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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Stevens’

How ironic and extraordinarily well-planned that around 11:30 last night on NBC a trailer popped up for a movie that will not be released until January 15.  What a supreme coincidence that the subject of the movie is the terrorist attacks on the U.S. compounds in Benghazi.  Many will cite moments from the hearing, but the real WTF moment occurred after it ended with the appearance of the trailer for this movie.

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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)

An American Ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.

Director: Michael Bay

Writers: Chuck Hogan (screenplay), Mitchell Zuckoff (book)

The trailer appeared a little more than 13 hours from the moment Hillary Clinton commenced her testimony before the House Select committee.  Disturbing.  What is the basis for this movie?  Like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, it is billed as “based on a true story,” but there is a subtle difference between “a true story” and “based on a true story.”

Since I had never heard such a movie was in production and had never heard of the book on which it is based, I, of course, googled and found this.

Politicians, bloggers and social-media users bemoan ‘typical action movie all about American heroism’ that paints locals as ‘fanatical and ignorant’

Furious Libyans have criticised a Michael Bay movie about the fatal 2012 attack on the US embassy in Benghazi for playing up the heroism of American soldiers and ignoring the contribution of local people.

The first trailer for Bay’s action thriller 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi has caused uproar in Libya’s second-largest city after it was circulated on social media, with government officials, bloggers and Facebook users lining up to criticise the film.

SNIP

The US release of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which stars John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Toby Stephens and Pablo Schreiber, has also been caught up in controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s current US presidential run. Clinton, who was US secretary of state at the time of the Benghazi attack, has been accused by Republicans of using a private email account to conduct government business during the period. The January release of Bay’s film, two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, constitutes poor timing in terms of the former first lady’s campaign – especially if Bay’s film proves a big hit at the box office.

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Those who purchased the air time at NBC arguably had no way to know how long yesterday’s testimony would last.  Had clock-watcher nonpareil Linda Sanchez not asked how late the proceedings were going to continue last night, we all might still have been tuned to C-SPAN, and I would not have seen the trailer.  Linda remained conscientiously within her allotted time throughout while the chairman routinely allowed Republicans to go well beyond – often by more than four minutes.  We can speculate that had Lynn Westmoreland been allowed another round, he again would have asked why the secretary did not send in FEST, and Hillary would have retained her consistently patient demeanor and explained again that he misunderstood what FEST is and does.  She clearly was prepared to stay as long as necessary.

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Given that some Republicans appeared to think another round of questions was coming, it seemed a little abrupt and anti-climactic when Trey Gowdy suddenly called the session to a close as it was about to enter the 12th hour.  Sort of like he waved a white flag.  “We surrender, Hillary! We cannot outlast you or trip you up.”

Until I saw the trailer,  I did not realize how close the hearing came to the duration of the attacks.  I am pretty sure Hillary and many committee members were aware of that.  As for the background of this movie, its accuracy, intent, and the money behind it,  there are many questions.  If all we know right now is that residents of Benghazi are angered,  that is enough to arouse suspicion since we all remember that it was the Libyans who found Chris Stevens and moved him to a hospital.  They knew him and liked him,  and if they are insulted by this film,  something here rankles.

That the release comes in the eleventh hour before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries implies a nefarious intent and yet another shameful use of this tragedy as a political tool.

Somehow I can predict that this post will go largely ignored while everyone celebrates Hillary’s great week with “This Girl’s on Fire!” posters.  Fiddling while Rome burns.  We need to get to the bottom of this movie mystery.

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Update: 11/10/15

They played an extended ad ( two-minutes) for 13 Hours in the middle of tonight’s debate.

TPM Livewire

Within minutes, Michael Bay was trending on Twitter.  Fortunately, many tweets were about how fishy this convergence was but not all were negative by a long shot.

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As a long-time fan of BHL, I was delighted to find this excellent account of three meetings with Hillary whom he has long admired for reasons he makes crystal clear.  I simply had to share this.  I rarely come across a true must-read on a Sunday, but this is not to be missed.

Bernard-Henri Levy: Th​ree encounters with Hillary Clinton

<April 25, 2015 | Op-ed — by Bernard-Henri Lévy

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 23: Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the Women in the World Conference on April 23, 2015 in New York City. Clinton is in New York City after visiting Iowa and New Hampshire. Andrew Burton/Getty Images/AFP

July 2004. Boston.

