Adam Housley | Media Matters for America

Adam Housley

Tags ››› Adam Housley
  • Fox’s Final Election Hail Mary Is A Four Year Old Benghazi Claim Floated By Organization Of Conspiracy Theorists

    Fox News Already Reported Speculation That Libya Consulate Guards Turned On U.S. Personnel Four Years Ago

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    On the eve of the 2016 presidential election, Fox News pushed a report detailing the “explosive charge” that a security company hired to protect the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was staffed with locals that participated in the September 11, 2012, attack that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Fox actually reported identical speculation more than four years ago; their sources for the charge are an anonymous “independent security specialist, the co-author of a book that stated that there is “no evidence” the guards “were in league with the attackers,” and an organization filled with birthers and conspiracy theorists; and the network’s previous reporting about the security company featured noted fabulist Dylan Davies.

    A week after the September 11, 2012, attack, Fox correspondent Ed Henry reported that “there are reports that security guards” hired by the British security contracting firm Blue Mountain Group “ “turned on the ambassador and that led to his death.” From a Nexis transcript of the September 18, 2012, edition of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier (subscription required):

    HENRY: Today, [State Department spokesperson Victoria] Nuland clarified the administration had, in fact, hired a private security company, Blue Mountain Group, to work inside the perimeter.

    NULAND: They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening the cars.


    HENRY (on-camera): Significant, because there are reports that those Libyan security guards turned on the ambassador and that led to his death. Now, late today, Secretary Hillary Clinton said there was no actionable intelligence about an imminent attack in Libya. The keyword being actionable there.

    Tonight, a report by Malia Zimmerman and Adam Housley called similar reports an “explosive charge,” and presented them as completely new information:

    An obscure private firm hired by the State Department over internal objections to protect U.S. diplomats in Benghazi just months before the American ambassador and three others were killed was staffed with hastily recruited locals with terror ties who helped carry out the attack, multiple sources told Fox News.

    The explosive charge against Wales-based Blue Mountain Group comes from several sources, including an independent security specialist who has implemented training programs at U.S. Consulates around the world, including in Benghazi, where he trained a local militia that preceded Blue Mountain. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Blue Mountain used local newspaper ads to assemble a team of 20 guards, many of

    whom had terror ties, after securing a $9.2 million annual contract.

    “The guards who were hired were locals who were part of the Ansar al-Sharia and Al Qaeda groups operating in Benghazi,” said the source, whose assignment in Benghazi had ended in November 2011. “Whoever approved contracts at the State Department hired Blue Mountain Group and then allowed Blue Mountain Group to hire local Libyans who were not vetted.”


    John “Tig” Tiegen, one of the CIA contractors that responded to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack and co-author of “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” confirmed to Fox News that the local Libyans who attacked the consulate that night included guards working for Blue Mountain.

    "Many of the local Libyans who attacked the consulate on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, were the actual guards that the State Department under Hillary Clinton hired to protect the Consulate in Benghazi,” Tiegen told Fox News. “The guards were unvetted and were locals with basically no background at all in providing security. Most of them never had held a job in security in the past.

    “Blue Mountain Libya, at the time of being awarded the contract by our State Department, had no employees so they quickly had to find people to work, regardless of their backgrounds,” he said.

    One former guard who witnessed the attack, Weeam Mohamed, confirmed in an email sent to the Citizens Commission on Benghazi and obtained by Fox News, that at least four of the guards hired by Blue Mountain took part in the attack after opening doors to allow their confederates in.

    “In the U.S. Mission, there were four people [who] belonged to the battalion February 17,” Mohamed wrote to the Commission, an independent body formed with Accuracy in Media to investigate the attack and the administration's handling of it.

