Fox News has pushed reset on many of its favorite Benghazi myths that have already been put to rest in the wake of the recently released Rhodes email and the House GOP's announcement of the formation of a Select Committee to investigate the attacks.
White House Released Email Used To Prepare Susan Rice For Sunday Talk Shows
NY Times: White House Releases Emails Sent To Susan Rice Before Media Appearances. On April 30 The New York Times reported that the White House had released an email dated September 14, 2012, from Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes to other national security aides including then-ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, that included “goals for Ms. Rice's appearances on the shows and advice on how to discuss the subject of the protests that were raging in Libya and at other American diplomatic posts in the Middle East” during appearances on the Sunday talk shows. [The New York Times, 4/30/14]
Right-Wing Media Use Manufactured Scandal Over Email To Revive Already-Answered Questions
Gretchen Carlson: Benghazi Asks Whether Talking Points Were Deliberately Changed. During an interview with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) on the May 2 edition of The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson argued that the most important information about Benghazi comes down to, “Did anyone deliberately change the talking points, how far up did that go?” [Fox News, The Real Story, 5/2/14]
Steve Hayes: A Second Set Of Talking Points Were Created By White House. On the May 2 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Steve Hayes claimed, “There were in effect two sets of talking points, one that was produced by the intelligence community that was edited with heavy input from the White House, the State Department, and others and that ultimately was produced for Capitol Hill, and on the other hand you have this second set of talking points that was produced by the White House for Susan Rice that placed heavy emphasis on the video.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 5/2/14]
Neil Cavuto: There Was An “Orchestrated Effort To Present Talking Points That Were Based On Lies.” During an interview with Rep. Cohen (D-TN) on the May 5 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto argued that the Rhodes email “at least showed an orchestrated effort to present talking points that were based on lies.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 5/5/14]
ANSWER: There Were No Efforts To Alter Talking Points For Political Purposes
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: “Talking Points Went Through The Normal Interagency Coordination Process.” The Senate Committee on Intelligence review determined there was no effort by the administration to cover-up or alter the talking points for political purposes:
The Majority concludes that the interagency coordination process on the talking points followed normal, but rushed coordination procedures and that there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to “cover-up” facts or make alterations for political purposes. Indeed, former CIA Director David Petraeus testified to the Committee on November 16, 2012, “They went through the normal process that talking points-unclassified public talking points-go through.” In fact, the purpose of the National Security Council (NSC) is to coordinate the many national security agencies of the government, especially when information about a terrorist attack is flowing in and being analyzed quickly-and the NSC used this role appropriately in the case of the talking points coordination. Furthermore, such coordination processes were also standardized, often at the urging of Congress, following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with the explicit goal of reducing information “stovepipes” between and among agencies. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
Slate's Weigel: Rhodes Email Relied On CIA Talking Points. Laying out a timeline of events, Slate's David Weigel pointed out that the Rhodes email came “hours after the CIA and State Department were urging that the assault on the U.S. consulate be blamed on a protest.” Weigel added that "it's just lazy journalism or lazy politicking to blame Rhodes for a talking point that was fed from the CIA." [Slate, 4/30/14]
Email Consistent With Intelligence Reports At The Time. The email issued by Rhodes, which advised Rice on her upcoming appearances, provided information about global protests and said specifically about the attack, “the currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex.” The language used by Rhodes is nearly identical to the initial draft of the CIA talking points, and was consistent with the intelligence community. [Media Matters, 4/29/14]
Bill O'Reilly: Everyone “Knew It Was Not A Spontaneous Demonstration Within Hours.” On the May 1 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly asserted that during the attacks “pretty much everyone else directly involved with the Benghazi attack knew it was not a spontaneous demonstrations [sic] within hours.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/1/14]
Brit Hume: “There Was Never Anyone” In The Intelligence Community Who Thought “This Video Has Anything To Do With Triggering The Benghazi Attack.” On the May 5 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox analyst Brit Hume claimed that “there was never anyone in the intelligence chain that we know of or anybody in the military command that we know of or anybody on the ground from the state department that we know of who thought these talking points or this video had anything to do with triggering the Benghazi attack.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 5/5/14]
