by Tom Fitton
In a typically dishonest performance, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified on Wednesday to congressional committees regarding the terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which led to the murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American citizens.
At times evasive, seemingly emotional, defensive and aggressive, Clinton delivered her version of events in the days before and after the murders in Benghazi. And in the end, the Secretary of State pretended to take “responsibility” but gave a predictable response regarding who is to blame: “…the level of responsibility for the failures…was set at the Assistant Secretary of State level and below,” Clinton said, referring to an investigation of the incident. In other words, “This was not my fault.”
In the epitome of Obama-era contempt for accountability, Clinton yelled “what difference does it make” in response to a reasonable question about why the attack transpired and the administration’s obvious lie that an obscure Internet video caused it. This response is also typically Clintonian (a phrase that doesn’t only apply to Bill), who infamously mocked “shoulda, coulda, woulda,” when asked many years ago about her and Bill’s Whitewater shenanigans.
Secretary Clinton’s attempt to kick the whole sordid mess down to her underlings did not go over well with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY): “I think ultimately with your leaving you accept culpability for the worst tragedy since Sept. 11,” Paul said. “If I’d been president at the time and I’d found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post…Not to know of the requests for security, really I think cost these people their lives.” Amen to that.
And leaving aside the issue of security for the moment, what about the lies coming out of the Obama administration, which blamed the attacks on an amateur Internet video? And what of Ambassador Susan Rice’s doctored talking points which scrubbed any reference to the terrorist connection?
“I personally was not focused on talking points,” Clinton said. “We didn’t know who the attackers were or what their motives were,” she said. “The picture remains somewhat complicated.”
It certainly didn’t seem “complicated” to Secretary Clinton back in September 2012. Remember, it was Clinton herself who was instrumental in advancing the false narrative that the Internet video sparked the attacks. For example, at a September 14, 2012, event honoring the four victims of the Benghazi attack, Secretary Clinton made the following statement: “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen the rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful video that we had nothing to do with.” This was one of many statements blaming the terrorist attacks on the video.
That bogus claim, ladies and gentlemen, came directly from the Obama administration’s talking points, and it was repeated ad nauseam by Clinton and Ambassador Susan Rice. Rice wasn’t picked by Hillary Clinton, she told Congress this week, to go out and spin for the Obama administration. This means the Obama White House is also responsible for the lies from Rice.
Now, if you want to know more of the truth behind Benghazi-gate, don’t look to Clinton’s testimony. I have a more reliable source to offer.
On the eve of Clinton’s testimony, Judicial Watch released “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent,” a special report closely examining the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the assault, as well as the State Department’s commitment to protect overseas diplomats.
Our new report contains in-depth analysis, conducted exclusively for Judicial Watch by former State Department Security Special Agent Raymond Fournier. It examines the critical time period leading up to the Benghazi attack, when repeated requests for increased security were shunned by top State Department officials.
The report also examines the Obama administration’s ridiculous claim that “an obscure Internet video” triggered the attacks, as well as apparently false claims that four top State Department officials had resigned in response to the Department’s December 18, 2012, Accountability Review Board report on the attack. And it raises questions as to the internal problems within the Department that may continue to leave overseas diplomats without adequate security.
The report concludes:
The September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi resulted from a wide range of strategic and tactical failures by State Department officials. Chief among them was the fateful decision to circumvent established security regulations by designating the diplomatic post in Benghazi a “Special Mission Compound,” ignoring repeated requests for additional security resources by Diplomatic Security personnel on the ground, and entrusting the security of the SMC [Special Mission Compound] to a local militia group with suspected ties to radical Islamists. As Special Agent Fournier notes in his assessment of the tragedy, there were also long-standing cultural problems within the Department of State that hinder the ability of Diplomatic Security agents to adequately protect our diplomats overseas.
Inasmuch as the report draws some disturbing conclusions, it also suggests areas for further investigation. For example:
Who at the State Department was responsible for opening up and continuing the operation of the “Special Mission Compound” in the unstable environment of Benghazi, overriding physical security standards for diplomatic facilities?
According to Fournier, “The Department’s unexplained decision to create a new category of diplomatic structure, i.e. the ‘Special Mission Compound,'” for the purpose of “skirting the established physical security standards” for embassies and consulates was the “critical error” leading to the deadly attack.
Did the Director of Diplomatic Security or his immediate subordinates have authority to countermand the Department’s desire to open “SMC Benghazi?”
In the Judicial Watch report, Fournier cautions that, “Frequently, security policy and standards are set aside as inconvenient, restraining, time consuming or simply less important relative to loftier goals foreign policy goals prosecuted by the Department’s elite. One need go no further than Benghazi to see an example of the aforementioned managerial arrogance with the Department.”
Why did Ambassador Stevens travel to Benghazi, so close to the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks?
