Politics Of Immigration – Donald Trump & The GOP Presidential Candidates – Illegal Immigration
Chaffetz: ‘We’re Seeing A Rapid Rise In People Coming Into The U.S.’
How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the US? – Walsh – 2
Immigration by the Numbers — Off the Charts
Report: DHS Adding Millions of ‘New Americans’ to Vote Democrat in 2016
Mr. Gowdy – USCIS Oversight Hearing
Rep. Trey Gowdy: List Of Visa Overstays Should Be Sent To Firearms Dealers
Trey Gowdy OWNS Clueless DHS “Expert” On Visa Overstays & Constitutional Rights
Donald Trump explains his immigration plan
The Truth About Illegal Immigrants: Was Donald Trump Right?
Deportations Of Illegal Immigrants Drop; White House Cited Fewer Border Arrests – America’s Newsroom
Donald Trump: We will have a ‘deportation force’
Homeland Security to deport hundreds who immigrated illegally
Senator Ted Cruz vs Donald Trump – COMPARISON VIDEO Illegal Immigration Deportation
Poll: Is Donald Trump Correct in Taking Credit for Planned Immigration Raids?
Donald Trump: Undocumented Immigrants ‘Have to Go’
Trump Vows To Deport All Illegal Immigrants & Undo President Obama’s Executive Order On Immigration
TRUMP, HILLARY RESPOND TO OBAMA’S MASSIVE PLANNED IMMIGRATION RAIDS
Donald Trump: Absolute Shutdown of Muslims Entering America; Immigration; 12-7-2015
Obama Administration To Crack Down On Deportations
Rpt: Obama Admin May Planning Executive Action On Amnesty – 34M Green Cards? – America’s Newsroom
Judge Jeanine Makes Shocking Allegations Of Obama’s Plan To Destroy America
Illegals Are Obama’s Secret Army To Destroy America
Democrats Planned Illegals Invading U.S. 5 Years Ago
Donald Trump Holds Speech To For A Crowd Of Supporters in Hilton Head, SC [12-30-15]
Obama’s New Immigration Plan Offers Work-Permits To Foreigners Slated For Deportation
By Neil Munro
President Barack Obama’s new 181-page plan to award work-permits to at least 100,000 foreign college-grads also contains a convoluted section that would also sneak work-permits to a huge range of foreign migrants – even after courts have formally ordered their repatriation.
In plain English, the section in the rule would automatically provide updated work-permits to 15 categories of migrants who are appealing judges’ deportation orders.
In plain economics, the rule would increase the number of foreign migrants in U.S. workplaces and impose wage-cutting job competition on ordinary blue-collar Americans so that university-trained, white-collar immigration lawyers could be paid billable-hours by their due-for-deportation, work-permit clients.
“Obama is transferring the jobs and salaries of Americans to foreign nationals, including illegal aliens… [who will be] licensed to take middle class jobs,” said one Hill staffer. The pending rule “highlights the unholy alliance between progressive Democrats, progressive Republicans, and the Obama administration… [so] when it comes to finding a job in America, being native-born in America is a disadvantage,” the staffer said.
There’s little chance that establishment GOP leaders will fight Obama’s pro-migrant, anti-American rule.
For example, House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) supported an amnesty-and-cheap-labor bill in 2014, and he sneaked a new rule into the December 2016 omnibus bill that allows companies to bring in at least 100,000 extra foreign workers for jobs sought by 100,000 blue-collar Americans. Ryan defended his pink-slip plan, while he and other GOP and Democratic leaders also rejected proposed amendments to the omnibus by pro-American legislators that would have constricted Obama’s legal ability to add more foreign workers to the U.S. economy.
If the rule is not struck down by the courts, the due-for-deportation migrants who would automatically get new work-permits include many categories of provisional immigrants, such as people who falsely claim persecution in their home countries. Most of the 250,000 Central Americans who have been allowed by Obama to migrate into the United States since 2009 have claimed in court hearings that they fear persecution in their home countries.
Other categories of migrants who would get Obama’s work-permits include migrants who lied to get work-permits, or children of migrants who accused their foreign spouses with domestic abuse back in their home countries, or the parents and children of foreign religious workers, such as Saudi-trained Imams.
The document even says the federal government has the authority to give updated work-permits to people admitted under a foreign emergency, such as West Africans who were allowed to stay in the United States until the Ebola crisis had passed. This “Temporary Protected Status” can be conferred by the DHS Secretary, without any review by Congress, and so could be used to invite large group of foreigners — such as Muslims from Islam-wrecked countries — to live in the United States.
The list of to-be-deported yet work-eligible groups is listed on page 112 and 113 of the pending rule:
“Aliens admitted as refugees… Aliens granted asylum… Aliens admitted as parents or dependent children of aliens granted permanent residence… Aliens admitted to the United States as citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia or the Marshall Islands pursuant to agreements between the United States and the former trust territories… Aliens granted withholding of deportation or removal… Aliens granted Temporary Protected Status … Aliens who have properly filed applications for TPS… Aliens who have properly filed applications for asylum or withholding of deportation or removal… Aliens who have filed applications for suspension of deportation…Aliens who have filed applications for creation of record of lawful admission for permanent residence… Aliens who have properly filed legalization applications… Aliens who are the principal beneficiaries or qualified children of approved VAWA self-petitioners.”
The new regulations will also be a giant payout to Obama’s allies in the immigration-law industry.
That’s because the offer of extended work-permits to people facing deportation— including criminals and fraudulent asylum-seekers — gives them them the incentive and the means to appeal and re-appeal their deportation orders for many years.
Nationally, the backlog of immigration cases has doubled from roughly 225,000 pending cases in 2009 to 450,000 pending cases in late 2015, according to TRAC Reports. In 2009, the cases took 439 days to complete an average case. By 2015, the cases took an average of 918 days to resolve.
The new regulation will likely extend these courtroom delays, so increasing the number of foreigners improperly living and working in the United States. Inevitably, those extra migrants drive up the labor supply, and force down average wages for Americans and legal immigrants. The last time wages rose for lower-income Americans was in 1998 and 1999, when companies had to compete for workers during the dot.com boom, and amid a low rate of illegal immigration.
Much of the current courtroom backlog is caused by Obama’s decision to reduce enforcement of immigration law, and to grant novel legal rights to illegal immigrants.
Since 2009, for example, Obama has allowed more than 250,000 Central Americans migrants to cross the U.S. borders and then to file for asylum and refugee status. This was a policy choice — because Obama and his border officials have the legal authority to reject and repatriate all migrants, including the many strong young men who claim to be “unaccompanied alien children.”
Similarly, in August 2014, Obama’s deputies agreed with the ACLU to let some deported migrants return to the United States to re-litigate their prior deportation cases.
Obama also backed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) ’s 2013 immigration rewrite, dubbed a ‘comprehensive immigration reform,” by Democratic and media allies. The bill would have tripled legal immigration to roughly 33 million people over a decade, flatlining wages and salaries. The bill also contained 400 legal loopholes, and would have allowed the DHS secretary to let deported migrants — including gang members — return to the United States.
This new pro-migrant rule reflects Obama’s preferences for large-scale immigration, and his frequent description of migrant foreigners as better than Americans.
At a December 2015 naturalization ceremony, Obama told a group of new legal immigrants that “I’m proud to be among the first to greet you as ‘My fellow Americans’… We can never say it often or loudly enough: Immigrants and refugees revitalize and renew America.”
“You are now American. You’ve got [political] obligations as citizens,” said Obama, the nation’s organizer-in-chief. “And I’m absolutely confident you will meet them. You’ll set a good example for all of us, because you know how precious this thing is. It’s not something to take for granted. It’s something to cherish and to fight for.”
Part of what’s wonderful about America is also what makes our democracy hard sometimes, because sometimes we get attached to our particular tribe, our particular race, our particular religion, and then we start treating other folks differently. And that, sometimes, has been a bottleneck to how we think about immigration. If you look at the history of immigration in this country, each successive wave, there have been periods where the folks who were already here suddenly say, well, I don’t want those folks. Even though the only people who have the right to say that are some Native Americans.
Obama made his political strategy clear in 2006, when he wrote in his autobiography that immigrants can become the foundation of new political movement that transform Americans’ culture and politics, whether or not Americans want any transformations. “In my mind, at least, the fates of black and brown were to be perpetually intertwined, the cornerstone of a coalition that could help America live up to its promise,” he wrote in “The Audacity of Hope.”
But you’ve got to break some Americans to make transformational omelettes; “This huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole… [but] it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans,” Obama admitted.
In 2013, Obama used the immigration laws to being in roughly 2 million foreign workers — plus women and children — in a year when 4 million Americans began looking for jobs. Unsurprisingly, wages flatlined while profits spiked and the stock market shot up to record highs.
New Year’s Surprise: Obama Regulation To Give Work-Permits To Foreign College-Graduates
By Neil Munro
As the nation prepares to ring in the New Year, President Barack Obama is preparing a colossal new executive action that could print-up work permits for a huge number of foreign white-collar graduates every year, above and beyond the levels set by Congress.
This executive action, which directly bypasses Congressional lawmakers, is likely to reverberate across the presidential race, as GOP voters look to choose a nominee they believe will most effectively roll back the President’s still-expanding agenda. And it will certainly raise new security concerns as it covers categories of immigration utilized by migrants from the Middle East and nearby regions.
President Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security plans to publish the proposed rule tomorrow, the last day of 2015.
The 181-page rule focuses primarily on giving work-permits to foreign college-grads who will compete against Americans for white collar jobs, despite the large number of American graduates now stuck in lower-wage positions and struggling to pay off college debts. The rule will also make each foreign graduate much cheaper for U.S. employers to hire than many U.S.-born college grads.
“Obama has gone the Full Monty to bust the immigration system,” says immigration lawyer John Miano. “What is going on is he is effectively giving Green Cards to people on H-1B visas who are unable to get Green Cards due to the [annual] quotas… it could be over 100,000.”
The new rules to aid foreign college-graduates are an extension of his earlier efforts to bypass popular laws against illegal immigration, said Miano, the co-author of a new book about the painful impact of the white-collar guest-worker programs, titled “Sold Out.”
This executive action could have been prevented, however, had the bipartisan 2016 omnibus funding included language proposed by Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)’
In April, Sessions proposed language to reduce and cap the number of work-permits — dubbed “Employment Authorization Documents” — that could be distributed to foreign workers each year. Sessions’ recommendation was rejected by GOP and Democratic leaders in Congress, and so House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) December omnibus is enabling the president’s new executive action.
In 2012, Obama bypassed laws against illegal immigration by awarding two-year work-permits to at least 800,000 younger foreign migrants who were brought here by their illegal immigrant parents. In 2015, the courts blocked his November 2014 amnesty plan to award work-permits to roughly 5 million resident migrants who have U.S.-born children. From 2009 to 2015, Obama also allowed at least 250,000 Central American migrants into the United States to request asylum or refugee status. In 2013, Obama added roughly 2 million extra foreign workers to the economy, while roughly 4 million young Americans began looking for work.
“The objective here is to strip American workers of their protections from foreign labor embodied in the Green Card quotas” that are set by Congress, not the White House, Miano said.
The annual award of Green Cards — and vital preliminary work-permits — is limited by quotas that mostly impact the many Indian and Chinese graduates who come to the United States as H-1B guest-workers, or who first arrive as students and later start working in the United States via the Optional Practical Training and H-1B programs.
Roughly 650,000 foreign graduates are working in the United States for roughly 5 years each under the H-1B program. Roughly 120,000 foreign graduates of U.S. colleges are working in the United States for two years each via the OPT program, often called the ‘mini-H-1B program.’ Without this new regulation, most of those foreign graduates will return home after several years, forcing companies to hire U.S. graduates in their place.
The foreign graduates typically get entry-level jobs that would otherwise go to new U.S.business graduates, designers, doctors, programmers, engineers and scientists. Also, the foreign graduates are used to replace mid-level American professionals once they seek mid-career pay-raises to help pay for mortgages and child-rearing.
According to the pending regulation, “many of these changes are primarily aimed at improving the ability of U.S. employers to hire and retain [foreign] high-skilled workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs), while increasing the ability of such [foreign] workers to seek promotions, accept lateral positions with current employers, change employers, or pursue other employment options.”
The new policy also creates a large economic incentive for U.S. employers to hire foreign college-grads instead of new American college-grads.
That’s because the policy will allow U.S. employers to hire foreign college graduates at very low salaries. The foreign graduates will gladly take those low-wage white-collar jobs because the new policy allows them to get deferred payments from the federal government — valuable permanent work-permits that are the first step on the golden pathway to Green Cards and citizenship.
In contrast, employers can’t pay American graduates with this combination of low-salaries plus the federal promise of citizenship — because the Americans already have citizenship.
That means employers must pay more money to hire American college-grads than they would to hire foreign college-grads. That puts a huge disadvantage on American graduates because they need higher salaries to pay off their expensive U.S. college debt.
Miano slammed the new regulations, and said they reflect Obama’s preference for foreigners over Americans.
“Notice that when foreign workers are going to lose their jobs, Obama has DHS make protecting their jobs the agency’s highest priority,” chiefly by minimizing enforcement of immigration laws, he told Breitbart News. But “when American workers lose their jobs to foreign workers, Obama does absolutely nothing,” he said.
U.S. Doesn’t Know How Many Foreign Visitors Overstay Visas
By RON NIXON
The question from the congressman to the Obama administration official was straightforward enough: How many foreign visitors overstay their visas every year?
The reply was simple too, but not in a satisfying way. “We don’t know,” the official said.
The testy exchange during a recent congressional hearing between Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, and Alan Bersin, the assistant secretary for international affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, highlights what some law enforcement officials call a critical weakness in the United States foreign visa program.
Representative Kevin McCarthy said the aim of a House measure intended to strengthen the Visa Waiver Program was to “protect the United States” but also allow those who want to visit to do so.
The issue has taken on added urgency as part of a broader examination of immigration policy following the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead and 22 wounded. Tashfeen Malik, one of the attackers, was granted entry to the United States under a K-1 visa, also known as a fiancé visa. Her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, was an American-born citizen. Both died in a shootout with the police. While Ms. Malik did not overstay her visa, the attack added to fears that a terrorist could exploit gaps in the system.
Nearly 20 years ago, Congress passed a law requiring the federal government to develop a system to track people who overstayed their visas. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an entry and exit tracking system was seen as a vital national security and counterterrorism tool, and the 9/11 Commission recommended that the Department of Homeland Security complete a system “as soon as possible.” Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Satam al-Suqami and Nawaf al-Hazmi, had overstayed their visas.
Since then, the federal government has spent millions of dollars on the effort, yet officials can only roughly estimate the number of people in the United States illegally after overstaying visas.
Officials blame a lack of technology to conduct more advanced collection of data like iris scans, resistance from the airline and tourism industries because of cost, and questions about the usefulness of tracking people exiting the country as a counterterrorism measure.
Some experts also note that a sizable number of those who overstayed their visas are highly skilled workers who come under the H-1B program or are foreign students.
One widely cited statistic, from a 1997 report by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, puts the number of people who overstay their visas at 40 percent — which now would mean about 4.4 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the United States. Numerous lawmakers, including the Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have used that figure when trying to describe the scope of the problem. But even that number has never been conclusively substantiated.
Federal agencies have not provided a new report to Congress on overstays since 1994, despite the congressional mandate.
In early 2013, Janet Napolitano, then the secretary of Homeland Security, testified before Congress that the agency planned to issue a report on overstay rates by December 2013. The agency did not follow through because officials said they did not have confidence in the quality of the data. Mr. Bersin said last month that the report would be issued in the next six months.
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Many members of Congress and some law enforcement officials worry that terrorists could exploit the visa program because the United States does not routinely collect biometric information — fingerprints, iris scans and photographs that can be used for facial recognition — of people leaving the country. Nearly three dozen countries, including many in Europe, Asia and Africa, collect such information.
“U.S. airports and other entry and exit points were never designed with departure control in mind,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, the director of Immigration Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington and a Department of Homeland Security official under President George W. Bush. “If we want to do that it’s going to mean building a lot more infrastructure.”
The 9/11 Commission report called the establishment of an entry and exit biometric system “fundamental to intercepting terrorists” trying to enter the United States because it would allow law enforcement officials to determine if a traveler had overstayed a visa.
Still, efforts to build such a system to collect the information have stalled for decades. In 2004, lawmakers passed legislation that required Homeland Security officials to accelerate efforts to create an automated biometric entry and exit data system. Congress repeated its demand for a biometric exit system in 2007 and set a deadline for 2009. But the deadline passed, with the department putting into place only a handful of pilot programs.
Since then, the department has continued to struggle to meet this requirement. A 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office said the Department of Homeland Security had more than one million “unmatched” arrival records, meaning that those records could not be checked against other information showing that the individuals had left the country, but again the department could not offer a precise number.
Despite the call by some lawmakers for an exit system, airports and the airline industry have balked because it would cost airlines $3 billion, according to a 2013 Homeland Security estimate. The department issued regulations in 2008 requiring airports to collect biometric exit information, but carriers have largely ignored the regulation, and there have been no sanctions.
Some national security experts are not convinced that a biometric system would be an effective counterterrorism tool.
“A biometric exit system does little to help stop those who fail to register an exit — i.e., overstay their visas,” said David Inserra, a policy analyst on domestic security with the Heritage Foundation. “The system merely tells officials that an overstay has occurred, not if it is a false positive, a national security risk, or just an honest mistake.”
Mr. Inserra and other experts like Ms. Brown added that Homeland Security did not have the resources to enforce existing immigration laws, let alone pursue all those who overstay their visas. The best way to deal with terrorism threats, they say, is to give more resources to intelligence agencies.
“The biometric exit system is not going to solve all our problems,” Ms. Brown said. “All it will ever do is just generate a really expensive list if there aren’t any additional resources allocated.”
The experts say Homeland Security would be better off using biographical information, such as a traveler’s name and date of birth, to track exits and collect overstay data. But other experts say names and identifications like passports and travel documents are hardly foolproof.
Groups like the Islamic State have used fake passports and aliases to bypass border checkpoints and move from country to country, Janice Kephart, former counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee and a staff member on the 9/11 Commission, said last year in congressional testimony. She provided lawmakers with Islamic State documents that encouraged supporters to get fake credentials.
“Having accurate data on who is coming and going — not who is pretending to be coming and going — is essential to curtailing the insidious and increasing direct threat that ISIS is loudly declaring at our homeland,” said Ms. Kephart, who is now the chief executive of the Secure Identity and Biometrics Association, a trade group.
APPREHENSIONS AND DEPORTATIONS IN THE U.S.
Illegal immigration in the U.S. has reached a boiling point. While a struggling economy has decreased the level of illegal immigration into the U.S., it has also been a catalyst for a wave of anti-immigration sentiment. Congress is in the midst of a heated debate regarding how to handle illegal immigration with Democrats and liberals advocating an approach that equitably deals with the 12 million illegal immigrants already residing in the U.S. and Republicans and conservatives pushing for tougher enforcement and tactics designed to keep illegal immigrants out. In an effort to satisfy both parties, the Obama administration has thrown its support behind legislation such as the DREAM Act while concurrently doubling manpower and financing to the U.S.-Mexico border and approving an increase in worksite investigations. These methods have resulted in a record number of illegal immigrant apprehensions and deportations. Here are some statistics concerning apprehensions and deportations.
• Since taking office, the Obama administration has seen the deportation of almost 800,000 illegal immigrants. This is a new record.
• Since the beginning of fiscal year 2011, 88,497 illegal aliens have been deported to the Caribbean and Latin America alone.
• Since the beginning of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Secure Communities program, in which only “serious criminals” were to be deported, 101,000 illegal aliens have been deported as a direct result of the program. 32 percent of them had no criminal record.
• Between October 2010 and April 2011, 215,900 illegal aliens have been deported. 109,700 were convicted criminals of which 585 were convicted of homicide, 3,177 were convicted sex offenders, and 24,593 were convicted of drug-related crimes.
• The U.S. Border Patrol estimates that only one out of four illegal immigrants is caught at the border.
• In fiscal year 2010, 30,729 illegal immigrants were apprehended at California-Mexico border checkpoints.
• At border checkpoints in all states bordering Mexico (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas), 463,382 illegal immigrants were apprehended in fiscal year 2010. Only 59,017 were not Mexican nationals. 18,406 were Guatemalan nationals, 13,723 were from El Salvador, and 13,580 were from Honduras.
• In fiscal year 2010, Border agents apprehended 663 “Aliens from Special Interest Countries.” These countries have suspected ties to terrorist organizations.
• Many apprehended illegal immigrants were from the U.S. Department of State’s country list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” 712 apprehensions were Cuban nationals, 14 were Iranian nationals, 5 were Syrians, and 5 were Sudanese. Also, from “special interest countries, “ 9 apprehensions were Somali nationals, 9 were from Afghanistan, 37 were from Pakistan, 5 were from Saudi Arabia, and 11 were from Yemen.
• U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) estimates that only 43 percent of the 1,969 mile-long U.S.-Mexico border is under “operational control.”
• At least 12 million illegal immigrants currently reside in the U.S. It is logistically impossible and expensive to deport them all.
The debate is indeed tricky. By all accounts, U.S. immigration agencies are working hard to do their jobs but under no circumstances will illegal immigration be completely stopped—that is until the U.S. becomes an undesirable place to live. A two-fold approach that offers some pathway to legality for the illegal immigrants in the U.S. and commits to border security and enforcement is likely the only way to deal with this issue. Comprehensive immigration reform is currently being proposed in the U.S. Senate, but provisions offering “amnesty” to the illegal immigrants living in the U.S. will make it a tough sell to Republicans even though the bill includes measures for more border security and tougher enforcement.
“All you black American people, fuck you all…just go to the office and pick up your check,” the supervisor at Hamilton Growers told workers during a mass layoff in June 2009.
The following season, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about 80 workers, many of them black, were simply told: “All you Americans are fired.”
Year after year, Hamilton Growers, which has supplied squash, cucumbers, and other produce to Wal-Mart and the Green Giant brand, hired scores of Americans, only to cast off many of them within weeks, according to the U.S. government. And time after time, the grower filled the jobs with foreign guest workers instead.
Although Hamilton Growers eventually agreed to pay half a million dollars to settle the suit, company officials said the allegations are baseless. Mass firings never happened, they said, nor did anyone use racially inflammatory language. But workers tell a different story.
“We want to go to work and work all day,” said Derrick Green, 32, a father of six who said he was fired by Hamilton Growers in 2012 after only three weeks picking squash. “But they don’t want that.”
Last year, thousands of American companies won permission to bring a total of more than 150,000 people into the country as legal guest workers for unskilled jobs, under a federal program that grants them temporary work permits known as H-2 visas. Officially, the guest workers were invited here to fill positions no Americans want: The program is notsupposed to deprive any American of a job, and before a company wins approval for a single H-2 visa, it must attest that it has already made every effort to hire domestically. Many companies abide by the law and make good-faith efforts to employ Americans.
Yet a BuzzFeed News investigation, based on Labor Department records, court filings, more than 100 interviews, inspectorgeneralreports, and analyses of state and federal data, has found that many businesses go to extraordinary lengths to skirt the law, deliberately denying jobs to American workers so they can hire foreign workers on H-2 visas instead.
A previous BuzzFeed News report found that many of those foreign workers suffer a nightmare of abuse, deprived of their fair pay, imprisoned, starved, beaten, sexually assaulted, or threatened with deportation if they dare complain.
At the same time, companies across the country in a variety of industries have made it all but impossible for U.S. workers to learn about job openings that they are supposed to be given first crack at. When workers do find out, they are discouraged from applying. And if, against all odds, Americans actually get hired, they often are treated worse and paid less than foreign workers doing the same job, in order to drive the Americans to quit. Sometimes, as the government alleged happened at Hamilton Growers, employers comply with regulations by hiring Americans only to fire them en masse and hand over the work to foreign workers with H-2 visas.
What’s more, companies often do this with the complicity of government officials, records show. State and federal authorities have allowed companies to violate the spirit — and often the letter — of the law with bogus recruitment efforts that are clearly designed to keep Americans off the payroll. And when regulators are alerted to potential problems, the response is often ineffectual.
Officials at the U.S. Department of Labor, which is charged with protecting workers and vetting employers seeking visas, said in a statement: “We acknowledge that the laws that authorize these programs are inadequate.” But the department also said that despite limited resources, it “actively pursues measures to strengthen protections for foreign and U.S. workers.”
The H-2 visa was created to address shortages in the American workforce. Although labor is indeed tight in some areas — such as North Dakota, where an oil boom has driven unemployment below 3% — there is little evidence of labor shortages in many industries that use the visas. In some cases, there is even a glut of available workers.
Landscaping companies, for example, were approved for more than 30,000 H-2 visas in the 2014 fiscal year. Yet Daniel Costa, a researcher at the Economic Policy Institute, which receives some funding from unions, found that over the same period, unemployment in landscaping was more than twice as high as the national average.
“The problem with the system is that the H-2 workers who are coming in are not tied to actual, demonstrated labor shortages,” Costa said.
Companies that have difficulty finding American workers could attract more applicants by offering higher wages. But instead of encouraging or even subsidizing that, the government’s H-2 program effectively subsidizes the opposite effort — helping companies find pliant foreign labor, often at the expense of American workers.
Derek Davis outside his home near Moultrie, Georgia. Kevin D. Liles for BuzzFeed News
In the last five years, the number of H-2 visas issued by the State Department, which administers the program along with the Department of Homeland Security and the Labor Department, has surged by more than 50%.