Bret Baier: “The Administration Knew From The Beginning The Benghazi Terror Attacks Were Not The Result Of Outrage Over A Video.” Bret Baier opened the May 1 edition of Special Report by claiming that testimony from a former administration official proved that “the Administration knew from the beginning the Benghazi terror attacks were not the result of outrage over a video.” [Fox News, Special Report, 5/1/13]
Chris Wallace: “This Just Adds To The Question Of Why CIA Officials Would Say It Was A Spontaneous Protest In The Talking Points.” On the May 1 edition of Happening Now, Fox host and correspondent Chris Wallace claimed that “there are a lot of people the accountability review board did speak to” who “absolutely did not think this was a protest as early as 3:15 in the morning. This just adds to the question of why CIA officials would say it was a spontaneous protest in the talking points.” [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/1/13]
ANSWER: Intelligence At The Time Linked Video To Attacks
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: Intel Reports Linked Inflammatory Video To Benghazi Attack. A Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found that “some intelligence suggests” an inflammatory video linked to violent protests around the region led terror groups to conduct “similar attacks with advanced warning” :
It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks or whether extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video, suggesting that these and other terrorist groups could conduct similar attacks with little advance warning. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
Former CIA Acting Director Believed At The Time Video Might Have Motivated Attack. Former CIA acting director Mike Morrell has testified that the CIA chief of station in Libya believed at the time that the video might have motivated the attackers. [The Daily Beast, 4/2/14]
Cairo Protests Cited By CIA Talking Points Were Sparked By The Anti-Islam Video. The “protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” mentioned in both versions of the CIA talking points were part of a global reaction to the anti-Islam video. A September 14 New York Times article reported “Anti-American rage that began this week over a video insult to Islam spread to nearly 20 countries across the Middle East and beyond on Friday, with violent and sometimes deadly protests.” The article went on to note that protesters “had penetrated the perimeters of the American Embassies in the Tunisian and Sudanese capitals, and said that 65 embassies or consulates around the world had issued emergency messages about threats of violence.” [The New York Times, 9/14/12]
Slate's Dickerson: Emails Show “White House Believed The Story They Were Pushing.” Slate chief political correspondent John Dickerson wrote that while the newly released documents “clearly show that the White House pushed the video story,” they also show “proof that the White House believed the story they were pushing,” given that the CIA “made spontaneity its first and most durable claim that weekend” by initially blaming the video. [Slate, 4/30/14]
Laura Ingraham: “We Don't Even Have Photos Of Obama” From The Night Of The Benghazi Attacks. On the May 2 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox contributor Laura Ingraham guest hosted and claimed that no one had any photos of President Obama to prove where he was the night of the Benghazi attacks in Libya:
INGRAHAM: They released a photo after the killing of bin Laden pretty quickly from the situation room, but we don't have any photos from the other night, the September, 11 2012. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/2/14]
Steve Doocy: Where Was The President The Night Of The Attacks? On the May 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed that people were trying to get an answer for where President Obama was the night of the attacks:
DOOCY: Also very troubling is, and people have been trying to get an answer for this for twenty months, where was the president the night of the attacks? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/2/14]
Greta Van Susteren: "The White House Won't Tell Us" Where Obama Was The Night Of The Attacks. On May 5, On The Record host Greta Van Susteren claimed that a yet-unanswered question surrounding the Benghazi attacks is “where was President Obama during the deadly terror attack?” On her blog, she argued, “The only reason I want to know where the President was that night is because the White House won't tell us. So..where was he? doing what?” [Fox News, On the Record, 5/5/14; Greta Wire, 5/5/14]
ANSWER: Obama Was In The Oval Office And His Staff Was Fully Engaged Throughout The Attack
Obama Was In The Oval Office During Attacks. A photo that has been available for over a year on the White House Flikr page shows President Obama in the Oval Office during the September 2012 attacks:
[Flickr.com, accessed 5/7/14]
Huffington Post: “The President Told Them To Deploy Forces As Quickly As Possible.” The Huffington Post reported that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey were meeting with President Obama when they learned of the attack and the president responded immediately:
Several committee Republicans pressed Panetta and Dempsey about their discussions with President Barack Obama on that fateful day and his level of involvement, suggesting that after the initial conversation the commander in chief was disengaged as Americans died.
