Posts Tagged Benghazi

Sharyl Attkisson Brings Us Up To Date On Benghazi

Not everyone has forgotten about Benghazi.  Among those who’ve been pursuing the story, none has been more dogged than CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson.  A few days ago, she tweeted out the current state of affairs.  Here are the collected tweets:

As promised, I will give an update on the Benghazi info CBS asked the Admin. to provide last Oct. I tweeted out the outstanding questions a month ago. Since then, while the Admin. hasn’t provided CBS additional info some of the questions were asked by Congress, and some of them were answered. So let’s go through the answered and as-yet-unanswered. This is to the best of my knowledge. Since answers weren’t provided to me, I’ve tried to find them in hearings, etc.

UNANSWERED: What time was Ambassador’s Stevens’ body recovered, what are the known details surrounding his disappearance and death, including where he/his body was taken/found/transported and by whom?

UNANSWERED: Who made the decision not to convene the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG) the night of the Benghazi attacks?

UNANSWERED: We understand that convening the CSG a protocol under Presidential directive (“NSPD-46”). Is that true? If not, please explain..

UNANSWERED: …. if so, why was the protocol not followed?

UNANSWERED: Is the Administration revising the applicable Presidential directive? If so, please explain.

ANSWERED AT CONG. HEARINGS: Who is the highest-ranking official who was aware of pre-911 security requests from US personnel in Libya? Secy Clinton said she was unaware of Stevens’ security concerns/requests & that Undersecy Kennedy was highest official below her who knew. However, Chmn of Jnt Chiefs Dempsey & Def Secy Panetta testified they knew of the security requests, but State didn’t ask for their aid.

UNANSWERED: Who is/are the official(s) responsible for removing reference to al-Qaeda from the original CIA notes?

UNANSWERED: Was the President aware of Gen. Petraeus’ potential problems prior to Thurs., Nov. 8, 2012?

UNANSWERED: And What was the earliest that any White House official was aware? Please provide details

UNANSWERED: What is your response to the President stating that on Sept. 12, he called 911 a terrorist attack, in light of his CBS interview on that date in which he answered that it was too early to know whether it was a terrorist attack?

UNANSWERED: Is anyone being held accountable for having no resources close enough to reach this high-threat area within 8+ hours on Sept. 11

ANSWERED: and has the Administration taken steps to have resources available sooner in case of emergency in the future? Chmn of Jt Chiefs Dempsey testified that troops in the region were put on higher alert status after the 9/11/12 attacks he said he wasn’t sure how long the higher alert status could be maintained. He didn’t address the alleged lack of certain aircraft at major US naval base very close to libya

UNANSWERED: A Benghazi victim’s family member stated that Mrs. Clinton told him she would find and arrest whoever made the anti-Islam video. Is this accurate? If so, what was Mrs. Clinton’s understanding at the time of what would be the grounds for arrest? If true, what is the Administration’s view regarding other videos or future material that it may wish were not published, but are legal?

PARTIAL ANSWER: We requested timeline of Pres. Obama’s actions and decision making on Benghazi night. Secy Clinton testified Pres. Obama didn’t speak to her that night or throughout the attacks. After the initial briefing on LIbya and other matters at the very outset, Chmn of Jt Chiefs said Pres. Obama didn’t communicate with him and Def Secy Panetta testified Pres. Obama didn’t speak with him either throughout the attacks. Officials have said Pres. Obama was very much kept informed of what was happening.

UNANSWERED: White House still will not respond to our request for any White House photos taken Benghazi nite.

UNANSWERED: Admin. still hasn’t provided Benghazi surveillance video originally promised for public release around last Thanksgiving

UNANSWERED: Admin. hasn’t provided accounting of Benghazi survivors or the transcripts of their interviews done shortly after the attacks.

At a press conference 11/14/12, President Obama stated that his Admin. has provided all info regarding “what happened in Benghazi.” No agency has provided documents responsive to our Freedom of Info (FOI) requests on Benghazi. We’ve asked the NSA, State Dept, Defense Intelligence Agency, CIA. So far, not one piece of paper generated by these public agencies on Benghazi nite is deemed a document the public is entitled to see.

Let’s be real: if enough people in the public, media and Congress don’t ask, then any Administration has the option to not answer. I’m a big fan of FOI (Freedom of Info) but the Administrations I’ve covered (both Dem & Repub) seem to have made an art form out of ignoring

One more thing. The White House reportedly has turned over a stack of Benghazi-related documents to the Senate Intel Committee and there are reportedly a lot of blacked out pages.

Some of these questions, and the lack of White House response, and quite damning in and of themselves.  We are evidently supposed to believe that the President was kept fully informed of events on the ground, even as he didn’t communicate with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, or the Secretary of State as they unfolded.

It also seems that the Pentagon’s highest levels were aware of requests for more security by a  State Department embassy, but the Secretary of State was not.

