The Real Benghazi Scandal
Congressional investigators are pointing fingers in the wrong direction if they want to save more U.S. lives.
In a tense press briefing in the White House East Room on Monday, President Obama cleared his throat before addressing the subject on everyone’s mind: last fall’s attack on an American facility in Benghazi, Libya. Obama led with the basics: “Americans died in Benghazi…. Clearly, they were not in a position where they were adequately protected.”
Questioning how to change that truth is worth America’s time. As a former State Department official who worked with Ambassador Chris Stevens in the months before his murder in Benghazi, I feel that inquiry’s urgency. But the congressional hearings that have dominated the last week of headlines — with more promised by House Republicans — are not that inquiry. Congress could have focused on three time periods during their investigation: before, during, and after the attack. In all but exclusively focusing on what Administration officials said after Stevens’s death, Congress isn’t just wasting America’s time — it’s squandering a chance to save lives in the future.
Which brings me to the third timeframe, virtually unaddressed during the circus of the recent Benghazi hearings. The conditions under which that night’s decisions were made were set in stone in Washington, long before militants arrived at the compound.
Chris Stevenss Family: Dont Blame Hillary Clinton For Benghazi
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On Tuesday, the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is controlled by a Republican majority, charged the Obama Administration with diplomatic miscalculations, security failures, and a lengthy delay in rescue efforts, which contributed to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, after an attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Initially, the State Department believed that the attack was inspired by an anti-Muslim video. The Committee’s eight-hundred page , which wraps up a two-year, seven-million-dollar investigation, specifically reprimanded the State Department, then under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; the Pentagon, headed at the time by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; and the C.I.A.
In a separate, forty-eight-page addendum, two Republican Committee members, Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, and Jim Jordan, of Ohio, went even further, alleging that the Administration deliberately covered up the full truth about the attack at a time when President Obama was facing a tough reëlection campaign. “We expect our government to make every effort to save the lives of Americans who serve in harm’s way,” Pompeo said, in a statement. “That did not happen in Benghazi. Politics were put ahead of the lives of Americans.” At a press conference on Tuesday, Pompeo charged that Clinton’s actions on Benghazi were “morally reprehensible.”
What did you think of Secretary Clinton’s conduct on Benghazi?
An Alternative Explanation For The Benghazi Talking Points: Bureaucratic Knife Fight
May 10, 2013: This analysis first suggested that the core reason for the evolution of the talking points was a bureaucratic battle between the CIA and the State Department. We informed readers that although the ambassador was killed, the Benghazi “consulate” was not a consulate at all but essentially a secret CIA operation which included an effort to round up shoulder-launched missiles. U.S. officials had been constrained in discussing that fact, as the administration could not publicly admit that most of the Americans in Benghazi were involved in a secret CIA effort that had not even been formally disclosed to the Libyan government. State Department officials objected to the talking points, initially drafted by the CIA, as an effort by the spy agency to pin the blame for the tragedy on the State Department.
Issas Suspicions That Hillary Clinton Told Panetta To Stand Down On Benghazi
Feb. 21, 2014: During a fundraising dinner for Republicans in New Hampshire, Issa said he had “suspicions” that Clinton told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to “stand down.” He also asked why “there was not one order given to turn on one Department of Defense asset.” But both a report by Republicans on the Armed Services Committee and a bipartisan Senate Intelligence report had found that no allegations of a “stand down” order could be substantiated. Moreover, DOD assets were certainly moved per Panetta’s orders. One could argue that the response was slow, bungled or poorly handled. But we determined that Issa crossed a line when he claimed there was no response — or a deliberate effort to hinder it. Issa earned Four Pinocchios.
Rand Pauls Claim There Was No Plane For Special Ops Forces In Benghazi
May 28, 2014: Sen. Rand Paul asserted that the White House “couldn’t find a plane” for Special Operations forces in Libya because it was too busy trying to spin a false narrative. But numerous investigations had documented there was not a shortage of aircraft for Special Ops forces. So Paul earned Four Pinocchios.
The Romney Campaigns Repeated Errors On The Cairo Embassy Statement
Sept. 13, 2012: Few may remember, but the initial controversy about Benghazi was a tweet issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. The Mitt Romney campaign seized on the tweet as an apparent apology to extremists before all the facts were known about what had happened in Libya. In its rush to jump on the fast-moving story, the Romney campaign badly conflated the two things — and then made itself the focus of attention, instead of the administration’s policies or its handling of the crisis. The Romney campaign earned Three Pinocchios.
Chaffetz Defends Voting To Cut Funds For Embassy Security
Chaffetz’s comments came a few hours ahead of a hearing by the Oversight Committee on whether the State Department and the White House ignored evidence that an attack on the compound was imminent.