Panetta said he and Dempsey were meeting with Obama when they first learned of the Libya assault. He said the president told them to deploy forces as quickly as possible. [The Huffington Post, 2/7/13]
Dempsey: Obama's Staff “Was Engaged With The National Military Command Center Pretty Constantly” Throughout The Attack. Dempsey testified during a February 7 congressional hearing that the president's staff was engaged with the military command center constantly during the attack, “which is the way it would normally work” :
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R-NH): But just to be clear, that night he didn't ask you what assets we had available and how quickly they could respond and how quickly we could help those people there -
PANETTA: No. I think the biggest problem that night, Senator, is that nobody knew really what was going on there.
AYOTTE: And there was no follow up during the night, at least from the White House directly?
PANETTA: No. No, there wasn't.
DEMPSEY: I would, if I could just, to correct one thing. I wouldn't say there was no follow-up from the White House. There was no follow-up, to my knowledge, with the president. But his staff was engaged with the national military command center pretty constantly through the period, which is the way it would normally work.
AYOTTE: But no direct communication from him?
Fox & Friends Asks “Why Rescue Operations Were Never Put Into Play?” During Fox & Friends' May 1 broadcast co-host Brian Kilmeade asked “Can you imagine if there's some other communication that reveals why rescue operations were never put into play?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/1/14]
On Fox, Sharyl Attkisson Accuses White House Of Failing To Send Help During Attacks. On the May 1 edition of Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson said that “some attempts weren't made” to rescue American personnel in Benghazi and that closed door testimony from military officials “belies the claim that everything was done that could have been done.” [Fox News, On The Record, 5/1/14]
O'Reilly Claims Obama Never Ordered Military To Assist In Benghazi. During his May 1 edition of The O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly said that during the attacks "[t]here wasn't anybody who said do something. That had to come from President Obama, through Leon Panetta ... it didn't happen." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/1/14]
KT McFarland: “We Didn't Try To Rescue” Americans In Benghazi. On the May 1 edition of Happening Now contributor KT McFarland claimed there was no rescue effort made to save Americans in Benghazi. She also wondered if the administration didn't rescue Americans to increase Obama's chances at reelection, and if Obama's administration lied about the attack after for similar political reasons:
MCFARLAND: What it looks like is that the administration did not provide adequate security. We didn't try to rescue those people when they were under attack. And after the fact we covered up the reasons for the attack.
And the question I've got is: who made those decisions and why did they make those decisions? Were they politically motivated? Did the administration decide it wasn't going to rescue americans because it didn't fit in to their political re-election narrative? And after the fact, when it was pretty clear that Americans were under attack by a terrorist group, did they cover up and lie about it again because they wanted to win an election?" [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/1/14]
ANSWER: Obama Administration, Military Did Everything Within Their Power
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: Committee Found No Evidence Of Intentional Delay Or Obstruction By The Chief Of Base Or Any Other Party. A Senate Committee on Intelligence review of the Benghazi attacks found no evidence of a “stand down” order given to responding units during the attack:
The Committee explored claims that there was a “stand down” order given to the security team at the Annex. Although some members of the security team expressed frustration that they were unable to respond more quickly to the Mission compound, 12 the Committee found no evidence of intentional delay or obstruction by the Chief of Base or any other party. The Committee has reviewed the allegations that U.S. personnel, including in the IC (Intelligence Community) or DoD, prevented the mounting of any military relief effort during the attacks, but the Committee has not found any of these allegations to be substantiated.
