Tag Archives: Libya

The Facts About Benghazi – NY Times Editorial

The Blue Street Journal

The New York Times Editorial Board

An exhaustive investigation by The Times goes a long way toward resolving any nagging doubts about what precipitated the attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The report by David Kirkpatrick, The Times’s Cairo bureau chief, and his team turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or another international terrorist group had any role in the assault, as Republicans have insisted without proof for more than a year. The report concluded that the attack was led by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s air power and other support during the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and that it was fueled, in large part, by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

In a rational world, that would settle the dispute over Benghazi, which has further poisoned the poisonous political discourse in Washington and kept Republicans and Democrats from working cooperatively on myriad challenges, including how best to help Libyans stabilize their country and build a democracy. But Republicans long ago abandoned common sense and good judgment in pursuit of conspiracy-mongering and an obsessive effort to discredit President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who may run for president in 2016.

On the Sunday talk shows, Representatives Mike Rogers and Darrell Issa, two Republicans who are some of the administration’s most relentless critics of this issue, dismissed The Times’s investigation and continued to press their own version of reality on Benghazi.

More…
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/opinion/the-facts-about-benghazi.html?_r=2&

H/t: DB for emailing me this article

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5 Takeaways From The New York Times Benghazi Investigation

No doubt the Sunday Morning talk shows will be replete with GOP politicians taking a “The NY Times is not a bi-partisan newspaper…”  stance.

Time

Al Qaeda was not involved; “Innocence of Muslims” video motivated the initial assault

An in-depth New York Times investigation published Saturday sheds new light on questions surrounding the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens. Questions surrounding the attack have become a major political flashpoint in Washington, but the report reveals a truth much murkier than either the Obama administration or its critics in the GOP-led Congress has grasped upon.

Here are five major revelations from the report:

  • Al Qaeda was not involved in the assault. It has become an article of faith for some in the GOP that the Benghazi attack was a highly orchestrated terrorist attack led by the same group that carried out the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. “It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an Al Qaeda-led event,” said Michigan Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in an interview on Fox News in November. But according to the Times report, there is no evidence to support this assertion.
  • Anger at the “Innocence of Muslims” video motivated the initial assault and fueled the anger that powered the attack. After the film appeared online dubbed into Arabic in September 2012, media in Cairo played a major role in stoking the rage that led to an assault on the American embassy in Benghazi. Witnesses on the ground at the attack recount numerous ways in which leaders of the assault used the video to stoke the rage of militiamen.
  • The spontaneous response to the video stoked another attack that was already in the works, planned by smaller militia not affiliated with Al Qaeda. Evidence suggests that hardline elements within the complex web of Islamist militias operating in Benghazi, including an uneducated loner and contrarian named Ahmed Abu Khattala, had been planning an attack, though it’s unclear when they had intended to strike. The U.S. government has sought to have Khattala apprehended in order to press charges, but authorities and powerful Islamist elements in Libya have closed ranks around the hardliner.
  • American officials were overly reliant on moderate Islamist elements for protection. As the assault turned full fledged, officials called on the leaders of militias that had been publicly friendly to the U.S. to come to their aid. But when the time came, almost none turned up to rescue Americans trapped inside the compound. “Whatever happened, they were other Libyans,” said one Islamist leader who eventually did enter the compound after resisting at first.
  • Inside the compound, attackers looted and plundered wildly. Witnesses describe men taking out suits on hangers, televisions and found food. One man reportedly poured what appeared to be Hershey’s chocolate syrup into his mouth.

[The New York Times]

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Al Qaeda official seized in Libya raid was ‘most wanted’ for US Embassy bombings

NBC News

The man whisked off the streets of Tripoli, Libya, Saturday was among the top remaining leaders of al Qaeda, an elusive confidante of – and computer expert for – Osama bin Laden, as well as an alleged conspirator in the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings.

Anas al Libi, whose real name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed Nabih al-Ruqai’I, has over the years been reported as killed, captured or living in Iran. The U.S. has known he’s been back in his native Libya for more than two years, the latest stop on a journey that has taken him from Tripoli to Sudan, where he met bin Laden, to England, Kenya, Afghanistan and Iran before returning to Libya in the dying days of the regime of former leader Moammar Gadhafi — where he lost his son in the civil war that led to Gadhafi’s ouster and death.

