Senator Blunt Discusses Harmful Effects Of EPA’s Clean Power Plan 8/4/15
EPA Regulatory Overreach – Impacts on American Competitiveness
McKinley Discusses Impacts of EPA Power Plant Rule
Wayne’s Story: New EPA Regulations Jeopardize Kansas Jobs
Wilbur Ross on Trump, EPA rules
Murray Energy CEO sues over new EPA rules
Attorney General Ken Paxton Announces Fight Against EPA’s Carbon Rul
EPA’s Proposed 111(d) Rule for Existing Power Plants: Legal and Cost Issues
ECO:nomics: How Much Will EPA Carbon Rules Affect Global Emissions?
‘One one-hundredth of a degree?’ EPA’s McCarthy admits Obama regs have no measurable climate impact
James Delingpole: Great Britain, the Green Movement, and the End of the World
MAJOR REDUCTIONS IN CARBON EMISSIONS ARE NOT WORTH THE MONEY 4 /14- Intelligence Squared U.S.
The Truth about CO2
Is CO2 a pollutant?
Trees Are the Answer
ManBearPig, Climategate and Watermelons: A conversation with author James Delingpole
“Slap in the Face” Award: The White House/EPA Attack On Coal
Obama plot to black out 40 percent of US power supply
EPA Rule Calling For Power Plant Carbon Emissions To Be Cut By 30% By 2030 – Cavuto
Neil Cavuto & Bob Murray: Here Come Skyrocketing Electric Rates – Really
‘Clean Coal’ Fails to Capture World’s Attention
16 States Plan to Fight Obama’s New EPA Demands
EPA Proposes Methane Reduce Plan
EPA to Introduce New Rules to Cut Methane Emissions
U.S. Green Groups Urge Methane Rules For Oil And Gas Industry
Obama’s Anti-Coal Agenda Will Raise Consumer Prices and Unemployment
Whitfield: Obama’s Assault on Coal Will Lead to An 80 Percent Electricity Rate Hike
Krauthammer: Obama shuts down coal industry, kills jobs, raises electric rates – offers algae
Obama Plans to make Green Energy Affordable by Making Gasoline and Coal Unaffordable
Obama’s War on Jobs
Climate Change in 12 Minutes – The Skeptic’s Case
Dr David Evans: Global Warming is Manmade? (1 of 2)
Dr David Evans: Global Warming is Manmade? (2 of 2)
George Carlin on Global Warming
George Carlin – Death
Obama’s climate agenda on trial
By Devin Henry
A slate of major environmental rules rolled out by the Obama administration in 2015 will face serious challenges in the new year, as opponents look to beat back the president’s ambitious policies — a core piece of his legacy.
In the lead-up to the landmark Paris climate talks in December — an event that yielded a first-of-its-kind global agreement to cut carbon emissions — the Obama administration released a series of sweeping new environmental rules, each garnering both condemnation and deep-pocketed opposition from interest looking to torpedo the regulations in 2016.
As Obama enters the final year of his presidency, much of his focus on environmental issues will be implementing and preserving the work he’s already done. If 2015 was the year he pushed his environmental agenda forward, 2016 could be the year he looks to preserve it.
Here are some of the biggest regulations Obama finalized or proposed last year, and how they’ll be litigated in 2016.
Clean Power Plan
The most notable environmental rule issued in 2015 was the climate rule for power plants, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation designed to cut carbon emissions from the power sector.
The rule is the centerpiece of Obama’s climate change agenda, and the biggest promise he took with him to the United Nations climate talks. It’s designed to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
Environmentalists hailed the rule, but it has met with scorching opposition from Republicans, commodity groups, businesses and utilities. Opponents have argued that, while the rule will cut carbon emissions, it will do so at the expense of jobs and American energy bills, which could go up as states shift to cleaner energy mixes.
Dozens of opponents sued against the rule the day in October that it hit the Federal Register, arguing the EPA went beyond its legal authority in assigning states carbon reduction targets.
“EPA’s rule is flatly illegal and one of the most aggressive executive branch power grabs we’ve seen in a long time,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “The EPA cannot do what it intends to do legally.”
The EPA defended the rule as one with “strong scientific and legal foundations” and has sought to protect it from the lawsuits. Opponents want federal judges to issue a stay on the rule and, with legal filings on the matter due on Dec. 23, the first judicial skirmish over the rule is set for early 2016.
Clean Water Rule
A federal court dealt a blow to another EPA rule in 2015 when it blocked implementation of a new rule setting regulatory authority over small waterways.
The so-called “Waters of the United States” rule looks to clarify which streams, wetlands and other smaller waterways the federal government has regulatory authority over.
But opponents of the rule — Republicans, red states and the agriculture industry among them — argue the rule is overly-broad and an unjust expansion of federal power. They sued against the regulation, and two federal courts issued separate injunctions against it in 2015, ruling that opponents have a strong case and could win when their challenges move forward.
The EPA and Army Corps. of Engineers have maintained that the rule is legal and plans to fight the lawsuits against it. The stay didn’t overturn the rule: the courts need to go through the process of making a full ruling on it, and the appeals process could eventually bring the water rule to the Supreme Court.
When the Obama administration finalized a new standard for acceptable concentrations of surface-level ozone particles, neither industrial groups nor public health and environmental coalitions were pleased.
