President Trump has beautifully, elegantly, brilliantly finessed his enemies.
By taking the New York Times at its word that his communications were intercepted last year, Trump has forced the NYT either to take responsibility for exposing Obama’s scandalous activity, or to say that it was lying.
According to Andrew McCarthy (see our post immediately below, Now, President Trump, hit back), the Obama administration sought and eventually obtained FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) authorization to conduct the wire-tapping.
For what purposes can such FISA authorization be obtained? And by whom?
The President may authorize, through the Attorney General, electronic surveillance without a court order for the period of one year, provided that it is only to acquire foreign intelligence information, that it is solely directed at communications or property controlled exclusively by foreign powers, that there is no substantial likelihood that it will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party, and that it be conducted only in accordance with defined minimization procedures.
The code defines “foreign intelligence information” to mean information necessary to protect the United States against actual or potential grave attack, sabotage or international terrorism.
“Foreign powers” means a foreign government, any faction of a foreign nation not substantially composed of U.S. persons, and any entity directed or controlled by a foreign government. The definition also includes groups engaged in international terrorism and foreign political organizations. The sections of FISA authorizing electronic surveillance and physical searches without a court order specifically exclude their application to groups engaged in international terrorism.
A “U.S. person” includes citizens, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens, and corporations incorporated in the United States.
“Minimization procedures” is defined to mean procedures that minimize the acquisition of information concerning United States persons, allow the retention of information that is evidence of a crime, and require a court order be obtained in order to retain communication involving a United States person for longer than 72 hours.
The Attorney General is required to make a certification of these conditions under seal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and report on their compliance to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Under the FISA act, anyone who engages in electronic surveillance except as authorized by statute is subject to both criminal penalties and civil liabilities.
So if the New York Times was correct, President Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, authorized electronic surveillance of communication devices in Donald Trump’s offices, on the grounds that her Department of Justice had provable grounds for suspicion that Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for the presidency, was one side of a conspiracy to mount “grave attack, sabotage, or international terrorism” against the United States – even though there was “substantial likelihood” that by doing so she would “acquire the contents of … communication(s) to which a United States person” – Donald Trump personally or an associate of his – was a party”.
If that’s what she did, she broke the law.
If she gathered any information from FISA-authorized wire-tapping, and retained it for more than an allowed 72 hours, or disseminated it to persons who illegally leaked it to the media, she broke the law.
If any of this happened, then there was a deep-laid plot by the Obama administration to destroy Donald Trump’s reputation and wreck his presidency should he be elected.
But then again, maybe the wire-tapping never happened, in which case the New York Times was lying – not at all an implausible probability.
Matthew Vadum writes at Front Page:
President Donald Trump caused a media firestorm by claiming over the weekend that then-President Obama wire-tapped telephones at Trump Tower in Manhattan during the final leg of last year’s election campaign.
Seeing the writing on the wall, tainted FBI Director James Comey promptly and publicly urged the Department of Justice to reject Trump’s claims. Although it is an attempt at a cover-up, it is an admirably transparent one.
Now the outlines of a Watergate-like conspiracy are emerging in which a sitting Democrat president apparently used the apparatus of the state to spy on a Republican presidential candidate. Watergate differed in that President Nixon didn’t get involved in the plot against the Democratic National Committee until later as an accomplice after the fact. Here Obama likely masterminded, or oversaw someone like the diabolical Benghazi cover-up artist Ben Rhodes, masterminding the whole thing.
Throughout his agonizingly long presidency, Obama serially abused his powers as the nation’s Chief Executive to undermine his political opponents. It might be said that every day of his presidency he committed at least one impeachable offense.
Obama used the IRS to target conservative and Tea Party nonprofits, along with Catholic, Jewish, and pro-Israel organizations. He brazenly lied about it, too. His Justice Department surreptitiously obtained telephone records for more than 100 reporters. … Books have been written about his corruption and many more such volumes will follow. …
A spokesman for Obama, who now lives in former Bill Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart’s walled mansion with Valerie Jarrett on Washington’s Embassy Row so he can pursue his unprecedented, taxpayer-subsidized post-presidential war against Trump, denied Obama ordered that Trump Tower be wiretapped.