A downtown restaurant to which Tina Brown has invited Hillary Rodham Clinton and a handful of notables, including Caroline Kennedy, filmmaker Michael Moore, and former U.S. Senator George McGovern.

What is immediately striking is Mrs. Clinton’s youthful appearance. Her bright laugh. Her blue eyes, a little too round, that gaze at you with curiosity. Sometimes that gaze is briefly clouded by a streak of stifled pain, obstinate and not wholly contained. Five years earlier, she was the most humiliated wife in America, a woman whose feelings, reactions, privacy, and bed linens were scrutinized by everyone. So she can talk national and international politics until she is blue in the face. She can sing the praises of John Kerry, whom her party has just nominated in an effort to deny George W. Bush a second term. She can expound on her notion of the role of the senator from New York, a role with which she pretends to be content. Still there persists an idea (of dubious political correctness) that it is impossible to push out of one’s head, one that I, at any rate, cannot resist the temptation of entering into the travel journal that I am writing for The Atlantic.

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This picture is from the May 1, 2009 ceremony when the name of Brian Adkins was added to the memorial wall in the lobby of the Harry S. Truman Building. Brian was a 25-year-old Foreign Service officer killed in his first tour of duty in the consular section of the American Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Also added to the wall that day were the names of Felix Russel Engdahl, U.S. Consul in Shanghai, who died in 1942 in a Japanese internment camp; Thomas Waldron, first U.S. Consul in Hong Kong, who died of cholera; Edmund Roberts, a special envoy sent by President Andrew Jackson to negotiate a treaty with Japan, who died of dysentery.

It was the first time we saw Secretary Clinton cry.

Date: 05/01/2009 Description: Secretary Clinton at the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) Plaque Ceremony in C Street Lobby.   © State Department photo by Michael Gross

 

Hillary Clinton on the Tragedy in Benghazi

Hillary Clinton’s Video Remarks on the Deaths of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya

Yesterday, our U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings. American and Libyan security personnel battled the attackers together. Four Americans were killed. They included Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information management officer, and our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. We are still making next of kin notifications for the other two individuals.This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world. We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence, and we send our prayers to the families, friends, and colleagues of those we’ve lost….

In the lobby of this building, the State Department, the names of those who have fallen in the line of duty are inscribed in marble. Our hearts break over each one. And now, because of this tragedy, we have new heroes to honor and more friends to mourn….

… we must be clear-eyed, even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group – not the people or Government of Libya. Everywhere Chris and his team went in Libya, in a country scarred by war and tyranny, they were hailed as friends and partners. And when the attack came yesterday, Libyans stood and fought to defend our post.

May God bless them, and may God bless the thousands of Americans working in every corner of the world who make this country the greatest force for peace, prosperity, and progress, and a force that has always stood for human dignity – the greatest force the world has ever known. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

 

President Obama and Secretary Clinton at the White House and State Department

Hillary Clinton on the Deaths of Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty in Benghazi, Libya

Hillary Clinton at State Department Eid ul-Fitr Dinner

Religious freedom and religious tolerance are essential to the stability of any nation, any people. Hatred and violence in the name of religion only poison the well. All people of faith and good will know that the actions of a small and savage group in Benghazi do not honor religion or God in any way. Nor do they speak for the more than one billion Muslims around the world, many of whom have shown an outpouring of support during this time.

Unfortunately, however, over the last 24 hours, we have also seen violence spread elsewhere. Some seek to justify this behavior as a response to inflammatory, despicable material posted on the internet. As I said earlier today, the United States rejects both the content and the message of that video. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. At our meeting earlier today, my colleague, the foreign minister of Morocco, said that all prophets should be respected because they are all symbols of our humanity, for all humanity.

Benghazi-Spin: Myth-Busting and Reality Check

Myth:  Hillary Clinton said the attack on the Benghazi installation was an outgrowth of a demonstration against an anti-Islamist video on the internet.

Not exactly.  Here are her words on September 12, 2012.

We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.

There were demonstrations against such a video at many U.S. embassies world-wide and in the region,  however.

Sep 11, 2012

Cairo protesters scale U.S. Embassy wall, remove flag

Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.

This Wikipedia entry gives a pretty complete treatment.  All of these embassies were under the oversight of the State Department.  The American School in Tunisia was destroyed.  Secretary Clinton, just back from a tour that ended in Vladivostok,  did have her hands full, but she did not blame this attack on the video.