On Saturday, the Pentagon confirmed al Libi had been captured.

“As the result of a U.S. counterterrorism operation, Abu Anas al Libi is currently lawfully detained by the U.S. military in a secure location outside of Libya,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

In the days after 9/11, al Libi was among the first names placed in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted Terrorists list with a reward of $25 million – the same amount attached to bin Laden and other senior officers of al Qaeda. It was later reduced to $5 million, but the United States’ desire to bring him to justice never waned.

“He’s one of the last guys from the East Africa embassy bombings who was still out there,” said a senior U.S. intelligence official Saturday night.

“We still wanted him,” added a second official, indicating that the Aug. 7, 1998, attacks on U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, remained a high priority in the U.S. government.

“Symbolically, the embassy bombings are for the U.S. what Munich was for the Israelis. It’s about closure,” said Karen Greenberg, director for the Center on National Security at Fordham University Law School.

Of the 21 people indicted in the embassy bombings case by the U.S. Justice Department, eight have been killed, including bin Laden, one died awaiting trial, and another eight are in jail, either convicted or awaiting trial. Al Libi was one of four fugitives until Saturday.

Continue reading here…

 

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How The Year-Long Effort To Politicize The Benghazi Tragedy Fell Flat

benghazi

Think Progress

One year ago today, on September 11, 2012, a U.S. diplomatic outpost and Central Intelligence Agency annex were attacked by extremists in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, U.S. foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALS.

While the Obama administration had been successful in degrading the capabilities of core-al Qaeda — or the terror organization’s centralized version that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington — the tragedy reminded Americans and U.S. allies that the threat from like-minded extremists was still alive and well.

Instead of joining to unite the country in the face of this terrible tragedy, Republicans, at first led by then-GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and later Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), turned the Benghazi attacks into a political fiasco, searching far and near for a way to hang the blame on President Obama and with the aim of damaging his political stature at the least, or at most, bringing down members of his national security team or even ultimately his presidency.

But the long, drawn-out campaign to bring down Obama turned up nothing. Everything conservatives and Republicans held up as evidence of malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration’s handling of Benghazi and its aftermath was later discredited by either facts or logic. The right’s biggest achievement throughout this whole Benghazi mess was keeping Susan Rice, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time of the attacks, from being nominated as Secretary of State. But even that campaign — led by McCain — seemed to backfire as Rice is now Obama’s National Security Adviser, a position with arguably more influence on the President’s foreign policy thinking.

Media Matters has a run-down of the some of the top Benghazi myths. And throughout the GOP’s Benghazi witch-hunt, ThinkProgress has been compiling a timeline of the key events — from Romney’s first baseless attacks on Obama, the faux-scandal surrounding the infamous “talking points” delivered by then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, McCain’s smear campaign, and highlights of how all the GOP-led attacks on Obama were eventually fullydebunked. On January 23, during a Senate hearing on Benghazi, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scolded Republicans for politicizing Benghazi, and in this instance, for focusing on whether a protest over an anti-Muslim video sparked the attacks:

CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans! Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans?! What difference at this point does it make?!  It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.

We have updated the timeline which can be viewed here.

Conservatives aren’t done with Benghazi. Fox NewsTea Party types and a dwindling number of Republican hangers on in Congress keep trying to pin Obama down with something. But they’ll never find anything nefarious. Benghazi is not the next Watergate. Nor will President Obama be impeached over the matter. “The whole thing defies logic,” an exacerbated Obama said in May. “And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.

“We dishonor [the four Americans killed in Benghazi] when we turn things like this into a political circus,” Obama added. “What happened was tragic. It was carried out by extremists inside of Libya. We are out there trying to hunt down the folks who carried this out, and we are trying to make sure that we fix the system so that it doesn’t happen again.”

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‘It is like night and day’

The Maddow Blog - By Steve Benen

From time to time, it seems as if the left and right don’t just disagree on the issues, but actually live in entirely different realities. Yesterday offered a classic example of the phenomenon.

http://youtu.be/_85gezDugSU

Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell noticed this gem.

[Wednesday] afternoon on Fox, frequent guests Monica Crowley and Kirsten Powers battled over whether there is a media “double standard” in treatment for George W. Bush and Barack Obama in their respective military campaigns.