“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” according to a carefully-worded statement. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
Of course, as others quickly pointed out, the denial is misdirection.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy wrote yesterday that the denial “seems disingenuous on several levels”. When a warrant is obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), “it is technically the FISA court that ‘orders’ surveillance”. Moreover, under the law, “it is the Justice Department, not the White House, that represents the government in proceedings before the FISA court”.
McCarthy wrote presciently on Jan. 11: “The idea that FISA could be used against political enemies always seemed far-fetched. Now it might not be.”
Besides, Obama and his gang have generally been smart enough to hide their tracks when carrying out political dirty tricks. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, FBI, CIA, and NSA, aren’t headquartered in the White House. Obama could wage war against Trump by creating multiple layers of plausible deniability. That’s what a community organizer from Chicago does.
Predictably, former Obama speechwriter [Ben] Rhodes went on Twitter to lie. Replying to a Trump tweet, the Iranian mullahs’ best friend wrote, cheekily, that, “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.” …
Most mainstream journalists were loath over the past eight years to call the exhaustively documented and at times bald-faced lies and misdeeds of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, and HHS Secretary Sebelius. It would seem uncovering government corruption is only a journalist’s duty when a Republican resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. …
Let’s recount what former British Member of Parliament Louise Mensch reported at Heat Street on Nov. 7, the day before the U.S. election.
Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.
Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.
The FBI agents who talked to the New York Times, and rubbished the ground-breaking stories of Slate (Franklin Foer) and Mother Jones (David Corn) may not have known about the FISA warrant, sources say, because the counter-intelligence and criminal sides of the FBI often work independently of each other employing the principle of ‘compartmentalization’.
… We already knew that days before Trump’s inauguration, it was reported that Obama green-lighted a disturbing relaxation of the rules regulating the National Security Agency’s ability to circulate globally intercepted personal communications among the other 16 intelligence agencies, some of which are more politicized than the NSA, before applying important longstanding privacy-protection protocols. Before the policy was altered, the NSA [had] screened out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information before passing intercepted communications along to other agencies like the CIA or the FBI’s intelligence units.
Put another way, 17 days before President Trump was sworn in, NSA was unleashed against his embryonic administration, newly empowered to share raw intelligence gathered from telephone calls and emails that go through network switches outside the country, as well as messages between people outside the U.S. that go through domestic network switches.
WikiLeaks offered a refresher course in Obama’s treachery on Twitter Sunday, noting that “Obama has a history of tapping & hacking his friends and rivals”, and providing plenty of examples. …
And despite the growing mass media hysteria, there is still no publicly available evidence the Trump campaign somehow colluded with the Russian government last year. Sources in newspaper articles are never identified.
There is not a scintilla of proof of improper conduct.
All we have is the alleged say-so of faceless CIA spooks whose motives are questionable, to put it charitably.
Tom Shattuck writes at the Boston Herald:
In what has already been a historically bad year for Democrats, it just may be that they’re about to lose again to Donald Trump, this time in a high-stakes game of Russian roulette.
The Dems’ Putin smear was supposed to paint President Trump as a friend of the tyrant and beneficiary of Russian meddling in the election. Instead, it is the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party, former President Barack Obama, who may take the fall.
Snooping on a presidential candidate is serious business.
The Democrats want you to think this is a crazy conspiracy theory for an unhinged tweeting president.
But Obama has a rich legacy of using the federal government as a political weapon and it would be foolish to think he suddenly started restraining himself, when he was never held to account by either the media or Democrats in power.
Remember, Obama’s Justice Department secretly subpoenaed the private phone records of Associated Press editors and reporters. It was pure spying.
Fox News reporter James Rosen and his family were wiretapped.
Former CBS news reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was hacked by the government.
Add to these incidents the harassment of conservative organizations by Obama’s IRS, and the mercenary nature of the Obama administration reveals itself.
We’re told Obama administration officials went to the FISA Court twice last year for warrants to conduct electronic surveillance on candidate Trump. Why?
The DNC leaks show that DNC staffers were formulating “Russia” attacks on Trump as far back as last April, with one email between two committee members reading “the pro-Russia stuff ties in pretty well to idea that Trump is too friendly with Putin/weak on Russia”.
Then there is the infamous “dossier” — anonymous reports that Trump campaign members were speaking to Russian officials with some frequency last year and the existence of wiretapped audio. …
The left wants to play the Russia game and President Trump should oblige.
There should be an immediate investigation, and we’ll see where the espionage trail leads.
