Was The Obama Administration Using The Government To Spy On Americans?

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that former United Nations Ambassador Susan Powers requested the unmasking of more than 260 Americans‘ identities during the waning days of the Obama Administration. These were conversations captured inadvertently while non-citizens were being wiretapped (theoretically). Susan Powers is scheduled to testify before Congress in October.

The article reports:

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., submitted a letter in July to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats that said the committee was aware “that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration.”

It is suspected that the official referenced is Power.

Power also was one of three top Obama administration officials named in subpoenas received by several of the nation’s intelligence agencies in May.

Power is not the first U.N. ambassador to make unmasking requests, but Fox News reports the requests fall in the low double digits.

Power will meet with congressional intelligence committees as part of their Russia probes and is expected to appear before the House intelligence panel in a classified session next month.

It will be interesting to see exactly who winds up taking the fall for the abuses or power that occurred during the Obama Administration.

 

While Congress Was Flashing A Shiny Object Over Here…

Sleight of hand is something I used to associate with magicians and people who do card tricks. Lately I associate it with politicians in Washington.

On Tuesday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial listing the scandals that Congress is not investigating. Oddly enough, there is more concrete, obvious evidence easily visible in the scandals they are ignoring than in the scandals they choose to investigate.

Some highlights from the editorial:

“Prosecutors, Congress, and the public will want to know when the National Security Council shipped off the records about potential intelligence abuses by Susan Rice and others in the Obama White House to the memory hole of the Obama Presidential Library,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Fitton fittingly left journalists off his list of those who will want to know about this, since the latest weird twist in this story garnered precious little interest among the mainstream media.

Nor did an earlier development in this case, when the House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas for information related to unmasking requests involving Rice as well as former CIA Director John Brennan, and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Power.

These subpoenas were, Rep. Devin Nunes said, “just further escalation in the concern we have of the unmaskings of Americans by the senior leaders of the Obama administration.”

Loretta Lynch Scandal: Despite blanket coverage of James Comey‘s testimony about his firing by Trump, few noted the bombshell Comey dropped about Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, who, Comey said, pressured him to downplay the significance of the FBI‘s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s reckless handling of classified emails on her private server. Comey said Lynch told him to call it a “matter,” not an investigation.

Comey said this gave him a “queasy” feeling, since Lynch was specifically asking him to parrot the words the Clinton campaign was using to describe the FBI probe. That, on top of the Lynch’s private meeting with Bill Clinton, as well as the unusually lenient immunity deals the Justice Department cut with key witnesses in the Clinton email case, suggest Lynch had turned the Justice Department into an arm of the Clinton campaign.

…NSA Spying Scandal: In late May, Circa News published a truly bombshell report about how the National Security Agency had been conducting illegal searches on American citizens for years, “routinely violat(ing) American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts.” In addition, the administration “failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.”

Classified documents obtained by Circa showed that “one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011.”

Circa also reported that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court blasted Obama administration officials, saying that the improper searches posed a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue” and the administration’s failure to disclose the violations amounted to an “institutional lack of candor.”

Media response? The three network news programs all ignored this report, and it got little attention by any of the other mainstream news outlets.

Under the Obama Administration, Americans were spied on because of their political beliefs. That is a trait of a tyrannical government–not a representative republic. Would that have continued if Hillary Clinton had been elected? I don’t know.

It is time Congress, the Democrats, and the media stop chasing unicorns and actually investigate the constitutional abuses that took place during the Obama Administration. If these unconstitutional actions go unpunished, we have lost the concept of equal justice under the law. Congress and the people who continually vote for the Congressmen and Congresswomen who choose to ignore these violations of the law are responsible for this loss of equal justice. Unfortunately, all of us will eventually pay the price.

Losing Our Constitutional Rights One At A Time

Lately the First Amendment has been under attack at our colleges and universities. Speakers who do not hold views considered ‘acceptable’ are either disinvited or violently protested. However, there is another constitutional right that is also under attack–the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Yesterday a website called Circa posted an article about CIA Director John Brennan’s expected testimony before Congress today.

