(Washington, DC) – Newly uncovered emails obtained by Judicial Watch reveal top aides for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton always knew the Benghazi mission compound was under attack from a terrorist group, and Clinton herself lied to the victims’ families. The documents, which were obtained as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department, make no reference to a spontaneous demonstration or Internet video.
Separate emails obtained in April 2014 demonstrated that senior White House advisor Ben Rhodes, who was the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications and assistant to President Obama, helped to manufacture the Internet video talking points and prepped then-Ambassador Susan Rice for her despicable Sunday show appearances on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News and CNN.
Islamic terrorists connected to al Qaeda, who the Pentagon knew had previously declared Libya “an Islamic state,” attacked the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi on the evening of September 11, 2012. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith were both killed in the initial wave. A few hours later, a second terrorist strike targeted a different compound located approximately one mile away, killing CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty and injuring 10 others.
Hillary Rodham Clinton issued an official statement claiming the assault was the result of “a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” Shortly after, while speaking at the ceremonial return of the victims’ bodies, Clinton said that the attack was prompted by “an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with,” promising the families that the man who made the video would pay.
“These emails leave no doubt that Hillary Clinton’s closest advisers knew the truth about the Benghazi attack from almost the moment it happened,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And it is inescapable that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knowingly lied when she planted the false story about ‘inflammatory material being posted on the Internet.’”
It is widely known that then-Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills is a long-time confidant of the Clintons, particularly Hillary. Those closest to the Clintons — and the media for that matter — find it impossible that Hillary would not have known everything made clear to Mills that night, or any other night. The emails offer deeper insight into the development of the bogus story, at least at Clinton’s State Department.
The obtained emails unequivocally show that Obama administration officials fed a completely fabricated story to the American people, the media, and worse of all, to the closest members of the victims’ families.
When asked in May 2013 if President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and Susan Rice specifically told her the video was to blame for the attack that led to her son’s death, Sean Smith’s mother gave a crystal clear account of the statements made by these specific members of the Obama administration.
“Oh yes, they all told me about the reason that this happened was the video,” said Pat Smith. “Every one of them told me that. Yes, they actually did, and Susan Rice also. Nose to nose. I was with – they were hugging me!”
That was three days after the Benghazi attack. Charles Woods, father of former Navy SEAL and Benghazi terrorist attack victim Tyrone Woods, has also on multiple accounts verified Mrs. Smith’s story, claiming he was told the same tall tale.
But while emails surfaced showing the White House knew that was a bogus story, Clinton’s role in the coverup, which she vehemently denied during her testimony to Congress, has alluded journalists and congressional investigators. Previously uncovered documents show the State Department under Hillary Clinton was highly incompetent before, during, and after the Benghazi attack, even indicating officials intentionally ignored the Stevens’ request for additional security. But a smoking gun that shows intentional deception on behalf of Clinton and aides, hasn’t surfaced.
The lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch specifically focused on Secretary Clinton’s involvement in the Benghazi scandal, requesting “any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to notes, updates, or reports created in response to the September 11, 2012 attack” including “but not limited to, notes, taken by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or employees of the Office of the Secretary of State during the attack and its immediate aftermath.”
The chain of internal emails listed below was put together by Judicial Watch, and it tracks the events surrounding the terrorist attack in real time at its onset. Remember, it was three days later on September 14, 2012 — just under two months before the hotly contested president election and a time Mitt Romney was leading Obama by 7 points according to Gallup — when Clinton and the entire Obama administration told the victims’ families that they would “get the man who made the inflammatory video.”
On September 11, 2012, at 4:07 PM, Maria Sand — who was then a Special Assistant to Mrs. Clinton — forwarded an email from the State Department’s Operations Center entitled “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi is Under Attack (SBU) [Sensitive But Unclassified]” to top Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, Jacob Sullivan (then-Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy), Joseph McManus (then-Hillary Clinton’s Executive Assistant), and a list of other Special Assistants in the Secretary’s office:
The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack. Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM [Chief of Mission] personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.
Both Cheryl Mills and Jacob Sullivan are on the partial list of notable witnesses to be questioned by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C, released earlier this month. This latest round of emails will give the committee plenty of new information that was previously unavailable to them.
On September 11, 2012, 4:38 PM, State Department Foreign Service Officer Lawrence Randolph forwarded Mills, Sullivan and McManus an email from Scott Bultrowicz, who was the former director of the Diplomatic Security Service (a fired scapegoat), with the subject line, “Attack on Benghazi 09112012”:
DSCC received a phone call from [REDACTED] in Benghazi, Libya initially stating that 15 armed individuals were attacking the compound and trying to gain entrance. The Ambassador is present in Benghazi and currently is barricaded within the compound. There are no injuries at this time and it is unknown what the intent of the attackers is. At approximately 1600 DSCC received word from Benghazi that individuals had entered the compound. At 1614 RSO advised the Libyans had set fire to various buildings in the area, possibly the building that houses the Ambassador [REDACTED] is responding and taking fire.
Nearly seven hours later, at 12:04 am, on September 12, Randolph sent an email with the subject line “FW: Update 3: Benghazi Shelter Location Also Under Attack” to Mills, Sullivan, and McManus that has several updates about the Benghazi attack:
I just called Ops and they said the DS command center is reporting that the compound is under attack again. I am about to reach out to the DS Command Center.