President Trump has requested the congressional intelligence committees “to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016”.
Barack Obama and Loretta Lynch would be foolish not to be afraid.
There needs to be a full and careful investigation into what happened in Benghazi on 9/11/2012, when the representative of the United States, Ambassador Chris Stevens, and four other Americans were killed in an attack by Muslim terrorists.
They could have been saved, but were abandoned to die.
The Democrats are terrified that a full and careful investigation, with full disclosure of all the facts, and a comprehensive report will reveal gross dereliction of duty by President Obama, Hillary Clinton and her State Department, the CIA, and perhaps also a number of military commanders.
Already it’s known that the administration made up stupid, childish lies to cover up its dereliction of duty.
You might say to us, “But haven’t there been numerous investigations and reports, all of them largely exonerating the administration?”
Yes, and all of them piecemeal, all of them inadequate, all of them poorly conducted, all of them propping up to one extent or another the stupid childish lies of the Obama gang.
And that even includes the last report, conducted by the Republican led House Intelligence Committee.
It makes one fear that even when the Republicans hold majority power in both houses of Congress, as they do from today, they will disappoint the hopes of the electorate who gave it to them by caving in to the bullying demands of the Democrats, and naively, or lazily, or disingenuously pass the lies that their stooges choose to tell.
This is from the Daily Signal by the meticulous journalist Sharyl Attkisson:
It neither “exonerates” nor “debunks.”
It specifically states that it is not the final word on Benghazi.
Yet national press outlets claimed all of the above about the House Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi released on Nov. 21.
The Washington Post stated that “the panel’s findings were broadly consistent with the Obama administration’s version of events,” though many of the administration’s versions of events have been discredited or proven incorrect.
USA Today portrayed the report as a sweeping effort that “cleared the Obama administration of any wrongdoing” and the Associated Press claimed the report concluded “there was no wrongdoing by Obama administration officials,” though it didn’t examine most aspects of the administration’s actions regarding Benghazi. For example, the committee did not attempt to dissect White House actions or decision-making. And it did not generally “assess State Department or Defense Department activities” .
What the House Intelligence Committee did do was focus on a narrow slice of Benghazi: the intelligence community. As such, the report largely defends the CIA.
It is nothing more or less than another in a series of compartmentalized investigations into the Benghazi debacle.
The House Armed Services Committee focused on actions of the Pentagon, largely serving to defend military interests. The Accountability Review Board focused on actions of the State Department, though it chose not to interview some key players, such as then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Each investigation occurred over a different time period amid two years of evolving accounts by Obama administration officials as new information filled in blanks or contradicted previous, official accounts. In some instances, investigations produced findings that contradicted one another or documentary evidence.
And no single investigation on Benghazi to date has heard from all relevant witnesses or had full access to complete information.
So why did some in the news media adopt the spin of Democrats such as Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff, who claimed the report “completely vindicated” the White House?
Some media even used the charged language of the Obama administration, disparaging those investigating the many contradictions and unanswered questions as “conspiracy theorists”.
The Huffington Post claimed the Intelligence Committee report “torched conspiracy theories.” AP and USA Today claimed it “debunked a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies.” Slate likewise stated that the committee had “debunked Benghazi conspiracies.”
The articles advance limited and sometimes inaccurate representations of the committee report. They fail to acknowledge the countless documented instances in which the Obama administration provided false or conflicting information about Benghazi, and hid information entirely from public view.
At times, the committee report — as it defends the intelligence community’s performance during Benghazi — flies in the face of evidence. It relies heavily on witnesses who have previously given inaccurate information or testimony: then-CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
1) The committee concluded, “the CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi.” Yet security was insufficient to prevent terrorists from overrunning the CIA Annex, killing two of the four Americans who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2012.
2) The committee found “no evidence” of a “stand down order.” But that is at direct odds with testimony from some eyewitnesses. Three security operators stated they were given a “stand down” order in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
3) The committee appeared to focus on technical utterance of the words “stand down” and “order” rather than the spirit of the allegation: that willing responders were delayed or prevented from providing urgent help. For example, the committee acknowledged that CIA Annex team members “wanted urgently to depart the Annex” to “save their State Department colleagues” but that the chief of base in Benghazi “ordered the team to wait” to assess the situation. Also, the committee didn’t address the case of the Foreign Emergency Support Team in the United States, which began “packing its bags” to respond to Benghazi, only to have the State Department block its deployment.