    Fox’s sourcing for the story -- which would contradict several reports by congressional committees and a review by the State Department -- is extremely dubious. Their lead source is anonymous. Their second source, Tiegan, wrote in his bestseller 13 Hours that there was “no evidence” the guards helped the attackers. From 13 Hours (page 84-85):

    Who opened the gate wasn’t clear, but responsibility for the entrance rested with the Blue Mountain Libya guards. By some accounts the armed invaders threatened the unarmed guards, who immediately acquiesced. A US government review raised the possibility that the “poorly skilled” local guards left the pedestrian gate open “after initially seeing the attackers and fleeing the vicinity.” No evidence has shown that the Blue Mountain guards were in league with the attackers, but maybe they were incompetent. As the report noted, “They had left the gate unlatched before.” Further complicating matters, the camera monitor in the guard booth at the front gate was broken, and new surveillance cameras.

    The network’s third source comes by way of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi, which is staffed by multiple birthers, anti-Muslim activists, and conspiracy theorists who maintained that there was a Benghazi “cover-up.”

    Fox previously relied upon Blue Mountain Group security contractor Dylan Davies for Benghazi reporting -- in fact, Housley himself acknowledged on-air that some of the network's 2012 Benghazi coverage had cited Davies, but they "stopped speaking to him when he asked for money." In 2013, CBS News retracted a report that featured Davies’ fabricated claims about having scaled a wall of the Benghazi diplomatic compound while it was under attack and striking a terrorist with his rifle.

    It’s no surprise that Fox News, whose obsession with finding a way to turn the tragedy in Benghazi into political attacks on President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would close the 2016 presidential campaign with a new Benghazi conspiracy.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Fox News Resorts To Anonymous Sources In Attempt To Revive Debunked Benghazi Claim

    Network Is Still Trying To Turn Terrorist Attacks Into A Campaign Issue

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Fox News is attempting to revive the 2012 Benghazi attacks as a campaign issue with a new report that contrasts what it describes as statements from Hillary Clinton and the State Department that all possible efforts were made to save lives that night with statements from two anonymous members of the military on duty that night who disagree. In fact, reports from House and Senate committees as well as the secretary of defense and chairman of the joint chiefs at the time of the attack and their predecessors all back up the State conclusion that no other military response would have yielded better results.

  • Fox News Indignant That A Public Health Course On Abortion Does Not Include Anti-Abortion Perspectives

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    Fox News expressed outrage over a recently launched online course geared toward clinicians, health care workers, and students aimed at addressing the gaps in knowledge about safe, legal abortion. While Fox demands the course include abortion opponents' perspective, the network ignores the necessity of increasing knowledge about the legal but widely stigmatized and under-served procedure.  

    The University of California San Francisco recently launched a new online course to "address abortion care from both clinical and social perspectives." The course, "Abortion: Quality Care and Public Health Implications" will be taught under the university's Innovating Education in Reproductive Health program, and has the aim to "fill in the gaps left by the exclusion of abortion from mainstream curricula."

    Fox's Adam Housley reported on the university's "web-based class focused on abortion," on the October 21 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, blasting the class as "propaganda" and lamenting that the publicly funded university is offering the "controversial" course. Housley's report accused the university of launching the course as a tool of propaganda aiming "to get into the minds of younger people" and "to get them interested to want to do abortions." Host Bill O'Reilly concluded that the course is an "in your face to all Californians who believe that abortion may be morally wrong" because it doesn't include anti-abortion perspectives for "balance":

  • Fox Reporter Flips Script on Benghazi, Khattala "Wasn't That Big Of A Deal"

    Blog ››› ››› CHANCE SEALES


    Fox News' Adam Housley suddenly flipped his own network's script, calling the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala not "that big of a deal," and accused the White House of embellishing his role in the deadly Benghazi attacks -- a report that's inconsistent with other Fox News reports naming Khatalla as a key suspect.  

    American forces apprehended Khattala in Libya on June 15. When the news broke on June 17, Fox News quickly reported the top militia leader's arrest. Then on June 27, Khattala went from a top terrorism leader to small potatoes. 

