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What We Learned From The Benghazi Select Committee Report

- June 29, 2016

Egregious Mismanagement Was Covered Up With An Election-Year Lie, And A Legitimate Investigation Was Met With Stonewalling And Interference

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TOP TAKEAWAYS

  • Yesterday, the House Select Committee on Benghazi released the most detailed account of what happened prior to, during and after the attack, all of which reflect terribly on the leadership, judgment and honesty of the Obama Administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
  • With an increasing threat level and "woefully inadequate" security prior to the attack, Hillary Clinton should have realized the risks of having poorly protected U.S. diplomats in Benghazi.
  • During the attack, officials in Washington impeded the response to save American lives, and did so for political considerations.
  • Despite evidence to the contrary from eyewitnesses, both Clinton and Obama pushed the false narrative that the attack was fueled by a protest to a YouTube video.
  • For months, the State Department refused to reveal that it had none of Clinton's correspondence because of her exclusive use of a private email server.
  • Clinton's Chief of Staff influenced the findings of the supposedly independent Accountability Review Board's internal investigation that Clinton repeatedly cites.

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PRIOR TO THE ATTACK, HILLARY CLINTON SHOULD HAVE REALIZED THE RISKS IN BENGHAZI

Hillary Clinton Told The Benghazi Committee That She Was Fully Briefed And Aware On The Dangers In Libya. "The Secretary told the Committee although she was fully briefed and aware of the dangers in Libya 'there was no actionable intelligence on September 11 or even before that date about any kind of planned attack on our compound in Benghazi.'" ("III: Events Leading To The Benghazi Attacks," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. III-128)

"The Intelligence Community's Assessment Depicted Libya, Eastern Libya, And Benghazi As Emerging Terrorists' Strongholds Posing A Threat To Western Interests."  ("III: Events Leading To The Benghazi Attacks," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. III-128)

A Diplomatic Security Agent In Libya Described Security At The Benghazi Compound As "Woefully Inadequate" And "Completely Insufficient." "The incoming Diplomatic Security Agent in charge described the Mission compound when he arrived to the facility in late November 2011. 302 He told the Committee: 'While I was in Benghazi … the compound was woefully inadequate in terms of physical security. There were a whole number of things that we didn't have, and a lot of things that we did have were completely insufficient.'" ("III: Events Leading To The Benghazi Attacks," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. III-128)

Diplomatic Security Agents Were Forced To Request "The Most Rudimentary Measures" To Improve Security At The Benghazi Compound. "With normal security standards not applicable in Benghazi and a decreasing number of Diplomatic Security Agents on the ground, the incoming Diplomatic Security Agents were forced to request the most rudimentary measures to improve security the compound." ("III: Events Leading To The Benghazi Attacks," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. III-70)

With The Growing Threat Of Extremist Groups And Poor Security In Libya, "It Is Not Clear What Additional Intelligence Would Have Satisfied Either Kennedy Or The Secretary In Understanding The Benghazi Mission Compound Was At Risk-Short Of An Attack." "It is not clear what additional intelligence would have satisfied either Kennedy or the Secretary in understanding the Benghazi Mission compound was at risk-short of an attack. The intelligence on which Kennedy and the Secretary were briefed daily was clear and pointed-Al Qa'ida, al Qa'ida like groups, and other regional extremists took refuge in the security vacuum created by the Libya government and its inability to take command of the security situation." ("III: Events Leading To The Benghazi Attacks," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. III-70)

DURING THE ATTACK, OFFICIALS IN WASHINGTON IMPEDED THE RESPONSE TO SAVE AMERICAN LIVES FOR POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS

High Ranking Officials In Washington Were Slow To Respond To The Needs On The Ground

Vice Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff, Admiral James Winnefeld Did Not Participate In The Security Update On The Benghazi Attacks Because He Had Returned Home To Host A Dinner Party. "Winnefeld was not even at the Pentagon. He had left to return to his residence to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries and testified he received one update on the events during the dinner." ("I Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 06/28/16, p. 107)

Rapid Response Teams Were Not Deployed Over Marine Uniform Fears

The Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) Was Not Rapidly Deployed Over Concerns That Marines In Uniform Would Give The Impression Of A U.S. Invasion Of Libya. "Marines, they need six hours to prepare. They're currently at the Rota Air Base in Spain and will wait to deploy. Will not deploy until order comes to go to either Tripoli or Benghazi. We made a request that any deployments should be in plain clothes to avoid any impression of a U.S. invasion of Libya." ("I Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi," House Select Committee On Benghazi , Accessed: 06/28/16, p. 115)

