Wednesday, June 29, 2016

'Let's move on': Hillary's blithe response after devastating Congress report reveals she lied and lied again about what caused US Ambassador to die in Bengazi

28 June 2016

SOMBER: Obama and Clinton spoke at the 'transfer of remains' ceremony when the victims' bodies were returned to the U.S., as their administration worked behind the scenes to spin the news
SOMBER: Obama and Clinton spoke at the 'transfer of remains' ceremony when the victims' bodies were returned to the U.S., as their administration worked behind the scenes to spin the news

Hillary Clinton dismissed a Republican broadside on her and President Obama over the Benghazi attacks today saying: 'Move on.'

The Republican members of the House Benghazi committee issued their 800 page report with excoriating words for her and the president, accusing her of 'shameful' conduct over her secret email account, and the White House of lying about what caused the attacks.

Her 'homebrew' server was only revealed because of the investigation into the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The blistering 800-page report excoriates the Obama administration, finding that it lied about what caused the attacks which claimed the lives. 

It says what went wrong may never be fully known because of a 'shameful' decision by Hillary Clinton not to turn over the contents of her secret 'homebrew' server, whose existence only came to light because of the investigation.

But her response was curt. 'I think it is pretty clear it is time to move on,' she said.

Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee claimed Tuesday that the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton lied repeatedly to the American people about the nature of and reasons for the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya, even as they privately acknowledged what caused them. 

The report offers no explanation for why it took 18 hours for military assets to reach the Libyan city - many hours after the president ordered every possible measure to be taken, and the then defense secretary testified that he ordered deployment. 

A scathing report provides new ammunition against Clinton, then the secretary of state, and turn the assault on an under-protected U.S. diplomatic compound and a nearby CIA facility into the election-year issue it was always destined to be. 

Republicans' central argument is that the Obama White House chose to deceive Americans rather than risk the public relations nightmare of admitting terrorists had struck Americans overseas, less than two months before Obama's re-election day.

'They misled the American people and said, "We can't tell the truth. We can't talk about how bad the security situation was. 

'We can't talk about the fact that, that this was a terrorist attack. we have to mislead the American people because we are just eight weeks before an election",' Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, one of the committee's Republican members, claimed Monday morning on CNN.

The panel's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, and other Republicans also accuse the Obama administration of stonewalling important documents and witnesses. 

Democrats say the panel's main goal is to undermine Clinton's presidential hopes.

The former secretary of state said Tuesday in Denver, where she held a campaign event, that she would 'leave it to others to characterize this report but I think it is pretty clear it is time to move on.' 

'I have said from the very beginning nothing is more important than the security of our diplomats and our development officials to go into dangerous places around the world pursuing American values, interests and our security,' she said.'

'While this unfortunately took on a partisan tinge, I want us to stay focused on what I've always wanted us to stay focused on and that is the important work of diplomacy and development,' she added. 

'We cannot withdraw or retreat from the world. America needs a presence for a lot of reasons,' Clinton continued. 

'And the best way to honor the commitment and sacrifice of those we lost is to redouble our efforts to provide the resources and support that our diplomats and our development experts deserve.'  

Mystery of the missing military

The report provides an extraordinarily detailed insight into the military assets which could have been sent to try to save American lives.

But it does not find a reason why it took 18 hours for help to arrive - by which time the ambassador had been rescued by locals, ironically former members of the Gadaffi regime which the U.S. had helped to overthrow.

It says that AFRICOM - the Pentagon's African command division, which is based in Germany - could have made use of Marine FAST (Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team) platoons, based in Spain, F-16s, based in Aviano, in northern Italy, a special diplomatic assistance team known as CIF (Commander's In-extremis Force), based in Germany but then training nearer Libya, in Croatia, and US-based special operations forces .

But in a painstaking timelines it discloses how it took 13 hours after the attack for the first force to be deployed.
The attack started at 9.42pm local time - 3.42pm in Washington. It was brutal, and prolonged. Calls for assistance began immediately and the first notice of the attack was distributed in Washinton atr 4.05pm, with the White House situation room among those involved.

But it says, it took hours for the White House to convene a meeting to decide what to do - by which time it was 7.30pm in Washington.

'In the four hours since the initial attack on the Benghazi Mission compound, the Diplomatic Security Agents in Benghazi, with help from the team from the Annex, survived the initial onslaught, located the remains of their fallen colleague Smith, franticly searched for Stevens, escaped under heavy gunfire from the Mission compound to the Annex, avoided an ambush along the route, and arrived at the Annex only to withstand and repel additional attacks there,' the report says.

'By stark contrast, in those same four hours, principals in Washington had merely managed to identify forces that could potentially deploy to Libya and convened a meeting to discuss those forces.'

The meeting include Hillary Clinton's State Department chief of staff Cheryl Mills. It should have included the then vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James 'Sandy' Winnefeld, but he said he could not attend because there was an official dinner at his residence.

Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, had ordered deployment two hours after the attack began, but the people taking part in the White House meeting 'felt the need to "work through" the assets'.

What happened next, the report, says, depends on whether you believe Panetta - who was adamant he had ordered deployment - or a series of other witness and minutes, who spoke about '"getting forces ready to deploy" in a future tense'.

'Another summary described the deployment of assets in response to Benghazi as "likely" and "possibly" that evening,' the report says.

One senior military official testified that forces had not been ordered to deploy but to prepare to deploy.

The report calls the cause of the failure to get properly-equipped forces to Benghazi in time a 'lingering question' and says the failure '—at best illustrates a rusty bureaucratic process not in keeping with the gravity and urgency of the events happening on the ground'.

White House chose to focus on the YouTube video

Almost immediately, the White House went into spin mode, publicly blaming the carnage on local protests over an anti-Islam YouTube video that was made in America.

That turned out not to be the case, and Monday's report includes emails and testimony showing the administration knew it at the time. 

Clinton said publicly as her Benghazi facilities were still smoldering that 'some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.'

But in a phone call with Libyan president Mohammed al Magariaf, Clinton correctly fingered Ansar al Sharia, al Qaeda’s affiliate on the Arabian Peninsula, as the cause.

'[O]ur diplomatic mission was attacked[.] . . . [T]here is a gun battle ongoing, which I understand Ansar as-Sharia [sic] is claiming responsibility for,' a note-taker recorded Clinton telling al Magariaf.

Clinton also emailed her daughter during the fog of the event: 'Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like [sic] group.'
And she told Egypt’s prime minister a day later: 'We know that the attacks in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack – not a protest.' 

'None of the information coming directly from the agents on the ground in Benghazi during the attacks mentioned anything about a video or a protest. The firsthand accounts made their way to the office of the Secretary through multiple channels quickly,' the Benghazi committee's majority report concludes.

In one example, a senior watch officer serving at the diplomatic security command of the State Department called the 2012 devastation 'a full on attack against our compound.'

A colleague asked him if saw or heard any protests before the shooting and bombing began, he replied: 'zip, nothing, nada.'

Families of the fallen accuse Hillary of lying to them 

Clinton has come under fire from family members of the U.S. personnel killed in Benghazi, who say she personally told them the government would seek justice against the video's creator. 

Democrats released a report Monday stating that Clinton never personally denied any requests from diplomats for additional security at the U.S. outpost in Benghazi. 

They said after a two-year investigation that the military could not have done anything differently that night to save the lives of four Americans killed in Libya.
But the report itself argues that delays in the Obama administration's response to the deadly attacks were caused by slow decision-making and political considerations.

White House was consumed with politics, not rescue 

During a senior level meeting convened at the White House just three hours into the attack – attended by senior deputies to cabinet secretaries, including Clinton's – conversations focused on how to frame the attack as a protest gone bad, not on how to ensure the safe extraction of Stevens.

'Nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began,' the report concludes.

'With Ambassador Stevens missing, the White House convened a roughly two-hour meeting at 7:30 PM, which resulted in action items focused on a YouTube video,' committee members wrote.

Other 'action items' contained 'the phrases "[i]f any deployment is made," and "Libya must agree to any deployment," and "[w]ill not deploy until order comes to go to either Tripoli or Benghazi".' 

The administration's spokespersons later insisted that deploying military rapid-reaction forces based in Italy and elsewhere into the Libyan port city would have been a waste of time given the short duration of the attacks.

But some witnesses told the congressional committee that there was no way to know at the outset how many hours it might have gone on.

White House responds

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday that he still believes Republicans on the Benghazi committee saw damaging Clinton's poll numbers as their mail objective. 

'That was their goal. It remains to [be] seen if that's what they accomplished,’ Earnest said.

He disputed the finding that the military was slow to respond, saying that 'this has been thoroughly debunked by previous Republican-led investigations in the Congress.'

'I'm not going to get into the back and forth because frankly Republicans have already done that. Republicans in the House Intelligence Committee have concluded that those charges are not true,’ he said.'

The congressional committees that have truly been committed to understanding the facts 'have concluded that it was a tragedy,' Earnest claimed.

'But they've also concluded that the variety of conspiracy theories that have been flowering on the Republican side of the aisle are politically motivated fantasies. And it's unfortunate that the death of four Americans would be subject to that kind of political fantasizing. But that is the state of the Republican Party these days.’

Earnest said it would be up to the Clinton campaign – not the Obama administration – to push back. 

'I think Secretary Clinton is more than capable of making her own case about her judgement, her successful tenure as secretary of state and what that says about her presidential campaign,' he said. 'But ultimately that's the responsibility of her advisers.'

As for how it will affect her credibility with voters and her White House campaign he said, ‘I think voters will have to decide for themselves.’

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