|From the NY Times - Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters|
Beginning late Saturday night and continuing on through Sunday's news chat shows, the Clintonistas/Democrats triumphantly paraded Kirkpatric's findings anywhere they could get an audience. It wasn't long, however, before those in the know (from the military, intelligence and diplomatic realms) started coming forward to counter the NYT's report. In short, they were seething with anger over what they perceived as a report that was not only wrong, but also was constructed to protect the legacy of President Obama...and, more importantly, shield Mrs. Clinton from a scandal that could derail her presidential aspirations.
What follows is a piece by Larry Johnson -- reprinted with permission from his fine blog, No Quarter. (Disclosure: Larry is a radio colleague.) He worked previously with the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism, is a recognized expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk management.
Hillary Clinton and her advocates in the media are busy trying to muddle what actually happened in Benghazi, including the decision at Hillary’s State Department to ignore warnings of a deteriorating security situation, and the failure of the Obama Administration to respond competently to the attack as it unfolded. So let’s get the record straight.
First, Ambassador Chris Stevens, DCM Gregory Hicks and the Diplomatic Security Officers repeatedly and accurately noted that the security situation in Libya, in general, and Benghazi, in particular, was growing more dangerous.
This was not an “intelligence” failure. The intelligence correctly noted a worsening threat. It was a policy and leadership failure. The ultimate responsibility for this belongs to Hillary Clinton and Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy. Unfortunately, the Accountability Review Board (which was chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering) was appointed by Hillary, supervised by Patrick Kennedy. Pickering and company decided to not interview Hillary Clinton as part of their bogus investigation. But they did affix blame on Ambassador Chris Stevens for not kicking Washington in the testicles for failing to respond to their repeated requests for more security:
2. Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department (the “Department”) resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.
Security in Benghazi was not recognized and implemented as a “shared responsibility” by the bureaus in Washington charged with supporting the post, resulting in stove-piped discussions and decisions on policy and security. That said, Embassy Tripoli did not demonstrate strong and sustained advocacy with Washington for increased security for Special Mission Benghazi.
The short-term, transitory nature of Special Mission Benghazi’s staffing, with talented and committed, but relatively inexperienced, American personnel often on temporary assignments of 40 days or less, resulted in diminished institutional knowledge, continuity, and mission capacity.
This is the ultimate Washington move–blame the dead guy, who is unable to rebut the allegation, and exonerate the ones who ignored the actual requests for more security.
No one predicted the attack in Benghazi on 11 September 2012. But that’s not unusual. Most terrorist attacks that have occurred over the last 30 years have come without any specific advance warning.
The real problem for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama starts around 4pm Eastern Daylight Time in Washington, DC when the attack started on the so-called “US Consulate” in Benghazi. The facility was not a Consulate. It was a “special facility” and existed primarily to handle the intelligence operations being conducted from the CIA facility at the location now knows as, “The Annex.”
Once the attack started the Operations Center for Diplomatic Security was notified. In accordance with standard procedures for this kind of event, a NOIWON (National Operational Intelligence Watch Officer’s Network) was initiated. This means that the Ops Centers at the White House, the CIA, DOD, the FBI, Homeland Security, the NSA and the National Counter Terrorism Center were alerted. Normally, when those Centers are alerted they start contacting the relevant officers and officials in their organizations who have a need to know.
At State Department, the Ops Center was instructed to NOT NOTIFY the Office of the Coordinator for Counter Terrorism. The Senior CT official in charge of handling overseas responses to terrorist attacks found out about the assault when he received a phone call from military Special Operations personnel who, in response to this news, initiated planning, per standing orders, for a possible overseas contingency response. What does that mean in English? We alerted our shooters to stand by to pack their bags and prepare to move Libya to help rescue US personnel and stop the bad guys. However, they do not move without an order from the President. They can pack their bags, but will not board aircraft unless Barack Obama says go. Obama dithered.
