Posts Tagged ‘Tyrone Woods’

Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell Testifies About Benghazi Talking Points, Defends Himself Against Allegations of a “Cover Up”

April 2, 2014

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Sept. 11, 2012: The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames.Reuters

By Guy Tailor
The Washington Times

A high-level former CIA leader flatly denied allegations on Wednesday that he had “inappropriately altered and influenced” the the now infamous Benghazi talking points to downplay the role of terrorism in the incident by inaccurately playing up the idea that the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks had been born out of a spontaneous protest — and then later “covered up” his actions.

“These allegations accuse me of taking these actions for the political benefit of President Obama and then [former] Secretary of State [Hillary Rodham] Clinton,” former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell told lawmakers on the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

“These allegations are false,” he said in prepared remarks given to committee members and the press as the highly-anticipated hearing on the Benghazi talking points got underway — disputes over which have long sat at the center of political fireworks hanging over an exhaustive series of congressional investigations into the attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans more than 18 months ago.

Mr. Morell moved quickly in his testimony to address the heart of the matter: Why did senior CIA and White House officials in Washington ignore pointed assertions by the CIA’s chief of station in Libya that there had been no protest prior to the attacks and why were those assertions not included in talking points that former U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice used on Sept. 16 when she appeared — five days after the attacks — on several news talks shows to claim that there had been a protest.

Mr. Morell said the CIA station chief’s assertions were not used in the talking points because they were outmatched by other streams of information being weighed at the same time by CIA analysts crafting the points.

“Let me make clear that we know that the analysts had an evidentiary basis to make the judgment that there was a protest ongoing at the time of the attack,” he said. “All together, there were roughly a dozen or so reports indicating that this was the case.

“These included press accounts — including public statements by the Libyan Government and by extremists,” he said. “And they included intelligence reports from CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Department of Defense.”

Mr. Morell specifically pressed back against the “allegation” that he had known that there had actually been no protest when the talking points were being edited.

“This allegation flows from an email sent by our Chief of Station (COS) in Tripoli to my staff — and to a number of other officials at CIA — on the morning of 15 September,” he wrote in the prepared statements. “Near the end of the email was a reference to the COS’s assessment that the Benghazi attack was ‘not/not an escalation of protests.’”

Mr. Morell said that while the assessment “jumped out” at him, it was ultimately refuted at the time for a host of factors.

The email, he said, was based on “local press reports,” which had said there was no protest. “This was not compelling because there were other press reports saying that there was a protest,” he said.

The email was also based on a claim that CIA security officers who had responded to the call for help from the State Department facility from a separate CIA annex in Benghazi on the night of the attacks did not see a protest when they arrived, he said.

“Again, this was not compelling because these officers did not arrive until almost an hour after the attack started and the protesters could have dispersed by them,” Mr. Morell said.

“Also,” he said, “in my mind at the time, was the fact that Tripoli Station — just the day before — disseminated an intelligence report indicating that there was a protest.”

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Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/2/cia-leader-morell-denies-role-benghazi-cover-up/#ixzz2xk8cuAWC

Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter.

Then-Deputy CIA Director Michael J. Morell received an email dated Sept. 15, 2012, from the Libya station chief saying that the Benghazi attack was “not an escalation of protests.” (Associated Press)

 

Related:

Maybe not as honorable as we once thought …. or hoped.

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

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From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Above: Just a few days after the Tuesday, September 11, 2012 attack at Benghazi, on Sunday, September 16, 2012, Susan Rice went on all five major Sunday TV News talk shows and used talking points that minimized the known terrorist threat and involvement in the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Rice and the White House said the event was a “Spontaneous Demonstration” sparked by an American made video offensive to Muslims.

 

Lawmakers hearing from top CIA official on Benghazi, amid questions about ex-director’s role

April 2, 2014

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The CIA’s top officer on the ground in Libya at the time of the Benghazi terror attack will appear before a House panel for the first time Tuesday afternoon — to deliver what could be critical closed-door testimony, ahead of ex-CIA Director Michael Morell’s scheduled appearance on Wednesday.

Two congressional sources confirmed to Fox News that the CIA chief of station will appear before a House intelligence subcommittee. His perspective was long-sought by lawmakers, and the timing is critical — coming before Morell’s first-ever public testimony Wednesday about his role, and that of the administration, in the flawed “talking points” which blamed a protest.

 

Lawmakers want to hear from the chief of station because, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report, he wrote to Morell and other CIA leadership on Sept. 15, 2012, emphasizing in an email that the attacks were “not/not an escalation of protests.” A day later, then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on national television and said the opposite.

As first reported by Fox News, Morell is facing accusations he downplayed, or even dismissed, the reporting of U.S. personnel on the ground in Libya, including the chief of station.

According to a source with first-hand knowledge of events, during a secure video conference call two days after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, Morell told the team in Libya that there was intelligence a demonstration preceded the assault. Fox News is told that based on communications with CIA headquarters, the chief of station understood as early as Sept. 13, 2012, that the burden was on him to prove that there was no protest.

Both the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and the CIA public affairs office declined to comment.

Morell, meanwhile, is also appearing for public testimony after facing accusations by Republicans of misleading lawmakers over his role in the talking points. He initially claimed the talking points, before Rice’s interview appearances, were provided to White House officials for awareness and not for their input. Emails later released show administration involvement began at the earliest stages, and Morell personally cut 50 percent of the text.

In an exchange on Feb. 27, a CIA spokesman provided the following statement to Fox News about Morell and the talking points, suggesting the issue was settled:

“As we have said multiple times, the talking points on Benghazi were written, upon a request from Congress, so that members of Congress could say something preliminary and in an unclassified forum about the attacks. As former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell has stated publicly time and again, the talking points were never meant to be definitive and, in fact, the points themselves noted that the initial assessment may change. He has addressed his role in the talking points numerous times. We don’t have anything further to add to the large body of detail on the talking points that is already in the public domain.”

Separately, a State Department inspector general report released on Tuesday examined another controversy that has persisted in the wake of the 2012 attack — the level of security at some of the State Department’s riskiest posts.

Noting that embassies “have long been a target of attacks against the United States,” the audit asked overseas security officials about the process for requesting security funding. While most said the system was clear, “a significant number of post security officials believed the processes were unclear and difficult and expressed dissatisfaction with the timeliness or sufficiency of the responses received to their formal requests for physical security funding.”

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/01/lawmakers-hearing-from-top-cia-official-on-benghazi-amid-questions-about-ex/

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It has been over 18 months since the deaths of my nephew Sean Smith, Ambassador Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods in Benghazi, Libya.

We are no closer to any real accountability than we were on Sept. 12, 2012, when we received the horrifying news of their deaths.

 By Michael Ingmire

Without a doubt, the Senate and House Intelligence Committee reports on Benghazi, the testimony of some very courageous whistleblowers, some hard-hitting reporting by a few real journalists and some of the efforts of the various congressional committees on Benghazi have moved the conversation further down the field.

But that is merely conversation and sound bites. There are still no arrests, no prosecution and a lot of political posturing that perpetuates the pain of the family members and insults the intelligence of any thinking American.

I remain committed to finding out the truth about what happened before, during and after the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. But I am starting to question whether I will receive my answers historically or politically.

Ultimately, we will obtain some answers historically, as I believe Benghazi will be seen as one of the best examples of the delusional and amateurish foreign policy practices of the Obama administration.

Additionally, I predict Benghazi will be seen as one of the largest cover-ups in American history.

Politically, I believe Benghazi will be an issue for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she announces her seemingly inevitable bid to run for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election.

That said, I am still looking forward to the upcoming testimony by former CIA Acting Director Michael J. Morell about the Benghazi talking points and Mr. Morell’s role in the shaping of the administration’s narrative about Benghazi.

Mr. Morell will be testifying before the House Intelligence Committee in an open session on Wednesday.

Because of my research and the conversations I have had with various informed individuals, I have a few questions for Mr. Morell:

  1. The Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi describes an email that the CIA Tripoli chief of station sent on Sept. 15, 2012, to Morell stating that the attacks were “not, not an escalation of protests.” Why did Morell ignore the statement of a person who was on the ground in Libya?
  2. Why did the chief of station feel it was necessary to insist emphatically that there were no protests that sparked the attack?
  3. Why has the CIA Tripoli chief of station not been called to testify, whether in a closed session or open session, before any of the committees investigating Benghazi?
  4. Was there a direct collaboration between White House and State Department personnel with Morell in the creation of these false talking points?
  5. Why does Morell state that he never, in essence, “cooked the books” about Benghazi when it is obvious that he has not been forthcoming about when he knew about the true nature of the attack?