The article reminds us:

As former CIA Director John Brennan faces Congress anew on Tuesday, there is growing evidence the Agency he oversaw has become one of the largest consumers of unmasked intelligence about Americans even though its charter prohibits it from spying on U.S. citizens.

The CIA routinely searches data collected overseas on Americans by the National Security Agency, and frequently requests the names of intercepted U.S. persons to be unmasked, once-secret government documents reviewed by Circa show.

…Brennan himself was required last September to submit an affidavit to a court declaring he would keep his agency from abusing such expanded access to Americans’ private information.

Despite the declaration, there also is evidence that the CIA has broken its rules from time to time, a potential slight to Americans’ privacy protections, the documents show.

Last year, before leaving office, former President Obama relaxed the privacy rules protecting the privacy of Americans accidentally caught up in wiretaps of phone calls. Unfortunately, that policy change has been responsible for some of the leaks coming out of the Trump Administration. The unmasking of the names associated with those leaks was a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of American citizens.

The article explains:

But Circa reported earlier this spring that former President Barack Obama, Brennan’s boss, substantially loosened those privacy rules in 2011 allowing agencies like the CIA and FBI to more easily access unredacted intelligence on Americans. That led to a massive increase in both searches inside the NSAdatabase and the actual unmasking of Americans’ names in intelligence reports, and increased fears that such requests could be abused for political espionage.

Making a request can be as easy as saying a name is needed to understand a report.

In 2016, the NSA unmasked Americans‘ names in intelligence reports more than 1,900 times and was asked to do more than 35,000 searches of intercepted data for information on U.S. persons or their actual  intercepted conversations, according to data released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence

The searches for Americans’ names in the NSA database last year amounted to a three-fold increase over 2013. Officials note that their procedures for making such requests have undergone repeated court approvals.

I don’t believe that the fact that the unmasking of Americans’ names increased dramatically during an election year is a coincidence. This is exactly what the people who opposed the Patriot Act feared. Although we need to be able to protect ourselves from attacks by terrorists, we also need to protect the rights of Americans. We have to remember what the Founding Fathers knew–not everyone elected to pubic office is an honest upstanding citizen who will abide by his or her oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. That is the reason we need to make sure our Constitutional protections remain in place.

 

Lied To Again

Honesty in Washington, D.C. seems to be non-existent. A lot of the things we were told during the Obama Administration have turned out to be simply not true.

Recently a news site called Circa reported that the statistics released by the Obama Administration showing the number of American citizens unmasked after being captured in accidental National Security Agency intercepts were inaccurate.

The article reports:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, now under new management with President Donald Trump, confirms that the 654 unmaskings reported last year for fiscal 2015 was underreported by a factor of more than three times. The correct number was actually 2,232.

…National intelligence officials say the 654 figure reported last year actually represented the number of times a government official had a request approved to unmask an American name and not the total number of U.S. persons’ identities that actually were unredacted after the fact in intelligence reports, as had been represented in last year’s report.

…But starting in 2011, former President Obama made it easier to access that information, essentially creating keys for intelligence professionals and even his own political aides to unlock the NSA’s lock box to consume surveillance on Americans.

Circa reported last week that since those changes, the number of requests to search NSA records for Americans’ information more than tripled under the former administration from about 10,000 in 2013 to more than 25,000 in 2016.

These numbers confirm the fears some Congressmen had about the Patriot Act. What we saw in the Obama Administration was the use of government agencies to spy on political opponents. Every person involved in this effort needs to be fired and sent to jail. This is totally unconstitutional.

Attempting To Work Together

Partisanship in Washington is a way of life, but it can also be a serious problem when there is a crisis. It would be nice to believe that both sides of the aisle can work together if they have to in a crisis. Unfortunately, we may be about to find out if that is possible.

Fox News is reporting today that the entire U.S. Senate has been invited to the White House on Wednesday for a briefing on the North Korean situation.

The article reports:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats plan to provide the update to lawmakers.

It is rare for the entire Senate to be invited to such a briefing. 

Spicer (White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer) clarified that while the event will take place on the White House campus, it is technically a Senate briefing and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is the one who convened it.