Hillary mentions a precedent: Terry Jones burning the Quran the previous year and the resultant deadly protest in Afghanistan.    Jones was also promoting the offensive video.

Much early discussion centered on embassy security.  Many wrongly assumed that Marine Embassy Guard were stationed at every embassy (untrue) and that their mission was to guard personnel.  Hillary points out the error as did Victoria Nuland shortly after the attacks.

Clearing The Air On How Embassy Security Works

Hillary went to Capitol Hill to testify as soon as she had gathered the necessary information and her schedule permitted.  She answered every question posed to her and also announced the appointment of the required Accountability Review Board (ARB).

Hillary Clinton with Indonesian FM Marty Natalegawa

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go up to the Congress today. I will be briefing in two separate sessions, the House and the Senate, in a classified setting, along with my interagency colleagues, as we continue to work together, and with governments around the world, to ensure that our people and our facilities are safe. I will be joined today by the Director of National Intelligence, General Clapper, by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Sandy Winnefeld, along with experts from the FBI, the State Department, and elsewhere in the government.

Now, I anticipate that this briefing will cover our security posture before and during the events, and the steps we have taken since to do everything we can with host governments to protect our people and our embassies and consulates. The Director of National Intelligence will speak to the intelligence issues surrounding these events in Libya. Deputy Secretary Carter will brief on the superb support we have had from the U.S. military in the wake of these events, and we are at the very early stages of an FBI investigation. The team from the FBI reached Libya earlier this week. And I will advise Congress also that I am launching an accountability review board that will be chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering.

Partisan attacks began early.  We went on the defensive here.

House Tea Party Members In Pursuit Of Hillary Clinton: Examine Your Own Role In Cutting Diplo Post Security

Issa Flips The Coin And The Game Is On

In the course of the four-hour testimony there were some obvious gaps in congressional knowledge of how embassy security operates.  As Victoria Nuland pointed out on September 17,  internal security (walls inward) is the task of the guest country, and external security (walls outward) is up to the host country,  Marine Embassy Security Guard (MESG) is posted at embassies (not usually at consulates) primarily to secure documents not personnel.   That task  falls under the purview of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security headed by Eric Boswell who testified in camera along with Secretary Kennedy yesterday to the same committee.

Hillary Clinton at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony to Honor Those Lost in Attacks in Benghazi, Libya

In the days since the attack, so many Libyans – including the Ambassador from Libya to the United States, who is with us today – have expressed their sorrow and solidarity. One young woman, her head covered and her eyes haunted with sadness, held up a handwritten sign that said “Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam.” The President of the Palestinian Authority, who worked closely with Chris when he served in Jerusalem, sent me a letter remembering his energy and integrity, and deploring – and I quote – “an act of ugly terror.” Many others from across the Middle East and North Africa have offered similar sentiments…

This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with. It is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable…

The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob. Reasonable people and responsible leaders in these countries need to do everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts.

 

Hillary Clinton’s Media Interviews on Benghazi

For more than a month Hillary had been taking responsibility, talking to Congress and the press, providing explanations and information such as she could (some information was classified and later declassified, e.g. the fact that “the annex,” as the second building was called, was actually a CIA operation and the related fact that two of the four Americans killed were actually CIA officers and not State Department personnel).

Look, I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department, 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts.

Nevertheless, when Hillary, traveling abroad in Peru, used those words to CNN’s Elise Labott it was breaking news across prime time cable.  Remarkable. Proving that when it comes to Hillary Clinton even saying the same thing differently somehow generates headlines.

(Recently she mentioned that she would decide whether or not to run in 2016 “after the first of the year.”  The story went viral despite that fact that for three months she had been saying that she would not make that decision “before the end of the year.”)

Aftermath … Benghazi, The Great Debate, and Hurricane Hillary

Hillary does not mention that, ill and injured,  she was handling her duties from home and at one point from her hospital room during the weeks in December when the ARB Report came to her.  We owe her dedication a great debt.

She has told us many times that we should take criticism seriously but not personally.  Her summary of the ARB findings stand as an excellent example.  In fact the ARB did not find fault with her or with any particular personnel.  The faults they did spotlight were functional and procedural.   Hillary addressed these with alacrity.  She accepted all 29 recommendations and ordered them implemented.  She pledged not to leave office until all were in the process of implementation and met that goal.