When you lose a family member due to government incompetence, negligence and malfeasance, you experience a level of anger and despair that can become almost overwhelming. That anger turns to cold fury when you see the murderers of your loved one remain free.

It is further amplified when you see taxpayer-paid “serial liars” advance their careers, both in the public and private sectors.

Since retiring from the CIA, Michael J. Morell has become a commentator for CBS News and a counselor at Beacon Global Strategies.

Congratulations on your continued success, Mr. Morell.

Now, I am seeking a new career for you: a Teller of the Truth about Benghazi for the American people.

Michael Ingmire is a musician, writer, and activist based in North Carolina. He is the uncle of Sean Smith, one of the four Americans killed during the attacks in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/04/02/five-questions-about-benghazi-for-mike-morell-from-sean-smith-uncle/

 

Related:

Maybe not as honorable as we once thought …. or hoped.

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

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From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Above: Just a few days after the Tuesday, September 11, 2012 attack at Benghazi, on Sunday, September 16, 2012, Susan Rice went on all five major Sunday TV News talk shows and used talking points that minimized the known terrorist threat and involvement in the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Rice and the White House said the event was a “Spontaneous Demonstration” sparked by an American made video offensive to Muslims.

Benghazi — Blurring The Truth and the Smearing of Chris Stevens

January 23, 2014
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Secret documents detailing how top U.S. military officials learned about the Benghazi attack in 2012 show that the Obama administration knew 'within minutes' it was the work of terrorists, despite maintaining for two weeks afterward it was a protest gone wrong.
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By Gregory N. Hicks

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Last week the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued its report on the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The report concluded that the attack, which resulted in the murder of four Americans, was “preventable.” Some have been suggesting that the blame for this tragedy lies at least partly with Ambassador  Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack. This is untrue: The blame lies entirely with Washington.The report states that retired Gen. Carter Ham, then-commander of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, twice offered to “sustain” the special forces security team in Tripoli and that Chris twice “declined.” Since Chris cannot speak, I want to explain the reasons and timing for his responses to Gen. Ham.
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As the deputy chief of mission, I was kept informed by Chris or was present throughout the process.On Aug. 1, 2012, the day after I arrived in Tripoli, Chris invited me to a video conference with Africom to discuss changing the mission of the U.S. Special Forces from protecting the U.S. Embassy and its personnel to training Libyan forces. This change in mission would result in the transfer of authority over the unit in Tripoli from Chris to Gen. Ham. In other words, the special forces would report to the Defense Department, not State.Chris wanted the decision postponed but could not say so directly. Chris had requested on July 9 by cable that Washington provide a minimum of 13 American security professionals for Libya over and above the diplomatic security complement of eight assigned to Tripoli and Benghazi. On July 11, the Defense Department, apparently in response to Chris’s request, offered to extend the special forces mission to protect the U.S. Embassy.However, on July 13, State Department Undersecretary  Patrick Kennedy  refused the Defense Department offer and thus Chris’s July 9 request. His rationale was that Libyan guards would be hired to take over this responsibility. Because of Mr. Kennedy’s refusal, Chris had to use diplomatic language at the video conference, such as expressing “reservations” about the transfer of authority.

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At a memorial service for U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in San Francisco, Oct. 16, 2012.  Reuters

Chris’s concern was significant. Transferring authority would immediately strip the special forces team of its diplomatic immunity. Moreover, the U.S. had no status of forces agreement with Libya. He explained to Rear Adm. Charles J. Leidig  that if a member of the special forces team used weapons to protect U.S. facilities, personnel or themselves, he would be subject to Libyan law. The law would be administered by judges appointed to the bench by Moammar Gadhafi or, worse, tribal judges.

Chris described an incident in Pakistan in 2011 when an American security contractor killed Pakistani citizens in self-defense, precipitating a crisis in U.S.-Pakistani relations. He also pointed out that four International Criminal Court staff, who had traveled to Libya in June 2012 to interview Gadhafi’s oldest son, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, were illegally detained by tribal authorities under suspicion of spying. This was another risk U.S. military personnel might face.

During that video conference, Chris stressed that the only way to mitigate the risk was to ensure that U.S. military personnel serving in Libya would have diplomatic immunity, which should be done prior to any change of authority.

Chris understood the importance of the special forces team to the security of our embassy personnel. He believed that by explaining his concerns, the Defense Department would postpone the decision so he could have time to work with the Libyan government and get diplomatic immunity for the special forces.

According to the National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department needed Chris’s concurrence to change the special forces mission. But soon after the Aug. 1 meeting, and as a complete surprise to us at the embassy, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed the order without Chris’s concurrence.

The SenateIntelligence Committee’s report accurately notes that on Aug. 6, after the transfer of authority, two special forces team members in a diplomatic vehicle were forced off the road in Tripoli and attacked. Only because of their courage, skills and training did they escape unharmed. But the incident highlighted the risks associated with having military personnel in Libya unprotected by diplomatic immunity or a status of forces agreement. As a result of this incident, Chris was forced to agree with Gen. Ham’s withdrawal of most of the special forces team from Tripoli until the Libyan government formally approved their new training mission and granted them diplomatic immunity.

Because Mr. Kennedy had refused to extend the special forces security mission, State Department protocol required Chris to decline Gen. Ham’s two offers to do so, which were made after Aug. 6. I have found the reporting of these so-called offers strange, since my recollection of events is that after the Aug. 6 incident, Gen. Ham wanted to withdraw the entire special forces team from Tripoli until they had Libyan government approval of their new mission and the diplomatic immunity necessary to perform their mission safely. However, Chris convinced Gen. Ham to leave six members of the team in Tripoli.

When I arrived in Tripoli on July 31, we had over 30 security personnel, from the State Department and the U.S. military, assigned to protect the diplomatic mission to Libya. All were under the ambassador’s authority. On Sept. 11, we had only nine diplomatic security agents under Chris’s authority to protect our diplomatic personnel in Tripoli and Benghazi.

I was interviewed by the Select Committee and its staff, who were professional and thorough. I explained this sequence of events. For some reason, my explanation did not make it into the Senate report.

To sum up: Chris Stevens was not responsible for the reduction in security personnel. His requests for additional security were denied or ignored. Officials at the State and Defense Departments in Washington made the decisions that resulted in reduced security. Sen.  Lindsey Graham stated on the Senate floor last week that Chris “was in Benghazi because that is where he was supposed to be doing what America wanted him to do: Try to hold Libya together.” He added, “Quit blaming the dead guy.”

Mr. Hicks served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli from July 31 to Dec. 7, 2012.

elated:

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

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From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

The Real Benghazi Scandal: America Has Allowed The Benghazi Killers To Walk Free

January 17, 2014
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Secret documents detailing how top U.S. military officials learned about the Benghazi attack in 2012 show that the Obama administration knew 'within minutes' it was the work of terrorists, despite maintaining for two weeks afterward it was a protest gone wrong.
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Months and months ago, when Barack Obama could be bothered to say anything at all about the attacks in Ben-ghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, the president promised to bring the perpetrators to justice. That was before White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the attacks as something that “happened a long time ago.”

By STEPHEN F. HAYES and THOMAS JOSCELYN

It’s been 16 months. The U.S. government has neither captured nor killed a single participant in those attacks, which left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

Why? A new report on the attacks from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, along with more than 400 pages of newly declassified congressional testimony from senior military officials, provides fresh insight. The explanation for this failure—a lack of will, combined with a shameless mischaracterization of intelligence—is almost as outrageous as the failure itself.

Since the attack in Benghazi, the Obama administration has refused to publicly identify the parties responsible. But the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report confirms that the U.S. government’s investigation has turned up more and more ties to al Qaeda.

“Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, including AQIM [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb], Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], and the Mohammad Jamal Network, participated in the September 11, 2012, attacks,” according to the Senate Benghazi report, prepared under the supervision of Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, and signed by every Democrat on the panel.

Obama administration officials know this. And so, when questioned by the press, they increasingly rely on a false distinction. While some of the perpetrators may be tied to al Qaeda, the administration argues, they are not part of “core” al Qaeda.

State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf lectured reporters on this supposedly crucial distinction during a briefing on January 14. A reporter pointed out that Feinstein has openly disagreed with the idea that al Qaeda had nothing to do with the attack. “I believe that groups loosely associated with al Qaeda were” involved, she told the Hill last week. Feinstein’s comment was actually an understatement, but it was enough to draw a defensive response from Harf.