In The End It Was Former Gadhafi Intelligence Officers That Rescued The Fleeing Americans

Former Gadhafi Libyan Military Intelligence Came To The Aid Of The Americans Fleeing The Attack, Not American Support. " The group that ultimately came to the rescue of and facilitated the evacuation of the Americans in Benghazi was not the Libyan Government the State Department had worked tirelessly to appease; nor was it the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, recommended by the Libyan Government and contractually obligated to provide security to the Mission Compound. Instead, the group that came to rescue the Americans that night, the Libyan Military Intelligence, was a group most U.S. Government personnel did not even know existed. This group, ironically, had close ties to the former Gadhafi regime-the very regime the United States had helped" ("I Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 06/28/16, Page: 145)

IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE ATTACK, CLINTON AND OBAMA PUSHED THE YOUTUBE VIDEO NARRATIVE, RATHER THAN SEEKING THE FACTS

Despite "Zip, Nothing Nada" Evidence From Eyewitnesses, Obama And Clinton Pushed A Protest Of A Video As The Cause Of The Attack

Officials Knew That The Cairo Protests Due To The Anti-Islamic Video Had Nothing To Do With The Attack In Benghazi. "' The protests in Cairo had little to no impact on the Benghazi Mission compound or throughout Libya. While the anti-Muslim film was one of the reasons protests were called for in Egypt, it was virtually unknown in Libya.' Hicks testified regarding the reaction in Libya to the film." ("I Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi," House Select Committee On Benghazi , Accessed: 06/28/16, p. 21)

Secretary Clinton Issued A Statement On The Night Of The Attack Which Condemned The Attack And Brought Up An Internet Video. "The Secretary did not, however, issue two statements that evening. She issued one. And that single statement condemned the attack, stated an American was killed, and distanced the United States from an internet video." ("II: Internal And Public Government Communications About The Terrorist Attacks In Benghazi," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. II-27)

  • This Connection Between The Attack And The Video Continued For Over A Week Misleading The America Public To Believe The Video Inspired The Deadly Attack. "This connection between the attacks and the video continued for over a week, leading the public to believe that a video-inspired protest led to the attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty." ("II: Internal And Public Government Communications About The Terrorist Attacks In Benghazi," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. II-27)

"None Of The Information Coming Directly From The Agents On The Ground In Benghazi During The Attacks Mentioned Anything About A Video Or A Protest." ("II: Internal And Public Government Communications About The Terrorist Attacks In Benghazi," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. II-25)

A Diplomatic Security Official On Watch The Night Of The Attack Described The Events That Night As A "Full On Attack" And Said There Was "Zip, Nothing Nada" When Asked If There Was Any Evidence Of Rioting Prior To The Event. "A senior watch officer at the DSCC [Diplomatic Security Central Command] described the events as 'a full on attack against our compound.' The same individual also said there was 'zip, nothing nada' when asked if there was any rioting in Benghazi reported prior to the attack." ("II: Internal And Public Government Communications About The Terrorist Attacks In Benghazi," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. II-17)

Obama Did Not Ask For An Intel Brief The Day After The Attack, Which Described The Attack As An "Intentional Assault And Not The Escalation Of A Peaceful Protest"

The Day After The Attack, President Obama Did Not Even Receive His Daily Briefing In-Person, Which Had Described The Attack As An "Intentional Assault And Not The Escalation Of A Peaceful Protest." "On September 12, 2012, the morning after the Benghazi attacks, the Executive Coordinator-the individual presenting the President with his Presidential Daily Brief-traveled to the White House. That day, however, she did not present the PDB to the President. Instead, she gave it to an usher. She testified she presented the PDB-with the accurate sentence regarding the 'intentional assault and not the escalation of a peaceful protest'-to Lew:" ("Appendix H," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. H-7)

CLINTON AND THE STATE DEPARTMENT STONEWALLED AND IMPEDED SUPPOSEDLY INDEPENDENT INQUIRIES

The State Department Failed To Disclose Hillary Clinton's Exclusive Use Of A Private Server For Email, And That It Did Not Have Any Of Her Records

"The State Department's Failure To Adhere To Federal Law And Its Own Policies Governing Record Management Significantly Impeded The Committee's Investigation." ("IV: Compliance With Congressional Investigations," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. IV-76)

The State Department Did Not Initially Disclose That Clinton's Emails Were Not On The Department's Network, That It Did Not Have Electronic Copies Of Her Emails, And That Clinton's Attorney's Decided Which Emails Were Turned Over To The Government. "In fact, the State Department did not respond to the Committee's November 18, 2014 document request until February 13, 2015. At the time, the State Department produced approximately 847 pages of the Secretary's emails in paper copies. The State Department still refused to disclose important, relevant facts such as: the Secretary's emails were not on the State Department's network; the Secretary did not provide electronic copies of her emails; and the Secretary's attorneys-not the State Department-determined which emails would be returned to the Department." ("IV: Compliance With Congressional Investigations," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. IV-19)

