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Benghazi Thoughts

Benghazi Thoughts

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Published by Kevin Cullen
The following is a brief recap of the scandal and cover-up surrounding the attacks in Benghazi in September of 2012 taken from a variety of sources (all cited below) in order to summarize the major issues and questions that remain outstanding nearly a year after the tragic attack. For me, it is interesting how little the average person on the street knows about what was going on in Benghazi and the campaign of disinformation – starting with the now-infamous “talking points” – that was seemingly spun in order to protect Obama’s re-election prospects that lay only two months hence at the time, and to similarly ensure that Hilary Rodham Clinton’s prospects for the Presidency in 2016 were likewise kept pristine. My sense is that if only it was simply disinformation for political gain (to save his election prospects), the issue would have faded following the election. The continued resistance and effort to conceal information makes it clear that the issues are much larger and far-reaching.
The following is a brief recap of the scandal and cover-up surrounding the attacks in Benghazi in September of 2012 taken from a variety of sources (all cited below) in order to summarize the major issues and questions that remain outstanding nearly a year after the tragic attack. For me, it is interesting how little the average person on the street knows about what was going on in Benghazi and the campaign of disinformation – starting with the now-infamous “talking points” – that was seemingly spun in order to protect Obama’s re-election prospects that lay only two months hence at the time, and to similarly ensure that Hilary Rodham Clinton’s prospects for the Presidency in 2016 were likewise kept pristine. My sense is that if only it was simply disinformation for political gain (to save his election prospects), the issue would have faded following the election. The continued resistance and effort to conceal information makes it clear that the issues are much larger and far-reaching.

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Published by: Kevin Cullen on Sep 16, 2013
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 Benghazi Thoughts
 –
 Page 1
Benghazi Thoughts
The following is a brief recap of the scandal and cover-up surrounding the attacks in Benghazi in September of 2012 taken from a variety of sources (all cited below) in order to summarize the major issues and questions that remain outstanding nearly a year after the tragic attack. For me, it is interesting how little the average person on the street knows about what was going on in Benghazi and the campaign of disinformation
 –
 starting with the now-
infamous “talking points” –
 that was seemingly spun in orde
r to protect Obama’s re
-election prospects that lay only two months hence at the time, and to similarly
ensure that Hilary Rodham Clinton’s prospects for the Presidency in 2016 were
likewise kept pristine. My sense is that if only it was simply disinformation for political gain (to save his election prospects), the issue would have faded following the election. The continued resistance and effort to conceal information makes it clear that the issues are much larger and far-reaching.
I don’t think there is
any one specific piece of information that is particularly damming but when examined in its totality, it is downright outrageous. For me, the biggest issue is the
Obama’s administration’s efforts to
 thwart any independent investigation, including efforts to learn what President Obama was doing during the attack, who was providing orders during those crucial hours and the effort to control the narrative after the attack via the
crafting and dissemination of the “
talking points
 or by either intimidating witnesses or blocking access to them. It is unclear what the administration is hiding but it is clear that Chris Stevens was in Benghazi with at least one specific goal in mind, to establish a permanent diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which had been a publicly stated aim of Hilary Clinton
1
. The first article referenced below (from Vanity Fair) is an excerpt from a new book (Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, by Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz) that provides an overview of what happened on the ground from first-hand witnesses. The second article (from a conservative news aggregator Breitbart.com) lays out what was likely going on in Benghazi and the work Ambassador Stevens may have been involved in with the CIA. It is good background to set the stage and understand what was going on and was at stake in Benghazi. The last link that should be viewed is a timeline I found that seemed relatively complete in order to help readers follow the sequence of events. With that as a backdrop, the following is a summarized timeline recapping the significant events in the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack (actually a series of attacks) and the days following the attack with my own opinions or questions presented in italics. At 3:42PM EDT (9:42 PM local time), the first shots were fired on the Benghazi Consulate and at 9:45 PM local time Ambassador Chris Stevens calls State Department Officer Chris Hicks in Tripoli saying: "we're under attack!" Meanwhile, at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack, former Navy Seal/CIA officer Tyrone Woods and a group other CIA operators heard the shots fired; they informed their higher-ups and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. At 3:59 EDT (9:59 PM local time), an unarmed surveillance drone is directed to fly over the U.S. compound in Benghazi. After being told to stand-down twice (orders which is believed to have come from CIA headquarters in Langley, VA), a six-man security team (headed by Tyrone Woods) departs from the annex at just after 4:00 PM EDT (10:00 PM local time) moving towards the consulate and encountering resistance along the way. At 4:25 p.m. EDT (10:25 PM local time), the
1
 http://cnsnews.com/news/article/testimony-stevens-went-benghazi-mission-91112-so-clinton-could-announce-upcoming-libyan#sthash.2fMHmhjj.dpuf
 