The Judicial Watch Special Report reveals State Department warnings in July, August, and September of 2012 advising against travel to the Mideast in general and Benghazi in particular.
Why were two unmanned aerial vehicles requested to record the deadly events as they unfolded in Benghazi while more lethal air support options were not on station?
I don’t expect we’ll be getting answers from the Obama administration any time soon. And so our investigation continues. We currently have more than 10 Freedom of Information Act requests pending with various Executive departments and agencies seeking records relating to the Benghazi attack. We will go to court, if necessary, to force the Obama administration to come clean on Benghazi-gate.
In summary, our special report shows that the State Department has conspicuously avoided dealing with many issues about the Benghazi attack. Our concern is that security has taken a back seat to politics at the State Department. The willingness of the State Department and the White House to lie about the Benghazi attack does not inspire confidence that the Benghazi security failures will be seriously addressed. In the meantime, our diplomatic personnel may remain at risk as politicians and bureaucrats avoid accountability.
Hillary Clinton is a politician who evidently cares more about her legacy and her future political options than she does about protecting our diplomats and telling the truth. I tell you, Obama corruption and Clinton corruption are an unholy mix!
JW Earns Key Court Victory against ACLU, LAPD in Illegal Immigration Sanctuary Policy Lawsuit
If you’ve been reading this space for any length of time, you know that Judicial Watch has been the leading force fighting against illegal alien sanctuary policies. We’ve scored victories in Maryland, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, and New Jersey, to name just a few states where we’ve battled illegal immigration activists toe-to-toe. (Our message is simple: politicians can’t expend taxpayer dollars to support illegal activity.)
But of course, one of the major “hot zones” for illegal immigration chaos is Southern California, and Judicial Watch earned a key victory there just last week!
Per the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles:
A Superior Court Judge Friday refused to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the LAPD’s controversial Special Order 7.
That order allows the LAPD to waive the law that says police must impound a car of an unlicensed driver for as long as a month.
The judge – Terry Green – said he was uncomfortable ruling without having more information.
Allowing the lawsuit to go forward is a setback for supporters of the order including undocumented immigrants’ rights groups, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU.) They have argued that impounding the car of an undocumented immigrant, for example, creates a financial hardship.
The LA Police Protective League and Judicial Watch are challenging the order.
(The ACLU, on behalf of the Coalition for Humane Immigrants’ Rights of Los Angeles and LA Voice, has intervened to defend the LAPD policy.)
According to CBS, the judge’s discomfort stems from the fact that Special Order 7 might just violate state code – which is precisely the point Judicial Watch made in its original complaint:
According to the California Constitution and California Vehicle Code § 21, “a local government has no authority to regulate or control any matter covered by the California Vehicle Code unless such authority is expressly granted by the State of California….Because the provisions of Special Order 7 are not within the purview of any express authorization granted by the State of California Defendants…were without authority to enact Special Order 7…”
Under current policy, as mandated by the California Vehicle Code, the vehicles of unlicensed drivers can be impounded for 30 days. However, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, under the policy enacted by Police Chief Beck and the Board of Police Commissioners, “vehicles of unlicensed drivers will only be impounded for a day, if that person has insurance, valid identification, has not caused an accident and has not been cited previously for unlicensed driving. An exception may be made in some cases if a licensed driver is immediately available to drive the vehicle away.”
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, filed May 8, 2012, with the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles, seeks to stop the use of taxpayer funds to enforce Special Order 7:
Plaintiff, a taxpayer and resident of the City of Los Angeles, seeks to enjoin Defendants from expending taxpayer funds or taxpayer-financed resources to implement, enforce, maintain, or otherwise carry out the provisions of Special Order 7, which was issued by the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”) on April 10, 2012 and which became effective on April 22, 2012. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that Special Order 7 is preempted by article XI, section 7 of the California Constitution and California Vehicle Code § 21, and therefore is unlawful and void.
The police union, The Los Angeles Police Protection League, has also filed a lawsuit to stop the policy from being implemented.
We are pleased the court will give this lawsuit the serious consideration it deserves. We very much look forward to making our case in court to put an end to this unlawful and shameless waste of taxpayer dollars.
At a time when taxpayer dollars are stretched beyond the limit the last thing the State of California should be doing is spending scarce resources to support an illegal alien sanctuary policy. Special Order 7 is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever been harmed by an unlicensed illegal alien driver. The Los Angeles Police Department is putting the needs of illegal aliens ahead of the safety of the citizens of Los Angeles.
And this is not the first time either.
Judicial Watch previously sued the LAPD over Special Order 40, a policy that prohibits police officers from “[initiating] police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person.” Special Order 40 prevents officers from inquiring about the immigration status of an individual and from contacting federal immigration officials about an individual’s immigration status. The result of this policy and others like it? Illegal alien criminals are allowed to roam free and put the law-abiding at risk.
