After nearly four years of right-wing myths about the September 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, and as Republicans and Democrats on the House Select Committee on the attacks release their reports, Media Matters has compiled a list of more than 50 myths and facts regarding the origin of the attack, the security surrounding the compounds, the Obama administration’s handling of the attack during and after its occurrence, attacks on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other lies and misinformation regarding the Benghazi attack.
At Height Of 2016 Presidential Campaign, House Select Committee On Benghazi Releases Dueling Reports On 2012 Attacks
Republicans On House Benghazi Committee Issue 800-Page Report That Second Guesses Generals, Focuses On Talking Points. Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee released an 800-page final report criticizing military officials for not responding to Benghazi in time. Department of Defense officials have said they could not have gotten there in time, but the report argues “DOD should have tried because it didn’t know at that moment when the final wave of attacks would end,” according to Politico. The report also “dig[s] in” on talking points the Obama administration used linking the attack to an protests over an inflammatory anti-Islam video, claiming “no one on the ground ever thought a video had anything to do with what happened that night.” From Politico’s June 28 article:
The report will also detail the Defense Department’s failure to move assets to respond during the attack. The panel found that while President Barack Obama and then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved the military to do all that it could just after 8:30 that night, no one was deployed for hours and DOD failed to meet deployment times, according to one committee staffer.
While the administration has said it was beefing up security for Americans the day before the Sept. 11 attack, a GOP aide criticized the military for having some of their rescue jets locked up in training missions or with maintenance issues rather than ready to deploy.
The Defense Department has consistently said it couldn’t have gotten to Benghazi in time to save Americans. The panel says, however, DOD should have tried because it didn’t know at that moment when the final wave of attacks would end. One staffer said that had the attack lasted just an hour or two longer, the Defense Department might have been able to respond.
The military, the committee staffer said, didn’t deploy until after the Libyans had stepped in to save and evacuate Americans to Tripoli, which happened sometime around 6 a.m. Libya time, the panel says. And even then, the military went to Tripoli, never Benghazi.
The report will also dig into the flawed talking points the administration used after the attack, in which top officials like Susan Rice blamed the attack on a protest against an anti-Islamic video. The panel, speaking to those on the ground as well as those who flew drones over the region the night of the attack, said no one on the ground ever thought a video had anything to do with what happened that night. [Politico, 6/28/16]
Democrats On Select Committee On Benghazi Blast Republicans On Panel For Targeting Hillary Clinton Politically Without Finding New Information. House Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi released a report on June 27 slamming the Republican-led panel for finding “little new information while targeting Hillary Clinton politically.” According to Bloomberg, the report concluded:
The Democrats’ report Monday finds:
- “The Defense Department couldn’t have done anything differently on the night of the attacks that would have saved the lives” of the four Americans.
- “The State Department’s security measures in Benghazi were woefully inadequate as a result of decisions made by officials in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, but Secretary Clinton never personally denied any requests for additional security in Benghazi.”
- “The Intelligence Community’s assessments evolved after the attacks as more information became available, but they were not influenced by political considerations.”
- “Administration officials did not make intentionally misleading statements about the attacks, but instead relied on information they were provided at the time under fast-moving circumstances.”
The 339-page report accuses Gowdy of conducting the investigation “like an overzealous prosecutor desperately trying to land a front-page conviction rather than a neutral judge of facts seeking to improve the security of our diplomatic corps.”
The Democrats, who said they will post the committee’s unclassified interview transcripts online, also asserted that the panel’s Republicans have waited to release their report “until directly before the presidential conventions for maximum political impact.” [Bloomberg, 6/27/16]
MYTH: Obama Administration Misleadingly Tied Attack To Inflammatory Anti-Islam Video As A “Diversion Tactic”
Fox's Sean Hannity: Hillary Clinton “Chose ... To Rant About A Phantom Movie That May Or May Not Exist.” On the September 13, 2012, edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity attacked the Obama administration for citing an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube as a catalyst for the attack in Benghazi. Hannity said that Obama administration officials “now appear to be buying into a narrative that the trailer for a low-budget anti-Muslim film is actually responsible for the chaos in the streets in the Middle East.” He then said that Clinton “rant[ed] about a phantom movie that may or may not exist.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/13/12, via Nexis]
Fox’s Marc Thiessen: Allegation Clinton Misled About Attacks Is The “Smoking Gun That We Were Never Supposed To See.” More than three years later, Fox contributor Marc Thiessen claimed that allegations that Clinton spread a “false narrative” about the attacks being related to an anti-Muslim video “give us the smoking gun” that proves Hillary Clinton was “covering up” the motivations behind the Benghazi attacks. From the October 22, 2015, edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File:
MEGYN KELLY (HOST): I understand Hillary Clinton's later defense today at the hearing, which was, “I still believe”-- she says, “I still believe that the video played some role.” But I heard no explanation from her as to if that was her belief, if that's her belief today, why she told the Egyptian prime minister “we know that this attack had nothing to do with the film. We know it was a planned attack and not a protest.” Why did she say that if, to this day, she believes it was about a video?
MARC THIESSEN: Because she doesn't believe it was about a video. Because she's covering up what we weren't supposed to hear. What Congressman Jordan did today was give us the smoking gun that we were never supposed to see. Which is the internal thoughts that she had in her communications with her family, with foreign leaders telling them this was an Al Qaeda attack, this was a pre-planned attack. I mean, she, at the same time that she was going out and saying this was about an inflammatory video, she said there -- she said it was an attack. She never used the word terrorism. She never used the word Al Qaeda. At the same time she was doing that almost simultaneously. She sent an email to her daughter, Chelsea saying two of our officers were just killed by an attack with the group affiliated with Al Qaeda. She told foreign leaders this. And this is the problem with this Megyn, is that I think that the American people would not have blamed them for Benghazi if they had stepped forward, if she and President Obama have stepped forward and said, America has come under attack by Al Qaeda on the anniversary of September 11, 2001. We're going to get the people who did this. And I think Americans would have rallied to them. But they didn't do that. They lied about it and that's what I think is unforgivable.
KELLY: Here's what she says about that: Basically, that email to her family. She says the night of the attack Al Qaeda made this, Al Qaeda affiliated group made a claim of responsibility, that they then pulled back the next day. And she says, as the intel coming to her and everyone else in the administration changed, so too, did their message. And yet, what she says to the Egyptian leader is, “we know, we know” -- she's coming out, already the messages were conflicting because she's saying one thing to him and she's saying something else publicly. But she didn't say “we believe and we still have to investigate.” [Fox News, The Kelly File, 10/22/15]
Fox's Chris Wallace: Allegation That Clinton Privately Described The Attack As Terrorism Is “In Direct Contradiction” To The White House's Explanation. Fox’s Chris Wallace told network host Jon Scott that Clinton privately described the Benghazi attack as terrorism and made no mention of the video, which he said “goes against the line that was coming out of the White House and from the State Department.” Wallace said, “Clinton spoke there at a ceremony attended, of course, by the relatives of the four people who had been killed. Mrs. Clinton talked specifically at that time about the video, no mention at all of Al Qaeda, no mention at all of a terror attack, so this seems in direct contradiction to that.” From the October 22, 2015, edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:
CHRIS WALLACE: This is a note that supposedly, I guess, clearly Hillary Clinton sent the night of the attack. It was just sent to her family, not which member of her family, saying that it was a terror attack and no mention of the video. That certainly goes against the line that was coming out of the White House and from the State Department, and of course, we've got to remember Jim Jordan, that Ohio congressman who was asking about that didn't draw the link, but we all remember that when the caskets of the four U.S. diplomatic people brought back to Andrews Air Force Base and President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton spoke there at a ceremony attended, of course, by the relatives of the four people who had been killed, Mrs. Clinton talked specifically at that time about the video, no mention at all of Al Qaeda, no mention at all of a terror attack. So this seems in direct contradiction to that.
JON SCOTT (HOST): And it does seem important to remember the timing of all of this, less than two months before President Obama was running for reelection and that, sort of to me it seems, gets lost very often in the discussion of who said what when and exactly what was said.
WALLACE: Congressman Jordan with those quite explosive emails, in which we hear that not only was she telling her family, but she was also telling the Libyan president and the foreign minister of Egypt that it was a terror attack in the immediate aftermath of the attack. [Fox News, Happening Now, 10/22/15]
Fox's Eric Bolling: Clinton's Reference To Anti-Muslim Video Was A “Diversion Tactic.” Fox host Eric Bolling said Clinton pointing to the anti-Muslim video as a catalyst for the attack was a “diversion tactic,” on the September 13, 2012, edition of Fox News’ The Five:
ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): Some people are trying to blame [an] obscure movie, a YouTube movie, for murders of Americans and escalating violence. Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mind-numbingly doubled down on this diversion tactic today. [Fox News, The Five, 9/13/12, via Nexis]
Fox's Carlson: The Administration Knew The Attack “Wasn't Because Of The Video.” Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson pushed the claim that the State Department knew the attack was not related to an anti-Muslim video, but said it anyway, suggesting that the Administration's response to the attack was dishonest. From the October 16, 2012, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
GRETCHEN CARLSON: What catches my attention is the way in which the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describes this as the fog of war, the confusion you get in any type of combat situation. Is that true? I mean, was there confusion about what actually was going on? Because remember last week, Brian just alluded to this, when the State Department officials were testifying under oath, they basically admitted that they were watching this unfold if not in real time pretty close to it. So they knew that there was no protest. They knew it wasn't because of the video. And they probably knew that it was a well-orchestrated terror attack. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/16/12]
MYTH: Susan Rice Was Covering Up For Obama Admin By Mentioning Anti-Islam Video In Sunday Show Appearances Following The Attack
Fox's Krauthammer: Everything Ambassador Rice Said “Was A Confection,” An “Invention.” In a series of appearances on the September 16, 2012, editions of various Sunday political talk shows, then-Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice suggested that, based on the available intelligence at the time, the attacks were linked to protests caused by an anti-Islam YouTube video. Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed Rice’s statement “was a confection” and an “invention.” From the October 10, 2012, edition of Fox News’ Special Report:
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: So everything that Susan Rice said was a confection, it was an invention. And as you showed, it was repeated again and again. You had Hillary Clinton speaking about the video as the body of the ambassador was lying next to her. Then you had Susan Rice spinning the tails. You had the president of the United States addressing the General Assembly more than two weeks later talking about the video, the insult to Islam, et cetera. You have this entire story going all along.