Here is a link to the ARB Report and the cover letter she sent with it to Congress.

Hillary Clinton’s Cover Letter to Congress and the Unclassified ARB Report

She testified on Capitol Hill as soon as her doctors permitted (which may have been earlier than they recommended).

Video: Hillary Clinton’s Testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Benghazi

As I have said many times, I take responsibility, and nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure…

… let me underscore the importance of the United States continuing to lead in the Middle East, in North Africa, and around the world. We’ve come a long way in the past four years, and we cannot afford to retreat now. When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. Extremism takes root; our interests suffer; our security at home is threatened.

That’s why I sent Chris Stevens to Benghazi in the first place. Nobody knew the dangers better than Chris, first during the revolution, then during the transition. A weak Libyan Government, marauding militias, terrorist groups; a bomb exploded in the parking lot of his hotel, but he did not waver. Because he understood it was critical for America to be represented there at that time.

Our men and women who serve overseas understand that we accept a level of risk to protect the country we love. And they represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation. They cannot work in bunkers and do their jobs. So it is our responsibility to make sure they have the resources they need, and to do everything we can to reduce the risks.

Video: Hillary Clinton Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Benghazi

With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.

Hillary speaks eloquently in this chapter in her own defense.  She really should not have to, but Benghazi became a political football the very day after it happened and the fact that she was out of politics when it happened and that those who testified before Congress were career diplomats and not politically aligned mattered nothing to the people who intended a witch hunt.

None of us can really know what we might have done as colonial residents of Salem if our neighbors were accused of witchcraft.  A rapidly dwindling number of Americans knows how they reacted when asked by Congressmen or an ambitious and wrong-headed Senator to name names of “enemies” in the entertainment industry, the military, and even in the very department Hillary headed. I, however, did know what I could do to defend Hillary, so I have included in this post not only her words, but my own defenses of her – some of them.

I know Hillary does not agree with some of what I have said, and I did go ahead and name names as she has not.  None of it is secret.

The Tea Party v. Hillary Clinton: It Never Ends

Part of the partisan offensive was a review of the Accountability Review Board reporting system initiated by some in Congress who, as Hillary points out, refused to be satisfied or simply refused to listen.  It was a silly, frivolous waste of taxpayer dollars.

Hillary Clinton and the ARB Reporting System Reviewed: Things You Should Know

Hillary Clinton and the ARB Reporting System Reviewed: More Things You Should Know

 

Benghazi was the event that drew a dividing  line through the Hillary team.  People I had known since her 2008 campaign peeled off.  It was fast and furious in dramatic, stunning contrast to the pro-Hillary passion they had professed up until that point.

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Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

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According to the Special Review of the Accountability Review Board Process (ISP-I-13-44A), the Permanent Coordinating Committee (PCC)  is the body within the State Department that must convene ASAP after a serious security incident at a U.S. mission abroad and determine whether or not to recommend that the secretary of state convene an Accountability Board Review (ARB).

P 7  ¶ 1 Permanent Coordinating Committee
“The Committee will, as quickly as possible after an incident occurs, review the available facts and recommend to the Secretary to convene or not convene a Board. (Due to the 1999 revision of the law requiring the Secretary to convene a Board not later than 60 days after the occurrence of an incident, except that such period may be extended for one additional 60-day the Committee will meet within 30 days of the incident, if enough information is available.) In addition, the Committee will meet yearly to review the ARB process, existing policies and procedures, and ensure that any necessary changes are effected.” – 12 Foreign
Affairs Manual 032.1

On October 7, 2012 Hillary Clinton announced that not only had the recommendation been made but also that the ARB had been formed and would commence meeting that very week – well within the timeline stated in the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). Many of you will remember that the Tea Party was already stridently calling for this review, however it is clear from the FAM directive that this process went a good deal more quickly than was required.

P 16  ¶ 8  Secretary’s Report to Congress
“Report to Congress: the Secretary will, no later than 90 days after the receipt of a
Board’s program recommendations, submit a report to the Congress on each such
recommendation and the action taken or intended to be taken with respect to that
recommendation.” – 12 Foreign Affairs Manual 036.3a.