Conservative radio host Crowley insisted the “double standard” exists, pointing to her belief that in the 2003 run-up to the Iraq War, Bush faced tough criticism from a skeptical press. “When you look at the difference of that coverage and President Obama going to Libya without congressional approval and the run-up to Syria, it is like night and day,” she said.

For most of us, just reading Crowley’s words out of context, the observations may seem quite compelling. Putting aside for now how very different the situations in Iraq, Libya, and Syria are, it’s very easy to believe there really is a “double standard” in the media, with reporters applying far more scrutiny to one administration instead of the other. It really is “like night and day.”

But in Crowley’s version of reality, the observation has been turned on its head. In her world, news organizations were fierce skeptics of the conflict in Iraq, and challenged then-President George W. Bush’s claims every step of the way. What’s more, in her world, reporters are giving President Obama a free pass now.

In the alternative universe Crowley perceives, the media didn’t play a cheerleading role in advance of the war in Iraq, ignoring critics. And now, she believes, news outlets are pushing for military intervention abroad.

As you can see in the clip, she didn’t appear to be kidding.

I don’t recognize Crowley’s version of reality, but I wonder what the weather is like in her alternative universe.

 

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No Benghazi “Stand Down” Order Was Given: Another Fox Narrative Falls Apart

Media Matters

Narrative Was Pushed In 85 Fox Primetime Segments

A claim pushed dozens of times by Fox News that security forces were ordered to “stand down” during the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility collapsed after the commander of those security forces testified that he received no such order.

More than a month after the attacks in Benghazi killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Fox began airing accusations that security forces present in Libya at the time were ordered to “stand down” by the Obama administration. Fox’s confused coverage over the months claimed that both a reaction force that was dispatched to Benghazi and suffered two casualties while trying to defend the facility, and a group of four special forces troops in Tripoli received “stand down” orders. This accusation was given new fuel after former Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks May 8 remarks made before a congressional committee appeared to confirm claims that Lt. Col. Gibson, who commanded a small team of special forces troops in Tripoli, was ordered to “stand down.” Fox baselessly speculated that either President Obama or then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave the alleged order.

A search of the Nexis database shows that the accusation that these security forces were ordered to “stand down” was made in 85 segments on the network’s primetime shows by Fox hosts, contributors, guests, and in video accompanying news reports and commentary.

But now even Republicans are admitting that a “stand down” order was never given. According to The Associated Press, Gibson told a Republican-led congressional committee on June 26 that he was never ordered to “stand down.”

The former commander of a four-member Army Special Forces unit in Tripoli, Libya, denied Wednesday that he was told to stand down during last year’s deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

In a closed-door session with the House Armed Services Committee, Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson said his commanders told him to remain in the capital of Tripoli to defend Americans in the event of additional attacks and to help survivors being evacuated from Benghazi.

“Contrary to news reports, Gibson was not ordered to ‘stand down’ by higher command authorities in response to his understandable desire to lead a group of three other special forces soldiers to Benghazi,” the Republican-led committee said in a summary of its classified briefing with military officials, including Gibson.

This is not the first time the Fox “stand down” narrative has been discredited. The day before Hicks’ May 8 testimony, a Pentagon spokesman stated that there “was never any kind of stand down order to anybody.” After Hicks’ testimony, a Pentagon spokesman further explained that the security forces in Tripoli “were told to stay” in Tripoli to help with the security there. On June 12, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reaffirmed this point, telling Congress:

GEN. DEMPSEY: They weren’t told to stand down. A stand down means don’t do anything. They were told to — that the mission they were asked to perform was not in Benghazi but was at Tripoli Airport.

Continue reading here

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Stewart Rips Fox News Over Benghazi Coverage Denizens Of Bullsh*t Mountain Have Cried Wolf Before

As usual, Jon Stewart is on point…

 

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WHAT TO EXPECT FROM [TODAY'S] BENGHAZI HEARING

The Blaze

May 7, 2012

The House Oversight Committee has released excerpts of their interview with Gregory Hicks, one of the two high-profile whistleblowers who will be testifying at tomorrow’s hearing. From what we have heard thus far from Hicks, his account of the events that took place between high level security and State Department officials on September 11, 2012 as a U.S. consulate in Libya was under siege differ drastically from what we have been told by the Obama administration.