4) The committee found “no evidence” of “denial of available air support” and stated that, “the CIA received all military support that was available”. But testimony provided earlier to the House Armed Services Committee acknowledged that the military could have launched an F-16 fighter jet and decided against it. …
The president’s principle military adviser, Maj. Gen. Darryl Roberson, previously acknowledged in testimony to another congressional committee that military aircraft could have buzzed the hostile Benghazi crowd to try to scatter it. “So there is a potential you could have flown a show of force and made everyone aware that there was a fighter airborne,” Roberson conceded to the House Armed Services Committee.
Further, there were U.S. military assets in Djibouti that remained untapped. A former U.S. ambassador to East Africa stated, “The [Benghazi] compound was under siege for almost nine hours. The distance of 1,900 miles is within the range of the ‘combat ready’ F-15s, AC-130s and special forces.”
5) The committee found “no evidence of an intelligence failure”. Yet there was obviously an intelligence failure, since terrorists bearing heavy arms and rocket-propelled grenades preplanned and successfully executed multiple attacks on the Benghazi compound and Annex.
Another intelligence failure documented by the committee is the flawed analysis by a Washington, D.C.-based CIA officer who reportedly convinced Morell to advance the YouTube video narrative even though the CIA station chief on the ground in Libya had said that was not the case.
6) The committee accepted Morell’s claim that the talking points were not on the agenda of a Sept. 15, 2012, White House Deputies Committee meeting prior to U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice’s advancing the incorrect spontaneous protest narrative on Sunday TV talk shows. However, internal emails show that Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes specifically convened the meeting to discuss various agencies’ disputes about the talking points.
7) The committee accepted Morell’s testimony that changes to the talking points were “in no way due to White House political influence” and were just “a reflection of how little we knew at the time”. However, documents show the State Department had voluminous information about terrorist links and had already notified Libya, in no uncertain terms, that Ansar al-Sharia was responsible for the attacks.
Still, this report is better in some respects than the earlier ones. Sharyl Attkisson explains:
Though the Washington Post claimed the committee’s findings were “broadly consistent with the Obama administration’s version of events,” they differed in many substantive respects.
1) The Obama administration initially claimed no security requests were denied. But the committee confirmed the State Department repeatedly denied security requests.
2) The Obama administration initially claimed there was “a robust American security presence inside the compound, including a strong component of regional security officers”. But the committee found there was a handful of State Department diplomatic security agents who were apparently unarmed when attacked.
3) The Obama administration repeatedly blamed the attacks on a mob motivated by a YouTube video and initially claimed there was no meaningful evidence of terrorist involvement. But the committee stated that all of the Obama administration officials interviewed “knew from the moment the attacks began that the attacks were deliberate terrorist attacks against U.S. interests. No witness has reported believing at any point that the attacks were anything but terrorist acts”.
4) The Obama administration initially claimed, in March 2013, that government press officials made no changes to the Benghazi talking points. But the committee found that CIA public affairs officials made three critical changes to the talking points.
5) Morell initially claimed he had no idea who changed the Benghazi talking points. But the committee confirmed that Morell was directly involved in making and overseeing key talking points changes to remove mention of terrorism and al Qaeda.
6) The Obama administration initially claimed the attacks were an outgrowth of protests. But the committee found “there was no protest”.
Although USA Today claimed the committee “cleared the Obama administration of any wrongdoing,” the actual report makes numerous references to administration officials doing things wrong.
1) The committee confirmed that the Obama administration’s public narrative blaming the attacks on a YouTube video was “not fully accurate”.
Was there any truth in it at all? We think it highly unlikely. What follows confirms our belief:
2) The committee stated that the process to develop the inaccurate talking points was “flawed” and “mistakes were made.
3) The committee found that Morell wrongfully relied on his incorrect analyst in Washington, D.C., instead of his correct chief of station in Libya, who explicitly stated the attacks were “not spurred by local protests”.
No local protests spurring the attack? So the administration’s stupid and childish claim that there were protests against an obscure anti-Muslim video was simply not true.
Furthermore, the “Additional Views” appendix to the committee report, submitted by Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and three other Republicans, found the following:
4) Morell “operated beyond his role as CIA deputy director and inserted himself into a policy-making and public-affairs role” when he removed references to terrorism from the talking points.