Bills in Congress to expand the guest worker program have won support from both Democrats and Republicans in recent years. Business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce have lobbied for as many as 400,000 additional H-2 visas per year. But the issue has been overshadowed by larger debates over the legal status of millions of undocumented immigrants.
Around the country, lawyers and labor brokers actively promote the H-2 program as a way to boost profit margins. Usafarmlabor, a labor broker serving the agricultural industry, until this month bluntly statedon its site: “Our workers actually save you money each month in a comparison with U.S. workers.”
Employers who use the H-2 program note that it entails numerous added costs, including visa fees and transportation, as well as compliance with complex rules. It requires that most workers be paid above minimum wage, sometimes substantially so.
But the guest worker program also offers numerous financial incentives. Agricultural employers are exempt from payroll and unemployment taxes on H-2 workers, for example; nonagricultural employers do not have to provide housing, but if they do they are allowed to charge their workers rent, which is sometimes extortionate.
Foreign laborers usually live at the job site, available to work at any time. They typically come alone, without families or other distractions that could cause them to miss work. The terms of their visas prohibit them from taking other jobs, so they have almost no leverage when it comes to wages or working conditions. And since they often come from abject poverty in their home countries, many visa holders put up with difficult or even backbreaking conditions without complaint to ensure they are invited to return the next year.
The visa program can be even more advantageous to the many employers that exploit their guest workers, making them work long hours without overtime pay, charging them illegal fees, or flat-out cheating them of their wages — all of which are against the law, regardless of whether workers are American or foreign.
A cotton field near Moultrie, Georgia. Kevin D. Liles for BuzzFeed News
Hamilton Growers has been cited, repeatedly, for its treatment of its mostly Mexican workforce. Even as the farm was accused of casting off American workers, government investigators found that it failed to pay foreign employees all they were owed and that ithoused them in often deplorable conditions. Hamilton Growers vigorously denies that it mistreated workers.
Americans are far less isolated than foreigners on H-2 visas, many of whom cannot speak a word of English. U.S. workers often know at least some of their rights and how to complain about abuses. They frequently have family nearby whom they can turn to for support. And, perhaps most importantly, they can’t be threatened with deportation. But the guest worker program can still have a devastating impact on their jobs, their families, and their entire communities.
In house after house in Moultrie, American workers said they have been shut out of agriculture jobs that have been available in their community for generations. Older workers talked of becoming impoverished; younger ones said their chances of financial stability have been strangled, leaving them, in some cases, with little choice but to leave town.
“They got rid of us,” said Mary Jo Fuller, referring to black workers. A field-worker on and off for most of her life, she said she was abruptly terminated from J&R Baker Farms, near Moultrie, as part of a mass firing in 2010. Unable to find other employment, the 59-year-old said she wound up homeless for more than a year. “We don’t really have jobs no more.”
Moultrie is “nowhere, really, for a young person trying to make it,” added Green. “It just makes you angry, very angry,” he said. “We right here in America, and you don’t want us to work. You’d rather get foreigners.”
For several years, Abrorkhodja Askarkhodjaev ran a temp firm based in Kansas City that relied on H-2 guest workers from the Philippines, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic and that serviced large hotels and other businesses around the country.
“Foreign people will clean two rooms in one hour. The American will not even finish in one hour one room,” he said speaking from the federal prison where he is serving a 12-year term for crimes related to visa fraud.
“Foreigners are better,” Askarkhodjaev added. “Of course I tried not to hire Americans.”
Before a company can bring in any guest workers, it must clear a series of legal hurdles to prove to the government that it has tried but failed to recruit Americans for the job.
Companies that don’t actually want Americans, however, have devised a whole set of creative tricks to get around these hurdles.
To apply for the right to import foreign workers, a company must first post at least two newspaper job ads, including one on a Sunday, “in the area of intended employment.”
Some employers have a very broad definition of “area of intended employment.”
In January 2011, Talbott’s Honey, a small honey producer, placed ads as requiredsoliciting workers for jobs in Kimball, South Dakota. The ads, however, ran in Elkader, Iowa; Dalhart, Texas; and Hobbs, New Mexico — towns that arehundreds of miles from Kimball.
Talbott’s then told the government there were no available American workers and got permission to import 12 foreign workers instead.
Reached by phone, the company declined to comment on the matter. But when asked why it hadn’t run an ad somewhere in the actual vicinity of the job, Talbott’s wrote that it had tried but the ad “somehow fell thru the cracks,” according to Labor Department records.
Sometimes the government actually abets this tactic. In North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, seasonal jobs cutting down Christmas trees in the frenzied weeks before the holiday pay well. But year after year, the state’s online job board has incorrectly posted those jobs in the wrong counties, sometimes hundreds of miles from any pine forests. As a result, workers looking for Christmas tree work close to home face a peculiar paradox: The only way to find the openings nearby is to search in a faraway corner of the state.
Lawyers at Legal Aid of North Carolina have been complaining to the state Department of Commerce about the Christmas tree job posting discrepancies for years. Yet despite repeated promises by state regulators to fix it, the issue persists, the lawyers said.
Indeed, officials in the state at times seem to make it easy for employers to avoid hiring Americans. During the fiscal year that ended this July, the state’s job bank tallied work orders seeking H-2 workers for 17,496 agricultural job openings, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. More than 7,000 U.S. farmworkers had registered with the agency actively seeking work — yet only 505 of them were referred to those jobs.
Kim Genardo, spokesperson for the department, wrote in an email that the state’s “Foreign Labor Certification program is absolutely in compliance with federal law.”
For years, Linda White ran a business in Livingston, Louisiana, securing H-2 visas for hundreds of employers. Late last month, she was sentenced to 18 months in federal prisonfor creating phony receipts in an attempt to convince regulators she had placed newspaper ads for dozens of clients, when in fact she had not. During a three-year period reviewed by the Labor Department, her clients were approved for more than 8,000 visas, federal data shows.
In an interview, White called the matter “a mistake,” adding that “nobody was going to call for these jobs over dumb newspaper ads anyhow. When clients come to me, what they want is their Mexicans.”
The H-2 program dates all the way back to 1952, and employers have been coming up with ways to game the system for almost as long.
An information sheet from the Snake River Farmers Association in Idaho from the mid-1980s, obtained by a legal aid group representing farmworkers from Texas, offered a list of tips on how to write job postings so that they would deter American applicants.
“Irrigators or pipe movers is a great job description because no one wants to move pipe,” the fact sheet said. “Ranch Hands,” by contrast, is “a poor description,” the memo noted, adding: “One might get some adventuresome young ladies from Cincinnati seeking the thrill of working on a western ranch. With numerous applications from such U.S. workers, the employer would never get around to recruiting aliens.”
In response to a query from BuzzFeed News, Jeanne Malitz, a lawyer who represents the association, initially said it was “unaware of the source of this document, or whether it was published or ever disseminated” and disavowed its contents. Told of the document’s origin, she declined to comment further.
Despite all the obstacles, some U.S. workers do manage to find out about job openings at the companies that are seeking to hire abroad. But many of those companies set unusually stringent requirements — for their U.S. applicants, at least.
Despite the H-2 program’s focus on unskilled labor, employers seeking guest workers routinely demand previous work experience, further raising the bar for Americans. In recent years a full three-quarters of companies approved to bring in agricultural guest workers have listed such requirements, according to a BuzzFeed News analysis of federal data. In some states — as geographically diverse as New York, North Carolina, Montana, and Washington — virtually all agricultural employers demand prior experience.
Such requirements are a way to “filter out U.S. workers,” said Lori Johnson, an attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina. She noted that some fruit and vegetable picking jobs now require three months of experience. And, Johnson said, there is little evidence that such requirements are ever imposed on the foreign guest workers who ultimately get the jobs.
Some requirements also appear racially coded.
“I will keep my pants pulled up around my waist. I will wear pants and shirts that fit,”reads a document that Hamilton Growers required its workers to sign in 2013. “If I have long hair or extensions in my hair, I will fix my hair in such a manner that it can be placed under a hair net.”
Jon Schwalls, director of operations at the farm, said it was “ridiculous” to suggest that the language targeted black workers; those rules were about food and workplace safety, he said.
Early this year, the sign manufacturer Persona, of Watertown, South Dakota, obliged American applicants to take the Thurstone Test of Mental Alertness, which “helps measure an individual’s ability to learn new skills quickly, adjust to new situations, understand complex or subtle relationships, and be flexible in thinking.”
The 20-minute exam is often deployed to assess computer programmers, accountants, bank managers, andcommercial airline pilots, but Persona used it to evaluate — and reject — Americans applying for painting and welding jobs. A Labor Department official questioned whether the test “is going to be administered to foreign workers.”
Manuel Castaneda, the company’s owner, called the task a “fair way” to see who was up to the job. But the Labor Department said the tests appeared “to not be normal” for the industry and to “be restrictive to U.S. workers.” Indeed, Labor Department records show that only five of the 18 applicants who attempted the tests passed. “The employer’s tests,” the department found, appear to have “discouraged U.S. workers.”
When Nicole Burt applied for work as a stable attendant in Kentucky, she was sure her experience and skills were unimpeachable. As a teenager in Vermont she showed, trained, and groomed horses, and no sooner did she graduate high school than she moved to the Bluegrass State in order to be in what she dubbed “the horse capital of the world.”
In early 2011, she applied to a dozen or so stables, she said, but none called her back. One of them was Three Chimneys Farm, a stately home for legendary thoroughbreds including the 1977 Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew.
Three Chimneys, based in the town of Versailles, had told federal authorities it was “facinga distinct labor crisis and cannot locate or retain American workers” and that “all U.S. workers who express an interest in the employment opportunity will be interviewed for employment.” But when Burt called to check on her application, she was told no jobs were available.
“Basically we never hire US workers who are applying,” the farm’s director of human resources, LaTerri Williams, told the Department of Labor in a signed statement. “I don’t conduct interviews or take their applications. Basically I just tell them we have no openings.”
Nicole “Niki” Burt, at her home in Hustonville, Kentucky. Katie Simpson for BuzzFeed News
Asked by regulators why it didn’t give Burt a chance, as federal law required, the company stated that the single mother of three was better off unemployed than taking the $9.71-an-hour job. “Given the length of the commute, the cost of daycare, the loss of her eligibility for food stamps, it would cost Ms. Burt more to work for Three Chimneys than if she did not work at all,” the company said.
Burt said she never found another job working with horses, and in the months she waited, holding out hope that she’d get a call, she lost both her cars and her house. Almost four years later, the Labor Department awarded her $16,313 — the amount regulators calculated she would have earned at Three Chimneys had she been hired as the law required.
Three Chimneys did not respond to several requests for comment.
“I kept hearing the employers say that they couldn’t find anybody. And I just want to smack them, because we’re right here,” said Burt. “I felt betrayed. I just felt like America had let Americans down.”
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, was approved for 23 foreign housekeepers in 2012, arguing that the golf and convention seasons created a need from October to May. As required by law, the sprawling luxury resort, part of the $12 billion Starwood chain, placed ads for American workers in the Arizona Republic newspaper — but it rejected all five applicants. The company told the Labor Department that some failed to meet a one-month experience requirement.
The following year, however, when government inspectors contacted some of those rejected workers, a different story emerged. One applicant “revealed that she had over 25 years of housekeeping experience” and “used to run her own motel in Colorado,” investigation documents said.
The Labor Department ultimately ordered the Westin Kierland, which has a championship golf course, multiple pools, and a 900-foot “lazy river” spread over 262 acres, to pay a total of $13,500 in lost wages to two American workers it judged should have been hired. In a statement, Bruce Lange, Westin Kierland’s managing director, said the resort disagreed with the Labor Department’s findings but “chose to resolve the matter in order to focus our time and resources on caring for our associates and guests.”
Throughout the Midwest, corn detasseling is a popular summertime gig. So when D&K Harvesting filed a job posting in April 2013 — a step it had to take to win approval to import 120 H-2 workers — Katlyn Sanchez rushed to apply. The job, which involves removing the flower from cornstalks, typically draws high school kids and young adults.
But when the Kalamazoo, Michigan, teenager’s mother spoke to a recruiter over the phone a few days later, she was warned that it was “not a good situation for a young female worker alone,” according to a complaint later filed to regulators by Sanchez. “There will be all single men from Mexico” working alongside her, the recruiter later said, and her daughter “could get physically or sexually attacked.”
The recruiter added that D&K “will not be responsible for anything that happens” to Sanchez in the fields. Employers do not have the right to absolve themselves of workplace dangers, nor to decide that they’d rather not hire women. But the recruiter’s tactic worked: Sanchez’s mother agreed not to let her take the job.
D&K president Larry Marsh did not return several calls seeking comment.
Far off the interstate, perched under a big blue sky and surrounded by fields of fluffy cotton, Moultrie, population 14,000, feels frozen in time. Coffee can be found for less than a dollar. The charming central square is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And the town’s quiet old neighborhoods — some graceful, some ragged — are deeply segregated.
For many black men, job options are especially scarce. In the spring of 2012, Derrick Green, the father of six, had been unemployed and looking for work for several months, while his wife’s uncle, Derek Davis, 42, had trouble landing a job because of a pair of old drug convictions. When the two friends went together to the Moultrie branch of the Georgia Department of Labor to review job listings, both said they were desperate for work.
They were referred to Hamilton Growers, one of the area’s largest farms and one of the county’s largest employers, which had posted the openings as part of threeseparateapplications to import a total of 614 H-2 workers that year.
Along with roughly a dozen other folks, most of them black, Green and Davis submitted to drug tests and filled out applications. Picking squash under a relentless Georgia sun for$9.39 an hour is brutally hard and monotonous. But Green, who is athletic and slender, said he “learned to pick” as a child alongside his grandmother. Davis, a former U.S. Army mechanic, said he first toiled in the fields at 14.
It was June and already sweltering when they reported to work among lush crops rolling across the red clay. Rumbling old school buses transport workers to and from long rows where they stoop in the hot sun, picking squash, cucumber, and peppers.
Hamilton Growers is owned by the Hamilton family, which boasts that it has cultivated land in this area for six generations. The enterprise has grown into an agricultural behemoth, with more than half a dozen interconnected corporations and LLCs running each aspect of the business: While Hamilton Growers files H-2 visa requests to the Labor Department, Southern Valley Fruit and Vegetable sells produce grown on the land.
Beyond south Georgia, the farm also has operations inTennessee and in 2003 went international, cultivating hundreds of acres in a remote section of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
At the headquarters in Norman Park, a 20-minute drive northeast of Moultrie, a prominent plaque proclaims that the farm commits to “feeding the nations and providing a source of income for those who labor here, as servants of our Lord for His glory.” The chief executive, Kent Hamilton, is beloved by local youths for the zip line over his swimming hole. He is on the board of the nonprofit Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Foundation and has donated thousands of dollars to local elected officials, including former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who lives in Moultrie and previously chaired the powerful agriculture committee.
Nearly two decades ago, Hamilton Growers began bringing in foreign guest workers. It’s a transition increasing numbers of farmers have made in recent years — often, as in Hamilton’s case, after complaining they had lost crops for want of people to pick them.
“You don’t save any money” by using H-2 guest workers, said Matt Scaroni, whose family owns Fresh Harvest, a farm labor contractor based in California that accounted for roughly one-fifth of all agricultural H-2 visas approved in the state last year.
Matt Scaroni at his home in Heber, California. His family has farmed in California for five generations. Melissa Wood for BuzzFeed News
By Scaroni’s calculation, housing, transportation, and legal costs, not to mention state and federal inspections and regulations, cost upwards of $4,000 to $5,000 for each guest worker “before they pick one fruit.”
In the past year, Scaroni said, Fresh Harvest has rented entire motels in Salinas to accommodate workers, along with apartments and traditional farmworker housing. The company has also been forced into once unthinkable expenditures, such as purchasing 3,000 new beds and launching a catering operation to provide meals, he said. In Salinas, he added, a paid cleaning service even visits many of the Fresh Harvest motels.
That’s a very different standard of living from that of many guest workers at Hamilton Growers. Some of them live in concrete dorms, others in rotting old school buses on cinder blocks in a forest near the grower’s packing operation, for which they say they must pay nearly $300 a month. In 2005, health inspectors told Hamilton Growers that its portable toilets couldn’t simply “have a hole cut in the bottom and a pit dug for waste.”
On a recent afternoon, some Mexican H-2 workers sat in the thick heat inside a dimly lit school bus and said that the company wasn’t paying them for all the hours they worked. None agreed to be named. “People are scared,” one of them said.
Their grievances echo those made by more than a dozen Mexican H-2 workers who suedHamilton Growers and Southern Valley in federal court last year, alleging that the companies had engaged in intentional wage theft. American workers eventually joined the suit.
The companies deny the charge, but earlier this month they agreed to pay $485,000 to settle the lawsuit because, Schwalls said, doing so was less expensive than litigating it.
He said that the company pays its employees properly and that its housing “meets and exceeds” federal standards. All bedrooms have central heat and air conditioning even though it is not required, he said, and there are no pit toilets at the housing site.
He expressed shock when told that workers had a receipt showing they had paid the company’s longtime foreman, who departed this summer, $296 a month to live in the school buses. “That is not our land,” Schwalls said. “I can only speak to those workers who choose company housing, which is at no charge to the employees.”
Some of Hamilton Growers’ H-2 guest workers pay to live in school buses near the company’s headquarters. Jessica Garrison / BuzzFeed News
Hamilton Growers has consistently maintained that it uses foreign workers not because they are cheaper or more pliant, but because there are simply not enough U.S. workers. “I would prefer to have an all-domestic workforce,” Schwalls said. “We hire 100% of the American applications we receive.”
But according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Hamilton Growersfired or pushed out “the overwhelming majority” of the 114 American field-workers it hired in 2009 — but “few to none” of the 370 Mexican guest workers. In 2010, the company hired 233 American workers and got rid of “nearly all” of them, yet almost none of its 518 Mexican H-2 employees lost their jobs. The story was the same in 2011, the government charged in a rare lawsuit.
In late 2012, the company agreed to pay $500,000, without admitting guilt, and entered into a consent decree, pledging to be “a model employer in the area of anti-discrimination and equal employment opportunity.”
Despite the settlement, Schwalls said the government’s claims were “completely inaccurate and false” and that it was only poor record keeping that prevented Hamilton Growers from proving that workers had voluntarily abandoned their jobs. “It’s just a family farm,” he said. “There was no understanding of the need for documentation.” Wal-Mart, which has been one of the farm’s customers, declined to speak for this story, while Green Giant didn’t respond to a request to comment.
By the time Derrick Green applied for the job at Hamilton Growers in 2012, he had heard rumors about troubles at the farm but was assured by staff at the local employment office that the company had mended its ways.
“They told me they was good now,” Green recalled.
Derrick Green in his home in Moultrie, Georgia. Kevin D. Liles for BuzzFeed News
He lasted just three weeks, he said, before he and a dozen other Americans were abruptly fired for not meeting production targets.
The workers protested, demanding to see some kind of accounting of their performance, but the company refused to provide it, Green recalled. “We had a big argument in that office,” he said. The dispute ended, he said, only after one manager pulled out a can of mace and another picked up the phone to summon the cops.
Schwalls said he could not comment on terminations of individual employees but insisted no one was ever threatened with mace.
This month, as part of their settlement of the suit brought by foreign guest workers, Hamilton Growers and Southern Valley agreed to pay 13 American workers, including Green, $1,500 each for claims that they were wrongly fired.
After their time at Hamilton Growers, Green and Davis returned to the employment office and were referred to J&R Baker Farms, another big vegetable grower in the area that has come to rely heavily on guest workers. In 2012, the farm appliedfor 160 H-2 visas, arguing there were not enough Americans who wanted the job.
Davis and Green were both hired. For the first few days, they say, the company made it difficult for them to work — by not sending the bus that was supposed to transport them to the fields or by dismissing them after just a couple of hours. On Green’s fourth day, the bus made an unscheduled stop at the front office, Green recalled, and a foreman told the Americans — but not the Mexican guest workers — to get off the bus. Nine Americans were fired that day, according to a lawsuit Green and others later filed against the company.
The entrance to J&R Baker Produce. Jessica Garrison / BuzzFeed News
J&R Baker too has been repeatedly accused of mistreating both its American workers and guest workers. In 2010, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division fined the farm $136,500 and said it should pay $1.3 million in back wages. The farm eventually settled with the agency, agreeing to pay a fraction of those amounts.
In 2012, two dozen black workers sued J&R Baker, alleging that they were held to different production standards than H-2 workers and that many of them were unlawfully fired for not meeting quotas. The grower settled that case in February 2014, agreeing to pay up to $2,200 to each of the terminated employees.
Six months later, in a case similar to the one it filed against Hamilton Growers, the EEOCfiled suit against J&R Baker in federal court, accusing the grower of giving American workers fewer hours than guest workers and then firing them.
Among the plaintiffs who received $2,200 in the 2012 case is Fuller, the woman who said she wound up homeless after being laid off. Fuller said her firing was particularly painful because of her long relationship with the Baker family. She grew up on the farm, she said, and her grandmother was a nanny for the family. She said she took care of Jerod and Rodney Baker, the two current owners, when they were kids.
Back then, she said, they were “sweet little boys.” Sitting on a rickety lawn chair in front of her tiny home in Moultrie, Fuller frowned. “They grown now. They can do what they want.” She paused. “They mean.”
In an interview, Jerod Baker said his former workers’ allegations were false. They weren’t fired, he said — they quit.
“They’ll say anything, believe me. Half of them was either on drugs or coming to work late or smelling like a brewery,” he said. “They literally come out here with baggy pants, and they have to hold their pants up, and the other ones either have a cigarette in their mouth or a cell phone. How are they going to be able to work like that?” He added, “85% of them told me, ‘Screw this, we’ll keep getting our government check.’”
Baker vowed never to settle the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, even though, he said, fighting it is costing him a fortune. “The word on the street is go get a job with J&R Baker or Southern Valley, work for a few days, and quit — you can go sue them and then get you a check. That’s exactly what’s going on.”
As for Fuller, he said the idea that she was his babysitter was “the craziest bull sense of crap I ever heard.”
The heart of the issue, Baker said, is that domestic workers “can’t keep up with the Mexican workers. It’s just a disaster,” he said. “We would much rather hire American people in our own country to work, but they will not work.” Without legal guest workers or “illegal people” to work the fields, Americans are “either going to have to buy all our food from another country, or we’re going to have to all starve to death.”
A cabbage field near Moultrie, Georgia. Kevin D. Liles for BuzzFeed News
The H-2 program often pits one vulnerable group against another.
Last year, the South Carolina watermelon and blueberry producer Coosaw Farms was suedin federal court by black workers who allege their bosses told them “colored people just don’t work as fast as Mexicans.” The suit charges that Coosaw officials called its American employees “niggers” and made it easier for Mexican workers to meet production quotas. The farm also gave its H-2 workers access to nicer bathrooms, letting them wash their hands before lunch, the lawsuit claims.
Angela O’Neal, who helps direct the H-2 program at the farm, said she could not comment on the litigation, which is still pending, but added, “I can say that we do not, nor would we ever, tolerate a work environment that is anything less than respectful toward each and every employee.”
She added that “independent, third-party audits” — performed on behalf of buyers — “confirm that the company has a strong record of providing a positive and fair work environment for our employees, regardless of their nationality.” She declined to provide the audits, saying, “We do not own them and do not have the legal authority to share them.” In 2013, Labor Department investigators looked into a complaint that Coosaw had displaced domestic workers in favor of guest workers but found it was unsubstantiated.
Downtown Moultrie, Georgia. Kevin D. Liles for BuzzFeed News
Around Moultrie, the resentment goes both ways. Inside a sweltering school bus near the Hamilton Growers labor camp, Mexican workers complained that U.S. workers don’t have to work as hard as they do, aren’t required to work on Sundays, and often get released early — apparently unaware that the American workers want more hours, not fewer.
Many American workers, meanwhile, are resentful because they claim guest workers are stealing their jobs. But some Americans note that the workers who replace them get a raw deal too.
“It ain’t hard to see. As long as they out there on that farm, they must work, and they never get to leave. I felt bad for them,” Green said.
His uncle-in-law, Davis, said he feared that the lack of jobs might eventually force him to leave his home. Standing next to a trailer he is refurbishing on a family plot of land, Davis gestured out at the lawn and the quiet country roads slicing through green fields that stretch to the horizon.
“This is my country,” he said, “and I can’t get a break for nothing.”
Story 1: Mainstream Media Mob Electronic Lynching of Dr. Ben Carson — Attempted Assassination Fails — Limbaugh Unmasked The Perpetrators — The Conservative Right Strikes Back — Videos
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Talk-radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh shredded Politico and accused the news site and mainstream media of coordinating an “assassination attempt” against Dr. Ben Carson on Friday.
In fact, Limbaugh went even further, calling the onslaught of attacks an “electronic lynching being conducted against the Republican African-American candidate by a majority-white mainstream American liberal media.”
In a damning accusation Friday, Politico claimed Carson’s campaign “admitted he did not tell the truth” about having been accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
A Carson spokesperson made a response to an inquiry by Politico into the veracity of a story in the surgeon’s autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” that the then-17-year-old was offered a full scholarship after a meeting in 1969 with Gen. William Westmoreland in 1969.
Politico reported West Point had no record of either Carson’s application or admission.
However, a Carson spokesman told the Daily Caller on Friday, “The Politico story is an outright lie.”
Doug Watts said, “The campaign never admitted to anything,” and Carson “[N]ever said he was admitted or even applied” to West Point.