The Committee has reviewed the allegations that U.S. personnel, including in the IC or DoD, prevented the mounting of any military relief effort during the attacks, but the Committee has not found any of these allegations to be substantiated. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: No Military Resources Could Have Provided Additional Support. A Senate Committee on Intelligence found that military assets were not in place to respond in time:
According to Major General Darryl Roberson, Vice Director of Operations for the Joint Staff: There were no ships available to provide any support that were anywhere close to the facility at Benghazi. The assets that we had available were Strike Eagles loaded with live weapons that could have responded, but they were located in Djibouti, which is the equivalent of the distance between here [Washington D.C.] and Los Angeles. The other fighters that might have been available were located in Aviano, Italy. They were not loaded with weapons. They were not on an alert status. We would've had to build weapons, load weapons, get tankers to support it, and get it there. There was no way that we were going to be able to do that. Unfortunately, there was not a carrier in the Mediterranean that could have been able to support; the assets that we mobilized immediately were the only assets we had available to try to support.
There have been congressional and public questions about why military assets were not used from the U.S. military base in Souda Bay, Crete. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7, 2013, that (1) the military asset in Souda Bay, Crete, “wasn't the right tool for the particular threat we faced;” (2) " ... the aircraft were not among the forces that we had at heightened alert;" and (3) the “boots-on-the ground capabilities” that DoD deployed would have arrived too late, so they did not deploy to Benghazi. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
ANSWER: Reinforcements Were Dispatched From Tripoli And Elsewhere In Benghazi
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: Personnel At Nearby CIA Annex Came To Compound's Aid. The Senate Committee on Intelligence review found that the groups responding to the Benghazi attack were credited with saving lives of the personnel in diplomatic facility:
Although there was no formal written agreement about how security should be handled between the two facilities in Benghazi, there was a common understanding that each group would come to the other's aid if attacked, which is what happened the night of September 11, 2012.102 IC personnel immediately came to the aid of their colleagues at the Temporary Mission Facility, and fought bravely to secure TMF [The Mission Facility] personnel and their own Annex facility. The Committee interviewed U.S. personnel in Benghazi that night, and they credited their lives being saved to the personnel who responded to the attacks. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
AP: Six-Member Quick Reaction Team And 60 Libyan Militiamen In Benghazi Responded To The Attack. The AP reported that a “six-member quick reaction security team arrived on the scene from its compound across town, the officials said. About 60 Libyan militiamen accompanied the team, and it again tried to secure a perimeter around [Ambassador Chris] Stevens' building, taking turns searching inside.” [Associated Press, 10/10/12, via The Denver Post]
AP: Reinforcements From Embassy In Tripoli Arrived The Same Night. The quick-response team returned to its compound across town and the same night, a “team of reinforcements from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli arrived on a chartered aircraft at the Benghazi airport and reached the security compound,” the AP explained. [Associated Press, 10/10/12, via The Denver Post]
Wash. Post's Ignatius: Reinforcements From Tripoli Arrived Before Second Attack In Benghazi. Washington Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius described a “detailed CIA timeline” of the events that occurred during the attack in Benghazi, which shows that the reinforcements sent by the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli arrived on the scene in Benghazi prior to the second attack of the night being launched:
·11:56 p.m.: CIA officers at the annex are attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms. Sporadic attacks continue for about another hour. The attacks stop at 1:01 a.m., and some assume the fight is over.
·1:15 a.m.: CIA reinforcements arrive on a 45-minute flight from Tripoli in a plane they've hastily chartered. The Tripoli team includes four GRS security officers, a CIA case officer and two U.S. military personnel on loan to the agency. They don't leave the Benghazi airport until 4:30 a.m. The delay is caused by negotiations with Libyan authorities over permission to leave the airport; obtaining vehicles; and the need to frame a clear mission plan. The first idea is to go to a Benghazi hospital to recover Stevens, who they rightly suspect is already dead. But the hospital is surrounded by the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Shariah militia that mounted the consulate attack.
·5:04 a.m.: The team from Tripoli arrives at the CIA base. Glen Doherty, one of the GRS men from Tripoli, goes to the roof and joins Woods in firing positions.
