Commentary

Benghazi Scandal Not Over: Obama Official Admitted It Had Nothing to Do with Protests

Tom Fitton
By Tom Fitton | February 22, 2017 | 12:31 PM EST

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The Clinton/Obama Benghazi scandal is not over.  Not by a long shot.

Last week we released 54 pages of State Department documents, including a transcript of a September 12, 2012, telephone conference call with congressional staffers in which then-Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy admitted that the deadly terrorist assault on the Benghazi Consulate was not “under cover of protest,” but was, in fact, “a direct breaching attack.”

The documents were produced in response to a January 29, 2016, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that was filed against the State Department after it failed to respond to an August 27, 2015, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:16-cv-00153)). The recently settled lawsuit sought:

  • All records of security waivers issued for the Special Mission compound in Benghazi, Libya under the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act (SECCA); 
  • All records concerning, regarding, or related to the Special Mission compound in Benghazi, Libya being “excepted from office facility standards and accountability” under SECCA as noted by the Benghazi Accountability Review Board.

The transcript was contained in an email from Julie K. Bulgrin, the State Department Bureau of Legislative Affairs director for Global and Functional Affairs:

From: Bulgrin, Julie K.

Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 7:55 PM

To: H_Egypt; Canedo, Denese; Lang, Alan; ‘Rodriguez Miguel’; ‘Arguelles, Adam’; ‘Lundebergy, Greta’; ‘Ortiz, Michael’; ‘Lee Collin’; Pitkin, Douglas A; Maier, Christina A

Subject: Write up of U/S Kennedy Call with Hill re Libya

The call ended up starting around 6:30. Here are the raw notes.

***

  • Rob Carter – was this an attack under the cover of a protest?
  • No, this was a direct breaching attack.
  • Do we have any ideas of who launched? Leads?
  • Some claims from someone who has never made threat before, but everyone is looking at this closely.
  • Do we believe coordinated w/Cairo?
  • Attack in Cairo was a demonstration. There were no weapons shown or used. A few cans of spray paint.

The call also notes that Amb. Stevens got of the compound, but “collapsed” and was taken to the hospital. Kennedy also said that it was his personal opinion that the attack “was semi-complex.”

When asked why no Americans troops were inserted, Kennedy responded that, “the entire thing lasted approximately 4.5 hours. No U.S. forces within time to get there.” (This was absolutely false, troops were available and could have arrived in time to provide support during the second attack on the CIA annex, which according to Kennedy, was assaulted by 100 attackers.)

The documents also include a September 13, 2012, email in which an unidentified sender reveals that as early as December 2011, the State Department confirmed the necessity for making a wide variety of “physical security upgrades.” Those upgrades included:

  • Concrete, jersey-type barriers installed curbside and on the villa ground to block unused vehicle gates.
  • Four steel, manual drop-arms (vehicle barriers) for access control and anti-ram protection.
  • Compound lighting increased for LGP observation.
  • Barbed wire installed on top of the existing perimeter wall to raise height.
  • Installation of barbed wire on top of the interior chain link fence to create a secondary barrier.
  • Installation of several LGP platforms for property and street surveillance.
  • Construction of four guard booths.
  • Installation of steel grill work on all windows not already treated with this protection.
  • Erecting sandbag emplacements for internal defense purposes.
  • Hardening villas with safe rooms with a steel door.

Though some of these “physical security upgrades” were apparently made, according to the State Department Accountability Review Board report issued on December 20, 2012, sufficient security remained an issue at the time of the attack:

“Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing.

“The insufficient Special Mission security platform was at variance with the appropriate Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) standards with respect to perimeter and interior security. Benghazi was also severely under-resourced with regard to certain needed security equipment, although DS funded and installed in 2012 a number of physical security upgrades.”

Despite Kennedy’s admission on September 12 that the deadly terrorist assault on the Benghazi Consulate was not “under cover of protest,” but was, in fact, “a direct breaching attack,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice appeared on five major interview shows on Sunday, September 16, to claim the attack was due to a “spontaneous protest” and was not premeditated.

“Based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy—sparked by this hateful video … We do not—we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.”

The House Select Committee on Benghazi was created as the direct result of emails uncovered by Judicial Watch showing White House orchestration of the knowingly false narrative that the Benghazi attack was due to an Internet video and spontaneous protests. 

Patrick Kennedy is not only embroiled in the Benghazi scandal.  On June 30, 2016, JW attorneys deposed Kennedy about Hillary Clinton’s and Huma Abedin’s use of the clintonemail.com system to conduct official government business. Kennedy testified that the significance did not “register” with him that Clinton was using a non-state.gov email account even though he communicated with her by email. Though he was undersecretary for management of three of the four offices charged with ensuring State Department policies practices and procedures are followed, he told us he had no opinion as to whether policies were violated except to say that State Department records-management policy encourages employees to use state.gov addresses for official business.

A few days after President Trump took office, Patrick Kennedy left his position at the State Department.

Certainly this new document removes any further doubt that the State Department and the Obama administration knew immediately after the assault on Benghazi that it was a well-orchestrated terrorist attack and not a “spontaneous demonstration” over a “hateful video,” as the Obama administration repeatedly claimed. 

As I said at the beginning of this piece, these documents show that the Benghazi scandal is not over.  There are more documents with the State Department and we are still seeking accountability over the related Clinton email cover-up.  It is the least we can do for those four Americans killed that terrible September night in 2012.

Tom Fitton is the President of Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption. Founded in 1994, Judicial Watch seeks to ensure government and judicial officials act ethically and do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American public.

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