Administration shuts down access to Benghazi survivors
It looks like the Obama Administration has had its fill of tough questions about the Benghazi debacle, as it throws up yet another stonewall against investigators, using a pretext so flimsy that it would be funny under less bloody circumstances: we can’t have the survivors giving testimony because that might screw up a future criminal case against the al-Qaeda terrorists President Obama used to claim had nothing to do with the attack, and has been less than eager to track down.
Catherine Herridge of Fox News reports:
The Justice and State departments are now citing a year-old FBI investigation and a future criminal prosecution to block access to survivors of last year’s Benghazi terror attack.
In an Oct. 28 letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.,the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, Julia Frifield, refers to “significant risks” and “serious concerns about having the survivors of the attack submit to additional interviews.”
Graham has been asking since last year for the FBI’s transcripts of interviews with State Department and CIA survivors who were evacuated to Germany after the Sep.11 attack on the U.S. consulate.
He and other Republicans believe the transcripts will show the survivors told the FBI it was a terrorist attack and made no mention of a video or anti-U.S. demonstration at the consulate.
“Year-old FBI investigation?” That’s the one where the FBI agents cooled their heels in Tripoli for weeks, while the “crime scene” got picked apart, including the odd intriguing discovery by reporters who nosed around in the ruins and found items such as Ambassador Chris Stevens’ diary.
The pursuit of Benghazi suspects hasn’t been terribly vigorous. The Fox report notes that John Kerry’s State Department isn’t even offering a reward for information leading to the capture of the Benghazi perpetrators, an offer routinely made for less serious offenses.
This is largely due to the fact that the Benghazi area is unsafe for American investigators – a fact the Administration doesn’t like to discuss, since Libya was supposed to be an Obama foreign policy success. Many suspect that’s a big part of the reason security was so lax on 9/11/12 when the attacks occurred, and there weren’t any rescue forces on standby in case Ambassador Stevens got in trouble. Team Obama didn’t want to do anything that might prompt questions about the dangerous conditions in Libya during his re-election campaign. Beefing up security, and putting strike teams on standby, to handle trouble on the 9/11 anniversary might have drawn too much attention from the President’s domestic political opponents. Who knows, the media might even have covered it.
USA Today described the dangerous terrain of Benghazi in an October 8 report on the capture of al-Qaeda suspect Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, better known by his nom de scumbag Anas al-Libi, in Tripoli:
The capture by U.S. special forces of an al-Qaeda leader in the Libyan capital of Tripoli has some wondering why none of the Benghazi terrorists have been grabbed.
Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah said Monday he has seen little sign the Obama administration is chasing down the leaders behind the killing of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans a little over year ago.
But some analysts say there are differences between the two targets.
Juan Zarate, a former senior White House anti-terrorism official under former-President George W. Bush, says Tripoli is a relatively safe city where the government is more friendly toward the United States.
Benghazi, east of Tripoli, is teeming with radical militias that have launched multiple attacks on government and foreign targets, he said.
“Benghazi is less secure,” Zarate said.
The Libyan government was not happy about the capture of al-Libi, describing it as “the kidnap of one of the Libyan citizens.” One is inclined to respond with a hearty “boo freakin’ hoo,” but then again, it’s not good that the government Obama installed in Libya is (a) yelling at us for kidnapping one of their citizens and (b) not doing much in the way of “kidnapping” terror suspects itself. CNN reports that U.S. special ops teams were ready to bag a key suspect in the Benghazi attack, Ahmed Abu Khattalah, around the same time al-Libi was taken, but this mission was considered far more dangerous – because, once again, Benghazi is a terrorist-infested, militia-controlled hell hole – and was scrubbed hours before it would have launched. There were fears of political fallout for the Libyan government, and concerns that the capture of al-Libi would have the Benghazi targets on high alert.
Khattalah, incidentally, is the guy who sat down for an interview with CNN at a Benghazi coffee shop last summer, boasting that he was not in hiding, and didn’t think the FBI was hunting for him. He said no one from either the Libyan or American governments had ever even tried to contact him.