Chaffetz was asked by host Soledad O’Brien if he had voted to cut funding for embassy security in the past during an interview on CNN’s “Starting Point.”
“Absolutely. Look we have to make priorities and choices in this country,” said Chaffetz. “We have … 15,0000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, a private army, there, for President Obama, in Baghdad. And we’re talking about, can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces? When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices. You have to prioritize things.”
Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, said the tragedy in Libya resulted from the administration’s failure to “prioritize” security for the consulate.
“What clearly didn’t happen is Libya was not a priority. I believe what I heard is that it’s because they wanted the appearance of normalization. That’s what they wanted. And that fit with Obama narrative moving forward.”
Republicans and Democrats have sparred over embassy funding as GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has sought to make the attack in Libya a campaign issue.
This story was updated at 9:44 a.m.
Issas Absurd Claim That Clintons Signature Means She Personally Approved It
April 26, 2013: Rep. Darrell Issa , at the time chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, claimed that Clinton “outright denied security in her signature in a cable, April 2012.” Issa presented this as a “gotcha” moment, suggesting Clinton had perjured herself before Congress, but his claim relied on an absurd understanding of the word “signature.” Workers in the communications center put the secretary of state’s signature on every cable from Washington, even if the secretary happens to be on the other side of the world at the time. There is no evidence Clinton was aware of this request for additional security — or this cable. Issa earned Four Pinocchios.
House Republicans Release Long
A long-awaited report on the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi details an array of bureaucratic miscues and inter-agency blunders but does not specifically blame former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for events that led to the deaths of four Americans.
The 800-page document represents the end of a costly, politically charged investigation led by House Republicans who sought to understand how the attack unfolded, and how the Obama administration — including Clinton — responded. Democrats accused Republicans of using the inquiry to hurt Clinton’s chances at the presidency. But after more than two years and an estimated $7 million, the report, released Tuesday, instead paints a more nuanced portrait of incompetence.
It details a misunderstanding of America’s allies, a mistaken belief that fighting had subsided and breakdowns that delayed the military’s attempts to save Americans from the diplomatic compound — including the inability to decide whether Marines should wear their uniforms.
The report also offers new details about why U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, one of the casualties, was at the compound in the Libyan city with only two State Department bodyguards, months after the British and others had evacuated the area.
Related: Six Takeaways from Benghazi Report
Which Administration Should Have Been The One To End The Us Presence In Afghanistan
Investigators looking for lessons from the fatal terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi might want to start on Capitol Hill, where Congress slashed spending on diplomatic security and U.S. embassy construction over the past two years.
Since 2010, Congress cut $296 million from the State Department’s spending request for embassy security and construction, with additional cuts in other State Department security accounts, according to an analysis by a former appropriations committee staffer.
Rep. Michael Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, made clear Wednesday that congressional staff will be looking into the attack, in addition to a probe by the State Department’s inspector general and another State Department investigation required by federal law.
The cuts to the embassy construction, security and maintenance budget was almost 10 percent of the entire appropriation for that account over those two years, said Scott Lilly, now a scholar at the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
“Anytime we cut that account back, we are putting people’s lives at risk, people who are serving the country” in dangerous places abroad, said Mr. Lilly.
The cuts mean that “a lot of places you’d intended to secure better, you don’t reach” this year, he added.
Over the weekend, the senators expressed their dissatisfaction with his position.
Clinton On ’13 Hours’ Movie: ‘yes’ Everything Possible Was Done To Save Americans During Benghazi Attack
The section of the report devoted to the Benghazi assault concludes “the response to the attacks suffered from confusion and miscommunication circulating between agencies.”
Pentagon officials on Tuesday told NBC News that “the department was fully responsive to the committee’s investigation, as it has been with numerous previous investigations of the tragedy”. The Department of Defense underscored that the timeline of the Benghazi attacks has also long been public as well as military efforts to safely evacuate the Embassy in Tripoli.
“Even though, as the select committee’s chairman has previously acknowledged, it was impossible for the U.S. military to have changed the outcome at Benghazi under the circumstances, the department has made substantial changes to improve our responsiveness based on lessons learned from this incident,”Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Gordon Trowbridge told NBC News.
A total of 107 witnesses were interviewed for the report, including 81 never before questioned by Congress and 9 eyewitnesses to the attacks, Republicans on the committee told NBC News. The committee also received and reviewed more than 75,000 new pages of documents.
Benghazi Report Faults Security; No New Clinton Allegations
WASHINGTON — Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee harshly faulted the Obama administration Tuesday for lax security and a slow response to the deadly 2012 attacks at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya. But they produced no new allegations about then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The attacks, which killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, have been repeatedly cited by Republicans as a serious failure by the administration and by Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
But the committee’s 800-page report, released by Republican members, offered no “smoking gun” about Clinton’s role. Rep. Trey Gowdy, the panel’s chairman, has repeatedly said the report was not aimed at her, though Democrats have accused the committee’s Republican majority of targeting her throughout.