The Use Of Unofficial Email Accounts By Clinton And Her Senior Staff, As Well As The State Department's Failure To Be Forthright About These Accounts, All Helped Delay, And In Some Instances Prevent, The Committee From Accessing Records About The Benghazi Attack. "In this Committee's investigation, the Secretary's unusual email arrangement, her senior staff's use of non-official email accounts, and the State Department's own lack of fidelity to the record maintenance rules, all delayed and in some instances prevented the Committee from accessing official records necessary to conduct a thorough investigation." ("IV: Compliance With Congressional Investigations," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. IV-77)

  • "Clinton's Email Arrangement Undoubtedly Delayed Access To Information On What Happened To Four Brave Americans In Benghazi…" "It was not merely Congress and the people it represents who were misled and manipulated, the State Department and the Secretary's email arrangement undoubtedly delayed access to information on what happened to four brave Americans in Benghazi and the government's response before, during and after the attacks." ("IV: Compliance With Congressional Investigations," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. IV-71)

The Benghazi Committee Described The "Who's On First" Routine By Clinton's Attorney And The State Department About Who Possessed Hillary Clinton's Emails As "Shameful." "Knowing the actions already taken by his law firm and Mills to identify and return the former Secretary's emails to the State Department, Kendall did not respond until December 29, at which time he referred the Committee back to the State Department. Kendall stated '[the State Department] is in a position to produce any responsive emails.' This 'who's on first' routine orchestrated between the Secretary's private counsel and the State Department, which is ostensibly an apolitical governmental diplomatic entity, is shameful." ("IV: Compliance With Congressional Investigations," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. IV-I8)

Clinton's Email Set Up And The Manner In Which The Emails Were Turned Over To The Government "Makes It Impossible To Ever Represent To The Families Of Those Killed In Benghazi That The Record Is Whole." "The manner in which the Secretary communicated during her tenure, the manner in which those records were housed during and after her tenure and the manner in which the public record was self-scrutinized and self-selected makes it impossible to ever represent to the families of those killed in Benghazi that the record is whole." ("IV: Compliance With Congressional Investigations," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 6/28/16, p. IV-23)

Clinton's Senior Staff Influenced The Outcome Of The Supposedly Independent Accountability Review Board Investigation

Clinton's Senior Staff Oversaw The Formation And Investigation Of The Accountability Review Board, Therefore Jeopardizing Its Independence And Legitimacy. "The Secretary's senior staff oversaw the Benghazi ARB process from start to finish. The senior staff's participation ranged from selecting the ARB members to shaping the ARB's outcome by editing the draft final report. The decisions to deviate from longstanding processes raise questions about the ARB's independence, thoroughness, and therefore the fullness of their findings of accountability." ("Appendix K: Analysis Of Accountability Review Board, House Armed Services Committee And The House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 06/27/16, p. 1)

Clinton's Chief Of Staff Cheryl Mills Told The Committee That She Played A Direct Role In Selecting Members For The Review Board. "The PCC did not prepare or send a list of prospective members to the Secretary because the senior staff were already in the process of identifying panelists to serve. As Mills told the Committee, 'I worked with Under Secretary Kennedy and Deputy Secretary William Burns in identifying who might be talent that could actually serve in this role.'" ("Appendix K: Analysis Of Accountability Review Board, House Armed Services Committee And The House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 06/27/16, p. 6)

The Accountability Review Board Did Not Keep Transcripts On Interviews, Requiring External Investigators To Rely On The Final Report. "In addition, there is no transcript from any interview conducted by the ARB, making it impossible to know which questions were asked, of whom, and what the precise responses were. The absence of transcripts requires the reader to simply take the word of those drafting the report." ("IV Compliance With Congressional Investigations." House Select Committee On Benghazi , 06/27/16, p. 4)

Due To Senior Staff Influencing The Internal Investigation Done By The "Accountability Review Board", The Benghazi Committee Recommended A Law Which Prevents External Influence On Investigations. "Law governing Accountability Review Boards [ARBs] should be amended to limit the influence of the Secretary of State and offices with potential conflicts of interest in the selection of members and to provide for broader distribution and reporting to Congress with respect to ARB reports or significant findings therein." ("V Recommendations," House Select Committee On Benghazi , 06/27/16, p. 4)


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