Clinton testifies about her role in the 2012 Benghazi attack, in an 11-hour congressional hearing. An email to her daughter was shown, where Clinton said the attack was by Al-Qaeda, despite telling the public the attack was a result of the video. She acknowledged that she couldn’t recall having talked to Ambassador Stevens after having sworn him in as ambassador, though she believed they had spoken. She said he did not have her email. At another point, clinton laughed when she said she spent the night alone after she left the office on the night of the attack.
I came here because I said I would. And I’ve done everything I know to do, as have the people with whom I worked, to try to answer your questions. I cannot do any more than that.
A source says a subpoena has been issued to Blumenthal. The source declined to be publicly identified because of the ongoing probe of the Benghazi attack. The source says the House panel has “a number of questions” for Blumenthal, including whether he had any business arrangements that led him to frequently email Clinton about Libya when she was secretary of state. Rep. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the panel, says the committee’s decision to have the U.S. Marshals Service deliver the subpoena to Blumenthal’s home is “heavy-handed.”
In an interview on The Steve Malzberg Show, Attkisson discusses Hilary Clinton’s email scandal. Attkisson believes that on Clinton’s personal email server that got wiped clean there must have been some really bad or embarrassing information, especially information on Benghazi. Attkisson says the deleted data had to have been worse than the scandal that was created by erasing it. She also briefly touches on the state of the news media.
In my experience, there must’ve been some very, very bad or embarrassing things on there, because it appears as if she’d rather take the heat for the actions erasing the server at a time when she knew it was being sought by Congress and under Freedom of Information Act request, and probably lawsuits … than turn over what was really in them. To me, this all points to Benghazi…I’ve spoken to current and former high-ranking intelligence officials who are appalled by the fact that this happened, as well as her explanation. [A]t the very least, they consider [the decision] extremely naïve and would make that person totally unqualified to be in the position she served if she really believes the things she was saying about security.
[T]oo often, in my view, the media waits for the daily news stories to be handed to them. They’re not often doing a lot of their own independent digging.
Attkisson writes in Stonewalled that after Pres. Obama confronted Romney in the second presidential debate about Romney’s decision to label the Benghazi attack ‘terrorism,’ she learned that CBS’s Steve Kroft did a 60 Minutes interview with Obama the day following the attack. She says she was instructed to do a story on the debate using the 60 Minutes script, but found out later that parts of it were never aired, including part that showed Obama also apparently calling the attack an act of terror. Unaired exchange:
KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya attack.
KROFT: Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?
OBAMA: Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans.
She says this was done intentionally:
I couldn’t get past the fact that upper-level journalists at CBS had been a party to misleading the public.
She says CBS posted the transcript to its website the night before the election, but it was lost in the final hours of the campaign. An internal investigation was promised but never happened.
Attkisson writes in Stonewalled that an administration source she names Number One who she held meetings with in a McDonalds in Northern Virginia in early 2013 informed her that he had accessed her computer. He says the surveillance was:
…worse than anything Nixon ever did.
Attkisson is reported to give evidence that both her CBS computer and her personal iMac were repeatedly hacked and files were accessed, including one on Benghazi. Attkisson:
[…] the interlopers were able to co-opt my iMac and operate it remotely, as if they were sitting in front of it.
An inspection reveals that an extra fibre-optics cable was installed in her home without her knowledge. In fall 2013 when White House officials accused Attkisson of bias in her Benghazi reporting, files in her MacBook Air began deleting at hyperspeed. She videotaped the process and showed it to two computer experts. One of the experts:
They’re trying to send you a message
The experts found evidence that the intruders had tried to cover their tracks by erasing 23 hours of log-in information. Attkisson says blocking of her work became routine under CBS anchor Pelley and his executive producer at the time, Shevlin. Attkisson:
They rarely said the story wasn’t going to air. They just let it sit around and ‘loved it’ until it began to stink like old fish.
She says stories were repeatedly rewritten, watered down and delayed until they never made air. She says they weren’t only stories about the administration but also about government waste and corporate conduct, such as questions about the Boeing Dreamliner.
Katallah’s detention motion says that in the days preceding the attack, the defendant “voiced concern and opposition to the presence of an American facility in Benghazi.” According to the motion, a group of 20 or more “armed men,” including militia members, assembled outside the U.S. compound at 9:45 p.m. the night of September 11, 2012, and “aggressively breached” the gate. They carried rifles, handguns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. After breaching the gate, they stole a U.S. vehicle, “forcibly entered” buildings and stole U.S. property.
