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Lawmakers 'suspicious' administration 'trying to hide' Libya attack details
Published September 27, 2012

Fresh claims that U.S. intelligence officials knew practically from the start that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was terrorism possibly tied to Al Qaeda have lawmakers alleging they were misled and questioning whether the administration has something to hide.

"This is turning into something not short of Benghazi-gate," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told Fox News, adding he's "very suspicious" about the way the administration has handled this.

Two senior U.S. officials told Fox News on Thursday that U.S. intelligence officials knew within 24 hours of the assault that it was a terrorist attack and suspected Al Qaeda-tied elements were involved.

The account sharply conflicted with claims by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on the Sunday after the attack that the administration believed the strike was a "spontaneous" event triggered by protests in Egypt over an anti-Islam film.

"The best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack -- that what happened initially was it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video," Rice said on "Fox News Sunday" at the time.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, a member of the House intelligence committee, said that's consistent with what lawmakers were told in briefings.

"If there was information a day after that was to the contrary, I think Congress was misled," Thornberry told Fox News. "But again, it's even more serious than that. It means that we have a real problem in not being able to face up to the national security challenges our country faces."

Corker also said a briefing he and his colleagues received was "worthless," and he demanded "answers" about the changing story.

"This has now turned into a very bipartisan concern," he said. "There has to be something that they're trying to hide or cover up. ... This is just not the norm. This is way out of the norm, what is happening in this case."

President Obama's aides have denied any attempt to cover things up. "No one either intentionally or unintentionally misled anyone involved in this," campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said on "Fox News Sunday." "No one wants to get to the bottom of this more than we do."

Curiously, Obama referred to "acts of terror" in his first public remarks about the attack. But from there, administration officials went on to blame the anti-Islam film.

Rice was the most explicit in that explanation, insisting in those Sunday shows that the attack was not pre-planned and was tied to the film. Obama still has not publicly and specifically described the Benghazi attack as terrorism.

But top administration officials have gradually walked back Rice's version of events. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was the latest Thursday to declare: "It was a terrorist attack."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly suggested Wednesday to foreign leaders visiting the United Nations summit in New York that the Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa was involved.

She was referring to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. That's the group that, according to senior officials, the intelligence community suspected by Sept. 12, the day after the attack, of being involved -- along with the militant Ansar al-Shariah.

Officials also confirmed they had several "intelligence assets" on the ground to track Ansar al-Shariha and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. They said the attack was labeled as terrorism from the start in order to free up certain resources. Specifically, it was labeled under the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists" category, created by a post-9/11 congressional action.

Clinton earlier this week called the attack terrorism, two weeks after the fact. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also said that Obama now believes it was terrorism as well.

Yet a congressional source told Fox News that CIA Director David Petraeus, during a briefing with members of the House Intelligence Committee three days after the attack, also espoused the view that Benghazi was an out-of-control demonstration prompted by the YouTube video. According to the source, this was "shocking" to some members who were present and saw the same intelligence pointing toward a terrorist attack.

In addition, sources confirm that FBI agents have not yet arrived in Benghazi in the aftermath of the attack. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault.

One intelligence official clarified to Fox News that there was not a "definitive" lead on who might have been responsible for the Libya attacks in the immediate aftermath, though officials had an idea of the suspects.

"It's inaccurate to suggest that within the first 24 hours there was a definitive calling card and home address for the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack. Potential suspects and data points emerge early on, but it still takes time to be certain who is responsible," the official said.

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Diplomats asked repeatedly for more security before Libya attack, lawmakers claim
Published October 02, 2012

Report: Freed militant connected to Libya attack

White House accused of politicizing Libya...
U.S. diplomats in Libya repeatedly asked the Obama administration for more security in Benghazi in the run-up to the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate but were "denied these resources," two congressional lawmakers said.

House oversight committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, pressed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for more information on those requests and other concerns in a letter Tuesday.

They detailed a string of attacks and other security incidents in Benghazi starting in April, and asked the State Department what measures it took to address the threat. They claimed officials have told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of "repeated requests" for additional security.

"Based on information provided to the committee by individuals with direct knowledge of events in Libya, the attack that claimed the ambassador's life was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012," they wrote. "In addition, multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the committee that, prior to the September 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi. The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in Washington."

The committee plans to hold an Oct. 10 hearing on security in the region leading up to the attack. The letter to Clinton alleges 12 incidents that showed the deteriorating security situation on the ground.

The reported incidents include an account that members of the Libyan security force were urged by their family members to quit over rumors "of an impending attack."

