On November 10, 2012, two months plus one day after the attacks on our Benghazi Special Mission, Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills forwarded to Hillary, (addressed to H) an email thread beginning with Mills to Brock A. Johnson (worked for Hillary since her 2008 campaign), and copied to Patrick F. Kennedy and Andrew M. O’Connell. The subject line reads “Diplomats still in Benghazi say they had long questioned U.S. reliance on local militia (McClatchy).” In the email thread is the article written by Nancy A. Youssef for McClatchy Newspapers. Mills begins by asking “Do we know who still has a dip [diplomat] presence there today?” Patrick Kennedy responds:
Cheryl Before the attack, Egypt, Turkey, Sudan, Italy, Tunisia, France and the UN had rep there France and the UN pulled out after 9/11 But the question being posed has a false premise, i.e. that the US depended on foreign militia while the others depended on their own resources The US had tertiary dependence on the militia, as our primary and secondary reliance was on first the DS personnel and the second on the QRF The others did not have an internal second Regards pat
The link database to, I believe, 7800 additional emails, released last night is here. To find the email above, search for the date, then the subject line.
Remember the testimony of Gregory Hicks, the Deputy Chief of Mission on the ground in Tripoli and Ambassador Stevens right-hand man?
1) When control was transferred from Stevens to the military under General Carter Ham, our military lost all diplomatic immunity,
2) The NDAA mandated that Chris Stevens had to approve of any change in the special forces mission. Panetta approved it without Steven’s concurrence,
3) In the same week Stevens was told that Ham would take charge, two special forces teams were forced off the road in Libya. They escaped due to training and skill, but the incident forced Stevens to do what he had to do, let Ham withdraw them from the area until some protective agreement with Libya could be reached. Source
Chris’s concern was significant. Transferring authority would immediately strip the special forces team of its diplomatic immunity. Moreover, the U.S. had no status of forces agreement with Libya. He explained to Rear Adm. Charles J. Leidig that if a member of the special forces team used weapons to protect U.S. facilities, personnel or themselves, he would be subject to Libyan law. The law would be administered by judges appointed to the bench by Moammar Gadhafi or, worse, tribal judges. ~ Gregory Hicks
On Aug. 1, 2012, the day after I arrived in Tripoli, Chris invited me to a video conference with Africom to discuss changing the mission of the U.S. Special Forces from protecting the U.S. Embassy and its personnel to training Libyan forces. This change in mission would result in the transfer of authority over the unit in Tripoli from Chris to Gen. Ham. In other words, the special forces would report to the Defense Department, not State.
Chris wanted the decision postponed but could not say so directly. Chris had requested on July 9 by cable that Washington provide a minimum of 13 American security professionals for Libya over and above the diplomatic security complement of eight assigned to Tripoli and Benghazi. On July 11, the Defense Department, apparently in response to Chris’s request, offered to extend the special forces mission to protect the U.S. Embassy.
However, on July 13, State Department Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy refused the Defense Department offer and thus Chris’s July 9 request. His rationale was that Libyan guards would be hired to take over this responsibility. Because of Mr. Kennedy’s refusal, Chris had to use diplomatic language at the video conference, such as expressing “reservations” about the transfer of authority…
During that video conference, Chris stressed that the only way to mitigate the risk was to ensure that U.S. military personnel serving in Libya would have diplomatic immunity, which should be done prior to any change of authority…
Chris understood the importance of the special forces team to the security of our embassy personnel. He believed that by explaining his concerns, the Defense Department would postpone the decision so he could have time to work with the Libyan government and get diplomatic immunity for the special forces.
According to the National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department needed Chris’s concurrence to change the special forces mission. But soon after the Aug. 1 meeting, and as a complete surprise to us at the embassy, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed the order without Chris’s concurrence…
The Reality, The Result: In the email to Cheryl Mills, Patrick Kennedy is saying that the foreign mission dependence on Libyan forces falls third in the line of protection with the Department of State having first responsibility. There were seven Americans in the Benghazi Mission buildings, five of them “security agents,” two of whom accompanied Ambassador Stevens from the Tripoli Embassy to Benghazi that day. How many of the five were among the injured. We don’t know, other than one who tried desperately to lead Stevens and Sean Smith to safety through the fumes of the diesel fire.
The first part of Johnson’s [Sen. Ron Johnson claim is that the State Department “failed to honor repeated requests for additional security.”
His reference is to requests made by Stevens and other U.S. officials in Libya to the State Department leadership in Washington.
“There are disagreements about whether State acted reasonably, but that it didn’t honor requests for additional security is established fact,” said Georgetown University adjunct assistant professor Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, who is also a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which focuses on foreign policy and national security.
The State Department has acknowledged it rejected requests to provide more security personnel in Libya. It also acknowledged rejecting a request to erect guard towers at the Benghazi mission, . . . Source: Politico
We also know that the Department of Defense TRIED to defend Ambassador Stevens, AT NO COST TO THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE, and were denied that opportunity. Hillary Clinton sent them packing back to the U.S. or elsewhere.
The second part of Johnson’s claim is that before the attacks, the State Department “actually reduced security in Libya.”
The bipartisan Senate committee found that despite the deteriorating conditions around Benghazi, State Department headquarters decided not to request an extension of service by the Defense Department’s Site Security Team, which was scheduled to be redeployed in August 2012, about one month before the attacks.
The 16-member team was based in Tripoli, but spent some time in Benghazi and had provided security resources that the State Department could utilize. The State Department opted not to request an extension of the team, the Senate committee found, because it believed that many of the duties could be provided by State Department security staff and local Libyan security personnel.
The Senate committee also pointed out that less than a month before the attacks, Stevens “declined two specific offers” from the general heading Defense Department operations in Africa to extend the stay of the Site Security Team.
But according to Stevens’ top assistant, Gregory Hicks, that was a few weeks after the State Department had already decided not to request the team’s deployment to be extended. (Source: see Politico link above)
The biggest doozy, however, is this: Clinton also testified that she was unaware that some of the emails she received from Sydney Blumenthal, a longtime informal adviser, were actually written by former intelligence officer Tyler Drumheller.
Some of the new emails show that she received emails clearly marked as written by Drumheller, including one the day after the attack in which he states that the ambassador was killed by “Islamist militia forces” and he names Ansar al-Sharia. The memo goes on to discuss the Internet video but says that demonstrations were only a cover for the terrorist group.
Somewhere among my many posts is a confirmation that the Department of Defense not only offered it’s Special Security Team to stay to protect Stevens, but that the offer was made at no cost to the Department of State.
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