Author Topic: The 18-month battle to get White House Benghazi emails  (Read 164 times)

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The 18-month battle to get White House Benghazi emails
« on: May 03, 2014, 12:14:19 PM »

The 18-month battle to get White House Benghazi emails

By Kristina Wong - 05/03/14 09:43 AM EDT

It took 18 months for Judicial Watch to unearth the emails on Benghazi that led Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday to say he’s forming a special committee to look into the issue.

“This material was not voluntarily disclosed,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told The Hill during a phone interview.

The emails have given new life to Republican attacks on Benghazi. They include a key email from White House official Ben Rhodes outlining “goals” for the talk-show appearances of Susan Rice, who was serving as ambassador to the United Nations at the time.

After the emails, Rice appeared on television and linked the attack in Benghazi to protests of an anti-Islamic video that were occurring in the Middle East.

Rhodes said Rice should “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

Judicial Watch made its request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act. It requested talking points and any related communications about the attack that were given to Rice.

The group made that request on Oct. 18, 2012, a little more than a month after the terrorist attacked killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The State Department acknowledged receipt of the request about a week later, but eight months after that Judicial Watch had not heard whether State would comply with the request, according to court documents. 

That led Judicial Watch to sue State on June 21, 2013, for unlawfully withholding information. A district court then ordered the State Department to turn over 41 documents, which were released to the group on April 18, 2014.

Under FOIA, the government is required to release existing documents unless they are exempt under any of nine major categories that protects things like confidential commercial information or personal identification information, said Ginger McCall, director of the Open Government Program at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

McCall said that if an agency is forced to release information via court order, “it basically means that agency shouldn’t have been withholding the information from the beginning.”

McCall said that most FOIA requesters don't sue, due to lack of resources, and that “often times the agency, knowing that, will take advantage of that.”

Fitton, the Judicial Watch leaders, charges that State’s refusal to hand over the documents to Congress earlier could be an obstruction of congressional investigations.

Such arguments led Boehner to say Friday he would form a special committee.

He argued that the emails suggested the White House hadn’t been forthcoming with a House subpoena.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced on Friday that he would subpoena Secretary of State John Kerry to testify on the emails.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said this week that the emails were not turned over to Congress because they were not specifically about Benghazi.  Fitton said those claims were “ludicrous" and possibly a crime.

“Carney needs to be talking to an attorney and not the press,” he said.

The next question the group will seek to answer is whether Rhodes was acting on his own in sending out his email.

Fitton said Judicial Watch has multiple FOIA requests on the attack pending, as well as four or five related lawsuits.

“We’re happy to cooperate with Congress and the Justice Department,” he said.

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Re: The 18-month battle to get White House Benghazi emails
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2014, 12:16:59 PM »
I strongly suspect that this may have a lot to do with it!

Summary of Findings:
The war in Libya was unnecessary, served no articulable U.S. national security
objective, and led to preventable chaos region-wide. In the period since the 2011
revolution in Libya, the country has remained fragmented, poorly governed, and overrun
with violent militias, the majority of which are jihadist Al Qa’eda in the Islamic Maghreb
(AQIM) affiliates. Yet, at the time of his overthrow, Muammar Qaddafi was an ally of
the United States in the Global War on Terror.
On 17 March 2011 the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1973 for a “No
Fly Zone,” ostensibly to protect Libyan civilians caught up in the hostilities between
Libyan government forces and the rebel forces, which were dominated by the Libyan
Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qa’eda. The following day in London, Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton announced U.S. government support for the Brotherhood-led Libyan
Transitional National Council in its revolt against Qaddafi.
The Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB) has discovered, however, that the ensuing
civil war may well have been avoided, had the U.S. chosen to permit it. Within days of
that declaration of U.S. government support for the Libyan rebels, Qaddafi sought to
enter into negotiations with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) under a flag of truce
for the purpose of discussing his possible abdication and exile. On 21 March 2011, Rear
Admiral (ret.) Chuck Kubic began email and telephone contact between Tripoli and
AFRICOM Stuttgart regarding the possibility of talks under a white flag of truce. Over
the following days, Qaddafi expressed interest in a truce, and possible abdication and
exile out of Libya. He even pulled his forces back from several Libyan cities as a sign of
good faith.
RADM Kubic telephoned LTC Brian Linvill, the U.S. AFRICOM point of contact for all
military matters regarding the Libyan situation, to advise him of Qaddafi’s desire to enter
into military-to-military discussions. General Carter Ham was advised immediately on 21
March 2011 of these communications and conveyed them up his chain of command to the
Pentagon. After two days of back-and-forth with the Libyans, however, General Ham had
received no positive affirmation of consent from Washington, D.C. to pursue Qaddafi’s
offer. The war continued and ultimately cost tens of thousands of lives. The U.S. failure
to even consider Qaddafi’s request for talks, and its determination to enter and pursue this
war in support of al-Qa’eda-linked rebels, presents the appearance of a policy intent upon
empowering Islamic forces with no measurable benefit to U.S. national security.
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