Businesses and manufacturers sued over the new 70-parts-per-billion standard in December, arguing that the new standard would be hard to implement and lead to billions of dollars in compliance costs.
“The EPA’s ozone regulation, which could be one of the most expensive in history, is unworkable and overly burdensome for manufacturers and America’s job creators,” said Linda Kelly, the senior vice president and general counsel for the National Association of Manufacturers.
Greens and health officials defended the EPA’s ability to issue the new rule, which came out in October. But they filed lawsuits of their own, arguing regulators should have finalized a standard even stricter than the one they landed on.
“This standard leaves kids, seniors and asthmatics without the protection doctors say they need from this dangerous pollutant,” Earthjustice attorney David Baron said. “The EPA has a duty to set standards that assure our air is safe to breathe. We say they violated that duty here.”
Even before the ozone rule was released, both sides said they expected to sue over the final standard, citing their dueling lawsuits against the EPA the last time it updated the rule, in 2008.
Neither side succeeded then, and the rule stood.
Beyond legal challenges, the power plant, water and ozone rules could all face challenges from congressional Republicans, as well.
While legislative measures stopping the rules are dead with Obama in office, Republicans showed last year that they were willing to try using the appropriations process to block them anyway.
Key Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have said they plan to exhaust their legislative options for blocking the regulations even with Obama in office. But McConnell acknowledged in October that lawmakers’ hands are likely tied for now, despite passing a since-vetoed Congressional Review Act resolution against the power plan.
“Our options to stop [the Clean Power Plan] are quite limited,” McConnell said then. “We do have the possibility of a CRA. The weakness of that, obviously, is that even though we can pass it through here with a simple majority, [Obama is] likely to veto it.”
The Obama administration led off 2015 promising to take action on methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling sites.
The EPA proposed rules in August to require drillers use new technologies to track and block accidental and purposeful leaks when producing and transmitting oil and gas. The proposal kicked up a potential fight with the gas industry.
Greens have said a strong methane rule is one of the last major climate initiatives Obama can effectively push through during his final term in office. Methane has about 25 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide, and a push to cut down on leaks will compliment Obama’s work on carbon emissions elsewhere, they say.
Drillers, though, are skeptical of the rule, saying they are already taking steps to cut methane leaks on their own. They support EPA’s opt-in programs for cutting methane emissions, but warn that actual regulations could “undermine American competitiveness” in the oil and gas sector.
“EPA’s proposal for additional methane regulations on oil and gas wells and transmission are duplicative and costly,” Howard Feldman, the senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, said in December. “They could also undermine the progress our industry has made lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”
Republicans, too, have opposed new methane rules, with House Natural Resources Committee chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) calling the proposal “another unprecedented attack” on oil and gas interests.
The agency hopes to finalize the rule by the spring.
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.
Continue reading the main story
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.”
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Rupert Murdoch: a seven-point plan for rehabilitation in British life
By Jane Martinson
How the News Corp mogul restored public links with David Cameron after the turbulence of the phone-hacking scandal and Leveson inquiry
Cameron, Osborne and Murdoch back together at mogul’s Christmas knees-up
Rupert Murdoch’s Christmas’s party – which drew David Cameron, George Osborne and other ministers on Monday – marks his return to the centre of power, the culmination of a seven-step process that has seen him regain his position at the top of British life:
1 A profession of humility
Psychologists say acknowledgement is always the first step on the road to recovery but it took Murdoch 12 days after the Guardian revealed that Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked to take out a full-page advert on 16 July 2011 saying: “We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred”. Andy Coulson had already resigned as Cameron’s spin doctor in January 2011 but within days of the Dowler revelations, Murdoch closed the 168-year-old News of the World and scrapped his plan to take over the whole of satellite broadcaster Sky. Brooks resigned to face charges and, by 19 July, a surprisingly frail-looking Murdoch told a House of Commons committee that he was facing “the most humble day of my life”.
2 A fistful of dollars
In total, News Corp spent $512m (£345m) on the closure of its Sunday tabloid and legal settlements for at least 377 victims of voicemail interception. Nine of the 12 journalists charged with phone hacking were convicted, while public officials were found guilty for accepting payments for information. After an eight-month trial, Coulson was found guilty of conspiring to hack phones, while Brooks was cleared of all charges in June 2014. (Having eventually served five months of his sentence, Coulson is now writing the odd piece for the Telegraph. The newspaper group denies that he is on a contract to advise chief executive Murdoch MacLennan). 3 A job for a friend
From the very beginning of the scandal, Murdoch said his top priority was looking after Rebekah Brooks. Within months of the end of her trial, Murdoch was looking at a range of senior jobs for Brooks, firstly in the US. Initial reports that she would rejoin the company were met with disbelief from senior insiders but, after her husband Charlie was understood to have ruled out a move to the US, Murdoch and Brooks started to think that a return to her old job was the best option. She was reappointed chief executive of News UK in September 2015 and, having spent weeks working long hours in the office, she is only now ready for meetings with her old contacts.