Well, as I said, we have no information at this point that core al Qaeda, which I think is probably what the senator was referring to, was involved in planning or directing this attack,” Harf responded. Harf pointed to the State Department’s recent terrorist designation of Ansar al Sharia, one of the groups responsible, and conceded that there may be “some affiliations between some people in Ansar al Sharia and some people who may be affiliated with al Qaeda.” Still, Harf insisted: “But let’s be very clear that we don’t have evidence—which I think we should all rely on evidence here—in our investigation that links core al Qaeda to developing, planning this attack at this point.”

Harf is right that “we should all rely on evidence.” When we look at the available evidence it becomes crystal clear that the Obama administration is dissembling.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report found that terrorists “affiliated” with four organizations participated in the attack. The ties between those organizations and al Qaeda are direct. Two of those groups,  AQIM and AQAP, are official branches of al Qaeda. Both have sworn allegiance to Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda since the death of Osama bin Laden, and there is considerable evidence that they continue to follow the direction set forth by Zawahiri and his advisers.

Neither Harf nor any other administration official has offered a precise definition of “core” al Qaeda. The term, invented in the West, vaguely refers to the group’s top leaders in South Asia. But al Qaeda’s senior leaders are not confined to any one nation or region. They operate in several countries across the globe.

A short biography of Nasir al Wu-hayshi, the general manager of al Qaeda, shows just how dubious the administration’s concept of “core” al Qaeda really is. Wuhayshi was handpicked by Osama bin Laden to serve as his aide-de-camp and protégé years before the September 11, 2001, attacks. He fled Afghanistan after the Taliban’s fall in late 2001 and was then imprisoned for several years in his native Yemen. But Wuhayshi eventually escaped and quickly rose through al Qaeda’s ranks once again. In early 2009, he announced the creation of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula—a merger of al Qaeda’s wings in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. In August 2013, Zawahiri appointed Wuhayshi as al Qaeda’s global general manager—a “core” position if there ever was one. Wuhayshi is largely responsible for managing al Qaeda’s international operations. The position was previously filled by terrorists operating in Pakistan. In short, Wuhayshi is “core” al Qaeda.

Some of Wuhayshi’s men participated in the Benghazi assault. CNN first reported that several Yemenis belonging to AQAP were directly involved. The Senate Intelligence Committee has now confirmed the participation of terrorists “affiliated” with Wuhayshi’s AQAP.

A third group identified in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is the Muhammad Jamal network. Jamal is an Egyptian who was trained by al Qaeda in the late 1980s. In the years that followed, Jamal served as a commander in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), a group headed by Ayman al Zawahiri that merged with Osama bin Laden’s joint venture prior to the 9/11 attacks. Jamal was imprisoned by Hosni Mubarak’s regime, but released in 2011 after the Arab uprisings. He quickly got back to work. Jamal established training camps in the Sinai Peninsula and eastern Libya.

Jamal was rearrested in late 2012. Egyptian authorities then discovered, on a seized computer, that Jamal had been in direct contact with Zawahiri. In his letters, Jamal reveals that he had sworn bayat (an oath of allegiance) to Zawahiri. This oath is binding and requires Jamal to follow Zawahiri’s orders. One of Jamal’s letters to Zawahiri was dated August 18, 2012—less than a month before the attack in Benghazi. (The letter summarized Jamal’s prior operations, but doesn’t discuss any upcoming plans.)

Jamal was working to establish his own official branch of al Qaeda prior to his most recent confinement. He was clearly operating as part of the al Qaeda network. Both the State Department and the United Nations have recognized in formal terrorist designations that Jamal conspired with AQAP, AQIM, and al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Pakistan.

As was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and other press outlets, some of Jamal’s Egyptian trainees helped overrun the U.S. compound in Benghazi. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report confirms this fact.

The final group identified in the Senate report is Ansar al Sharia. Administration officials and some journalists have tried to portray Ansar al Sharia as a purely “local” group unaffiliated with al Qaeda’s global operations. This is false. According to multiple recent reports, the Ansar al Sharia chapters in Libya and Tunisia are sending fighters to al Qaeda’s branches in Syria. Leaders in both organizations are openly pro-al Qaeda, even when they deny being part of the organization. And in the recent State Department designation mentioned by Harf, the Obama administration recognized that Ansar al Sharia Tunisia is, in fact, “tied” to al Qaeda’s branches, including AQIM. Ansar al Sharia Tunisia was responsible for the ransacking of the U.S. embassy in Tunis on September 14, 2012.

The head of Ansar al Sharia in Derna, Libya, is a former Guantánamo detainee named Sufian Ben Qumu. A leaked threat assessment authored by military officials at Guantánamo identifies Ben Qumu as a longtime al Qaeda operative and “associate” of Osama bin Laden. The same file notes that Ben Qumu’s alias was discovered on the laptop of the terrorist who oversaw the finances for the 9/11 plot. The paymaster listed Ben Qumu as an al Qaeda “member receiving family support.” Ben Qumu trained in al Qaeda camps, received al Qaeda stipends, and worked with senior al Qaeda leaders.

Members of Ben Qumu’s group in Derna also took part in the Benghazi attack, according to the State Department.

The ties between al Qaeda and the four organizations identified in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report are obvious and indisputable. What’s more, prior to the Benghazi attack, the U.S. government had no trouble identifying the groups involved as being part of al Qaeda. A July 6, 2012, report authored by the CIA, “Libya: Al Qaeda Establishing Sanctuary,” described the Jamal network, AQAP, and AQIM as “al Qaeda-affiliated” groups and warned that they “have conducted training, built communication networks, and facilitated extremist travel across North Africa from their safe haven in parts of eastern Libya.”

On August 16, 2012, Ambassador Stevens sent a cable to the State Department’s headquarters summarizing a security meeting the previous day.  During that meeting, a CIA officer pinpointed “the location of approximately 10 Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi.” Also in August 2012, the Library of Congress published a report in conjunction with the Defense Department’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (“Al Qaeda in Libya: A Profile”) that exposed al Qaeda’s clandestine network inside Libya and concluded that Sufian Ben Qumu and his Ansar al Sharia group have “increasingly embodied al Qaeda’s presence in Libya.”

Immediately after the attack, nothing changed. According to Feinstein, when then-CIA director David Petraeus testified before her committee on September 13, 2012, he was clear that “al Qaeda elements” were involved in the assault. On September 14, the original draft of the CIA’s talking points noted, “we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack.” A follow-up draft contained the same language before it was taken out—ostensibly to protect sources and methods but certainly not because it was inaccurate. In public statements well beyond those early days after the attack, members of the intelligence committees in both houses of Congress—and from both parties—pointed to al Qaeda involvement in the Benghazi attack.

Even so, the Obama administration persists in hiding behind a rhetorical smoke screen. It claims there is no evidence that “core al Qaeda” gave a secret, specific order for these groups to conduct this particular attack, at this particular time, in this particular manner. But we know that senior al Qaeda leaders wanted U.S. facilities attacked. We know this, because they said so, publicly. On September 10, 2012, the day before the Benghazi attacks, Ayman al Zawahiri released a 42-minute video in which he called on followers to avenge the death of Abu Yaha al Libi, a senior al Qaeda operative from Libya who had been killed in a U.S. drone attack in June.

Zawahiri called to the “Ummah of Islam and oh free and honorable ones in Libya” to seek revenge. “So, where are you from retaliating for your son and reviver of the biography of your Sheikh? His blood is calling you and is urging you and is inciting you to fight and kill the crusaders. So, don’t weaken.”

The Obama administration would have us believe that what happened in Libya the following day, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, was a coincidence. White House spokesman Jay Carney has scolded reporters for “conflating” the attacks in Benghazi with the anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, as if the events are obviously unrelated. The administration is clinging to the fanciful notion that multiple members of al Qaeda’s international network—from Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere—wandered onto the scene and just happened to kill four Americans.

This is far from an academic point. The administration is using lawyerly misdirection to excuse its failure to capture or kill any perpetrators. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee last fall, declassified last week and first reported by Kristina Wong of the Hill, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, said the U.S. military was not authorized to target the Benghazi attackers because they were not considered “al Qaeda” or “associated forces” and were therefore not covered by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by Congress after the original 9/11 attacks.

“The individuals related in the Benghazi attack, those that we believe were either participants or leadership of it, .  .  . don’t fall under the AUMF authorized by the Congress of the United States. So we would not have the capacity to simply find them and kill them either with a remotely piloted aircraft or with an assault on the ground.”

Thus the official position of the Obama administration—as conveyed under oath, in a classified setting, by the nation’s top uniformed military official: The Benghazi attackers are not covered by the AUMF because they are neither al Qaeda nor “associated forces.”