It’s possible al-Libi could get roped into a Benghazi prosecution as an organizer of the forces behind the attack, which raises yet another disturbing question about the Administration’s actions on 9/11/12, because as the recent “60 Minutes” report on the attack made clear, they knew this guy was active in Libya setting up terror cells. Every new tidbit of information that slips past the Obama stonewall makes it look more outrageous, and downright weird, that anyone thought it would be a good idea to send the Ambassador into this hornet’s nest with nothing but an unarmed security detail, backed up by a half-assed local militia that vanished in a cloud of chicken feathers the minute bullets started flying, after al-Qaeda hit the British and Red Cross, and promised the American consulate would be next. The Ambassador reported seeing the black flag of al-Qaeda flying over government buildings. It is increasingly difficult to swallow the refusal to provide him with more protection, or even a contingency plan, as mere negligence.
Since there isn’t anyone left in America who believes the story Obama and Hillary Clinton peddled about a “spontaneous video protest,” and it’s pretty well established they all knew that wasn’t true from Minute One, there probably isn’t much more political damage to be inflicted by securing testimony from more people on the ground who will confirm what many others, including Deputy Ambassador Greg Hicks, have already made clear: nobody on the ground ever thought it was a protest against a YouTube video that spiraled out of control.
Perhaps the testimony Republicans really want – and Democrats fear – would have more to do with the orders given before and during the attack. They might also learn something interesting about why Ambassador Stevens was in harm’s way that fateful night. ”Does it bother you whether or not you know why Chris Stevens was in Benghazi?” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) goaded the media. ”Do you know why we were the last flag flying in Benghazi after the British had left and the Red Cross had been bombed? Do you know why requests for additional security were denied?”
It was hard to hear anything else over the deafening roar of ObamaCare collapsing, but yesterday the Washington Times noted that two elite U.S. special forces commandos were awarded well-deserved commendations for bravery for fighting in Benghazi… which is awkward for the Administration, because they’ve been loudly insisting that no one could possibly have reached the scene of the attack in time to help, so there was no point in giving orders to effect a rescue.
But sources directly familiar with the attack tell The Washington Times that a unit of eight special operators — mostly Delta Force and Green Beret members — were in Tripoli the night of the attack, on a counterterrorism mission that involved capturing weapons and wanted terrorists from the streets and helping train Libyan forces.
When word of the Benghazi attack surfaced, two members of that military unit volunteered to be dispatched along with five private security contractors on a hastily arranged flight from Tripoli to rescue Americans in danger, the sources said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because the special operations forces’ existence inside Libya was secret.
The two special operations forces arrived in time to engage in the final, ferocious firefight between the terrorists and Americans holed up in the CIA annex near the ill-fated diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the sources added.
You can understand why congressional Democrats wouldn’t want any Benghazi survivors giving testimony about such things.
The excuses for keeping the survivors under wraps are ridiculous, and would serve as a blistering indictment of Administration anti-terrorism policy if taken seriously. From the Fox report:
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and its Republican Chairman, Darell Issa, recently interviewed – against the Justice Department’s wishes — two State Department security agents who have firsthand knowledge of the attack, leading one Democratic lawmaker to predict the move would create inconsistencies and complicate a trial.
“As a prosecutor, you never want your witnesses to be interviewed by multiple sources. It just lends itself to the possibility of unintentional conflicts within their statements,” Rep.Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News.
“It concerns me that that was not a higher priority for the chairman, to make sure that we could bring these people to justice, than to carry on this political exercise.”
What people? Who? What suspects are we poised to take down? This wasn’t a crime, it was a military assault. There were hundreds of people involved, working as illegal combatants under the command of al-Qaeda. If it’s really important to straitjacket ourselves to preserve some fragile future criminal case – which would, conveniently, probably run past the end of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign – then that’s a decisive argument against all this criminal court stuff.