They're trying to sell the video, they're trying to sell extremism and they're trying to sell all of this at the time when they know it isn't true. So that's number one. And that's a scandal and I think it has to do with the fact that they were spiking the football over the death of bin Laden and al-Qaeda a week earlier in Charlotte and this was a contradiction of it. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 10/10/12, via Fox Nation]
Fox's Kilmeade: “Rice Was Making Believe That The Tape Was The Real Deal.” On November 14, 2012, the co-hosts of Fox News' Fox & Friends discussed whether Susan Rice might replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. Co-Host Brian Kilmeade said, “I think the Democrats have to feel like she's an embarrassment. She went out there and had her answer widely panned. Does the president really want to re-litigate this fight? And go back to the days when Susan Rice was making believe that the tape was the real deal?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/14/12]
Megyn Kelly Questioned Whether Rice Could Become Sec. Of State After She Linked Benghazi Attack To Video. Former America Live host Megyn Kelly said on November 13, 2012,, “I think now all of our viewers know [Rice], because she's the one who went on all the Sunday talk shows and told us that everything that happened in Benghazi was linked to this video, which we now know was not the case. Can she possibly ascend into the Cabinet, into this position in the Cabinet, given that?” [Fox News, America Live, 11/13/12]
FACT: Intelligence Community, The Suspected Attackers, And Eyewitnesses All Linked The Inflammatory Anti-Islam Video To The Attacks
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: Intel Reports Linked Inflammatory Video To Benghazi Attack. A Senate Select Committee on Intelligence review of the Benghazi attack found that “some intelligence suggests” an inflammatory video linked to violent protests around the region led terror groups to conduct “similar attacks with little 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. [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, 1/15/14] [Media Matters, 10/21/16]
NY Times: Suspected Benghazi Ringleader Told Witnesses The Benghazi Attack Was In Response To Inflammatory Anti-Islam Video. According to The New York Times, Ahmed Abu Khattala, who was captured in June 2014 by U.S. military on an indictment for murder in connection with his role as a suspected ringleader of the Benghazi attack, “told fellow Islamist fighters” on the night of the attack “and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video” mocking Islam that inspired demonstrations in Cairo:
During the assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, Mr. Abu Khattala was a vivid presence. Witnesses saw him directing the swarming attackers who ultimately killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy's walls -- images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world.
As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.
In an interview a few days later, he pointedly declined to say whether an offensive online video might indeed warrant the destruction of the diplomatic mission or the killing of the ambassador. [The New York Times, 6/17/14]
NY Times: “The Attackers” In Benghazi “Did Tell Bystanders That They Were Attacking The Compound Because They Were Angry About The Video.” The New York Times reported that on the night of the Benghazi attack, attackers “did tell bystanders that they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the video” (emphasis original):
What do eyewitnesses say about the events in Benghazi? Were they related to the insulting video, or is that a red herring? And was the assault planned for the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, or was it spontaneous?
According to reporting by David D. Kirkpatrick and Suliman Ali Zway of The New York Times, eyewitnesses have said there was no peaceful demonstration against the video outside the compound before the attack, though a crowd of Benghazi residents soon gathered, and some later looted the compound. But the attackers, recognized as members of a local militant group called Ansar al-Shariah, did tell bystanders that they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the video. They did not mention the Sept. 11 anniversary. Intelligence officials believe that planning for the attack probably began only a few hours before it took place. [The New York Times, 10/17/12]
Wash. Post's Ignatius: CIA Document Supported Rice's Description Of Attack As Reaction To Anti-Islam Video. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported that the CIA confirmed that Rice's description of the Benghazi attack on the Sunday shows was accurate:
“Talking points” prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” [The Washington Post, 10/19/12]
Wash. Post Editorial: News Organizations Quoted People At The Burning Consulate Saying They “Were Angry About The Video.” A November 22, 2012, Washington Post editorial pointed out that several Western news organizations quoted people protesting outside the attacked Benghazi consulate saying that they were angry about the anti-Islam YouTube video:
Though investigations are not complete, what has emerged so far suggests that the attack was staged by local jihadists, not ordered by the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Officials believe that it was inspired in part by demonstrations that took place that day in Cairo. That is not so far from Ms. Rice's explanation that “this began as a spontaneous . . . response to what transpired in Cairo.” Republicans claim that Ms. Rice “propagated a falsehood” that the attacks were connected to an anti-Islam YouTube video. How then to explain the contemporaneous reports from Western news organizations quoting people at the burning consulate saying that they were angry about the video? [The Washington Post, 11/22/12]
Wash. Post Editorial: “Ms. Rice's Comments” On Sunday Shows “Were Based On Talking Points Drawn Up By The Intelligence Community.” A November 22 Washington Post editorial noted that Rice's comments on the Sunday shows “were based on talking points drawn up by the intelligence community”:
[A]s congressional testimony has established, Ms. Rice's comments on several Sunday television talk shows on Sept. 16 were based on talking points drawn up by the intelligence community. She was acting as an administration spokeswoman; there was nothing either incompetent or deliberately misleading about the way she presented the information she was given.
Nor was her account of what happened as far off the mark as Republicans claim. Though investigations are not complete, what has emerged so far suggests that the attack was staged by local jihadists, not ordered by the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Officials believe that it was inspired in part by demonstrations that took place that day in Cairo. That is not so far from Ms. Rice's explanation that “this began as a spontaneous . . . response to what transpired in Cairo.” [The Washington Post, 11/22/12]
House Intelligence Committee: Initial Intelligence Surrounding The Attackers' Identities And Motives Was “Piecemeal” And “Conflicting.” The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's Benghazi investigation found that in the wake of the attacks, “intelligence analysts and policymakers received a stream of piecemeal intelligence regarding the identities/affiliations and motivations of the attackers,” and that “much of the early intelligence was conflicting”:
After reviewing hundreds of pages of raw intelligence, as well as open source information, it was clear that between the time when the attacks occurred and when the Administration, through Ambassador Susan Rice, appeared on the Sunday talk shows, intelligence analysts and policymakers received a stream of piecemeal intelligence regarding the identities/affiliations and motivations of the attackers, as well as the level of planning and/or coordination. Much of the early intelligence was conflicting, and two years later, intelligence gaps remain.
Various witnesses and senior military officials serving in the Obama Administration testified to this Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Armed Services Committee that they knew from the moment the attacks began that the attacks were deliberate terrorist acts against U.S. interests. 125 No witness has reported believing at any point that the attacks were anything but terrorist acts.
Along those lines, in the Rose Garden on September 12, 2012, President Obama said that four “extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi,” and said that: "[n]o acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for."
However, it was not clear whether the terrorist attacks were committed by al-Qa'ida or by various groups of other bad actors, some of who may have been affiliated with al-Qa'ida. Early CIA, NCTC, DIA, and CJCS intelligence assessments on September 12th and 13th stated that members of AAS and various al-Qa'ida affiliates “likely,” “probably,” or “possibl[y]” participated in the attacks. [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, 11/21/14]
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 anti-Muslim video might have motivated the attackers. [The Daily Beast, 4/2/14]
MYTH: Rice Prematurely Gave A Definitive Assessment Of The Attack
Mara Liasson: “Susan Rice Was So Definitive” In Her Statements On Benghazi Attack. On Fox News' Special Report, Fox News contributor and NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson claimed that Rice “was so definitive” about what had happened in Benghazi:
MARA LIASSON: I think the most, kind of mystifying part of this is that Susan Rice was so definitive, and was so kind of out over the tips of her skis, as they say, on the Sunday talk shows. Why not say, then, “We are doing an investigation to find out what happened,” instead of saying definitively this was a spontaneous protest that in some cases got hijacked? I mean that's caused more trouble for them than the attack itself I believe. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 10/10/12]
Laura Ingraham: Why Didn't Rice Just Say There Is “An Ongoing Investigation, And I'm Really Not Going To Say Anything More?” On the September 30, 2012, edition of Fox News Sunday, then-Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham asked why Rice had not just said that there is ”an ongoing investigation, and I'm really not going to say anything more. We're going to learn more." [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/30/12]
FACT: During Sunday Shows, Rice Repeatedly Emphasized Ongoing Investigations And Cautioned Against Jumping To Conclusions
Susan Rice: “There's An FBI Investigation That Has Begun ... That Will Tell Us With Certainty What Transpired.” Rice told ABC’s This Week guest host Jake Tapper that an FBI investigation was under way and relayed the administration's “current best assessment” based on the information available at the time. From the September 16, 2012, edition of ABC’s This Week:
SUSAN RICE: Well, Jake, first of all, it's important to know that there's an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed. That will tell us with certainty what transpired.