The delivery of the completed report along with a cover letter dated December 18, 2012 delineating in detail many steps Hillary had already taken to address weaknesses in security at U.S. missions worldwide also came in well before the deadlines outlined in the FAM.  The cover letter is a brilliant analysis and well worth the read.  If you happen to find yourself in a discussion on the  subject of Benghazi, the events surrounding this attack, and State Department responses to it, you will find valuable points therein.  The letter and reports were addressed and delivered to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

P 19 ¶ 1  “All of us—from senior Department leadership setting strategic priorities to supervisors evaluating the needs of individual posts to congressional committees appropriating funds and providing oversight—have a responsibility to provide the men and women who serve this country with the best possible security and support. Most of all, it is my responsibility as Secretary of State.” – Secretary Hillary Clinton

One wonders how many times Hillary Clinton needs, orally and in writing, to take responsibility for Benghazi for the Tea Party to stop accusing her of dodging that responsibility.  Breaking news the night before a presidential debate,  on October 17, 2012 was that while traveling in Peru Hillary had stated in an interview that the responsibility was hers.  Her signature is, in perpetuity,  on that letter where she assumed responsibility.    Must she wander the streets with a bell like a town crier declaring, “The buck stops with me?”

P 25 ¶ 1 Regional Bureau Shared Responsibility
ARB Recommendation 3: “As the President’s personal representative, the Chief of Mission bears ‘direct and full responsibility for the security of [his or her] mission and all the personnel for whom [he or she is] responsible,’ and thus for risk management in the country to which he or she is accredited. In Washington, each regional Assistant Secretary has a corresponding responsibility to support the Chief of Mission in executing this duty. Regional bureaus should have augmented support within the bureau on security matters, to include a senior DS officer to
report to the regional Assistant Secretary.”

Not to blame the victim,  but security at Tripoli and Benghazi was a shared responsibility and some of that responsibility fell on Ambassador Stevens.  Of all the players in this tragedy, he, from all indications, was most familiar with the culture of the country and the population in Benghazi in particular.   In his absence, Gregory Hicks shared that responsibility at Embassy Tripoli of which he had been left in charge.

Fortunately, Embassy Tripoli was not subject to an attack, however, the reckless irresponsibility of Hicks’s decision to send the remaining two security officers from Tripoli to Benghazi is undeniable.

By Jeremy Herb 07/31/13 12:59 PM ET

Col. George Bristol, who commanded an Africa-based task force at the time of the terrorist attack, told the House Armed Services Committee that he gave Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson, who led the site security team in Tripoli, initial freedom of action to respond to the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi.

Bristol corroborated testimony Gibson provided the committee last month that no “stand down” order was given — contradicting accusations made by critics of the Obama administration’s response to the attack — according to a description of Wednesday’s classified, members-only briefing of the Armed Services Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.

Gibson had testified last month that he was told not to send his team to Benghazi because they needed to remain in Tripoli to defend the U.S. Embassy there in case of additional attacks.

Among the Benghazi recommendations is this one regarding funding.

P ¶ 5 29 Funding
ARB Recommendation 10: “Recalling the recommendations of the Nairobi/Dar es Salaam Accountability Review Boards, the State Department must work with Congress to restore the Capital Security Cost Sharing Program at its full capacity as originally envisioned, adjusted for inflation, of approximately $2.2 billion in fiscal year 2015, including an up to 10-year program addressing that need, prioritized for construction of new facilities in high-risk and high-threat areas. It should also work with Congress to expand utilization of Overseas Contingency Operations funding to respond to emerging security threats and vulnerabilities and operational requirements in high-risk and high-threat posts like Benghazi and Tripoli.”

We do well to remember who stripped the DS funds two years in a row.  There is plenty of responsibility to go around including upon those who clog Hillary Clinton’s Twitterfeed with cries of “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!”  ignoring the role played by tight-fisted Tea Party House members who swear they will recall Hillary Clinton.    If they do, we are certain that she will cooperate and be, as always, eminently well-prepared.

P 31 ¶ 2  Personnel Recommendations
No ARB has ever found “reasonable cause to believe” that a Federal employee or contractor has “breached a duty of that individual” as defined by the Act.

We have yet to hear any mea culpas emanating from Capitol Hill.

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Hillary Clinton will be in Beverly Hills this evening to receive another in a long string of awards and honors.

