Tag Archives: stevens

Benghazi Hearing: Hicks ‘stunned’ at Rice explanation

Deputy Chief of Mission Hicks said it best about Susan Rice’s statements on the Sunday morning talk shows in which she perpetuated the lies about Benghazi: “My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” Mr Hicks said on his reaction to her interview.  Someone must be held accountable for the Obama Administration’s purposeful lies about the terrorist attacks on our Ambassador and three other Americans on 9/11/12. — AA

(Guardian UK)

A top US official who was in Libya during the deadly attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi has given the first public account of the event.

Gregory Hicks, deputy chief of mission in Tripoli, said he was “stunned” by UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s comments that the attack was spontaneous.

He also told lawmakers he received a phone call from US Envoy Christopher Stevens, just before he died.

Three other Americans were killed in the attack on 11 September 2012.


Start Quote

My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed”

Gregory Hicks on his reaction to Susan Rice’s comments

During several hours of emotional testimony before a House of Representatives committee on Wednesday, Mr Hicks described the moment he was informed of the attack.

He said he was in Tripoli watching TV when he received a phone call from Ambassador Stevens.

“Greg, we’re under attack,” the ambassador reportedly told Mr Hicks by telephone before the line cut.

He later received a phone call from the Libyan prime minister informing him of Ambassador Steven’s death.

“I think it is the saddest phone call I have ever had in my life,” Mr Hicks said.

After the disrupted phone call with Ambassador Stevens, Mr Hicks said he received calls from Libyans using the ambassador’s phone who said they had the envoy with them.

But Mr Hicks decided not to act on the calls, fearing an ambush.

UN Ambassador Susan Rice has been the focus of outrage from Republicans in Congress, for giving the news media what has been acknowledged as an incorrect explanation for the attack.

She said on a Sunday chat show on 16 September that the attack had grown out of an anti-US protest, while other officials have said they knew at the time it was an organised, armed assault, possibly by an Islamist militant group.

“My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” Mr Hicks said on his reaction to her interview.

Some Republicans accuse the White House of hiding information about the attack, while Democrats say the issue has become politicised.

The BBC’s Jane O’Brien in Washington says Wednesday’s testimony will do nothing to dispel Republican concerns that President Barack Obama tried to cover up a terrorist attack in the run-up to a presidential election.

Democrats will continue to say there was no attempt to mislead the public, our correspondents adds.

‘Need to evacuate’

At Wednesday’s hearing, Mr Hicks expressed frustration with the lack of a US military response during the night-time attack, saying one could have deterred a second assault.

The Pentagon has said nothing could have been done to assist the Americans in Benghazi.

Mr Hicks and two other state department employees criticised an official review undertaken after the attack, saying many people with first-hand knowledge of the event were not interviewed and it focused too much on lower-ranking officials.

The review found that poor leadership and management in two state department teams led to a security plan that was “inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place”.

Mr Hicks told the panel he spoke to people at the State Department and to Libyan officials, and had a conversation with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton around 02:00 on the night of the attack.

“Secretary of State Clinton called me along with her senior staff… and she asked me what was going on. And I briefed her on developments,” Mr Hicks told congressmen.

“Most of the conversation was about the search for Ambassador Stevens. It was also about what we were going to do with our personnel in Benghazi, and I told her that we would need to evacuate. She said that was the right thing to do.”

The ambassador died of smoke inhalation when he was trapped in the burning consulate building, after armed men stormed the compound.

State department employee Sean Smith and former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty also died in the attack.

Mrs Clinton angrily defended her handling of the Benghazi raid in a series of hearings on Capitol Hill in January.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Senate Leaders Stand Ground Against a Rice Appointment

Thankfully, Senators McCain, Ayotte, and Graham are not backing down from their criticism of, and concerns about, the prospect of Ambassador Rice becoming Secretary Rice.  The administration has failed to provide the country with anything resembling the truth, and she has done nothing but prevaricate on the Benghazi affair before national audiences.  Instead, the president has been defensive and combative.  -AA

Image

* Republican McCain says ‘troubled’ by answers

* Senators will not support her until questions resolved

By Tabassum Zakaria

WASHINGTON, Nov 27 (Reuters) – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on Tuesday failed to win over her harshest Republican critics in the U.S. Senate who are threatening to block her nomination if President Barack Obama chooses her for Secretary of State or another top post in his second-term Cabinet.