“I want to show you how this works. I want to share with you some headlines that have run during the course of this program,” Limbaugh said, blasting Politico as a “liar,” and listing the following media reports Friday:
In a press conference late Friday, Carson ripped into combative reporters:
If you look at one of the websites that West Point has today, it says government offer for full scholarship to West Point. So they use that very language themselves. So almost 50 years ago, they may have been using that language as well.
They were very impressed with what I had done. I had become the city executive officer in less time than anybody else had ever done that. They were saying, “You would be a tremendous addition to the military, and we can get you into West Point with a full scholarship. I simply said, “I want to be a doctor. I really appreciate it. I’m very flattered.” And I moved on. So it didn’t go on any further than that. …
I think what it shows, and what these kinds of things show, is that there is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find a way to tarnish me because they have been looking through everything. They have been talking to everybody I’ve ever known, everybody I’ve ever seen, [saying], “There’s got to be a scandal. There’s got to be something. He’s having an affair, there’s gotta be something.” They are getting desperate. So next week it’ll be my kindergarten teacher who says that I peed in my pants. I mean, this is just ridiculous. But it’s OK because I totally expect it.
Dr. Carson explained that, as the top ROTC student in Detroit 50 years ago, he was invited to “a number of events because of my position.” In that role, he was invited to meet Gen. Westmoreland.
“That was also a time, as I recall, that several of the high brass told me that I would be somebody that they would be interested in in the military. It was an offer to me. I interpreted it as an offer. … They told me this was available to me because of my accomplishments and that they would be delighted for me to do it. And I told them immediately that my intention was to become a physician. It always has been, and I was very honored but I would not be pursuing that.”
Carson said he “made it clear” in his book that he, in fact, only applied to one college because he had just enough money for one application fee.
When relentlessly pressed about his childhood years, Carson told reporters, “My prediction is that all of you guys trying to pile on is actually going to help me, because, when I go out to these book signings and I see these thousands of people, they say, ‘Don’t let the media get you down. Don’t let them disturb you. Please continue to fight for us.’ They understand that this is a witch hunt. …
“Let me just say one thing. I do not remember this level of scrutiny for one President Barack Obama when he was running. In fact, I remember just the opposite. I remember people just [saying], ‘Oh well, we won’t really talk about that. We won’t talk about that relationship. Well, Frank Marshall Davis, we don’t want to talk about that. Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, we don’t really know him. You know, all the things that Jeremiah Wright was saying, oh, not a big problem.’
“[Obama] goes to Occidental College, doesn’t do all that well, and somehow ends up at Columbia University. His records are sealed. Why are his records sealed? Why are you guys not interested in why his records are sealed? Why are you not interested in that? Let me ask you that. Can somebody tell me why? … Now you’re saying that something that happened with the words ‘a scholarship was offered’ was the big deal, but the president of the United States, his academic records being sealed is not? Tell me how there’s equivalence there.”
Carson told reporters he wouldn’t “sit back and let you be completely unfair without letting the American people know what’s going on.”
New front-runner Ben Carson faces closer scrutiny of his life story
By David Weigel and David A. Fahrenthold
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson — now making the transition from living legend to scrutinized candidate — faced new questions Friday about the way he tells his powerful life story.
For years, Carson has said he was offered a “full scholarship” to the U.S. Military Academy when he was a high-achieving high school Army ROTC cadet in the late 1960s. But Carson never applied to West Point, was never accepted and never received a formal scholarship offer. In fact, West Point does not offer scholarships; all cadets attend free.
The story was first reported Friday by Politico. Carson responded to the resulting controversy by saying that when he spoke of an “offer,” he referred to informal, verbal statements of encouragement from military leaders he met through the ROTC, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps .
“I was told that because of my accomplishments, they would be able to manage to get me into West Point and that I wouldn’t have to pay anything,” Carson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network. He said he decided not to apply and went to Yale University instead to pursue medicine. “There was no application process [at West Point]. I never even started down that path,” Carson said.
Carson’s campaign cast the episode as new evidence of persecution of the candidate by the news media. Tension between Carson and the media came to a boil Friday night in Florida, where at a combative news conference the candidate asked why President Obama had not been subjected to such scrutiny.
“The words ‘a scholarship was offered’ were a big deal, but the president of the United States’ academic records being sealed is not?” he said.
The original Politico report declared that Carson had “fabricated” a story about “his application and acceptance” at West Point. It also claimed that the candidate had “admitted” the fabrication.
Carson’s campaign vehemently denied those statements.
The Politico story seemed to mischaracterize a small but key detail in the way Carson has told the story. In many cases, Carson implied only that he received a formal offer from West Point. He never said explicitly that he had been accepted or even that he had applied.
“It gives journalism a bad name,” said Armstrong Williams, Carson’s close friend and business manager. “It only fits into Dr. Carson’s narrative of a witch hunt” by the media.
By mid-afternoon, Politico posted a new version of its story that no longer included the wording that Carson had “fabricated” a part of his biography. Later in the day, the news site posted an editor’s note stating that the story should have made clear that Carson never claimed to have applied for admission to West Point.
“We continue to stand by the story,” Politico spokeswoman Lauren Edmonds said in a statement. “We updated it to reflect Ben Carson’s on the record response to the New York Times and other new details, which underscore the validity of our original reporting.”
As the day went on, conservative media voices chimed in to agree with Carson. “It’s almost like the Politico is the official leak machine for the Republican establishment,” Rush Limbaugh said on his syndicated radio show. Radio host and blogger Erick Erickson replaced an entire post about “the beginning of Ben Carson’s end” with one about a “demonstrably false” Politico report.
Carson, 64, achieved worldwide fame for his daring surgeries at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and for his story of rising out of poverty in southwest Detroit. This week, as Carson has challenged Donald Trump for the lead in the Republican presidential primary contest, there has been a new focus on Carson’s personal beliefs and on the way he tells his life story.
First, the Web site BuzzFeed posted a 17-year-old video of a commencement speech in which Carson offers an alternative theory about why the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. In Carson’s telling, they were not built to be tombs, as historians and archeologists say. Instead, they were built for grain storage, in keeping with the biblical story of Joseph, in which the patriarch counseled the pharaoh to store up grain for years of famine.
Carson told CBS News this week that he still believes that the pyramids were granaries, saying the proof was in sealed chambers inside the structures. “You would need that if you were trying to preserve grain for a long period of time,” he said.
Then, CNN sought to verify a key part of Carson’s life story: that, as a young man in Detroit, he had committed acts of violence, including smashing a boy’s nose with a thrown rock, attempting to stab a friend in the abdomen and threatening his own mother with a hammer during an argument.
CNN interviewed nine people who knew Carson during his childhood and who said that the violent incidents did not fit their recollections of him.
Carson said CNN did not speak with the right people. “I was generally a nice person,” he told the network. “It’s just that I had a very bad temper. So unless you were the victim of that temper, why would you know?”
It was an unusually odd situation: a presidential candidate insisting, in the face of skepticism, that he really did have a history of violence.
The part of Carson’s life at issue Friday — the “offer” he got, or did not get, from West Point — is a story that Carson has told repeatedly in books, interviews and speeches.
He tells it in the context of his rapid rise through high school Army ROTC, which ended with him as the top-ranking cadet in Detroit.
“I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” Carson wrote in his 1990 memoir, “Gifted Hands.” “I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going. As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn’t really tempted. The scholarship would have obligated me to spend four years in military service after I finished college, precluding my chances to go on to medical school.”
In that account and others, Carson seems to rely on loose, broad definitions for the words “offer” and “scholarship.”
In fact, applicants to West Point must be sponsored by a member of Congress or the secretary of the Army. If accepted, they attend tuition-free: There are no “scholarships” at West Point beyond the benefits that all cadets get.
Doug Watts, a spokesman for Carson’s campaign, said Carson never completed the process for acceptance by West Point and never had an official sponsor. Indeed, in “Gifted Hands,” Carson makes clear that he actually applied only to one school: Yale.
“Each college required a ten-dollar non-returnable entrance fee sent with the application,” Carson wrote. “I had exactly ten dollars, so I could apply only to one.”
Still, his campaign spokesman said, it was proper to say Carson had an “offer” of a scholarship because military leaders had told him that his acceptance would be a sure thing.
“He was told by the ROTC commander that he could have an appointment,” Watts said. “Dr. Carson rejected the offer, did not apply or pursue admission. Had he done so, and been accepted, that would have been tantamount to a scholarship, the same that all cadets receive.”
In one of his books, Carson also made a similar claim about a scholarship offer from another school.
“The University of Michigan had offered me a scholarship, but I wanted to go farther from home,” he wrote in his 1999 book, “The Big Picture.”
A spokesman for the University of Michigan, Rick Fitzgerald, said he could not confirm that account. The university no longer has records from that time. Carson’s camp said the scenario was similar to that involving West Point: He had decided to apply elsewhere and never submitted an application.
Exclusive: Carson claimed West Point ‘scholarship’ but never applied
Republican hits POLITICO story, later admits to The New York Times he wasn’t offered aid.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Friday conceded that he never applied nor was granted admission to West Point and attempted to recast his previous claims of a full scholarship to the military academy — despite numerous public and written statements to the contrary over the last few decades.
West Point has occupied a central place in Carson’s personal story for years. According to a tale told in his book, “Gifted Hands,” the then-17 year old was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That meeting, according to Carson’s telling, was followed by the offer of a “full scholarship” to the military academy.
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West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission.
“In 1969, those who would have completed the entire process would have received their acceptance letters from the Army Adjutant General,” said Theresa Brinkerhoff, a spokeswoman for the academy. She said West Point has no records that indicate Carson even began the application process. “If he chose to pursue (the application process), then we would have records indicating such,” she said.
When presented by POLITICO with these facts, Carson’s campaign conceded he never applied.
“Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit,” campaign manager Barry Bennett wrote in an email to POLITICO. “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”
“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett added. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”
In an interview with The New York Times following the POLITICO story, Mr. Carson said: “I don’t remember all the specific details. Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me – they could get a scholarship to West Point. But I made it clear I was going to pursue a career in medicine.”
“It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point.’”
Carson would have needed to seek admission in order to receive an offer of free education from West Point. Also, according to West Point, there is no such thing as a “full scholarship” to the military academy, as Carson represented in his book.
An application to West Point begins with a nomination by a member of Congress or another prominent government or military official. After that, a rigorous vetting process begins. If offered admission, all costs are covered for all students; indeed there are no “full scholarships,” per se.
The statement from Carson’s campaign manager on Friday went on to say: “There are ‘Service Connected’ nominations for stellar High School ROTC appointments. Again he was the top ROTC student in Detroit. I would argue strongly that an Appointment is indeed an amazing full scholarship. Having ran several Congressional Offices I am very familiar with the Nomination process.
“Again though his Senior Commander was in touch with West Point and told Dr. Carson he could get in, Dr. Carson did not seek admission.”
Ben Carson has repeatedly claimed he was offered a full scholarship from West Point. He conveys the story in at least two other books, “You Have a Brain” and “Take the Risk.” Carson repeated his West Point claim as recently as Aug. 13, when he fielded questions from supporters on Facebook.
And in October, Carson shared the story with Charlie Rose: “I had a goal of achieving the office of city executive officer [in JROTC]. Well, no one had ever done that in that amount of time … Long story short, it worked, I did it. I was offered full scholarship to West Point, got to meet General Westmoreland, go to Congressional Medal dinners, but decided really my pathway would be medicine.”
The Carson campaign pushed back against POLTICO’s story after its publication, with Carson himself telling Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The Brody File” that the media “will go through all lengths trying to discredit me.” According to a tweet from the show, Carson said, of the mainstream media, “they’ll ask my kindergarten teacher, ‘did I ever wet my pants.’”
The concession from Carson’s campaign comes as serious questions about other points of fact in Carson’s personal narrative are questioned, including the seminal episode in which he claimed to have attempted to stab a close friend. Similarly, details have emerged that cast doubt on the nature of Carson’s encounter with one of the most prominent military men of that era.
The West Point spokeswoman said it certainly is possible Carson talked with Westmoreland, and perhaps the general even encouraged him to apply to West Point. However, she said, the general would have explained the benefits of a West Point education without guaranteeing him entry.
In “Gifted Hands,” Carson says he excelled in his ROTC program at Detroit’s Southwestern High School, earning the respect of his superiors — just a couple years after anger problems led him to try to murder a friend. He attained the rank of second lieutenant by his senior year of high school and became the student leader of the city’s ROTC programs.
In May of his senior year, he was chosen to march in the city’s Memorial Day parade.
“I felt so proud, my chest bursting with ribbons and braids of every kind. To make it more wonderful, we had important visitors that day. Two soldiers who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Viet Nam were present,” he wrote. “More exciting to me, General William Westmoreland (very prominent in the Viet Nam war) attended with an impressive entourage. Afterward, Sgt. Hunt” — his high school ROTC director — “introduced me to General Westmoreland, and I had dinner with him and the Congressional Medal winners. Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
But, according to records of Westmoreland’s schedule that were provided by the U.S. Army, the general did not visit Detroit around Memorial Day in 1969 or have dinner with Carson. In fact, the general’s records suggest he was in Washington that day and played tennis at 6:45 p.m.
There are, however, several reports of an event in February of that year, similar to the one Carson described. Then, Westmoreland was the featured guest at a 1,500-person banquet to celebrate Medal of Honor recipient Dwight Johnson. The event drew prominent guests, including the governor at the time, the mayor of Detroit, the president of Ford Motor Company and nine previous Medal of Honor awardees, according to an Associated Press account of the event.
Carson, a leader of the city’s ROTC program at the time, may have been among the invited guests at the $10-a-plate event.
Carson’s later retelling of the events in this period of his life downplays his meeting with Westmoreland and that event’s link to a West Point acceptance. In his January 2015 book, “You Have a Brain,” — a book geared toward teenagers — Carson again recalls his rapid rise through his high school ROTC program to become the top student officer in the city.
“That position allowed me the chance to meet four-star general William Westmoreland, who had commanded all American forces in Vietnam before being promoted to Army Chief of Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.,” he wrote. “I also represented the Junior ROTC at a dinner for Congressional Medal of Honor winners, marched at the front of Detroit’s Memorial Day parade as head of an ROTC contingent, and was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
Carson has said he turned down the supposed offer of admission because he knew he wanted to be a doctor and attending West Point would have required four years of military service after graduation.
Cecil Murphey, who ghostwrote “Gifted Hands,” told POLITICO that his memory of Carson’s exchange with Westmoreland was hazy.
“My gut response is that it was not a private meeting, but there were others there,” he said in an email. “The general took a liking to Ben and opened doors.”
Ben Carson admits he lied about West Point scholarship, insists stories about troubled childhood are true
BY MEG WAGNER
Ben Carson admitted Friday that he lied about earning a prestigious scholarship to West Point while controversy over the validity of his troubled kid-to-renowned doctor narrative reached a crescendo.
The 2016 GOP candidate said he fabricated a part of his 1996 autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” in which he claimed he was given a “full scholarship” to the U.S. Military Academy just hours after he rebuked accusations that he lied about his violent outbursts as a child and teenager.
In the nearly 20-year-old book, Carson boasted about his transformation from rage-filled boy to refined neurosurgeon, describing how he once tried to hit his mother with a hammer and attempted to stab one of his friends to death.
His former classmates, however, said they don’t remember the Republican as a rough kid.
“I don’t know nothing about that,” Gerald Ware, Carson’s classmate at Detroit’s Southwestern High School, told CNN. “It would have been all over the whole school.”
Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson claimed in his 1996 book that he had a violent childhood full of moments of ‘pathological anger.’
CNN spoke with nine people Carson grew up with. Not one remembered the Republican’s self-proclaimed violent outbursts.
While Carson slammed the CNN report, calling it a “bunch of lies” and “pathetic,” he did admit that there is at least one falsehood in the book: A story about how Gen. William Westmoreland offered the then-17-year-old a full-ride to West Point.
Carson said that as the leader of his high school’s Junior ROTC program, he attended a 1969 Memorial Day dinner for Congressional Medal of Honor winners. There, he met with General Westmoreland.
“Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” he wrote.
Carson may have met Westmoreland at the 1969 banquet — which was held in February, not May — but the general would not have promised the student a scholarship, West Point told POLITICO. All costs are covered for admitted West Point students, so “full ride” scholarships don’t exist.
Carson was “introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors” at a banquet, Carson’s campaign manager Barry Bennett said. While they may have discussed application process, Carson never applied or received a scholarship.
Instead, he attended Yale University before going on to the University of Michigan’s medical school.
West Point said it has no records of Carson applying to or enrolling in the academy.
Carson admitted he “doesn’t remember all the specific details” of meeting Westmoreland.
Ben Carson’s Violent Childhood Called Into Question as Classmates Don’t Remember
NY Daily News
“Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told someone like me – they could get a scholarship to West Point,” Carson told the New York Times.
Despite the scholarship lie, Carson defended the rest of the book Friday, saying all the stories about his violent childhood are true.
In the 19-year-old book, Carson claimed he once tried to strike his mother with a hammer as they argued over clothing. His brother Curtis stepped in and disarmed the boy before he could physically harm their mother.
Carson also said he physically attacked at least two of his school friends.
In the seventh grade he hit a boy named Jerry with a lock after he teased Carson for saying something “stupid” in English class.
Carson wrote that he was given a “full scholarship” to West Point.
“I swung at him, lock in hand. The blow slammed into his forehead, and he groaned, staggering backward, blood seeping from a three-inch gash,” Carson wrote.
Two years later, in the ninth grade, he tried to stab a friend who he identified in the book only as “Bob.” The blade stuck Bob’s belt buckle, breaking the blade and leaving the teen unharmed.
“I was trying to kill somebody,” Carson wrote of the knife attack, calling it a moment of “pathological anger.”
The teenage Carson ran to the bathroom after the failed stabbing and prayed. Since then, he has never had a problem with his temper, he claimed in the book.
Carson’s classmates remembered him as introverted and studious — someone who was more likely to be found in the library than in the middle of a schoolyard fight.
Carson’s classmates have described him as a quiet, shy student, not an angry young man.
“He was a quiet, shy kid, not too outgoing,” said his junior high and high school classmate Jerry Dixon. “Bennie stayed home a lot or went to the library to work.”
Dixon said he is not the Jerry the doctor-turned-politician beat with a lock — and said he had never even heard of such an incident.
Carson refused to reveal the names of his victims in a Friday interview on CNN, saying to name them would be “victimizing.”
He admitted that he changed the names in his autobiography, but maintained both “Bob” and “Jerry” are real people who will only be identified if they chose to come forward on their own.
“Tell me what makes you think you’re going to find those specific people?” Carson asked CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “What is your methodology? Because I don’t understand it.”
Carson’s campaign adviser Armstrong Williams also refused to identify the candidate’s alleged victims or provide any kind of documentation showing disciplinary actions for his claimed school fights.
“Why would anyone cooperate with your obvious witch hunt?” Armstrong Williams wrote to CNN in an email last week, the day before Halloween. “No comment and moving on…… Happy Halloween!!!!!”
Donald Trump quickly weighed in on his rival’s controversy.
“The Carson story is either a total fabrication or, if true, even worse-trying to hit mother over the head with a hammer or stabbing friend!” he tweeted Thursday.
Ben Carson prepared to board his campaign bus after appearing at a book signing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday.Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A report on Friday said Ben Carson had acknowledged never having applied to West Point, raising questions about his repeated assertions that he had turned down a scholarship to attend the military academy.
According to the report, in Politico, West Point had no record that Mr. Carson, who has been leading in some national polls in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, had applied. When Politico approached Mr. Carson’s campaign with the information, his campaign manager, Barry Bennett, in a statement, explained that Mr. Carson had considered an offer to receive help getting an appointment to the academy, but he did not apply.
In repeated references to West Point over the years, Mr. Carson has strongly implied that he had a standing offer to attend.
In his statement, Mr. Bennett said, “Dr. Carson was the top R.O.T.C. student in the City of Detroit.”
Referring to Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the Army chief of staff at the time, Mr. Bennett added: “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as R.O.T.C. city executive officer.”
“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his R.O.T.C. supervisors,” Mr. Bennett said. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in R.O.T.C. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”
In an interview with The New York Times on Friday, Mr. Carson said: “I don’t remember all the specific details. Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me – they could get a scholarship to West Point. But I made it clear I was going to pursue a career in medicine.”
“It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point.’”
Mr. Carson has recounted the episode of being offered a scholarship at various points in telling his triumphant personal story. (Technically, West Point does not offer scholarships; it is free to attend.)
In his recent book, “You Have a Brain,” Mr. Carson described how he decided which college to attend: “I still had the scholarship offer from West Point as a result of my R.O.T.C. achievements.”
“But I knew medicine is what I wanted to do. So I applied to only one school. (it was all the money I had). I applied to Yale and thank God they accepted me. I often wonder what might have happened had they said no.”
The revelation came just a couple of days after a CNN report questioned the accuracy of Mr. Carson’s accounts of violent episodes in his youth, which are central to his often-told story of personal redemption through faith and hard work, one that has made him a favorite of evangelical Christian voters. On Friday, shortly before the Politico report was published, Mr. Carson attacked the CNN report as a “bunch of lies.”
Ben Carson defends his telling of an informal offer from West Point
By David Weigel
Ben Carson defended his long-told story of a “scholarship” to West Point today, responding to scrutiny by saying that he merely had received an “informal” offer of a free ride to the military academy.
“Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me [could] get a scholarship to West Point,” Carson told the New York Times. “It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point.'”
Allies of the former neurosurgeon, who has slowly risen to the top of 2016 Republican primary polls, had been making a similar case all day. The argument — which depends on a careful parsing of verbs — is that he never applied, even after being told he’d be a sure-thing candidate. The point, which found many takers in conservative media, was that the controversy could be dismissed as a witch hunt.
That reasoning came together Friday morning, after Politico published a story titled “Ben Carson admits fabricating West Point scholarship.” After confirming that Carson had never applied to West Point, and that a meeting Carson described with Gen. William Westmoreland apparently did not happen when the candidate had claimed, the story quoted Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett’s new explanation.
“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett said. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”
West Point cadets must be sponsored by a member of Congress or the Secretary of the Army. But Doug Watts, a spokesman for the campaign, said that Carson never completed — nor claimed to have completed — the process for acceptance into West Point, and those never had an official sponsor.
“He was told by the ROTC Commander that he could have an appointment,” explained Watts. “Dr. Carson rejected the offer, did not apply or pursue admission. Had he done so, and been accepted, that would have been tantamount to a scholarship, the same that all cadets receive.”
In an interview, Carson’s close friend Armstrong Williams argued that Politico had written a false headline off of Bennett’s accurate quote.
“In the story itself, the campaign does not say Dr. Carson applied to West Point,” Williams said of Politico. “Dr. Carson boasts about his scores in ROTC. Westmoreland encourages him to apply. As Dr. Carson says, they were impressed by his scores, but he never applied. They said to him, we could get you in. This guy got into Yale — obviously he could have got in. The headline was a fabrication.”
Carson, whose steady rise to the top of presidential primary polls has started to draw media scrutiny his way, is depending on a loose interpretation of the word “scholarship.” There is no tuition at West Point; there is no equivalent of a “scholarship” as generally understood at most universities. In his memoir “Gifted Hands” and in anecdotes about the offer, Carson never says that he “applied,” only that some “scholarship” came his way after a meeting with Westmoreland and “congressional medal winners.”
“I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” Carson wrote. “I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going. As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn’t really tempted. The scholarship would have obligated me to spend four years in military service after I finished college, precluding my chances to go on to medical school.”
That description of the offer came with its own problems — it is not, for example, impossible for a West Point graduate to complete his service, then become a doctor. But Carson’s allies insist that the gap between “applying” and being offered a “scholarship” debunks the Politico story. Indeed, in “Gifted Hands,” Carson repeatedly described how he had only $10 to submit with a college application, limiting his choices.
“Each college required a ten-dollar non-returnable entrance fee sent with the application,” Carson wrote. “I had exactly ten dollars, so I could apply only to one.”
In an August 2015 Facebook post, Carson described that situation again, to tell a questioner that he applied only to Yale.
“I was the highest student ROTC member in Detroit and was thrilled to get an offer from West Point,” wrote Carson. “But I knew medicine is what I wanted to do. So I applied to only one school. (It was all the money I had). I applied to Yale and thank God they accepted me.”
Williams, who had not spoken to Carson since Politico’s story went online, insisted that it was “shoddy journalism” and oversold what Carson himself had claimed.
“It gives journalism a bad name,” said Williams. “It only fits into Dr. Carson’s narrative of a witch hunt.”
On Friday afternoon, conservative talkers like Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, and Sean Hannity criticized the coverage that had made Carson out as a dissembler. But at least one of his rivals sense a political opportunity in the scrum.
“Well, I think it’s really the beginning of the end,” said Donald Trump in an interview.
In two of his books — the popular “Gifted Hands” as well as a newer book entitled “You Have a Brain” — Carson tells the West Point story as part of his aspirational life that began in poverty in Detroit and continued through a decorated career as a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon.
Now we know that story is, at best, somewhat misleading. It is of course possible that Carson was either led to believe he might have been given a scholarship to the military academy if he had applied or simply misunderstood a conversation he participated in. That is the direction the Carson team appears to be headed, saying in a statement of his meeting with then-Gen. William Westmoreland: “He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”
Regardless of whether the West Point story is a simple misunderstanding or something more nefarious, what it will do is raise this simple question: What else in Ben Carson’s remarkable biography might not be totally, 100 percent accurate?
Even before the West Point story broke, Carson was dealing with suggestions that his recounting of his tough childhood highlighted by a terrible temper and a series of altercations with his mother — among other people — might not be true.