Chairman’s Gala

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

U.S. Secretary of State (2009-2013)
May 8, 2013
BEVERLY WILSHIRE HOTEL | BEVERLY HILLS

Gala to honor Hillary Clinton May 2013 | Los Angeles
At a gala event on May 8, the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver one of her first addresses on the west coast since stepping down as U.S. Secretary of State earlier this year. Secretary Clinton will accept the inaugural Warren Christopher Public Service Award from the Pacific Council on International Policy, conferred in recognition of her distinguished service to the country

The Ready for Hillary Super PAC is planning a rally to greet her, as they have at previous events.

All of this pro-Hillary excitement unfolds against the backdrop of a flurry of anti-Hillary activity in the House of Representatives where today the Oversight and Government Reform Committee heard the testimony of three State Department employees called by Darryl Issa who is itching to pin a bogus cover-up or something else – whatever he can find – on the retired Secretary of State.

Largely ignored by cable outlets today (except Fox News, of course),  at least some of the testimony concerned issues that had been adequately addressed in the Accountability Review Board (ARB) report provided to the all interested Congress persons well prior to Secretary Clinton’s January 23 testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

State  Department officials have repeatedly and consistently stated that under Secretary Clinton’s leadership all 29 recommendations by the board had been implemented.  Hillary Clinton unequivocally took responsibility for failures on the part of her department.

Andrea Mitchell today had Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who led the board with Admiral Mike Mullen,  on her show.  Pickering stated that Gregory Hicks, who was second in command to slain Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and remained in Tripoli the night of the attack, had done a fine job and had spent many hours being interviewed by the ARB.  He pointed out that the requests from Hicks for four special forces to be sent to Benghazi after the first attack and for a fly over in Benghazi were deemed impractical both by State and by the Department of Defense.

Pickering also stated that he offered to testify before the committee and Issa declined his offer.

Sending the only four special forces out of Tripoli where classified documents are kept would have left the embassy vulnerable when embassies across the region were under siege.   There were no classified documents in Benghazi.  The primary responsibility of the special forces is protection of classified materials – not personnel.  No one could have predicted a second attack in Benghazi.  The planes requested for the flyover could not have refueled since there was no tanker in the Mediterranean that night. (See p. 37 of the report)

So, while Issa and company continue to aim at her and miss,  Hillary will be receiving a public service award and her fervent supporters will greet her with pleas for her to run in 2016.  Meanwhile, husband Bill says she is having a fine time doing what she wants and talk of 2016 is a waste of time.  Hillary does not have to do anything at all to get her name in the headers or on her husband’s lips, but she has already done so much that regularly she is given awards and honors.

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Secretary Clinton to Deliver Remarks in Honor of the Late Ambassador Chris Stevens at the 2012 Common Ground Awards

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 5, 2012

On November 8, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver remarks at the Common Ground Awards in honor of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens, who is among this year’s recipients of the prestigious award. Accepting the award on behalf of Ambassador Stevens is his sister, Anne Stevens.

The Common Ground Awards are presented annually by Search for Common Ground to honor outstanding accomplishments in conflict resolution, negotiation, community building, and peace building. Recipients have made significant contributions toward bridging divides between people, and finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

The Common Ground Awards will be presented at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 8.

Please click here for more information and for a list of the other awardees.

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As the House Committee Oversight and Government Reform hearing  (there is a link to the C-SPAN video of the proceedings at that post) was getting underway on Wednesday October 10, references were made to a background briefing the evening before.  The transcript of that briefing is now available at the State Department website and provides the most complete account to date of events on the ground in Benghazi on the night of September 11 and the morning of September 12.

All over the internet, MSM and bloggers are referring to this text as well as statements by Secretary Clinton and other State Department officials as evidence that the Department of State never laid blame for the attack in Benghazi on the notorious Youtube defaming Islam which was the message put forth in Vice President Biden’s remarks during Thurday’s debate with Paul Ryan (a segment during which neither candidate appeared appropriately informed much less “presidential” in a heartbeat-away kind of way) as well as in U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s remarks on the Sunday morning talk circuit the weekend following the attack.  At Friday’s press availability with Italy’s foreign minister,  Secretary Clinton chose her words very carefully in response to a question from CNN’s Jill Dougherty.

To this day – to this day, we do not have a complete picture. We do not have all the answers. No one in this Administration has ever claimed otherwise. Every one of us has made clear that we are providing the best information we have at that time. And that information continues to be updated. It also continues to be put into context and more deeply understood through the process we are engaged in. Ambassador Rice had the same information from the intelligence community as every other senior official did.

