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The Benghazi fog: Vista Congressman Darrell Issa trying to clear up 9/11/12

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Diplomacy and service were the goals of Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens, and he would have wanted bridges to be built between people say those who knew him best, so clearing up all questions on Benghazi and moving forward seems important to those objectives.

From C-Span, a video of Darrell Issa, Vista's Representative who also chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, seeks to clear up the questions of what happened on the evening of 9/11/2012 when four Americans were killed: Ambassador Stephens; Sean Smith, a foreign service officer; and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Kate Doherty wants to know why her brother Glen died. In her letter, she wrote:

"It took 8 hrs for the rescue team to travel to Benghazi." She is wondering why did they get "no help" through barriers "considering the emergency?"

She believes her brother Glenn died "serving with men he respected. He is an American hero to those who did not know him." He was much more to those who did know him, however, and she wishes US personnel would be better protected.

Chris Stephens family explained who he was via a letter. Stating "there were security shortcomings no doubt" the family believed "Chris was not the kind of diplomat who would strut around" and he knew there was a risk to being accessible.

'Systemic failures and ... deficiencies at senior levels'

From the Executive Summary of the Oversight Report released last September:

"On September 11, 2012—now more than one year ago—armed extremists attacked a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. During these major attacks, terrorists overwhelmed the facility’s guards and set fire to structures within the compound before diplomatic personnel inside could escape or reinforcements arrived. Four U.S. personnel were killed: Ambassador Christopher Stevens; State Department Information Officer Sean Smith; and two American security officers—and former U.S. Navy SEALs—Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty."

The report further states that on October 3, 2012:

"... then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the U.S. Department of State would convene an Accountability Review Board (ARB, or Board) to 'examine the facts and circumstances of the attacks and to report findings and recommendations as it deems appropriate.'"

The ARB was responsible for determining whether a “breach of duty” by any federal employee contributed to the attacks in Benghazi.

About ten weeks later, on December 18, 2012, Secretary Clinton delivered the ARB Report to Congress, and concluded that “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus” were to blame for the “inadequate” security posture at the U.S. facilities in Benghazi.

Entering an election year with a polarized government is never an easy thing for the voting public, but the issue of Benghazi is still troubling Darrell Issa and voters will likely be hearing from all parties on the matter in 2014.

From a Sunday interview on Meet the Press and cited in PressPass, Issa defended his statements last May on Benghazi:

"It was accurate. There was a group that was involved that claims an affiliation with al Qaeda."

As chairman of House Oversight and considered to be an outspoken critic of the White House's handling of the attack, Issa's words, according to Press Pass, came after an investigative New York Times report by journalist David Kirkpatrick "... concluded that the raid was conducted by local militants rather than by Al Qaeda or by another international terrorist group."

Kirkpatrick's story also asserts that "... a major cause of the attack was outrage over an American-made video offensive to Muslims," according to Press Pass, and Issa said that he has seen no evidence that the video was the attack's leading cause, a claim made by then-UN ambassador Susan Rice in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

Even if claims were made to protect the CIA outpost in Benghazi, Issa believes the Obama Administration should clarify things. Issa is quoted in the Meet the Press interview yesterday:

"They went out on five stations and told the story that was at best a coverup for the CIA or at worst something that cast away this idea that there was a real terrorist operation in Benghazi."

A published document from the NYTimes presents a timeline of events from the Pentagon's perspective.

From an online story at Foxnews, the New York Times report has angered sources who were on the ground that night. Despite threats of losing their jobs, they are challenging the Times’ findings "that there was no involvement from Al Qaeda or any other international terror group and that an anti-Islam film played a role in inciting the initial wave of attacks." Quoted in the story is one witness:

'Not a spontaneous attack'

“It was a coordinated attack. It is completely false to say anything else. … It is completely a lie,”

The Fox News story also states that "the attack on the consulate started with fighters assembling to conduct an assault" and quotes a special operator:

"Guys were coming into the compound, moving left, moving right…and using IMT (individual movement techniques). … That’s not a spontaneous attack."

A transcript available online at thetowntalk provides testimony from Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya at the time. He states:

"As -- as I remember September 11, 2012, it was a routine day at our embassy, and until we saw the news about Cairo - and I remember sending a text message to Ambassador Stevens saying, ``Chris, are you aware of what's going on in Cairo?'' And he said no.

"So I told him that the embassy -- in another text - that the embassy had been stormed, and they were trying to tear down our flag. And he said, ``Thanks very much.'' And, you know, then I went on with -- with -- with business.

"Closed -- closed the day, and I went back to my villa and was relaxing, watching a television show that I particularly like, and at 9:45 p.m. -- and all times will be Libyan times, a six-hour time difference -- the RSO John Martinec ran into my villa yelling, ``Greg! Greg! The consulate's under attack.'' And I stood up and reached for my phone because I had an inkling or thought that perhaps the ambassador had tried to call me to relay the same message. And I found two missed calls on the phone, one from the ambassador's phone and one from a phone number I didn't recognize."

The full House Oversight Report, released in September may be found here.

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