Benghazi: Does the public care when the news isn’t glamorous?

The White House received news that grenades had been thrown, rooms had been stormed and bullets had been sprayed. Do we care? Photo: Benghazi emails

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2013 – The White House received news that grenades had been thrown, rooms had been stormed, and bullets had been sprayed. The warning sirens were screaming into the night while the President slept.

The American people soon learned that four Americans, Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods had lost their lives on American soil in Benghazi.

During U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee meetings on Capitol Hill in Washington on January 23, 2013., Rand Paul (R-KY) asked outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton whether the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi was involved in gun running.

“Is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?,” Paul asked.

“To Turkey?” responded Clinton. “I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody has ever raised that with me.” Paul continued, “It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that may have weapons, and what I’d like to know is the annex that was close by, were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons, and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries, any countries, Turkey included?”

“Well, senator, you’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex. I will see what information is available,” said Clinton.

“You’re saying you don’t know?” asked Paul.

 “I do not know,” Clinton said. “I don’t have any information on that.”

This exchange was roundly ignored by media in favor of the sound bite of Rand Paul saying, if he were president, Clinton would have been relieved of her post.

We do know that immediately after the attack, the White House ran to the cameras blaming the attack on an anti-Muslim video that had been released on YouTube, while assuring the world that we are welcoming of all religions.

One hundred pages of emails released today show that CIA-Director David Petraeus objected to the final talking points that UN Ambassador Susan Rice used on her TV media tour. Petraeus wanted more detail, including a CIA warning about plans for a break-in at the Cairo U.S. Embassy, released.

Among those emails, were the hand-written notes of Mike Morell, deputy to the CIA director, taken the day before Rice’s appearance.

Of those notes, Morell had mentions of al-Qaeda, experience of Libyan fighters, Islamic extremists and a warning to the Cairo embassy on the eve of the attacks by jihadists scrubbed from the CIA’s early drafts.

“No mention of the cable to Cairo, either?” Petraeus wrote after receiving Morell’s edited version, developed after an intense back-and-forth among Obama administration officials. “Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this, then.”

Reports are that twelve different versions of the talking points given to Rice scrubbed references to terrorism. Brendan Buck, press secretary for House Speaker John Boehner, said the emails contradict the White House statement that the State Department only changed one word of the talking points.

“The House interim report found that ‘senior State Department officials requested the talking points be changed to avoid criticism for ignoring the threat environment in Benghazi’ and that those changes were ultimately made. Those findings are confirmed by the emails released today, and they contradict statements made by the White House that it and the State Department only changed one word in the talking points.

The seemingly political nature of the State Department’s concerns raises questions about the motivations behind these changes and who at the State Department was seeking them. This release is long overdue and there are relevant documents the Administration has still refused to produce. We hope, however, that this limited release of documents is a sign of more cooperation to come.”

Three men, Eric Nordstrom, Gregory Hicks and Mark Thompson, dubbed “the whistleblowers,” have testified before Congress on the Benghazi attacks, offering details much more riveting then Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy or Justin Bieber’s most recent run-in with weed.

Gregory Hicks, in one of the most heart-felt and emotional testimonies we have heard so far in the Benghazi hearings, spelled out, in detail, what the timeline of events was like.

Hicks described the night’s events in phases. Phase one was the attack itself; he testified that there were likely up to sixty terrorists in the compound at one time.

In the second phase, those still alive from the Benghazi team returned to the CIA annex, where they endured nearly two hours of probing attacks from the terrorists.

The former Deputy Chief of Mission went on to testify to the recovery of Ambassador Stevens’ body, the third phase. The team was told that Stevens had been taken to a hospital controlled by Ansar al-Sharia, the supposed leader of the terrorist attack.

Hicks recounted to the oversight committee that the Tripoli government assured him that the ambassador was safe, implying that he was with the rest of the Benghazi team in the annex. However, Hicks, along with other officials, assured Tripoli, “no, he is not with us. We do not have him.”

At two in the morning, after the crazed and pre-orchestrated storm of terror had begun to settle, leaving the Benghazi Mission and CIA annex in tragic destruction, Hicks was able to reach former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He briefed Clinton on the developments, mostly informing the Secretary on the search for Ambassador Stevens. Hicks relayed to her that he believed the best option was to evacuate the premises. Clinton agreed.

Just an hour later, Greg Hicks received what he described as “the saddest phone call I’ve ever had” from the Prime Minister of Libya, informing him that Ambassador Stevens had passed away. Immediately, Hicks notified the White House.

Merely two hours after the attack, Reuters confirmed that the State Department had received word that a Libyan terrorist organization, known as Ansar al-Sharia, had claimed responsibility for the attacks. We heard from Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant Secretary of State for counterterrorism, that Kathleen Austin-Ferguson, a counselor for the Department of State, had told him that the Foreign Emergency Support Team, known as FEST, was told not to act.

FEST, capable of sending support during these radical attacks, was said by the State Department to have been “taken out of the menu of options” and that “it was not the right time and was not the right team that needed to go right then.”

Why is this not headline worthy? It certainly is not the most glamorous of stories. However, I assure you it is more provocative than the legalization of marijuana in any state.

Recent reports and official sources have confirmed that the Benghazi Mission was, most likely, a gunrunning headquarters issued by the United States government to send guns and other weapons to Syrian rebels to be used against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Ambassador Chris Stevens was allegedly in charge of the vetting process for many of these jihadists, originally a plan supported, and crafted, by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.

When asked by Senator McCain if they support such an operation, Panetta responded, “We do.”

Again, he asked, “You did support that?” To which General Dempsey replied, “We did.”

Ever since UN Ambassador Susan Rice proclaimed on her talk-show-tour that the Benghazi attacks were solely a response to an anti-Muslim YouTube video, a claim Mr. Hicks deemed “embarrassing,” the White House administration has been scrambling to find any reason for the attack. Any reason other than the truth of the gunrunning operation gone bad. Any reason that will satisfy the growing desire among the American people for an answer.

The Obama administration cannot spin this story to feed special interests, like the shootings in Aurora and Newtown, or amplify the mistreatment of minorities, like the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin. This is a devastating issue that, when fairly reported, should only makes the public hungry for the truth.

When the news isn’t glamorous, the call for honesty and clarity seems to fall on deaf ears, a lack of public and or media interest.

When, do you think, is the right time for the sirens of transparency to ring out? At what point will we say to our government, “by the people,” enough is enough? 

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Tre' Goins-Phillips

Tré was born in Richmond, Virginia and currently lives between Newport News, VA and Lynchburg, VA. He is studying political journalism at Liberty University. He brings fresh and prolific ideas center-stage, challenging readers of all ages and walks of life to engage in defining today’s culture. 


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