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.
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 , its simply not true. And its 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 .
More About The Numbers
The first point the additional research revealed is that our efforts to protect diplomats go well beyond strengthening the physical plant of embassies and other facilities. An elaborate and layered network of resources both within the U.S. government and in the military and police forces of host nations serve to protect Americans serving overseas. The heart of this network is the Worldwide Security Program, which includes 1,700 diplomatic security personnel and an annual budget of more than $1.5 billion. This program, and the Embassy Security, Construction and Maintenance program are the principal resources that the State Department relies on to protect overseas personnel.
The second point is that Congress has made deep cuts in both programs in the last fiscal year and the one before that, and its threatening to make additional deep cuts in the current fiscal year. In FY 2011 the Congress cut $129 million from a $3.24 billion request. In FY 2012 they cut $341 million out of the $3.5 billion requested. For FY 2013, which began this month, the House voted for a $316 million cut from the administrations $3.7 billion request; the House and Senate have not yet reconciled their difference in conference committee.
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Mccains Claims About Susan Rices Comments On The Libya Attack
;Susan Rices appearance on the Sunday shows began to torpedo her chances of becoming secretary of state. Here, we looked at how Sen. John McCain mischaracterized Rices words and then assumed she should have had all the information that by November was known about the Benghazi attacks. We contrasted how McCain treated Susan Rice compared to Condoleezza Rice, whom he had defended against charges of lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He earned Two Pinocchios.
The Gop Seems To Have Forgotten Its Lessons After The Benghazi Attacks
Three Republican Senators, including two former presidential candidates, have introduced legislation that will cut security, construction, and maintenance funds for American embassies throughout the world unless President-elect Donald Trump moves the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
The bill has been introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, as The Intercept reported on Wednesday. Although Congress passed a law in 1995 requiring the American embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the three presidents who could have been required to implement that law invoked a waiver that would allow them to postpone doing so on national security grounds. Because moving the embassy to Jerusalem is widely believed to make a two-state solution impossible, such a move has been viewed as dangerous to peace and stability in the region.
Both Rubio and Cruz tried to use the fact that the State Department under Hillary Clinton failed to respond to requests for adequate security at the American embassy in Benghazi against her.
“What we do know leads to the inescapable impression that before, during, and after the Benghazi attacks, there was confusion and paralysis at the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the White House,” Cruz wrote for National Review in 2013.
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Libya Attack: Congressmen Casting Blame Voted To Cut Diplomatic Security Budget
Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Darrell Issa claim the Benghazi consulate sought more security before the deadly attack. They also both voted to cut the State Department’s embassy security budget.
- By Dan MurphyStaff writer
Who’s to blame for the Sept. 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi?
If you believe Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, the answer is the State Department. He complained in an interview with The Daily Beast yesterday that US guards were replaced with Libyan nationals in the months before the attack.
“The fully trained Americans who can deal with a volatile situation were reduced in the six months leading up to the attacks,” he told the website. “When you combine that with the lack of commitment to fortifying the physical facilities, you see a pattern.
Mr. Chaffetz has been among those leading the Republican effort to pin the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi on the Obama administration. Earlier claims from Chaffetz and fellow Republican Congressman Darrell Issa that the administration ignored pleas for more security from Libya embassy officials should be treated with caution until there’s some proof.
Us Security ‘cut’ Before Benghazi Consulate Attack
Security in Libya was reduced before last month’s attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, even as violence worsened, a US panel has heard.
A former US Army official in Libya, Lt Col Andrew Wood, said that security in the country had been “weak”.
The rancorous congressional committee hearing centred on whether the state department had sought enough diplomatic security staff for the mission.
The BBC’s Mark Mardell says Wednesday’s session was highly political.
A month before the US election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has been making the Benghazi attack the centrepiece of his case against President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
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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 committees 800-page report, released by Republican members, offered no smoking gun about Clintons role. Rep. Trey Gowdy, the panels chairman, has repeatedly said the report was not aimed at her, though Democrats have accused the committees 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.
House Republicans Propose Extra $2 Billion For Embassy Security
4 Min Read
WASHINGTON – House Republican leaders proposed on Monday to spend another $2 billion on U.S. diplomatic security this year, using money unspent in Iraq to provide cash the Obama administration said was necessary to help prevent another Benghazi-style attack.
The proposal, an exception amid general budget cutbacks, is part of the House Republican majoritys plan for funding the government for the rest of fiscal 2013, which ends on September 30. Much of the legislation would continue government spending at the same level of last year – minus cuts mandated by the so-called sequestration that took effect last week.
