By Mark Tapscott
President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser Susan Rice were told by the Defense Intelligence Agency within 24 hours after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that the deadly assault was “an organized operation” carried out by a “Salafi terrorism group.”
That information was contained in a DIA cable circulated at the highest levels of the Obama administration through the Department of State Command Center. A copy of the cable was provided in response to a court order in a Freedom of Information Act suit brought by the Judicial Watch non-profit government watchdog group. The litigation is in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“A Salafi group (NFI) is believed to be responsible for the 11 September, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The attack was in retaliation for the killing of an al Qaeda operative. The Salafi group attended the initial protests and returned at night using overwhelming firepower to overtake security forces of the Consulate … The attack was an organized operation with specific information that the US Ambassador was present …
“The attack was carried out in retaliation for the killing of the Al Qaeda’s number two man, Abu Yah Ya ((Al LIBI)) … There has been no reports of any continuation of the protests or violence, but source suspects there could be additional violence since the attack seemed well coordinated,” the cable said.
The cable appears to undermine claims by the president, Clinton and Rice in the immediate aftermath of the attack and for a week thereafter that the assault was a spontaneous reaction in protest of an anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S. that was posted briefly on the Internet. Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault. Clinton insisted during her testimony that the anti-Muslim video was a factor in the Benghazi disaster.
A State Department review board later concluded that there were no U.S. military assets close enough to Benghazi to rescue American personnel in time to prevent the casualties or to respond to the attackers.
The DEA cable was made public as Clinton testified Thursday morning before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which has already interviewed more than 50 witnesses, including two of Clinton’s closest aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, and long-time Clinton political confidant Sydney Blumenthal.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, is chairman of the panel. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, is the ranking Democrat. Gowdy and Cummings have been sparring intensely about the investigation in recent days, with Cummings condemning the committee as a partisan sham and Gowdy defending the probe as an attempt to get facts about why the four Americans died.
Clinton – who calls the Gowdy panel “an arm of the Republican National Committee” – is the leading contender for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. She previously testified before a Senate committee and exclaimed in exasperation at one point during an emotional exchange with Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, “at this point, what difference does it make?”
The former chief U.S. diplomat is also likely to be quizzed Thursday about her decision to use a private email account and a private server located at her New York home to conduct official business throughout her tenure.
Hundreds of emails to and from Clinton containing sensitive and classified information have been identified since the New York Times first reported her use of the private email and server in March. The FBI is conducting a criminal investigation of the situation, as are the State Department and intelligence community inspectors generals.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said “it is inescapable that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice knowingly lied about the Benghazi terrorist attack. We would hope that the Benghazi Select Committee will try to get some accountability from Hillary Clinton for her deadly dishonesty.”
To date, Judicial Watch has filed 40 FOIA requests, a Mandatory Declassification Review, and at least 12 lawsuits against the Obama administration for documents related to the Benghazi terrorist attack.
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