4 Let the authorities complete their work
The biggest fear all along for the News Corp boss was the possibility of corporate charges being pressed for phone hacking. Murdoch had already split his publishing arm, which includes the British newspapers as well as the Wall Street Journal, from the Fox film and television business, partly to protect the latter from any possible charges. In February, the Department of Justice declared that News Corp would not face any charges in the US in relation to phone hacking and payments to public officials, and earlier this month the Crown Prosecution Service dropped all corporate charges against News Corp. However, given the appeals against the decision launched by victims, the final curtain has not quite come down. Although no one expects the government to go ahead with “Leveson part two” into the “extent of unlawful and improper conduct”, it cannot confirm this until all criminal proceedings, including appeals, are dealt with. 5 A clear political order
Labour party leaders may have attended Murdoch soirees but the opposition went into the May general election with concern over media domination written into its manifesto. In contrast, the Conservatives’ first manifesto promise on the media was to warn the BBC that it would face a licence fee freeze. Osborne’s comments about Auntie’s “imperial ambitions” reminded everyone that the Liberal Democrats were no longer in government to argue against imposing the cost of free licence fees for the over-75s on the corporation.
Even so, the appearance of Cameron at a party attended by Murdoch and Brooks is remarkable, given the fact that few politicians were as embarrassed by phone hacking as he was. The prime minister’s close links with Brooks and the Murdochs – with their Christmas gatherings, country suppers and “LOL” texting – were revealed in some detail during the Leveson inquiry, which he launched in November 2011. It later emerged that he had ignored those warning him against appointing a man who had stood down from his role as editor of the News of the World as his spin doctor. Having accepted Coulson’s denials, Cameron said he warranted a “second chance”.
Chris Bryant, the former shadow culture secretary and phone-hacking victim, who has recently attended a party at the home of Evgeny Lebedev, said: “There is nothing intrinsically wrong with meeting a proprietor socially. However, I would have thought that Cameron in particular, as well as Osborne, would have learnt from the whole sorry saga that these informal contacts just start to smell dodgy.
“I have always known that, if they won the general election, the Tories would just bide their time before ushering Rupert back through the front door. It was one of the reasons I was so desperate for them not to win.”
6 Rediscover the contacts book
Under disclosure rules brought in by Cameron, we now know when he meets interested parties. So we know that Murdoch and senior News Corp executives met government ministers 10 times in the year to the end of March 2015, more than any other newspaper group. Murdoch also met Osborne twice in the month before the chancellor imposed the aforementioned costly financial settlement on the BBC in July. 7 A model relationship
With his sons busy in the US, a new woman has made the family patriarch a more frequent visitor to the UK. Having split with his third wife, Wendi Deng, in 2013, Murdoch happily posed for pictures at the Rugby World Cup in October alongside his new flame, the London-based Jerry Hall, 59-year-old former wife of Mick Jagger.
Rupert Murdoch, arguably the world’s most powerful media tycoon, stepped down from the CEO role at cable TV and broadcasting giant 21st Century Fox in July 2015 but remains executive co-chairman alongside his son Lachlan; his son James Murdoch took over as CEO. Rupert Murdoch also continues to chair News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal and other print operations. He built a media empire out of Adelaide, Australia; at 22 he inherited two newspapers when his father died. Today, the Murdoch family controls 120 newspapers in five countries; a large cable TV network comprised of the Fox channels in the U.S. and Fox International Channels across Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia; book publishing powerhouse HarperCollins; a movie studio and a large broadcasting and satellite TV arm.
In the 1950s and ’60s, he acquired various newspapers in Australia and New Zealand, before expanding into the United Kingdom in 1969, taking over the News of the World followed closely by The Sun. He moved to New York City in 1974 to expand into the U.S. market, but retained interests in Australia and Britain. In 1981, he bought The Times, his first British broadsheet, and became a naturalised U.S. citizen in 1985 to satisfy the legal requirement for U.S. television ownership.
In 1986, keen to adopt newer electronic publishing technologies, he consolidated his UK printing operations in Wapping, causing bitter industrial disputes. His News Corporation acquired Twentieth Century Fox (1985), HarperCollins (1989) and The Wall Street Journal (2007). He formed the British broadcaster BSkyB in 1990, and during the 1990s expanded into Asian networks and South American television. By 2000, Murdoch’s News Corporation owned over 800 companies in more than 50 countries with a net worth of over $5 billion.
In July 2011, Murdoch faced allegations that his companies, including the News of the World, owned by News Corporation, had been regularlyhacking the phones of celebrities, royalty and public citizens. He faces police and government investigations into bribery and corruption by the British government and FBI investigations in the U.S. On 21 July 2012, Murdoch resigned as a director of News International. On 1 July 2015, Murdoch left his post as CEO of 21st Century Fox.
Murdoch was born Keith Rupert Murdoch on 11 March 1931 in Melbourne, Australia to Sir Keith Murdoch (1885–1952) and Elisabeth Joy Greene (1909–2012), daughter of Rupert Greene. He is of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. His parents were also born in Melbourne. Keith Murdoch was a war correspondent and later a regional newspaper magnate owning two newspapers in Adelaide, South Australia, and a radio station in a faraway mining town. Later in life, Keith Rupert chose to use Rupert, the first name of his maternal grandfather.
