Cabinet & Agencies

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  • Benghazi Chairman Contradicts Fox Report, Admits Military Could Not Have Saved Lives In Benghazi Attack

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) directly contradicted claims made by anonymous Fox News sources who argued the military could have done more to prevent loss of life during the 2012 attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya.

    Fox correspondent  Adam Housley cited two anonymous sources in an  attempt to revive a debunked smear against the Obama administration and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton that officials had readily available assets that could have saved lives during the attack. After Housley’s report aired during the May 11 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, Gowdy urged Housley’s two “witnesses” to appear before the select committee he heads and speak.

    On May 17, Fox host Bill Hemmer asked Gowdy about reports that his attorney, Dana Chipman, said nothing more could have been done to save Americans in Benghazi. Gowdy responded, “I don’t think there’s any issue with respect to that -- they couldn’t,” directly contradicting the accounts of the anonymous sources appearing on Special Report on May 11. From the May 17 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

    TREY GOWDY: Dana Chipman is an honorable, good man. He served this country with great distinction and he served our committee with great distinction. That was a transcript from one question he asked Leon Panetta and Jeremy Bash. When you see the full transcript -- and you will -- then you will see that what Dana was talking about was a very small point. The posture of the troops, the order that was given by Panetta and the president, how that order was received -- all of that is what we want to ask people about. Whether or not they could have gotten there in time, I don’t think there’s any issue with respect to that -- they couldn’t. The next question is, why could you not? Why were you not positioned to do it?”

    Fox News has a history of citing anonymous sources, fraudulent “experts, and dishonest sources in its obsessive attempt to find a “smoking gun” to claim the Obama administration lied about the Benghazi attacks, despite multiple investigations that have found no wrongdoing.

  • Benghazi Chairman’s Own Counsel Undercuts Conservative Myth That Benghazi Response Was Willfully Negligent

    Former GOP Counsel To Rep. Trey Gowdy Reportedly Praised Obama Administration Officials For Military Response To Benghazi Attacks

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    The former chief counsel to Benghazi committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) reportedly “repeatedly commended the military’s actions” responding to the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks, undercutting conservative media claims that there were additional assets the military could have deployed to save more lives as the attacks unfolded.

    Conservative media, led by Fox News, have for years attempted to scandalize the Obama administration’s response to the 2012 Benghazi attacks, often claiming -- in the face of numerous investigations and testimony to the contrary -- that CIA and military personnel were prevented from taking actions that could have saved the Americans who were killed during the attacks. As recently as last week, Fox hosted two anonymous witnesses who claimed that there were actions the military could have taken to save more lives.

    On May 16, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, released a letter sent to Gowdy detailing that his “own former Republican Chief Counsel … repeatedly commended the military’s actions” during the attack. The counsel allegedly told Leon Panetta, who was secretary of defense at the time of the attack, “I think you ordered exactly the right forces to move out and to head toward a position where they could reinforce what was occurring in Benghazi,” and, “I don’t mean to suggest that anything could have been done differently to affect the outcome in Benghazi, and I think you would agree with that.” Gowdy’s former counsel also reportedly told the Defense Department’s former chief of staff, Jeremy Bash, “I would posit that from my perspective ... we could not have affected the response to what occurred by 5:15 in the morning on the 12th of September in Benghazi.”

    Cummings noted, “The conclusions of your former Republican Chief Counsel match almost exactly the findings” from previous investigations into the attacks, which found that all available resources were deployed in response to the attack. Cummings also lambasted Gowdy for “damag[ing] the credibility of the Select Committee beyond repair” by “dragging out the investigation so close to the presidential election” and “demanding that the Defense Department waste countless hours and taxpayer funds” in pursuit of a non-existent smoking gun.

  • The Benghazi Pipeline: How Two Anonymous Fox Sources May End Up Speaking To The Benghazi Select Committee

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) is reportedly urging two witnesses to speak to his committee after they made anonymous appearances on Fox News’ Special Report, where they suggested the military did not take all available actions to save lives during the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

    Fox News opened the May 11 edition of Special Report with a report featuring two anonymous witnesses who believe that there were additional assets the military could have deployed during the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Fox correspondent Adam Housley contrasted their statements with claims from the State Department Accountability Review Board and “the claim by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department that nothing more could have been done.” In fact, reports from House and Senate committees, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs at the time of the attack, and some of their predecessors all back up the State Department’s conclusion that no other military response would have yielded better results.