A CNN report, which was based on interviews with nine people who knew Carson as a young man, argues that the violent portrait he paints of himself doesn’t jibe with the person they knew. “All of the people interviewed expressed surprise about the incidents Carson has described,” reads the CNN story. “No one challenged the stories directly. Some of those interviewed expressed skepticism, but noted that they could not know what had happened behind closed doors.”
Carson spent Thursday insisting that the people who were directly involved in these purported attacks weren’t the people that CNN had spoken to and, therefore, the report had no merit.
Now, with the West Point story raging, Carson will come under even more pressure to explain some of the fuzzier parts of his personal biography. And if any other inconsistencies or outright falsehoods come out amid that heightened scrutiny, it could spell curtains for a Carson campaign that has just moved into the pole position in the Republican primary race.
With question over West Point offer, Ben Carson feels the glare of the front-runner’s spotlight
Timothy M. Phelps
retired Baltimore neurosurgeon Ben Carson has reached the top in several recent national polls, he is also experiencing new scrutiny as a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.
On Friday, his name dominated political news with a Politico report that his campaign “admits fabricating a West Point scholarship” in his autobiography, though that reference was later taken out of the story. The story also quoted a West Point spokeswoman as saying the famous military academy had no record of an application from Carson.
Barry Bennett, Carson’s campaign manager, said in an interview that Carson’s book,“Gifted Hands,” was accurate when Carson wrote, “I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
“I would not have used the word ‘full scholarship.’ I would have said ‘nomination,’ but it’s not a fabrication, it’s not a lie,” Bennett said in an interview. At West Point, tuition and other expenses are paid by the government.
Bennett said that Carson, who he said was the top high school Junior ROTC officer in Detroit, was offered a nomination to West Point by ROTC officials in the city. He said he did not have names, but that the campaign and others are trying to locate them to corroborate Carson’s story.
Later, Carson told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that his account of the West Point episode “could have been more clarified. I told it as I understood it.”
Also, Theresa Brinkerhoff, the chief of media relations at West Point, said that a comment she made to Politico was “misconstrued.”
Politico wrote that West Point had no record of Carson applying to the academy, but Brinkerhoff said in an interview that the academy does not keep records beyond three years if a candidate does not attend the school. The academy has no way of knowing whether Carson applied, Brinkerhoff said.
In the end, Bennett confirmed that Carson had not applied. In his book, Carson wrote that he never had any interest in any career other than medicine. “I remembered the scholarship offer from West Point. A teaching career? Business? None of these areas held any real interest,” he said.
Clearly, however, Carson has left an impression that the offer to go to the academy came from West Point itself. On Facebook in August, Carson took a question from someone named Bill, who “wanted to know if it was true that I was offered a slot at West Point after high school. Bill, that is true. I was the highest student ROTC member in Detroit and was thrilled to get an offer from West Point. But I knew medicine is what I wanted to do. So I applied to only one school.”
Carson went to Yale.
Carson was also involved in a contentious interview Friday morning on CNN. Anchor Alisyn Camerota badgered him about reports by the network that it had been unable to locate some childhood friends or family members Carson mentions having assaulted in his autobiography.
In his book, Carson says he once tried to stab a person he refers to as Bob. On Friday, Carson told CNN that person was really a family member by another name who did not want to be identified. Other childhood friends mentioned in the book could decide for themselves whether to come forward, he said.
Bennett said the political attacks were a function of national polls over the past week showing him ahead of Donald Trump and all other Republicans for the nomination.
“Somewhere, there is a panicked candidate running for the Republican presidential nomination who is spreading a lot of dirt,” Bennett said.
Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace, Pope John Paul II – Books (2008)
George Weigel (born 1951) is an American author and political and social activist. He currently serves as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Weigel was the Founding President of the James Madison Foundation. He is the author of the best-selling biography of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope and Tranquillitas Ordinis: The Present Failure and Future Promise of American Catholic Thought on War and Peace.
Weigel was born and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where he attended St. Mary’s Seminary and University. He later received his masters degree from St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. He has received 18 honorary doctorate degrees, as well as the papal cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice and the Gloria Artis Gold Medal from the Polish Ministry of Culture.
Weigel lived in Seattle, serving as Assistant Professor of Theology and Assistant Dean of Studies at the St. Thomas the Apostle Seminary School of Theology in Kenmore, and Scholar-in-Residence at the World Without War Council of Greater Seattle, before returning to Washington, D.C. as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Weigel served as the founding president of the James Madison Foundation (not to be confused with the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation) from 1986 to 1989. In 1994, he was a signer of the document Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
He currently serves as Distinguished Senior Fellow and Chair of Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C..
Each summer, Weigel and several other Catholic intellectuals from the United States, Poland, and across Europe conduct the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society in Krakow, in which they and an assortment of students from the United States, Poland, and several other emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe discuss Christianity within the context of liberal democracy and capitalism, with the papal encyclical Centesimus Annus being the focal point.
Weigel and his wife Joan live in North Bethesda, Maryland. He has three children.
He is a member of the advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
Weigel writes and serves on the Institute board for the Institute for Religion and Public Life, which publishes First Things, an ecumenical publication that focuses on encouraging a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.
The main body of Weigel’s writings engage the issues of religion and culture.
Weigel advocates a U.S. foreign policy guided not by utopian notions about how nations should behave, but by moral reasoning. “From the Iliad to Tolstoy and beyond, that familiar trope, “the fog of war,” has been used to evoke the millennia–old experience of the radical uncertainty of combat. Some analysts, however, take the trope of “the fog of war” a philosophical step further and suggest that warfare takes place beyond the reach of moral reason, in a realm of interest and necessity where moral argument is a pious diversion at best and, at worst, a lethal distraction from the deadly serious business at hand.”
In some cases, he adds, moral reasoning may require that the United States support authoritarian regimes to fend off the greater evils of moral decay and threats to the security of the United States. For Weigel, America’s shortcomings do not excuse her from pursuing the greater moral good.
Weigel achieved much fame for writing Witness to Hope, a biography of the late Pope John Paul II, which was also made into a documentary film. In 2004 Weigel wrote an article in Commentary magazine, entitled “The Cathedral and the Cube”, in which he used the contrast between the modernist Grande Arche, and the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral, both located in Paris, France, to illustrate what he called a loss of “civilizational morale” in Western Europe, which he tied to the secular tyrannies of the 20th century, along with, more recently, plummeting birthrates and Europe’s refusal to recognize the Christian roots of its culture. Weigel questions whether Europe can give an account of itself while denying the very moral tradition through which its culture arose: “Christians who share this conviction (that it is the will of God that Christians be tolerant of those who have a different view of God’s will) — can give an account of their defense of the other’s freedom even if the other, skeptical and relativist, finds it hard to give an account of the freedom of the Christian.” This is a theme sounded clearly by Marcello Pera and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (from 2005 to 2013 Pope Benedict XVI), in their book Without Roots: the West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, for which Weigel authored the foreword. In 2005, he expanded the article into a book, The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God.
Ten Things To Know About Pope Francis (George Weigel – Acton Institute)
Top 10 Immigrant Countries
The ten countries with greatest number of foreign born residents.
10. Spain 6.5 million immigrants (13.8% of pop)
9. Australia 6.5 million immigrants (27.7%)
8. Canada 7.3 million immigrants (20.7%)
7. France 7.4 million immigrants (11.6%)
6. United Kingdom 7.8 million immigrants (12.4%)
5. United Arab Emirates 7.8 million immigrants (83.7%)
4. Saudi Arabia 9.1 million immigrants (31.4%)
3. Germany 9.8 million immigrants (11.9%)
2. Russia 11 million immigrants (7.7%)
1. USA 45.7 million immigrants (14.3%)
The World in 2015: Global population and the changing shape of world demographics
Demographic Winter – the decline of the human family (Full Movie)
Story 1: House Select Committee investigating Benghazi — The Unintended Consequences Of President Obama’s Undeclared War on Libya and Central Intelligence Agency Covert Operations in Libya and Syria — Congress Did Nothing To Stop An Imperial President — The Lying and Blame Game On Display — “Disgusting and Reprehensible” — Videos
Obama and Hillary Blame Youtube Video for Benghazi Terrorist Attack as Coffins Arrive
Our Fallen Heroes
Published on Sep 15, 2012
President Obama speaks about the tragic loss of four of our fellow Americans who were serving in our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. These Americans represented the best of our country; without people like them, we could not sustain our freedoms or security, or provide the leadership that the entire world depends on. During this time of turmoil in many different countries, the President makes it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths, but as Commander in Chief, he will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans and will ensure that those who attack our people find no escape from justice.
Obama and Press Secretary Carney Blame a Video for the Benghazi Attack
YouTube Video Maker Blamed for Benghazi Attacks Breaks Silence on CNN
White House Covers Up Benghazi Terrorist Attack
13 hours in Benghazi FULL VERSION INTERVIEW 5 parts combined.
ABC News’ Jon Karl hammers Jay Carney over New bombshell Benghazi emails
Benghazi Whistleblower Embarrassed by Obama Admin Placing Blame on a YouTube Video
Benghazi Gate – Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton – Question & Answer
Email Reveals Obama Advisor Urged Susan Rice to Blame Video for Benghazi
Exclusive: Docs Show Weapons Going From Benghazi To Syria – Benghazi Gate – Happening Now
Breaking: Hillary Clinton Knew About Libyan Arms Shipments to Syria in 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew that the US was sending arms from Libya to Syria back in 2011. She denied this during public testimony (under oath) in early 2013 after the Benghazi terrorist attack.
Melvin Goodman on why CIA Director Brennan is dangerous
The show is going to be about the response to CIA director Brennan’s press conference two weeks ago and then an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations last week, an on the record interview with Charlie Rose in New York about his plans to restructure the CIA to try to bring a more integrity to intelligence and make it less politicized. We are going to hear from today Melvin Goodman. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. He is he is a former CIA analyst. Melvin Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: the Decline and Fall of the CIA and the forthcoming book On the Path to Dissent: A Whistleblower at the CIA. Goodman is the national security columnist for Counterpunch, and he said of CIA director ‘s plan to restructure the CIA and I quote “Simply, it takes the CIA further from Truman’s concept and closer to the ability to politicize intelligence. Operations are part of the policy world and not the intelligence world. The Centers have made it too easy to provide the intelligence that the ‘masters’ desire, whether they are the masters on CIA’s 7th floor or the policy masters. Brennan’s world was the Center for Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism, and many of the intelligence errors and operational errors of the past 15 years have emanated from those centers. Organizationally, it makes no sense — what are the directorates of operations and analysis — they sound as if they are HR experts.”
CNN Benghazi Claims: Report alleges CIA operatives in Libya were sending weapons to Syrian rebels
Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin suspects US Was Running Guns To Syrian Rebels Via Benghazi
Clinton Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary
Even by the standards of arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia, this one was enormous. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing would deliver $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to the United States’ oil-rich ally in the Middle East…E
Why is Benghazi still a big issue for Hillary Clinton? BBC News
General Petraeus Testifies Before Congress For The First Time Since Resigning As Director Of CIA
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds First Hearing
Former CIA Director and General David Petraeus (Ret.) testified at a hearing on U.S. policy toward the Middle East and combating ISIS* in the region. He talked about his support for military enclaves in Syria and for greater military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS. He also gave his assessment of the Russian military build-up in Syria and of the Iran nuclear agreement.
At the beginning of his testimony, General Petraeus apologized for what what he called his “serious mistake” of sharing classified information with his biographer, with whom he also had an extramarital affair.
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds Second Hearing
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds Third Hearing
Rep. Gowdy: Either Petraeus Will Come Before Congressional Committee Or He Will Be Subpoenaed
Rep. Trey Gowdy addresses Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his opening statement at a hearing Thursday by the House Select Committee on Benghazi. trey gowdy elivers opening statement of benghazi committee hearing with hillary clinton. trey gowdy says ‘We are going to find the #Truth because there is no expiration of it.’ Chairman Trey Gowdy opens #Benghazi hearing: ‘Previous investigations were not thorough. Trey Gowdy to Clinton: Trey Gowdy addressed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally at a high-stakes hearing on Thursday, telling the Democratic presidential candidate that the panel’s investigation is not about her. “Madame Secretary, I understand some people — frankly in both parties — have suggested this investigation is about you,” Gowdy said. “Let me assure you it is not. And let me assure you why it is not. This work is about something much more important than any single person. It is about four U.S. government workers, including our Ambassador, murdered by terrorists on foreign soil. It is about what happened before, during, and after the attacks that killed these four men.” He continued: “It is about what this country owes those who risk their lives to serve it. It is about the fundamental obligation of our government to tell the truth — always — to the American people. Not a single member of this Committee signed up for an investigation into you or your email system. We signed up because we wanted to honor the service and sacrifice of four people sent to a foreign land to represent us – who were killed – and do everything we can to prevent it from happening to others.” Gowdy also presented several key questions he would be asking in his opening statement: Why were there so many requests for more security personnel and equipment, and why were those requests denied in Washington? Why did the State Department compound in Benghazi not even come close to meeting proper security specifications? What policies were we pursuing in Libya that required a physical presence in spite of the escalating violence? Who in Washington was aware of the escalating violence in Libya? What special precautions, if any, were taken on the anniversary of 9-11? What happened in Washington after the first attack and what was the response to that attack? What did the military do or not do? What did our leaders in Washington do or not do and when? Why was the American public given such divergent accounts of what caused these attacks? And why is it so hard to get information from the very government these four men were representing and serving and sacrificing for?
Benghazi panel chair: Investigation not about Hillary Clinton
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Select Committee investigating Benghazi, tells Hillary Clinton in his opening statement that the probe is not singularly focused on the former secretary of state.
Hillary Clinton gave her opening statement to the House Select Committee investigating the 2012 attacks at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
Benghazi Hearing Committee Chairman on Hillary Clinton’s Emails | The New York Times
Trey Gowdy questions Hillary Clinton (Part 1)
Trey Gowdy questions Hillary Clinton (Part 2)
Clinton to panel: 3 things we learned from Benghazi
Trey Gowdy GRILLS Hillary Clinton Benghazi Committee Hearing
Trey Gowdy GRILLS Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi Committee Hearing. trey gowdy went off on hillary clinton about blumenthal and more. watch the explosive exchange. Hillary Clinton coolly hit back at her Republican interrogators on the Benghazi committee during her long-awaited testimony on Thursday, rebuffing claims she was detached as the situation in Libya deteriorated and asserting she did not use email to conduct the “vast majority” of her work as secretary of state.
The Democratic front-runner told the House Selection Committee on Benghazi, which is 18 months into its probe of the 2012 attacks on the consulate in Libya, that the tragedy does not deserve partisan attacks, while insisting the U.S. needs to stay committed to diplomatic engagement.
“Despite all the previous investigations and all the talk about partisan agendas, I’m here to honor those we lost and to do what I can to aid those who serve us still,” Clinton said, speaking slowly and deliberately during her opening statement. “My challenge to you, members of this committee, is the same challenge I put to myself…. Let’s be worthy of the trust the American people bestow on us… they expect us to rise above partisanship. And I hopes it’s what we’ll strive for today and in the future.”
Republicans questioned Clinton about why numerous requests for additional security never made it Clinton’s attention. She said they went to the right place: to personnel who handled security. And when they pressed her on why she kept the compound open or did not give it additional, she retorted that she never received a recommendation to shut down the mission—even after two attacks on the compound.
The hearing kicked off on Thursday with the partisan sniping that has been the hallmark of the committee’s work, with House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy defended his investigation, assuring Clinton that his probe is not centered on her.
WATCH LIVE: Hillary Clinton testifies before Benghazi Committee
“Madame Secretary, I understand some people — frankly in both parties — have suggested this investigation is about you. Let me assure you it is not,” Gowdy said in his opening statement, adding that it was about the people who were killed.
He also blamed her in part for the fact that the inquiry has dragged on for a year and a half.
The State Department only realized it did not have Clinton’s emails after they requested documents, triggering a lengthy process by which the department had to ask her and her top aides who also sometimes used private email for work purposes to turn them over.
“You had an unusual email arrangement with yourself, which meant the State Department could not produce your emails to us,” Gowdy said. “When you left the State Department you kept those public records to yourself for almost two years….Those decisions were your decisions, not ours… It just took longer to get them and garnered more attention in the process.
Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) blasted the committee as a partisan witch-hunt out to get Clinton, saying Republicans formed the panel because they “did not like the answers they got” in previous probe—“so they set up this select committee with no rules, no deadlines and a unlimited budget.”
“They set the noose because you’re running for president,” Cummings said, raising his voice before calling for the panel to disband. “It is time for Republicans to end this …fishing expedition.”
It only took Cummings a few minutes to highlight a number of embarrassing moments for Gowdy in recent weeks, including comments by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y) and a fired GOP Benghazi investigator who all suggested the panel was either out to hurt Clinton or increasingly focused on investigating her.
REP. Martha Roby vs Hillary Clinton at House Select Committee on Benghazi 10/22/15
Rep Jim Jordan Goes After Hillary ‘Where’d the False Narrative Start It Started With You’
REP Trey Gowdy vs Hillary Clinton Round 2 at House Select Committee on Benghazi 102215
Benghazi Select – Gowdy: this is an investigation, not a prosecution
Bickering among Benghazi panel as Clinton looks on silently
Fireworks erupt between Clinton, Republicans at Benghazi hearing
More Background Information
Weekly Address: Carrying on the Work of
America’s intelligence community, explained
THE RECRUIT – Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program, 1 of 2
THE RECRUIT – Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program, 2 of 2
Special Activities Division
Published on Aug 15, 2014
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS) responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two separate groups, SAD/SOG for tactical paramilitary operations and SAD/PAG for covert political action.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection of intelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the government of the United States may deny all knowledge.
Inside America’s New Covert Wars: Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Blackwater, Security Contractors (2013)
The Daring Early Years of the CIA: Covert Ops from WW2 to Vietnam (1995)
How has the CIA been used as a secret Military force? William Blum • BRAVE NEW FILMS
The CIA began as a spy agency after World War Two, but soon the CIA was planning and executing covert operations across the globe without proper congressional oversight. From the removal of the democratically elected leaders of Iran and Guatemala to the attempted invasion of Cuba, to the removal of every secular government in the Middle East, the influence of the agency is insidious. But how can a democratic society tolerate such a secret and lethal institution that works against the very values America seeks to uphold around the world?
CIA Covert Operations in Africa: How Does the U.S. Government Make Decisions?
According to the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, a covert operation (also as CoveOps or covert ops) is “an operation that is so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit plausible denial by the sponsor.” It is intended to create a political effect which can have implications in the military, intelligence or law enforcement arenas. Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation. It is normally financed by government revenues but in this age of super-empowered individuals and corporations they could become a common tool of power beyond traditional war and diplomacy.
Under United States law, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) must lead covert operations unless the president finds that another agency should do so and properly informs the congress. Normally, the CIA is the US Government agency legally allowed to carry out covert action. The CIA’s authority to conduct covert action comes from the National Security Act of 1947. President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12333 titled in 1984. This order defined covert action as “special activities”, both political and military, that the US Government could legally deny. The CIA was also designated as the sole authority under the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act and in Title 50 of the United States Code Section 413(e). The CIA must have a “Presidential Finding” issued by the President of the United States in order to conduct these activities under the Hughes-Ryan amendment to the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act. These findings are then monitored by the oversight committees in both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. As a result of this framework, the CIA “receives more oversight from the Congress than any other agency in the federal government”. The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, responsible for Covert Action and “Special Activities”. These special activities include covert political influence and paramilitary operations. The division is overseen by the United States Secretary of State.
Special Activities Division – Special Operations Group | SAD SOG
Published on Jun 30, 2015
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two separate groups, SAD/SOG for tactical paramilitary operations and SAD/PAG for covert political action. The Special Activities Division reports directly to the Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection of intelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the United States government may deny all knowledge.
SOG is generally considered the most secretive special operations force in the United States. The group selects operatives from other tier one special mission units such as Delta Force, DEVGRU and ISA, as well as other United States special operations forces, such as USNSWC, MARSOC, Special Forces, SEALs and 24th STS.
SOG Paramilitary Operations Officers account for a majority of Distinguished Intelligence Cross and Intelligence Star recipients during any given conflict or incident which elicits CIA involvement. An award bestowing either of these citations represents the highest honors awarded within the CIA organization in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence in the line of duty. SAD/SOG operatives also account for the majority of the names displayed on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters indicating that the agent died while on active duty.
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Did the Military Intervention in Libya Succeed? (Benjamin Friedman)
Drones are Obama’s weapon of choice for waging illegal and undeclared wars
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection ofintelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the United States government maydeny all knowledge.
SOG Paramilitary Operations Officers account for a majority of Distinguished Intelligence Cross and Intelligence Star recipients during any given conflict or incident which elicits CIA involvement. An award bestowing either of these citations represents the highest honors awarded within the CIA organization in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence in the line of duty. SAD/SOG operatives also account for the majority of the names displayed on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters indicating that the agent died while on active duty.
Political Action Group (PAG) is responsible for covert activities related to political influence, psychological operations and economic warfare. The rapid development of technology has added cyberwarfare to their mission. Tactical units within SAD are also capable of carrying out covert political action while deployed in hostile and austere environments. A large covert operation usually has components that involve many, or all, of these categories, as well as paramilitary operations. Political and Influence covert operations are used to support U.S. foreign policy. Often overt support for one element of an insurgency would be counter-productive due to the impression it would have on the local population. In such cases, covert assistance allows the U.S. to assist without damaging these elements in the process. Many of the other activities (such as propaganda, economic and cyber) support the overall political effort. There have been issues in the past with attempts to influence the US media such as in Operation Mockingbird. However, these activities are now subject to the same oversight as all covert action operations.
SAD provides the President of the United States with an option when overt military and/or diplomatic actions are not viable or politically feasible. SAD can be directly tasked by the President of the United States or the National Security Council at the President’s direction. This is unlike any other U.S. special mission force. However, SAD/SOG has far fewer members than most of the other special missions units, such as the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force) or Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU).
The political action group within SAD conducts the deniable psychological operations, also known as black propaganda, as well as “Covert Influence” to effect political change as an important part of any Administration’s foreign policy. Covert intervention in a foreign election is the most significant form of political action. This could involve financial support for favored candidates, media guidance, technical support for public relations, get-out-the-vote or political organizing efforts, legal expertise, advertising campaigns, assistance with poll-watching, and other means of direct action. Policy decisions could be influenced by assets, such as subversion of officials of the country, to make decisions in their official capacity that are in the furtherance of U.S. policy aims. In addition, mechanisms for forming and developing opinions involve the covert use of propaganda.
Propaganda includes leaflets, newspapers, magazines, books, radio, and television, all of which are geared to convey the U.S. message appropriate to the region. These techniques have expanded to cover the internet as well. They may employ officers to work as journalists, recruit agents of influence, operate media platforms, plant certain stories or information in places it is hoped it will come to public attention, or seek to deny and/or discredit information that is public knowledge. In all such propaganda efforts, “black” operations denote those in which the audience is to be kept ignorant of the source; “white” efforts are those in which the originator openly acknowledges himself; and “gray” operations are those in which the source is partly but not fully acknowledged.
There remains some conflict between the National Clandestine Service and the more clandestine parts of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), such as the Joint Special Operations Command. This is usually confined to the civilian/political heads of the respective Department/Agency. The combination of SAD and USSOCOM units has resulted in some of the most notable successes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to include the locating and killing of Osama bin Laden. SAD/SOG has several missions. One of these missions is the recruiting, training, and leading of indigenous forces in combat operations. SAD/SOG and its successors have been used when it was considered desirable to have plausible deniability about U.S. support (this is called a covert operation or “covert action”). Unlike other special missions units, SAD/SOG operatives combine special operations and clandestine intelligence capabilities in one individual. These individuals can operate in any environment (sea, air or ground) with limited to no support.
The Pentagon commissioned a study to determine whether the CIA or the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) should conduct covert action paramilitary operations. Their study determined that the CIA should maintain this capability and be the “sole government agency conducting covert action.” The DoD found that, even under U.S. law, it does not have the legal authority to conduct covert action, nor the operational agility to carry out these types of missions. The operation in May 2011 that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden was a covert action under the authority of the CIA.
SAD/SOG has several hundred officers, mostly former members of special operations forces (SOF) and a majority from theJoint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The CIA has also recruited individuals within the agency. The CIA’s formal position for these individuals is “Paramilitary Operations Officers” and “Specialized Skills Officers.” Paramilitary Operations Officers attend the Clandestine Service Trainee (CST) program, which trains them as clandestine intelligence operatives (known as “Core Collectors” within the Agency). The primary strengths of SAD/SOG Paramilitary Officers are operational agility, adaptability, and deniability. They often operate in small teams, typically made up of six operators (with some operations being carried out by a single officer), all with extensive military special operations expertise and a set of specialized skills that does not exist in any other unit. As fully trained intelligence case officers, Paramilitary Operations Officers possess all the clandestine skills to collect human intelligence—and most importantly—to recruit assets from among the indigenous troops receiving their training. These officers often operate in remote locations behind enemy lines to carry out direct action (including raids and sabotage), counter-intelligence, guerrilla/unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism, and hostage rescue missions, in addition to being able to conduct espionage via HUMINT assets.
There are four principal elements within SAD’s Special Operations Group: the Air Branch, the Maritime Branch, the Ground Branch, and the Armor and Special Programs Branch. The Armor and Special Programs Branch is charged with development, testing, and covert procurement of new personnel and vehicular armor and maintenance of stockpiles of ordnance and weapons systems used by SOG, almost all of which must be obtained from clandestine sources abroad, in order to provide SOG operatives and their foreign trainees with plausible deniability in accordance with U.S. Congressional directives.