This is a reprehensible evasion. It explains why the United States has failed to bring the Benghazi perpetrators to justice. But it in no way excuses that failure.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard. Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Related:

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

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From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Benghazi Attack Was Preventable, Obama Administration Ignored Strategic Warnings, Senate Intelligence Committee Reports

January 15, 2014
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Secret documents detailing how top U.S. military officials learned about the Benghazi attack in 2012 show that the Obama administration knew 'within minutes' it was the work of terrorists, despite maintaining for two weeks afterward it was a protest gone wrong.
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By

JAN. 15, 2014

WASHINGTON — A stinging report by the Senate Intelligence Committee released Wednesday concluded that the attacks 16 months ago that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, could have been prevented, and blames both American diplomats and the C.I.A. for poor communication and lax security during the weeks leading up to the deadly episode.

The report is broadly consistent with the findings of previous inquiries into the September 2012 attacks, which has become the subject of a fiercely partisan debate, with Republicans charging that Obama administration officials made misleading statements about connections between the attackers and Al Qaeda.

The report, at first blush, does not break significant new ground on this issue. But it is unsparing in its criticism of the State Department for failing to provide adequate security at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, the first American facility to be attacked that night and where J. Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador, died.

“The committee found the attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on the terrorist activity in Libya — to include prior threats and attacks against Western targets — and given the known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission,” the Senate committee said in a press release.

The report found that, in the months before the attacks, American intelligence agencies gave ample warning about deteriorating security in Benghazi and the risks to Americans in the city. As these warnings were issued, the C.I.A. bolstered its security at the agency’s Benghazi facility — known as the Annex — but the State Department did not make similar moves to protect the diplomatic compound.

“In sum, the Mission facility had a much weaker security posture than the Annex, with a significant disparity in the quality and quantity of equipment and security upgrades,” the report concluded.

The Senate panel also criticized communication breakdowns between various security agencies. For instance, the report found that the United States Africa Command, the military headquarters responsible for Libya, did not know about the C.I.A. annex.

Moreover, the committee found, the Pentagon was ill prepared to deal with crisis that night.

“U.S. military assets were not positioned to respond in time to save the four Americans killed,” the report stated.

The report also details how an F.B.I. investigation into the attacks has been crippled by the continuing violence in Benghazi, noting that 15 people “supporting the investigation or otherwise helpful to the United States” have been killed there.

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A comprehensive report by the Senate Intelligence Committee definitively declared that individuals tied to Al Qaeda groups were involved in the Benghazi attack, challenging recent claims that the terror network was not a factor.

The report was released Monday, nearly one year after then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, under congressional questioning over the nature of the attack, shouted at lawmakers: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

The administration initially claimed the attack sprung out of a protest, but has since given a more complicated assessment. Still, administration officials all along have downplayed Al Qaeda involvement, recently seizing on a New York Times report that supported those claims.

While the report does not implicate Al Qaeda “core” — the leadership believed to be in the Pakistan region — it does blame some of the most influential Al Qaeda branches, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, including AQIM, Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP, and the Mohammad Jamal Network, participated in the September 11, 2012, attacks,” the report said. The militant Ansar al-Sharia was, separately, labeled by the State Department as a terror group last week, in part over its alleged involvement in the Benghazi strike.

The Senate committee report stressed that the intelligence still suggests the attack was not “highly coordinated,” but rather “opportunistic” – possibly put in place in “short order” after protests over an anti-Islam film elsewhere in the region.

“It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks,” the report said. The report, though, reiterated that there was no protest in Benghazi before the attack.

The Senate panel report also dove extensively into what went wrong at the U.S. mission in Benghazi before the attack. The committee determined the attack was “preventable” and the administration failed to respond to “ample” warnings that security was deteriorating before Sept. 11, 2012.

The report faulted the State and Defense departments. It also cited the failure of the Obama administration to “bring the attackers to justice.”

Specifically, the report said the intelligence community provided “ample strategic warning” that security in eastern Libya was deteriorating and U.S. personnel “were at risk.” The report said multiple “tripwires” were crossed signaling security problems, and the State Department should have increased its security posture in response. This included an Aug. 16, 2012, cable from Ambassador Chris Stevens raising security concerns, and prior attacks on westerners in Benghazi.

The report also detailed a possible failed ambush, where attackers tried to lure the CIA into the hospital where Stevens’ body was being held.

The CIA did not take the bait.

“The committee worked on a bipartisan basis to investigate the various allegations that have come out since the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in September 2012 and to get to the truth about what happened leading up to, during and after the attacks,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement, adding she hopes the report puts “conspiracy theories” to rest.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., top Republican on the panel, also said the report provides “needed and deserved answers.”

“In spite of the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi and ample strategic warnings, the United States Government simply did not do enough to prevent these attacks and ensure the safety of those serving in Benghazi,” he said.

On the critical question of whether the Benghazi attack was preplanned by terrorists or generated spontaneously by a street mob, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked a Senate panel in January, 'What difference, at this point, does it make?'

On the critical question of whether the Benghazi attack was preplanned by terrorists or generated spontaneously by a street mob, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked a Senate panel in January, ‘What difference, at this point, does it make?’

Maybe not as honorable as we once thought …. or hoped.

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

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From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Above: Just a few days after the Tuesday, September 11, 2012 attack at Benghazi, on Sunday, September 16, 2012, Susan Rice went on all five major Sunday TV News talk shows and used talking points that minimized the known terrorist threat and involvement in the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Rice and the White House said the event was a “Spontaneous Demonstration” sparked by an American made video offensive to Muslims.

 (December 23, 2013)

Video:  Susan Rice statement after terror raid on Benghazi:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/16/13896 494-ambassador -rice-benghazi-attack-began-spontaneously?lite

Benghazi: The problem was terrorism, poor security and murder….. not a video.

Related:

Does this mean they lied to grieving families?

President Barack Obama and  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton return to their seats after speaking during the transfer of remains of the four Americans killed in an attack this week in Benghazi, Libya.

Above: President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton return to their seats after speaking during the transfer of remains of the four Americans killed in an attack this week in Benghazi, Libya. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images  — September 14, 2012
.

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton past the flag-draped transfer case of one of four Americans who died this week in Libya, during a transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, September 14, 2012. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans killed this week in Benghazi were honored at the ceremony.     REUTERS/Jason Reed  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton past the flag-draped transfer case of one of four Americans who died this week in Libya, during a transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, September 14, 2012. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans killed this week in Benghazi were honored at the ceremony. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Six Reason Hillary Clinton Might Be Worried

January 14, 2014
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Secret documents detailing how top U.S. military officials learned about the Benghazi attack in 2012 show that the Obama administration knew 'within minutes' it was the work of terrorists, despite maintaining for two weeks afterward it was a protest gone wrong.
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By Jennifer Rubin
The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton is certainly the favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, but she has — or should have — plenty to worry about. Here’s a list (she likes lists apparently):

1. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, perhaps Clinton’s most formidable general  election opponent, is holding steady in polls nationally and gaining support from Republicans. While Democratic support is down somewhat, unsurprisingly, GOP support is up, the natural result of a rally around a Republican besieged by a hyperventilating media. If the GOP (or Christie himself) doesn’t knock Christie out, is Clinton really the best person to tut-tut his payback politics?

2. Clinton has her own drip, drip, drip problem on a far more serious issue: the attack in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed. Democrats and Republicans alike are dismissing a New York Times spin piece suggesting al-Qaeda was uninvolved. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified that of course everyone knew from the get-go that it was a terrorist attack. Recently released testimony before the House Armed Services Committee also confirms that it was up to Clinton’s State Department to request adequate security at its facilities, and, in fact, the State Department rejected a Pentagon offer of a Marine detachment and did not renew a security contract when the lease was up at the Benghazi facility two months before the attack. At the very least, Clinton was out to lunch; at worst, she tried (with help from a lap-dog review board and Susan Rice’s Sunday talk show spin) to avoid responsibility for this debacle.

3. The ongoing chaos in the Middle East and the deterioration of U.S. influence will continue to raise questions about Clinton’s role — or lack of role — in foreign policy. Was she simply wrong about a range of issues (e.g. Bashar al-Assad was a “reformer”) or powerless? Was the Iran interim deal what she had in mind? Was opposition from the administration to sanctions passed in the first term her idea?