Obama met with Secretary of Defense Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff around 5pm. The attack in Benghazi had been underway for almost an hour. More alarming was the news from the front–Ambassador Chris Stevens was missing. No one knew where he was. Was he kidnapped? Dead? In hiding? No one knew. That’s the critical point.
As someone who has been involved in the response to these kinds of incidents for 25 years, and my experience includes helping train special ops forces for responding to these kinds of incidents, what did not happen next is truly shocking. Normally, a Secure Video Telephone Conference would be convened. This is the CSG (aka: the Counter Terrorism Security Group). The CSG consists of representatives from the US national security community who are experts in terrorism and the possible responses/options that should be recommended to the President.
But this groups was not convened. The Department of State, and I’m talking Hillary Clinton and Pat Kennedy here, in coordination with the National Security Council, and this includes current CIA Director John Brennan, decided not to assemble the CSG because they did not want to admit that a terrorist attack was taking place on the anniversary of the 2001 attacks that devastated America.
I do not blame Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton for not having full info about what was happening in Benghazi. That is fog of war. That is normal. But they did know one critical, undeniable fact–AMBASSADOR CHRIS STEVENS WAS MISSING. And what did they do? NOTHING!!
No tasking of intelligence assets. No contingency planning for finding and rescuing Stevens. Nothing but Crickets. It is essential for the American public to understand that the machinery of Government dedicated to combating terrorism that normally would have been activated to start planning and gathering resources was frozen. This was a deliberate, conscious decision by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Instead, the response was handled piece meal. The US National Counter Terrorism force eventually was alerted and deployed, but they left late and arrived in the theater long after the attack had ceased.
One other important point to note. Once mortars were fired on the CIA Annex, it was clear, with no doubt, that this was a pre-planned, organized attack. A retired military officer at the Department of State, an individual with experience in training and employing mortar squads, knew immediately the implications of mortar fire on the CIA site. This was not a weapon of opportunity nor serendipity. It was pre-planned. The mortar is a crew served weapon and was “sighted” in on the CIA base. What does that mean? The terrorists who were firing the mortar had trained in advance to ensure they could fire the weapon a specific distance to hit the target.
And what did Hillary and Obama initially claim? That this was a spontaneous riot incited by an obscure anti-Muslim video. That was a lie. Knowledgeable, experienced military officers communicated the reality of the mortar fire to Secretary Clinton and to the White House. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton chose to ignore those informed briefings.
As the attack unfolded in Benghazi, no one in Washington or on the ground in Benghazi knew how long the attack would last. There was no prior warning that the assault would be confined to a set period of time. So why did Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton react so passively? That is the key question they have refused to answer.
They deliberately covered up what happened and embarked on a propaganda campaign to deceive the American people. Remember what Susan Rice told ABC’s Jake Tapper?
ABC’s “This Week”:
JAKE TAPPER: So, first of all, what is the latest you can tell us on who these attackers were at the embassy or at the consulate in Benghazi? We’re hearing that the Libyans have arrested people. They’re saying that some people involved were from outside the country, that there might have even been Al Qaeda ties. What’s the latest information?
MS. RICE: Well, Jake, first of all, it’s important to know that there’s an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed. That will tell us with certainty what transpired.
But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.
We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to — or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in — in the wake of the revolution in Libya are — are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.
This was not the result of fog of war. This was a lie. A deliberate deception.
If the American public could get access to the Top Secret briefings that were prepared for Senior Policymakers, including Obama, Clinton and Panetta, on the evening of September 11th regarding what was unfolding in Benghazi, they would be shocked by the clarity and specificity that was available early on. The people/group involved in the attack was quickly identified thanks to the work of one of the US intelligence agencies. As House Intel Committee Chairman noted on Fox News Sunday, an Al Qaeda affiliate was clearly identified as having a critical role in the attack.
It is essential to keep these facts in mind as the New York Times and other media outlets try to confuse and deceive the American public. What happened in Benghazi on the 11th of September 2012 was a premeditated terrorist attack against US citizens, who were denied requested security assistance by their Government, carried out by Islamic extremists affiliated with Al Qaeda. This is not a theory. This is a fact.