Rice met for about an hour behind closed doors at the U.S. Capitol with Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte. They have openly criticized her for initial comments after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that suggested it was a spontaneous event arising from protests of an anti-Islam film rather than a premeditated attack.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the Benghazi mission and a nearby CIA annex. Intelligence officials later said the attack was possibly tied to al Qaeda affiliates.

“We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got, and some that we didn’t get, concerning evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the attack on our consulate,” McCain told reporters after the meeting.

“It is clear that the information that she gave the American people was incorrect when she said that it was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video,” he said.

“It was not, and there was compelling evidence at the time that that was certainly not the case, including statements by Libyans as well as other Americans who are fully aware that people don’t bring mortars and rocket-propelled grenades to spontaneous demonstrations,” McCain said.

Republicans have argued that the Obama administration tried to play down the terrorist angle in its initial comments to avoid undermining the president’s claims of success in fighting al Qaeda in the run-up to the Nov. 6 election.

Rice was accompanied by acting CIA Director Michael Morell and was not seen by reporters, but later issued a statement saying: “We explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi.”

“While, we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved,” she said. “We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process.”

Obama has defended Rice and said if senators have a problem with the administration’s handling of Benghazi they should “go after me” rather than try to “besmirch her reputation.”

Graham also criticized U.S. intelligence agencies that wrote the talking points on which Rice based her public comments.

“I’m very disappointed in our intelligence community. I think they failed in many ways. But with a little bit of inquiry and curiosity, I think it would be pretty clear that to explain this episode as related to a video that created a mob that turned into a riot was far afield,” he said. “And at the end of the day, we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”

Rice’s controversial Benghazi statements were based on a set of unclassified talking points prepared by U.S. intelligence agencies for members of Congress.

The initial draft written by the CIA referred to “attacks” carried out by “extremists with ties to al Qaeda.” However by the time Rice received them, “attacks” had changed to “demonstrations” and “with ties to al Qaeda” had been deleted, multiple U.S. sources have said.

The White House has denied making those edits and members of Congress are trying to determine where the changes were made.

The senators who met with Rice remained unconvinced by her responses and said her visit left them with greater concerns than before the meeting.

“I wouldn’t vote for anybody being nominated out of the Benghazi debacle until I had answers about what happened that I don’t have today,” Graham said.

Asked whether he would block such a nomination, Graham said: “Oh, absolutely. I would place a hold on anybody that wanted to be promoted for any job that had a role in the Benghazi situation.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Broadwell Distraction

Over the past week, the names Patricia Broadwell and Jill Kelley have dominated the news and headlines for a week now, becoming synonymous with the scandal in Benghazi.  The saddest part of all of this fiasco is not how hurt Holly Petraeus must be, or how Gen. Allen could lose his shot at being the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO.  Certainly, the shrapnel that has hit these two and their families is unfortunate. But what I find much more disheartening is how the aforementioned names have replaced those of Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods an Glen Doherty.  Remember them?  They were the Americans that lost their lives at the special mission in Benghazi.

No one is mentioning them anymore.  No one talks about the wicked Ansar al-Sharia, the terrorist group responsible for the attack.  No one is raising the name of Fawzi Bukatef, the man who led the militia responsible for protecting the facility, nor his known ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.  While the images of biographer Broadwell and socialite Kelley are all over the internet, who’s seen an image of Abdel Hakim Belhadj, the associate of Bukatef with deep ties to al-Qaeda? 