The letter also said threats on Facebook prompted Ambassador Chris Stevens to stop taking morning runs around Tripoli, though he reportedly later resumed those runs. The letter included other incidents, which have been well documented, including the June attack on a convoy carrying the British ambassador. Plus it said "assailants" put an explosive device at the gate of the U.S. Consulate in early June, blowing a hole in the security perimeter.

"Put together, these events indicated a clear pattern of security threats that could only be reasonably interpreted to justify increased security for U.S. personnel and facilities in Benghazi," the lawmakers wrote.

Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Fox News reported on Friday that the physical security was so substandard at the Benghazi consulate that it required a waiver, signed off in Washington by the secretary of state, the head of diplomatic security, or the heads of foreign building operations. A State Department spokeswoman said there would be no comment on the issue until their internal investigation is complete.

The department, meanwhile, has stood by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice in the face of criticism and calls for her resignation. Rice came under fire for claiming repeatedly the Sunday after the attack that it was a "spontaneous" reaction to protests over an anti-Islam film. The administration now acknowledges the assault was a coordinated terror attack.

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Lawmakers renew demand for documents on Libya as Clinton urges patience
Published October 04, 2012

Did State Department ignore warnings before Libya...

Report: US failed to secure documents after Libya...
Capitol Hill lawmakers expressed frustration after their requests for more information on the Libya attack were rebuffed by the State Department, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging lawmakers to wait for the conclusion of an internal review.

That review, though, could take months.

Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., on Wednesday renewed their demand for documents after Clinton declined to hand over the cables they initially requested. The House Intelligence Committee has not received any documents from the department either, Fox News has learned.

"We hope that in the next few days you follow through with transmitting information requested by members of Congress," Corker and Isakson wrote in a letter to Clinton. "In particular, we renew our request for all communications between the diplomatic mission in Libya and the State Department related to the security situation to be transmitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee without delay."

Clinton raised concerns among some Republican lawmakers that she was pushing off the review's conclusions until after the election, as she named a five-member "Accountability Review Board" to examine the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

"No one wants to determine what happened that night in Benghazi more than the president and I do. No one is more committed to ensuring it doesn't happen again, and nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves because we serve with and we knew the four men we lost," Clinton said Wednesday.

But she did not address specific allegations that diplomats had warned in advance of security concerns.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is planning to hold a hearing on Oct. 10. In a letter to Clinton on Wednesday, Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked that the department provide two witnesses -- Eric Nordstrom, who was stationed in Libya until June, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs Charlene Lamb, a Washington official involved in reviewing security requests.

The hearing comes as the department's review is just getting underway. Among those on the panel are Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and retired U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who served as America's top diplomat in several countries.
Language published in the Federal Register this week declared that the board will submit its findings "within 60 days of its first meeting, unless the Chair determines a need for additional time."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, expressed concern that the State Department's findings would be pushed off until "after the election."

"There are clear signs that (there were) security concerns in Libya and other embassies around the world, and what they were doing is diminishing security in the name of normalizing relations," Chaffetz told Fox News.

Issa and Chaffetz, in an earlier letter to Clinton, detailed several attacks in Benghazi in the lead-up to the strike that they suggested should have been warning signs.

Further, they claimed sources told them that diplomats made "repeated requests" for additional security but were denied.

New signs also were emerging this week that officials were receiving guidance that the attack was coordinated in the immediate aftermath of the strike despite public comments to the contrary.

The New York Times, which first reported that the U.S. was tracking suspects, reported that, according to one official, spy agencies were intercepting communications from militant Ansar al-Shariah fighters boasting to someone with an Al Qaeda affiliate.

Reuters also reported that the Obama administration had "about a dozen" intelligence reports within hours of the attack suggesting Al Qaeda-tied militants were involved.

Fox News reported last week that intelligence officials were picking up that it was a terror strike within 24 hours.

Still, top administration officials in the week after the attack insisted it was a "spontaneous" reaction to protests over an anti-Islam film. That film was driving demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa, but lawmakers and others were saying from the start that Libya was a different situation despite the initial claims of the Obama administration.

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Libya Victim's Mother to Obama: 'You Didn't Do Your Job'
Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 11:12 PM

By Todd Beamon
The mother of one of the victims of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday that she is still waiting for an official explanation from the Obama White House on how her son died.

“Officially, yes,” Patricia Smith told Cooper on his “360” program in response to a question on if she is still waiting for an explanation of how her son, Sean Smith, an information manager at the consulate, died in the attacks.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and two other Americans also were killed in the assault.

“I ask them: ‘Please don’t give me any baloney that comes through with this political stuff. I don’t want the political stuff. You can keep the political stuff. Just tell me the truth. What happened?' And I still don’t know,” Patricia Smith said.