The briefing, first reported by Reuters, was confirmed after President Trump earlier spoke to the leaders of both China and Japan.

I believe that this is an attempt at working together, and working together is desperately needed right now.

The article concludes:

On Monday, Trump also had lunch with ambassadors of countries on the U.N. Security Council. Ahead of the meeting, Trump called for “big reforms” at the U.N. and criticizing its handling of recent events in Syria and North Korea – but said it has “tremendous potential.”

“You just don’t see the United Nations, like, solving conflicts. I think that’s going to start happening now,” he said. 

It is going to be an interesting year.

 

If You Repeat A Lie Often Enough, People Accept It As Truth

On Thursday, Fred Fleitz posted an article at National Review about Hillary Clinton‘s claim that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russia was responsible for the wikileaks release of damaging DNC emails and damaging Hillary Clinton emails. That statement does not line up with the facts.

The article reports:

What Clinton said was false and misleading. First of all, only two intelligence entities – the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – have weighed in on this issue, not 17 intelligence agencies. And what they said was ambiguous about Russian involvement. An unclassified October 7, 2016 joint DNI-DHS statement on this issue said the hacks. . . are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europa and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

The author of the article explains the problem he has with that statement:

My problem with the DNI/DHS unclassified statement is that it appeared to be another effort by the Obama administration to politicize U.S. intelligence. Make no mistake, U.S. intelligence agencies issued this unprecedented unclassified statement a month before a presidential election that was so useful to one party because the Clinton campaign asked for it. The Obama administration was happy to comply.

This is another example of the fact that the Obama Administration has totally politicized every aspect of our government. Government agencies that need to operate independently of partisan politics has not operated that way under President Obama. It is a safe bet that they will be equally political under a President Hillary Clinton.

The article at National Review concludes:

Maybe the Russians are behind the WikiLeak hacks of Democrat e-mails, possibly to influence the 2016 presidential election. I’m not convinced of this. I’m more concerned that these constant leaks of Democratic e-mails demonstrate that Democratic officials appear to have no understanding of the need for Internet security. This makes me wonder if John Podesta’s e-mail password is “password.” These are the people Clinton will be giving senior jobs with high-level security clearances. That is the real security scandal that no one is talking about.

Fred Fleitz is a senior vice president for policy and programs with the Center for Security Policy. He worked in national-security positions for 25 years with the CIA, the State Department, and the House Intelligence Committee.

 

 

The House Of Representatives Leadership Does Not Represent Me

Freedomworks posted an article today illustrating how Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are trying to silence conservative voices. It is time we had new leadership in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. The people currently serving represent themselves and not the rest of us.

The article reports:

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is at it again.

He is using a House procedure to try and pass major legislation in a way that minimizes debate and prevents conservative amendments from being introduced and debated. Last month the majority leader did this to authorize $1 billion in taxpayer dollars for a global food security bill. FreedomWorks drew attention to the bill on our blog.

Today, Majority Leader McCarthy has scheduled H.R. 5077, the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017, for a vote in the House under the same expedited procedure, called suspension of the rules. This procedure is customarily reserved for non-controversial legislation. This bill is anything but non-controversial. It is scheduled for only 40 minutes of debate, as opposed to an hour of debate, which is the norm for bills considered under a rule. Amendments cannot be offered, and the bill can be voice-voted, allowing members to avoid being put on the record with a recorded vote.

H.R. 5077 proposes to spend $521 million of taxpayer and borrowed money over a 5-year period. That is just on the unclassified portion of the legislation. According to the committee report on the bill, the goal of the bill is to “authorize the intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government for fiscal year 2017. These activities enhance the national security of the United States, support and assist the armed forces of the United States, and support the President in the execution of the foreign policy of the United States.” Majority Leader McCarthy shouldn’t bring up such an important bill in a manner that prevents conservative and liberty movement amendments.

The article points out that there needs to be an opportunity for Representatives to make amendments that will protect the U.S. Constitution, as many of the entities funded in this bill have overstepped their boundaries in the past. It is quite possible that if the bill were allowed to be amended, it might be improved. Unfortunately, that may be exactly what Leader McCarthy wants to avoid.