Together, SAD/SOG contains a complete combined arms covert military. Paramilitary Operations Officers are the core of each branch and routinely move between the branches to gain expertise in all aspects of SOG. As such, Paramilitary Operations Officers are trained to operate in a multitude of environments. Because these officers are taken from the most highly trained units in the U.S. military and then provided with extensive additional training to become CIA clandestine intelligence officers, many U.S. security experts assess them as the most elite of the U.S. special missions units.
One of the OSS’ greatest accomplishments during World War II was its penetration of Nazi Germany by OSS operatives. The OSS was responsible for training German and Austrian commandos for missions inside Nazi Germany. Some of these agents included exiled communists and socialist party members, labor activists, anti-NaziPOWs, and German and Jewish refugees. At the height of its influence during World War II, the OSS employed almost 24,000 people.
OSS Paramilitary Officers parachuted into many countries then behind enemy lines, including France, Norway, Greece and The Netherlands. In Crete, OSS paramilitary officers linked up with, equipped and fought alongside Greek resistance forces against the Axis occupation.
OSS was disbanded shortly after World War II, with its intelligence analysis functions moving temporarily into the U.S. Department of State. Espionage and counterintelligence went into military units, while paramilitary and related functions went into an assortment of ‘ad hoc’ groups, such as the Office of Policy Coordination. Between the original creation of the CIA by the National Security Act of 1947 and various mergers and reorganizations through 1952, the wartime OSS functions generally went into CIA. The mission of training and leading guerrillas generally stayed in the United States Army Special Forces, but those missions required to remain covert were folded into the paramilitary arm of the CIA. The direct descendant of the OSS’ Special Operations is the CIA’s Special Activities Division.
After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in October 1950, the CIA inserted SAD paramilitary teams into Tibet to train and lead Tibetan resistance fighters against thePeople’s Liberation Army of China. These teams selected and then trained Tibetan soldiers in the Rocky Mountains of the United States; training occurred atCamp Hale. The SAD teams then advised and led these commandos against the Chinese, both from Nepal and India. In addition, SAD Paramilitary Officers were responsible for the Dalai Lama‘s clandestine escape to India, narrowly escaping capture and certain execution by the Chinese government.
According to a book by retired CIA officer John Kenneth Knaus, entitled Orphans Of The Cold War: America And The Tibetan Struggle For Survival, Gyalo Thondup, the older brother of the 14th (and current) Dalai Lama, sent the CIA five Tibetan recruits. These recruits were then trained in paramilitary tactics on the island ofSaipan in the Northern Marianas. Shortly thereafter, the five men were covertly returned to Tibet “to assess and organize the resistance” and selected another 300 Tibetans for training. U.S. assistance to the Tibetan resistance ceased after the 1972 Nixon visit to China, after which the United States and China normalized relations.
The CIA sponsored a variety of activities during the Korean War. These activities included maritime operations behind North Korean lines. Yong Do Island, connected by a rugged isthmus to Pusan, served as the base for those operations. These operations were carried out by well-trained Korean guerrillas. The four principal U.S. advisers responsible for the training and operational planning of those special missions were Dutch Kramer, Tom Curtis, George Atcheson and Joe Pagnella. All of these Paramilitary Operations Officers operated through a CIA front organization called the Joint Advisory Commission, Korea (JACK), headquartered at Tongnae, a village near Pusan, on the peninsula’s southeast coast. These paramilitary teams were responsible for numerous maritime raids and ambushes behind North Korean lines, as well as prisoner of warrescue operations. These were the first maritime unconventional warfare units that trained indigenous forces as surrogates. They also provided a model, along with the other CIA-sponsored ground based paramilitary Korean operations, for theMilitary Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) activities conducted by the U.S. military and the CIA/SAD in Vietnam. In addition, CIA paramilitary ground-based teams worked directly for U.S. military commanders, specifically with the 8th Army, on the “White Tiger” initiative. This initiative included inserting South Korean commandos and CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers prior to the two major amphibious assaults on North Korea, including the landing at Inchon.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion (known as “La Batalla de Girón”, or “Playa Girón” in Cuba), was an unsuccessful attempt by a U.S.-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba and overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The plan was launched in April 1961, less than three months after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency of the United States. TheCuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, trained and equipped by Eastern Bloc nations, defeated the exile-combatants in three days.
The National Liberation Army of Bolivia (ELN-Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia) was a communist guerrilla force that operated from the remote Ñancahuazú region against the pro-U.S. Bolivian government. They were joined by Che Guevara in the mid-1960s. The ELN was well equipped and scored a number of early successes against the Bolivian army in the difficult terrain of the mountainous Camiri region. In the late 1960s, the CIA deployed teams of SAD Paramilitary Operations Officers to Bolivia to train the Bolivian army in order to counter the ELN. These SAD teams linked up with U.S. Army Special Forces and Bolivian Special Forces to track down and capture Guevara, who was a special prize because of his leading role in the Cuban Revolution. On October 9, 1967, Guevara was executed by Bolivian soldiers on the orders of CIA paramilitary operative Félix Rodríguez shortly after being captured, according to CIA documents.
Vietnam and Laos
South Vietnam, Military Regions, 1967
The original OSS mission in Vietnam under MajorArchimedes Patti was to work with Ho Chi Minh in order to prepare his forces to assist the United States and their Allies in fighting the Japanese. After the end of World War II, the US agreed at Potsdam to turn Vietnam back to their previous French rulers and in 1950 the US began providing military aid to the French.
CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers trained and led Hmong tribesmen in Laos and Vietnam, and their actions of these officers were not known for several years. Air America was the air component of the CIA’s paramilitary mission in Southeast Asia and was responsible for all combat, logistics and search and rescue operations in Laos and certain sections of Vietnam. The ethnic minority forces numbered in the tens of thousands and they conducted direct actions mission, led by Paramilitary Operations Officers, against the communist Pathet Lao forces and their North Vietnamese allies.
Elements of SAD were seen in the CIA’s Phoenix Program. One component of the Phoenix Program was involved in the capture and killing of suspected Viet Cong (National Liberation Front – NLF) members. Between 1968 and 1972, the Phoenix Program captured 81,740 National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF or Viet Cong) members, of whom 26,369 were killed. This was a large proportion of U.S. killings between 1969 and 1971. The program was also successful in destroying their infrastructure. By 1970, communist plans repeatedly emphasized attacking the government’s “pacification” program and specifically targeted Phoenix agents. The NLF also imposed quotas. In 1970, for example, communist officials near Da Nang in northern South Vietnam instructed their agents to “kill 400 persons” deemed to be government “tyrant[s]” and to “annihilate” anyone involved with the “pacification” program. Several North Vietnamese officials have made statements about the effectiveness of Phoenix.
MAC-V SOG (Studies and Observations Group) (which was originally named the Special Operations Group, but was changed for cover purposes), was created and active during the Vietnam War. While CIA was just one part of MAC-V SOG, it did have operational control of some of the programs. Many of the military members of MAC-V SOG joined the CIA after their military service. The legacy of MAC-V SOG continues within SAD’s Special Operations Group.
Maritime activities against the USSR
In 1973, SAD/SOG and the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology built and deployed the USNS Glomar Explorer (T-AG-193), a large deep-sea salvage ship, on a secret operation. This operation was called Project Azorian (erroneously called Project Jennifer by the press). Her mission was to recover a sunken Sovietsubmarine, K-129, which had been lost in April 1968. A mechanical failure caused two-thirds of the submarine to break off during recovery, but SAD recovered two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, cryptographic machines and the bodies of six Soviet submariners. An alternative theory claims that all of K-129 was recovered and that the official account was an “elaborate cover-up”.
In 1979, the U.S.-backed Anastasio Somoza Debayle dictatorship in Nicaragua fell to the socialist Sandinistas. Once in power, the Sandinistas disbanded theNicaraguan National Guard, who had committed many human rights abuses, and arrested and executed some of its members. Other former National Guard members helped to form the backbone of the Nicaraguan Counterrevolution or Contra. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams were deployed to train and lead these forces against the Sandinista government. These paramilitary activities were based in Honduras and Costa Rica. Direct military aid by the United States was eventually forbidden by the Boland Amendment of the Defense Appropriations Act of 1983. The Boland Amendment was extended in October 1984 to forbid action by not only the Defense Department, but also to include the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Boland Amendment was a compromise because the U.S. Democratic Party did not have enough votes for a comprehensive ban on military aid. It covered only appropriated funds spent by intelligence agencies. Some of Reagan’s national security officials used non-appropriated money of the National Security Council (NSC) to circumvent the Amendment. NSC officials sought to arrange funding by third parties. These efforts resulted in the Iran-Contra Affair of 1987, which concerned Contra funding through the proceeds of arms sales to the Islamic Republic of Iran. No court ever made a determination whether Boland covered the NSC and on the grounds that it was a prohibition rather than a criminal statute, no one was indicted for violating it. Congress later resumed aid to the Contras, totaling over $300 million. The Contra war ended when the Sandinistas were voted out of power by a war-weary populace in 1990.Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was re-elected as President of Nicaragua in 2006 and took office again on January 10, 2007.
CIA personnel were also involved in the Salvadoran civil war. Some allege that the techniques used to interrogate prisoners in El Salvador foreshadowed those later used in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, when a similar counter-insurgency program was proposed in Iraq, it was referred to as “the Salvador Option”.
Location of Somalia
SAD sent in teams of Paramilitary Operations Officers into Somalia prior to the U.S. intervention in 1992. On December 23, 1992, Paramilitary Officer Larry Freedman became the first casualty of the conflict in Somalia. Freedman was a former ArmyDelta Force operator who had served in every conflict that the U.S. was involved in, both officially and unofficially, since Vietnam. Freedman was killed while conducting special reconnaissance in advance of the entry of U.S. military forces. His mission was completely voluntary, as it required entry into a very hostile area without any support. Freedman was awarded the Intelligence Star on January 5, 1993 for his “extraordinary heroism”.
SAD/SOG teams were key in working with JSOC and tracking high value targets (HVT), known as “Tier One Personalities”. Their efforts, working under extremely dangerous conditions with little to no support, led to several very successful joint JSOC/CIA operations. In one specific operation, a CIA case officer, Michael Shanklin and codenamed “Condor”, working with a CIA Technical Operations Officer from the Directorate of Science and Technology, managed to get a cane with a beacon in it to Osman Ato, a wealthy businessman, arms importer, and Mohammed Aideed, a money man whose name was right below Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s on the Tier One list.
Once Condor confirmed that Ato was in a vehicle, JSOC‘s Delta Force launched a capture operation.
a Little Bird helicopter dropped out of the sky and a sniper leaned out and fired three shots into the car’s engine block. The car ground to a halt as commandos roped down from hovering Blackhawks [sic], surrounded the car and handcuffed Ato. It was the first known helicopter takedown of suspects in a moving car. The next time Jones saw the magic cane, an hour later, Garrison had it in his hand. “I like this cane,” Jones remembers the general exclaiming, a big grin on his face. “Let’s use this again.” Finally, a tier one personality was in custody.
President Bill Clinton withdrew U.S. forces on May 4, 1994.
In June 2006, the Islamic Courts Union seized control of southern Somalia, including the country’s capital Mogadishu, prompting the Ethiopian government to send in troops to try to protect the transitional government. In December, the Islamic Courts warned Ethiopia they would declare war if Ethiopia did not remove all its troops from Somalia. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, leader of the Islamic Courts, called for a jihad, or holy war, against Ethiopia and encouraged foreign Muslim fighters to come to Somalia. At that time, the United States accused the group of being controlled by al-Qaeda, but the Islamic Courts denied that charge.
In 2009, PBS reported that al-Qaeda had been training terrorists in Somalia for years. Until December 2006, Somalia’s government had no power outside of the town of Baidoa, 150 miles (240 km) from the capital. The countryside and the capital were run by warlords and militia groups who could be paid to protect terrorist groups.
CIA officers kept close tabs on the country and paid a group of Somali warlords to help hunt down members of al-Qaeda according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, issued a message calling for all Muslims to go to Somalia.On January 9, 2007, a U.S. official said that ten militants were killed in one airstrike.
On September 14, 2009, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a senior al-Qaeda leader in East Africa as well as a senior leader in Shabaab, al Qaeda’s surrogate in Somalia, was killed by elements of U.S. Special Operations. According to a witness, at least two AH-6 Little Bird attack helicopters strafed a two-car convoy. Navy SEALs then seized the body of Nabhan and took two other wounded fighters captive. JSOC and the CIA had been trying to kill Nabhan for some time including back in January 2007, when an AC-130 Gunship was called in on one attempt. A U.S. intelligence source stated that CIA paramilitary teams are directly embedded with Ethiopian forces in Somalia, allowing for the tactical intelligence to launch these operations. Nabhan was wanted for his involvement in the 1998 United States embassy bombings, as well as leading the cell behind the 2002 Mombasa attacks.
From 2010 to 2013, the CIA set up the Somalia National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) by providing training, funding and diplomatic access. In the same time period, the EU and UN has spent millions of dollars for the military training of the Somali National Army (SNA). NISA is considered a professional Somali security force that can be relied upon to neutralize the terrorist threat. This force responded to the complex al-Shabaab attack on the Banadir Regional Courthouse in Mogadishu which killed 25 civilians. NISA’s response however saved 100s and resulted in the death of all the al-Shabaab guerrillas involved.
Significant events during this timeframe included the targeted drone strikes against British al-Qaida operative Bilal el-Berjawi  and Moroccan al-Qaida operative Abu Ibrahim. It also included the rescue of U.S. citizen Jessica Buchanan by U.S. Navy SEALs. All likely aided by intelligence collection efforts in Somalia.
Hamid Karzai with Special Forces and CIA Paramilitary in late 2001.
During the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Paramilitary Operations Officers were instrumental in equippingMujaheddin forces against the Soviet Army. Although the CIA in general, and a Texas congressman named Charlie Wilson in particular, have received most of the attention, the key architect of this strategy was Michael G. Vickers. Vickers was a young Paramilitary Operations Officer from SAD/SOG. The CIA’s efforts have been given credit for assisting in ending the Sovietinvolvement in Afghanistan and bringing Taliban to power.
SAD paramilitary teams were active in Afghanistan in the 1990s in clandestine operations to locate and kill or capture Osama Bin Laden. These teams planned several operations, but did not receive the order to execute from President Bill Clintonbecause the available intelligence did not guarantee a successful outcome weighed against the extraordinary risk to the SAD/SOG teams that would execute the mission. These efforts did however build many of the relationships that would prove essential in the 2001 U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan.
On September 26, 2001, members of the Special Activities Division, led by Gary Schroen, were the first U.S. forces inserted into Afghanistan. The Northern Afghanistan Liaison Team entered the country nine days after the 9/11 attack and linked up with the Northern Alliance as part of Task Force Dagger.
They provided the Northern Alliance with resources including cash to buy weapons and prepared for the arrival of USSOCOM forces. The plan for the invasion of Afghanistan was developed by the CIA, the first time in United States history that such a large-scale military operation was planned by the CIA. SAD, U.S. Army Special Forces, and the Northern Alliance combined to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan with minimal loss of U.S. lives. They did this without the use of conventional U.S. military ground forces.
What made the Afghan campaign a landmark in the U.S. Military’s history is that it was prosecuted by Special Operations forces from all the services, along with Navy and Air Force tactical power, operations by the Afghan Northern Alliance and the CIA were equally important and fully integrated. No large Army or Marine force was employed”.
The valor exhibited by Afghan and American soldiers, fighting to free Afghanistan from a horribly cruel regime, will inspire even the most jaded reader. The stunning victory of the horse soldiers – 350 Special Forces soldiers, 100 C.I.A. officers and 15,000 Northern Alliance fighters routing a Taliban army 50,000 strong – deserves a hallowed place in American military history”.
Small and highly agile paramilitary mobile teams spread out over the countryside to meet with locals and gather information about the Taliban and al-Qa’ida. During that time, one of the teams was approached in a village and asked by a young man for help in retrieving his teenage sister. He explained that a senior Taliban official had taken her as a wife and had sharply restricted the time she could spend with her family. The team gave the man a small hand-held tracking device to pass along to his sister, with instructions for her to activate it when the Taliban leader returned home. The team responded to her emergency signal, capturing the senior Taliban official and rescuing the sister. The siblings’ tearful reunion left the team at a loss for words—a rarity for the normally loud warriors of CIA’s Special Activities Division.
In December 2001, SAD/SOG and the Army’s Delta Force tracked down Osama bin Laden in the rugged mountains near the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan.Former CIA station chief Gary Berntsen as well as a subsequent Senate investigation claimed that the combined American special operations task force was largely outnumbered by al-Qaeda forces and that they were denied additional US troops by higher command. The task force also requested munitions to block the avenues of egress of bin Laden, but that request was also denied. The team allegedly uncovered evidence in the subsequent site exploration that bin Laden’s ultimate aim was to obtain and detonate a nuclear device in a terrorist attack. According to other press reports, SAD were ineffectual and “Bin Laden and bodyguards walked uncontested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan’s unregulated tribal area.”
In September 2009, the CIA planned on “deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence ‘surge’ ordered by President Obama. This will make its station there among the largest in the agency’s history.” This presence is expected to surpass the size of the stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. The station is located at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and is led “by a veteran with an extensive background in paramilitary operations”. The majority of the CIA’s workforce is located among secret bases and military special operations posts throughout the country.
Also in 2009, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, planned to request an increase in teams of CIA operatives, including their elite paramilitary officers, to join with U.S. military special operations forces. This combination worked well in Iraq and is largely credited with the success of that surge. There have been basically three options described in the media: McChrystal’s increased counterinsurgency campaign; a counter-terror campaign using special operations raids and drone strikes; and withdrawal. The most successful combination in both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been the linking up of SAD and military special forces to fight alongside highly trained indigenous units. One thing all of these options have in common is a requirement for greater CIA participation.
The End Game
According to the current and former intelligence officials, General McChrystal also had his own preferred candidate for the Chief of Station (COS) job, a good friend and decorated CIA paramilitary officer. The officer had extensive experience in war zones, including two previous tours in Afghanistan with one as the Chief of Station, as well as tours in the Balkans, Baghdad and Yemen. He is well known in CIA lore as “the man who saved Hamid Karzai‘s life when the CIA led the effort to oust the Taliban from power in 2001″. President Karzai is said to be greatly indebted to this officer and was pleased when the officer was named chief of station again. According to interviews with several senior officials, this officer “was uniformly well-liked and admired. A career paramilitary officer, he came to the CIA after several years in an elite Marine unit”.
General McChrystal’s strategy included the lash up of special operations forces from the U.S. Military and from SAD/SOG to duplicate the initial success and the defeat of the Taliban in 2001 and the success of the “Surge” in Iraq in 2007. This strategy proved highly successful and worked very well in Afghanistan with SAD/SOG and JSOC forces conducting raids nearly every night having “superb results” against the enemy.
In 2001, the CIA’s SAD/SOG began creating what would come to be called Counter-terrorism Pursuit Teams (CTPT). These units grew to include over 3,000 operatives by 2010 and have been involved in sustained heavy fighting against the enemy. It is considered the “best Afghan fighting force”.
Located at 7,800 feet (2,400 m) above sea level, Firebase Lilley in Shkin serves as a “nerve center for the covert war”. This covert war includes being a hub for these CTPT operations with Firebase Lilley being just one in a constellation of CIA bases across Afghanistan. These units have not only been highly effective in combat operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, but have also been used to engage with the tribes in areas with no other official government presence.
This covert war also includes a large SOG/CTPT expansion into Pakistan to target senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). CTPT units are the main effort in both the “Counterterrorism plus” and the full “Counterinsurgency” options being discussed by the Obama administration in the December 2010 review. SOG/CTPT are also key to any exit strategy for the U.S. government to leave Afghanistan, while still being able to deny al-Qaeda and other trans-national extremists groups a safehaven both in Afghanistan and in the FATA of Pakistan.
In January 2013, a CIA drone strike killed Mullah Nazir a senior Taliban commander in the South Waziristan area of Pakistan believed responsible for carrying out the insurgent effort against the US military in Afghanistan. Nazir’s death degraded the Taliban.
The U.S. has decided to lean heavily on CIA in general and SAD specifically in their efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan as it did in Iraq. There are plans being considered to have several US Military special operations elements assigned to CIA after the withdrawal.
On November 5, 2002, a missile launched from a CIA-controlled Predator drone killed al-Qaeda members traveling in a remote area in Yemen. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams had been on the ground tracking their movements for months and called in this air strike. One of those in the car was Ali Qaed Senyan al-Harthi, al-Qaeda’s chief operative in Yemen and a suspect in the October 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole. Five other people, believed to be low-level al-Qaeda members, were also killed to include an American named Kamal Derwish. Former Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called it “a very successful tactical operation” and said “such strikes are useful not only in killing terrorists but in forcing al-Qaeda to change its tactics”.
“It’s an important step that has been taken in that it has eliminated another level of experienced leadership from al-Qaeda,” said Vince Cannistraro, former head of counter-terrorism for the CIA and current ABC News consultant. “It will help weaken the organization and make it much less effective.” Harithi was on the run, pursued by several security forces who were looking for him and Muhammad Hamdi al-Ahdal, another suspect in the USS Cole bombing case.
In 2009, the Obama administration authorized continued lethal operations in Yemen by the CIA. As a result, the SAD/SOG and JSOC have joined together to aggressively target al-Qaeda operatives in that country, both through leading Yemenese special forces and intelligence driven drone strikes. A major target of these operations is ImamAnwar al-Aulaqi, an American citizen with ties to both Nidal Hassan, the alleged Fort Hood attacker, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas 2009 attempted bomber of Northwest Airline flight 253. Imam al-Aulaki was killed on September 30, 2011 by an air attack carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command.
SAD paramilitary teams entered Iraq before the 2003 invasion. Once on the ground they prepared the battle space for the subsequent arrival of U.S. military forces. SAD teams then combined with U.S. Army special forces (on a team called the Northern Iraq Liaison Element or NILE). This team organized the KurdishPeshmerga for the subsequent U.S. led invasion. This joint team combined in Operation Viking Hammer to defeat Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist group allied to al-Qaeda, which several battle-hardened fighters from Afghanistan had joined after the fall of the Taliban, in a battle for control over the northeast of Iraq – a battle that turned out being one of the “most intense battles of Special Forces since Vietnam”. This battle was for an entire territory that was completely occupied by Ansar al-Islam and was executed prior to the invasion in February 2003. If this battle had not been as successful as it was, there would have been a considerable hostile force in the rear of the U.S./secular Kurdish force in the subsequent assault on the Iraqi army to the south. The U.S. side was represented by paramilitary operations officers from SAD/SOG and the army’s 10th Special Forces Group (10th SFG). 10th SFG soldiers were awarded three Silver Stars and six Bronze Stars with V for valor for this battle alone  and several paramilitary officers were awarded the Intelligence Star for valor in combat. This battle was a significant direct attack and victory on a key U.S. opponent. It resulted in the deaths of a substantial number of militants and the uncovering of a crude laboratory that had traces of poisons and information on chemical weapons at Sargat. The team found foreign identity cards, visas, and passports on the enemy bodies. They had come from a wide variety of Middle Eastern and north African countries including Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Tunisia, Morocco, and Iran.Sargat was also the only facility that had traces of chemical weapons discovered in the Iraq war.
The village of Biyara and Base of Ansar al-Islam 2001–2003
In a 2004 U.S. News & World Report article, “A firefight in the mountains”, the author states:
“Viking Hammer would go down in the annals of Special Forces history—a battle fought on foot, under sustained fire from an enemy lodged in the mountains, and with minimal artillery and air support.”
SAD/SOG teams also conducted high risk special reconnaissance missions behind Iraqi lines to identify senior leadership targets. These missions led to the initial assassination attempts against Iraqi PresidentSaddam Hussein and his key generals. Although the initial air strike against Hussein was unsuccessful in killing the dictator, it was successful in effectively ending his ability to command and control his forces. Other strikes against key generals were successful and significantly degraded the command’s ability to react to and maneuver against the U.S.-led invasion force. SAD operations officers were also successful in convincing key Iraqi army officers to surrender their units once the fighting started and/or not to oppose the invasion force.
NATO member Turkey refused to allow its territory to be used by the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division for the invasion. As a result, the SAD/SOG, U.S. Army special forces joint teams, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the 173d Airborne Brigade were the entire northern force against the Iraqi army during the invasion. Their efforts kept the 13 divisions of the Iraqi Army in place to defend against the Kurds rather allowing them to contest the coalition force coming from the south. This combined U.S. special operations and Kurdish force defeated the Iraqi Army. Four members of the SAD/SOG team received CIA’s rare Intelligence Star for “extraordinary heroism”.
The mission that captured Saddam Hussein was called “Operation Red Dawn“. It was planned and carried out by JSOC’s Delta Force and SAD/SOG teams (together called Task Force 121). The operation eventually included around 600 soldiers from the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division. Special operations troops probably numbered around 40. Much of the publicity and credit for the capture went to the 4th Infantry Division soldiers, but CIA and JSOC were the driving force. “Task Force 121 were actually the ones who pulled Saddam out of the hole” said Robert Andrews, former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. “They can’t be denied a role anymore.”
CIA paramilitary units continued to team up with the JSOC in Iraq and in 2007 the combination created a lethal force many credit with having a major impact in the success of “the Surge“. They did this by killing or capturing many of the key al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq. In a CBS60 Minutes interview, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward described a new special operations capability that allowed for this success. This capability was developed by the joint teams of CIA and JSOC. Several senior U.S. officials stated that the “joint efforts of JSOC and CIA paramilitary units was the most significant contributor to the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq”.