5) Morell provided testimony that was “at times inconsistent and incomplete”.
6) The Obama administration failed to exert “sufficient effort to bring the Benghazi attackers to justice”.
7) The Obama administration’s response to the attacks was marred by “inadequate interagency coordination” and “devoted inadequate resources to this effort and lacked a sense of urgency”.
8) Senior State Department officials, including then-Secretary Clinton, placed U.S. personnel “at unnecessary risk” by dismissing “repeated threat warnings” and denying requests for additional security.
9) Senior U.S. officials perpetuated the “YouTube” narrative that “matched the administration’s misguided view that the United States was nearing a victory” over al-Qaeda.
10) The administration’s “failed policies continue to undermine the national security interests” of the United States.
11)There was a “failure of senior U.S. officials to provide for the defense of U.S. interests against a known and growing terrorist threat”.
12) The State Department “failed to provide sufficient security for its facility in Benghazi”.
13) The Obama administration perpetuated a “false view of the terrorist threat” that “did not comport with the facts”.
Even as some news reports stated that Republicans had in essence “exonerated” the Obama administration on all counts, Chairman Rogers attempted to correct the mischaracterizations.
In an op-ed published Dec. 10, Rogers stated, “Some have said the report exonerates the State Department and White House. It does not.”
He went on to state that his committee looked only at narrow questions as they pertain to the intelligence community. For that reason, he said, the committee did not interview key eyewitnesses from the Department of Defense and the State Department.
It remains unclear how so much news reporting could miss the mark as far as it did.
One news article claimed the Intelligence Committee report concluded [UN Ambassador] Rice innocently relied on bad intelligence on Sept. 16 when she advanced the spontaneous protest [on numerous TV channels]. Yet the actual report clearly states that the committee has no idea what the White House communicated to Rice before she presented the talking points.
The “tallking points’ were the stupid and childish lie about the video.
A news article unequivocally stated that “it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call” on the nature of the attacks. Yet the report is clear that it did not examine the role of political appointees or figures in the White House, State Department or Defense Department.
In reporting on the House Intelligence Committee’s Benghazi report, numerous news outlets headlined that there have been seven investigations on Benghazi and that an eighth is underway — the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
The implication is that Benghazi has been more than thoroughly examined and those who support continued inquiry are beating a dead horse.
Indeed, eight investigations might be overkill if each had been comprehensive and duplicative, and had turned up no new information. But each has uncovered new facts or different versions of facts as Obama administration accounts have continue to evolve.
The necessity of further investigation isn’t a function of how many probes have been held, but of their depth and quality as well as the contradictions unearthed and the quantity of outstanding questions.
In those respects, one could easily argue there haven’t yet been enough investigations into Benghazi.
So no report has yet done the job. Dare we hope that the House Select Committee on Benghazi will do it? The head of it, Trey Gowdy (R-SC], has “vowed to keep digging” until “we have a complete understanding of what happened”.
Maybe – just maybe – the truth about Benghazi will yet be told.
An article by Sharyl Attkisson at the Daily Signal uncovers deep and shameless corruption in Hillary Clinton’s State Department.
It is a shocking story. If it is true – and it certainly rings true – it should not merely put Hillary Clinton out of the running for the presidency, but bring her reputation into such disrepute that the best thing she could do is retire permanently from public life. It should also launch a legal investigation if the Obama DOJ under Eric Holder were not equally corrupt.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, a chief officer in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, was one of the four totally innocent people “disciplined” for unspecified wrong-doing over the Benghazi attack. In other words, they were scapegoated, while those guilty of letting four Americans, including the Ambassador – the high representative of the United States of America – be murdered in Benghazi, have been exonerated by a white-washing Accountability Review Board (ARB).
It is Maxwell who reveals what happened.
His department “was charged with collecting emails and documents relevant to the Benghazi probe”.
On a certain week-end, “confidants” of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (how many is not told) gathered in a basement room where documents were stored, and separated some before handing over a batch to the ARB.
“I was not invited to that after-hours endeavor, but I heard about it and decided to check it out on a Sunday afternoon,” Maxwell says.
When he arrived … he observed boxes and stacks of documents. A State Department office director, whom Maxwell described as close to Clinton’s top advisers, was there. Though technically she worked for him, he hadn’t been consulted about her weekend assignment.