Campaigning in Denver, Clinton said that it was “time to move on” and that the report had “found nothing, nothing to contradict the conclusions of the independent accountability board or the conclusions of the prior multiple earlier investigations.”
The report from the two-year, $7 million investigation severely criticizes the military, CIA and administration officials for their response as the attacks unfolded the night of Sept. 11, 2012, and their subsequent explanation to the American people.
He said military leaders told the committee that they thought an evacuation was imminent, slowing any response.
“This is not about one person,” he said.
The New York Times Is Inexplicably Clinging To These Myths About Benghazi
Myth: Security in Benghazi was deficient because Congress did not provide enough funding.This claim is one of the earliest and most thoroughly debunked myths spread by Democrats attempting to shift blame from the Obama administration to Republicans in Congress. The editorial geniuses at The New York Times, however, are either woefully ignorant of the facts or simply don’t care:
- Carol Giacomo – who initially identified Chairman Trey Gowdy as a representative from Texas, according to the official correction appended to her post – attacked the Benghazi Committee and dismissed its final report, writing, “The administration obviously needs to do better to protect American diplomats but Congress has to approve sufficient funds to underwrite the effort.”
- Andrew Rosenthal – who was forced to issue an official correction to his September 2015 rant to clarify the investigation was not the longest in congressional history – wrote last week that “the country’s diplomats were woefully unprotected — to a significant degree because Congress deprived the diplomatic protection service of money.”
Here are the facts:
- On the day the Benghazi Committee released its report, June 28, 2016, The New York Times actually wrote the four Americans were killed “in Benghazi by a mob of militia fighters who had been incited by an American-made video deriding the Prophet Muhammad. The fighters were apparently further inflamed by news of an assault on the American Embassy in Cairo.”
It really wrote that.
Gop Furious State Department Cut Embassy Security After Gop Cut Embassy Security Funding
WASHINGTON — After a day of emotional hearings on the Benghazi Embassy attacks of 2012, Republican legislators yesterday decried the Obama State Department for following through with the budget cuts to embassy security mandated by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
“This is negligence of the highest order,” said House Oversight and Government Reform member Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who voted with his fellow Republicans to cut $128 million from the Obama administration’s request for embassy security in 2011, as well as an additional $331 million from the administration’s request in 2012. “Embassy duty is dangerous work, and our nation’s diplomats need to know that America has their back. To cut over $450 million from their security in two years simply because we, the Republicans, have forced through those cuts borders on high treason.”
Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, said that Chaffetz had brought up serious points during the hearing that necessitated a closer look. “What America has a right to know is, did President Obama know that the legally-binding budget passed by the Republican-controlled House cut embassy funding? And if so, when did he do his presidential duty by following through with those budgetary decisions?”
Posted May 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm
What will it take for the smart people to start killing off idiots like you before you can pro-create?
Are Budget Cuts To Blame For Benghazi Attack As Biden Suggested
Fact checkers take note: Biden’s suggestion that funding cuts may have undermined security at the consulate has been disproven—by his own administration. Eli Lake debunks.
Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo
The post-debate fact checkers are taking Vice President Joe Biden to task for saying the administration never received requests for more diplomatic security in Libya. when in fact the State Department has already admitted it rejected those very requests. But more nuanced was Biden’s suggestion, albeit oblique, that funding cuts were somehow related to the relative lack of security in Benghazi leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks there.
“The congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for,” said Biden in Thursday night’s debate, referencing Paul Ryan’s budget plan. “So much for the embassy security piece.”
But would more money have prevented the attacks?
Apparently not, at least according to one senior State Department official who would certainly seem to know.
In testimony Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, was asked, “Was there any budget consideration and lack of budget which led you not to increase the number of people in the security force there?”
Lamb responded, “No, sir.”
That would seem to be the end of the story.
Whether doing so will prevent another Benghazi is another story.
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Punditfact: Lack Of Funding Led To Benghazi Attacks
St. Petersburg, Florida – Nancy Pelosi has named five Democrats to the special committee charged with investigating the Benghazi attacks. This comes as some Democrats say the attack against the complex shouldn’t be a surprise because inadequate funding causes these kinds of tragedies.
10 News anchor Allison Kropff teams up with PunditFact to check the facts behind the funding.
On MSNBC, host Ronan Farrow talked about former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s concerns in 2011 that lack of funding from Congress would hurt national security.
This topic came about because of news of another Benghazi investigation.
Here’s what he said: First on his show he asked Rep. Adam Schiff of California if House Republicans “erred” in 2011 when they “cut $128 million from the administration’s request for embassy security funding, that really laid the foundation.” Then, Farrow said both parties are at fault because “in 2010, Democrats cut $142 million from those security requests.