But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous -- not a premeditated -- response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.
We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to -- or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in -- in the wake of the revolution in Libya are -- are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.
We'll wait to see exactly what the investigation finally confirms, but that's the best information we have at present. [ABC, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 9/16/12]
Rice: “We'll Want To See The Results Of That Investigation To Draw Any Definitive Conclusions.” Rice repeatedly stressed to CBS’ Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer that the United States was conducting an investigation of the attack and that “we'll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.” From the September 16, 2012, edition of CBS’ Face the Nation:
SUSAN RICE: Bob, let me tell you what we understand to be the assessment at present. First of all, very importantly, as you discussed with the President, there is an investigation that the United States government will launch led by the FBI, that has begun and --
BOB SCHIEFFER (HOST): But they are not there.
RICE: They are not on the ground yet, but they have already begun looking at all sorts of evidence of -- of various sorts already available to them and to us. And they will get on the ground and continue the investigation. So we'll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions. But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy--
RICE: -- sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that -- in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent. [CBS, Face the Nation, 9/16/12]
Rice: “Investigation, Which Is Ongoing,” Will Give Us “The Definitive Word As To What Transpired.” On the September 16, 2012, edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Rice reiterated that an investigation into the Benghazi attack was ongoing and that the administration would “look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired.” [NBC, Meet the Press, 9/16/12]
Rice: “Obviously, We Will Wait For The Results Of The Investigation And We Don't Want To Jump To Conclusions Before Then.” On the September 16, 2012, edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Rice noted that the FBI was investigating the attacks “closely” and stated that “we don't want to jump to conclusions before then.” [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/16/12]
MYTH: Obama Administration Ignored Benghazi Threats
Fox Host Kilmeade: “The U.S. Government Knew An Attack Was Imminent And Didn't Do A Thing About It.” On the October 28, 2013, edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that “the U.S. government knew an attack was imminent [in Benghazi] and didn't do a thing about it.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/28/13]
Fox's Rivera Claimed Obama Administration Failed To Heed Warning Of Benghazi Attacks. Fox’s Geraldo Rivera claimed a press release issued on September 10, 2012 was evidence the Obama administration had notice of a threat to the diplomatic facility in Benghazi but did nothing to prevent the attacks. From the October 18, 2013, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
GERALDO RIVERA: What does the press release say the day before the attacks on the Cairo embassy and the consulate in Benghazi and other facilities around the country? The press release on September 10, 2012, says there is a heightened terror alert, be on the lookout, all our people have now been informed. So there was clearly notice, there was an appreciation on September 10, 2012, that our facilities overseas were in peril. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/18/13]
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: “There Was No Singular 'Tactical Warning' In The Intelligence Reporting Leading Up To The Events On September 11, 2012, Predicting An Attack On U.S.” The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence review found that no specific warnings predicted the attack in Benghazi (emphasis added):
There was no singular “tactical warning” in the intelligence reporting leading up to the events on September 11, 2012, predicting an attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi on the 9/11 anniversary, although State and the CIA both sent general warning notices to facilities worldwide noting the potential security concerns associated with the anniversary. Such a specific warning should not have been expected, however, given the limited intelligence collection of the Benghazi area at the time.
To date, the Committee has not identified any intelligence or other information received prior to September 11, 2012, by the IC or State Department indicating specific terrorist planning to attack the U.S. facilities in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
Although it did not reach the U.S. Intelligence Community until after the attacks, it is important to note that a former Transitional National Council (TNC) security official in Benghazi, had received information of a possible imminent attack against the Mission facility in advance. The official said that approximately four hours prior to the attack, he attempted to notify the Libyan Intelligence Service (LIS) that an attack was expected, but he was unable to reach two contacts he had in the LIS as they were out of the country. [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, 1/15/14]
MYTH: There Was “No Security” At Libyan Consulate
Radio Host Rush Limbaugh: Ambassador Stevens Had “No Security” At Benghazi Consulate. During the September 21, 2012, edition of his radio program, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Ambassador Chris Stevens had “no security -- none.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/21/12]
Wall Street Journal: Consulate Security Included “A Four-Man Team Of Armed Guards Protecting The Perimeter” And “Five Armed State Department Diplomatic Security Officers.” A September 21, 2012, Wall Street Journal article reported that security at the Libyan consulate included “a four-man team of armed guards protecting the perimeter and four unarmed Libyan guards inside to screen visitors.” The Journal also noted: “Besides the four armed Libyans outside, five armed State Department diplomatic security officers were at the consulate.” [The Wall Street Journal, 9/21/12]
Wall Street Journal: Prior To Attacks, “Embassy Personnel Conducted A Security Review.” The same Wall Street Journal article reported that a security review was conducted right before the attacks on the consulate:
In the days before Sept. 11, intelligence agencies issued their annual warning of heightened security risks around the anniversary of the 2001 attacks. Many counterterrorism officials saw a lessened risk this year than last year, which was the 10th anniversary and the first one after the killing of Osama bin Laden.
In Libya, embassy personnel conducted a security review right before the anniversary. It determined there was no reason to think an attack was planned or the consulate in Benghazi was “insufficiently postured,” said a senior administration official. [The Wall Street Journal, 9/21/12]
MYTH: “Stand Down” Order Was Given By Administration To Military And Benghazi Response Teams
At Least 100 Fox News Segments Forwarded The False Claim That The Obama Administration Issued A “Stand Down” Order. Fox News repeatedly pushed the myth that CIA and military personnel were ordered to “stand down” by someone in the Obama administration, theoretically hindering their ability to save the Americans who were killed during the attacks. According to a Media Matters analysis, at least 100 Fox News segments pushed the false claim. The vast majority of these segments occurred in the wake of then-Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks' testimony on May 8, 2013, but Fox has continued to air the attack even after it has been repeatedly debunked. [Media Matters, 9/16/14, 6/27/13]
FACT: Multiple Congressional Investigations Explained That American Military Assets Were Not Ordered To “Stand Down”
Republican-Led House Armed Services Committee Report Concluded No Stand-Down Order Issued To Military. On February 11, 2014, the House Armed Services Committee released a report on its investigation into the Benghazi attacks, which concluded that “There was no 'stand down' order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi.” As The Washington Post explained, the report further determined that “no U.S. military assets could have arrived in Benghazi in time to affect the outcome of the attack, according to committee staff members who briefed reporters on the report.” [Media Matters, 2/11/14, 1/14/16]
House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence: Evidence Provides “No Support For The Allegations That There Was Any Stand-Down Order.” On November 21, 2014, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) released the findings of its investigation into the Benghazi attacks, which found “no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support.” The report further explained that there was no “stand down order from CIA headquarters or from Tripoli Station,” and citing the House Armed Services Committee report, found that “the CIA received all military support that was available.” From the HPSCI report:
The evidence from eyewitness testimony, ISR video footage, closed-circuit television recordings, and other sources provides no support for the allegation that there was any stand-down order. Rather, there were mere tactical disagreements about the speed with which the team should depart prior to securing additional security assets.
The 21-minute period between the time the Annex personnel first learned of the attack and when they departed reflects the time the Team needed to put on gear and the time during which the Chief of base in Benghazi tried to secure local militias to assist in the mission. Annex leadership also considered the impact of the departure of the security officers on the security of the Annex. The Annex has minimal security forces available for the 93 minutes that the team was gone, and there was neither a requirement not an expectation for the CIA security personnel to defend the State Department's facility in Benghazi. Nonetheless, some Annex team members wanted urgently to depart the Annex for the TMF to save their State Department colleagues. The Chief of Base in Benghazi, however, ordered the team to wait so that the seniors on the ground could ascertain the situation at the TMF and whether they could secure heavy weaponry support from local militias.
Based on all of the available evidence, the Committee concludes that the Annex team left in a timely and appropriate manner. None of the officials who testified believed that the 21-minute delay was due to a stand down order from CIA headquarters or from Tripoli Station. [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Investigative Report on the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, 11/21/14]
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 “intentional delay or obstruction” 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. [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, 1/15/14]
MYTH: There Were No Security Forces Sent To Benghazi During The Attacks
Fox News Repeatedly Suggested That No Forces Were Sent To Benghazi During The Attack. Fox has frequently claimed that no assistance was deployed during the attacks, with contributors even going so far as to suggest that Obama “sacrificed Americans” as a “political calculation.” According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox aired at least 134 segments suggesting no forces were sent during the attacks. [Media Matters, 9/16/14; 9/11/13]
Reinforcements Were Scrambled To Aid The Diplomatic Post. A six-member quick-reaction team and 60 Libyan militiamen in Benghazi responded to the initial distress calls from the diplomatic post, and reinforcements from the embassy in Tripoli arrived the same night, before the second round of attacks on the nearby CIA annex. In fact, one of the four Americans who were killed that night, Glen Doherty, was part of the rescue effort. Additional special operations teams were ordered to deploy from Croatia and the United States, but did not arrive in Libya until long after the attack had concluded. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has accused critics who believe more U.S. forces should have responded of having a “cartoonish impression of military capabilities.” [Media Matters, 9/16/14; 7/10/14; 11/4/12; 10/28/13]
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 Florida Times-Union]
AP: Reinforcements From Embassy In Tripoli Arrived The Same Night. The quick-response team returned to its compound across town and the same night, the AP explained. [Associated Press, 10/10/12, via The Florida Times-Union]
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]
MYTH: Obama Left Americans To Die In Benghazi
Fox's Peter Johnson Suggests Obama Admin May Have “Sacrificed Americans” As A “Political Calculation” During Benghazi Attacks. On the October 25, 2012, edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. asked if there was a “political calculation that was made to sacrifice Americans on the ground so we didn't kill innocents in front of the consulate.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/25/12]
Fox's K.T. McFarland: “It Was Probably A Political Decision Not To Rescue Them.” Fox News national security analyst K.T. McFarland claimed the supposed absence of aid to the consulate was “probably” politically motivated. From the October 10, 2012, edition of America Live:
ALISYN CAMEROTA (guest host): K.T., who is responsible for answering all of these questions?