Keith Murdoch the elder asked to meet with his future wife after seeing her debutante photograph in one of his own newspapers and they married in 1928, when she was aged 19 and he was 23 years older. In addition to Rupert, the couple had three daughters: Janet Calvert-Jones, Anne Kantor and Helen Handbury (1929–2004). Murdoch attended Geelong Grammar School, where he was co-editor of the school’s official journal The Corian and editor of the student journal If Revived. He took his school’s cricket team to the National Junior Finals. He worked part-time at the Melbourne Herald and was groomed by his father to take over the family business. Murdoch read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Worcester College, Oxford in England, where he supported the Labour Party, stood for Secretary of the Labour Club and managed Oxford Student Publications Limited, the publishing house of Cherwell. After her husband’s death from cancer in 1952, Elisabeth Murdoch did charity work, as life governor of the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne and established the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. At the age of 102 (in 2011), she had 74 descendants. Murdoch completed an MA before working as a sub-editor with theDaily Express for two years.
Activities in Australia and New Zealand
Journalist Sir Keith Murdoch (1885–1952), Rupert Murdoch’s father
Following his father’s death, when he was 21, Murdoch returned from Oxford to take charge of the family business News Limited, which had been established in 1923. Rupert Murdoch turned its newspaper, Adelaide News, its main asset, into a major success. He began to direct his attention to acquisition and expansion, buying the troubled Sunday Times in Perth,Western Australia (1956) and over the next few years acquiring suburban and provincial newspapers in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and theNorthern Territory, including the Sydney afternoon tabloid, The Daily Mirror (1960). The Economist describes Murdoch as “inventing the modern tabloid”,as he developed a pattern for his newspapers, increasing sports and scandal coverage and adopting eye-catching headlines.
Murdoch’s first foray outside Australia involved the purchase of a controlling interest in the New Zealand daily The Dominion. In January 1964, while touring New Zealand with friends in a rented Morris Minor after sailing across the Tasman, Murdoch read of a takeover bid for the Wellington paper by the British-based Canadian newspaper magnate, Lord Thomson of Fleet. On the spur of the moment, he launched a counter-bid. A four-way battle for control ensued in which the 32-year-old Murdoch was ultimately successful. Later in 1964, Murdoch launched The Australian, Australia’s first national daily newspaper, which was based first in Canberra and later in Sydney. In 1972, Murdoch acquired the Sydney morning tabloid The Daily Telegraph from Australian media mogul Sir Frank Packer, who later regretted selling it to him. In 1984, Murdoch was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for services to publishing.
Murdoch found a political ally in John McEwen, leader of the Australian Country Party (now known as the National Party of Australia), who was governing in coalition with the larger Menzies-Holt Liberal Party. From the very first issue of The Australian Murdoch began taking McEwen’s side in every issue that divided the long-serving coalition partners. (The Australian, 15 July 1964, first edition, front page: “Strain in Cabinet, Liberal-CP row flares.”) It was an issue that threatened to split the coalition government and open the way for the stronger Australian Labor Party to dominate Australian politics. It was the beginning of a long campaign that served McEwen well.
After McEwen and Menzies retired, Murdoch threw his growing power behind the Australian Labor Party under the leadership of Gough Whitlam and duly saw it elected on a social platform that included universal free health care, free education for all Australians to tertiary level, recognition of the People’s Republic of China, and public ownership of Australia’s oil, gas and mineral resources. Rupert Murdoch’s backing of Whitlam turned out to be brief. Murdoch had already started his short-lived National Star newspaper in America, and was seeking to strengthen his political contacts there.
Asked about the Australian federal election, 2007 at News Corporation’s annual general meeting in New York on 19 October 2007, its chairman Rupert Murdoch said, “I am not commenting on anything to do with Australian politics. I’m sorry. I always get into trouble when I do that.” Pressed as to whether he believed Prime Minister John Howard should continue as prime minister, he said: “I have nothing further to say. I’m sorry. Read our editorials in the papers. It’ll be the journalists who decide that – the editors.” In 2009, in response to accusations by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that News Limited was running vendettas against him and his government, Murdoch opined that Rudd was “oversensitive”. Murdoch described Howard’s successor, Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, as “…more ambitious to lead the world [in tackling climate change] than to lead Australia…” and criticised Rudd’s expansionary fiscal policies in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 as unnecessary. Although News Limited’s interests are extensive, also including the Daily Telegraph, the Courier-Mail and theAdelaide Advertiser, it was suggested by the commentator Mungo MacCallum in The Monthly that “the anti-Rudd push, if coordinated at all, was almost certainly locally driven” as opposed to being directed by Murdoch, who also took a different position from local editors on such matters as climate change and stimulus packages to combat the financial crisis.
In 1968 Murdoch entered the British newspaper market with his acquisition of the populist News of the World, followed in 1969 with the purchase of the struggling daily broadsheet The Sun from IPC. Murdoch turned The Sun into a tabloid format and reduced costs by using the same printing press for both newspapers. On acquiring it, he appointed Albert ‘Larry’ Lamb as editor and – Lamb recalled later – told him: “I want a tearaway paper with lots of tits in it”. In 1997 The Sun attracted 10 million daily readers. In 1981, Murdoch acquired the struggling Times and Sunday Times from Canadian newspaper publisherLord Thomson of Fleet. Ownership of The Times came to him through his relationship with Lord Thomson, who had grown tired of losing money on it as a result of much industrial action that stopped publication. In the light of success and expansion at The Sun the owners believed that Murdoch could turn the papers around. Harold Evans, Editor of the Sunday Times from 1967, was made head of the daily Times, though he stayed only a year amid editorial conflict with Murdoch.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Murdoch’s publications were generally supportive of Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. At the end of theThatcher/Major era, Murdoch switched his support to the Labour Party and its leader, Tony Blair. The closeness of his relationship with Blair and their secret meetings to discuss national policies was to become a political issue in Britain. This later changed, with The Sun, in its English editions, publicly renouncing the ruling Labour government and lending its support to David Cameron‘s Conservative Party, which soon afterwards formed a coalition government. In Scotland, where the Tories had yet to recover from their complete annihilation in 1997, the paper began to endorse the Scottish National Party (though not yet its flagship policy of independence), which soon after came to form the first ever outright majority in the proportionally elected Scottish Parliament. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s official spokesman said in November 2009 that Brown and Murdoch “were in regular communication” and that “there is nothing unusual in the prime minister talking to Rupert Murdoch”.