This email thread also contained earlier, enlightening email updates:
September 11, 2012 11:57 PM email: “(SBU) DS Command reports the current shelter location for COM personnel in Benghazi is under mortar fire. There are reports of injuries to COM staff.”
September 11, 2012 6:06 PM (Subject: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU): “(SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli”
September 11, 2012, 4:54 PM: “Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on site to locate COM personnel.”
The State Department emails reveal the first official confirmation of the death of Ambassador Stevens, which corroborates the testimony of Gregory Hicks, the whistleblower and highest ranking department official on the ground the night of the attack. On September 12, 2012, 3:22 AM, Senior Watch Officer Andrew Veprek forwarded an email to numerous State Department officials, which was later forwarded to Cheryl Mills and Joseph McManus, with the subject line “Death of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi”:
Embassy Tripoli confirms the death of Ambassador John C. (Chris) Stevens in Benghazi. His body has been recovered and is at the airport in Benghazi.
Only two hours later, Joseph McManus forwarded the news about Ambassador Stevens’ death to officials in the State Department Legislative Affairs office with instructions not to “forward to anyone at this point.”
Cheryl Mills asks that the State Department stop answering press inquiries at 12:11 am on September 12, despite the ongoing questions about “Chris’ whereabouts.” In an email to State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, Jacob Kennedy, and Phillipe Reines (then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications and Senior Communications Advisor), Mills writes:
Can we stop answering emails for the night Toria b/c now the first one [Hillary Clinton’s “inflammatory material posted on the Internet” statement] is hanging out there.
Earlier in the chain of emails, Nuland told Mills, Sullivan, and Patrick Kennedy (Under Secretary of State for Management) that she “ignored” a question about Ambassador Steven’s status and whereabouts from a CBS News Reporter. And when comparing the dates the reason is clear. The emails not only show how the Internet video talking points took root at the State Department, but also strike at the heart of the administration’s claim that there was no time to respond.
CIA contractors Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen all claim the stand down order — which officials denied and they eventually disobeyed — delayed them a critical 30 minutes. Further, they agree that if they were not told to stand down, then Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith would still be alive. But the emails suggest administration officials were more concerned with the manifesting story about an Internet video than responding to the attack.
A top official was clearly eager to push a statement from the leftists Rabbi David Saperstein, who was then-Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, a far left liberal group. The September 2012 statement names and condemns “the video that apparently spurred these incidents. It was clearly crafted to provoke, offend, and to evoke outrage.”
Michael Posner, who was then-Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, forwarded the statement on September 12, 2012, to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, and Jacob Sherman with the note:
This is an excellent statement – our goal should be to get the Conference of Presidents, the ADL etc. to follow suit and use similar language.
Worth noting, just as then-Ambassador Susan Rice was subsequently promoted to National Security Advisor, so too did President Obama promote Rabbi Saperstein, who he nominated to be Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom in July 2014. The still-Democratic led Senate confirmed him in December 2014.
The documents also reveal concern for uncontrollable foreign press reports, which cited the cause of Ambassador Chris Steven’s death as being from asphyxiation. According to the reports, doctors attending Stevens said he could have been saved had he arrived at the hospital earlier.
The Obama administration blacked out reactions from White House and top State Department officials to news stories published on September 14, 2012, just two days after the attack. One of the reports quoted a visitor who criticized the lack of security at the Benghazi Special Mission Compound and another headlined, “America ‘was warned of attack and did nothing,’” a story supported by previously uncovered documents from Judicial Watch.
According to the documents shared with PPD, the emails obtained by Judicial Watch list well over 20 invited participants in a secure video teleconference, or what they refer to as a “SVTC.” Participating officials on the September 14, 2012, early morning call include senior White House, CIA, and State Department political appointees. The former head of the CIA, General David Petraeus, would later refuse to go along with the Internet video talking points, and was relieved of his post after an affair became public.
However, the Obama administration knew of the affair in April of that year, yet only leaked the story when the White House-CIA disagreement over Benghazi unfolded.
“The contempt for the public’s right to know is evidenced not only in these documents but also in the fact that we had to file a lawsuit in federal court to obtain them,” Fitton added. “The Obama gang’s cover-up continues to unravel, despite its unlawful secrecy and continued slow-rolling of information. Congress, if it ever decides to do its job, cannot act soon enough to put Hillary Clinton, Cheryl Mills, and every other official in these emails under oath.”
As PPD recently reported, Chairman Trey Gowdy, of the House Select Committee on Benghazi and a former prosecutor, said he and other committee members want to schedule the appearance of Hillary Clinton “as soon as possible.” However, Chairman Gowdy said he is waiting for the State Department to provide documents that were initially subpoenaed in 2013 but have yet to arrive. He said he wants time for the documents — which include those related to the State Department’s Accountability Review Board investigation and other relevant emails and the like — to be reviewed in order to “constructively ask questions of Secretary Clinton.”
It was only after Judicial Watch uncovered the Ben Rhodes emails, which were excluded in documents the administration previously produced to Congress in an identical request, that Speaker John Boehner allowed the May 8 2014 vote to establish a select committee. While Democratic Party leadership called the committee “a political witch hunt,” 7 Democrats voted with Republicans.