During this initial attack, buildings within the Mission were set on fire, and that ultimately led to the deaths” of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and Information Management Officer Sean Smith.
During a brief detention hearing yesterday, a federal court magistrate rules that Abu Khatallah will remain in jail until his trial. Court documents released before the hearing allege he “conspired to participate and then participated” in the September 11, 2012, attack on the American outpost in eastern Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. In the document, prosecutors allege:
The defendant’s participation in the attack was motivated by his extremist ideology.
They also allege that Khatallah “voiced concern and opposition to the presence of an American facility in Benghazi” days prior to the attack.
Khatallah, charged in the 2012 Benghazi attacks, pleads not guilty today in connection to the crime, during an appearance before a U.S. federal judge. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., says in a written statement:
In a courtroom in our nation’s capital, today we took the first step down the road to justice for the four American heroes killed in Benghazi. This prosecution is a reflection of our determination to honor the sacrifice of U.S. citizens who perish on foreign soil in service to our country. We will be steady, deliberate and relentless in seeking to hold accountable all who were responsible for this deadly act of terror.
A U.S. official confirms that Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the man accused of masterminding the attack will appear in a federal court in Washington, D.C. today. Authorities believe Khatallah is one of the senior leaders of Ansar al Sharia, whose members were among several militias that participated in the attack.
Clinton reveals in Hard Choices, her yet to be released book, that she accepts responsibility for lives lost in the attack but refuses to enter into debate on her actions as she believes “a regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation and flat-out deceit” is floating in the air. Clinton said she ordered an investigation within nine days of the attack and has implemented all 29 recommendations by the Accountability Review Board.
Clinton insists that the event is blown out of proportion by some media persons and political opponents She refuses to react to the criticism as she believes America needs to stop politicizing issues related to dead Americans.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco court orders YouTube to take down an anti-Muslim film that sparked violence in many parts of the Middle East. The decision by a divided three-judge panel said the YouTube posting infringed actress Cindy Lee Garcia’s copyright to her role, and she, not just the filmmaker, could demand its removal, based on an assessment of the control of the clip, not its contents.
Alex Kozinski: Garcia’s performance was used in a way that she found abhorrent and her appearance in the film subjected her to threats of physical harm and even death. Despite these harms, and despite Garcia’s viable copyright claim, Google refused to remove the film from YouTube.
Garcia said she was duped into appearing in the film by Mark Basseley Youssef. She said the script she saw referenced neither Muslims nor Mohammad, and her voice was dubbed over after filming.
The Washington Post reports that U.S. officials suspect Sufian Ben Qumu, an ex-Guantanamo detainee, “played a role in the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya, and are planning to designate the group he leads as a foreign terrorism organization.” Ben Qumu is based in Derna, Libya and runs a branch of Ansar al Sharia headquartered in the city.
U.S. officials have found that some of Ben Qumu’s militiamen from Derna “participated in the attack” and “were in Benghazi before the attack took place on Sept. 11, 2012.”
Ben Qumu is one of the original “Arab Afghans” who traveled to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. In the years that followed the end of the anti-Soviet jihad, Ben Qumu followed al Qaeda to the Sudan and then, in the mid-to-late 1990s, back to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was eventually arrested in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks and transferred to the American detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. Qumu is described as an associate of Osama bin Laden.
The reporting on Ben Qumu’s ties to the attack directly refutes an account by David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times. Kirkpatrick reported that “neither Mr. Qumu nor anyone else in Derna appears to have played a significant role in the attack on the American Mission, officials briefed on the investigation and the intelligence said.”
A New York Times report on the attack calls into question much of what Republicans, accusing the Obama administration of a cover-up, have said about the incident. The three main points of contention have been whether the attack was planned, whether it was sparked by an anti-Muslim video, and whether al Qaeda was involved.
The reality in Benghazi was different, and murkier, than either of those story lines suggests. Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests. The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs
The GOP suggests the administration removed specific terror references and stuck to the explanation advanced by Rice — later proved untrue — that the attack was the result of spontaneous demonstrations over the U.S.-produced film “Innocence of Muslims,” which contained scenes some Muslims considered blasphemous.