K.T. MCFARLAND: Well, that's the question you want to know. I mean, here's what's happened is, bad stuff happened, all right? So what is the administration doing? They're throwing a lot of dust up in the air to try to make sure you're not sure quite what happened, who to blame. Is it the movie's fault? Is it the intelligence community? Is it the security? Is it the State Department diplomats? We don't know the answers to that. I've got a guess that it's something that was a political decision. And not only a political decision not to give them the kind of security they wanted, but it was probably a political decision not to rescue them. And finally, is it a political decision to try to put a lot of blue smoke and mirrors in front of everybody so they don't know what really happened, and they won't know what really happened until after the election? [Fox News, America Live, 10/10/12]
FACT: House And Senate Reviews: Response Saved Lives, No Additional Military In Position To Impact Outcome
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: “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.” The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence review found that the groups responding to the Benghazi attack were credited with saving lives of the personnel in the 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. [Media Matters, 1/15/14]
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: “There Were No U.S. Military Resources In Position To Intervene In Short Order In Benghazi To Help Defend The Temporary Mission Facility.” The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence review 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. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, 1/15/14]
Republican-Led House Armed Services Committee: No “Response Alternatives” Could Have Changed Benghazi Outcome. The House Armed Services Report on the Benghazi attacks outlined the U.S. military response and found that no available alternatives would have produced a different result. From the February 2014 report:
Majority members believe the regional and global force posture assumed by the military on September 11, 2012 limited the response. Majority members recognize, of course, that it is impossible for the Department of Defense to have adequate forces prepared to respond immediately to every conceivable global contingency. Ensuring that preparations exist for some likely possibilities is not to be confused with the ability to anticipate all prospective circumstances, especially in highly volatile regions.
Majority members acknowledge that embassy security involves estimating and managing risk. Department representatives appearing before the committee pointed out that some danger will always be present, regardless of the preparations, especially in tension-prone areas of the world.64 Before the Benghazi attacks, there was also the presumption (in Libya and elsewhere) that indigenous forces would be more helpful in protecting Americans than proved to be the case.
Given the military's preparations on September 11, 2012, majority members have not yet discerned any response alternatives that could have likely changed the outcome of the Benghazi attack. While majority members are reluctant to disagree with specific tactical decisions made by professional career uniformed officers in the heat of battle and they believe the U.S. military performed well in responding to the attacks, it is nonetheless necessary to evaluate thoroughly the choices commanders made. [House Committee on Armed Services, Majority Interim Report: Benghazi Investigation Update, February 2014]
MYTH: Whereabouts Of Obama Administration Officials’ -- Including Hillary Clinton -- During The Attack Are Unknown
Fox Repeatedly Questioned Where Administration Officials Were The Night Of The Attack. Fox has repeatedly questioned the whereabouts of several administration officials during the attacks in Benghazi, falsely implying that Obama and his team were not properly responsive to the tragedy. [Media Matters, 9/16/14]
Radio Host Laura Ingraham: “We Know That The Secretary Of State Had Not A Single Conversation With The Commander In Chief.” In an interview with Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on her radio show, Laura Ingraham said, “We know that the secretary of state had not a single conversation with the commander-in-chief. Not one during this attack.” From the May 7, 2013, edition of The Laura Ingraham Show:
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): We know that the secretary of state had not a single conversation with the commander-in-chief. Not one during this attack. Not one conversation? That just seems bizarre to me. I mean that's just one point, but that's a pretty darn good question. Why?
REP. PETER KING: Absolutely, it's an excellent question, and to me it's one that, it's unfortunate that it even has to be asked. I mean you would think they would have been on the phone, or in contact, continually.
INGRAHAM: My God. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 5/7/13]
Fox's Crowley: Obama And Clinton “Unaccounted For” On The Night Of The Attack. Fox News contributor Monica Crowley claimed in 2013 that Obama and Clinton -- “the two leaders of the U.S. government” -- were “unaccounted for that night. We have no narrative of where they were or what they were doing.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 5/9/13]
FACT: Obama, Hillary Clinton, And Other Administration Officials’ Whereabouts During Attack Have Been Documented
Clinton Spoke With Obama, Military Officials, And National Security Advisor During Attack. Congressional testimony has confirmed Clinton was in close contact with military officials and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon throughout the night of the attacks. The former deputy chief of mission in Libya testified in 2013 that Clinton called him during the attack to be briefed on developments. Clinton also testified in 2013 that she spoke with administration officials and President Obama from her office at the State Department throughout the night. [Media Matters, 10/21/15; 5/8/13; 5/9/13]
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Testified That The White House Was Fully Engaged During The Attack. During a February 7, 2013, congressional hearing, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified that the White House was fully engaged during the attack. [Media Matters, 5/9/13]
AP: Obama Responded Immediately Upon Learning Of Attack. The Associated Press reported that when Obama learned of the attack, he responded immediately, telling Panetta and General Martin E. Dempsey to “deploy forces as quickly as possible.” [Media Matters, 5/9/13]
White House Photo Shows Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, And National Security Team Discussing Benghazi The Night Of The Attack.
[White House Flickr Account, 9/11/12]
MYTH: Obama Neglected To Call The Attacks Terror In The Immediate Aftermath
Fox Repeatedly Suggested Obama Did Not Refer To The Attacks As Terrorism. Fox News repeatedly claimed that Obama did not called the Benghazi attack an act of terror in the immediate aftermath, often suggesting he refused to do so for political reasons. According to a Media Matters analysis, the network aired in the first 20 months following the attacks at least 244 evening segments that suggested that the Obama administration did not initially refer to the attacks as “terror” or a “terrorist act.” [Media Matters, 4/2/14; 9/16/14]
Obama Repeatedly Called Benghazi An “Act Of Terror” In The Days After The Attack. Obama called Benghazi an “act of terror” during his Rose Garden speech on September 12, 2012 the day after the attacks. He referred to the attack in the same manner twice the next day, during speeches in Colorado and Nevada. [Media Matters, 9/16/14; 10/16/12; 10/22/12; 4/2/14]
MYTH: Obama Administration Engaged In A Cover Up Over The Attacks
Fox News Repeatedly Accused Obama Of Deliberately Misleading Or Outright Lying About Benghazi. According to a Media Matters analysis, at least 37 percent of Benghazi segments on Fox News during the time period accounted for suggested that Obama or members of his administration willfully misled or lied about the events of the Benghazi terror attack. Hannity made this charge most often, with 138 segments accusing the administration of lying. Special Report, The O'Reilly Factor, On the Record, and The Five followed, with 78, 73, 65, and 48 segments, respectively. [Media Matters, 9/16/14]
Fox News Charged That The Obama Administration’s Response To The Attacks was A “Cover Up.” According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox News repeatedly characterized the Obama administration's response to the Benghazi attacks as a “cover-up.” Fox has suggested the administration “covered up” security flaws at the diplomatic facilities prior to the attacks, the realities of terrorism in the Middle East and Africa, what happened the night of the attacks, and why Rice's talking points were edited. The so-called “cover-up” has been framed as politically motivated, both to aid Obama's 2012 re-election as well as protect Clinton's potential 2016 presidential ambitions. [Media Matters, 9/16/14; 9/21/12; 1/23/13; 5/7/13; 5/3/14; 5/9/13; 5/6/14]
Multiple Investigations Reveal There Was No Obama Administration “Cover-Up.” Multiple investigations, including the State Department's independent Accountability Review Board, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the GOP-led House Intelligence Committee have found no evidence that the Obama administration or the intelligence community withheld necessary information or acted with political motivations. [State Department, 12/19/12; Senate Intelligence Committee, 1/15/14; House Intelligence Committee, 7/31/14; Media Matters, 9/16/14]
MYTH: Obama “Sympathize[d] With Those Who Waged The Attacks”
Fox Figures Echoed Romney To Claim Obama “Sympathize[d] With Those Who Waged The Attacks.” After then-GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney claimed immediately following the attacks that Obama “sympathize[d] with those who waged the attacks,” Fox figures echoed the claim, calling it a “perfectly responsible” statement. [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
ABC's Tapper: Evidence For Claim That Obama “Sympathizes” With Attackers “Does Not In Any Way Exist.” Jake Tapper, ABC News' senior White House correspondent, noted that this attack does not “stand up to simple chronology.” He went on to write, “The evidence that the president 'sympathizes with attackers in Egypt' was not immediately apparent, likely because it does not in any way exist.” [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
Claim That Obama “Sympathize[d]” With Attackers Was Widely Criticized. While some right-wing media figures defended Romney's remarks, other conservatives criticized them. Former Bush speechwriter David Frum called the comments a “dismal business in every respect,” while conservative columnist Peggy Noonan said in a Wall Street Journal video, “Romney looked weak today.” Foreign policy experts likewise criticized Romney's claims. [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
MYTH: Response To Embassy Attacks Was Part Of Obama's “Apology Tour”
Fox's Gretchen Carlson: Obama Went To Cairo And “Gave What Many Believe To Be An Apology Kind Of A Speech.” During the September 12, 2012, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, while discussing the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi, co-host Gretchen Carlson said:
President Obama went to Cairo, early on in his administration and gave what many believed to be an apology kind of a speech. That was an outreach, according to the administration, to the Muslim nations, that this was going to be a different kind of president. And what happened? The polls said that people in Muslim nations disliked Americans more, after that speech. And now you are seeing, because of a crazy movie put out with clips on YouTube, that this kind of uprising can happen in these Middle Eastern nations. [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
Fox's Eric Bolling Asks Obama: “How's The Appeasement And Apology Tour Working Out For You, Sir?” During the September 17, 2012, edition of Fox News' The Five, a clip of Obama speaking about outreach to the Muslim world was aired. Co-host Eric Bolling then said, “So how's the appeasement and apology tour working out for you, sir?” [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
Fact-Checkers Have Repeatedly Debunked The Claim That Obama Has “Apologized For America.” In February 2011, Washington Post Fact Check blogger Glenn Kessler wrote that Obama's “apology tour never happened” and gave the claim his worst rating of “Four Pinocchios.” In a June 2011 fact check, the Associated Press wrote that Obama “never made” apologies “for America.” PolitiFact has repeatedly labeled the claim “ridiculous” and “false.” [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
MYTH: Obama Called Killings In Libya “Just A Bump In The Road”
Fox’s Sean Hannity: Obama Called “Vicious Murder Of Four Americans ... Just A Bump In The Road.” On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said: "[T]he commander-in-chief had the nerve to liken this terrorist attack and the vicious murder of four Americans -- what he calls it, just a bump in the road." Hannity then showed video that omitted Obama's comments on aligning with democratic movements in the Middle East. He continued: “Now a U.S. ambassador, two Navy SEALs, and another American are assassinated: he calls it a bump in the road?” [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
Fox’s Charles Krauthammer: Media Would Go Crazy “If Romney Had Said The Death Of Our Ambassador ... Is A Bump In The Road.” On Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed that Obama said “the death of our ambassador” and “the death of three other Americans” “is a bump in the road.” [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
Fox's Kilmeade: When Obama “Talked About ... The Killings In Libya, He Called It Bumps In The Road.” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade also claimed that Obama called the deaths of Americans “bumps in the road” during his 60 Minutes interview. [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
Obama Said New Governments May Have “Bumps In The Road” In Transition To Democracy. From President Obama's 60 Minutes interview:
STEVE KROFT: Have the events that took place in the Middle East, the recent events in the Middle East given you any pause about your support for the governments that have come to power following the Arab Spring?