Sean Smith was a 10-year veteran of the Foreign Service who also had served in Iraq, South Africa, Canada and the Netherlands. He also was an Air Force veteran with a wife, a son and a daughter.

On the program, Patricia Smith said Sean, her only child, had gone into the Air Force at 17.

Throughout the interview, Smith appeared frustrated, exasperated and furious that she has heard nothing from the Obama administration about her son’s death since what she was told at a reception after a memorial service for the victims of the Benghazi attacks.

She said White House officials promised at the event that they would keep her informed on her son’s death.

“They all came up and talked to me,” Smith told Cooper. “I cried on Obama’s shoulder. He just looked off in the distance. That was worthless to me.

“Leon Panetta took my face in his hands and told me, 'We're going to get to the bottom of this,'" referring to the Secretary of Defense.

“That Susan Rice, she talked to me personally, and she said: ‘This is the way it was. It was because of this film that came out,’ ” Smith told Cooper.

In the days immediately following the attacks, Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told all of the Sunday talk shows that the attacks stemmed from the video of a film that was made by a California real estate developer that Muslims found offensive.

The administration has since said that the assault was a terrorist attack carried out by al-Qaida-linked militants.

“And, today,” Smith told Cooper, “I just heard that he died of smoke inhalation. I don’t know if that’s true or not.”

“You don’t know the cause of death?” Cooper asked.

“No, I don’t,” Patricia Smith responded.

She added: “I look at TV, and I see bloody handprints on walls thinking, ‘My God. Is that my son’s? I don’t know if he’s been shot. I don’t know. I don’t know. They haven’t told me anything,” she continued. “They’re still studying it – and the things they are telling me are just outright lies.”

She said she told Obama at the reception that the attack was his fault.

“I told him: ‘You screwed up. You didn’t do a good job. I lost my son.


Fox News poll: 53 percent say Obama failed on economy, Libya 'troubling'
By Dana Blanton

Published October 10, 2012

Slim majorities of American voters say the Obama administration has mostly failed to grow the economy and create jobs. And while a majority says President Obama has mostly succeeded at making America safer, two-thirds of voters are concerned about the administration’s initial false statements on the September 11, 2012 attacks in Libya.

That’s according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday.

Fifty-two percent of likely voters think the Obama administration has mostly succeeded at making the country safer. That’s the only positive rating for the White House on the issues tested.

Fifty-three percent think the administration has mostly failed at creating new jobs, and another 53 percent feel it has failed on growing the economy.

On health care: 44 percent say the White House has improved it and 48 percent say it’s failed to do so. Likewise, 44 percent think the administration has succeeded in improving the country’s image around the world, while 48 percent say it’s failed.

Half or more of independents think the administration has failed on jobs (57 percent), the economy (55 percent), improving America’s image (51 percent) and health care (50 percent).

President Obama also receives negative ratings on his handling of the economy: 44 percent of voters approve, while 53 percent disapprove. That’s about where his ratings have been on the economy since August.

Overall, 49 percent of likely voters approve and 48 percent disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president -- unchanged from two weeks ago.

Some 37 percent of voters approve of how Obama’s dealing with Libya, and 46 percent disapprove. Another 17 percent are unsure.

In the aftermath of the September assault on diplomatic facilities in Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, Obama administration officials falsely claimed it was a spontaneous reaction to an offensive online video, even though they had intelligence reports that the attacks were connected to terrorist groups tied to al Qaeda.

Two-thirds of voters (67 percent) find it “troubling” that the White House initially made false public statements about the attacks. For 26 percent “it’s not much of a concern.”

Almost all Republicans (90 percent) and a majority of independents (70 percent) call the administration’s actions troubling. For Democrats, 43 percent say “troubling” and 45 percent say it’s “not much of a concern.”

Why did the administration give misleading info in their early statements? A 37-percent plurality of voters thinks it was to “help the president’s campaign.” Another 26 percent say it was for “diplomatic reasons,” and 23 percent think it was just a “mistake.”

Optimism for the Future
Finally, looking ahead to the next 10 years, two-thirds of voters are very (33 percent) or somewhat (33 percent) optimistic about the future of the country. Some 26 percent feel pessimistic, including 12 percent who are very pessimistic.

Fully 83 percent of Democrats feel optimistic, as do 63 percent of independents and 51 percent of Republicans.

The Fox News poll is based on live telephone interviews on landlines and cell phones from October 7 to October 9 among 1,109 randomly-chosen likely voters nationwide. Likely voters are registered voters who are considered most likely to vote in the November presidential election. The poll is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The poll is weighted by age and race; it is not weighted by party identification

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