CBS News reports:

According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”

No assistance arrived from the U.S. military outside of Libya during the hours that Americans were under attack or trapped inside compounds by hostile forces armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and AK-47 rifles.

Hicks told congressional investigators that if the U.S. had quickly sent a military aircraft over Benghazi, it might have saved American lives. The U.S. Souda Bay Naval Base is an hour’s flight from Libya.

“I believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them,” Hicks testified. Two Americans died in the morning mortar attack.

During an interview with CBS , Hicks says that everyone knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack “from the get-go.”

As Washington braces for the hearing Wednesday, the Benghazi attack, response and investigation is once again turning into a major scandal that conservatives lament Obama dodged in the fall shortly after the attack and amidst the presidential campaign. Jim Geraghty notes though in his column on the conservative National Review Online that Republicans should go into the hearings dedicated strictly to unearthing facts, rather than showboating.

Dear Republicans on the House Oversight Committee:

Please do not grandstand. Please do not take the time before the television cameras to tell us how outraged you are, even though what you are investigating is, indeed, outrageous. There will be plenty of time for that after the hearing. All day Wednesday, give us the facts, and then more facts, and then more facts….

On ‘Real News‘ Tuesday the panel previewed what to look for from tomorrow’s hearing, namely, if we get answers to two questions: Were military forces told to stand down? And, did the administration lie to the American people afterward about the events that took the lives of four Americans?

Watch clip here.

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The Top 10 Reasons Rand Paul should never start a sentence, ‘Had I been president …’

Daily Kos

No doubt you’ve seen Sen. Rand Paul’s made-for-TV tantrum yesterday at the U.S. Senate’s Benghazi hearing. When the Kentucky senator had his turn to question Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he said:

“I’m glad that you’re accepting responsibility. I think ultimately with your leaving that you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11. And I really mean that. Had I been president and found you did not read the cables from Benghazi and from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it’s inexcusable.”

Setting aside Sen. Paul’s thickheaded and insensitive remark that the murder of four Americans in Libya is “the worst tragedy since 9/11″—worse, for example, than 4,000 Americans killed in a pointless and costly war—his tea party toadying, “Had I been president,” should not pass without comment.

If Sen. Paul had been president, of course, the mess in Benghazi probably would’ve been a lot worse, as our embassy personnel would have had much less protection, given the GOP’s deep cuts to Secretary Clinton’s security requests. But he’s not president, and here’s why he shouldn’t even open his pie hole to entertain the possibility:

The Top 10 Reasons Rand Paul should never start a sentence, “Had I been president…”

#10. Half the audience will laugh so hard they won’t hear the rest of your comment.

#9. The other half of the audience will cry so hard your remaining words will be lost in their bawling.

#8. Security will remove you as an outside agitator, perhaps even an anarchist.

#7. Your nitwit tea party followers will have to change their “Rand Paul for Emperor” signs. (They have to change them anyway because they misspelled Emperor.)

#6. Sinners will buy up the world’s supply of coats, jackets, and blankets, anticipating hell freezing over.

#5. Michele Bachmann will sue you for “Presidential Batshit Crazy” copyright infringement.

#4. World leaders will set their nuclear missiles on high alert.

#3. Capitol police will immediately perform a breathalyzer test on you.

#2. Stocks will plunge, except for the companies that make “The End is Nigh” signs.

And the #1 reason Rand Paul should never start a sentence, “Had I been president …”

#1. Forget it, dude, ain’t gonna happen.

H/t: Yankee Clipper

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Susan Rice withdraws from consideration for secretary of state



This should make Senators McCain, Graham and Ayotte quite happy.  I’m not…

The Washington Post

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from the list of candidates for secretary of state Thursday afternoon, ending a weeks-long fight with Republicans over statements she made on television talk shows shortly after the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11.

In a letter to President Obama, Rice said: “I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.T he position of Secretary of State should never be politicized. . ..I am saddened that we have reached this point, even before you have decided whom to nominate. We cannot afford such an irresponsible distraction from the most pressing issues facing the American people.”

Obama, who had defended Rice on several occasions in recent weeks, accepted her decision and issued the following statement:

“Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel’s security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people. I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend. While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country.”

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