In 1986, Murdoch introduced electronic production processes to his newspapers in Australia, Britain and the United States. The greater degree of automation led to significant reductions in the number of employees involved in the printing process. In England, the move roused the anger of the print unions, resulting in a long and often violent dispute that played out in Wapping, one of London’s docklands areas, where Murdoch had installed the very latest electronic newspaper purpose-built publishing facility in an old warehouse. The bitter dispute at Wappingstarted with the dismissal of 6,000 employees who had gone on strike and resulted in street battles and demonstrations. Many on the political left in Britain alleged the collusion of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government with Murdoch in the Wapping affair, as a way of damaging the British trade union movement. In 1987, the dismissed workers accepted a settlement of £60 million.
Murdoch’s British-based satellite network, Sky Television, incurred massive losses in its early years of operation. As with many of his other business interests, Sky was heavily subsidised by the profits generated by his other holdings, but convinced rival satellite operator British Satellite Broadcasting to accept a merger on his terms in 1990. They were quick to see the advantages of direct to home (DTH) satellite broadcasting that did not require costly cable networks and the merged company, BSkyB, has dominated the British pay-TV market ever since. By 1996, BSkyB had more than 3.6 million subscribers, triple the number of cable customers in the UK. British financier Lord Jacob Rothschild, a close Murdoch friend since the 1960s, served as deputy chairman of Murdoch’s BSkyB corporation from 2003–2007, and Murdoch jointly invested with Rothschild in a 5.5 percent stake in Genie Oil and Gas, which conducted shale gas and oil exploration in Israel.
In response to print media’s decline and the increasing influence of online journalism during the 2000s, Murdoch proclaimed his support of the micropayments model for obtaining revenue from on-line news, although this has been criticised by some.
The Labour Party, from when Tony Blair became leader in 1994, had moved from the Left to a more central position on many economic issues prior to 1997. Murdoch identifies himself as alibertarian, saying “What does libertarian mean? As much individual responsibility as possible, as little government as possible, as few rules as possible. But I’m not saying it should be taken to the absolute limit.”
In a 2005 speech delivered in New York, Murdoch said that Blair described the BBC coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster as being full of hatred of America.
In 1998, Rupert Murdoch made an attempt to buy the football club Manchester United F.C., with an offer of £625 million, but this failed. It was the largest amount ever offered for a sports club. It was blocked by the United Kingdom’s Competition Commission, which stated that the acquisition would have “hurt competition in the broadcast industry and the quality of British football”.
On 28 June 2006 the BBC reported that Murdoch and News Corporation were considering backing new Conservative leaderDavid Cameron at the next General Election – still up to four years away. In a later interview in July 2006, when he was asked what he thought of the Conservative leader, Murdoch replied “Not much”. In a 2009 blog, it was suggested that in the aftermath of the News of the World phone hacking scandal which is still ongoing in 2012 and might yet have Transatlantic implications Murdoch and News Corporation might have decided to back Cameron. Despite this, there had already been a convergence of interests between the two men over the muting of Britain’s communications regulator Ofcom.
In 2006, Britain’s Independent newspaper reported that Murdoch would offer Tony Blair a senior role in his global media company News Corporation when the prime minister stood down from office.
He is accused by former Solidarity MSPTommy Sheridan of having a personal vendetta against him and of conspiring with MI5 to produce a video of him confessing to having affairs – allegations over which Sheridan had previously sued News International and won. On being arrested for perjury following the case, Sheridan claimed that the charges were “orchestrated and influenced by the powerful reach of the Murdoch empire”.
In August 2008, British Conservative leader and future Prime Minister David Cameron accepted free flights to hold private talks and attend private parties with Murdoch on his yacht, theRosehearty. Cameron has declared in the Commons register of interests he accepted a private plane provided by Murdoch’s son-in-law, public relations guru Matthew Freud; Cameron has not revealed his talks with Murdoch. The gift of travel in Freud’s Gulfstream IV private jet was valued at around £30,000. Other guests attending the “social events” included the then EU trade commissioner Lord Mandelson, the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and co-chairman of NBC UniversalBen Silverman. The Conservatives have not disclosed what was discussed.