    Fox News diminished Khattala's capture, suggesting the militia leader was small time and the Obama administration is ignoring "actionable intelligence" on larger suspects. On the June 27 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox correspondent Adam Housley reported that Khattala's capture "wasn't that big of a deal at all," because Khattala was considered by officials to be "low-hanging fruit." Housley capitalized on diminishing Khattala's profile in order to criticize President Obama for failing to follow through on his "promise to stay focused on hunting down those responsible for the 2012 attack.":

  • When Did Fox News Cite Dylan Davies?

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    One of the curious sub-plots to the ongoing drama of 60 Minutes and its since-retracted October 27 Benghazi report is the extent to which Dylan Davies, CBS News' discredited Benghazi "witness," informed Fox News' reporting. The day after the 60 Minutes report aired, Fox News' Adam Housley disclosed on-air that "some of our reports for last fall included this 60 Minutes witness' account," but added that he stopped talking to Davies "when he asked for money." Even still, Housley said at the time that Davies' story on 60 Minutes "reaffirms, really, what we've been reporting." After CBS retracted their story, Fox News vice president Michael Clemente stated unequivocally: "We stand by our reporting on Benghazi."

    This is an awkward situation for Fox: they cited a "witness" whose credibility has since been trashed, and they had suspicions about his credibility before it was publicly destroyed, but they're nonetheless defending every scrap of their Benghazi reporting, including the pieces that cited Davies. So which Fox News articles featured the now-discredited British security contractor as a source? That's tough to nail down, as Fox News never cited Davies by name. But there are a couple of reports from late 2012 that cite British sources to make claims that are incorrect or unsupported by other accounts of the attacks.

    On November 3, 2012, Housley published an "exclusive" for challenging the CIA's timeline of Benghazi attacks and claiming that "security officials on the ground say calls for help went out" before the attack on the diplomatic compound actually started at 9:30 p.m., Libya time. Housley's report cited "multiple people on the ground" who said that the "Blue Mountain Security manager" -- a possible reference to Davies, who was training the British firm Blue Mountain's security forces at the consulate -- "made calls on both two-way radios and cell phones to colleagues in Benghazi warning of problems at least an hour earlier."

    One source said the Blue Mountain Security chief seemed "distraught" and said "the situation here is very serious, we have a problem." He also said that even without these phone and radio calls, it was clear to everyone in the security community on the ground in Benghazi much earlier than 9:40 p.m. that fighters were gathering in preparation for an attack.

    Even if this isn't a reference to Davies, the report appears to be incorrect. Several different accounts of the night of the Benghazi attack make no reference to any "distraught" messages from the Blue Mountain security force prior to the attack -- indeed, they all describe a scene of (relative) normalcy until the moment the attack started. "The radio on the Blue Mountain frequency was silent," write Fred Burton and Samuel L. Katz in Under Fire. "There was no chatter on the February 17 [militia] frequency either. There was, for the most part, silence."

  • Fox News: "We Stand By Our Reporting On Benghazi"

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    Following the collapse of CBS News' 60 Minutes report on the 2012 Benghazi attacks, Fox News, which cited 60 Minutes' now-discredited "eyewitness" for some of its Benghazi coverage, is standing by the accuracy of its reporting. CBS News' withdrawal of the story has been largely ignored by Fox News, even though Fox enthusiastically promoted the 60 Minutes story and boasted that it validated the network's own reporting on Benghazi.

    CBS News withdrew the story and 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan apologized to viewers after it was revealed that their Benghazi "eyewitness," British security contractor Dylan Davies, had given contradictory statements about whether he was actually present for the attack on the diplomatic compound. On October 28, the day after the report aired, Fox News devoted 13 segments -- totaling 47 minutes -- to promoting the 60 Minutes story.

    Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi wrote in a November 9 article that "CBS's withdrawal of the story not only undermined its reporting, but that of Fox News, which apparently relied on Davies as a source for stories that have challenged the Obama administration's account of events." Farhi quoted Fox News executive vice president of news Michael Clemente defending his network's coverage: "We stand by our reporting on Benghazi, and given what is still unknown, we anticipate further fact finding from those who know the truth about what took place on 9/11/12."