We can now move forward with this case, and I will be sure to update you on our progress in future installments of the Weekly Update.
New Obama Administration Court Filing: We Can’t Offend the Terrorists!
The Obama administration’s hypocrisy over information related to the bin Laden raid and burial apparently knows no bounds.
JW has battled the Obama administration for records detailing the leaking of sensitive details to the filmmakers behind Zero Dark Thirty, a movie that documents the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. The film was recently released nationally to critical acclaim and much press interest. JW uncovered records showing that the Obama administration sought “high visibility” in bid Laden projects. They wanted to project Barack Obama as a strong leader in command, and cared nothing about how terrorists would react to the film.
Now contrast this approach with the administration’s handling of information (also sought by Judicial Watch) detailing the bin Laden burial at sea.
On January 15, 2013, the United States Navy filed a motion for summary judgment of our July 18, 2012, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking access to burial details. The Obama administration argued that information related to the burial should be kept secret because it might offend terrorists abroad.
Do you see the hypocrisy? The Obama administration leaks details about the raid when it suits their purpose and withholds them when it does not.
So what’s the real reason the Obama administration fears the release of the burial details? Let’s review what we know so far.
Following the May 2, 2011, Navy SEAL raid that led to bin Laden’s capture and killing, the al Qaeda leader was reportedly transported by the USS Carl Vinson and buried at sea in accordance with “Muslim law.” We wanted to know exactly what “Muslim law” dictated in this case. So we filed a FOIA lawsuit seeking access to details regarding “any funeral ceremony, rite, or ritual” confirming that slain terrorist Osama bin Laden was given full Islamic burial honors.
And here’s what we got: 31 pages of heavily redacted emails concerning the burial, including a paragraph including previously unknown details of the bin Laden interment at sea: “Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was [sic] followed. The deceased body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flatboard, tipped up, whereupon the deceased’s body slid into the sea.”
Now, the documents did not include the “prepared religious remarks” read at bin Laden’s burial as requested in the JW FOIA. And that is a key detail, for certain.
If U.S. Navy regulations were followed, the remarks likely included the exculpatory Muslim prayer, “O Allah, forgive him, have mercy on him, pardon him, grant him security, provide him a nice place and spacious lodging, wash him (off from his sins) with water, snow, and ice, purify him … make him enter paradise and save him from the trials of grave and the punishment of hell.” (The emails indicated that “less than a dozen” members of military leadership were informed of the burial and that “No sailors watched.”)
Clearly, the Obama administration would not want the public to know that the U.S. government prayed for bin Laden, the mastermind of a terrorist attack that led to the murders of thousands of innocents on American soil, to save him from hell and help him enter paradise. But they can’t actually say so in court, so they looked for cover in a familiar place, blaming the failure to provide the remarks and additional information related to the bin Laden burial on “operational security.”
(In a separate lawsuit against the CIA, bin Laden post-mortem photos and videos were withheld citing national security concerns.)
In its motion for summary judgment which, if granted by the court, would end the lawsuit, the U.S. Navy cited a sworn declaration from Lieutenant General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Director of the Joint Staff, who repeated the narrative that details related to the bin Laden burial could inflame tensions among terrorists:
…Notwithstanding the fact that proper burial procedures were followed during bin Laden’s burial at sea, al-Qa’ida would almost assuredly question the propriety of those procedures, thereby inflaming tensions among overseas populations that include al- Qa’ida members or sympathizers, encouraging propaganda by various terrorist groups or other entities hostile to the United States, and potentially leading to retaliatory attacks against the United States and its citizens both at home and abroad.
Am I the only person who sees echoes of “blame the Benghazi attack on a video” in this argument? But here’s another problem for the Obama administration. There is no exemption in FOIA law that allows the government to withhold records from the American people because terrorists might be offended.
So first, we were told that we could not see videos or photos of the burial, and now we are told we can’t see written information about the burial. This attempt to rewrite FOIA law to include a “let’s not offend the terrorists” exemption is another example of the Obama administration’s thinking it is the law unto itself.
As I say, JW has taken the lead in contrasting the Obama administration’s heavy reliance on FOIA exemptions to withhold information from the American people with its open embrace of filmmakers producing the bin Laden assault film that praises Obama.
The Obama administration has admitted in other Judicial Watch litigation that leaks of sensitive information to the producers of the film Zero Dark Thirty could cause an “unnecessary security and counterintelligence risk.” (The Obama administration can’t have it both ways. Either the information is sensitive and should not have been released. Or it is not sensitive and the American people should be granted access to the same information given to the filmmakers.) Importantly, disclosures forced by the Judicial Watch litigation also suggest John Brennan, President Obama’s pick to head the CIA, was involved in the bin Laden raid information leaks.
In the meantime, we will work to protect the public’s right to know in the courts. The American people have a God-given right to information about certain activities of their government – whether or not it bothers the terrorists.
Tom Fitton – President