·5:15 a.m.: A new Libyan assault begins, this time with mortars. Two rounds miss and the next three hit the roof. The rooftop defenders never “laser the mortars,” as has been reported. They don't know they're in place until the indirect fire begins, nor are they observed by the drone overhead. The defenders have focused their laser sites earlier on several Libyan attackers, as warnings not to fire. At 5:26 the attack is over. Woods and Doherty are dead and two others are wounded. [The Washington Post, 11/1/12]
ANSWER: Secretary Panetta Said U.S. Military Did Not Have Enough Information In Time To Act
CBS/AP: Panetta Says U.S. Military Did Not Intervene Because Attack “Was Over Before The U.S. Ha[d] Sufficient Information On Which To Act.” An October 25 article by CBS News and the Associated Press reported that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters that the U.S. military “was prepared to respond” to the Benghazi attack “but did not do so because it lacked what he called 'real-time information.” The article quoted Panetta as saying, “You don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on ... (We) felt we could not put forces at risk in that situation.” Panetta also told reporters, “It was really over before we had the opportunity to really know what was happening.” [CBS/Associated Press, 10/25/12]
Additional Reinforcements Would Not Have Been Able To Get To Benghazi Before The Second Attack Was Concluded. In an interview, Former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Gregory Hicks said that a flight that special forces were scheduled to take, but did not, would have taken off after 6:00 a.m., local time -- approximately 45 minutes after the attack at the CIA annex that killed two people. [Media Matters, 5/7/13]
Steve Doocy: The Government “Made It Impossible” For Congress To Talk To Benghazi Witnesses. During an interview with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) on the May 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed that the administration had “made it impossible” for congress to talk to witnesses of the Benghazi attack:
DOOCY: They've also made it impossible for to you talk to the people who were there. It sounds like -- from what we've heard some of you guys talk about -- these guys have been threatened with their jobs. If you say anything, there goes your pension. We might sue you. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/7/14]
Brian Kilmeade: “Eyewitness Accounts” Are Not Being Considered In Benghazi Testimonies. On the April 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade argued that “eyewitness accounts” were not considered in Benghazi investigations that instead deferred to analysts. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/2/14]
ANSWER: Benghazi Survivors Have Testified Before Congress
LA Times: Two “Key Witnesses” Were “Grilled For Hours” On Capitol Hill. According to an October 28, 2013 report in the Los Angeles Times, “Two of the Justice Department's key witnesses in last year's terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, were summoned to Capitol Hill this month and grilled for hours in separate legal depositions” by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA):
Two of the Justice Department's key witnesses in last year's terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, were summoned to Capitol Hill this month and grilled for hours in separate legal depositions.
Issa, mounting his own congressional investigation, learned the agents' names in May, and in September began pushing for access to them. The agents are Alec Henderson, who was stationed in Benghazi, and John Martinec, then based in Tripoli. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/13]
LA Times: Rep. Issa Learned Identity Of Survivors Through Previous Benghazi Testimony. According to the October 28 Los Angeles Times article, Issa learned the identities of the witnesses through former Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks, who had been stationed in Tripoli during the attack:
The powerful Republican House chairman learned the identities of the three agents from Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya, who testified before the committee.
Hicks revealed that “Martinec ran into my villa [in Tripoli] yelling, 'Greg, Greg, the consulate's under attack.'” He said Martinec had been in phone contact with Henderson in Benghazi, and that Henderson told Martinec “the consulate had been breached and there were at least 20 hostile individuals armed in the compound.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/13]
Daily Beast: Multiple CIA Officers Who Were At The Base During The Attack Testified Before Congress. According to a May 24 report by The Daily Beast, multiple CIA officers who were in Benghazi at the time of the attack have already testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence:
On Wednesday, Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell -- along with CIA officers who were at the agency's Benghazi base on the night of the attack -- testified at a classified hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In the closed hearing, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the proceedings, Morell was asked by Republican members about how the second wave of attackers knew to go to the CIA annex, which was a mile away from the diplomatic mission. Morell responded that at this point the CIA did not know whether the attackers had known the location of the annex or learned about it on the evening of the attack, according to these sources. [The Daily Beast, 5/24/13]