Contrary to what the Obama administration had initially claimed in its public comments, top U.S. diplomatic officials knew the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, was under terrorist attack on September 11, 2012.
In testimony before the U.S. House Oversight Committee on October 10, 2012, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb let the cat out of the bag. Apparently, the agents within the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington, D.C., knew that U.S. embassy personnel were under a terrorist attack from the moment it began.
Ms. Lamb told the congressional committee the Command Center knew in “real time” that a coordinated terrorist attack was underway against U.S. facilities in Benghazi. Moreover, it was clear to top officials within the Command Center that the attack had no relationship to a controversial video. But this is not what U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press program on September 16, 2011. The Benghazi attack was “almost a copycat” of spontaneous demonstrations that erupted against U.S. facilities in Cairo, Egypt, in response to the video Rice said on the program. But her scenario is in conflict with Lamb’s testimony.
“When the attack began,” Lamb testified, “a diplomatic security agent working in the Tactical Operations Center immediately activated the Imminent Danger Notification System and made an emergency announcement over the PA. Based on our security protocols he also alerted the annex U.S. quick reaction security team stationed nearby, Libyan 17th February Brigade, Embassy Tripoli, and the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington. From that point on, I could follow what was happening in almost real-time.”
There is good reason to have faith in Lamb’s testimony. That’s because there was an October 9, 2012, press conference call in which a senior State Department official told reporters, “The ambassador walked guests out at 8:30 or so; there was nobody on the street. Then at 9:40 they saw on the security cameras that there were armed men invading the compound.” What this means is that we have now entered the fourth year of a cover-up that demonstrates the Command Center knew a full-fledged terrorist attack was underway almost from the instant it began. Documents from the Command Center could help to further unravel information the administration has sought to conceal.
All this is why Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the U.S. State Department last October. Thanks to a court order in this lawsuit, the State Department finally started disgorging documents – the first batch of which arrived on January 20.
Despite knowing it was an attack, the State Department, including its Security Command Center, continued to falsely tie “demonstrations” to the Benghazi terrorist assault. The State Department’s January 20 document production contains a press release issued by the Diplomatic Security Command Center, on September 12, 2012, that falsely and irresponsibly states that “violent demonstrations took place at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and at the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in damages in both locations and casualties in Benghazi.” No mention of a terrorist threat. The final version of the release can be seen here.
By the way, I’m not aware of the State Department telling Congress or anyone else about another “security” cover-up we uncovered, which is that there was no licensed security force at the Benghazi special mission compound on the day of the attack. We found those documents in another FOIA lawsuit.
We have now filed 40 FOIA requests, a Mandatory Declassification Review and eight lawsuits against the Obama administration relating to the Benghazi terrorist attack. We are the only non-governmental organization currently litigating in federal court to uncover information withheld by the administration about the events that transpired before, during and after the assault on our fellow citizens in Benghazi.
The House created a Select Committee on Benghazi as the direct result of Judicial Watch’s uncovering emails showing White House orchestration of the knowingly false narrative that the Benghazi attack was due to an Internet video and spontaneous protests. The documents were obtained through a federal court order obtained by Judicial Watch in a separate FOIA lawsuit. Exclusive disclosures by Judicial Watch include photos of the Benghazi compound attack aftermath; various records about security contracts and gaps; documents related to administration’s efforts to lie to Congress and the American people about the attack; and emails with specific reports the State Department was receiving as the attack was taking place (including a State Department email detailing intelligence that Ambassador Stevens may have been alive at a Benghazi hospital).
Judicial Watch also produced an exclusive investigative news story questioning the handling of the Benghazi investigation by outgoing House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rodgers (R-MI).
In the meantime, I understand that the Select Committee on Benghazi held its third hearing (after nine months of operation) on, among other things, why the State Department is ignoring its document requests. That hearing was secret; we will continue our lawsuits and investigations.