“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light’.”
“Seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisors.
“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Those are our orders’.”
A few minutes after he arrived, Maxwell says, in walked two high-ranking State Department officials.
They were two more of Hillary Clinton’s “confidants”: Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff and former White House counsel who defended President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial; and Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan, who previously worked on Hillary Clinton’s and then Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.
“When Cheryl saw me, she snapped, ‘Who are you?’” Maxwell says. “Jake explained, ‘That’s Ray Maxwell, an NEA Deputy Assistant Secretary. She conceded, ‘Well, OK’.”
The two Clinton “confidants” (“conspirators” would be a better word for them) “appeared to check in on the operation and soon left”.
Maxwell “did not feel good” about what was going on, and walked out.
He views the after-hours operation he witnessed in the State Department basement as “an exercise in misdirection”.
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.
“Perhaps unknowingly”? Maxwell put that in, but he does not have faith in the ARB.
Maxwell also criticizes the ARB as “anything but independent,” pointing to Mullen’s admission in congressional testimony that he called [Cheryl] Mills to give her inside advice after the ARB interviewed a potential congressional witness.
Smell a rat? The smell of a whole nest of rats is strong enough to bring the exterminators without a call to summon them.
Maxwell also criticizes the ARB for failing to interview key people at the White House, State Department and the CIA, including not only Clinton but Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, who managed department resources in Libya; Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro; and White House National Security Council Director for Libya Ben Fishman.
Those three officials must have been suspected of being honest.
“The ARB inquiry was, at best, a shoddily executed attempt at damage control, both in Foggy Bottom and on Capitol Hill,” Maxwell says.
Maxwell “spent a year on paid administrative leave with no official charge ever levied against him”. He was eventually “cleared of wrong-doing” and reinstated. Soon after that he retired, in November 2013.
Several weeks after he was placed on leave with no formal accusations, Maxwell made an appointment to address his status with a State Department ombudsman.
“She told me, ‘You are taking this all too personally, Raymond. It is not about you’.”
But his reputation had been besmirched. He was being named by the media as a man who had contributed to the disaster of Benghazi.
“I told her that my name is on TV and I’m on administrative leave, it seems like it’s about me. Then she said, ‘You’re not harmed, you’re still getting paid. Don’t watch TV. Take your wife on a cruise. It’s not about you; it’s about Hillary and 2016′.”
The question now is: will the mainstream media report the story?
You don’t believe so? Neither do we.
There is now incontrovertible proof that the Banghazi cover-up – that silly pretense that the attack on the US mission in Benghazi on 9/11/12 was a spontaneous irruption of indignation by Libyan civilians provoked by an obscure video trailer – was a conspiracy to protect Obama.
This is from Judicial Watch:
On April 18, 2014, [Judicial Watch] obtained 41 new Benghazi-related State Department documents. They include a newly declassified email showing then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes* and other Obama administration public relations officials attempting to orchestrate a campaign to “reinforce” President Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy”.
Other documents show that State Department officials initially described the incident as an “attack” and a possible kidnap attempt.
The documents were released Friday as result of a June 21, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Department of State (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State … to gain access to documents about the controversial talking points used by then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice for a series of appearances on television Sunday news programs on September 16, 2012. Judicial Watch had been seeking these documents since October 18, 2012.
The Rhodes email was sent on sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 8:09 p.m. with the subject line: “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.” The documents show that the “prep” was for Amb. Rice’s Sunday news show appearances to discuss the Benghazi attack.
The document lists as a “Goal”: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”
Rhodes returns to the “Internet video” scenario later in the email, the first point in a section labeled “Top-lines”:
We’ve made our views on this video crystal clear. The United States government had nothing to do with it. We reject its message and its contents. We find it disgusting and reprehensible. But there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence. And we are working to make sure that people around the globe hear that message.
Among the top administration PR personnel who received the Rhodes memo were White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest, then-White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, then-White House Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, then-National Security Council Director of Communications Erin Pelton, Special Assistant to the Press Secretary Howli Ledbetter, and then-White House Senior Advisor and political strategist David Plouffe.**
The Rhodes communications strategy email also instructs recipients to portray Obama as “steady and statesmanlike” throughout the crisis.