BARACK OBAMA: Well, I'd said even at the time that this is going to be a rocky path. The question presumes that somehow we could have stopped this wave of change. I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights, a notion that people have to be able to participate in their own governance. But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam. The one part of society that hasn't been controlled completely by the government.
There are strains of extremism, and anti-Americanism, and anti-Western sentiment. And, you know, can be tapped into by demagogues. There will probably be some times where we bump up against some of these countries and have strong disagreements, but I do think that over the long term we are more likely to get a Middle East and North Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with our interests. [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
MYTH: Clinton Intentionally Misled The Public About The Cause Of The Attacks
Fox’s Eric Bolling: Obama Administration “Formulated This Elaborate Scheme” To “Blame The Video” For Benghazi Attack. On the October 22, 2015 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling claimed that the Obama administration “formulated this elaborate scheme” to “blame the video” for the Benghazi attack, asserting that Clinton was publicly blaming the video while attributing the attacks to terrorists in emails:
ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): So, as Dana points out, the very night of the attacks, now remember, these attacks were exactly 10 years to the day of the initial World Trade Center bombings - I mean, hello? So that very night she emails Hillary Clinton, calls out, looks like an Al-Qaeda-type attack. Jim Jordan came with the second one, which this is -- here's your smoking gun, guys. This is it right here. Clinton emails the prime minister, saying, “We know that the attack in -- we know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.” Now, that is the day after the attack, 9/12/11. OK, that day. Three days later after that, they blame the video over draped caskets at Andrews Air Force Base. Five days later, Susan Rice goes on the talk shows, blames the video. Eleven days, or 12, maybe 13 days later President Obama goes to the U.N. and blames the video. The question -- we now know that they lied. They formulated this elaborate scheme, but why? Greg asks why. Yes, obviously number one reason, because Hillary Clinton was asked for security, she turned it down and four Americans died. That's her end of why. His end of why, President Obama? Well on 9/12, the same day that Clinton just outs it and lets everyone know it's a terror attack, President Obama flies to Las Vegas for a campaign event to raise money after he makes a speech from the Rose Garden. Both of these two made massive errors and the only way to get out of it was to blame the video and not blame what really happened, which they knew from the very moment. [Fox News, The Five, 10/22/15]
Fox’s Megyn Kelly: Clinton Referencing Anti-Islam Video's Role In Benghazi Attack Was Deceitful. On the October 22, 2015 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly attacked Clinton for supposedly “withholding evidence” that would have proven the “deceit” in the Obama administration's references to the role of the anti-Islam video in the Benghazi attacks:
MEGYN KELLY (HOST): As news broke of the attack here at home, the Obama administration immediately and repeatedly blamed the deadly assault on protesters outraged over an anti-Mohammed video, made by a filmmaker in California.
KELLY: The media investigated and the story began to fall apart. It was revealed that there were no protests in Benghazi that night and this was, indeed, a pre-planned terrorist attack. Mrs. Clinton's State Department was investigated repeatedly. And while it became clear that the video was not to blame, no smoking gun proving deceit was ever found. And then it emerged that Mrs. Clinton had been withholding evidence. In all of the investigations, she never turned over her own emails. Not from her time at State, not from her days dealing with Benghazi. The committee now investigating the Benghazi attack demanded those emails and her testimony. And today, for the first time, we heard Mrs. Clinton's truth, at least in the hours right after the attack, what she really believed as she told the public a video was to blame. And the truth is, that what Mrs. Clinton said publicly was very different from what she claimed privately. She knew that this attack had nothing to do with a video, nor with a protest. That it was a pre-planned terrorist attack and she said she knew it. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 10/22/15]
FACT: Clinton Has Explained That Her Understanding Of The Attacks Changed As New Information Was Revealed
Clinton: “This Was The Fog Of War” And The Administration Relayed The Conclusion Of The Intelligence Community At The Time. During a June 17, 2014, interview on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Clinton told host Bret Baier that “this was the fog of war” and explained that the Obama administration told the public what it knew based on what the intelligence community thought at the time:
HILLARY CLINTON: This was the fog of war. You know, my own assessment careened from, the video had nothing to do with it -- it may have affected some people, it didn't affect other people. And I think the conclusion to draw, because we were not just monitoring what was happening in Benghazi once it began to unfold, but remember we had a very dangerous assault on our embassy in Cairo that same day, which was clearly linked to that video. So I was trying to make sense of it. And I think that the investigations that have been carried out basically conclude, we can't say that everybody was influenced and we can't say that everybody wasn't. But what the intelligence community said was spontaneous protest, and that is what, at the time, they thought. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 6/18/14]
In Her Book, Clinton Explained That Her Views On The Attackers' Motivations Changed Several Times Throughout The Week. Clinton explained in her memoir, Hard Choices, that she “went back on forth on what likely happened, who did it, and what mix of factors -- like the video -- played a part.” Describing the administration's initial search for answers amid incomplete information, Clinton wrote that “in the days that followed administration officials continued to tell the American people that we had incomplete information and were still looking for answers”:
In her book, Secretary Clinton explained that she personally changed views several times that week about the possible motivations of the attackers, whether there was a protest, and whether the attacks were preplanned:
What about the attack in Benghazi? In the heat of the crisis we had no way of knowing for sure what combination of factors motivated the assault or whether and how long it had been planned. I was clear about this in my remarks the next morning, and in the days that followed administration officials continued to tell the American people that we had incomplete information and were still looking for answers. There were many theories-- but still little evidence. I myself went back and forth on what likely happened, who did it, and what mix of factors--like the video--played a part. But it was unquestionably inciting the region and triggering protests all over, so it would have been strange not to consider, as days of protests unfolded, that it might have had the same effect here, too. That's just common sense. Later investigation and reporting confirmed that the video was indeed a factor. All we knew at that time with complete certainty was that Americans had been killed and others were still in danger. [Democratic Staff Report, October 2015]
Democratic Staff Report On Benghazi Committee Results Concluded That Clinton's Conversation With Egyptian Prime Minister Included “Information Consistent With Reporting At The Time ” As Intelligence “Chang[ed] Throughout The Week.” As noted in the October 2015 Benghazi Select Committee Democratic staff report, intelligence about the cause of the attack “continued to change throughout the week,” and Clinton “relayed information consistent with reporting at the time” to Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil during their September 12, 2012 conversation:
The evidence obtained by the Select Committee confirms previous accounts that the information being gathered in the aftermath of the attacks--and intelligence assessments of that information--continued to change throughout the week. For example, although initial reports claimed that Ansar al-Sharia was responsible for the attacks, the group later disavowed responsibility.