Attkisson is right about the FOI problem.  Many Republicans had hoped that Benghazi would prove to be Obama’s Watergate, or at least his Tet Offensive.  But even in the case of Watergate, Woodward and Bernstein could only go so far.  The fact is that the case only really got moving once Congressional investigators, with their subpoena power, got involved.  And even then, it took the intervention of a federal judge to get the most damaging information released.  With Congressional Republicans proving to be inept investigators, and the press having lost interest in the story since, oh, September 12, it’s hard to see where additional pressure will come from.

If you’re on Twitter, though, and not following @SharylAttkisson, you should be.

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Sooner or later, the press will have to cover this story.  If you ask them, they’ll say that either it’s not an important story, or that it’s too complex and fluid a story to be responsibly reported this close to an election.  The breathtaking hypocrisy of this position aside, they refuse (with certain noted exceptions, Kyle Clark) to even ask the questions.

If there’s no story there, if the administration really does have satisfactory answers to who knew what when, then the story will go away upon being reported on.  And even if the administration refuses to answer those question, stonewalls, or dissembles, that would be valuable information in and of itself.

Benghazi is not just an election issue.  It’s certainly legitimate fodder for the campaign, as is just about anything that happens.  But it’s not Quemoy and Matsu, or Big Bird, Binders, and Bayonets, the kind of thing that gets remainderd after the election, because it’s a policy decision to be decided, or a triviality to be forgotten.  It will be remembered, and it will be investigated.  It can cripple an administration, forcing it to spend time dealing with the investigation, and forcing out the president’s preferred advisers as they lose the confidence of Congress and the public.  And while real problems fester, the partisan nature of such an investigation will make it harder to cooperate on (assuming the Democrats are interested in such).

So they’ll have that to answer for, too.

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Tonight’s Surprise – China?

In trying to anticipate Monday night’s debate, we’re all thinking about Benghazi.  (Well, all of us except the New York Times, in whose Sunday edition the word does not appear.)  But the White House has more or less gone silent on Benghazi in the last few days, refusing to answer questions about it.  And they have to know that Romney will know the timelines backwards and forwards, ready to remind people of what they know they’ve heard.

What if, instead of trying to rebut the charges – surely a futile task – President Obama tries instead to divert attention?  Where would they turn.

I think the answer is China.  First, reports are that the administration is going to trot out a 5-year-old video from Mitt Romney’s last presidential run, showing him, ah, not hating China.  Here’s what he says:

You know, I think it’s important first for the American people and our leadership to understand that China is not like the Soviet Union of old.  The Soviet Union, Khrushchev in particular, wanted to bury us.  China doesn’t want to bury us, they want to see us succeed and thrive so that we can buy more Chinese products and they’re a competitor economically.  More power to ‘em, we know how to compete.  We want to make sure that competition is fair and legal, and that they protect our intellectual property rights and that they have a monetary policy that’s fair, so we’ve got some challenges to make sure that the playing field is level with China, but we can compete, we can be successful with China, and I will reach out to them, I’ve already met with their leadership and will do so again if I’m lucky enough to be president. Making China a partner for stability in the world will be one of my highest priorities.

China is really key in many respects as they become a very large economy; their GNP is going to surpass ours at some point just given the scale of the nation’s population.  We have to recognize that they’re going to be an economic powerhouse like us.  And with that reality we gotta make sure that we are friendly, that we understand each other, that we’re open in communicating, and that we’re collaborating on important topics, like keeping North Korea from pursuing the nuclear armament which they’ve begun, getting Iran to abandon their nuclear ambitions, China and we together will have a great deal of positive influence for stability if we’re able to work that relationship properly.

It’s unclear why the Obama campaign thinks this is damning, but I suppose you could take the words, “China doesn’t want to bury us, they want to see us succeed and thrive so that we can buy more Chinese products,” out of context, and try to portray Romney as a flip-flopper on China.  I don’t think it’ll work.  I think Romney knows what he said, and in his calm, smooth, reassuring style will remind us that he was insisting that we make China play by the rules, because it’s in everyone’s interest.

I suppose it’s also possible that they’ll use the second half of the statement to claim that Romney is naive on China.  But coming from a president whose naivete on the Middle East is unsurpassed in several generations, and whose “pivot to Asia” is about to be undermined by drastic budget cuts to the Navy, that probably won’t work too well, either.

Obama may also try to use China to salvage his Solyndra payoff investment, inasmuch as that company’s remnants are suing Chinese solar companies, trying to blame them for Solyndra’s failed business model.  Doing that would give him a two-fer: getting to play the Romney-the-outsourcer card, while saying that China is eating our lunch on green technologies, and that he’s the guy to put a stop to it.  (Never mind that China’s paying a heavy price for its own market interventions, even as they continue to blame the West for it.)

So keep an eye on China this evening.  That may be where the real fireworks come from.


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