 Benghazi Thoughts
 –
 Page 2 team arrives from the annex with 40 to 60 members of 17th of February Brigade. The team removed Smith's body, was unable to locate Ambassador Stevens and, after finding itself unable to secure the perimeter at the consulate, moved back to the annex. In Washington, during a pre-scheduled face-to-face 5PM EDT briefing from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon tells President Obama of the attack and the fire at the main villa. The President and those officials discuss possible responses to the situation. Following that meeting, Obama is reported to have retired to his living quarters for dinner. At 5:10PM EDT (11:10 PM local time), the unarmed DOD drone arrives overhead. At 5:30 EDT (11:30 PM local time), a small CIA and JSOC element in Tripoli that included Glen Doherty was attempting to find a way to Benghazi and left for the airport. At 6:30 EDT (12:30 AM local time)
or nearly three hours after the attack began, a seven-member security team, including four GRS (Global Response Staff) security officers, a CIA case officer and two military personnel (members of Delta Force
2
) on loan to the CIA, departed from the Tripoli airport on a privately-chartered aircraft heading to Benghazi. It should be noted that additional military forces headed by Special Operations Command Africa commander Lt. Col. Steve Gibson were
ordered to “hold in place”
by Marine Colonel George Bristol of AFRICOM
3
 and not board the follow-on aircraft preparing to leave Tripoli airport for Benghazi (according to second-hand accounts
4
 of his congressional briefing, Bristol told Gibson to stay in Tripoli to defend Americans there in the event of additional attacks and to help survivors being evacuated from Benghazi.). At the same time 6:30PM EDT (12:30 AM local time) Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta verbally directs the deployment (or preparations for deployment) of: 1) 2 Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons from Rota, Spain to Benghazi Mission and Embassy Tripoli; 2) a US European Command (EUCOM) Commander's in-Extremis Force (CIF) to an intermediate staging base in Southern Europe; and 3) a special operations force based in the United States to an intermediate staging base in Southern Europe. Also at 6:30PM EDT (12:30 AM local time) Obama and Vice president Joe Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone (a call that was prescheduled) for nearly an hour. It is also reported that Valerie Jarrett (Obama's top Advisor) was with Obama during the call with Netanyahu; as the call was ending, it has been reported that Jarrett went from the living quarters to the White House Situation Room, where the attack in Benghazi was being monitored by Dempsey, Panetta and other top-ranking officials (there may even be recorded video feeds from the drone circling above). What Jarett may have said and whether the president sent her is unknown. At 7:00 PM EDT (1:00 AM local time), Local Libyans find the remains of Ambassador Stevens and transport them to Benghazi Medical Center. At 8:00 PM EDT (2:00 AM local time), the Embassy in Tripoli receives a cell phon
e call indicating that Ambassador Stevens’ body is at
the Benghazi Medical Center but Tripoli rescue team cannot go there, as it is controlled by Ansar al-
Sharia, “which just attacked the mission.”
At 7:15 EDT (1:15 AM local time), following a 45-minute flight from Tripoli, the seven member security team arrives in Benghazi but is delayed in the Benghazi airport for more than three hours (until 11:30 PM EDT; 4:30 AM local time). The delay is caused by negotiations with Libyan authorities over permission to leave the airport; obtaining vehicles; and the need to frame a clear mission plan. The first idea is to go to a Benghazi hospital to recover Stevens, who they rightly suspect is already dead. (Also killed was a State Department communication specialist.) But the hospital is surrounded by the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia militia that mounted the consulate attack.
2
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Force
3
 http://mediamatters.org/tags/james-rosen
4
 http://azstarnet.com/news/national/govt-and-politics/officer-no-libya-stand-down-order/article_3ebd5c58-41ab-577c-98ac-331d752cc9c4.html
 