4. It is not very often that Vice President Biden earns kudos for his speaking abilities, but he gave a heartfelt and meaningful eulogy at Ariel Sharon’s funeral, stressing his own relationship with Sharon and Sharon’s role in the founding and protection of Israel (“because he possessed such incredible physical courage — and I would add political courage — he never, never, never deviated from that preoccupation and interest, as he referred to it. It was his life’s work that even someone on the shores hundreds of — thousands of — miles from here could see, could smell, could taste, could feel, and when you were in his presence there was never, never any doubt about it”). Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton only  issued a written, perfunctory statement, rather in keeping with her frosty relationship with the Jewish state in the first term. (Interestingly, the furor over her condemnation about Israeli settlement building had to be smoothed over by Biden.) Again, one has to wonder if she is a fair-weather friend to Israel or was simply a messenger gal for a president whose antipathy toward the Jewish state is obvious.

Gates writes that Biden was 'wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades' -- but the White House rushed to the VP's defense

5.  It is not lost on the mainstream media that Clinton again has an Iowa problem. CNN reports, “A restive and emboldened progressive base long suspicious of Clintonian moderation, a hunger for fresh Democratic voices, and a caucus electorate that boasts a cherished tradition of voting with its heart rather than its head. . . . Yet despite having the Democratic establishment at her back, there remains a palpable sense of unease with Clinton in grass-roots corners of the party, even as those very same activists promise to support her if no one else runs.” In other words, all they need is an alternative who might catch fire, just as Obama did in 2008.

6. Why is she running (other than that the Clintons need political power like Superman needs kryptonite)? If there is a new idea, a departure from Obama policies or a glimmer of freshness from the Clinton camp, we haven’t heard it. The former secretary of state can play the gender card as much as she likes, but if she has only a third Obama term to offer, she’ll lose to a capable candidate, whether in the primary or the general election.

Clinton, sooner or later, will have to face a host of questions on everything from her foundation’s donors to her delinquent support for gay marriage to her support for the ludicrously unsuccessful individual mandate. She better spend some time thinking of answers and redefining her image; otherwise there is no reason a bright, young liberal wouldn’t take a shot at knocking her off.

Related:

.On the critical question of whether the Benghazi attack was preplanned by terrorists or generated spontaneously by a street mob, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked a Senate panel in January, 'What difference, at this point, does it make?'

On the critical question of whether the Benghazi attack was preplanned by terrorists or generated spontaneously by a street mob, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked a Senate panel in January, ‘What difference, at this point, does it make?’

Maybe not as honorable as we once thought …. or hoped.

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

*

From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Above: Just a few days after the Tuesday, September 11, 2012 attack at Benghazi, on Sunday, September 16, 2012, Susan Rice went on all five major Sunday TV News talk shows and used talking points that minimized the known terrorist threat and involvement in the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Rice and the White House said the event was a “Spontaneous Demonstration” sparked by an American made video offensive to Muslims.

 (December 23, 2013)

Video:  Susan Rice statement after terror raid on Benghazi:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/16/13896 494-ambassador -rice-benghazi-attack-began-spontaneously?lite

Benghazi: The problem was terrorism, poor security and murder….. not a video.

Related:

Does this mean they lied to grieving families?

President Barack Obama and  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton return to their seats after speaking during the transfer of remains of the four Americans killed in an attack this week in Benghazi, Libya.

Above: President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton return to their seats after speaking during the transfer of remains of the four Americans killed in an attack this week in Benghazi, Libya. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images  — September 14, 2012
.

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton past the flag-draped transfer case of one of four Americans who died this week in Libya, during a transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, September 14, 2012. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans killed this week in Benghazi were honored at the ceremony.     REUTERS/Jason Reed  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton past the flag-draped transfer case of one of four Americans who died this week in Libya, during a transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, September 14, 2012. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans killed this week in Benghazi were honored at the ceremony. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012: Top U.S. Military Knew Of Attack “Within Minutes” — President Obama Knew “It was a terrorist attack and not a demonstration gone wrong”

January 14, 2014

Benghazi happened just two months before the 2012 Presidential Election and “didn’t fit the White House narrative”

  • Newly declassified testimonies about what happened among Pentagon officials the night of the Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012 have been obtained by Fox News
  • The documents show the U.S. military found out about 15 minutes after the attack – which killed four Americans – that it was an act of terror and communicated that to the Obama administration
  • However the government – including Obama and then-U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who were in the throes of the 2012 US Presidential election – maintained for two weeks afterward the attack started as a protest against an anti-Islamic film and turned violent

By Daily Mail Reporter

Pentagon officials knew almost immediately that the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, on 9-11-2012 was a terrorist attack and not a demonstration gone wrong, declassified documents have shown.

The documents – which were obtained by Fox News and contain 450 pages of top secret testimonies about the attack – has proven the Obama administration lied about the cause of the attack for two weeks afterward, having repeatedly maintained it was sparked by a violent demonstration against an anti-Islamic movie.

According to the documents, Gen. Carter Ham – who at the time was head of AFRICOM, the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya – said that while there was mention of the demonstrations – which started on the same day day as Benghazi but in Egypt – he and the other commanders involved were always clear that Benghazi was a terrorist attack.

Secret documents detailing how top U.S. military officials learned about the Benghazi attack in 2012 show that the Obama administration knew 'within minutes' it was the work of terrorists, despite maintaining for two weeks afterward it was a protest gone wrong.
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Secret documents detailing how top U.S. military officials learned about the Benghazi attack in 2012 show that the Obama administration knew ‘within minutes’ it was the work of terrorists, despite maintaining for two weeks afterward it was a protest gone wrong
Newly declassified documents prove President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew the Benghazi attack was an act of terrorism almost immediately despite continuing to say it was a demonstration gone awry
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Newly declassified documents prove President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew the Benghazi attack was an act of terrorism almost immediately despite continuing to say it was a demonstration gone awry
The documents featuring a testimony with U.S. General Carter Ham (pictured) - who who at the time was head of AFRICOM - received a call about the Benghazi attack 15 minutes after it happened and that it 'was always clear' it was a terrorist attack.
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The documents featuring a testimony with U.S. General Carter Ham (pictured) – who who at the time was head of AFRICOM – received a call about the Benghazi attack 15 minutes after it happened and that it ‘was always clear’ it was a terrorist attack

That information was delivered to President Obama and his top advisers, including then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

However the government said the attack was caused out of protest of Innocence of Muslims, a controversial 14-minute video uploaded to YouTube that was seen as denigrating of the prophet Muhammad.

The movie subsequently caused a breakout of violence in Egypt on September 11 that spread to other Arab and Muslim nations and caused the death of 50 people.

That night, a heavily armed group of between 125 and 150 gunmen attacked the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and another diplomat.

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported the Obama administration claims that Muslim of Innocence was believed to be cause, and chose the Accountability Review Board to conduct an ‘investigation’ into the attack.

The investigation determined that there was no such protest in Behnghazi and that the attack was premeditated and launched by Islamist militants.

Skepticism has surrounded the government’s explanation of the attack, especially from the Republican party, mostly because Benghazi happened just two months before the 2012 Presidential Election.

At about 9.30pm on September 11, 2012, a heavily armed group of between 125 and 150 gunmen attacked the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi (pictured) killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and another diplomat.
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At about 9.30pm on September 11, 2012, a heavily armed group of between 125 and 150 gunmen attacked the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi (pictured) killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and another diplomat

However the declassification of the documents proves the Obama administration were not divulging details of the attack to the American people.

Numerous aides to the president and Clinton repeatedly told the public in the weeks following the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans that night – as Obama’s hotly contested bid for re-election was entering its final stretch – that there was no evidence the killings were the result of a premeditated terrorist attack.

According to Fox, Gen. Ham said he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its commencement, at 9:42 pm Libya time, through a call he received from the AFRICOM Command Center.

‘My first call was to General Dempsey, General Dempsey’s office, to say, ”Hey, I am headed down the hall. I need to see him right away”,’ Ham told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation on June 26 of last year.

‘I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta.’

Ham’s account of that fateful day was included in some 450 pages of testimony given by senior Pentagon officials in classified, closed-door hearings conducted last year by the Armed Services subcommittee.

The testimony, given under ‘Top Secret’ clearance and only declassified this month, presents a rare glimpse into how information during a crisis travels at the top echelons of America’s national security apparatus, all the way up to the president.

New documents obtained by Fox prove the Obama administration didn't divulge what they knew about the Benghazi consulate attack to the American people.
New documents obtained by Fox prove the Obama administration didn’t divulge what they knew about the Benghazi consulate attack to the American people

Also among those whose secret testimony was declassified was Dempsey, the first person Ham briefed about Benghazi.

Ham told lawmakers he considered it a fortuitous ‘happenstance’ that he was able to rope Dempsey and Panetta into one meeting, so that, as Ham put it, ‘they had the basic information as they headed across for the meeting at the White House’.