All of this marital infidelity makes for great tabloid fodder.  Yet the most esteemed broadsheets are focusing on it instead of the victims and the perpetrators of the 9/11/12 attacks.  It remains to be seen why this is so, but the answers–hopefully–will arise out of the numerous hearings and investigations being conducted and promised by the government and Congress.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Egyptians Amongst the Suspects in the Benghazi Attack

Remember when everyone was heralding the Arab Spring?  It was supposed to render al-Qaeda and its affiliates obsolete because young Arabs learned a new way to address their grievances?  That seems like a distant memory, what with the Muslim Brotherhood in control in Egypt and now this news.  –AA

By Catherine Herridge

The list of suspects in the Libya terror attack now extends to a handful of suspected militants aligned with an Egyptian group known as the Jamal Network, Fox News has learned. 

A U.S. official said the Jamal Network is committed to violence to attain its political ambitions, adding they are “hard-core, violent extremists in Egypt who are trying to develop a relationship with Al Qaeda.” 

Fox News is told that there are between two- and three-dozen suspects actively being investigated at any one time in connection with the Benghazi attack. The suspect list is fluid, drawn from intelligence ranging from intercepts to witness accounts, with new names being added and dropped on a regular basis. 

The majority of the suspects were described to Fox News as “locals” who come from Libya and are followers of the group Ansar al-Shariah, which wants to establish an Islamic state with adherence to strict Shariah law. 

The additional suspects are being investigated after one Tunisian suspect, Ali Ani al-Harzi, was first arrested in Turkey — after being identified through telephone intercepts where he bragged to friends about his involvement — and transferred to Tunisian custody. There is also at least one suspect with ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq. 

The radical ties of the suspects further raises questions about the degree of planning that may have been involved in an attack initially described as “spontaneous.” 

The Jamal Network takes its name from Mohammed Jamal Abu Ahmed, who was released from an Egyptian jail during the Arab Spring and is now trying to establish himself as a leader in Jihadi circles. U.S. officials believe he established training camps in Libya, and it was in these camps that some of the fighters linked to the attack were trained. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Grinnin’ Joe Biden adds more confusion to Libya story with debate claim on security

Vice President Biden’s claim at Thursday’s debate that the administration wasn’t told of requests for more diplomatic security in the run-up to the Libya terror attack added only more confusion to an already muddled narrative.

In addition to raising eyebrows over that comment, the vice president went a step further and threw the intelligence community under the bus — putting the blame squarely on their shoulders for the faulty narrative, pushed for more than a week by the administration, that the attack was a protest spun out of control.

The exchange on Libya, which opened the debate in Kentucky, was among the toughest in a persistently confrontational face-off. But Biden’s comment on security was drawing widespread condemnation from Republicans Friday, with Romney adviser Dan Senor saying Biden “continued the administration’s pattern of misleading” on Libya.

Biden referenced the security when pressed about earlier criticism from Republican running mate Paul Ryan about the protection of diplomatic posts in Libya.

“Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again,” Biden said.

However, State Department officials who testified Wednesday before a House committee acknowledged there were indeed earlier requests for more security staffing — though they also suggested more staffing would not have prevented the Sept. 11 tragedy in Benghazi.

Two former security officers who testified at that hearing, including former top security official Eric Nordstrom, expressed frustration at how their appeals for more resources were rebuffed.

“We were fighting a losing battle. We couldn’t even keep what we had,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, former head of a 16-member U.S. military team that helped protect the embassy in Tripoli.

During the debate, Ryan later challenged the vice president on his comment.

“There were requests for extra security; those requests were not honored,” he said, adding that there should be Marines in Benghazi.

Biden also stated definitively Thursday that it was the intelligence community that originally surmised the attack was just a protest spun out of control — rather than a coordinated terror strike.

“That was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment,” Biden said.

State Department officials who testified Wednesday suggested as well that when U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice claimed the Sunday after the attack that protests over an anti-Islam film were to blame, she was merely basing her comments on the intelligence at the time.

However, lawmakers by that point had been publicly challenging the notion that the protests were a factor. And sources have since confirmed that some in the intelligence community were pointing to terrorism within 24 hours of the attack.

Fox News

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized