WASHINGTON — The Obama administration was forced to release documents indicating that the U.S. military tied the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans to an al-Qaeda allied group that promoted the establishment of an “Islamic state” in Libya.
Government watchdog Judicial Watch (JW) obtained 486 pages from the Pentagon through a federal court order in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
“Almost all of the documents had been previously classified as secret, and the Defense Department has redacted a large percentage of the material in order to protect ‘military plans and operations,’ ‘intelligence’ activities, and other exemptions,” notes JW.
The documents are just the latest confirmation that the Obama administration lied to the American people when officials claimed the September 11, 2012 attack against the U.S. consulate and other facilities in Benghazi, Libya was nothing more than the violent escalation of a protest by Muslims over a video.
“It is extraordinary that we had to wait for over two years and had to force the release of documents that provide the first glimpse into the military response to the terrorist attack in Benghazi,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “There is no doubt that the military considered this to be terrorist attack tied to a group allied with al Qaeda.”
“This lack of transparency is an insult to those in the military and other deployed U.S. government personnel whose morale has been decimated by the breach of trust caused by President Obama’s Benghazi lies and failures,” he later added.
Echoing the contents of the documents obtained by the watchdog, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found that jihadists affiliated with al Qaeda were among the Benghazi attackers.
Although heavily redacted, the documents confirm that the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) drafted orders for a military response — Operation Jukebox Lotus — a day after the terrorist attack, specifically “to protect vital naval and national assets.”
Other documents suggest that hours after the attack, the Pentagon tied the September 2012 assault to a group seeking to establish “an Islamic state” in Libya and who were intent on attacking U.S. interests in that country in retaliation for a drone strike against an al Qaeda leader.
Top echelons of the Pentagon received intelligence briefing slides early on September 12, 2012 that tied an attack on the Benghazi consulate compound earlier that year to the al Qaeda allied group promoting the Islamic state in Libya.
Furthermore, the trove of documents confirm that U.S. troops used a picture posted on Twitter to verify Ambassador Christopher Stevens’s death.
The Obama administration was very much aware of the terrorist threat in the region, according to the records obtained by JW and the Senate intelligence panel report on the attack.
Senate investigators, under Democratic leadership, concluded that the attack was “preventable.”
Obama administration officials failed to heed “ample” warnings about the deteriorating situation in Libya, according to the Senate report.
“The DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] terrorism threat level for Libya is significant,” one email message obtained by JW says. “The DOS [Department of State] residential criminal threat level for Libya is high and the non-residential criminal threat level is high. The political violence threat level for Libya is critical.”
Senate investigators accuse the State Department, under Hilary Clinton, of making “grievous” mistakes.
The Obama administration failed to produce documents showing communications between the State Department and AFRICOM regarding military response to the attack.
On the evening of September 11, 2012, Islamic terrorists stormed the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Stevenson and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith.
A few hours later, a second terrorist assault targeted a different compound near by, murdering CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty and wounding 10 others.
Trey Gowdy (R-SC) chairs the House Select Committee on Benghazi convened by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) under pressure from conservatives.