Ham also told lawmakers he met with Panetta and Dempsey when they returned from their 30-minute session with President Obama on September 11.

Armed Services Chairman Howard ‘Buck’ McKeon, R-Calif., sitting in on the subcommittee’s hearing with Ham last June, reserved for himself an especially sensitive line of questioning: namely, whether senior Obama administration officials, in the very earliest stages of their knowledge of Benghazi, had any reason to believe that the assault grew spontaneously out of a demonstration over an anti-Islam video produced in America.

‘In your discussions with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta,’ McKeon asked, ‘was there any mention of a demonstration or was all discussion about an attack?’

Ham initially testified that there was some ‘peripheral’ discussion of this subject, but added ‘at that initial meeting, we knew that a U.S. facility had been attacked and was under attack, and we knew at that point that we had two individuals, Ambassador Stevens and Mr. [Sean] Smith, unaccounted for’.

Aftermath: The U.S. government said for two weeks that the attack of the American consulate in Benghazi was a protest turned violent, however new documents show that 'within minutes' of the incident they knew it was the work of terroristsAftermath: The U.S. government said for two weeks that the attack of the American consulate in Benghazi was a protest turned violent, however new documents show that ‘within minutes’ of the incident they knew it was the work of terrorists

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a first-term lawmaker with experience as an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, pressed Ham further on the point, prodding the 29-year Army veteran to admit that ‘the nature of the conversation’ he had with Panetta and Dempsey was that ‘this was a terrorist attack’.

‘As a military person, I am concerned that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration. I would hope that our military leadership would be advising that this was a terrorist attack,’ Wenstrup said.

‘Again, sir, I think, you know, there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack,’ Ham answered.

‘And you would have advised as such if asked. Would that be correct? Wenstrup continued.

‘Well, and with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta, that is the nature of the conversation we had, yes, sir,’ Ham responded.

Fox says they are going to continue to release more information found in the testimonies.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2539034/Top-secret-
Benghazi-documents-prove-Obama-administration-knew-terrorist-attack-minutes.html#ixzz2qMBsaJq6

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Related:

On the critical question of whether the Benghazi attack was preplanned by terrorists or generated spontaneously by a street mob, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked a Senate panel in January, 'What difference, at this point, does it make?'.

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On the critical question of whether the Benghazi attack was preplanned by terrorists or generated spontaneously by a street mob, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked a Senate panel in January, ‘What difference, at this point, does it make?’

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

*

From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Above: Just a few days after the Tuesday, September 11, 2012 attack at Benghazi, on Sunday, September 16, 2012, Susan Rice went on all five major Sunday TV News talk shows and used talking points that minimized the known terrorist threat and involvement in the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Rice and the White House said the event was a “Spontaneous Demonstration” sparked by an American made video offensive to Muslims.

 (December 23, 2013)

Video:  Susan Rice statement after terror raid on Benghazi:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/16/13896 494-ambassador -rice-benghazi-attack-began-spontaneously?lite

Benghazi: The problem was terrorism, poor security and murder….. not a video.

Related:

Does this mean they lied to grieving families?

President Barack Obama and  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton return to their seats after speaking during the transfer of remains of the four Americans killed in an attack this week in Benghazi, Libya.

Above: President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton return to their seats after speaking during the transfer of remains of the four Americans killed in an attack this week in Benghazi, Libya. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images  — September 14, 2012
.

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton past the flag-draped transfer case of one of four Americans who died this week in Libya, during a transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, September 14, 2012. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans killed this week in Benghazi were honored at the ceremony.     REUTERS/Jason Reed  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton past the flag-draped transfer case of one of four Americans who died this week in Libya, during a transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, September 14, 2012. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans killed this week in Benghazi were honored at the ceremony. REUTERS/Jason Reed

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Benghazi Raid That Killed Ambassador Stevens and Three Other Americans on Sept 11, 2012, Labeled a “Terrorist Attack” By U.S. Military, Never a “Spontaneous Demonstration” as the White House Claimed

January 14, 2014

Was it an anti-American attack or the product of religious righteousness? The New York Times story has reignited a debate that Congress thought it settled months ago

By James Rosen
Fox News

Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation’s top civilian and uniformed defense officials — headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama — were informed that the event was a “terrorist attack,” declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president’s Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi attacks for two weeks afterward.

Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, told the House in classified testimony last year that it was him who broke the news about the unfolding situation in Benghazi to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The tense briefing — in which it was already known that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens had been targeted and had gone missing — occurred just before the two senior officials departed the Pentagon for their session with the commander in chief.

Gen. Carter Ham

According to declassified testimony obtained by Fox News, Ham — who was working out of his Pentagon office on the afternoon of Sept. 11 — said he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its commencement, at 9:42 p.m. Libya time, through a call he received from the AFRICOM Command Center.

“My first call was to General Dempsey, General Dempsey’s office, to say, ‘Hey, I am headed down the hall. I need to see him right away,’” Ham told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation on June 26 of last year. “I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta.”

 
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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

Ham’s account of that fateful day was included in some 450 pages of testimony given by senior Pentagon officials in classified, closed-door hearings conducted last year by the Armed Services subcommittee. The testimony, given under “Top Secret” clearance and only declassified this month, presents a rare glimpse into how information during a crisis travels at the top echelons of America’s national security apparatus, all the way up to the president.

Also among those whose secret testimony was declassified was Dempsey, the first person Ham briefed about Benghazi. Ham told lawmakers he considered it a fortuitous “happenstance” that he was able to rope Dempsey and Panetta into one meeting, so that, as Ham put it, “they had the basic information as they headed across for the meeting at the White House.” Ham also told lawmakers he met with Panetta and Dempsey when they returned from their 30-minute session with President Obama on Sept. 11.

Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., sitting in on the subcommittee’s hearing with Ham last June, reserved for himself an especially sensitive line of questioning: namely, whether senior Obama administration officials, in the very earliest stages of their knowledge of Benghazi, had any reason to believe that the assault grew spontaneously out of a demonstration over an anti-Islam video produced in America.

Numerous aides to the president and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly told the public in the weeks following the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans that night — as Obama’s hotly contested bid for re-election was entering its final stretch — that there was no evidence the killings were the result of a premeditated terrorist attack, but rather were the result of a protest gone awry. Subsequent disclosures exposed the falsity of that narrative, and the Obama administration ultimately acknowledged that its early statements on Benghazi were untrue.

“In your discussions with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta,” McKeon asked, “was there any mention of a demonstration or was all discussion about an attack?” Ham initially testified that there was some “peripheral” discussion of this subject, but added “at that initial meeting, we knew that a U.S. facility had been attacked and was under attack, and we knew at that point that we had two individuals, Ambassador Stevens and Mr. [Sean] Smith, unaccounted for.”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a first-term lawmaker with experience as an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, pressed Ham further on the point, prodding the 29-year Army veteran to admit that “the nature of the conversation” he had with Panetta and Dempsey was that “this was a terrorist attack.”

The transcript reads as follows:

WENSTRUP: “As a military person, I am concerned that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration. I would hope that our military leadership would be advising that this was a terrorist attack.”

HAM: “Again, sir, I think, you know, there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack.”

WENSTRUP: “And you would have advised as such if asked. Would that be correct?”

HAM: “Well, and with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta, that is the nature of the conversation we had, yes, sir.”

Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February of last year that it was him who informed the president that “there was an apparent attack going on in Benghazi.” “Secretary Panetta, do you believe that unequivocally at that time we knew that this was a terrorist attack?” asked Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. “There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack,” Panetta replied.

Senior State Department officials who were in direct, real-time contact with the Americans under assault in Benghazi have also made clear they, too, knew immediately — from surveillance video and eyewitness accounts — that the incident was a terrorist attack. After providing the first substantive “tick-tock” of the events in Benghazi, during a background briefing conducted on the evening of Oct. 9, 2012, a reporter asked two top aides to then-Secretary Clinton: “What in all of these events that you’ve described led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?”

“That is a question that you would have to ask others,” replied one of the senior officials. “That was not our conclusion.”

Ham’s declassified testimony further underscores that Obama’s earliest briefing on Benghazi was solely to the effect that the incident was a terrorist attack, and raises once again the question of how the narrative about the offensive video, and a demonstration that never occurred, took root within the White House as the explanation for Benghazi.

The day after the attacks, which marked the first killing of an American ambassador in the line of duty since 1979, Obama strode to the Rose Garden to comment on the loss, taking pains in his statement to say: “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” As late as Sept. 24, during an appearance on the talk show “The View,” when asked directly by co-host Joy Behar if Benghazi had been “an act of terrorism,” the president hedged, saying: “Well, we’re still doing an investigation.”