In May 2007, Marine Major Douglas A. Zembiec was serving in SAD Ground Branch in Iraq when he was killed by small arms fire while leading a raid.Reports from fellow paramilitary officers stated that the flash radio report sent was “five wounded and one martyred” Major Zembiec was killed while saving his soldiers, Iraqi soldiers. He was honored with an intelligence star for his valor in combat.
On October 26, 2008, SAD/SOG and JSOC conducted an operation in Syria targeting the “foreign fighter logistics network” bringing al-Qaeda operatives into Iraq (See 2008 Abu Kamal raid). A U.S. source told CBS News that “the leader of the foreign fighters, an al-Qaeda officer, was the target of Sunday’s cross-border raid.” He said the attack was successful, but did not say whether or not the al-Qaeda officer was killed.Fox News later reported that Abu Ghadiya, “al-Qa’ida’s senior coordinator operating in Syria”, was killed in the attack.The New York Times reported that during the raid U.S. forces killed several armed males who “posed a threat”.
In September 2014 with the rise of the Islamic State, the U.S. government began aggressive military operations against them in both Iraq and Syria. SAD Ground Branch was placed in charge of the ground war. This is a testament to SAD being the preeminent force for unconventional warfare and their long-standing relationship with the most effective fighting force in the region, the Kurdish Peshmerga.
SAD/SOG has been very active “on the ground” inside Pakistan targeting al-Qaeda operatives for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Predator strikes and along with USSOCOM elements they have been training Pakistani Special Service Group Commandos. Before leaving office, President George W. Bush authorized SAD’s successful killing of eight senior al-Qaeda operatives via targeted air strikes. Among those killed were the mastermind of a 2006 plot to detonate explosives aboard planes flying across the Atlantic Rashid Rauf and the man thought to have planned the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing on September 20, 2008 that killed 53 people. The CIA Director authorized the continuation of these operations and on January 23, SAD/SOG performed killings of 20 individuals in northwestern Pakistan that were terrorists. Some experts assess that the CIA Director – at that time Leon Panetta – has been more aggressive in conducting paramilitary operations in Pakistan than his predecessor. A Pakistani security official stated that other strikes killed at least 10 insurgents, including five foreign nationals and possibly “a high-value target” such as a senior al-Qaeda or Taliban official. On February 14, the CIA drone killed 27 taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in a missile strike in south Waziristan, a militant stronghold near the Afghan border where al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri were believed to be hiding.
In a National Public Radio (NPR) report dated February 3, 2008, a senior official stated that al-Qaeda has been “decimated” by SAD/SOG’s air and ground operations. This senior U.S. counter-terrorism official goes on to say, “The enemy is really, really struggling. These attacks have produced the broadest, deepest and most rapid reduction in al-Qaida senior leadership that we’ve seen in several years.” President Obama’s CIA Director Leon Panetta stated that SAD/SOG’s efforts in Pakistan have been “the most effective weapon” against senior al-Qaeda leadership.
These covert attacks have increased significantly under President Obama, with as many at 50 al-Qaeda militants being killed in the month of May 2009 alone. In June 2009, sixty Taliban fighters were killed while at a funeral to bury fighters that had been killed in previous CIA attacks. On July 22, 2009, National Public Radio reported that U.S. officials believeSaad bin Laden, a son of Osama bin Laden, was killed by a CIA strike in Pakistan. Saad bin Laden spent years under house arrest in Iran before traveling last year to Pakistan, according to former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell. It’s believed he was killed sometime in 2009. A senior U.S. counter-terrorism said U.S. intelligence agencies are “80 to 85 percent” certain that Saad bin Laden is dead.
On August 6, 2009, the CIA announced that Baitullah Mehsud was killed by a SAD/SOG drone strike in Pakistan.The New York Times said, “Although President Obama has distanced himself from many of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism policies, he has embraced and even expanded the C.I.A.’s covert campaign in Pakistan using Predator and Reaper drones”. The biggest loss may be to “Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida”. For the past eight years, al-Qaeda had depended on Mehsud for protection after Mullah Mohammed Omar fled Afghanistan in late 2001. “Mehsud’s death means the tent sheltering Al Qaeda has collapsed,” an Afghan Taliban intelligence officer who had met Mehsud many times told Newsweek. “Without a doubt he was Al Qaeda’s No. 1 guy in Pakistan,” adds Mahmood Shah, a retired Pakistani Army brigadier and a former chief of the Federally Administered Tribal Area, or FATA, Mehsud’s base.
Airstrikes from CIA drones struck targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan on September 8, 2009. Reports stated that seven to ten militants were killed to include one top al-Qaida leaders. He was Mustafa al-Jaziri, an Algerian national described as an “important and effective” leader and senior military commander for al-Qaida. The success of these operations are believed to have caused senior Taliban leaders to significantly alter their operations and cancel key planning meetings.
The CIA is also increasing its campaign using Predator missile strikes on al-Qaeda in Pakistan. The number of strikes in 2009 exceeded the 2008 total, according to data compiled by the Long War Journal, which tracks strikes in Pakistan. In December 2009, the New York Times reported that President Obama ordered an expansion of the drone program with senior officials describing the program as “a resounding success, eliminating key terrorists and throwing their operations into disarray”. The article also cites a Pakistani official who stated that about 80 missile attacks in less than two years have killed “more than 400” enemy fighters, a number lower than most estimates but in the same range. His account of collateral damage was strikingly lower than many unofficial counts: “We believe the number of civilian casualties is just over 20, and those were people who were either at the side of major terrorists or were at facilities used by terrorists.”
On December 6, 2009, a senior al-Qaeda operative, Saleh al-Somali, was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. He was responsible for their operations outside of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and formed part of the senior leadership. Al-Somali was engaged in plotting terrorist acts around the world and “given his central role, this probably included plotting attacks against the United States and Europe”. On December 31, 2009, senior Taliban leader and strong Haqqani ally Haji Omar Khan, brother of Arif Khan, was killed in the strike along with the son of local tribal leader Karim Khan.
In January 2010, al-Qaeda in Pakistan announced that Lashkar al-Zil leader Abdullah Said al Libi was killed in a drone missile strike. Neither al-Qaeda nor the US has revealed the date of the attack that killed Libi. On January 14, 2010, subsequent to the suicide attack at Camp Chapman, the CIA located and killed the senior Taliban leader in Pakistan, Hakimullah Mehsud. Mehsud had claimed responsibility in a video he made with the suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi.
On February 5, 2010, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and CIA’s SAD/SOG conducted a joint raid and apprehended Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Baradar was the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the beginning of the Afghan War more than eight years ago until that date. He ranked second to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and was known to be a close associate of Osama bin Laden. Mullah Baradar was interrogated by CIA and ISI officers for several days before news of his capture was released. This capture sent the message that the Taliban leadership is not safe in Afghanistan or Pakistan. “The seizure of the Afghan Taliban’s top military leader in Pakistan represents a turning point in the U.S.-led war against the militants”, U.S. officials and analysts said. Per Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, several raids in Karachi in early February netted dozens of suspected Afghan militants. In other joint raids that occurred around the same time, Afghan officials said that the Taliban “shadow governorsP for two provinces in northern Afghanistan had also been detained. Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban’s leader in Kunduz, and Mullah Mir Mohammed of Baghlan were captured in Akora Khattack.
On February 20, Muhammad Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, was one of four people killed in the drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal region in North Waziristan, according to two Pakistani intelligence sources.
On May 31, 2010, the New York Times reported that Mustafa Abu al Yazid (AKA Saeed al Masri), a senior operational leader for Al Qaeda, was killed in an American missile strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
From July to December 2010, predator strikes killed 535 suspected militants in the FATA to include Sheikh Fateh Al Misri, Al-Qaeda’s new third in command on September 25. Al Misri was planning a major terrorist attack in Europe by recruiting British Muslims who would then go on a shooting rampage similar to what transpired in Mumbai in November 2008.
The operation in the Bilal military cantonment area in the city of Abbottabad resulted in the acquisition of extensive intelligence on the future attack plans of al-Qaeda. The body of bin Laden was flown to Afghanistan to be identified and then out to the USS Carl Vinson for a burial at sea. DNA from bin Laden’s body, compared with DNA samples on record from his dead sister, confirmed his identity.
The operation was a result of years of intelligence work that included the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the CIA, the DSS, and the Delta Force‘s, apprehension and interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammad (KSM), the discovery of the real name of the courier disclosed by KSM, the tracking, via signal intelligence, of the courier to the Abbottobad compound by paramilitary operatives and the establishment of a CIA safe house that provided critical advance intelligence for the operation.
The material discovered in the raid indicated that bin Laden was still in charge of his Al-Qaeda organization and was developing plans and issuing orders at the time of his death. There is considerable controversy over claims that elements of the Pakistani government, particularly the ISI, may have been concealing the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Bin Laden’s death has been labeled a “game changer” and a fatal blow to Al-Qaeda, by senior U.S. officials.
On March 9, 2007 alleged CIA Agent Robert Levinson was kidnapped from Iran’s Kish Island. On July 7, 2008, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and author Seymour Hersh wrote an article in the New Yorker stating that the Bush Administration had signed a Presidential Finding authorizing the CIA to begin cross border paramilitary operations from Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran. These operations would be against Quds Force, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, public and private sector strategic targets, and “high-value targets” in the war on terror. Also enrolled to support CIA objectives were the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the West as the M.E.K.,and the Baluchis insurgents. “The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” Any significant effort against Iran by the Obama Administration would likely come directly from SAD. and in July 2010, Director Panetta chose a former chief of SAD as the new NCS Director.
After the Arab Spring movements overthrew the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt, its neighbours to the west and east respectively, Libya had a major revolt beginning in February 2011. In response, the Obama administration sent in SAD paramilitary operatives to assess the situation and gather information on the opposition forces. Experts speculated that these teams could be determining the capability of these forces to defeat the Muammar Gaddafi regime and whether Al-Qaeda had a presence in these rebel elements.
U.S. officials had made it clear that no U.S. troops would be “on the ground”, making the use of covert paramilitary operatives the only alternative. During the early phases of the Libyan offensive of U.S. led air strikes, paramilitary operatives assisted in the recovery of a U.S. Air Force pilot who had crashed due to mechanical problems. There was speculation that President Obama issued a covert action finding in March 2011 that authorizes the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and support to the Libyan opposition.
CIA paramilitary teams have been deployed to Syria to report on the uprising, to access the rebel groups, leadership and to potentially train, equip and lead one of those rebel groups against the Bashar al-Assad regime. In early September 2013, President Obama told U.S. Senators that the CIA had trained the first 50-man insurgent element and that they had been inserted into Syria. The deployment of this unit and the supplying of weapons may be the first tangible measure of support since the U.S. stated they would begin providing assistance to the opposition.
In October 2013, SAD was tasked with overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This program was considered too limited to have the desired outcome. However, with the rise of the Islamic State, SAD was given the overall command and control of the ground fight against them. This fight will cross the borders between Iraq and Syria.
The CIA has always had a Special Activities Division, which secretly carries out special operations mission. However, since September 11, 2001 the US government has relied much more on SAD/SOG because fighting terrorists does not usually involve fighting other armies. Rather, it involves secretly moving in and out of countries like Pakistan, Iran and Somaliawhere the American military is not legally allowed to operate.
If there are missions in these countries that are denied to U.S. military special operations forces, SAD/SOG units are the primary national special missions units to execute those operations.
In 2002, the George W. Bush Administration prepared a list of “terrorist leaders” the CIA is authorized to kill in a targeted killing, if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be kept to an acceptable number. The list includes key al Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden (deceased) and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as other principal figures from al Qaeda and affiliated groups. This list is called the “high value target list”. The U.S. president is not legally required to approve each name added to the list, nor is the CIA required to obtain presidential approval for specific attacks, although the president is kept well informed about operations.
SAD/SOG teams have been dispatched to the country of Georgia, where dozens of al Qaeda fugitives from Afghanistan are believed to have taken refuge withChechen separatists and thousands of refugees in the Pankisi Gorge. Their efforts have already resulted in 15 Arab militants linked to al Qaeda being captured.
The SAD/SOG teams have also been active in the Philippines, where 1,200 U.S. military advisers helped to train local soldiers in “counter-terrorist operations” against Abu Sayyaf, a radical Islamist group suspected of ties with al Qaeda. Little is known about this U.S. covert action program, but some analysts believe that “the CIA’s paramilitary wing, the Special Activities Division (SAD), has been allowed to pursue terrorist suspects in the Philippines on the basis that its actions will never be acknowledged”.
On July 14, 2009, several newspapers reported that DCIA Leon Panetta was briefed on a CIA program that had not been briefed to the oversight committees in Congress. Panetta cancelled the initiative and reported its existence to Congress and the President. The program consisted of teams of SAD paramilitary officers organized to execute targeted killing operations against al Qaeda operatives around the world in any country. According to the Los Angeles Times, DCIA Panetta “has not ruled out reviving the program”. There is some question as to whether former Vice President Dick Cheney instructed the CIA not to inform Congress.Per senior intelligence officers, this program was an attempt to avoid the civilian casualties that can occur during predator drone strikes using Hellfire missiles.
According to many experts, the Obama administration has relied on the CIA and their paramilitary capabilities, even more than they have on U.S. military forces, to maintain the fight against terrorists in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, as well as places like Yemen, Somalia and North Africa. Ronald Kessler states in his book The CIA at War: Inside the Secret War Against Terror, that although paramilitary operations are a strain on resources, they’re winning the war against terrorism.
SAD/SOG paramilitary officers executed the clandestine evacuation of U.S. citizens and diplomatic personnel in Somalia, Iraq (during the Persian Gulf War) andLiberia during periods of hostility, as well as the insertion of Paramilitary Operations Officers prior to the entry of U.S. military forces in every conflict since World War II. SAD officers have operated covertly since 1947 in places such as North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Libya, Iraq, El Salvador,Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Fulton surface-to-air recovery system (STARS) is a system developed in the early 1950s by CIA paramilitary officers for retrieving persons on the ground from a MC-130E Combat Talon I aircraft. It uses a harness and a self-inflating balloon that carries an attached lift line. An MC-130E engages the line with its V-shaped yoke and the individual is reeled on board.Project COLDFEET was a very successful mission in 1962 in which two military officers parachuted into a remote abandoned Soviet site in the Arctic. The two were subsequently extracted by the Fulton sky hook. The team gathered evidence of advanced research on acoustical systems to detect under-ice US submarines and efforts to develop Arctic anti-submarine warfare techniques.
Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) Billy Waugh was a Special Forces soldier attached to CIA in the 1960s. During his time at MACV-SOG in Vietnam, he developed and conducted the first combat High Altitude-Low Opening (HALO) jump, “In October 1970, my team made a practice Combat Infiltration into the NVA owned War Zone D, in South Vietnam, for reassembly training, etc. This was the first one in a combat zone.” HALO is a method of delivering personnel, equipment, and supplies from a transport aircraft at a high altitude via free-fall parachute insertion. HALO andHAHO (High Altitude-High Opening) are also known as Military Free Fall (MFF). In the HALO technique, the parachutist opens his parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time to avoid detection by the enemy. Waugh also led the last combat special reconnaissance parachute insertion into enemy territory occupied by communist North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops on June 22, 1971.
On October 25, 2003, paramilitary officers Christopher Mueller and William “Chief” Carlson were killed while conducting an operation to kill/capture high level al-Qa’ida leaders near Shkin, Afghanistan. Both these officers were honored with Stars on the CIA Memorial Wall at their Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. “The bravery of these two men cannot be overstated,” Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet told a gathering of several hundred Agency employees and family members. “Chris and Chief put the lives of others ahead of their own. That is heroism defined.” Mueller, a former US Navy SEAL and Carlson, a former Army Special Forces soldier, Delta Force operator, and member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, died while on this covert operation. Both officers saved the lives of others, including Afghan soldiers, during the engagement with al-Qa’ida forces. In Oliver North’s book American Heroes in Special Operations, a chapter is devoted to their story.
Notable political action officers
Virginia Hall Goillot started as the only female paramilitary officer in the OSS. She shot herself in the leg while hunting in Turkey in 1932, which was then amputated below the knee. She parachuted into France to organize the resistance with her prosthesis strapped to her body. She was awarded theDistinguished Service Cross. She married an OSS officer named Paul Goillot and the two joined the CIA as paramilitary operations officers in SAD. Once aboard, Mrs. Goillot made her mark as a political action officer playing significant roles in the Guatemala and Guyana operations. These operations involved the covert removal of the governments of these two countries, as directed by the President of the United States.
E. Howard Hunt (October 9, 1918 – January 23, 2007) was an Ivy league educated Naval officer who joined the CIA in 1949 after serving with the OSS in World War II. Hunt was a political action officer in what came to be called their Special Activities Division. He became station chief in Mexico City in 1950, and supervised William F. Buckley, Jr., (Not to be confused with a famous SAD Paramilitary Officer of the same name) who worked for the CIA in Mexico during the period 1951–1952. Buckley, another SAD political action specialist, only served briefly in the CIA and went on to be considered the father of the modern American conservative movement. Buckley and Hunt remained lifelong friends. Hunt ran Operation PBSUCCESS, which overthrew the government in Guatemala in 1954, was heavily involved in theBay of Pigs Invasion operation, frequently mentioned in the JFK assassination, and was one of the operatives in the Watergate scandal.Hunt was also a well-known author with over 50 books to his credit. These books were published under several alias names and several were made into motion pictures.
David Atlee Phillips Perhaps the most famous propaganda officer ever to serve in CIA, Phillips began his career as a journalist and amateur actor in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He joined the Agency in the 1950s and was one of the chief architects of the operation to overthrow Communist president Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. He was later heavily engaged as a principal member of the Bay of Pigs Task Force at Langley, and in subsequent anti-Castro operations throughout the 1960s. He founded the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) after successfully contesting a libel suit against him.
The CIA Memorial Wall is located at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It honors CIA employees who died in the line of duty. As of August 6, 2012, there were 103 stars carved into the marble wall, each one representing an officer. A majority of these were paramilitary officers. A black book, called the “Book of Honor”, lies beneath the stars and is encased in an inch-thick plate of glass. Inside this book are stars, arranged by year of death, and the names of 77 employees who died in CIA service alongside them. The other names remain secret, even in death.
For the United States, Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says “Congress shall have power to … declare War”. However, that passage provides no specific format for what form legislation must have in order to be considered a “declaration of war” nor does the Constitution itself use this term. Many[who?] have postulated “Declaration(s) of War” must contain that phrase as or within the title. Others oppose that reasoning. In the courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Doe v. Bush, said: “[T]he text of the October Resolution itself spells out justifications for a war and frames itself as an ‘authorization’ of such a war.” in effect saying an authorization suffices for declaration and what some may view as a formal Congressional “Declaration of War” was not required by the Constitution.
This article will use the term “formal declaration of war” to mean Congressional legislation that uses the phrase “declaration of war” in the title. Elsewhere, this article will use the terms “authorized by Congress”, “funded by Congress” or “undeclared war” to describe other such conflicts.
The United States has formally declared war against foreign nations five separate times, each upon prior request by the President of the United States. Four of those five declarations came after hostilities had begun. James Madison reported that in the Federal Convention of 1787, the phrase “make war” was changed to “declare war” in order to leave to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks but not to commence war without the explicit approval of Congress. Debate continues as to the legal extent of the President’s authority in this regard.
After Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in January 1971 and President Richard Nixon continued to wage war in Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution (Pub.L. 93–148) over the veto of Nixon in an attempt to rein in some of the president’s claimed powers. The War Powers Resolution proscribes the only power of the president to wage war which is recognized by Congress.
Declarations of war
The table below lists the five wars in which the United States has formally declared war against eleven foreign nations. The only country against which the United States has declared war more than once is Germany, against which the United States has declared war twice (though a case could be made for Hungary as asuccessor state to Austria-Hungary).
Force withdrawn after six months. However, the Joint Resolution was likely used to authorize the Pancho Villa Expedition. In the Senate, “when word reached the Senate that the invasion had gone forward before the use-of-force resolution had been approved, Republicans reacted angrily” saying it was a violation of the Constitution, but eventually after the action had already started, a resolution was passed after the action to “justify” it since Senators did not think it was a declaration of war.
On at least 125 occasions, the President has acted without prior express military authorization from Congress. These include instances in which the United States fought in the Philippine–American War from 1898–1903, in Nicaragua in 1927, as well as the NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia in 1999.
The United States’ longest war was fought between approximately 1840 and 1886 against the Apache Nation. During that entire 46-year period, there was never more than 90 days of peace.
The Indian Wars comprise at least 28 conflicts and engagements. These localized conflicts, with Native Americans, began with European colonists coming to North America, long before the establishment of the United States. For the purpose of this discussion, the Indian Wars are defined as conflicts with the United States of America. They begin as one front in the American Revolutionary War in 1775 and had concluded by 1918. The United States Army still maintains a campaign streamer for Pine Ridge 1890–1891 despite opposition from certain Native American groups.
The American Civil War was not an international conflict under the laws of war, because the Confederate States of America was not a government that had been granted full diplomatic recognition as a sovereign nation by other sovereign states. The CSA was recognized by the United States government as a belligerent power, a different status of recognition that authorized Confederate warships to visit non-U.S. ports. This recognition of the CSA’s status as a belligerent power did not impose any duty upon the United States to recognize the sovereignty of the Confederacy, and the United States never did so.
The War Powers Resolution
In 1973, following the withdrawal of most American troops from the Vietnam War, a debate emerged about the extent of presidential power in deploying troops without a declaration of war. A compromise in the debate was reached with the War Powers Resolution. This act clearly defined how many soldiers could be deployed by the President of the United States and for how long. It also required formal reports by the President to Congress regarding the status of such deployments, and limited the total amount of time that American forces could be deployed without a formal declaration of war.
Although the constitutionality of the act has never been tested, it is usually followed, most notably during the Grenada Conflict, the Panamanian Conflict, the Somalia Conflict, the Persian Gulf War, and the Iraq War[clarification needed]. The only exception was President Clinton’s use of U.S. troops in the 78-day NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. In all other cases, the President asserted the constitutional authority to commit troops without the necessity of Congressional approval, but in each case the President received Congressional authorization that satisfied the provisions of the War Powers Act.
On March 21, 2011, a number of lawmakers expressed concern that the decision of President Barack Obama to order the U.S. military to join in attacks of Libyan air defenses and government forces exceeded his constitutional authority because the decision to authorize the attack was made without Congressional permission.
Jump up^Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the government and the people of the United States of America… the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared. The War Resolution
SOG considered the most secretive special operations force in America
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency‘s (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS) responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two groups, one for tactical paramilitary operations and another for covert political action.
The “Political Action Group” within SAD is in charge of “covert activities” related to political influence, psychological, economic and cyber warfare A large CIA covert operation usually has components that involve many of these categories, as well as paramilitary operations.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations which include the gathering of intelligence information in hostile enemy countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be associated.
As such, members of the unit (called “Paramilitary Operations Officers” and “Specialized Skills Officers”) normally do not carry any objects, identification or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government (see article: Secret CIA Units Playing a Central Combat Role http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/CIA18.html).
If members are compromised or killed during a mission, the government of the United States may deny all knowledge (see Congressional Research Service report: Special Operations Forces (SOF) and CIA Paramilitary Operations: Issues for Congresshttp://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/intel/RS22017.pdf ).
The SOG is considered the most secretive special operations force in the United States.
Story 1: Benghazi Scandal Is A Massive Cover-up of President Obama’s Secret Finding For Central Intelligence Agency’s Covert Operations In Libya and Syria — American People Demand Declassification And Release of Entire CIA Covert Operations Finding For Libya and Syria and Public Testimony By Former CIA Director General Petraeus, CIA Director Brennan, CIA Libya Station Chief and Chief of Mission and CIA Employees in Benghazi, Libya On September 11, 2012 — Massive Scandal and Foreign Policy Disaster — Stop The Cover-up, Stonewalling and Slow-walking! — “Why Was The United States in Libya?” — No More Behind Closed Doors — Videos
IT TAKES TREY GOWDY JUST THREE MINUTES TO SILENCE THE MEDIA
Trey Gowdy: Congress’ Benghazi probe not aimed at Clinton
Benghazi timeline: “We are under attack”
Malzberg | Clare Lopez, member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi
Media Silent About Obama’s Undeclared Wars
U.S. fighting undeclared wars with six countries? – FoxNews 110610
Wesley Clark ( US 4 Star General ) US will attack 7 countries in 5 years
END WAR: Brzezinski Debates Why Libya War Right Choice, Goal Is Regime Change With A United Libya
Vijay Prashad Urges Re-Evaluation of NATO Attack on Libya in Debate Over Syria Intervention
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Did the Military Intervention in Libya Succeed? (Benjamin Friedman)
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Libya War: What They Don’t Want You to Know
OBAMA CONFRONTED ON BENGHAZI – Stutters Through Response
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Ex-CIA officer: Obama fools himself, Muslims see US bombing Libya
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Ex-CIA Agent: America creates its own enemies
Benghazi US consulate attack: why is no one talking about the CIA mission?
Breaking: CNN Reports CIA Engaged in Massive Intimidation Campaign to Keep Benghazi a Secret
August 1, 2013 – Breaking: CNN Reports CIA Engaged in Massive Intimidation Campaign to Keep Benghazi a Secret — This is HUGE. Basically the CIA is reportedly giving polygraph tests EVERY MONTH to more than a dozen CIA employees that were on the ground in Benghazi during the attack, to ensure that none of them talk about what happened that night. CNN — CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what
Kevin Shipp at AIM’s Citizens Commission on Benghazi Conference
Roger Aronoff Speaks about the newly formed Citizens Commission on Benghazi
Admiral James Lyons Speaks at the Citizens Commission on Benghazi
Lt. General Thomas McInerney Speaks at the Citizens Commission on Benghazi
Ken Timmerman at AIM’s Citizens Commission on Benghazi Conference
Benghazi Attack Cover Up! Obama Armed Al Qaeda?