In July 2011, it emerged that Cameron met key executives of Murdoch’s News Corporation 26 times during the 14 months that Cameron had served as Prime Minister. It was also reported that Murdoch had given Cameron a personal guarantee that there would be no risk attached to hiring Andy Coulson, the former editor of News of the World, as the Conservative Party’s communication director in 2007. This was in spite of Coulson having resigned as editor over phone hacking by a reporter. Cameron chose to take Murdoch’s advice, despite warnings from Nick Clegg, Lord Ashdown and The Guardian. Coulson resigned his post in 2011 and was later arrested and questioned on allegations of further criminal activity at TheNews of the World, specifically the News International phone hacking scandal. As a result of the subsequent trial, Coulson was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
In July 2011 Rupert Murdoch, along with his son James, provided testimony before a British parliamentary committee regarding phone hacking. In the U.K., his media empire remains under fire as investigators continue to probe reports of other phone hacking.
On 14 July, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons served a summons on Murdoch, his son James, and his former CEO Rebekah Brooks to testify before a committee on 19 July. After an initial refusal, the Murdochs confirmed they would attend after the committee issued them a summons to Parliament. The day before the committee, the website of the News Corporation publication The Sun was hacked, and a false story was posted on the front page claiming that Murdoch had died. Murdoch described the day of the committee “the most humble day of my life”. He argued that since he ran a global business of 53,000 employees and that the News of the World was “just 1%” of this, he was not ultimately responsible for what went on at the tabloid. He added that he had not considered resigning, and that he and the other top executives had been completely unaware of the hacking.
On 15 July, Murdoch attended a private meeting in London with the family of Milly Dowler, where he personally apologized for the hacking of their murdered daughter’s voicemail by a company he owns. On 16 and 17 July, News International published two full-page apologies in many of Britain’s national newspapers. The first apology took the form of a letter, signed by Rupert Murdoch, in which he said sorry for the “serious wrongdoing” that occurred. The second was titled “Putting right what’s gone wrong”, and gave more detail about the steps News International was taking to address the public’s concerns. In the wake of the allegations Murdoch accepted the resignations of Rebekah Brooks, head of Murdoch’s British operations, andLes Hinton, head of Dow Jones who was chairman of Murdoch’s British newspaper division when some of the abuses happened. They both deny any knowledge of any wrongdoing under their command.
On 27 February 2012, the following day after Murdoch’s controversial release of the Sun on Sunday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers informed the Leveson Inquiry that police are investigating a “network of corrupt officials” as part of their inquiries into phone hacking and police corruption. She said that evidence suggested a “culture of illegal payments” at the Sun newspaper and that these payments allegedly made by the Sun were authorised at a senior level.
In testimony on 25 April 2012, Murdoch did not deny the quote attributed to him by his former editor of The Sunday Times, Harold Evans: “I give instructions to my editors all round the world, why shouldn’t I in London?” On 1 May 2012, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee issued a report stating that Murdoch was “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company”.
On 3 July 2013 Exaro and Channel 4 news broke the story of a secretly recorded tape. The tape was recorded by Sun journalists and in it Murdoch can be heard telling them that the whole investigation was one big fuss over nothing, and that he, or his successors, would take care of any journalists who went to prison. He said: “Why are the police behaving in this way? It’s the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing.”
Activities in the United States
Murdoch made his first acquisition in the United States in 1973, when he purchased the San Antonio Express-News. Soon afterwards, he founded Star, a supermarket tabloid, and in 1976, he purchased the New York Post. On 4 September 1985, Murdoch became a naturalized citizen to satisfy the legal requirement that only US citizens were permitted to own US television stations. This resulted in Murdoch losing his Australian citizenship.
In 1987 in Australia, he bought The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, the company that his father had once managed. By 1990 News Corporation had built up debts of $7 billion (much from Sky TV in the UK). forcing Murdoch to sell many of the American magazine interests he had acquired in the mid-1980s. In 1993, it took exclusive coverage of the National Football League (NFL) from CBS and increased programming to seven days a week. In 1995, Murdoch’s Fox Network became the object of scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), when it was alleged that News Ltd.’s Australian base made Murdoch’s ownership of Fox illegal. However, the FCC ruled in Murdoch’s favour, stating that his ownership of Fox was in the best interests of the public. That same year, Murdoch announced a deal with MCI Communications to develop a major news website and magazine, The Weekly Standard. Also that year, News Corporation launched the Foxtel pay television network in Australia in partnership with Telstra. In 1996, Murdoch decided to enter the cable news market with the Fox News Channel, a 24-hourcable news station. Ratings studies released in 2009 showed that the network was responsible for nine of the top ten programs in the “Cable News” category at that time. Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner (founder and former owner of CNN) are long-standing rivals. In late 2003, Murdoch acquired a 34 percent stake in Hughes Electronics, the operator of the largest American satellite TV system, DirecTV, from General Motors for $6 billion (USD). His Fox movie studio would go on to have global hits with Titanic and Avatar.
In 2004, Murdoch announced that he was moving News Corporation headquarters from Adelaide, Australia to the United States. Choosing a US domicile was designed to ensure that American fund managers could purchase shares in the company, since many were deciding not to buy shares in non-US companies.
News Corporation logo
On 20 July 2005, News Corporation bought Intermix Media Inc., which held Myspace, Imagine Games Network and other social networking-themed websites, for $580 million USD, making Murdoch a major player in online media concerns. In June 2011, it sold off Myspace for US$35 million.On 11 September 2005, News Corporation announced that it would buy IGN Entertainment for $650 million (USD).