The White House and its allies in Congress have said any confusion and conflicting information in the early hours and days after the assault stemmed from the “fog of war,” not any deliberate effort to mislead the public.
At a Thursday hearing in the Senate, Republican Ted Cruz asked both Leon Panetta and General Dempsey if they had been in contact with Hillary Clinton
CRUZ: In between 9:42 p.m., Benghazi time, when the first attacks started, and 5:15 am, when Mr. Doherty and Mr. Woods lost their lives, what conversations did either of you have with Secretary Clinton?
PANETTA: We did not have any conversations with Secretary Clinton
CRUZ: And General Dempsey, the same is true for you?
General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the State Department never requested “support” in Benghazi:
McCAIN: Why didn’t you put forces in place to be ready to respond?,” Senator John McCain asked the general.
DEMPSEY: Because we never received a request to do so, number one. And number two, we –”
McCAIN: You never heard of Ambassador Stevens’s repeated warnings?
DEMPSEY: I had, through General Ham. But we never received a request for support from the State Department, which would have allowed us to put forces–
McCAIN:So it’s the State Department’s fault?”
DEMPSEY: I’m not blaming the State Department.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified this morning on Capitol Hill that he met with President Obama at a 5 o’clock prescheduled gathering, where they spent about 20 minutes talking a lot about the American embassy that was surrounded in Egypt and the situation that was just unfolding in Benghazi.
The president left operational details, including knowledge of what resources were available to help the Americans under siege, “up to us.” Panetta also says that on the night of 9/11, he did not communicate with anyone at the White House
Leon Panetta said Sunday that lack of intelligence information and logistical challenges made it difficult to respond quickly to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year. Panetta said the administration had no warning about the attack, despite requests for more security from U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in the weeks leading up to the violence.
This is not 911. You cannot just simply call and expect within two minutes to have a team in place. It takes time.
We deployed. We knew there were problems there. We moved forces into place where we could deploy them quickly if we had to. They were ready to go.
In these situations, you’ve got to look at what we we’re facing, what we knew, what intelligence we had in order to respond. Admittedly, better intelligence about what was taking place there would have given us a head start.
In her last one-on-one interview before she steps down on Friday (1 Feb), Clinton told AP that the attack in Benghazi was the low point of her time as America’s top diplomat. But she suggested that the furor over the assault would not affect whether she runs for president in 2016. She also said that critics of the administration’s handling of the attack don’t live in an “evidence-based world,” and their refusal to “accept the facts” is unfortunate and regrettable for the political system.
I was so unhappy with the way that some people refused to accept the facts, refused to accept the findings of an independent Accountability Review Board, politicized everything about this terrible attack. My job is to admit that we have to make improvements and we’re going to.
There are some people in politics and in the press who can’t be confused by the facts. They just will not live in an evidence-based world. And that’s regrettable. It’s regrettable for our political system and for the people who serve our government in very dangerous, difficult circumstances.
Regarding here critics, Clinton said she refused to be “discouraged by the fact that they are never going to accept the facts and the limitations of the facts.”
You have to get up every day and work to do best you can and communicate that to the vast majority of fair-minded Americans whether they’re in Congress, in the press or in the public.
A British Pakistani student asked Hillary Clinton during her Tuesday morning “Townterview,” farewell event what her lasting regret was:
“Well, certainly the loss of American lives in Benghazi was something that I deeply regret and am working hard to make sure we do everything we can to prevent,” Clinton responded. “When you do these jobs, you have to understand at the very beginning that you can’t control everything.”
Clinton also said there are “terrible situations” playing out in the Congo and Syria and said she wished there were clear paths for the international community to solve those crises as well.
The New York Daily News reports that closeups of Secretary of State Clinton taken during her Senate testimony Wednesday revealed that her head injury last month left her with lingering vision problems. As she testified about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, Clinton appeared to have tiny vertical lines etched onto the left lens of her new brown glasses.
Clinton’s spokesman confirmed Thursday night she is wearing the special glasses as a result of the fall and concussion she suffered last month, but he did not elaborate. Experts told the Daily News that Clinton likely has a Fresnel prism placed on her glasses. The adhesive panel is used to treat double vision. After her fall and concussion, Clinton was later hospitalized at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia for a blood clot near her brain.