The declassified transcripts show that beyond Ham, Panetta and Dempsey, other key officers and channels throughout the Pentagon and its combatant commands were similarly quick to label the incident a terrorist attack. In a classified session on July 31 of last year, Westrup raised the question with Marine Corps Col. George Bristol, commander of AFRICOM’s Joint Special Operations Task Force for the Trans Sahara region.

Bristol, who was traveling in Dakar, Senegal when the attack occurred, said he received a call from the Joint Operations Center alerting him to “a considerable event unfolding in Libya.” Bristol’s next call was to Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson, an Army commander stationed in Tripoli. Gibson informed Bristol that Stevens was missing, and that “there was a fight going on” at the consulate compound.

WESTRUP: “So no one from the military was ever advising, that you are aware of, that this was a demonstration gone out of control, it was always considered an attack -”

BRISTOL: “Yes, sir.”

WENSTRUP: “– on the United States?”

BRISTOL: “Yes, sir. … We referred to it as the attack.”

Staffers on the Armed Services subcommittee conducted nine classified sessions on the Benghazi attacks, and are close to issuing what they call an “interim” report on the affair. Fox News reported in October their preliminary conclusion that U.S. forces on the night of the Benghazi attacks were postured in such a way as to make military rescue or intervention impossible — a finding that buttresses the claims of Dempsey and other senior Pentagon officials.

While their investigation continues, staffers say they still want to question Panetta directly. But the former defense secretary, now retired, has resisted such calls for additional testimony.

“He is in the president’s Cabinet,” said Rep. Martha Roby R-Ala., chair of the panel that collected the testimony, of Panetta. “The American people deserve the truth. They deserve to know what’s going on, and I honestly think that that’s why you have seen — beyond the tragedy that there was a loss of four Americans’ lives – is that  the American people feel misled.”

“Leon Panetta should have spoken up,” agreed Kim R. Holmes, a former assistant secretary of state under President George W. Bush and now a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “The people at the Pentagon and frankly, the people at the CIA stood back while all of this was unfolding and allowed this narrative to go on longer than they should have.”

Neither Panetta’s office nor the White House responded to Fox News’ requests for comment.

James Rosen joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999. He currently serves as the chief Washington correspondent and hosts the online show “The Foxhole.”

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

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From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Above: Just a few days after the Tuesday, September 11, 2012 attack at Benghazi, on Sunday, September 16, 2012, Susan Rice went on all five major Sunday TV News talk shows and used talking points that minimized the known terrorist threat and involvement in the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Rice and the White House said the event was a “Spontaneous Demonstration” sparked by an American made video offensive to Muslims.

Video:  Susan Rice statement after terror raid on Benghazi:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/16/13896 494-ambassador -rice-benghazi-attack-began-spontaneously?lite

Benghazi: The problem was terrorism, poor security and murder….. not a video.

Related:

On September 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador and Three Other Americans Killed At Benghazi: Today The U.S. Department of State, “Is moving to apply the terrorist designation” To Libyan Groups Involved

January 9, 2014

Was it an anti-American attack or the product of religious righteousness? The New York Times story has reignited a debate that Congress thought it settled months ago

By     JAN. 8, 2014
The New York Times

The State Department is moving to apply the terrorist designation to two Libyan organizations and one militant believed to have played a role in the deadly attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi in September 2012, senior United States officials said on Wednesday.

The terrorist designations would be the American government’s first formal public accusations of responsibility for the attack, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Senior United States officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the State Department has not yet made the designations public, said they would apply to Ahmed Abu Khattala, a Benghazi militant described by witnesses as having played a role in directing the assault, as well as to an allied group, Ansar al-Shariah of Benghazi, whose fighters were seen participating in the attack. In interviews, Mr. Abu Khattala has denied belonging to Ansar al-Shariah, but the terrorist designation was expected to describe him as a leader of the group. Witnesses said he visited its headquarters the night of the attack. The designation is expected to say that members of the group were involved in it.

The designation was also expected to apply to Ansar al-Shariah of Derna, Libya, which is described as a separate militant Islamist organization, the officials said. The designation was expected to assert that its fighters were also involved in the attack. They may have been identified by witnesses or security camera footage. Derna is a coastal city known as a center of Islamist militancy, a few hours’ drive from Benghazi in eastern Libya.

The designations were disclosed privately to Congress last Friday. Elements of the State Department action were reported on Wednesday by The Washington Post, and they were expected to be released publicly by the State Department on Friday.

Many people from Derna, including Islamist fighters, are in Benghazi on any given day, and there is no evidence that the fighters from Ansar al-Shariah of Derna who were involved in the attack came to Benghazi for that reason, according to officials familiar with the intelligence reports, the criminal investigation and the terrorist designations.

The designation was also expected to apply to Sufian bin Qumu, a former driver for a company controlled by Osama bin Laden and a former inmate at the United States military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He is identified as a leader of Ansar al-Shariah in Derna, but officials briefed on the designations and the intelligence reports said that there was no evidence linking him to the attack.

By mid-2013, however, Mr. Qumu was known to have contacts and communication with Al Qaeda or its regional affiliates, such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, according to people knowledgeable about the intelligence.

In a recent interview with Libyan television, Mr. Qumu called for the imposition of medieval Islamic punishments like severing the hands of thieves or whipping alcohol drinkers — describing such measures as an obvious step that all but drunks or thieves would support. In a radio interview in 2012, he said he hoped that “an Islamic state is established here” like the one he knew in Afghanistan under the Taliban. If he described Guantánamo Bay, he told listeners, “You will not hold back your tears.”

A nephew of his, known as Abu Nas, was believed to have run a primitive training camp near Derna for Islamist fighters, presumably bound for fighting elsewhere. In May 2013, the nephew was killed while driving a car loaded with explosives that accidentally detonated in Benghazi, according to officials briefed on United States intelligence.

In addition to the Libyan militants, the State Department is also moving to apply the terrorist designation to a Tunisian militant leader, Seifallah ben Hassine, as well as a separate Tunisian organization also known as Ansar al-Shariah. That name is relatively generic and means Supporters of Islamic Law.

The designations have legal consequences, allowing the United States to freeze assets belonging to designated individuals or groups, or to block Americans from doing business with them.

Federal investigators have filed sealed criminal complaints against about a dozen suspects in the Benghazi attack, but the Libyan authorities have said they are unable to arrest or prosecute the suspects because of the government’s lack of a strong military or police force.

The United States military has drawn up its own plans to apprehend Mr. Abu Khattala in a commando raid, but the Obama administration has so far held back from carrying them out, in part for fear of toppling Libya’s fragile transitional government.

A version of this article appears in print on January 9, 2014, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. to List Libyan and Groups Tied to ’12 Attack as Terrorists.
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Families of Benghazi victims press for House  select committee to investigate attack
boehner benghazi.jpg

Oct. 8, 2013: House Speaker John Boehner speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WASHINGTON –  Three family members of victims of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack demanded Monday that House Speaker John Boehner create a select committee to investigate the assault that killed four Americans.

 

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were all killed during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.

In a letter hand-delivered to Boehner, Smith’s mother, Pat Smith, and uncle, Michael Ingmire, as well as Woods’ father, Charles Woods, pressed Boehner to form a select committee to investigate the Benghazi scandal.

“Your reluctance to lead and resistance to create a Select Committee on Benghazi must end,” the letter read. “More than 75 percent of all House Republicans – with the conspicuous absence of those in leadership or committee chairmen – have co-sponsored Rep. Wolf’s Select Committee bill. Few bills in this Congress demonstrate such overwhelming support from Republicans.”

In addition to forming a focused bipartisan committee, the letter also cited a recent New York Times report that the letter claimed ignored congressional testimony.

So far, Boehner has had five separate House committees investigate the matter.

An independent select committee would have subpoena power and the authority to read classified documents. Boehner has said publicly he opposed the creation of a select committee and didn’t see the need for one.

There was no immediate reaction from his office to Monday’s letter.

In a Dec. 30 opinion piece published on FoxNews.com, Ingmire called for Boehner to be removed from office.

“As a family member the slow drip of truth from these committees is maddening and, at times, insulting,” Ingmire wrote. “Overall, John Boehner has been an ineffectual House Speaker and needs to be removed. He has failed to unify even his own party.”