    Erik Wemple, the Post's media blogger, noted that after the 60 Minutes report first aired, Fox News correspondent Adam Housley acknowledged on-air that some of the network's Benghazi coverage from 2012 had cited Davies, but they "stopped speaking to him when he asked for money." Wemple specifically noted a November 3, 2012, Fox News report that referenced "the Blue Mountain Security manager," a possible reference to Davies, who was working for Blue Mountain Security at the time. As Housley put it, Davies' 60 Minutes appearance "kind of reaffirm[ed] the fact that this attack was vicious."

    After spending so much time promoting 60 Minutes' story and using it to praise their own reporting, Fox News spent just 26 seconds on the story's collapse. "CBS is backing off a report on 60 Minutes -- we told you about last week -- that relied on a source whose credibility has crumbled," Special Report host Bret Baier told viewers on November 8.

  • Right-Wing Media Push New Benghazi Myths Ahead Of Hearings


    Right-wing media are using a congressional hearing to push new myths about the Obama administration's response to the September 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, these myths are discredited by previous congressional reports and testimony, which show that the politicized nature of the hearings come from right-wing media and Congressional Republicans, that the military could not have rescued personnel from the second attack, that the administration was in constant communication at all levels during the attacks, and that the intelligence community believed there was a link to an anti-Islam video at the time of the attacks.

  • The Newsy Nonsense Of Fox News' Benghazi "Insider"

    Five Problems With Fox's Latest Attempt To Turn Benghazi Into Watergate

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    Fox News is heavily invested in turning Benghazi into the scandal that takes down Barack Obama. It's not just the dream of brutishly partisan actors like Sean Hannity, but the stated intention of Fox reporters like James Rosen, who told Bill O'Reilly that "there are certain elements...that are lacking here for this to become Watergate," among them the self-serving notion that the media -- save for Fox News -- refuse to dig into the "major scandal" that is Benghazi. The idea that media outlets have been reticent to investigate the September 2012 attack on the Benghazi diplomatic compound is laughably false. What Rosen really means is that the press aren't covering it in the way that Fox News is.

    This plays into the Fox Cycle, a process Media Matters has documented by which false and misleading conservative attacks make the transition from right-wing hobbyhorse to national media narrative, with Fox News playing a key role in pressuring mainstream press outlets into covering the story. Fox has been working hard at doing just that this week with a series of segments on Special Report with Bret Baier featuring an anonymous Benghazi "insider" who purports to contradict the official account of the Benghazi attack.

    Here, however, are five instances in which the "insider" describes events that actually took place, were already known, or have been debunked.

    1. The presence of special forces in Croatia. Media Matters documented one such instance of Fox's confidential informant breaking news that everyone already knew -- the presence of a special operations force in Croatia. "I know for a fact that C-110 [a special ops team], the EUCOM CIF, was doing a training exercise, not in the region of Northern Africa, but in Europe. And they had the ability to react and respond," said Fox's unnamed source. Everyone knows that "for a fact" because it's been a matter of public record for months now and was included in the Pentagon's official Benghazi timeline. Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered those forces to deploy, but they could not arrive in time.

    2. Deployment of those special forces. That brings up another point of contention. Fox's source claimed: "We had the ability to load out, get on birds, and fly there at a minimum stage. C-110 had the ability to be there, in my opinion, in four to six hours from their European theater to react." [emphasis added] The phrase "in my opinion" is highlighted there because that's all this is. An opinion. The State Department independent Benghazi review and outside experts have a different opinion: that there were no military assets that could have made it to Benghazi in time to make a difference. This is less a contradiction of the official account than a disagreement from a party whose identity and expertise are as yet unknown. (Former Marine officer and special operations team leader Billy Birdzell dismantled Fox's source's claims about the deployment of C-110 here.)