Hillary Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, an appearance delayed more than a month because of her ill health.
She grew angry when a Republican accused the Obama administration of misleading the country over whether the attack stemmed from a protest.
With all due respect, the fact is that we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.
Clinton said that there were at least 20 other U.S. diplomatic posts under serious security threat, but declined to name them at the public session.
Senator Bob Corker saying the Benghazi attack and the U.S. response displayed “woeful unpreparedness” for the events sweeping the region. Senator Rand Paul said Clinton should have been fired.
Clinton repeated comments she made on October 15, said: “I take responsibility,” and said she had accepted all the recommendations of an independent panel that investigated the incident and that held lower-level officials responsible.
Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger and more secure.
Clinton also defended Ambassador Rice:
People have accused Ambassador Rice and the administration of, you know, misleading Americans. Nothing could be further from the truth.
On Meet the Press President Obama says[1. Weekly Standard – Obama Blames Benghazi Attack on ‘Sloppiness,’ Says Investigation Turned Up ‘Some Very Good Leads’ http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-blames-benghazi-attack-sloppiness-says-investigation-turned-some-very-good-leads_692347.html]:
When you read the report, and it confirms what we had already seen based on some of our internal reviews, there was just some sloppiness, not intentional, in terms of how we secure embassies in areas where you essentially don’t have governments that have a lot of capacity to protect those embassies. So we’re doing a thorough renew. not only will we implement all the recommendations that were made, but we’ll try to do more than that. You know, with respect to who carried it out, that’s an ongoing investigation. The FBI has sent individuals to Libya repeatedly. We have some very good leads.
Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry told the AP [1. http://politicalwire.com/archives/2012/12/06/correspondent_says_fox_news_overplayed_benghazi.html] that Fox News probably over-covered the fallout from the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
I wouldn’t lie to you. I see that we’re covering Benghazi a lot, and I think that should be something that we’re asking about. We’ve had the proper emphasis. But I would not be so deluded to say that some of our shows, some of our commentators, have covered it more than it needed to be covered.
The father of Tyrone Woods says he learned the details of his son’s bravery not from the Obama administration, but in an email from an American whose life was saved by his son.
Woods said his son was found slumped over his machine gun, which was caked with blood. He had continued to fire until he had no blood left and was unable to fire anymore.
Kate Quigley, sister of Len Doherty, said her family is frustrated with how “the press continues to refer to the individuals of the attack as four dead Americans, without really looking at who these individuals are.” To help this, she has created http://www.glendohertyfoundation.org, a website of a foundation that the family established in his name. [1. Glen Doherty Foundation http://www.glendohertyfoundation.org]
Pat Smith, the mother of Sean Smith, who was 35 when he died in Benghazi, said top administration officials paid her a lot of lip service but never revealed to her the details of her son’s last hours. She still does not know how he died. Smith also said Panetta “actually took my face in his hands and he said, ‘Trust me, I will tell you what happened.’ And so far, he’s told me nothing. Nothing at all. And I want to know.” [2. Washington Times : Families want to know what happened in Benghazi http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/4/families-want-to-know-what-happened-in-benghazi-ob/#ixzz2EDePg79Q]
After a meeting with Susan Rice, Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte remained troubled by her answers[1. Senators “Disturbed”, “Troubled” after Rice Meeting http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2012/11/27/GOP-Senators-Emerge-More-Troubled-Over-Benghazi-After-Meeting-With-Rice]:
McCAIN: We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn’t get, concerning evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the attack on our consulate, [and] the tragic deaths of four brave Americans. The information she gave the American people was incorrect,” when she described the Benghazi attack “as a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video.” Added McCain: “There was strong evidence at the time that this was not correct.
Ayotte said Ambassador Rice was wrong, the CIA was wrong, and the President was wrong. And she added that neither the CIA nor the President have come out to admit they were wrong or set the record the straight.
In his first public comments since his incarceration Nakoula told The New York Times that he would go to great lengths to convey what he called “the actual truth” about Muhammad.
I thought, before I wrote this script, that I should burn myself in a public square to let the American people and the people of the world know this message that I believe in.
In explaining his reasons for the film, Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian born in Egypt, cited the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, Tex., as a prime example of the violence committed “under the sign of Allah.”