In June 2014, Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox made a bid for Time Warner at $85 per share in stock and cash ($80 billion total) which Time Warner’s board of directors turned down in July. Warner’s CNN unit would have been sold to ease antitrust issues of the purchase. On 5 August 2014 the company announced it had withdrawn its offer for Time Warner, and said it would spend $6 billion buying back its own shares over the following 12 months.
On 8 May 2006, the Financial Times reported that Murdoch would be hosting a fund-raiser for Senator Hillary Clinton‘s (D-New York) Senate re-election campaign. In a 2008 interview with Walt Mossberg, Murdoch was asked whether he had “anything to do with the New York Post‘s endorsement of Barack Obama in the democratic primaries.” Without hesitating, Murdoch replied, “Yeah. He is a rock star. It’s fantastic. I love what he is saying about education. I don’t think he will win Florida… but he will win in Ohio and the election. I am anxious to meet him. I want to see if he will walk the walk.” Murdoch is a strong supporter of Israel and its domestic policies.
Murdoch is a supporter of more open immigration policies in western nations generally. In the United States, Murdoch and chief executives from several major corporations, includingHewlett-Packard, Boeing and Disney joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form the Partnership for a New American Economy to advocate “for immigration reform – including a path to legal status for all illegal aliens now in the United States.” The coalition, reflecting Murdoch and Bloomberg’s own views, also advocates significant increases in legal immigration to the United States as a means of boosting America’s sluggish economy and lowering unemployment. The Partnership’s immigration policy prescriptions are notably similar to those of the Cato Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—both of which Murdoch has supported in the past.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page has similarly advocated for increased legal immigration, in contrast to the staunch anti-immigration stance of Murdoch’s British newspaper, The Sun. On 5 September 2010, Murdoch testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law Membership on the “Role of Immigration in Strengthening America’s Economy.” In his testimony, Murdoch called for ending mass deportations and endorsed a “comprehensive immigration reform” plan that would include a pathway to citizenship for all illegal immigrants.
In October 2015, Murdoch stirred controversy, tweeting, “Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else.” After which he apologized, tweeting, “Apologies! No offence meant. Personally find both men charming.” 
Activities in Europe
Murdoch owns controlling interest in Sky Italia, a satellite television provider in Italy. Murdoch’s business interests in Italy have been a source of contention since they began. In 2010 Murdoch won a media dispute with then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. A judge ruled the then Prime Minister’s media arm Mediaset prevented News Corporation’s Italian unit, Sky Italia, from buying advertisements on its television networks.
Activities in Asia
In 1993, Murdoch acquired Star TV, a Hong Kong company founded by Richard Li for $1 billion (Souchou, 2000:28), and subsequently set up offices for it throughout Asia. The deal enables News International to broadcast from Hong Kong to India, China, Japan and over thirty other countries in Asia, becoming one of the biggest satellite TV networks in the east.However, the deal did not work out as Murdoch had planned, because the Chinese government placed restrictions on it that prevented it from reaching most of China.
In 1956 Murdoch married Patricia Booker, a former shop assistant and flight attendant from Melbourne and they had their only child, Prudence, in 1958. Rupert and Patricia Murdoch divorced in 1967.
On 25 June 1999, 17 days after divorcing his second wife, Murdoch, then aged 68, married Chinese-born Wendi Deng. She was 30, a recent Yale School of Management graduate, and a newly appointed vice-president of his STAR TV. Murdoch has two daughters with her; Grace (born 2001) and Chloe (born 2003). Rupert Murdoch has six children in all, and is grandfather to thirteen grandchildren. On 13 June 2013, a News Corporation spokesperson confirmed that Murdoch filed for divorce from Deng in New York City, U.S. According to the spokesman, the marriage had been irretrievably broken for more than six months. Murdoch also ended his long-standing relationship with Tony Blair after suspecting him of having an affair with Deng while they were still married.
Murdoch has six children. His eldest child, Prudence MacLeod, was appointed on 28 January 2011 to the board of Times Newspapers Ltd, part of News International, which publishesThe Times and The Sunday Times. Murdoch’s eldest son Lachlan, formerly the deputy chief operating officer at the News Corporation and the publisher of the New York Post, was Murdoch’s heir apparent before resigning from his executive posts at the global media company at the end of July 2005. Lachlan’s departure left James Murdoch chief executive of the satellite television service British Sky Broadcasting since November 2003, as the only Murdoch son still directly involved with the company’s operations, though Lachlan has agreed to remain on the News Corporation’s board.
After graduating from Vassar College and marrying classmate Elkin Kwesi Pianim (the son of Ghanaian financial and political mogul Kwame Pianim) in 1993, Murdoch’s daughterElisabeth, along with her husband, purchased a pair of NBC-affiliate television stations in California, KSBW and KSBY, with a $35 million loan provided by her father. By quickly re-organising and re-selling them at a $12 million profit in 1995, Elisabeth emerged as an unexpected rival to her brothers for the eventual leadership of the publishing dynasty’s empire. But after divorcing her first husband in 1998 and quarrelling publicly with her assigned mentor Sam Chisholm at BSkyB, she struck out on her own as a television and film producer in London. She has since enjoyed independent success, in conjunction with her second husband, Matthew Freud, the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud (the founder of psychoanalysis) whom she met in 1997 and married in 2001.
