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State Department Stonewalling Breitbart FOIA Request for Benghazi Document After Four Years

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More than four years after Breitbart News submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain a copy of a document titled “The State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya,” the State Department says “The estimated completion date (ECD) for this case is February 2017.”

The State Department informed Breitbart News that the estimated completion date was now February 2017 in a September 7, 2016 email, responding to an inquiry made several days earlier.

Breitbart News subsequently asked the State Department to accelerate the estimated completion date to before the presidential election on November 8, but has not received a response to several such requests.

Breitbart News submitted FOIA request F-2012-36006 on September 14, 2012, three days after Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya by Islamists.

On the day the FOIA request was submitted,  Fox News military analyst Colonel David Hunt told Breitbart News: “The State Department just allowed our guys to get killed. If you approve no bullets in guns for the mission security guards and an outhouse for a mission, you’re inviting it.”

Hunt told Breitbart News that the new State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya, approved and signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton since the 2011 fall of Khadafi’s regime, severely compromised the safety and security of murdered Ambassador Stevens and all American diplomatic staff in Libya.

He also stated that the decision not to staff Benghazi with Marines was made by Secretary of State Clinton when she attached her signature to the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya document. Breitbart News has subsequently learned that under those rules of engagement, Secretary Clinton prohibited Marines from providing security at any American diplomatic installation in Libya.

“It was the policy of the Obama administration to have a low profile in Libya. That’s why the rules of engagement were approved by the Secretary of State to have no Marines at Benghazi, and to have an American contractor hire Libyan nationals to provide security there. The rules were they couldn’t have ammunition,” Hunt told Breitbart News on September 14, 2012.

“Obama may not have known the details of the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya, but his Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor would have. The Secretary of State absolutely would have,” the Fox News military analyst added:

The Department of State Security are the people in charge of diplomatic security. They enforce the rules of engagement, which are set at Clinton’s level at State. The Department of Defense was told we’re not going to have Marines at Benghazi. Whether it goes higher than the Secretary of State to the President, I don’t know.

Hunt added that the rules of engagement specific to each country or military situation are drawn up by State Department lawyers and approved by the chain of command. “There should be a document with Hillary’s signature and the Secretary of Defense’s specific to Libya. It was signed after Khadafi fell from power. You’ll have to ask the State Department to get the document. They might claim it’s classified, but it shouldn’t be.”

The State Department has rules of engagement documents that are different for different countries. In our embassies in London and Paris, for instance, it’s always a mystery if the Marines at the embassies have ammunition in their weapons.

Breitbart has periodically inquired with the State Department about the status of FOIA request F-2012-36006.

 

Breitbart News made the most recent request on Monday, asking the State Department to complete its response to the FOIA request by Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 5:00 pm eastern.

“It is important for the public to learn the content of this requested document prior to the 2016 presidential election held next week on November 8 because it will provide information concerning the national security record of one of the candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” Breitbart News said in the email.

“If the State Department fails to complete its response to FOIA request F-2012-36006 by Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 5:00 pm eastern, please explain why this failure is not an effort to conceal this important information from the American people prior to the presidential election,” the email concluded.

As of Thursday, the State Department has not responded.

For more than four years, Breitbart News has reported on several unanswered questions related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In addition to withholding the missing “State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya” document, the State Department has never adequately explained why Marines were not posted to guard the American embassy in Tripoli, the consulate in Benghazi, or anywhere in the entire country of Libya.

On September 14, 2012, Marine Corps spokesman Captain Kendra Mott told Breitbart News that “regarding no Marines at the embassy/consulate in Libya: Embassy security in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi fall under the Regional Security Officer with the State Department.”

The embassy in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi do not have a MCESG detachment. Typically, when a new embassy is established, it takes time to grow a new MCESG detachment. In coordination with the State Department, there was discussion about establishing a detachment in Tripoli sometime in the next five years.

“Regarding ROE [Rules of Engagement]: The Marine Corps does not establish ROE for MCESG detachments or other embassy security forces; that is the responsibility of the State Department and/or operational commanders depending on the command relationship. Regardless, ROE are classified and release of that information would jeopardize the Marines and U.S. interests. Any further inquiry should be directed to the State Department, since Marine security guards report to the ambassador not to a military commander,” Motz added.

The four years of stonewalling by the State Department on Breitbart’s FOIA request may be an additional indication that senior executives in the federal department are trying to aid Clinton’s election, consistent with new information reported by the Associated Press on Tuesday that “A State Department official appeared to coordinate with Hillary Clinton’s campaign team hours before the former secretary of state’s exclusive use of private emails was first detailed in a news account last year, newly released hacked emails show.”:

Emails from the files of Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta show that the department official provided Clinton aides with the agency’s official response to a New York Times reporter in advance of the newspaper’s March 2015 report that Clinton had used a private email account to conduct all of her work-related business as secretary.

The stolen emails were released Wednesday by WikiLeaks, part of a massive trove of emails released by the document-leaking group on a daily basis since last month. WikiLeaks has indicated it intends to leak emails stolen from Podesta’s account every day through the election.

In a March 1, 2015 email, State Department press aide Lauren Hickey told Clinton’s team that then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki had “just cleared” a reply to the Times. Hickey provided the agency’s response to the Clinton aides and also appeared to agree to a change requested by the campaign, saying: “Yes on your point re records – done below.” It is not clear what specific change was requested and made.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that the department would not comment on alleged leaked documents. But he said the department’s effort to “provide accurate information to the media” about Clinton’s tenure at the agency has “at times required communicating with her representatives to ensure accuracy.”

On December 19, 2012, in a story titled “Benghazi Review Board Ignores Hillary’s ‘Rules of Engagement’ for Libya,” Breitbart News reported:

The special State Department report on Benghazi (known as the Accountability Review Board) released on Tuesday offered a blistering critique of mid-level State Department officials but left Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama relatively unscathed.

The report contains no mention of the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya believed to have been signed off on by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton some time in 2011. These restrictive rules prohibited the stationing of Marines anywhere in Libya for the purpose of defending American diplomatic facilities, and set the untenable “no bullets for local guards” security policy that contributed to the weak Benghazi defenses prior to the attack on September 11, 2012.

As Breitbart News reported in September 2013, “A staff report prepared for Rep. Darrell Issa and released today finds numerous failings in the ARB report on Benghazi released last year. The new report overturns some of the conclusions of the official ARB report. It finds that Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy, who was not criticized in the ARB report, should have been held accountable.

Kennedy has figured prominently in recent Wikileaks email releases.

As Breitbart News reported in October, Kennedy was one of several “high-ranking officials under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [who] repeatedly pressured the FBI to mark certain Clinton emails as ‘unclassified’ in order to protect her interests, according to an unnamed FBI agent interviewed during the probe into Clinton’s unauthorized use of private computer services.”

Several Republicans have called on Kennedy to resign over the details of what some called a “quid-pro-quo” arrangement.


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