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, says the unclassified talking points put together by the CIA changed when they got to administration appointees[1. CNS News: House Intel Chair: ‘Appointees from Administration’ Changed Rice’s Talking Points http://cnsnews.com/news/article/house-intel-chair-appointees-administration-changed-rices-talking-points]:
There was not an intelligence failure. The intelligence community had it right, and they had it right early. What happened was it worked its way up through the system of the so-called talking points, which everyone refers to, and then it went up to what’s called a deputy’s committee…It went to the so-called deputy’s committee, that’s populated by appointees from the administration. That’s where the narrative changed. And so how that thing got back to (Susan) Rice, I think, is probably another question.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., tells Fox News that intelligence officials who testified in a closed-door hearing a day earlier, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Acting CIA Director Mike Morell, said they did not know who changed the talking points. He said they went out to multiple departments, including the State Department, National Security Council, Justice Department and White House
KING: To me the question right now is who changed those talking points and why. … I’d say it was somebody in the administration had to have taken it out. That, to me, has to be pursued.”
King also said, “The original talking points were much more specific about Al Qaeda involvement. And yet the final ones just said indications of extremists,” adding that the final version was the product of a vague “inter-agency process.” King said a CIA analyst specifically told lawmakers that the Al Qaeda affiliates line “was taken out.”
Representative Peter King stated that former CIA Director David Petraeus stated that he knew the Benghazi attack was terrorism and that the talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice were different from the ones prepared by the CIA. Petraeus stated Rice’s talking points were edited to demphasized the possibility of terrorism. [1. Fox News King: Petraeus Said CIA’s Talking Points Were Edited to Play Down Terrorism http://mrctv.org/videos/king-petraeus-said-cias-talking-points-were-edited-play-down-terrorism]
Petraeus left Capitol Hill around noon, after testifying in private hearings before the House and Senate intelligence committees.
McCain misses a classified security briefing on Benghazi held before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee – of which Senator McCain is a member – and lasted three hours. It featured testimony by officials from the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Counterterrorism Center. McCain got testy when pressed to say why he wasn’t there. [1. The Guardian – David Petraeus denies classified leaks as Benghazi hearings begin http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/15/david-petraeus-benghazi-hearings-live]
I have no comment about my schedule and I’m not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media.
Afterwards, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff said Morell told the panel that Rice was given an initial assessment that a spontaneous protest over an anti-Muslim video evolved into an attack on the consulate. Rice’s comments on national talk shows five days after the attack has drawn fierce criticism, with some Senate Republicans vowing to block her nomination if she is tapped to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Schiff said the ambassador’s interview remarks were based on the “best initial assessment.” [1. The Guardian – David Petraeus denies classified leaks as Benghazi hearings begin http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/15/david-petraeus-benghazi-hearings-live]
This was also confirmed by CBS News, which got hold of Rice’s talking points. The talking points, which were also given to members of the House intelligence committee, make no reference to terrorism being a likely factor in the assault. [2. CBS News -CIA talking points for Susan Rice called Benghazi attack “spontaneously inspired” by protests http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57550337/cia-talking-points-for-susan-rice-called-benghazi-attack-spontaneously-inspired-by-protests/?tag=AverageMixRelated]
Mike Morell briefs members of the House Intelligence committee in a closed door session. The committee is said to have been shown video footage of the day of the attack on the consulate, although details are sketchy of exactly what was shown.[1. The Guardian – David Petraeus denies classified leaks as Benghazi hearings begin http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/15/david-petraeus-benghazi-hearings-live]
Legislators saw a “real-time film (showing) exactly what happened” on September 11 in Benghazi, starting before the attack began up “through the incident and the exodus,” said Dianne Feinstein. A source familiar with the House committee hearing said the video included shots of Stevens being dragged out of the building. Sen. Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican, described the footage as “a combination of video from a surveillance camera and a drone.” “It gave us a good picture, from the surveillance standpoint, what was happening,” Coats said. [2. CNN – ‘Real-time’ video shows Benghazi drama, but questions remain http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/15/politics/benghazi-hearings/index.html]
David Petraeus had originally been scheduled to testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees Thursday 15 November. That appearance was scuttled, though, after the director abruptly resigned over an extramarital affair. A source close to Petraeus he has contacted the CIA, as well as committees in both the House and Senate, to offer his testimony as the former CIA director. He is expected to speak off-site to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday about his Libya report. The House side is still being worked out.
