10/06/2012

Did the Obama administration deliberately hide information on the Libyan Attack?

From Bill Gertz in an article titled "The revolt of the Spooks":
Weeks before the presidential election, President Barack Obama’s administration faces mounting opposition from within the ranks of U.S. intelligence agencies over what careerofficers say is a “cover up” of intelligence information about terrorism in North Africa. 
Intelligence held back from senior officials and the public includes numerous classified reports revealing clear Iranian support for jihadists throughout the tumultuous North Africa and Middle East region, as well as notably widespread al Qaeda penetration into Egypt and Libya in the months before the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. . . . 
Intelligence officials pointed to the statement issued Sept. 28 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) that raised additional concern about the administration’s apparent mishandling of intelligence. The ODNI statement said that “in the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo.” 
Officials say the ODNI’s false information was either knowingly disseminated or was directed to be put out by senior policy officials for political reasons, since the statement was contradicted by numerous intelligence reports at the time of the attack indicating it was al Qaeda-related terrorism. . . .
Meanwhile, the Obama administration claims that it was given bad information by the intelligence community.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told Republican senators that her televised statements last month on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were based entirely on information she was given by the intelligence community. 
"In my Sept. 16 Sunday show appearances, I was asked to provide the administration's latest understanding of what happened in Benghazi," Rice wrote in a Thursday letter to Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). "In answering, I relied solely and squarely on the information the intelligence community provided to me and other senior U.S. officials, including through the daily intelligence briefings that present the latest reporting and analysis to policy makers. This information represented the intelligence community's best, current assessment as of the date of my television appearances, and I went out of my way to ensure it was consistent with the information that was being given to Congress." 
Rice was responding to a Sept. 26 letter from the GOP senators in which they accused Rice of jumping the gun and disseminating false information about the attack. The letter quotes Rice's comments selectively, leaving out the context where she cautioned that the information was based on initial assessments. Rice emphasized in her response that she had caveated her remarks in her TV appearances. . . . 
CBS has information that "34 highly-trained security personnel" were removed from the embassy earlier this year.  If you combine that with the Ambassador's diaries and his concern over security, you get a real mess.
Sources critical of what they view as a security drawdown say three Mobile Security Deployment teams left Libya between February and August in addition to the 16-member Site Security Team on loan from the military. That's 34 highly-trained security personnel moved out over a six month period. . . .
Meanwhile more information appears that the Obama administration denied other security requests from the Libyan embassy.
ABC News has obtained an internal State Department email from May 3, 2012, indicating that the State Department denied a request from the security team at the Embassy of Libya to retain a DC-3 airplane in the country to better conduct their duties. 
Copied on the email was U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in a terrorist attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya,  Sept. 11, 2012, along with three other Americans. That attack has prompted questions about whether the diplomatic personnel in that country were provided with adequate security support. . . . 
UPDATE: "U.S. officer got no reply to requests for more security in Benghazi"
A U.S. security officer twice asked his State Department superiors for more security agents for the American mission in Benghazi months before an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, but he got no response. 
The officer, Eric Nordstrom, who was based in Tripoli until about two months before the September attack, said a State Department official, Charlene Lamb, wanted to keep the number of U.S. security personnel in Benghazi "artificially low," according to a memo summarizing his comments to a congressional committee that was obtained by Reuters. 
Nordstrom also argued for more U.S. security in Libya by citing a chronology of over 200 security incidents there from militia gunfights to bomb attacks between June 2011 and July 2012. Forty-eight of the incidents were in Benghazi. . . . . 
The Congressional hearings on October 10th are going to be brutal.  Apparently both the Intelligence community and the Dept of State told the WH immediately after the attack that it was a terrorist in origin, but the WH went public saying that wasn't the case.  Based on what?

Jay Carney has a defense of the administration available here.  Great timeline available here.  See here also:



UPDATE: From the Washington Times (Rep. Mike Kelly, "Libya security cut while Vienna embassy gained Chevy Volt," Wednesday, October 10, 2012):
While the security budget for Libya was being cut, the Department of State was spending a lot of money on Chevy Volts. 
In a May 3, 2012, email, the State Department denied a request by a group of Special Forces assigned to protect the U.S. embassy in Libyato continue their use of a DC- 3 airplane for security operations throughout the country. 
The subject line of the email, on which slain Ambassador Chris Stevenswas copied, read: “Termination of Tripoli DC-3 Support.” 
Four days later, on May 7, the State Department authorized the U.S. embassy in Vienna to purchase a $108,000 electric vehicle charging station for the embassy motor pool’s new Chevrolet Volts. The purchase was a part of the State Department’s “Energy Efficiency Sweep of Europe” initiative, which included hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on green program expenditures at various U.S. Embassies. 
In fact, at a May 10 gala held at the U.S. embassy in Vienna, the ambassador showcased his new Volts and other green investments as part of the U.S. government’s commitment to “climate change solutions.” 
The event posting on the embassy website read: “Celebrating the Greening of the Embassy.” 
While the embassy in Vienna was going green, the consulate in Benghazi was getting bombed, and little was done to stop it. 
Before the terrorist attack that took the lives of Ambassador Chris StevensSean SmithGlen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, there were more than 230 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012. 
Of those attacks, 48 took place in Benghazi, two at the U.S. diplomatic compound and scene of the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks. . . .

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