The article concludes:

The majority leader should be running the floor in a way that allows significant bills to be fully debated with opportunities for members of the House to work their will through an amendment process. The intelligence bill should have come up as a regular rule bill, not under an expedited procedure that keeps member input to a minimum. The House, members, and the intelligence bill deserve better.

It is time for a change of leadership in Congress. We need Congressmen who will represent the interests of the American people–not people who represent only their own interests.

This Is Not Good News For Americans

Investor’s Business Daily posted a story yesterday about the recidivism rate of released Guantanamo detainees.

The article reports:

For the first time, the number of released Gitmo detainees who have re-engaged in terrorism has climbed above 30%, and the rate has been growing steadily under a president bent on emptying the entire prison.

In fact, terrorist recidivists released by the president doubled from six to 12 in the six months through January, according to data released Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. They include Guantanamo alumnus Hamed Abderrahaman Ahmed, who was arrested by Spanish authorities last month and charged with running a recruiting network for ISIS.

The total number of ex-Gitmo detainees rejoining the jihad has grown to 204, the intelligence report reveals. Almost two-thirds remain at large.

There is nothing to be gained by letting terrorist detainees out of Guantanamo so that they can kill American soldiers. There is also nothing to be gained by transferring terrorists to prisons on American soil. The fact that these men have to be kept in prison is unfortunate, but I can’t imagine a deprogramming system that would change their worldview. What we need to remember is that terrorists are trained as terrorists. Just as kindergarten children in Gaza are trained to be martyrs, terrorists are also trained early.

Below is a picture of a graduating kindergarten class in Gaza. It is from a previous article. It tells you all you need to know about when terrorist training begins. Until those in the Middle East who want to set up a caliphate stop teaching hate, we will not have peace and we will not be able to release any prisoners from Guantanamo without putting Americans at risk.

kindergartengraduation2

It will take a miracle of God to accomplish the change of heart that is needed for us to release the prisoners at Guantanamo safely.

National Security And The Refugee Program

On January 8th, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), along with Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and other Members of the Homeland Security Committee, held a press conference about the arrest of two Iraqi refugees. The video of the press conference is posted at YouTube.

This is the press conference:

This is the story as reported on News 25 in Texas:

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) wants the Senate to take up the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015.

McCaul’s push for the SAFE Act was included in a statement responding to two Iraqi-born refugees being arrested by U.S.officials on terror-related charges.

“While I commend the FBI for their hard work, these arrests heighten my concern that our refugee program is susceptible to exploitation by terrorists,” Chairman McCaul said.

The House passed the legislation in November with a bipartisan majority.

It requires comprehensive background checks of every refugee from Iraq or Syria before they can come into the U.S.

The FBI would have to certify the background investigation of each person.

In addition, the Secretary of Homeland Security, along with the FBI Director and the Director of National Intelligence, would have to certify to Congress that each refugee is not a security risk.

This is the Congressional oath of office:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

It’s time for the members of Congress to live up to their oath.

At Least There Is Some Check On Releasing Prisoners From Guantanamo

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted a story today about the continuing push by President Obama to release all of the prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. It is quite possible that the recent ‘normalization’ of America‘s relationship to Cuba might be related to this desire in some way. However, here at home, there seems to be another roadblock in the President’s way (thank goodness).

In January of this year, NewsMax ran a story about the recidivism rate of former Guantanamo prisoners. They compared the numbers the government has released with their information. Any resemblance between the two sets of numbers was purely coincidental.

These are the government figures:

fleitz.jpg

This is what the article says about those numbers:

Republican claims of a 30 percent recidivism rate are based on combining the figures in green on all detainees confirmed or suspected of re-engaging in terrorism.

I believe the actual recidivism rate is probably 30 percent or higher because of the time and difficulty in determining whether released Gitmo detainees have returned to terrorism.

Further complicating this determination are very strict definitions set by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to define what “confirmed” and “suspected of” reengaging in terrorist activities mean. Among other things, these definitions require evidence of direct involvement in terrorist activities and exclude communications with terrorist groups or engaging in anti-U.S. propaganda.

Meanwhile, President Obama is dealing with a familiar problem regarding the release of the prisoners.

Ed Morrissey reports:

Carter (Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter) also said that not every detainee in Guantanamo can be freed. “[W]e have to be very clear – there are people in Guantanamo Bay who cannot and should not be released because they will return to the terrorist fight,” he said. “And therefore we need a place where we can detain them in the long term. We have been forbidden to create such a place in U.S. territory.”

This is the problem that President Obama ran into with the last Secretary of Defense. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. There has been speculation that our involvement with Cuba will involve the turning over of Guantanamo to Cuba. It will be interesting to see how that will be handled between now and the time that President Obama leaves office. A first-term President is not likely to want a resume that includes the release of prisoners that were later to be found killing Americans.

Important Or Not?

President Obama has recently cited intelligence failures as the reason America was taken by surprise by the rise of ISIS. The intelligence community has not been happy with this statement.

The U.K. Daily Mail reported yesterday that President Obama has had accurate information about the rise of ISIS since before the 2012 election. The problem is that since ISIS is nothing more than a reconstitution of Al Qaeda, an organization which the Obama Presidential campaign claimed had been destroyed during the first presidential term of President Obama. Therefore the threat was ignored publicly. It was evidently also ignored privately.

Breitbart.com reported yesterday that according to the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), President Obama has attended only 42.1 % of his daily intelligence briefings (through September 29, 2014). This information came out after President Obama blamed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for intelligence failures related to ISIS.

The article at Breitbart reports:

“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” said Obama.

According to Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake, members of the Defense establishment were “flabbergasted” by Obama’s attempt to shift blame.

“Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” a former senior Pentagon official “who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq” told the Daily Beast.

On Monday, others in the intelligence community similarly blasted Obama and said he’s shown longstanding disinterest in receiving live, in-person PDBs that allow the Commander-in-Chief the chance for critical followup, feedback, questions, and the challenging of flawed intelligence assumptions.

…Ultimately, as ABC News reported, the White House did not directly dispute the GAI’s numbers but instead said Obama prefers to read his PDB on his iPad instead of receiving the all-important live, in-person briefings.

As Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” I think we need a commitment from our President to attend intelligence briefings. Reading something on your iPad is no substitute for hearing an intelligent discussion of a subject.

Some Strong Words From Retired Adm. James A. Lyons, Former Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and Senior U.S. Military Representative to the United Nations

On Sunday, the Washington Times posted an article by Retired Adm. James A. Lyons, former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, about the September 11 attack in Benghazi.

The Admiral did not mince words, and as a retired military man, he had a better understanding of how the military chain of command works than most of us have.

The article reports:

We now know why Ambassador Christopher Stevens had to be in Benghazi the night of 9/11 to meet a Turkish representative, even though he feared for his safety.  According to various reports, one of Stevens’ main missions in Libya was to facilitate the transfer of much of Gadhafi’s military equipment, including the deadly SA-7 – portable SAMs – to Islamists and other al Qaeda-affiliated groups fighting the Assad Regime in Syria. In an excellent article, Aaron Klein states that Stevens routinely used our Benghazi consulate (mission) to coordinate the Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Qatari governments’ support for insurgencies throughout the Middle East. Further, according to Egyptian security sources, Stevens played a “central role in recruiting Islamic jihadists to fight the Assad Regime in Syria.”

What in the world are we doing? Didn’t we learn our lesson when we created the Taliban regime in Afghanistan?

The Admiral concludes:

Having been in a number of similar situations, I know you have to have the courage to do what’s right and take immediate action. Obviously, that courage was lacking for Benghazi. The safety of your personnel always remains paramount. With all the technology and military capability we had in theater, for our leadership to have deliberately ignored the pleas for assistance is not only in incomprehensible, it is un-American.

Somebody high up in the administration made the decision that no assistance (outside our Tripoli embassy) would be provided, and let our people be killed. The person who made that callous decision needs to be brought to light and held accountable. According to a CIA spokesperson, “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need.” We also need to know whether the director of CIA and the director of National Intelligence were facilitators in the fabricated video lie and the overall cover-up. Their creditability is on the line. A congressional committee should be immediately formed to get the facts out to the American people. Nothing less is acceptable.

I suspect that the truth of this event will come out after the election. It should come out before. The events of September 11 reflect very badly on the people in the Obama Administration who were making decisions that night–whoever they were. They need to be held accountable.

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Don’t Mess With The State Department

The State Department has an interesting history. They selectively leaked information during the Bush Administration to undermine the Bush presidency. From the beginning of the Benghazi attack, Hillary Clinton (and the State Department) took responsibility for not providing accurate security in Benghazi. President Obama has said in multiple news conferences and campaign appearances that his claim that the attack on the Embassy Annex was caused by a video was based on information he received from the State Department. Well, the truth is starting to come out.

This article is based on three sources–an article posted by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air today, an ABC News story posted last night and a Fox News story posted today.

Hot Air reports:

If the scoop from Reuters last night surprised Americans with the knowledge that the intel community knew that the Benghazi attack was not a spontaneous demonstration that spun out of control, no one was more surprised than Senate Intelligence Committee vice chair Saxby Chambliss.  His committee has been requesting those e-mails for weeks, and Chambliss to Fox and Friends that the information in them shows why they demanded them in the first place.

…Finally, we have last night’s revelation that the Situation Room got e-mails from the intel community while the attack was underway that clearly gave evidence that this was no spontaneous demonstration gone amok. They had plenty of evidence — “concrete evidence,” to use Jay Carney’s terminology — that the sacking of the consulate and assassination of our Ambassador was a planned terrorist attack.

ABC News reports:

A series of email alerts sent as Obama administration officials monitored the attack on the U.S consulate in Benghazi last month are the latest to shine light on the chaotic events that culminated in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

The names of the individual recipients of the emails, first reported by CBS News but independently obtained by ABC News Tuesday evening, are redacted. A source who requested anonymity said it appears they are sent by the State Department Operations Center to distribution lists and email accounts for the top national security officials at the State Department, Pentagon, the FBI, the White House Situation Room and the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Fox News reports:

A series of internal State Department emails obtained by Fox News shows that officials reported within hours of last month’s deadly consulate attack in Libya that Al Qaeda-tied group Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility.

The emails provide some of the most detailed information yet about what officials knew in the initial hours after the attack. And it again raises questions about why U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, apparently based on intelligence assessments, would claim five days after the attack that it was a “spontaneous” reaction to protests over an anti-Islam film.

First of all, if anyone in the White House was aware of this attack in real time, why didn’t they send help? Second of all, why the rush to blame the video? Third, why is the man responsible for the video being kept in jail until after the election?

The attack in Benghazi was an indication of the fact that the Arab Spring has not brought democracy–it has brought persecution of Christians, Sharia Law, and chaos. These are not the results of a successful foreign policy. We have been lied to from the start of the reporting on this attack, and it is time to vote the liars out of office.

 

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What The State Department Actually Said

This is the link to the State Department Background Briefing on Libya dated October 9. It is on the website of the State Department.

Here are a few excerpts:

The compound is roughly 300 yards long – that’s three football fields long – and a hundred yards wide. We need that much room to provide the best possible setback against car bombs. Over the next few months, physical security at the compound is strengthened. The outer wall is upgraded, its height is increased to nine feet.It is topped by three feet of barbed wire and concertina wire all around the huge property. External lighting is increased. Jersey barriers, which are big concrete blocks, are installed outside and inside the gate. Steel drop bars are added at the gates to control vehicle access and to provide some anti-ram protection. The buildings on the compound itself were strengthened.

The compound has four buildings on it, and you guys are going to have to get used to this, because I refer them to – as Building C, Building B, Tactical Operations Center, and a barracks. So Building C is a building that is essentially a large residence. It has numerous bedrooms and it is – it has a safe haven installed in it, and I’ll talk more about that in a minute. Building C ultimately is the building that the Ambassador was in, so keep that in your heads.