Bachmann Challenges Former CIA Director on Benghazi
Bachmann: Administration misled public on Benghazi
Benghazi Bombshell – Whistleblower’s Lawyer: 400 Surface To Air Missiles Stolen – Wake Up America
Attorney for Benghazi Whistleblower says 400 missiles stolen during attack
Published on Aug 13, 2013
An attorney for the Benghazi whistleblowers says that some 400 surface to air missles (SAMs) were ‘taken from Libya’ during the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
He added that the U.S. intelligence community is terrified they might be used to shoot down airliners.
Joe diGenova, whose wife Victoria Toensing — a former deputy assistant attorney general — also represents Benghazi witnesses and others with knowledge of the terror attack, told WMAL radio that the loss of those missiles is also one the reasons the U.S. State Department shut down 19 embassies across the Middle East last week.
‘A lot of people have come forward to share information with us,’ he said during the radio station’s ‘Mornings On The Mall’ program Monday morning.
‘We have learned that one of the reasons the administration is so deeply concerned’ is that ‘there were 400 surface-to-air missiles stolen, and that they are … in the hands of many people, and that the biggest fear in the U.S. intelligence community is that one of these missiles will be used to shoot down an airliner. 400 missiles, surface-to-air missiles, taken from Libya.’
Asked if the missiles are now ‘in the hands of al-Qaeda operatives,’ DiGenova replied, ‘That is what these people are telling us.’
DiGenova said his sources are ‘former intelligence officials who stay in constant contact with people in the Special Ops and intelligence community.’
‘And it’s pretty clear that the biggest concern right now are 400 missiles which have been diverted in Libya and have gotten in the hands of some very ugly people.’
diGenova said that while he was uncertain whether the stolen weapons were being kept at the U.S. Consulate’s CIA annex, ‘it is clear that the annex was somehow involved in the process of the distribution of those missiles.’
‘They were afraid that there was going to be a missile attack on one of the embassies. Remember, you can take a shoulder-held missile and shoot it into an embassy. Not just into the sky.’ ‘That’s what this was all about,’ he insisted. ‘That’s why they’re so worried. That’s why they have lied repeatedly about what happened in Benghazi, because they are now responsible for all of the stepchildren of violence that happens as a result of this. This is a very serious matter.’
FSA rocket shoots down Assad helicopter – Truthloader
White House Knew at 6:07 PM EST That Ansar Al-Sharia Was Behind the Benghazi Attack
Death And Deceit In Benghazi – Did Obama Amind Try Hide The Truth? – W Bret Bair
CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say
The Benghazi Select Committee: Many Questions Remain Unanswered
The House Select Committee on Benghazi is gearing up to investigate the many unanswered questions surrounding the attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility on September 11, 2012. Contrary to the Obama Administration’s assertions, numerous questions remain unanswered about what happened that fateful day both in Benghazi and here in Washington. This, despite the determined efforts of members of Congress to extract answered from a reluctant White House and State Department. Yet, in order to prevent a recurrence of unnecessary loss of American lives, systemic failures must be addressed, as well as the lack of accountability among those responsible for diplomatic security. Equally importantly, the families of the victims and indeed Americans need to know why no retaliation or justice has been visited upon those who killed U.S. diplomats.
“Peace President” Obama Let Benghazi Happen
As the Mail Online out it, “The Citizens Commission on Benghazi, a self-selected group of former top military officers, CIA insiders and think-tankers, declared Tuesday in Washington that a seven-month review of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack has determined that it could have been prevented — if the U.S. hadn’t been helping to arm al-Qaeda militias throughout Libya a year earlier.”
Obama “Switched Sides” in War on Terror
Former CIA officer Clare Lopez argues: Libya in 2011 marks the place and the time that the United States (U.S.) and the Obama administration formally switched sides in the Global War on Terror (GWOT). A mere 10 years after al-Qa’eda (supported by Hizballah and Iran) attacked the American homeland in the worst act of terrorism ever suffered by this country, U.S. leadership decided to facilitate the provision of weapons to jihadist militias known to be affiliated with al-Qa’eda and the Muslim Brotherhood in order to bring down a brutal dictator who also just happened to be a U.S. ally in the GWOT at the time.
Obama Let Them Die at Benghazi
Wayne Simmons spent 27 years working with the CIA to combat terrorism, narco-terrorism and narcotics trafficking, arms smuggling, counterfeiting, cyber-terrorists, and industrial and economic espionage. He sits on the Advisory Council for the Intelligence Summit, and is a contributor to the conservative publication Human Events.
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Chaffetz to Families of Benghazi Victims: “We have a duty to find out the truth.”
Benghazi Victim’s Mother ‘Why Isn’t Hillary Out Here’
Congressman Mica questions Administration on Benghazi
In an exchange with witnesses during our Congressional Oversight Hearing, Congressman John Mica explains to Administration officials that most Americans believe the State Department report on responsibility for the Bengazhi attack was a “whitewash”. Those conducting the review were appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who they failed to interview along with other top State and Administration officials. Mica stated that this looks like an inside job where no one was held accountable, fired and none of the killers captured or brought to justice.
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Obama authorized CIA covert operation in Libya
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REVEALED: If This Is True, Benghazi Is Even Worse Than We Ever Thought
The feature story that Michael Lewis just published about President Obama’s decisionmaking prior to the war in Libya includes a lot of details that inspire confidence in his leadership. By all accounts he’s intelligent, sober-minded, and inclined to seek out an array of perspectives. And he’s frequently forced to make extraordinarily difficult tradeoffs with imperfect information. I don’t envy his job.
But the article also raises serious questions about his honesty and regard for the constitution. Let’s take them in turn.
On March 28, 2011, Obama gave a televised address about Libya. It included this passage about his actions:
Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition, and the Arab League, appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. At my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass an historic Resolution that authorized a No0Fly Zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.
In his telling, (a) America led the effort to establish the No-Fly Zone; and (b) the No-Fly Zone would stop the Libyan regime’s attacks from the air.
If you were president just then and you turned your television to some cable news channel you would have seen many Republican senators screaming at you to invade Libya and many Democratic congressmen hollering at you that you had no business putting American lives at risk in Libya. If you flipped over to the networks on March 7 you might have caught ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper saying to your press secretary, Jay Carney, “More than a thousand people have died, according to the United Nations. How many more people have to die before the United States decides, O.K., we’re going to take this one step of a no-fly zone?”
By March 13, Qaddafi appeared to be roughly two weeks from getting to Benghazi. On that day the French announced they were planning to introduce a resolution in the United Nations to use U.N. forces to secure the skies over Libya in order to prevent Libyan planes from flying. A “no-fly zone” this was called, and it forced Obama’s hand. The president had to decide whether to support the no-fly-zone resolution or not. At 4:10 p.m. on March 15 the White House held a meeting to discuss the issue. “Here is what we knew,” recalls Obama, by which he means here is what I knew. “We knew that Qaddafi was moving on Benghazi, and that his history was such that he could carry out a threat to kill tens of thousands of people. We knew we didn’t have a lot of time–somewhere between two days and two weeks. We knew they were moving faster than we originally anticipated. We knew that Europe was proposing a no-fly zone.”
That much had been in the news. One crucial piece of information had not. “We knew that a no-fly zone would not save the people of Benghazi,” says Obama. “The no-fly zone was an expression of concern that didn’t really do anything.” European leaders wanted to create a no-fly zone to stop Qaddafi, but Qaddafi wasn’t flying. His army was racing across the North African desert in jeeps and tanks. Obama had to have wondered just how aware of this were these foreign leaders supposedly interested in the fate of these Libyan civilians. He didn’t know if they knew that a no-fly zone was pointless, but if they’d talked to any military leader for five minutes they would have. And that was not all. “The last thing we knew,” he adds, “is that if you announced a no-fly zone and if it appeared feckless, there would be additional pressure for us to go further. As enthusiastic as France and Britain were about the no-fly zone, there was a danger that if we participated the U.S. would own the operation. Because we had the capacity.”
To summarize, (a) America did not lead the effort to establish a no-fly zone — it reluctantly signed on to the idea after its hand was forced by the French; (b) the no-fly zone wouldn’t stop the regime’s attacks because they weren’t coming from the air. It was, rather, a preamble to escalation.
Due to the nature of the Libya conflict, these misrepresentations weren’t nearly as consequential as, say, the way George W. Bush spoke out about weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war. It is nevertheless an example of the president deliberately misleading the American people in order to facilitate false impressions about foreign military actions that he finds convenient.
Obama insists that he still had not made up his mind what to do when he returned to the Situation Room — that he was still considering doing nothing at all. A million people in Benghazi were waiting to find out whether they would live or die, and he honestly did not know. There were things the Pentagon might have said to deter him, for instance. “If somebody had said to me that we could not take out their air defense without putting our fliers at risk in a significant way; if the level of risk for our military personnel had been ratcheted up–that might have changed my decision,” says Obama. “Or if I did not feel Sarkozy or Cameron were far enough out there to follow through. Or if I did not think we could get a U.N resolution passed.” Once again he polled the people in the room for their views. Of the principals only Susan Rice (enthusiastically) and Hillary Clinton (who would have settled for a no-fly zone) had the view that any sort of intervention made sense. “How are we going to explain to the American people why we’re in Libya,” asked William Daley, according to one of those present. “And Daley had a point: who gives a shit about Libya?”
From the president’s point of view there was a certain benefit in the indifference of the American public to whatever was happening in Libya. It enabled him to do, at least for a moment, pretty much whatever he wanted to do. Libya was the hole in the White House lawn.
Obama made his decision: push for the U.N resolution and effectively invade another Arab country. Of the choice not to intervene he says, “That’s not who we are,” by which he means that’s not who I am. The decision was extraordinarily personal. “No one in the Cabinet was for it,” says one witness. “There was no constituency for doing what he did.” Then Obama went upstairs to the Oval Office to call European heads of state and, as he puts it, “call their bluff.” Cameron first, then Sarkozy. It was three a.m. in Paris when he reached the French president, but Sarkozy insisted he was still awake. (“I’m a young man!”) In formal and stilted tones the European leaders committed to taking over after the initial bombing. The next morning Obama called Medvedev to make sure that the Russians would not block his U.N. resolution. There was no obvious reason why Russia should want to see Qaddafi murder a city of Libyans, but in the president’s foreign dealings the Russians play the role that Republicans currently more or less play in his domestic affairs. The Russians’ view of the world tends to be zero-sum: if an American president is for it, they are, by definition, against it. Obama thought that he had made more progress with the Russians than he had with the Republicans; Medvedev had come to trust him, he felt, and believed him when he said the United States had no intention of moving into Libya for the long term. A senior American official at the United Nations thought that perhaps the Russians let Obama have his resolution only because they thought it would end in disaster for the United States.
And it could have. All that exists for any president are the odds. On March 17 the U.N. gave Obama his resolution. The next day he flew to Brazil and was there on the 19th, when the bombing began. A group of Democrats in Congress issued a statement demanding Obama withdraw from Libya; Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich asked if Obama had just committed an impeachable offense. All sorts of people who had been hounding the president for his inaction now flipped and questioned the wisdom of action. A few days earlier Newt Gingrich, busy running for president, had said, “We don’t need the United Nations. All we have to say is that we think slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening.” Four days after the bombing began, Gingrich went on the Today show to say he wouldn’t have intervened and was quoted on Politico as saying, “It is impossible to make sense of the standard of intervention in Libya except opportunism and news media publicity.” The tone of the news coverage shifted dramatically, too. One day it was “Why aren’t you doing anything?” The next it was “What have you gotten us into?” As one White House staffer puts it, “All the people who had been demanding intervention went nuts after we intervened and said it was outrageous. That’s because the controversy machine is bigger than the reality machine.”
Put more succinctly, going to war in Libya was a close call; there are things various folks could have said to deter him; he ran the decision through executive branch and international channels; most people told him not to do it; but if Congress came into the picture at all, it wasn’t enough to merit mention in the retelling, and certainly not enough to follow the constitution and put the prospective war to a vote. The people’s representatives were excluded.
The imperial presidency is so well entrenched that a journalist like Michael Lewis needn’t really question circumventing Congress to feel as though he’s including all the crucial parts of the story about going to war.
That remains a scandal.
And it is telling that Michael Lewis, one of America’s finest journalists, didn’t even ask Obama about failing to put the decision about Libya before Congress. He didn’t ask despite the plain language of the Constitution, Obama’s prior statements indicating he fully understood his legal obligations, and the fact that various members of Congress complained about his unilateral action. The imperial presidency is so well entrenched that a journalist like Lewis needn’t really question those things to feel as though he’s including all the crucial parts of the story about going to war.
That is quite a precedent Obama has set. And Mitt Romney is ready to exploit it if he wins. As he put it: “I can assure you if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I will be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now.”
War is commonly defined as “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations.” By that definition, the United States and its allies have been at war with Libya since late last week. “At my direction,” President Obama told Congress, “U.S. military forces commenced operations” in Libya.
Article I, section 8 of the United States Constitution states that “Congress shall have the power … to declare war…” Since Congress has not declared war on Libya, is American involvement in the Libyan war unconstitutional?
Some members of Congress think so. Rep. Scott Ringell, a freshman from Virginia, said that the Libya hostilities “should trigger a debate within Congress and [among] the American people about proper interpretation and application of [the] Constitution. I’m surprised more conservatives aren’t speaking out about this issue.” Some Democrats have spoken out questioning the validity of the action. In the past, Senators Obama and Biden both said the president lacks the authority to do what President Obama has done.
The question of the constitutionality of the Libyan effort depends on the original public meaning of Article I, section 8 of the Constitution. Vice President (then Senator) Joseph Biden recalled that meaning in a speech on the Senate floor on July 30, 1998. He noted that the original draft of the Constitution would have empowered Congress to “make war.” James Madison and Elbridge Gerry moved that the language be changed to “declare war” so that the president would have the power “to repel sudden attacks.” Biden pointed out that only one framer, Pierce Butler of South Carolina, thought the president should have the power to initiate war.
Biden concluded that under the Constitution, the president could not use force without prior authorization unless it was necessary to “repel a sudden attack.” Presidential candidate Barack Obama agreed in 2007: “the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Senator Biden also expounded on the framers’ reasons for limiting presidential discretion:
The rationale for vesting the power to launch war in Congress was simple. The Framers’ views were dominated by their experience with the British King, who had unfettered power to start wars. Such powers the Framers were determined to deny the President.
Of course, in 1998 and today, some claim the president has broad powers to initiate and carry on war under the “executive power” and the commander-in-chief clauses of Article II. But the framers rejected this “monarchist view” of the presidency.
The framers of the Constitution knew that the English king possessed certain prerogatives or discretionary powers to act for the public interest. Among these prerogatives was the power to declare war. He could also carry on undeclared wars. Yet the framers explicitly gave Congress the power to declare war. Apart from repelling sudden attacks, the Constitution is silent on the president’s power to conduct undeclared wars. Read against the English background, the text of the Constitution creates a constrained executive for the new nation.
What does this history imply for the present? President Obama told Congress that the use of force in Libya was intended “to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya.” But the framers did not empower the president to initiate war to prevent humanitarian catastrophes, deal with threats to international peace and security, or protect the lives of foreign nationals. The framers stated that the Constitution was instituted to provide for the common defense of We, the People, not the defense of people everywhere.
They did recognize a limited power to repel sudden attacks. The Libyan regime did not suddenly attack the United States or its citizens. There is nothing to repel. America’s war in Libya thus cannot be constitutional.
What now? The Supreme Court is unlikely to invalidate presidential actions in Libya. The task of vindicating the Constitution falls to Congress. It needs to hear from its conservatives, those who believe in the original meaning of the Constitution. Congress also needs to hear from its liberals, those who believe what Senators Biden and Obama once said about presidential power. Together members of Congress could finally live up to their constitutional obligations and impose restraints on a president who has become too much of a king.
John Samples directs the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government and is the author of The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History.
March 2011: U.S. secretly approves arms shipments from Qatar to Libyan rebels.
May 2011: Al-Qaeda flags raised over Benghazi. November 2011: Rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi admits a significant number of Libyan rebels were al-Qaeda fighters who fought American troops in Iraq.
April 19, 2012: State Department rejects ambassador to Libya’s request for more security personnel.
June 20, 2012: Assassination attempt on the British Ambassador to Libya.
July 9, 2012: Ambassador Stevens asks the State Department for more security personnel.
August 8, 2012: The number of security personnel at Benghazi reduced by State Department.
August 16, 2012: U.S. Site Security in Benghazi alerts the State Department that conditions are perilous. September 4, 2012: Gallup presidential tracking poll: Obama 47 percent; Romney 46 percent. September 4–6, 2012: Democratic National Convention (“al-Qaeda decimated; bin Laden is dead and GM is alive; al-Qaeda is on the run”).
September 11, 2012: Ambassador Stevens alerts the State Department that conditions in Benghazi are deteriorating.
3:40 p.m. (D.C. time): Stevens calls deputy chief of mission Greg Hicks in Tripoli and alerts him that the consulate in Benghazi is under attack.
4:00 p.m.: The White House is advised that the consulate is under attack. 10th Special Forces Group in Croatia is three hours away; Brigadier General (Ret.) Robert Lovell, Deputy Director of Intelligence for AFRICOM, later testifies that intelligence knew immediately that it was not a protest but a terrorist attack; no request for aid comes from the State Department.
5:00 p.m.: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discusses attack with President Obama.
6:00 p.m.: U.S. Embassy in Tripoli advises the White House and the State Department that al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Sharia has claimed responsibility for the attack. CIA deputy director Mike Morrell later testifies that “analysts knew from the get-go that al Qaeda was involved with this attack.”
8:00 p.m.: Greg Hicks calls Clinton and tells her that consulate is under terrorist attack.
10:00 p.m.: Clinton and Obama talk.
10:30 p.m.: Clinton issues a statement linking the attack to an inflammatory internet video.
11:00–11:30 p.m.: Former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Ty Woods killed.
September 12, 2012: Redacted e-mail from a State Department official says the official advised the Libyan government that the attack was carried out by Ansar al-Sharia. No mention of video.
September 12–15, 2012: CIA drafts several iterations of talking points; contains no known references to video as cause of the attack.
September 13, 2012: State Department memo blames the attack on terrorists.
September 13, 2012: Defense Intelligence Agency assigns blame for the attack on Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. No mention of a video.
September 13, 2012: Clinton condemns violence against U.S. consulate in Libya due to a video. September 13, 2012: Jay Carney condemns attack due to a video.
September 14, 2012: State Department says the attack was a spontaneous demonstration due to a video.
September 14, 2012: Obama and Clinton receive the families of the fallen as their caskets arrive at Andrews Air Force Base; blame the attack on a video. Clinton tells Ty Woods’s father, Charles, that they will “get” the producer of the video.
September 14, 2012: Jay Carney blames the video.
September 14, 2012, 8:00 p.m.: Deputy national-security adviser Ben Rhodes sends an e-mail regarding the preparation of Susan Rice for the Sunday talk shows, advising Rice to underscore the video and that the attack is “not a broader failure of policy.” September 15, 2012: Obama blames the video.
September 16, 2012: Susan Rice appears on five Sunday talk shows and characterizes the attacks as a spontaneous reaction due to a video. September 16, 2012: Libyan president disputes Rice’s comments, asserting Benghazi was a planned attack.
September 18, 2012: Obama appears on the David Letterman show, blames the video.
September 19, 2012: The head of the National Counterterrorism Center testifies that the attack was not a protest but a terrorist attack.
September 20, 2012: Obama blames the video. September 20, 2012: Obama and Clinton run an ad on Pakistani TV apologizing for the video.
September 21, 2012: Clinton says it was a terrorist attack.
September 24, 2012: Obama appears on The View, blames the video.
October 4, 2012: Clinton establishes the Accountability Review Board (“ARB”) to examine the circumstances surrounding the loss of personnel in Benghazi. Clinton not interviewed by ARB.
October 11, 2012: At the vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden claims the administration was not informed about requests for more security at the consulate in Benghazi.
October 16, 2012: Obama, in a response to a question from a reporter about whether he denied requests for aid to Benghazi on September 11 responds, “The minute I found out this was going on, I gave three directives. Number one, make sure we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we are going to investigate exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so that we can bring them to justice.”
October 18, 2012: Judicial Watch makes a Freedom of Information Act request to the administration for talking points and communications regarding the events in Benghazi. The administration ignores the request.
October 20, 2012: Obama claims that he was not aware of any requests for additional security in Benghazi.
January 23, 2013: Clinton asks, “What difference, at this point, does it make whether it was a terrorist attack or a spontaneous demonstration?”
June 21, 2013: Judicial Watch sues the administration for unlawfully withholding documents pertaining to Benghazi.
July 25, 2013: Obama slams the “endless parade of distractions, political posturing, and phony scandals.”
August 2013: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requests Benghazi e-mails. The Ben Rhodes e-mail is not among those produced.
April 18, 2014: Federal court orders the administration to turn over documents to Judicial Watch. 41 documents are released, including the Ben Rhodes e-mail.
May 1, 2014: Tommy Vietor tells Fox News the president was not in the Situation Room on September 11, 2012.
May 2, 2014: Speaker John Boehner announces a vote to form a select committee on Benghazi.
May 4, 2014: Representative Adam Schiff (D.., Calif.), member of the House Intelligence Committee, suggests Democrats boycott the House select committee as a “colossal waste of time.”
May 5, 2014: Carney will not say whether White House will cooperate with the select committee. (Clearly, much remains to be filled in by the select committee. Numerous questions and lines of inquiry are prompted by the above. The chronology is based on congressional testimony and reports from, among others, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the New York Times, the New York Post and Fox News, and the reporting of Steve Hayes and Jennifer Griffin.)
Posted on October 26, 2012 | Updated on May 2, 2014
The question won’t go away: Did President Obama and administration officials mislead the public when they initially claimed that the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi began “spontaneously” in response to an anti-Muslim video?
The question surfaced again on Oct. 25 — more than six weeks after the incident — when government emails showed the White House and the State Department were told even as the attack was going on that Ansar al-Sharia, a little-known militant group, had claimed credit for it.
We cannot say whether the administration was intentionally misleading the public. We cannot prove intent. There is also more information to come — both from the FBI, which is conducting an investigation, and Congress, which has been holding hearings.
But, at this point, we do know that Obama and others in the administration were quick to cite the anti-Muslim video as the underlying cause for the attack in Benghazi that killed four U.S. diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. And they were slow to acknowledge it was a premeditated terrorist attack, and they downplayed reports that it might have been.
What follows is a timeline of events that we hope will help put the incident into perspective. We call attention in particular to these key facts:
There were no protesters at the Benghazi consulate prior to the attack, even though Obama and others repeatedly said the attackers joined an angry mob that had formed in opposition to the anti-Muslim film that had triggered protests in Egypt and elsewhere. The State Department disclosed this fact Oct. 9 — nearly a month after the attack.
Libya President Mohamed Magariaf insisted on Sept. 16 — five days after the attack — that it was a planned terrorist attack, but administration officials continued for days later to say there was no evidence of a planned attack.
Magariaf also said the idea that the attack was a “spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous.” This, too, was on Sept. 16. Yet, Obama and others continued to describe the incident in exactly those terms — including during the president’s Sept. 18 appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman.”
Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, was the first administration official to call it “a terrorist attack” during a Sept. 19 congressional hearing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did the same on Sept. 20. Even so, Obama declined opportunities to call it a terrorist attack when asked at a town hall meeting on Sept. 20 and during a taping of “The View” on Sept. 24.
Here is our timeline:
Sept. 11: The Attack
2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (8:30 p.m. Benghazi time): U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens steps outside the consulate to say goodbye to a Turkish diplomat. There are no protesters at this time. (“Everything is calm at 8:30,” a State Department official would later say at an Oct. 9 background briefing for reporters. “There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside.”)
3 p.m.: Ambassador Stevens retires to his bedroom for the evening. (See Oct. 9 briefing.)
Approximately 3:40 p.m. A security agent at the Benghazi compound hears “loud noises” coming from the front gate and “gunfire and an explosion.” A senior State Department official at the Oct. 9 briefing says that “the camera on the main gate reveals a large number of people – a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound.”
About 4 p.m.: This is the approximate time of attack that was given to reporters at a Sept. 12 State Department background briefing. An administration official identified only as “senior administration official one” provides an official timeline of events at the consulate, but only from the time of the attack — not prior to the attack. The official says, “The compound where our office is in Benghazi began taking fire from unidentified Libyan extremists.” (Six of the next seven entries in this timeline — through 8:30 p.m. EDT — all come from the Sept. 12 briefing. The exception being the 6:07 p.m. entry, which comes from Reuters.)
About 4:15 p.m.: “The attackers gained access to the compound and began firing into the main building, setting it on fire. The Libyan guard force and our mission security personnel responded. At that time, there were three people inside the building: Ambassador Stevens, one of our regional security officers, and Information Management Officer Sean Smith.”
Between 4:15 p.m.-4:45 p.m.: Sean Smith is found dead.
About 4:45 p.m.: “U.S. security personnel assigned to the mission annex tried to regain the main building, but that group also took heavy fire and had to return to the mission annex.”
About 5:20 p.m.: “U.S. and Libyan security personnel … regain the main building and they were able to secure it.”