Later that afternoon, Secretary Clinton had a call with the Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil regarding the events in Cairo and Libya. The notes from that call indicate that the Secretary relayed information consistent with reporting at the time: “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack--not a protest.” The notes also indicate that she acknowledged that Ansar al-Sharia reportedly claimed responsibility for the attacks: “Your [sic] not kidding. Based on the information we saw today we believe the group that claimed responsibility for this was affiliated with al Qaeda.” [Democratic Staff Report, Results Of Interviews Conducted By The House Select Committee On Benghazi, October 2015]
MYTH: Clinton Personally Signed Off On Order To Reduce Security At U.S. Diplomatic Facilities In Benghazi
Fox's Catherine Herridge: “Mrs. Clinton Personally Signed Off On Reducing Security” In Benghazi, According To Letter From House Republicans. On the July 31, 2014, edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge hyped House Republicans' accusation that Clinton's signature on an April 2012 State Department cable proved that the then-secretary of state “personally signed off on reducing security” in Benghazi:
CATHERINE HERRIDGE: And while the State Department and Mrs. Clinton have said the security decisions were made by mid-level managers, this letter to the president from the five chairmen of the House committees investigating Benghazi describes a cable, which Fox News understands was never produced to the intelligence committee, where Mrs. Clinton personally signed-off on reducing security. And that letter reads, in part, quote, “An April 19, 2012, cable bearing Secretary Clinton's signature acknowledged requests for additional security but nevertheless ordered the withdrawal of security assets to proceed as planned.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 7/31/14]
FACT: There Is No Evidence That Clinton Was Personally Aware Of That Cable, As Secretary's “Signature” Appears On All Washington Cables
Wash Post Fact Checker: “Absurd” To Claim Clinton's Signature On Cable Shows She Personally Approved Security Reduction. Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler awarded four Pinocchios to the claim -- made in 2013 by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Fox News -- that Clinton's signature is evidence that she had personal knowledge of the security reduction. He dismissed the notion as a “whopper” (emphasis added):
[E]very cable from an embassy bears the “signature” of the ambassador -- and every cable from Washington bears the “signature” of the secretary of state.
[E]very single cable from Washington gets the secretary's name at the bottom, even if the secretary happens to be on the other side of the world at the time.
At this point, Issa has no basis or evidence to show that Clinton had anything to do with this cable -- any more than she personally approved a cable on proper e-mail etiquette. The odds are extremely long that Clinton ever saw or approved this memo, giving us confidence that his inflammatory and reckless language qualifies as a “whopper.” [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
MYTH: Clinton's State Department Watched Benghazi Attacks Unfold In “Real Time”
Fox's Hannity: “Somebody At The State Department” Was Watching The Attack “In Real Time.” On the October 15, 2012, edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity claimed that “somebody at the State Department [was] watching [the attack] in real time”:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Also, this is the problem they have with their story. It's falling apart because they said that this was spontaneous, a mob uprising, but we had somebody at the State Department watching in real time. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/15/12, via Nexis]
The State Department Did Not Have Access To “Real-Time Video” Of Benghazi Attacks. During an October 2012 congressional hearing, State Department employee Charlene Lamb noted that she had been following the developments in Benghazi that night through a series of telephone calls “almost in real-time.” According to an administration official, the Benghazi compound did have closed-circuit video surveillance, but it could not be monitored from outside the facility, and Clinton confirmed during her congressional testimony that no one at the State Department was watching real-time video of the attacks as they unfolded. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
MYTH: Clinton Was Silent On Benghazi Following Attack
Fox's Krauthammer: Clinton “Didn't Say A Word” For Months Following Benghazi Attack. On the January 8, 2013 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said, “The first thing [Clinton] has to explain is why for three months after the event -- two months after the event, and before her injury she didn't say a word. She is the head of the department. The ambassador worked for her. He didn't work for Susan Rice. And she said the buck stops here and then she said nothing.” [Fox News, Special Report, 1/8/13, via Nexis]
September 11: Clinton Condemns Benghazi Attack. On the day of the Benghazi attacks, Clinton released a press statement condemning the events and coordinated additional security for Americans in Libya. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
September 12: Clinton Pays Respects To Ambassador Stevens And Sean Smith. In remarks at the State Department, Clinton again condemned the attacks on Americans in Benghazi and paid respects to Ambassador Chris Stevens and U.S. foreign service officer Sean Smith. [Media Matters, 10/21/16]
September 14: Clinton Pays Respects To Four Dead Americans. During a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Secretary Clinton paid respects to the four deceased Americans and thanked their families for their service to the country. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
October 12: Clinton On Benghazi: “To This Day We Do Not Have A Complete Picture.” In remarks made on October 12, 2012 Clinton said that the details of the attack were still being investigated and that “there is much we still don't know.” [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
October 15: Clinton Takes Responsibility For Benghazi Attack On CNN. In an October 15, 2012 CNN interview, Clinton said that she was responsible for the security of diplomats abroad and committed to bringing those responsible to space justice. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
October 16: Clinton Speaks In-Depth About Attacks On CBS. In a lengthy interview with CBS News, Clinton emphasized that the information about the details of the attacks would evolve beyond what was immediately known.[Media Matters, 10/21/15]
MYTH: Clinton Faked Health Issues To Delay Testifying Over Attack
Fox's Guilfoyle: Clinton Did A “Duck And Cover” To Get Out Of Testifying To Congress By Claiming She Had A Concussion. On the December 19, 2012, edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle accused Clinton of running “a duck and cover” after suffering a concussion, which caused her to delay her first scheduled hearing to testify before Congress about Benghazi. Co-host Greg Gutfeld went on to ask, “How can she get a concussion when she has been ducking everything [related to Benghazi]?” [Fox News, The Five, 12/19/12]
JOHN BOLTON: I mean, I certainly hope it's nothing serious. But this was revealed in a way that I think was not transparent, and I think there is an obligation here, especially if Secretary Clinton decides to run for president, to indicate what happened. She may beat testifying this week, but she's not going to escape it forever.
Van Susteren noted after Bolton spoke that “it has been reported prior to the concussion that she had the flu. ... She reported that she was dehydrated, and if you fall and hit your head and get a concussion, that is a brain injury.” [Fox News, On the Record, 12/17/12]
George Washington University Hospital: Clinton Suffered A Concussion, But Made A Full Recovery. In a statement released by the State Department on behalf of two of Clinton's doctors, her doctors said Clinton had a clot “in the vein that is situated in the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear.” Clinton subsequently recovered and testified on Benghazi in a congressional hearing in early 2013. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
MYTH: Clinton Dismissed The Deaths In Benghazi By Saying, “What Difference, At This Point, Does It Make?”
Fox Claimed Clinton Was Referring To Deaths of Four Americans When She Asked, “What Difference ... Does It Make?” During her January 2013 congressional testimony, Clinton was asked a question about the State Department's role in editing National Security Advisor Susan Rice's talking points to remove a reference to the attackers' motive. Clinton's response -- in particular, her comment, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” -- was frequently cited out of context by figures on Fox News, who falsely claimed she was dismissing the deaths of the four Americans killed that night. [Media Matters, 9/16/14]
FACT: Clinton Was Referring To The Administration's Post-Attack Talking Points, Not Tragic Consequences Of Attack
Clinton's Remarks Were Focused On The Irrelevance Of Media Talking Points. Clinton was asked during her 2013 testimony by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) about the talking points Susan Rice used for her Sunday show appearances, not the attacks themselves (emphasis added):
SEN. RON JOHNSON: Yes. The point I'm making is a very simple phone call to these individuals, I think, would have ascertained immediately that there was no protest prior to this. I mean this attack started at 9:40PM Benghazi time and it was an assault. And I appreciate the fact that called it an assault. But I'm going back to Ambassador Rice, five days later going to the Sunday shows and what I would say purposefully misleading the American public.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, since -
JOHNSON: Why wasn't that known? And again I appreciate the fact that the transparency of this hearing. But why weren't we transparent at that point in time?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, Senator, I would say that once the assault happened and once we got our people rescued and out, our most immediate concern was number one taking care of their injuries.
JOHNSON: No, no. Again. We were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something spread out of that - an assault sprang out of that. And that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact ... And the American people could have known that within days and they didn't know that.
CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they would go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the-the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The I.C. has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
MYTH: Clinton's State Department Scrubbed Key Benghazi Documents
Sharyl Attkisson Hyped Baseless Claim That Clinton's State Department Covered Up Damaging Benghazi Documents. On September 15, 2014, in a post on her The Daily Signal blog, discredited reporter Sharyl Attkisson highlighted disgruntled former State Department employee Raymond Maxwell's unsupported allegation that “Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to 'separate' damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board (ARB) investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.” According to Attkisson, Maxwell claimed to have observed an “after-hours” document sorting session at which a State Department office director “close to Clinton's top advisers” told staff to separate out Benghazi documents “that might put anybody in the Near Eastern Affairs front office or the seventh floor in a bad light.” [The Daily Signal, 9/15/14]
Raymond Maxwell Did Not Claim Documents Were Withheld, Just That He “Couldn't Help But Wonder” If They Were. Attkisson's report noted that Maxwell didn't stay to observe the full document sorting process, but simply reviewed a separated stack of documents that “included pre-attack telegrams and cables between the U.S. embassy in Tripoli and State Department headquarters” and later “couldn't help but wonder” if the ARB investigation had been skewed. From Attkisson's report:
In May 2013, when critics questioned the ARB's investigation as not thorough enough, co-chairmen Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Adm. Mike Mullen responded that “we had unfettered access to everyone and everything including all the documentation we needed.”
