Written by Tom Fitton
Judicial Watch Obtains First Photos from State Department Depicting Carnage at Benghazi Consulate, link below
In yet another victory this week, Judicial Watch recently caused the first break in the Obama administration’s stonewall over the Benghazi attacks and related cover-up.
We forced the release of the first seven photos from the Department of State depicting the aftermath of the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic and CIA facilities in Benghazi, Libya. We force release of the photos on June 6, 2013, pursuant to a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the State Department on February 25, 2013. These are the first Benghazi photos released by the State Department.
The photos obtained by Judicial Watch seem to depict portions of the so-called “Special Mission Compound” in Benghazi, including: what appears to be a burned and ransacked building; at least two burned vehicles; and Arabic graffiti with militant Islamist slogans. You can view the photos here. They are not graphic but, given that they depict the aftermath of this terrible atrocity against our nation, upsetting and stark.
Now, to be sure, we’re after far more than these seven photos. In fact, here’s the full breadth of what we’re seeking pursuant to a FOIA request first filed last December with the Obama State Department:
Any and all videos and photographs depicting U.S. Consulate facilities in Benghazi, Libya (including the Special Mission Compound and the Annex) between September 10, 2012, and September 13, 2012, that were provided to the Accountability Review Board (ARB) for Benghazi and/or to any individual member of the ARB.
Judicial Watch became aware that the documents existed when they were referenced by the ARB in issuing its final report on December 31, 2012. According to ARB Chairman Ambassador Tom Pickering, the Board “reviewed thousands of documents and watched hours of video” during the course of its investigation. The Obama administration also reportedly shared Benghazi videos with certain members of Congress.
We figured if the Obama administration was sharing this material with Congress, the American people should also have the chance to have a look. State Department officials instead attempted to keep these records secret and did not release any photos or videos until we forced them to relent.
The fact that it took six months and a federal lawsuit to release these few photos tells you all you need to know about the Obama administration’s Benghazi stonewall. We now know that every video or photo, along with every additional piece of information we uncover, will tell us more about Benghazi – in contrast to the continued lies and spin coming out of the Obama administration about this atrocity.
While we continue to pursue photo and video evidence of the Benghazi attacks, Judicial Watch has three pending FOIA lawsuits against the Obama administration for documents about the Benghazi attack, 14 FOIA requests and one Mandatory Declassification Review Request.
In a FOIA lawsuit filed against the Obama State Department in February, 2013, Judicial Watch sought access to records concerning a contract totaling nearly $400,000 that was awarded to a foreign firm for “Security Guards and Patrol Services” at the Benghazi Consulate prior to the Benghazi attacks. And here’s why.
According to Breitbart.com, when first questioned about foreign Benghazi security guards on Friday, September 14, 2012, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland emphatically denied that State had hired any private firm to provide security at the American mission in Benghazi.
However, on September 17, 2012, WIRED magazine broke the story that Nuland had provided false information in her September 14 press conference, saying: “Contrary to Friday’s claim by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that ‘at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya,’ the department inked a contract for ‘security guards and patrol services’ on May 3, 2012, for $387,413.68.”
In her daily press briefing on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, Nuland admitted that she had made an “error” concerning the State Department’s hiring of foreign security firms in Benghazi. “There was a group called Blue Mountain Group, which is a private security company with permits to operate in Libya,” Nuland said. Breitbart.com later broke the story that Blue Mountain was specifically selected for the Benghazi security operation because it was willing to sign the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya prohibiting guards from carrying weapons with live ammunition.
In another FOIA lawsuit filed in February 2013, this one against the Obama Administration’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence, JW seeks access to a controversial “speaking points” memo seeming to suggest that intelligence officials believed from the outset that al Qaeda was behind the attack despite public statements to the contrary issued by Obama administration officials, including UN Ambassador Susan Rice (now Obama’s appointee to serve as National Security Advisor) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The basis for the FOIA request was confirmed in early May, when an explosive story in the Weekly Standard revealed that, contrary to the Obama administration’s denials, the State Department’s own internal emails explicitly pointed to al Qaeda involvement in the deadly attack.
As you may recall, in an attempt to get beyond the lies and spin coming from the Obama administration, in January Judicial Watch issued an independent interim report on Benghazi entitled “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent.” The special report relied on the expertise of Raymond Fournier, a recently retired Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent with more than 30 years of experience managing security for a host U.S. Embassies, including our posts in Israel and Afghanistan.
As I say, these photos are a good start, but just a drop in the bucket considering the records the Obama administration keeps under lock and key. We will continue to pressure the administration through FOIA requests and lawsuits, when necessary, to get to the truth behind this scandal and cover-up.
By the way, we have a great op-ed on an underreported aspect of the Benghazi story – the role of Clintonite cover-up artist, Cheryl Mills. The Daily Caller title says it all (click on it for the link): “Cheryl Mills, Clinton cover-up expert, strikes again.” This is one piece of investigative journalism you should spread far and wide.
If you were not able to catch the national television premier of our documentary District of Corruption on AXS TV, you’re in luck. The movie will air again tomorrow on AXS TV at 2:30 p.m. ET. The feedback on the movie has been phenomenal, so you won’t want to miss it. You can alert your friends and family to watch it, too. District of Corruption is based on my New York Times best-seller, The Corruption Chronicles. The movie covers the gamut of corruption and secrecy from the Clinton years through the Bush years to the present crisis under Barack Obama. This movie is essential to understanding our times and is a revelation on how Washington really works.
Until next week…
Tom Fitton, President
Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation's public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.