Around 6 p.m.: “The mission annex then came under fire itself at around 6 o’clock in the evening our time, and that continued for about two hours. It was during that time that two additional U.S. personnel were killed and two more were wounded during that ongoing attack.”
6:07 p.m.: The State Department’s Operations Center sends an email to the White House, Pentagon, FBI and other government agencies that said Ansar al-Sharia has claimed credit for the attack on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. (The existence of the email was not disclosed until Reuters reported it on Oct. 24.)
About 8:30 p.m.: “Libyan security forces were able to assist us in regaining control of the situation. At some point in all of this – and frankly, we do not know when – we believe that Ambassador Stevens got out of the building and was taken to a hospital in Benghazi. We do not have any information what his condition was at that time. His body was later returned to U.S. personnel at the Benghazi airport.”
About 10:00 p.m.: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issues a statement confirming that one State official was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Her statement, which MSNBC posted at 10:32 p.m., made reference to the anti-Muslim video.
Clinton: Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.
Sept.12: Obama Labels Attack ‘Act of Terror,’ Not ‘Terrorism’
Sept. 12: Clinton issues a statement confirming that four U.S. officials, not one, had been killed. She called it a “violent attack.”
Clinton: All the Americans we lost in yesterday’s attacks made the ultimate sacrifice. We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future.
Sept. 12: Clinton delivers a speech at the State Department to condemn the attack in Benghazi and to praise the victims as “heroes.” She again makes reference to the anti-Muslim video in similar language.
Clinton: 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. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear — there is no justification for this, none.
Sept. 12: Obama delivers a morning speech in the Rose Garden to address the deaths of U.S. diplomats in Libya. He said, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” He also makes reference to the anti-Muslim video when he says: “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.” He uses the term “act of terror” later that night when talking about the attack at a campaign event in Las Vegas.
Sept. 12: After his Rose Garden speech, Obama tapes an interview for “60 Minutes.” Obama says he didn’t use the word “terrorism” in his Rose Garden speech because “it’s too early to know exactly how this came about.” Steve Kroft, the show’s host, wonders how the attack could be described as a “mob action” since the attackers were “very heavily armed.” Obama says “we’re still investigating,” but he suspects “folks involved in this . . . were looking to target Americans from the start.”
Kroft: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya attack.
Kroft: Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?
Obama: Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans and we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice one way or the other.
Kroft: It’s been described as a mob action. But there are reports that they were very heavily armed with grenades. That doesn’t sound like your normal demonstration.
Obama: As I said, we’re still investigating exactly what happened. I don’t want to jump the gun on this. But you’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt. And my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this, who were looking to target Americans from the start.
Sept. 12: Senior administration officials, who did not permit use of their names, hold a briefing with reporters to answer questions about the attack. Twice officials characterize those involved in the attack as “extremists.” In one case, an official identified only as “senior administration official one” is asked by Fox News reporter Justin Fishel if the administration had ruled out the possibly that the attack was in response to the anti-Muslim video. The official says, “We just don’t know.”
Senior administration official one: With regard to whether there is any connection between this Internet activity and this extremist attack in Benghazi, frankly, we just don’t know. We’re not going to know until we have a chance to investigate. And I’m sorry that it is frustrating for you that so many of our answers are “We don’t know,” but they are truthful in that.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asks officials to address news reports that the attack has been “linked to a terror attack, an organized terror attack,” possibly al Qaeda. The official refers to it as a “complex attack,” but says it is “too early to say who they were” and their affiliation.
Senior administration official one: Frankly, we are not in a position to speak any further to the perpetrators of this attack. It was clearly a complex attack. We’re going to have to do a full investigation. We are committed to working with the Libyans both on the investigation and to ensure that we bring the perpetrators to justice. The FBI is already committed to assisting in that, but I just – we’re – it’s just too early to speak to who they were and if they might have been otherwise affiliated beyond Libya.
Sept. 12, 4:09 p.m.: At a press briefing en route to Las Vegas, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is asked, “Does the White House believe that the attack in Benghazi was planned and premeditated?” He responds, “It’s too early for us to make that judgment. I think — I know that this is being investigated, and we’re working with the Libyan government to investigate the incident. So I would not want to speculate on that at this time.”
Sept. 12: Libya’s deputy ambassador to London, Ahmad Jibril, tells the BBC that Ansar al-Sharia was behind the attack. The little-known militant group issues a statement that says it “didn’t participate as a sole entity,” neither confirming nor denying the report.
Sept. 12, 6:06 p.m.: Beth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Near East, sends an email to top State Department officials that reads in part: “[T]he group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic extremists.” (An excerpt of Jones’ email was read by Rep. Trey Gowdy at the May 8, 2013, House oversight hearing.)
Sept. 12: Citing unnamed “U.S. government officials,” Reuters reports that “the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance” and that members of Ansar al-Sharia “may have been involved.” Reuters quotes one of the U.S. officials as saying: “It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack.”
Sept. 13: ‘Clearly Planned’ or ‘Spontaneous’ Attack?
Sept. 13: Clinton meets with Ali Suleiman Aujali — the Libyan ambassador to the U.S. — at a State Department event to mark the end of Ramadan. Ambassador Aujali apologizes to Clinton for what he called “this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya.” Clinton, in her remarks, does not refer to it as a terrorist attack. She condemns the anti-Muslim video, but adds that there is “never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
Clinton: 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 1 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.
But both of us were crystal clear in this paramount message: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind. And we look to leaders around the world to stand up and speak out against violence, and to take steps to protect diplomatic missions from attack.
Sept. 13: At a daily press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was asked if the Benghazi attack was “purely spontaneous or was premeditated by militants.” She declined to say, reiterating that the administration did not want to “jump to conclusions.”
Nuland: Well, as we said yesterday when we were on background, we are very cautious about drawing any conclusions with regard to who the perpetrators were, what their motivations were, whether it was premeditated, whether they had any external contacts, whether there was any link, until we have a chance to investigate along with the Libyans. So I know that’s going to be frustrating for you, but we really want to make sure that we do this right and we don’t jump to conclusions.
That said, obviously, there are plenty of people around the region citing this disgusting video as something that has been motivating. As the Secretary said this morning, while we as Americans, of course, respect free speech, respect free expression, there’s never an excuse for it to become violent.
Sept. 13: Clinton met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani. She condemned what she called the “disgusting and reprehensible” anti-Muslim video and the violence that it triggered. She said, “Islam, like other religions, respects the fundamental dignity of human beings, and it is a violation of that fundamental dignity to wage attacks on innocents. As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of religion, the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.”
Sept. 13: At a campaign event in Colorado, Obama again uses the phrase “act of terror.” He says: “I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.”
Sept. 13: CNN reports that unnamed “State Department officials” say the incident in Benghazi was a “clearly planned military-type attack” unrelated to the anti-Muslim movie.
CNN: “It was not an innocent mob,” one senior official said. “The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective but this was a clearly planned military-type attack.”
Sept. 14: White House Says No Evidence of Planned Attack
Sept. 14: Clinton spoke at Andrews Air Force Base at a ceremony to receive the remains of those killed in Benghazi. She remarked that she received a letter from the president of the Palestinian Authority praising Stevens and “deploring — and I quote — ‘an act of ugly terror.’ ” She, however, did not call it an act of terror or a terrorist attack and neither did the president.
Sept. 14: At a State Department press briefing, spokeswoman Nuland says the department will no longer answer any questions about the Benghazi attack. “It is now something that you need to talk to the FBI about, not to us about, because it’s their investigation.”
Sept. 14: At a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Carney denies reports that it was a preplanned attack. “I have seen that report, and the story is absolutely wrong. We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent. That report is false.” Later in that same briefing, Carney is told that Pentagon officials informed members of Congress at a closed-door meeting that the Benghazi attack was a planned terrorist attack. Carney said the matter is being investigated but White House officials “don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this was not in reaction to the film.”
Question: Jay, one last question — while we were sitting here — [Defense] Secretary [Leon] Panetta and the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee. And the senators came out and said their indication was that this, or the attack on Benghazi was a terrorist attack organized and carried out by terrorists, that it was premeditated, a calculated act of terror. Levin said — Senator Levin — I think it was a planned, premeditated attack. The kind of equipment that they had used was evidence it was a planned, premeditated attack. Is there anything more you can — now that the administration is briefing senators on this, is there anything more you can tell us?
Carney: Well, I think we wait to hear from administration officials. Again, it’s actively under investigation, both the Benghazi attack and incidents elsewhere. And my point was that we don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this was not in reaction to the film. But we’re obviously investigating the matter, and I’ll certainly — I’m sure both the Department of Defense and the White House and other places will have more to say about that as more information becomes available.
Sept. 14: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets with the Senate Armed Services Committee. Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, reports that Republicans and Democrats came away with the conclusion that the Benghazi attack was a planned terrorist attack.
The Hill: Senators spoke with Panetta about the response to the situation in Libya. Four Americans were killed in an attack Tuesday on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Senators said it has become clearer the attack was coordinated, although they would not say anything specific about any connection to the broader protests that came after an anti-Muslim video was released.
“I think it was a planned, premeditated attack,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said. He added he did not know the specific group responsible for the assault on the complex.
[Sen. John] McCain expressed a similar view.“People don’t go to demonstrate and carry RPGs and automatic weapons,” he said, adding that the facts suggest “this was not a ‘mob’ action [or] a group of protesters.”
Sept. 15-16: Susan Rice Contradicts Libyan President
Sept. 15: Obama discusses the Benghazi attack in his weekly address. He makes no mention of terror, terrorists or extremists. He does talk about the anti-Muslim film and “every angry mob” that it inspired in pockets of the Middle East.
Obama: This tragic attack [in Benghazi] takes place at a time of turmoil and protest in many different countries. I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths. We stand for religious freedom. And we reject the denigration of any religion — including Islam.
Yet there is never any justification for violence. There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women. There is no excuse for attacks on our Embassies and Consulates.
Sept. 16: Libya President Mohamed Magariaf says on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the attack on the U.S. consulate was planned months in advance. But Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tells CBS News’ Bob Schieffer: “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.” She says it began “spontaneously … as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo,” and “extremist elements” joined in the protest. (It was later learned that Rice received her information from talking points developed by the CIA.)
Update, May 16, 2013: The talking points given to Rice were extensively revised, largely at the request of the State Department. The original CIA talking points said, “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” And they said that “[i]nitial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia.” References to al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia were removed. However, all of the drafts say the attack began “spontaneously” in response to the Cairo protest. Read our article “Benghazi Attack, Revisited” for more information on what changes were made to the talking points.
Update, May 2, 2014: Two days before Rice’s appearance on the Sunday talk show circuit, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes sent an email to other administration officials, including White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, with the subject line “PREP CALL with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.” Rhodes’ email outlined four “goals” for Rice’s TV appearances. One of the goals: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” The email contained a mock Q&A session, and the third question asked whether the Benghazi attack was “an intelligence failure.” The answer in the email parroted — nearly word for word — Rice’s talking points when it said: “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex.” The Rhodes email was released April 29 by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that obtained 41 State Department documents under the Freedom of Information Act.
Schieffer: Was this a long-planned attack, as far as you know? Or what– what do you know about that?
Magariaf: The way these perpetrators acted and moved … this leaves us with no doubt that this has preplanned, determined– predetermined.
Schieffer: And you believe that this was the work of al Qaeda and you believe that it was led by foreigners. Is that — is that what you are telling us?
Magariaf: It was planned — definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who — who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their — since their arrival. …
Schieffer: And joining us now, Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador, our U.N. ambassador. Madam Ambassador, [Magariaf] says this is something that has been in the planning stages for months. I understand you have been saying that you think it was spontaneous? Are we not on the same page here?
Rice: Bob, let me tell you what we understand to be the assessment at present. First of all, very importantly, as you discussed with the president, there is an investigation that the United States government will launch led by the FBI, that has begun and —
They are not on the ground yet, but they have already begun looking at all sorts of evidence of — of various sorts already available to them and to us. And they will get on the ground and continue the investigation. So we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.
But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy — sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that– in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.
Schieffer: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?
Rice: We do not– we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.
Schieffer: Do you agree or disagree with him that al Qaeda had some part in this?
Rice: Well, we’ll have to find out that out. I mean I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.
Sept. 16: Magariaf says in an interview with NPR: “The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous. We firmly believe that this was a precalculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. consulate.”
Sept. 17: State Defends Rice and ‘Initial Assessment’
Sept. 17: Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, is asked about Rice’s comments on “Face the Nation” and four other Sunday talk shows. Nuland says, “The comments that Ambassador Rice made accurately reflect our government’s initial assessment.” Nuland uses the phrase “initial assessment” three times when discussing Rice’s comments.
Sept. 18: Obama Says ‘Extremists’ Used Video As ‘Excuse’
Sept. 18: Obama was asked about the Benghazi attack on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The president said, “Here’s what happened,” and began discussing the impact of the anti-Muslim video. He then said, “Extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.” He also said, “As offensive as this video was and, obviously, we’ve denounced it and the United States government had nothing to do with it. That’s never an excuse for violence.”
Sept. 18: Asked about Magariaf’s assessment that the video had nothing to do with the terrorist attack in Benghazi, the White House spokesman says Obama “would rather wait” for the investigation to be completed. “But at this time, as Ambassador Rice said and as I said, our understanding and our belief based on the information we have is it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo, and the video and the unrest in Cairo that helped — that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi and elsewhere,” Carney says. “What other factors were involved is a matter of investigation.”
Sept. 18: After meeting with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Patricia Espinosa, Clinton speaks with reporters and is asked if the Libyan president is “wrong” that “this attack was planned for months.” Clinton says, “The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has said we had no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent.” She does not say if Magariaf is right or wrong.
Sept. 19: Olsen Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 19: Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, tells a Senate subcommittee (at 1:06:49 in the video) that the four State Department officials in Benghazi “were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.” It is the first time an administration official labeled it a “terrorist attack.” But he also tells the senators that he has no “specific evidence of significant advanced planning.”
Olsen: Yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy. … The best information we have now, the facts that we have now, indicate that this was an opportunist attack on our embassy. The attack began and evolved and escalated over several hours. … [I]t appears that individuals who were certainly well armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded. … What we don’t have, at this point, is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack.
Sept. 19: At a State Department briefing, the department spokeswoman is asked if she now believes that the attack was a “terrorist attack”? She says, “Well, I didn’t get a chance to see the whole testimony that was given by Matt Olsen of the NCTC, but obviously we stand by comments made by our intelligence community who has first responsibility for evaluating the intelligence and what they believe that we are seeing.”
Sept. 19: The White House spokesman does not call it a “terrorist attack” in his press briefing. Carney says, “Based on the information we had at the time — we have now, we do not yet have indication that it was preplanned or premeditated. There’s an active investigation. If that active investigation produces facts that lead to a different conclusion, we will make clear that that’s where the investigation has led.”
Sept. 20: W.H. Spokesman Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’ — Not Obama
Sept. 20: Carney calls it a “terrorist attack” after being asked how the White House now classifies the attack. But he says the White House has no evidence that it was “a significantly preplanned attack” and blames the video for igniting the incident in Benghazi.
Carney: It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that’s self-evident. I would point you to a couple of things that Mr. Olsen said, which is that at this point it appears that a number of different elements were involved in the attack, including individuals connected to militant groups that are prevalent in Eastern Libya.
He also made clear that at this point, based on the information he has — and he is briefing the Hill on the most up-to-date intelligence — we have no information at this point that suggests that this was a significantly preplanned attack, but this was the result of opportunism, taking advantage of and exploiting what was happening as a result of reaction to the video that was found to be offensive.
Sept. 20: Obama, at a town hall meeting, says “extremists” took advantage of the “natural protests” to the anti-Muslim video to attack the consulate in Benghazi. He does not call it a “terrorist attack.”
Question: We have reports that the White House said today that the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack. Do you have information indicating that it was Iran, or al Qaeda was behind organizing the protests?
Obama: Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.
Sept. 21: Clinton Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 21: Clinton, speaking to reporters before a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, calls it a “terrorist attack” for the first time. She says, “Yesterday afternoon when I briefed the Congress, I made it clear that keeping our people everywhere in the world safe is our top priority. What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans.”
Sept. 24-25: Obama Refuses to Call It a Terrorist Attack
Sept. 24: Clinton meets with the Libyan president and calls the Benghazi attack a “terrorist assault.” She says, “As we all know, the United States lost a great ambassador and the Libyan people lost a true friend when Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the terrorist assault on our consulate in Benghazi.”
Sept. 24: Obama tapes an appearance on “The View,” and he’s asked by co-host Joy Behar whether the Libya attack was an act of terrorism or caused by the anti-Muslim video. He does not call it a terrorist attack and says, “We’re still doing an investigation.”
Joy Behar: It was reported that people just went crazy and wild because of this anti-Muslim movie, or anti-Muhammad, I guess, movie. But then I heard Hillary Clinton say that it was an act of terrorism. Is it? What do you say?
Obama: Well, we’re still doing an investigation. There’s no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action. Now, we don’t have all the information yet, so we’re still gathering it. But what’s clear is that around the world, there’s still a lot of threats out there. That’s why we have to maintain the strongest military in the world, that’s why we can’t let down our guard when it comes to the intelligence work that we do and staying on top of — not just al Qaeda, the traditional al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. …
Sept. 25: Obama speaks at the United Nations. He praises Chris Stevens as “the best of America” and condemns the anti-Muslim video as “crude and disgusting.” He does not describe the Benghazi attack as a terrorist attack.
Sept. 26: ‘Let’s Be Clear, It Was a Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 26: Carney is asked at a press briefing aboard Air Force One en route to Ohio why the president has not called the Benghazi incident a “terrorist attack.” He said, “The president — our position is, as reflected by the NCTC director, that it was a terrorist attack. It is, I think by definition, a terrorist attack when there is a prolonged assault on an embassy with weapons. … So, let’s be clear, it was a terrorist attack and it was an inexcusable attack.”
Sept. 26: Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, in an interview with Al Jazeera, is asked whether he agrees with the president of Libya that the Benghazi attack was premeditated and had nothing to do with the anti-Muslim video. He said: “It’s clear that the attack which took the lives of Chris Stevens and three other colleagues was clearly choreographed and directed and involved a fair amount of firepower, but exactly what kind of planning went into that and how it emerged on that awful night, we just don’t know right now. But I’m confident we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
Sept. 27: When Did Administration Know?
Sept. 27: At a press briefing, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that “it was a terrorist attack,” but declines to say when he came to that conclusion. “It took a while to really get some of the feedback from what exactly happened at that location,” he said. “As we determined the details of what took place there, and how that attack took place, that it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack.”
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the same briefing addresses what the U.S. knew in advance of the Benghazi attack. He says there was “a thread of intelligence reporting that groups in … eastern Libya were seeking to coalesce, but there wasn’t anything specific and certainly not a specific threat to the consulate that I’m aware of.”
Sept. 27: In a report on “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees,” Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush, says the administration knew early on that it was a terrorist attack. “The law enforcement source who said to me, from day one we had known clearly that this was a terrorist attack,” she says.
Sept. 27-28: Intelligence ‘Evolved’
Sept. 27: The White House spokesman is asked yet again why the president has refused to call the incident a terrorist attack. “The president’s position [is] that this was a terrorist attack,” Carney says.
Question: If the president does not call it, label it a terrorist attack as you and others have, is there some legal or diplomatic trigger that that brings? Why hasn’t he said that?
Carney: I think you’re misunderstanding something here. I’m the president’s spokesman. When the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matt Olsen, in open testimony in Congress answered a question by saying yes, by the definitions we go by — this is me paraphrasing — this was a terrorist attack — I echoed that, because this president, this administration, everybody looks to the intelligence community for the assessments on this. And it has been since I said so, the president’s position that this was a terrorist attack.
Sept. 28: Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, says in a statement that the office’s position on the attack evolved. It was first believed that “the attack began spontaneously,” but it was later determined that “it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack,” he says.
Turner: In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available. Throughout our investigation we continued to emphasize that information gathered was preliminary and evolving.
As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate.
Oct. 2-3: Clinton Cites ‘Continuing Questions’
Oct. 2: White House spokesman Carney at a press briefing in Nevada: “At every step of the way, the administration has based its public statements on the best assessments that were provided by the intelligence community. As the intelligence community learned more information they updated Congress and the American people on it.”
Oct. 3: Clinton tells reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov: “There are continuing questions about what exactly happened in Benghazi on that night three weeks ago. And we will not rest until we answer those questions and until we track down the terrorists who killed our people.”
Oct. 9: ‘Everything Calm’ Prior to Benghazi Attack, No Protests
Oct. 9: At a background briefing, senior state department officials reveal there were no protests prior to the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi — contrary to what administration officials have been saying for weeks. A senior department official says “everything is calm at 8:30 p.m.” (Libya time) when Stevens was outside the building to bid a visitor goodbye. The ambassador retired to his bedroom for the evening at 9 p.m. The calm was shattered by 9:40 p.m. when “loud noises” and “gunfire and an explosion” are heard. (The background briefing provided on Sept. 12 also said the attack began at about 10 p.m., or about 4 p.m. EDT, but it did not provide information about what happened prior to the attack.)
A senior official says it was “not our conclusion” that the Benghazi attack started as a spontaneous protest to the anti-Muslim video. He also said “there was no actionable intelligence of any planned or imminent attack.”
Question: 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.
Oct. 10: Administration Says It Gave Public ‘Best Information’
Oct. 10: Carney, the White House spokesman, is asked at a press briefing why the president and administration officials described the anti-Muslim video as the underlying cause of the attack on Benghazi when the State Department “never concluded that the assault in Benghazi was part of a protest on the anti-Muslim film.” He replied, in part: “Again, from the beginning, we have provided information based on the facts that we knew as they became available, based on assessments by the intelligence community — not opinions — assessments by the IC, by the intelligence community. And we have been clear all along that this was an ongoing investigation, that as more facts became available we would make you aware of them as appropriate, and we’ve done that.”
Oct. 10: After testifying before a House committee, Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy is asked at a press briefing what the State Department should have done differently in releasing information about the Benghazi attack. He said, “We are giving out the best information we have at the time.”
Kennedy: [T]his is obviously an incredibly complicated situation. We’ve always made clear from the very beginning that we are giving out the best information we have at the time we are giving it out. That information has evolved over time. For example, if any Administration official, including any career official, had been on television on Sunday, September 16th, they would have said the same thing that Ambassador Rice would have said. She had information at that point from the intelligence community, and that is the same information I had and this – I would have made exactly the same points. Clearly, we know more today, but we knew what we knew when we knew it.
Oct. 10: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform releases State Department memos requesting additional security in Libya. Charlene Lamb, a State Department official who denied those requests, tells the committee that the State Department had been training local Libyans for nearly a year and additional U.S. security personnel were not needed. As reported by Foreign Policy: “We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi on the night of 9/11,” Lamb testified. Others testified differently. “All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources,” testified Eric Nordstrom, the top regional security officer in Libya over the summer, Foreign Policy reported.
Oct. 15: Clinton Blames ‘Fog of War’
Oct. 15: Clinton, in an interview on CNN, blamed the “fog of war” when asked why the administration initially claimed the attack began with the anti-Muslim video, even though the State Department never reached that conclusion. “In the wake of an attack like this in the fog of war, there’s always going to be confusion, and I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence,” Clinton said. “Everyone who spoke tried to give the information they had. As time has gone on, the information has changed, we’ve gotten more detail, but that’s not surprising. That always happens.”
Oct. 15: The New York Timesreports that the Benghazi attack came “without any warning or protest,” but “Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers” say it was “in retaliation for the video.”
Oct. 24: White House, State Department Emails on Ansar al-Sharia
Oct. 24: Reuters reports the White House, Pentagon and other government agencies learned just two hours into the Benghazi attack that Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamic militant group, had “claimed credit” for it. The wire service report was based on three emails from the State Department’s Operations Center. One of the emails said, “Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripol.” The article also noted, “Intelligence experts caution that initial reports from the scene of any attack or disaster are often inaccurate.” (It should be noted that Reuters first reported on Sept. 12 that unnamed U.S. officials believed that Ansar al-Sharia may have been involved.)
Oct. 24: Clinton warns at a press conference that you cannot draw conclusions from the leaked emails because “cherry-picking one story here or one document there” can be misleading. She said, “The independent Accountability Review Board is already hard at work looking at everything — not cherry-picking one story here or one document there — but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this. Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be.”
Oct. 24: Carney, the White House spokesman, says that “within a few hours” of the attack Ansar al-Sharia “claimed that it had not been responsible.” He added, “Neither should be taken as fact — that’s why there’s an investigation underway.”
May 8, 2013: At a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, Rep. Trey Gowdy reads excerpts of a Sept. 12, 2011, email written by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Beth Jones. According to Gowdy, Jones wrote, “I spoke to the Libyan ambassador and emphasized the importance of Libyan leaders to continue to make strong statements,” and “When he said his government suspected that former Qaddafi regime elements carried out the attack, I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic extremists.” Gowdy said the email was sent to several top State Department officials, including Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy. The committee did not release the full contents of the email. House Speaker John Boehner said the State Department did not allow the House to keep a copy of it.)
May 15, 2013: The White House releases 100 pages of emails regarding the CIA’s original talking points that were developed for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice during her Sept. 16 Sunday talk show appearances. The emails show there were extensive changes made at the request of the State Department. (See “Sept. 16″ in our timeline for more information.)
Update, Nov. 6, 2012: This article was updated to add the president’s Sept. 12 interview with “60 Minutes,” which did not release the video and transcript until Nov. 4.
Update, May 9, 2013: This article was updated to include testimony from the May 8, 2013, hearing of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.