Lawmakers have begun to openly question when Petraeus first knew about the investigation that uncovered his affair — and whether it impacted his statements to Congress on Sept. 14 about the Libya terror attack. Petraeus briefed lawmakers that day that the attack was akin to a flash mob, and some top lawmakers noted to Fox News he seemed “wedded” to the administration’s narrative that it was a demonstration spun out of control. The briefing appeared to conflict with one from the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center a day earlier in which officials said the intelligence supported an Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-affiliated attack.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., questioned whether the investigation in Petraeus’s affair with Broadwell “consciously or subconsciously” affected his statements to Congress.[1. Fox News – Petraeus agrees to testify on Libya before congressional committees http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/14/petraeus-agrees-to-testify-on-libya-before-congressional-committees/#ixzz2CDGAcyuD]
CBS News releases a clip of an interview by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes on September 12 with President Obama that indicates Obama knew the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was a premeditated terror attack. CBS chose not to broadcast the clip for over a month, instead airing a portion of the clip that contained Obama’s attack on Romney that same night. However, the clip and quote were available online.
Obama told Kroft that the attack in Benghazi was different from the violent protest at the U.S. embassy in Cairo: “You’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt, and my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.”[1. CBS News – Obama suspects Libya attack targeted Americans http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7421538n]
Fox News notes that on one hand, the comment lines up with the president’s Rose Garden remarks that day, when he referred to “acts of terror.” However, it also sharply conflicts with what U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice would go on to say four days later on a round of Sunday talk shows, in which she claimed the protest in Cairo helped trigger the “spontaneous” attack in Benghazi.[2. Fox News – Interview shows Obama downplayed mob violence explanation day after Libya attack http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/24/interview-shows-obama-downplayed-mob-violence-explanation-day-after-libya/]
Sarah Palin criticized President Obama’s handling of the crisis in a Facebook post titled “Obama’s Shuck and Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies”.[1. Sarah Palin – Obama’s Shuck and Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10151118681228435] CNN commentator Roland Martin responded by issuing a tutorial on the racially loaded nature of those words [2. Washington Post – Palin accuses president of ‘shuck and jive’ on Libya http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/palin-accuses-president-of-shuck-and-jive-on-libya/2012/10/24/cd0616b4-1df6-11e2-9cd5-b55c38388962_blog.html]
A report on CNN questions the veracity of the email mentioning the Facebook post. Aaron Zelin, a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who tracks dozens of jihadist websites told CNN he was unaware of any such claim having been posted on the official Facebook page or Twitter feed of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi.
Zelin, says that there is no Facebook update between September 8 and September 12, when a posting late that afternoon first referenced the attack, in which the group denied Ansar al-Sharia’s role in the assault on the consulate, while sympathizing with the attackers.
The group’s Twitter feed (@anssarelshariea), also has no posts from September 8 – 13 and then nothing until four days later. There is no claim of involvement in or responsibility for the attack on the U.S. Consulate compound. Zelin speculates that perhaps the person who reported the claim of responsibility – and the threat against the consulate – was viewing another Ansar al-Sharia site, or one supportive of the group.[1. CNN – Doubts surface over e-mail on claim of responsibility for Benghazi attack http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/24/doubts-surface-over-e-mail-on-claim-of-responsibility-for-benghazi-attack/]
Hillary Clinton makes a statement that the Facebook posting mentioned in the third email was not hard evidence. Clinton said during an appearance with the Brazilian foreign minister at the State Department:
Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence. I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be. The independent accountability review board is already hard at work looking at everything, not cherry picking one story here or one document there, but looking at everything – which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach for something as complex as an attack like this,” she said.