 Benghazi Thoughts
 –
 Page 3 According to WH press Secretary James Carney, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to President Obama at 10:00 PM EDT (4:00 AM local time) that night; what was discussed during that call is unknown though just a few minutes after the call ended, the State Department issued a statement making reference to the inflammatory Internet video (Innocence of Muslims) which was ultimately blamed for the "spontaneous protest" in Benghazi. After the call with Clinton, President Obama is reported to have retired for the night without giving any specific rescue mission orders or discussing the events on the ground in Benghazi with any other senior official until the approximately 4:00 AM EDT (10:00 AM local time) when he is told of Stevens' death. At some point after 11:30 PM EDT (4:30 AM local time), the security team from Tripoli finds transportation from the airport under the escort of the Libya n Shield, another local militia, and heads to the annex arriving at 12:04 PM EDT (5:04 AM local time). Just after their arrival, the annex takes mortar fire, sustaining three direct hits. The precision of the attacks indicates a level of sophistication and coordination. Former U.S. Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are killed in the mortar assault, which lasts just 11 minutes before dissipating at 12:26 PM EDT (5:26 AM local time); a DS agent and annex security member are severely wounded. After the mortar attack, about 30 Americans evacuate the annex and head to the airport, with the assistance of the Libyan security convoy.
So it seems that from all outward appearances, the 10 PM EDT call between Clinton and Obama set in motion the follow-on White House/State Department disinformation campaign (including the talking  points) that appeared to try to cover-up the fact that a pre-planned attack by Islamic extremists had occurred. With the November elections looming, this sort of terrorism didn't f 
it with the "al Qaeda’s on the run” campaign narrative. S
o who was responsible for this disinformation? Did it come from the State Department or the White House? Is there recorded video available from the live feeds from that night? Was the video available in the Situation Room? Who was watching it? Where was President Obama?
What the Obama administration actually believed about the attack (as it occurred and in the days afterward), is an issue that could be debated at length. It is interesting that even as the actual facts were becoming increasingly clear and increasingly public, certain members of the administration were clinging
fiercely to the “spontaneous attack caused by the video” meme which was a better fit for campaign
purposes. In fact, according to Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Congressional representative, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton actually screamed
5
 
6
 at one of his congressional colleagues during a closed-door session to discuss the attacks in Benghazi just days after when it was suggested that this was a terrorist attack. Surely if Clinton really thought it was spontaneous mob attack in the hours that followed, that conclusion must have been shaken in the days following.
Such rigid adherence to this  portrayal of the facts, when it is known that White House and cabinet level officials were well-aware the attack was rooted in terrorism, certainly leads one to believe that there is something there beyond
“political spin”.
 On top of that, during the follow-on investigation, when congressmen came to investigate the Benghazi incident, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Gregory Hicks, testified that his State Department bosses ordered him specifically not to speak to Rep. Jason Chaffetz and that an unnamed State Department lawyer tried to keep him from meeting with the
representatives. When that didn’t work, the lawyer tried —
 and failed because of inadequate security
5
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/16/illinois-lawmaker-hillary-clinton-screamed-closed-/
6
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xwoAaW5DJk

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