By: Ben Bullard | Personal Liberty –
State Department emails obtained by a government watchdog last week reveal that no one within the department, including former Secretary Hillary Clinton, ever attributed the Benghazi, Libya, terror attack as anything other than just that — a terror attack.
The emails, obtained by Judicial Watch through a freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, show a lot of back-and-forth between security staff and Clinton aides as the attack unfolded in real time, as well as in its immediate aftermath.
Never does anyone mention anything about a YouTube video in those exchanges. But, only hours after the attack began, they do mention al-Sharia, Al-Qaida’s Libyan affiliate, as the group claiming responsibility.
Judicial Watch obtained the FOIA-requested emails earlier this month, followed by a Feb. 26 report on its website that explains how the new information bolsters its ongoing lawsuit against the State Department. According to Judicial Watch, the emails demonstrate that “top aides for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, including her then-chief of staff Cheryl Mills, knew from the outset that the Benghazi mission compound was under attack by armed assailants tied to a terrorist group.”
The documents make no reference to a spontaneous demonstration or Internet video, except in an official statement issued by Hillary Clinton.
[The] Judicial Watch lawsuit focused on Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in the Benghazi scandal:
Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to notes, updates, or reports created in response to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S, Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This request includes but is not limited to, notes, taken by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or employees of the Office of the Secretary of State during the attack and its immediate aftermath.
The chain of internal emails tracks the events surrounding the terrorist attack in real time beginning immediately upon its inception.
Judicial Watch then uses the emails’ timestamps to reconstruct a play-by-play of the State Department’s assessment of the situation as the attack proceeded — including this exchange, which took place when the ordeal was only two hours young (Judicial Watch presents the following exchanges in reverse chronology because they were discovered only in the “previous conversation” archiving section of a newer email uncovered by the FOIA request; the State Department evidently did not release the originals):
September 11, 2012 11:57 PM email: “(SBU) DS Command reports the current shelter location for COM personnel in Benghazi is under mortar fire. There are reports of injuries to COM staff.”
September 11, 2012 6:06 PM (Subject: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU): “(SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli”
September 11, 2012, 4:54 PM: “Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on site to locate COM personnel.”
Although no internal conversation focused on an alternate motive for the attack — say, a grass-roots mob reaction to a blasphemous video — Clinton nevertheless followed the Obama administration’s evolving narrative by issuing a public statement crediting the now-infamous video clip with inspiring the attack.
Despite her three top staff members being informed that a terrorist group had claimed credit for the attack, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, issued an official statement, also produced to Judicial Watch, claiming the assault may have been in “a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
Cheryl Mills asks that the State Department stop answering press inquiries at 12:11 am on September 12, despite the ongoing questions about “Chris’ whereabouts.” In an email to State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, Jacob Kennedy, and Phillipe Reines (then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications and Senior Communications Advisor), Mills writes:
“Can we stop answering emails for the night Toria b/c now the first one [Hillary Clinton’s ‘inflammatory material posted on the Internet’ statement] is hanging out there.”
If nothing else, these emails reveal that there was a point, even for Clinton, when knowing the motive behind the Benghazi attack did, indeed, make a difference.
Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.