Despite growing mountain of evidence, the Obama administration continues to tell bigger and bolder lies.
“Issa accuses State Department of dodging Benghazi questions in 37-page letter,” FOX News, July 11, 2014
Top Republican Rep. Darrell Issa Friday accused the State Department of trying to repeatedly dodge congressional efforts to look into the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman sent a 37-page letter to the newly-created House Select Committee on Benghazi detailing attempts he claimed were made to sidestep providing documents and answering questions about the attack from September 2012 until May 2014.
Issa said the State Department promised to cooperate with Congress but failed to actually provide information requested and missed many deadlines.
He also claimed the State Department threatened to destroy “committee property necessary for internal organization of in camera documents” and called out “abusive State Department document redaction practices.”
According to the letter, the State Department in early 2013 refused to hand over documents to the committee and demanded that the documents be reviewed in private. Issa’s letter added State officials also started leaving some of the documents behind or forgot to bring them to meetings.
Issa’s letter also cited State’s “abusive” redaction of key documents, and said the department tried to retroactively declassify documents to prevent their release.
“To mark a document with the lowest possible classification but the highest possible declassify date –25 years –is highly unusual,” the letter stated.
Fox News previously reported that some of the documents released to Congress by the State Department this past spring were more heavily redacted than documents released to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.
The State Department issued a statement late Friday saying, “We sent a letter to (House Select Committee) chairman (Trey) Gowdy and ranking member (Elijah) Cummings last month seeking to begin a dialogue at their earliest convenience on how we could work with them on their inquiries regarding the attacks in Benghazi. At the direction of Secretary Kerry we have met with both majority and minority staff on how we can continue to cooperate going forward.”
Issa’s letter also shed lights on a Fox News report published in May. In it, documents reviewed by Fox News showed there are differences between Benghazi emails released through the federal courts to Judicial Watch and emails released to the House oversight committee as part of its investigation into the attacks.
The discrepancies are fueling allegations the administration is holding back documents from Congress.
“The key question is whether Congress now has all the documents,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a member of the oversight committee, said. As for differences between the two sets of documents, Chaffetz alleged: “They are playing games. The classification and redactions are different. Why should Judicial Watch get more than Congress after issuing a subpoena?”
The emails published by Judicial Watch, which showed additional White House involvement in shaping the public explanation of what happened, helped trigger the announcement by House Speaker John Boehner of a select committee to investigate.
“Newly released testimony latest evidence Benghazi attacks premeditated,” By Catherine Herridge,
FOX News, July 10, 2014
Transcripts of congressional testimony released by the House Armed Services committee are the latest in a growing body of evidence that the 2012 Benghazi attacks were premeditated.
Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time led the military’s Africa command, known as Africom, told Congress in April the terrorists who attacked the CIA annex, during the third wave of the terrorist assault, had professional training.
“Given the precision of the attack, it was a well-trained mortar crew,” Ham said, adding the mortar strike showed “a degree of sophistication and military training that is relatively unusual and certainly, I think, indicates that this was not a pickup team.”
According to the transcripts released Wednesday, Ham also testified that the eight-hour gap between the consulate attack at 9:40 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2012 and the mortar strike a mile away on the CIA base in the early morning hours of Sept. 12 was significant, suggesting different perpetrators were involved.
“I think it’s reasonable,” Ham testified, “that a team came from outside of Benghazi.”
The recent indictment of Benghazi suspect Ahmed Abu Khatallah links him to both the consulate attack, and the precision mortar strike eight hours later. But the Justice Department offered few specifics about his alleged role and did not say he was part of the firing team.
Despite the new testimony, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, doubled down on the department’s characterization of the attack.
“We’ve been pretty clear, or we’ve stated many times and very consistently … that we believe it was an opportunistic attack on our mission that did not involve significant preplanning,” she said.
But four retired military and CIA officers, all with extensive experience with mortars, strongly disagreed.
In most cases, mortar crews can’t see the target, and rely on complex math calculations for distance, direction and altitude. In Benghazi, five mortars rained down on the annex in under a minute. The first two missed, but the next three were direct hits.Ham testified the mortar crew likely used a spotter to recalibrate.
“This was the one piece of evidence that convinces me and certainly convinces others with experience with mortar attacks that this was preplanned, well laid out, well thought out, and reasonably well-executed,” said retired Lt. Col. Bill Cowan, a Fox News military analyst.
“There was no happenstance luck there. They knew exactly how far it was from their mortar round to the target.”
As Fox was first to report, in December 2012, the accuracy of the mortar strike was the trigger for the CIA’s chief of base to shut down operations and the decision to evacuate the agency team was immediately known to senior leadership at the agency and State Department.
Yet, some lawmakers say then-CIA Director David Petraeus and former acting director Michael Morell played down the significance of the strike and the preparation needed.
In her book “Hard Choices,”then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued to suggest an anti-Islam video played a role.
“It is equally inaccurate to state that every single one of (the attackers) was influenced by this hateful video,”Clinton wrote. “It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were.”
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