chris Stevens requested 13 security personnel to help him safely travel around Libya… but he was turned down.
In the July 9, 2012 cable, Stevens reported that, “Overall security conditions continue to be unpredictable, with large numbers of armed groups and individuals not under control of the central government, and frequent clashes in Tripoli and other major population centers.” The cable said 13 security personnel would be the “minimum” needed for “transportation security and incident response capability.”
But a congressional source said Patrick Kennedy, a deputy to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, turned down the request.
The cable sent under Stevens’ electronic signature shows that he was advocating for additional security and warning that the set-up did not meet State Department standards, as conditions deteriorated in the run-up to the attack that killed Stevens and three other Americans.
This hearing is about finding out why four people were left to die, even after repeatedly requesting additional security from the State Department. The same State Department that Hillary Clinton was in charge of. I hope we can find out why Hillary had so much time to read e-mails from Sidney Blumenthal, and apparently no time to read e-mails from Ambassador Stevens.
UPDATE: The Weekly Standard has posted a new podcast episode with Stephen Hayes on this topic.
UPDATE: Trey Gowdy’s opening statement:
Why did we need this investigation? Because previous “investigations” failed to find Ambassador Stevens’ e-mails, failed to find Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, and failed to interview people on the ground who had direct knowledge of the Benghazi security situation.
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- What we learned from the Benghazi whistle-blowers
- Whistle-blower: State Department cut counterterrorism experts out of Benghazi decisions
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