Another of the “Goals” of the PR offensive, Rhodes says, is “To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”
He later includes as a PR “Top-line” talking point:
I think that people have come to trust that President Obama provides leadership that is steady and statesmanlike. There are always going to be challenges that emerge around the world, and time and again, he has shown that we can meet them.
The documents Judicial Watch obtained also include a September 12, 2012, email from former DeputySpokesman at U.S. Mission to the United Nations Payton Knopf to Susan Rice, noting that at a press briefing earlier that day, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland explicitly stated that the attack on the consulate had been well planned. The email sent by Knopf to Rice at 5:42 pm said:
Responding to a question about whether it was an organized terror attack, Toria said that she couldn’t speak to the identity of the perpetrators but that it was clearly a complex attack.
In the days following the Knopf email, Rice appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News and CNN still claiming the assaults occurred “spontaneously” in response to the “hateful video.” On Sunday, September 16 Rice told CBS’s “Face the Nation”:
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 – sparked by this hateful video.
The Judicial Watch documents confirm that CIA talking points, that were prepared for Congress and may have been used by Rice on “Face the Nation” and four additional Sunday talk shows on September 16, had been heavily edited by then-CIA deputy director Mike Morell. According to one email:
The first draft apparently seemed unsuitable … because they seemed to encourage the reader to infer incorrectly that the CIA had warned about a specific attack on our embassy. … Morell noted that these points were not good and he had taken a heavy hand to editing them. He noted that he would be happy to work with [then deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton] Jake Sullivan and Rhodes to develop appropriate talking points.
The documents obtained by Judicial Watch also contain numerous emails sent during the assault on the Benghazi diplomatic facility. The contemporaneous and dramatic emails describe the assault as an “attack”:
• September 11, 2012, 6:41 PM – Senior Advisor Eric Pelofsky, to Susan Rice:
As reported, the Benghazi compound came under attack and it took a bit of time for the ‘Annex’ colleagues and Libyan February 17 brigade to secure it. One of our colleagues was killed – IMO Sean Smith. Amb Chris Stevens, who was visiting Benghazi this week is missing. U.S. and Libyan colleagues are looking for him…
At 8:51 pm, Pelofsky tells Rice and others that “Post received a call from a person using an [sic] RSO phone that Chris was given saying the caller was with a person matching Chris’s description at a hospital and that he was alive and well. Of course, if he were alive and well, one could ask why he didn’t make the call himself.”
Later that evening, Pelofsky emailed Rice that he was “very, very worried. In particular that he [Stevens] is either dead or this was a concerted effort to kidnap him.” Rice replied, “God forbid.”
• September 11, 2012, 4:49 PM – State Department press officer John Fogarty reporting on “Libya update from Beth Jones”:
Beth Jones [Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs] just spoke with DCM Tripoli Greg Hicks, who advised a Libyan militia (we now know this is the 17th Feb brigade, as requested by Emb office) is responding to the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi.”***
Material is blacked out (or redacted) in many emails.
“Now we know the Obama White House’s chief concern about the Benghazi attack was making sure that President Obama looked good,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And these documents undermine the Obama administration’s narrative that it thought the Benghazi attack had something to do with protests or an Internet video. Given the explosive material in these documents, it is no surprise that we had to go to federal court to pry them loose from the Obama State Department.”
* Ben Rhodes, a professional writer of fiction, is the brother of David Rhodes, president of CBS News. Of him, Ed Lasky writes at American Thinker:
For years I have wondered why Rhodes had achieved such influence with Obama-given a clear lack of qualification to serve any role in the upper reaches of government. Now we know it is not sycophancy alone that worked for him. Nor is it just the fact that his brother heads CBS News (which recently parted company with Sharyl Attkisson following her persistent investigative reporting on Benghazi). It goes beyond those factors: he will do his boss’s bidding, hiding information, manipulating the facts, distract people: the truth and the American people be damned. Undoubtedly he shared Hillary Clinton’s view: what difference, at this point, does it make?
** The list, quoting the email, omits the name of one recipient included in this top-level conspiracy: Alhassani, Mehdi K. Who is Mehdi K. Alhassani? He is Special Assistant, Office of the Chief of Staff, National Security Council Staff, Executive Office of the President. We think his appointment and his inclusion in the conspiracy is peculiarly interesting.
*** Greg Hicks, far from playing a part in the conspiracy, contradicted its lying message in his testimony to Congress.