    On the May 12 edition of Special Report, guest host Doug McKelway reported that Gowdy responded to Housley’s report by “urging witnesses who spoke to Fox News to talk to his committee,” despite Housley’s troubled history of citing discredited Benghazi “witness” Dylan Davies. Davies admitted to falsifying statements about his experience during the Benghazi attack after claiming he scaled a wall of the compound, personally struck a terrorist in the face with his rifle butt, and later went to the Benghazi hospital to see Ambassador Chris Stevens' body on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Housley has used unnamed sources before to revive the myth that there were unused military assets that would have been able to affect the outcome of the attack.

    Fox’s obsession with the Benghazi attacks has been well documented. In the first 20 months after the Benghazi attacks, Fox aired 1,098 evening segments about them, many of which suggested a “cover-up” by the Obama administration and Clinton. Fox also spent months pushing for the formation of a select committee to investigate Benghazi.

  • NY Times Magazine Attacks The Obama Administration With Fact-Free Allegations

    David Samuels Falsely Attacks President Obama And Ben Rhodes, Fails To Disclose Conflict Of Interest

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    New York Times Magazine profile of the Obama administration’s push to cement the Iran nuclear deal baselessly claimed that President Obama and a top White House aide, Ben Rhodes, “largely manufactured” a narrative about the deal and “actively” misled the public to win support, despite reports to the contrary. The author, David Samuels, also failed to disclose his past criticism of the Iran deal and advocacy for bombing Iran.

  • The Right-Wing Pundits Who Pushed Automatic Classification Myth To Smear Clinton Are Burned Again

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    A State Department letter sent to Capitol Hill reportedly stated that sending “‘foreign government information’ in unclassified emails ‘does not amount to mishandling the information,’” undercutting right-wing media claims that Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton violated the law by sending and receiving emails that contained “foreign government information." 

  • Trump’s Latest Clinton Attack Comes Straight Out Of Fox News’ Benghazi Playbook

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released an online video accusing Hillary Clinton of lying about the cause of the September 11, 2012, Benghazi, Libya attacks. Trump’s video echoes Fox News’ favorite and oft-repeated smear that Clinton deliberately lied by linking an inflammatory anti-Muslim video to the attacks, and ignores the fact that intelligence reports said initial information about the cause of the attacks was conflicting and that reports have linked the anti-Muslim video to the attacks.

  • NY Times Report Undercuts Conservative Automatic Classification Myth Used To Smear Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times reported that sending “‘foreign government information’ through the government’s unclassified computer systems,” a designation that applies to “nearly three-quarters” of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s now-classified emails, “‘does not amount to mishandling the information.’” The Times also revealed that CIA Director John Brennan sent retroactively classified information, underscoring a pattern of “how routinely sensitive information is emailed on unclassified government servers.”

    Right-wing media have relentlessly attempted to scandalize Clinton's email use. Conservative pundits have alleged that “foreign government communications are considered classified” and that sending “information derived from foreign government sources ... in a non-classified setting violates” the law. But according to a 2009 executive order, it is not mandatory to classify communications concerning foreign government information.

    The New York Times report substantiated this, revealing that the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, Julia Frifield, sent a letter to Capitol Hill stating that “officials were in fact allowed to send ‘foreign government information’ through the government’s unclassified computer systems.” Frifield’s letter “went on to say that using ‘foreign government information’ in unclassified emails ‘does not amount to mishandling the information,’” and that these correspondences are only made classified if they have to be released to the public. The Times noted that “nearly three-quarters” of Clinton’s now-classified emails are “classified because they contained what is called ‘foreign government information’” and were publicly released. The article also revealed that CIA Director John Brennan sent retroactively classified information, reinforcing how “routinely sensitive information is emailed on unclassified government servers” by top officials. From the May 11 New York Times report:

    On the morning of March 13, 2011, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, Jeffrey D. Feltman, wrote an urgent email to more than two dozen colleagues informing them that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were sending troops into Bahrain to put down antigovernment protests there.

    Mr. Feltman’s email prompted a string of 10 replies and forwards over the next 24 hours, including to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as the Obama administration debated what was happening and how to respond.

    The chain contained information now declared classified, including portions of messages written by Mr. Feltman; the former ambassador in Kuwait, Deborah K. Jones; and the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John O. Brennan.

    The top administration officials discussed the Bahrain situation on unclassified government computer networks, except for Mrs. Clinton, who used a private email server while serving as secretary of state.

    Her server is now the subject of an F.B.I. investigation, which is likely to conclude in the next month, about whether classified information was mishandled.

    Whatever the disposition of the investigation, the discussion of troops to Bahrain reveals how routinely sensitive information is emailed on unclassified government servers, reflecting what many officials describe as diplomacy in the age of the Internet, especially in urgent, fast-developing situations.