Maxwell says when he heard that statement, he couldn't help but wonder if the ARB -- perhaps unknowingly -- had received from his bureau a scrubbed set of documents with the most damaging material missing. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
Rep. Cummings: Second Witness, Who Maxwell Claimed Would Back Up His Story, Denied Maxwell's Claims. In a November 2014 letter published by Mother Jones, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, wrote to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the head of the Select Committee on Benghazi, that Maxwell had identified to the committee's Republican staff a “second witness that he claimed was present during this document review” who could “corroborate his allegations,” but that the “second witness” denied Maxwell's claims when interviewed by Republican staff. Cummings further alleged Republican staff deliberately hid this information from Democratic staff. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
MYTH: Clinton Blocked Benghazi Whistleblower From Coming Forward
Fox's Doocy Claimed Benghazi Witnesses Were “Threatened” By Clinton's State Department. On the April 30, 2013, edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy cited allegations from two Republican lawyers to claim that unnamed Benghazi witnesses have been “threatened” by the Obama administration and are scared of speaking out. An on-screen graphic from Fox implied that the State Department was preventing witnesses from giving testimony about the attacks. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/30/13]
Benghazi Witnesses And Officials Have Repeatedly Spoken To State Department, The FBI, And Congress. The U.S. deputy chief of mission in Libya, Gregory Hicks, spoke with congressional investigators after the 2012 attack and was interviewed twice by State Department officials as part of the agency's independent internal investigation. Other witnesses have also spoken to the FBI and Congress, and Congress received redacted transcripts of their interviews. [Media Matters, 10/21/16]
MYTH: Clinton Never Took “Any Kind Of Responsibility” For Attacks
Fox's Kirsten Powers: Clinton Seems Not To Be “Taking Any Kind Of Responsibility” For Benghazi. During the December 22, 2012, edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch, Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers said, “I think Hillary Clinton has said the buck stops with her. The president says the buck stops with him, and yet, they're the only two people who don't seem to be really taking any kind of responsibility.” [Media Matters, 10/21/16]
Wall Street Journal: “Clinton Accepts Blame For Benghazi.” More than two months earlier, on October 16, 2012, The Wall Street Journal quoted Clinton as saying she “take[s] responsibility” for the attack:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she takes responsibility for security at the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, where Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in an attack last month.
“I take responsibility,” Mrs. Clinton said in a recent interview in her office. “I'm the Secretary of State with 60,000-plus employees around the world. This is like a big family...It's painful, absolutely painful.” [Media Matters, 10/21/16]
MYTH: House Select Committee On Benghazi Was Created To Investigate “Unanswered Questions”
Fox’s K.T. McFarland Claims Bipartisan Senate Report On Benghazi Showed A Need For A Special Select Committee To Investigate “More Unanswered Questions.” On the January 15, 2014, edition of Happening Now, Fox News national security analyst K.T. McFarland called for a special prosecutor or select congressional committee to further investigate the attacks, claiming this was necessary to investigate “more unanswered questions” about the attacks. [Fox News, Happening Now, 1/15/14]
Fox Relentlessly Called For A Special Committee To Investigate The Attacks. For more than 18 months before the special committee's formation, Fox repeatedly called for a special investigation into Benghazi in the form of a special prosecutor or congressional committee. [Media Matters, 5/1/14]
FACT: Republicans, Media, Fox News, Ex-Benghazi Committee Staffer Have Conceded The Committee Is Partisan
Two Congressmen And Ex-Benghazi Committee Staffer Admit Partisan Nature Of The Committee. Since September 29, 2015 three credible Republicans have admitted to the partisan nature of the House Select Committee on Benghazi and its primary goal of tarnishing Hillary Clinton. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) boasted that the committee had achieved its goal of damaging Clinton's poll numbers during an interview with Fox News about his candidacy for House Speaker. Since then, former Benghazi committee staffer Bradley F. Podliska and a second Republican congressman, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), have come forward and admitted the committee was “designed to go after” Clinton. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
New York Times' Editorial Board: Committee Is A “Laughable Crusade.” The New York Times wrote in an October 7, 2015 editorial headlined “Shut Down the Benghazi Committee” that the committee a “laughable crusade,” asserting that it should be renamed “the Inquisition of Hillary Rodham Clinton.” The committee, wrote The Times, “has lost any semblance of credibility” and should be shut down:
House Republicans may be disinclined to disband the Select Committee on Benghazi with the presidential race heating up. But at the very least they should rename their laughable crusade, which has cost taxpayers $4.6 million, “the Inquisition of Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
Lawmakers have long abused their investigative authority for political purposes. But the effort to find Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the Libya attacks, was personally responsible for the deaths has lost any semblance of credibility. It's become an insult to the memory of four slain Americans.
Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to testify before the committee on Oct. 22. The hearing will give Republicans another chance to attack the credibility and trustworthiness of the leading Democratic presidential candidate. It will do nothing to make American embassies abroad safer or help the relatives of the four killed in Libya.
The hearing should be the last salvo for a committee that has accomplished nothing. If the Republicans insist on keeping the process alive, the Democrats should stop participating in this charade. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
New York Times' Carol Giacomo: The Committee “Should Be Disbanded.” New York Times editorial board member Carol Giacomo called out the “duplicity and political chicanery” of the committee in an October 2, 2015, blog post, claiming it has “shed no significant new light on the Benghazi attack” despite “wasting $4.5 million and conducting one of the longest congressional probes in history.” Giacomo called on the Republican-led House to disband the committee and suggested its Democratic members resign if they refuse to do so:
It has long appeared that the Republican obsession with investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya was not a genuine attempt to get the facts behind a tragic incident in which four Americans, including the United States ambassador, lost their lives but a partisan witch hunt targeting Hillary Rodham Clinton, the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
Now there is proof of the duplicity and political chicanery behind the creation of the Select Committee on Benghazi. It was ham-handedly exposed by Representative Kevin McCarthy, who, in his quest to become the next speaker of the House, couldn't resist boasting about what he considers his party's major political accomplishment.
Despite wasting $4.5 million and conducting one of the longest congressional probes in history, the committee has shed no significant new light on the Benghazi attack.
The committee should be disbanded and if the Republican leadership refuses to do that, then the panel's Democratic members should resign. Manipulating government funds for political purposes in this way may well violate congressional ethics rules, as Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has suggested. There is little reason to expect that Republicans, united in defeating Mrs. Clinton at all costs, care enough to do anything about it. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
New York Times' Paul Krugman: Committee Is Engaging In “Political Fakery.” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote that the committee was engaged in “political fakery” and called on the media to acknowledge the partisan nature of the committee:
So Representative Kevin McCarthy, who was supposed to succeed John Boehner as speaker of the House, won't be pursuing the job after all. He would have faced a rough ride both winning the post and handling it under the best of circumstances, thanks to the doomsday caucus -- the fairly large bloc of Republicans demanding that the party cut off funds to Planned Parenthood, or kill Obamacare, or anyway damage something liberals like, by shutting down the government and forcing it into default.
Still, he finished off his chances by admitting -- boasting, actually -- that the endless House hearings on Benghazi had nothing to do with national security, that they were all about inflicting political damage on Hillary Clinton.
But we all knew that, didn't we?
Sometimes I have the impression that many people in the media consider it uncouth to acknowledge, even to themselves, the fraudulence of much political posturing. The done thing, it seems, is to pretend that we're having real debates about national security or economics even when it's both obvious and easy to show that nothing of the kind is actually taking place.
But turning our eyes away from political fakery, pretending that we're having a serious discussion when we aren't, is itself a kind of fraudulence. Mr. McCarthy inadvertently did the nation a big favor with his ill-advised honesty, but telling the public what's really going on shouldn't depend on politicians with loose lips.[Media Matters, 10/21/15]
Philadelphia Inquirer's Trudy Rubin: Committee Is A “Political Fishing Expedition.” Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin, calling for the committee to be shut down, wrote that it had become a “political weapon” and “a political fishing expedition” for Republicans “that could be used against Clinton”:
It was clear from the start that Republicans created the House Select Committee on Benghazi as a political weapon that could be used against Clinton. In case anyone doubts this, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy admitted as much a couple of weeks ago.
You'd think there were no pressing domestic or foreign issues that deserve congressional attention, no economic inequality, no immigration challenge, no crises in Iraq or Syria or Afghanistan. You'd think there was no better use of taxpayer money than to fund a political fishing expedition.
Enough of the emails. Enough misuse of the tragedy in Benghazi. Enough of a House select committee that is giving Congress and a fractured Republican Party another black eye. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
Vox's Jonathan Allen: Committee Is “Abus[ing]” And Threatening The Legitimacy Of Select Committees. Vox's Jonathan Allen noted that the select committees set up by Congress in the past have “proven, at times, to be a very effective truth serum for powerful officials in the past,” but “it's being abused now” by the Benghazi Committee, and called the committee “a threat to the effectiveness of a very important congressional check on executive power”:
It would be smart politically for Republicans to dissolve the panel before it helps Clinton and hurts them any more. But more important, the committee should be disbanded because it is a threat to the effectiveness of a very important congressional check on executive power. The viability of that tool, the select committee, should be preserved -- even though it's being abused now.
So it's taken as a given in Washington that select committees are usually established with a dual purpose in mind: that they will uncover wrongdoing -- usually by the administration of the other party's president -- and that the wrongdoing will hurt the president and his party politically.