Building B is another residence on the compound. It has bedrooms and it has a cantina. That’s where the folks dine. The Tactical Operations Center, which is just across the way from Building B, has offices and a bedroom. That’s where the security officers had their main setup, that’s where the security cameras are, a lot of the phones – it’s basically their operations center. So I’ll call it the TOC from now on.

And then there was a barracks. The barracks is a small house by the front gate, the main gate of the compound. In that barracks is a Libyan security force which I’ll describe in a minute. Security on the compound consists of five Diplomatic Security special agents and four members of the Libyan Government security force, which I will henceforth call the 17th February Brigade. It is a militia, a friendly militia, which has basically been deputized by the Libyan Government to serve as our security, our host government security. In addition to all those, there is an additional security force at another U.S. compound two kilometers away. It serves as a rapid reaction force, a quick reaction security team – a quick reaction security team, okay?

…Okay. The Ambassador has arrived in Benghazi on the 10th of September. He does meetings both on the compound and off the compound on that day, spends the night. The next day is 9/11. He has all his – because it is 9/11, out of prudence, he has all his meetings on the compound. He receives a succession of visitors during the day.

About 7:30 in the evening, he has his last meeting. It is with a Turkish diplomat. And at – when the meeting is over, at 8:30 – he has all these meetings, by the way, in what I call Building C – when the meeting is over, he escorts the Turkish diplomat to the main gate. There is an agent there with them. They say goodbye. They’re out in a street in front of the compound. Everything is calm at 8:30 p.m. There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside.

After he sees the Turkish diplomat off, the Ambassador returns to Building C, where the information management officer – his name is Sean Smith, and who is one of the victims – the information management officer – I’ll just call him Sean from now on, on this call – and four other – four Diplomatic Security agents are all at Building C. One Diplomatic Security agent is in the TOC, the Tactical Operations Center. All of these agents have their side arms.

A few minutes later – we’re talking about 9 o’clock at night – the Ambassador retires to his room, the others are still at Building C, and the one agent in the TOC. At 9:40 p.m., the agent in the TOC and the agents in Building C hear loud noises coming from the front gate. They also hear gunfire and an explosion. The agent in the TOC looks at his cameras – these are cameras that have pictures of the perimeter – and the camera on the main gate reveals a large number of people – a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound. One special agent immediately goes to get the Ambassador in his bedroom and gets Sean, and the three of them enter the safe haven inside the building.

OPERATOR: The next question is from the line of Brad Klapper with AP. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, yes. You described several incidents you had with groups of men, armed men. 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?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion. I’m not saying that we had a conclusion, but we outlined what happened. The Ambassador walked guests out around 8:30 or so, there was no one on the street at approximately 9:40, then there was the noise and then we saw on the cameras the – a large number of armed men assaulting the compound.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you. We’re ready for the next question, please.

OPERATOR: The next question is from the line of Toby Zakaria with Reuters. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Do you know what the threat level for Benghazi was the day before the attack? And also, did anyone suggest to the Ambassador that it might not be prudent to go to Benghazi on 9/11?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Taking your questions in reverse order, ambassadors travel, ambassadors must travel, ambassadors must get out and meet with a variety of individuals, especially in countries that have multiple centers of energy or power. That’s just – it just must happen.

But secondly, as Official Number One said earlier, the Ambassador did events in the city on the 10th. He had plans to do events in the city later in the week. But on the 11th, he remained in the compound.

As in terms of the – of any kind of security threat, the – both ODNI spokesman and the DNI have been correctly quoted as saying that there was no actionable intelligence of any planned or imminent attack.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you. Next question, please.

OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of David Lerman with Bloomberg News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Did the Ambassador – before the attack, did the Ambassador request that security be increased in Benghazi? And if so, did anything ever come of it?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL NUMBER TWO: The – when the Ambassador traveled to Benghazi, he traveled with two additional security agents over and above the complement of three who were assigned to post. So there were five agents with him there rather than the two who are normally assigned there – the three who are normally assigned. So they were up two.

Please follow the link above to the State Department website to read the entire briefing, which discusses the safe house and a lot of other actual details of the attack.Enhanced by Zemanta