    [...]

    Of the 30,322 emails made public, 2,028 have had portions redacted and are now classified at the lowest level of classification, “confidential.”

    Nearly three-quarters of those emails were classified because they contained what is called “foreign government information” — a vast category of information, gathered through conversations and meetings with foreign counterparts that are the fundamentals of diplomacy, but which had to be protected when the emails were released.

    Last week, in an apparent attempt to dispel criticism that many of the emails were improperly sent, a top State Department official argued in a letter to three Senate Democrats that the nation’s diplomats and officials were in fact allowed to send “foreign government information” through the government’s unclassified computer systems.

    “Department officials of necessity routinely receive such information through unclassified channels,” said the letter, dated May 2 and written by the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, Julia Frifield.

    “For example, diplomats engage in meetings with counterparts in open settings, have phone calls with foreign contacts over unsecure lines, and email with and about foreign counterparts via unclassified systems.”

    The letter went on to say that using “foreign government information” in unclassified emails “does not amount to mishandling the information.”

    The State Department, unlike some other federal agencies, does not have the authority to redact that category of information even if it is required to release documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Thus, the only way the State Department could withhold “foreign government information” in the emails being released under court order was to classify it, according to the letter.

  • US Officials Report No Evidence Hillary Clinton Broke The Law, Will Right-Wing Media Listen?

    Conservative Media Conspiracy Theories Doused By The Facts

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    U.S. officials say they have not yet found evidence that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton willfully broke the law with use of her private email or that her server was hacked, according to two new reports, undercutting the conservative witch-hunt for a bombshell in the Democratic presidential front-runner’s email setup.

    Prosecutors and FBI officials “have so far found scant evidence that [Hillary Clinton] intended to break classification rules,” according to a May 5 Washington Post report. The article noted that “prosecutors are wrestling with the question of whether Clinton intended to violate the rules, and so far, the evidence seemed to indicate she did not”:

    Prosecutors and FBI agents investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server have so far found scant evidence that the leading Democratic presidential candidate intended to break classification rules, though they are still probing the case aggressively with an eye on interviewing Clinton herself, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter

    [...]

    The involvement of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is not indicative that charges are imminent or even likely. One official said prosecutors are wrestling with the question of whether Clinton intended to violate the rules, and so far, the evidence seemed to indicate she did not.

    CNN underscored the findings in the Washington Post article, reporting that “The investigation is still ongoing, but so far investigators haven't found evidence to prove that Clinton willfully violated the law.” The reports join the growing chorus of legal experts and government officials who have undermined claims made by right-wing media figures, who have repeatedly scandalized Clinton’s use of a private email server by arguing that she broke the law using her server for State Department emails.

    Fox News’ chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, who has a history of hyping evidence-free claims, most recently reported on May 4 that “the infamous Romanian hacker known as ‘Guccifer’ … easily – and repeatedly – breached former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server,” a claim parroted by various right-wing media figures.

    But U.S. officials “dismissed claims [by “Guccifer”] that he was able to breach Clinton’s personal email server,” according to the Post, noting, “investigators have found no evidence to support the assertion.” NBC News also reported that the hacker “could provide no documentation to back up his claims,” and Politico reported that an “internal FBI review of Clinton’s email records did not indicate traces of hacking.”

    Fox also alleged that the Obama administration is “slow-rolling” the Select Committee on Benghazi Committee’s investigation into Clinton’s email use, scandalizing the fact that a “special unit to review Benghazi documents” was convened later than expected.

    The Department of Defense recently criticized the committee, slamming it for “straining the department's resources” chasing “documents and interviews” often based on “speculative or hypothetical” queries, according to Politico. A letter sent by Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger derided the Republican-led committee’s “multiple and changing requests,” some of which have been “unfair … unproductive … [and] unnecessary,” and implored the committee to “remain focused on obtaining facts rather than encouraging speculation.”

    Since Clinton’s use of private email was revealed, conservative media figures have made multiple baseless allegations, only to be burned by facts. The new revelations that investigators have not yet found evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton only add to the growing list of debunked myths spuriously pushed by right-wing media.  

  • Conservative Media Advocated For Illegally Keeping Immigrant Students Out Of School, And Now It’s Actually Happening

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Right-wing media figures have for years advocated in favor of denying undocumented immigrant students access to public education,and now an Associated Press investigation reports that it may be happening "in at least 35 districts in 14 states." These policies may be not only unconstitutional -- according to a Supreme Court ruling that specifically bans public school districts from denying enrollment to children based on their immigration status -- but also illegal under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.