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

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From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Former Guantanamo detainee implicated in Benghazi attack — Overlooked by The New York Times? — Obama Administration’s Benghazi Bombshell

January 9, 2014

A vehicle and the surrounding area were engulfed in flames inside the U.S.  compound in Benghazi, Libya, late on Sept. 11, 2012. STR/AFP/Getty Images

By Adam Goldman
The Washington Post

U.S. officials suspect that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee played a role in the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and are planning to designate the group he leads as a foreign terrorist organization, according to officials familiar with the plans.Militiamen under the command of Abu Sufian bin Qumu, the leader of Ansar al-Sharia in the Libyan city of Darnah, participated in the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, U.S. officials said.

Witnesses have told American officials that Qumu’s men were in Benghazi before the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, according to the officials. It’s unclear whether they were there as part of a planned attack or out of happenstance. The drive from Darnah to Benghazi takes several hours.The State Department is expected to tie Qumu’s group to the Benghazi attack when it designates three branches of Ansar al-Sharia, in Darnah, Benghazi and Tunisia, as foreign terrorist organizations in the coming days.In 2007, Qumu was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and sent to Libya, where he was detained. The Libyan government released him in 2008.

He and two other men, militia leaders Ahmed Abu Khattala and Seif Allah bin Hassine, will be identified as “specially designated global terrorists,” a determination that allows U.S. officials to freeze their financial assets and bar American citizens and companies from doing business with them.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the developments.

About a dozen criminal complaints have been filed in the Benghazi case, with more expected. U.S. intelligence officials have said that several militias had a hand in the attack. Some of the individuals charged are from Darnah, although it’s not clear if they are tied to Qumu’s group. Khattala has already been named in a criminal complaint.

The FBI declined to comment Tuesday.

U.S. officials are also investigating whether any of the people involved in the Benghazi raid had a role in the killing of Ronnie Smith, an American schoolteacher who was gunned down while jogging in the city last month.

Lawless conditions in eastern Libya have frustrated U.S. efforts to investigate the attack in Benghazi and capture those responsible. U.S. officials scrapped a plan to snatch Khattala in Benghazi for fear that American action could trigger unrest and destabilize the Libyan government.

Khattala, meanwhile, has flaunted his freedom, giving interviews to U.S. reporters as the FBI watches from afar. He has denied any involvement in the attack.

Qumu, 54, a Libyan from Darnah, is well known to U.S. intelligence officials. A former tank driver in the Libyan army, he served 10 years in prison in the country before fleeing to Egypt and then to Afghanistan.

According to U.S. military files disclosed by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, Qumu trained in 1993 at one of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist camps in Afghanistan and later worked for a bin Laden company in Sudan, where the al-Qaeda leader lived for three years.

Qumu fought alongside the Taliban against the United States in Afghanistan; he then fled to Pakistan and was later arrested in Peshawar. He was turned over to the United States and held at Guantanamo Bay.

He has a “long-term association with Islamic extremist jihad and members of al-Qaida and other extremist groups,” according to the military files. “Detainee’s alias is found on a list of probable al-Qaida personnel receiving monthly stipends.”

Qumu also had links to Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, known by his alias Abu Zubaida, a key al-Qaeda facilitator who is being held indefinitely at Guantanamo.

The United States is offering $10 million for information about the Benghazi attack.

The day before the raid, anti-American violence erupted in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere when al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called on followers to avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, the terrorist group’s No. 2, who was killed in a CIA drone strike. Officials, however, said there is no evidence that al-Qaeda’s core leadership was directly tied to the assault on the compound in Benghazi.

“The situation on Sept. 11th in Benghazi was a complicated one,” a senior administration official said. “We will never be able to know what motivated everyone involved in this attack, and one of the things the investigation is looking at right now is the level of planning that may have gone into it.”

In addition to Qumu and Khattala, American officials are eager to question Faraj al Chalabi, a Libyan extremist who might have fled the country.

Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Related:

Was it an anti-American attack or the product of religious righteousness? The New York Times story has reignited a debate that Congress thought it settled months ago

Was it an anti-American attack or the product of religious righteousness? Was it sparked by an anti-Islam video or planned by militant Islamists? The New York Times story has reignited a debate that Congress thought it settled months ago

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Obama Administration’s Benghazi Bombshell

By THOMAS JOSCELYN

The Washington Post reports that U.S. officials suspect Sufian Ben Qumu, an ex-Guantanamo detainee, “played a role in the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya, and are planning to designate the group he leads as a foreign terrorism organization.” Ben Qumu is based in Derna, Libya and runs a branch of Ansar al Sharia headquartered in the city.

U.S. officials have found that some of Ben Qumu’s militiamen from Derna “participated in the attack” and “were in Benghazi before the attack took place on Sept. 11, 2012.”

Ben Qumu was fingered early on as a suspect in the Benghazi attack, but his name dropped out of much of the reporting on the assault for more than one year.

In November 2013, however, THE WEEKLY STANDARD reported: “U.S. intelligence officials believe that Sufian Ben Qumu, a Libyan ex-Guantánamo detainee, trained some of the jihadists who carried out the attacks in Benghazi.” Ben Qumu, TWS reported, “has longstanding connections with al Qaeda leadership.”

Ben Qumu’s biography is rich with al Qaeda links:

Ben Qumu is one of the original “Arab Afghans” who traveled to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. In the years that followed the end of the anti-Soviet jihad, Ben Qumu followed al Qaeda to the Sudan and then, in the mid-to-late 1990s, back to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was eventually arrested in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks and transferred to the American detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.

A leaked Joint Task Force Guantánamo (JTF-GTMO) threat assessment describes Ben Qumu as an “associate” of Osama bin Laden. JTF-GTMO found that Ben Qumu worked as a driver for a company owned by bin Laden in the Sudan, fought alongside al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and maintained ties to several other well-known al Qaeda leaders. Ben Qumu’s alias was found on the laptop of an al Qaeda operative responsible for overseeing the finances for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The information on the laptop indicated that Ben Qumu was an al Qaeda “member receiving family support.”

An August 2012 report published by the Library of Congress in conjunction with the Defense Department, titled “Al Qaeda in Libya: a Profile,” identified Ben Qumu as the possible “new face of al Qaeda in Libya despite” his denial of an ongoing al Qaeda role. The report also noted that Ben Qumu and his Ansar al Sharia fighters are “believed to be close to the al Qaeda clandestine network” in Libya. According to the report’s authors, that same network is headed by al Qaeda operatives who report to al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Pakistan, including Ayman al Zawahiri.

The reporting on Ben Qumu’s ties to the Benghazi attack directly refutes an account by David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times. Kirkpatrick reported that “neither Mr. Qumu nor anyone else in Derna appears to have played a significant role in the attack on the American Mission, officials briefed on the investigation and the intelligence said.”

The Post reports that, in addition to Ben Qumu and Ansar al Sharia Derna, the branches of Ansar al Sharia in Benghazi and Tunisia are going to be designated as terrorist organizations by the State Department.

Two other individuals, Ahmed Abu Khattala and Seifallah ben Hassine, are going to be added to the list of “specially designated global terrorists.”

Seifallah Ben Hassine (a.k.a. Abu Iyad al Tunisi) is the head of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, which assaulted the U.S. Embassy in Tunis just three days after the attack in Benghazi.

In its annual Country Reports on Terrorism, published in May 2013, the State Department noted that Ben Hassine “was implicated as the mastermind behind the September 14 attack on the US Embassy,” which involved “a mob of 2,000 – 3,000” people, “including individuals affiliated with the militant organization Ansar al Sharia.”

The ties between Ben Hassine, Ansar al Sharia and al Qaeda are longstanding and well-established.

According to multiple published reports, Ben Hassine relocated to Libya after the Tunisian government labeled Ansar al Sharia a terrorist organization and cracked down on its operatives. The Tunisian government has repeatedly alleged that the Ansar al Sharia groups in Libya and Tunisia are tied to one another, as well as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The Post’s report concludes: “In addition to Qumu and Khattala, American officials are eager to question Faraj al Chalabi, a Libyan extremist who might have fled the country.”

As THE WEEKLY STANDARD reported on multiple occasions, Chalabi is considered a key suspect by U.S. intelligence officials. Two U.S. intelligence officials say Chalabi once served as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden and is suspected of bringing materials from the compound in Benghazi to senior al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

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From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Above: Just a few days after the Tuesday, September 11, 2012 attack at Benghazi, on Sunday, September 16, 2012, Susan Rice went on all five major Sunday TV News talk shows and used talking points that minimized the known terrorist threat and involvement in the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

Video:  Susan Rice statement after terror raid on Benghazi:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/16/13896 494-ambassador -rice-benghazi-attack-began-spontaneously?lite

Benghazi: The problem was terrorism, poor security and murder….. not a video.

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