She did not say that the information Ambassador Rice had was that the attack stemmed from a demonstration of any kind in Benghazi.  In the background briefing we see:

OPERATOR: The next question is from the line of Brad Klapper with AP. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, yes. You described several incidents you had with groups of men, armed men. What in all of these events that you’ve described led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion. I’m not saying that we had a conclusion, but we outlined what happened. The Ambassador walked guests out around 8:30 or so, there was no one on the street at approximately 9:40, then there was the noise and then we saw on the cameras the – a large number of armed men assaulting the compound.

The hearing itself was purportedly held to determine the nature and extent of  security in Benghazi the night of the attack. What we learned was that there was an interagency detail in Tripoli into August and that although the tour had been extended previously, it was withdrawn and replaced with a State Department detail in Tripoli.  Part of that detail accompanied Ambassador Stevens to Benghazi.

OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of David Lerman with Bloomberg News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Did the Ambassador – before the attack, did the Ambassador request that security be increased in Benghazi? And if so, did anything ever come of it?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL NUMBER TWO: The – when the Ambassador traveled to Benghazi, he traveled with two additional security agents over and above the complement of three who were assigned to post. So there were five agents with him there rather than the two who are normally assigned there – the three who are normally assigned. So they were up two.

There remain voices demanding to know, as Paul Ryan asked during Thursday’s debate, why Ambassador Stevens was not given a Marine Guard.  At Friday’s press briefing, Victoria Nuland remained remarkably composed and patient as she addressed that issue for the Nth time to a question from the aforementioned Jill Dougherty of CNN.

QUESTION: There is something on the – that came up in the debate last night. It’s more a kind of how do things work question. Congressman Ryan said that Marines should have been sent – Marines exist, guard the Embassy in Paris, and they should have been guarding the Ambassador when he went to Benghazi. Is that correct? I mean, could they have sent Marines? Is that the normal course?

MS. NULAND: Let me just stop everybody here and remind you that we don’t do politics at this podium. We don’t litigate the campaign on one side or the other.

QUESTION: No, I’m not saying it’s politics. I’m saying: How does it work?

MS. NULAND: If you’re asking me a factual question —

QUESTION: Exactly. How does it work? Where– what do Marines protect? Would they in any case have protected that mission in Benghazi?

MS. NULAND: We’ve talked about the role of Marines from this podium several times. We talked about it in the days following the attack. I would refer you back to what we said at the time, which is that – and I can get you the precise numbers – but we have Marine security guards in about 60, 65 percent of our missions around the world. They are primarily assigned to protect classified information, classified equipment, in those posts that are classified. So – and I would also remind you of what Eric Nordstrom said when he testified on the Hill, which was that in his professional opinion, another foot of wall or another four, five, six – I can’t remember the number that he used – of American security personnel wouldn’t have been able to turn back or handle the assaults at the level of ferocity and lethality that we saw that night.

In the background briefing linked here, the reason why Marine Embassy Security would never have been in Benghazi for any reason was made eminently clear.

OPERATOR: The next question is from the line of Margaret Brennan, CBS News. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. The timeline here begins around 8:30 p.m., but we had heard in response to some reports where reporters had found paperwork documents on the grounds of the compound that secure materials, that confidential paperwork had actually been secured earlier in the day, therefore there wasn’t any compromised material found at the compound. When did that occur? At 8:30 at night? When were those documents secured or shredded or burned or whatever?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Because of the – this was a post and not a – and we – this post held no classified documents. They had computer communications with Washington, but the material would arrive on the screen and you would read it on the screen, and then that was it. There was no classified paper, so there was no paper to burn.

Assuredly the debate will continue to rage.  A few  things are clear:

1. There is never-before-seen daylight making its appearance between the Obama White House and the Clinton State Department.  Under-the-bus stories abound.  (I am putting my money on Hillary Clinton.)

2.  Hillary Clinton intends to get to the bottom of this and will probably make no definitive statements until all investigations are complete  nor should she absent all possible information.  (I hope this extends to appearing before the Oversight Committee as well.)

3. When faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary some people will never cease to believe that a Marine guard, which, had one been assigned,  would have remained in Tripoli,  would have made a difference.

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