Congress needs the select committee option to focus attention on grievous wrongdoing by a president or his/her administration. It has proven, at times, to be a very effective truth serum for powerful officials in the past.
But the continued operation of the Benghazi committee's three-ring, $4.6 million circus risks making that tool less effective in the future. It simply wasn't designed to investigate things that never happened -- like Clinton bearing primary responsibility for the Benghazi attacks. Select committees can have a partisan edge, but they shouldn't be solely about partisan politics. They should be directed toward solving mysteries for the American public. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
The Atlantic's James Fallows: Committee Is Essentially “An Oppo-Research Arm Of The Republican National Committee.” The Atlantic's James Fallows wrote that the committee in reality “function[s] as an oppo-research arm of the Republican National Committee, far more interested in whatever it might dig up about or against Hillary Clinton than any remaining mysteries on the four Americans killed in Benghazi”:
It has taken mainstream journalism too long a time to catch up with the reality of the “Benghazi Committee,” run by Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. (He is from our beloved Greenville, in fact.) The reality is that the Republican staff and majority of the committee have made it function as an oppo-research arm of the Republican National Committee, far more interested in whatever it might dig up about or against Hillary Clinton than any remaining mysteries on the four Americans killed in Benghazi.
What's the next step in dealing with the Benghazi committee? For readers, it is to view upcoming reports as you would others from partisan organizations with an unreliable track record, for instance James O'Keefe and his Project Veritas. What they say could be true, but beware.
And for reporters, it is to recognize the way today's GOP has played on yesterday's reflexes within the press. And don't let it keep happening. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
Slate's Jamelle Bouie: Committee Is About “Tanking Clinton Ahead Of The Election,” Not “About Finding The Truth.” Slate's Jamelle Bouie noted that, “The committee wasn't about finding the truth behind the attack in Benghazi; it was about tanking Clinton ahead of the election”:
But that was before Boehner announced his retirement, and before his assumed successor--House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy--said too much about the actual purpose of the committee. “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable,” McCarthy said to Fox News' Sean Hannity. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”
This connection--between the committee, the email scandal, and Clinton's declining numbers--was debatable. But the words were there: The committee wasn't about finding the truth behind the attack in Benghazi; it was about tanking Clinton ahead of the election.
At this point, the House Select Committee on Benghazi is a dead letter. Democrats will dismiss it entirely, Hillary Clinton--in her upcoming testimony--will likely treat it with contempt, and the media will disregard its claims. Indeed, there's a chance this could spread beyond the committee to Clinton's email controversy. [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
MSNBC's Steve Benen: Even “Most Rabid” Republicans “Are Going To Have A Hard Time Justifying” The Committee. MSNBC's Steve Benen wrote in an October 13, 2015 post for the Maddow Blog that, “even the most rabid Republican partisans are going to have a hard time justifying the committee's continued existence”:
Taken together, we now have House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) characterizing the committee's work as an election scheme to undermine Hillary Clinton; we have a former Republican staffer for the committee complaining that the committee's sole interest was in tearing down Hillary Clinton; and now we have senior Republican officials acknowledging that GOP leaders directed the Benghazi committee to focus on email server management - instead of, you know, Benghazi - in order to “cause political problems” for Hillary Clinton.
At this point, even the most rabid Republican partisans are going to have a hard time justifying the committee's continued existence. Why should American taxpayers continue to fund such a farcical exercise? (Remember, “because there's an election coming up” is not an acceptable answer.) [Media Matters, 10/21/15]
Fox’s Bill O'Reilly: “Of Course [The Benghazi Committee Is] Political,” Republicans “Want To Bring Down Hillary Clinton.” During the October 8, 2015 edition of Fox News' The Five, Bill O'Reilly defended the committee's existence but admitted that “of course it's political,” noting, “If you think those guys, those Republicans on that panel, don't want to bring down Hillary Clinton, you're six-years-old. Because they do”:
BILL O'REILLY (HOST): If you don't think the Benghazi thing is political, of course it's political. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't know what exactly happened, and why the secretary of state was ignorant about the security problems in Benghazi, Libya. But if you think those guys, those Republicans on that panel don't want to bring down Hillary Clinton, you're six-years-old. Because they do. So it is political. But it is also incumbent upon the most transparent human being that's ever lived, according to herself, Hillary Clinton. And you know, I think Claude Rains in The Invisible Man is offended by that, all right? It is incumbent upon her to explain a lot of things that she hasn't explained. So I don't mind that it's political. I just want to get to the bottom of it. And here is the bottom of it: Hillary Clinton will not be president of the United States if the FBI comes back and says she broke the law. And they may well. So that's it. It's the FBI, it's not the House Committee on Benghazi. Whatever they say isn't going to matter to Hillary Clinton. The FBI will matter, and we should have that I would say in three or four months. [Media Matters, 10/16/15]
Fox’s Brit Hume: “Nearly Every Investigation Ever Conducted In Congress Is Political” And That Applies To Benghazi “As Much As Anything Else.” During the October 12, 2015 edition of The O'Reilly Factor senior political analyst Brit Hume agreed with O'Reilly's assessment of the Benghazi committee's purpose, reasoning that “nearly every investigation ever conducted in Congress is political”:
BRIT HUME: Well, the first thing that needs to be said about this is that nearly every investigation ever conducted in Congress is political. It's political because it's a political institution. The investigation is being conducted by politicians who have an axe to grind on both sides, whether they're running the investigation as the majority party or whether they're in the minority. And that applies to this investigation much as anything else. [Media Matters, 10/16/15]
Fox’s Bret Baier: “Clearly, Politics Plays In Everything That Goes On Here In Washington.” During the October 12, 2015 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, Bret Baier defended the “substance” of the Benghazi committee while admitting that politics play a role, saying, “Clearly, politics plays in everything that goes on here in Washington.” [Media Matters, 10/16/15]
Fox’s Hannity Gives “Credit Where Credit Is Due” To Rep. McCarthy For Hurting Clinton's Poll Numbers. On the September 29, 2015 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listed the formation of the Benghazi committee as one of his signature accomplishments in Congress, bragging that Hillary Clinton's “numbers are dropping” as a result of the committee's investigation. Hannity agreed, saying, “I'll give you credit where credit is due” (emphasis added):
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: The question I think you really want to ask me is, how am I going to be different? What are you going to see differently?
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I love how you asked my questions. But go ahead, that was one of my questions, go right ahead.
MCCARTHY: I knew you'd want to ask it. What you're going to see is a conservative speaker, that takes a conservative Congress, that puts a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought and made that happen.
HANNITY: I agree. That's something good, I give you credit for that, I give you credit for sequestration, I give you credit -- I'll give you credit where credit is due. [Media Matters, 9/30/15]
Fox’s Hannity Doubles Down On McCarthy's Boast That Benghazi Committee Is Hurting Clinton: “Yeah, It's Political.” On the September 30, 2015 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity doubled down on McCarthy's suggestion that the Benghazi committee is “political”:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): This latest right-wing conspiracy that the criminal investigation into Hillary's server involves the Obama Justice Department. I was interviewing McCarthy last night, the press is making a big deal. He said, 'Well we started the investigation, and it brought Hillary's numbers down.' Yeah, it's political, but it wouldn't matter if she didn't lie. It wouldn't matter if she didn't break the law. But it matters because she did. It just reminds you, they are congenital liars. They lie about big things, small things. They lie in the morning, noon, and the night. They marry in all the seasons -- spring, summer, winter, and fall. They lie to the American people. They lie under oath. They lie like the rest of us breathe air. That's what the Clintons do. That's who they are. [Media Matters, 9/30/15]
MYTH: Benghazi Attack Was The “First Successful Terror Attack Since 9/11”
Fox's Gretchen Carlson Suggests Consulate Attack Was “The First Successful Terror Attack Since 9/11.” During the September 17, 2015 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson asked, “Did the first successful terror attack since 9/11 just happen under President Obama's watch?” [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
FACT: There Had Been Numerous Terrorist Attacks Under President Bush -- Including Several On U.S. Soil
There Were Several High-Profile Attacks On U.S. Soil Under Bush, And There Have Been Thousands Of Attacks Worldwide In The Last Decade. There were several high-profile terrorist attacks on U.S. soil under President Bush, including the 2001 anthrax attacks, the 2002 D.C.-area sniper, and the 2002 attack against the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport. In its 2008 report, the State Department counted 19 private U.S. citizens killed by terrorism in 2007. The report also counted more than 40,000 terrorist attacks worldwide between 2005 and 2007. [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
MYTH: There Was “No Storming” Of U.S. Embassies Under Other Presidents
Fox’s Krauthammer: “There Was No Storming Of The U.S. Embassy In Cairo In Those Days.” During the September 13, 2012, edition of Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said:
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: The irony is that it began in Cairo, in the same place where the speech he made at the beginning of his presidency in which he said he wanted a new beginning with mutual respect, implying that under other presidents, particularly Bush, there was a lack of mutual respect, which was an insult to the United States, which had gone to war six times in the last 20 years on behalf of oppressed Muslims in Kuwait, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
So to imply that we somehow had mistreated Muslims, which was the premise of his speech, and how the Iraq war had inflamed the Arab world against us -- well, there was no storming of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in those days.[Media Matters, 9/26/12]
There Have Been At Least 15 Attacks On U.S. Embassies And Consulates Since 1979 -- Including Seven Under George W. Bush. U.S. embassies and consulates were attacked at least 15 times under the presidencies of Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush. Seven of those attacks occurred during the presidency of George W. Bush. [Media Matters, 9/26/12]
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