The additional money would be used to beef up security at embassies and other diplomatic posts around the globe in the wake of the September 11, 2012, attacks on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya and a nearby CIA outpost. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the attacks.
Most of the extra cash would come from funds that the State Department has not spent in Iraq, a House appropriations committee aide said.
After the Benghazi attacks, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Congress to help reallocate $1.4 billion that was no longer needed in Iraq – where the State Department has been scaling back operations after the departure of troops in 2011 – to pay for hardened security at diplomatic facilities elsewhere.
Editing by Warren Strobel and Jackie Frank
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Lessons Not Learned On Embassy Replacement
What are the real world consequences of these cuts? Following the catastrophic bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983, Secretary of State George Schultz appointed an Advisory Panel on Overseas Security chaired by Retired Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. In its 1985 report the panel noted:
Unlike most U.S. Government organizations, the foreign affairs agencies are required by the nature of their missions to locate their facilities in overseas environments over which the U.S. can exert only limited control and which thus make our presence highly vulnerable to a number of potential threats.
The panel determined that of the 262 posts that the State Department at that time maintained around the world, 126 of the posts require replacement. They concluded:
his situation cannot be allowed to continue unchanged. As shown by the bombings and takeovers of our embassy buildings in the Middle East in recent yearsthere are simply too many risks to our diplomatic personnel and activities at posts with these vulnerabilities to allow these buildings to remain potential targets for such threats.
The panel recommended replacement or renovation of the 126 high-risk posts within a seven-year time frame.
The Crowe panel listed more than 200 bombings and other attacks that had been launched against U.S. overseas missions in the previous decade and stated:
Gowdy: There’s Enough Blame To Go Around
Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi had a sharply different view even before seeing the Republicans report. The minority version released Monday concludes that “the U.S. military could not have done anything differently on the night of the attacks that would have saved the lives of the four brave Americans killed in Benghazi.”
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings early Tuesday called the Republican report “partisan” but could offer no additional comment because “we haven’t read it because Republicans didn’t want us to check it against the evidence we obtained.”
Democrats also attacked Republicans over the committees process, including what they describe as grave abuses, such as excluding Democrats from interviews, concealing exculpatory evidence, withholding interview transcripts, leaking inaccurate information, issuing unilateral subpoenas, sending armed Marshals to the home of a cooperative witness, and even conducting political fundraising by exploiting the deaths of four Americans.
The Democrats chastised committee chairman Trey Gowdy ,who they said personally and publicly accused Secretary Clinton of compromising a highly classified intelligence source.”
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Barbara Boxers Claim That Gop Budgets Hampered Benghazi Security
May 16, 2013:;Sen. Barbara Boxer suggested there was not enough security in Benghazi because Republicans had cut the budget for embassy security funding. But this claim was not credible and highly partisan. Democrats had also short-changed the State Department budget , but;funding for embassy security generally had increased significantly in recent years. Moreover, over the course of many hearings into the matter, State Department officials had told Congress that a lack of funds was not an issue. Instead, security was hampered because of bureaucratic issues and management failures. In other words, given the internal failures, no amount of money for the State Department likely would have made a difference in this tragedy. Boxer earned Three Pinocchios.
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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 Departments 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 Departments inspector general and another State Department investigation required by federal law.
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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 peoples lives at risk, people who are serving the country in dangerous places abroad, said Mr. Lilly.
The cuts mean that a lot of places youd intended to secure better, you dont reach this year, he added.
On Wednesday, Mr. Rogers said he is not concerned by the possibility of three different probes.
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Issas Suspicions That Hillary Clinton Told Panetta To Stand Down On Benghazi
;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 Panettas 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.
House Republicans Persist In Putting Our Foreign Service Officers At Risk
A column I wrote more than a month ago discussed the fact that the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya is unfortunately not a unique event. More than 90 diplomats have died in the line of duty over the last 32 years. Libya is only one of many dangerous diplomatic duty stations among the more than 270 diplomatic missions we maintain around the world.
I also mentioned that Congress has failed to recognize that threat. Under pressure from Republicans in the House of Representatives, Congress actually cut the Obama administrations request for improving the physical security of our embassies by nearly $300 million in the past two fiscal years.
That figure gained a good deal of attention and a lot of requests for more detail and background on the State Department security budget. After spending some time culling through the numbers and reading old General Accountability Office reports and State Department budget justifications, I concluded that the picture that emerges adds significant perspective on the tragedy in Benghazi; the role Congress played in determining the current preparedness of the State Department to cope with such tragedies; and the continuing challenge we face in reducing the threat posed to our diplomatsparticularly in those nations that are struggling to build stable, nonviolent societies.
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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 Pauls 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.