He then went on to say “So this is really a back and forth, and it actually seems like, in my view, if you look at the history, both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of this, passing the buck. It’s easy to gain political plaudits by saying ‘spend less around the world,’ and then it leads up to these tragedies.”
PunditFact looked into security funding over recent years. Fact-checkers found he’s defining a cut a bit differently.
Various Critical Statements About The Response To The September 2012 Terrorist Attacks On The Us Mission In Benghazi Libya Were False
The September 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, have been a wellspring of rumors, most of them critical of the Obama administration’s response to the situation (particularly the actions of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The block below captures some of the more prominent rumors from various sources that made the online rounds in the immediate aftermath of the attacks:
The claim that top Obama administration officials were gathered in the Oval Office watching a real-time video feed of the September 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, but did nothing to intervene appears to have originated with a 24 October op-ed piece , the opening paragraph of which is quoted in the example block above.
However, that description is a rather distorted version of what the news sources it references actually reported. A CBS News story from that same day the following:
On 26 October 2012, Fox News reported “urgent requests for military back-up” from those on the ground during the attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi were turned down by the CIA:
However, administration officials denied that any requests for military assistance by those at the U.S. mission in Benghazi were rejected:
On 1 November 2012, U.S. intelligence officials released an account stating the CIA had in fact rushed security operatives to the U.S. mission compound in Benghazi within half an hour of the start of the attack:
Requests From Benghazi For Better Security: What This Statistic Really Means
Jan. 26, 2016: We explored a figure that has been widely cited since the House Select Committee on Benghazi held a hearing in October featuring Clinton — that there were “600 requests” for security upgrades from U.S. officials based in Benghazi, Libya. It turned out that few in the media or the political world have understood what this figure is supposed to mean, and in fact have almost always described it incorrectly. The committee was counting “requests and concerns.” At least some of the requests were actually fulfilled — and the counting of “concerns” may be subject to dispute. A filure to note that distinction is worthy of Two Pinocchios.
House Select Committee On Benghazi
On May 8, 2014, Rep. Trey Gowdy was chosen to lead a special committee investigating the attack in Benghazi and the administration’s actions regarding the attack. The committee was made up of seven and five . When asked if the U.S. State Department would comply with the committee’s requests, Secretary of StateJohn Kerry stated, “We’ll respond because we have absolutely nothing to hide whatsoever and I look forward to complying with whatever responsibilities we have.”
Bill Clintons Strained Comparison Of Diplomatic Deaths In Different Administrations
July 1, 2014: The former president asserted that there was “zero” outrage when there were 10 different instances of American diplomatic personnel being killed during George W. Bush’s term. But at least one of those cases did prompt a congressional investigation and also resulted in a Government Accountability Office report that said the State Department had inadequate safeguards to protect officials when they were outside the embassy perimeter. Moreover, in making his claim, Clinton ignored the similar one-off attacks that have killed diplomatic personnel during Obama’s presidency, making it an unbalanced comparison. He earned Two Pinocchios.
Democrats Once Again Smacked Down On Benghazi Funding Cuts Claim
Since the Congressional hearings last year, Democrats and their allies have tried to claim that budget cuts were responsible for the lack of security in Benghazi. According to a review of the facts by Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post published today, those claims are false.
A memo prepared by Democratic staff last year made the claim about budget cuts at some length, quoting the Center for American Progress as a source. Just this week, Sen. Barbara Boxer revived this claim when she published a piece at the Huffington Post which opened “If my Republican colleagues are serious about conducting real oversighton the tragedy in Benghazi, they should start by looking in the mirror.” Boxer then took to the Senate floor Tuesday and claimed “If we want to know what happened in Benghazi, it starts with thefact that there was not enough security. There was not enough securitybecause the budget was cut.”
But as Kessler , it’s simply not true. And it’s not true in several notable ways starting with the fact that funding was not actually cut. Kessler “while Boxer claims that Republicans “cut” the budget, she is onlycomparing it to what the Obama administration proposed. The reality isthat funding for embassy security has increased significantly in recentyears.”
Asked to explain the contradiction between her claims and reality, aides to Sen. Boxer sent Kessler a link to a NY Times .
Has Anyone Been Fired Because Of The Benghazi Attacks
May 22, 2013: The Fact Checker looked into a claim by Sen. Rand Paul that “no one had been fired” over the Benghazi affair. In December 2012, the State Department had announced that four top State Department officials were being dismissed from their posts. At the time of Paul’s remarks, the officials still were on administrative leave, a netherworld of professional limbo, as their cases were reviewed. We initially rated this as “verdict pending,” but then Paul was proved right when State announced in August that the officials had been returned to active duty and would face no further disciplinary action. Paul thus ended up earning a coveted Geppetto Checkmark.