However Clinton does not say that the claim of responsibility was false. [1. Reuters – Clinton: Facebook post about Benghazi attack not hard “evidence” http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/24/us-usa-benghazi-emails-idUSBRE89N12020121024]
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and two other Republicans in the Senate wrote Wednesday to Obama, saying: “These emails make clear that your Administration knew within two hours of the attack that it was a terrorist act and that Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan militant group with links to Al-Qaeda, had claimed responsibility for it.”[2. CNN – Doubts surface over e-mail on claim of responsibility for Benghazi attack http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/24/doubts-surface-over-e-mail-on-claim-of-responsibility-for-benghazi-attack/]
Emails are released by Reuters that were sent to the State Department during the attack and confirm that it was immediately known as terrorist attack.[1. Reuters- White House told of militant claim two hours after Libya attack: emails http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/24/us-usa-benghazi-emails-idUSBRE89N02C20121024]
The White House declines to say when President Obama heard about the mails.[2. CNS News – WH: ‘We Decline to Comment’ on When Obama Learned of E-Mails, Met With NSC on Benghazi http://cnsnews.com/news/article/wh-we-decline-comment-when-obama-learned-e-mails-met-nsc-benghazi]
The Wall Street Journal reports that President Barack Obama was told in his daily intelligence briefing for more than a week after the attack in Benghazi that the assault grew out of a spontaneous protest, despite conflicting reports from witnesses and other sources that began to cast doubt on the accuracy of that assessment almost from the start. [1. Wall Street Journal – Intelligence Stressed Libya Protest Scenario http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203400604578071302911132288.html]
The New York Times reports that Ansar al-Shariah leader and suspected Benghazi ringleader Ahmed Abu Khattala was seen in a crowded Benghazi luxury hotel sipping mango juice as he claimed that no Libya authorities had questioned him and, by the way, he had no plans to go into hiding. Witnesses, Benghazi residents and Western news reports, including those in The New York Times, have described Mr. Abu Khattala as a leader of Ansar al-Shariah, but he has said he was not part of the group, but close to it.
Although Khattala said he was not a member of Al Qaeda, he declared he would be proud to be associated with Al Qaeda’s puritanical zeal for Islamic law. And he said that the United States had its own foreign policy to blame for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Khattala contended that the attack had grown out of a peaceful protest against the “innocence of Muslims” video. He also said that guards inside the compound — Libyan or American, he was not sure — had shot first at the demonstrators, provoking them. And he asserted, without providing evidence, that the attackers had found weapons, including explosives and guns mounted with silencers, inside the American compound. Although Khattala’s exact role remains unclear, witnesses have said they saw him directing other fighters that night. Libyan officials have singled him out, and officials in Washington say they are examining his role. However, Khattala insisted that he had not been part of the aggression at the American compound. He said he had arrived just as the gunfire was beginning to crackle and had sought to break up a traffic jam around the demonstration. After fleeing for a time, he said, he entered the compound at the end of the battle because he was asked to help try to rescue four Libyan guards working for the Americans who were trapped inside. Although the attackers had set fire to the main building, Khattala said he had not noticed anything burning.
Leon Panetta announces that President Obama will nominate General David Rodriguez to succeed General Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command.[1. Department of Defense – DOD News Briefing on Efforts to Enhance the Financial Health of the Force http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=5139]
The president says on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, “If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal. … We’re going to fix it.”
Libya becomes a major issue in the second presidential debate. It’s the first time Obama uses the exact phrase “terrorist attack.”
OBAMA: The day after the attack…I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”
Commentators attempt to fact check the President’s comments.
Clinton takes responsibility for the attack, saying security at all diplomatic missions is her job, not that of the White House. She says:
I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000 people all over the world (at) 275 posts.
However, Clinton does not resign, nor does Obama ask her to resign.
Republicans keep up their attack. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says presidential aides deliberately covered up the details of the attack so that voters wouldn’t question Obama’s handling of the war on terror.
The White House defends Biden’s “we weren’t told” debate statement; Carney says Biden was referring to the White House, the president and himself.
Romney says, “The vice president directly contradicted sworn testimony of State Department officials. He’s doubling down on denial.” Romney also says: “President Obama, this is an issue because Americans wonder why it was it took so long for you and your administration to admit that this was a terrorist attack,”
Undersecretary of State for Management Pat Kennedy comments on the 16-member site security team of U.S. troops that left Libya in the weeks prior to the attack, despite efforts by its leader to stay longer. Kennedy said, “It provided security to Tripoli, not Benghazi. On a small number of occasions, a couple of SST members would travel to Benghazi for very specific reasons, but they were not part of the long-term security presence in Benghazi.”
Charlene Lamb, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, testified under oath that budget considerations played no role the decision not to increase security.[1. New York Times – Focus Was on Tripoli in Requests for Security in Libya http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/13/world/africa/cables-show-requests-to-state-dept-for-security-in-libya-were-focused-on-tripoli.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0]