It is not known how long Murdoch will remain as News Corporation’s CEO. For a while the American cable television entrepreneur John Malone was the second-largest voting shareholder in News Corporation after Murdoch himself, potentially undermining the family’s control. In 2007, the company announced that it would sell certain assets and give cash to Malone’s company in exchange for its stock. In 2007, the company issued Murdoch’s older children voting stock.
Murdoch has two children with Wendi Deng: Grace (b. New York, 19 November 2001) and Chloe (b. New York, 17 July 2003). It was revealed in September 2011 that Tony Blair is Grace’s godfather. There is reported to be tension between Murdoch and his oldest children over the terms of a trust holding the family’s 28.5 percent stake in News Corporation, estimated in 2005 to be worth about $6.1 billion. Under the trust, his children by Wendi Deng share in the proceeds of the stock but have no voting privileges or control of the stock. Voting rights in the stock are divided 50/50 between Murdoch on the one side and his children of his first two marriages. Murdoch’s voting privileges are not transferable but will expire upon his death and the stock will then be controlled solely by his children from the prior marriages, although their half-siblings will continue to derive their share of income from it. It is Murdoch’s stated desire to have his children by Deng given a measure of control over the stock proportional to their financial interest in it (which would mean, if Murdoch dies while at least one of the children is a minor, that Deng would exercise that control). It does not appear that he has any strong legal grounds to contest the present arrangement, and both ex-wife Anna and their three children are said to be strongly resistant to any such change.
In the 1997 film Fierce Creatures, the head of Octopus Inc. Rod McCain (initials R.M.) character is likely modelled after Murdoch.
In 1999, the Ted Turner owned TBS aired an original sitcom, The Chimp Channel. This featured an all-simian cast and the role of an Australian TV veteran named Harry Waller. The character is described as “a self-made gazillionaire with business interests in all sorts of fields. He owns newspapers, hotel chains, sports franchises and genetic technologies, as well as everyone’s favourite cable TV channel, The Chimp Channel.” Waller is thought to be a parody of Murdoch, a long-time rival of Turner.
In 2004, the movie Outfoxed included many interviews accusing Fox News of pressuring reporters to report only one side of news stories, in order to influence viewers’ political opinions.
In 2012, the satirical show Hacks, broadcast on UK-based Channel 4, made obvious comparisons with Rupert Murdoch using the fictional character ‘Stanhope Feast’, portrayed by Michael Kitchen, as well as other central figures in the phone hacking scandal.
Influence, wealth and reputation
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According to Forbes‘ 2013 list of richest Americans, Murdoch is the 33rd richest person in the US and the 91st richest person in the world, with a net worth of US$12.4 billion. In 2014, Forbes ranked “Rupert Murdoch & Family” as the 33rd most-powerful person in the world.
In August 2013, Terry Flew, Professor of Media and Communications at Queensland University of Technology, wrote an article for the Conversation publication in which he verified a claim by former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd that Murdoch owned 70% of Australian newspapers in 2011. Flew’s article showed that News Corp Australia owned 23% of the nation’s newspapers in 2011, according to the Finkelstein Review of Media and Media Regulation, but, at the time of the article, the corporation’s titles accounted for 59% of the sales of all daily newspapers, with weekly sales of 17.3 million copies.
News Corp papers were accused of supporting the campaign of the Australian Liberal government and influencing public opinion during the 2013 federal election. Following the announcement of the Liberal Party victory at the polls, Murdoch tweeted “Aust. election public sick of public sector workers and phony welfare scroungers sucking life out of economy. Other nations to follow in time”.
In November 2015, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that Rupert Murdoch “arguably has had more impact on the wider world than any other living Australian.”
Phillips was a strategist on voting patterns for Richard Nixon‘s 1968 campaign, which was the basis for a book, The Emerging Republican Majority, which predicted a conservativerealignment in national politics, and is widely regarded as one of the most influential recent works in political science. His predictions regarding shifting voting patterns in presidential elections proved accurate, though they did not extend “down ballot” to Congress until the Republican revolution of 1994. Phillips also was partly responsible for the design of the Republican “Southern strategy” of the 1970s and 1980s.
Later, he became a critic of Republicans from the south and west, the area he had identified as the “Heartland”, the future core of Republican votes. He had also identified the “Yankee Northeast” as the future Democratic stronghold, foreshadowing the current split between Red States and Blue States. More than 30 years before the 2004 election, Phillips foresaw such previously Democratic states as Texas and West Virginia swinging to the Republicans and Vermont and Maine becoming Democratic states.
Phillips worked for Richard Nixon‘s presidential campaign in 1968, and wrote a book on what has come to be known as the “Southern strategy” of the Republican Party. The book was entitled The Emerging Republican Majority and argued that the southern states of the US would keep the Republicans winning Presidential Elections and more than offset the Northeast states, based on racial politics. As he stated to the New York Times Magazine in 1970,
“All the talk about Republicans making inroads into the Negro vote is persiflage. Even ‘Jake the Snake’ [Senator Jacob Javits of New York] only gets 20 percent. From now on, Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote, and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”
American Theocracy (2006)
Allen Dwight Callahan states the book’s theme is that the Republican Party (GOP), religious fundamentalism, petroleum, and borrowed money are an “Unholy Alliance.” The last chapter, in a nod to his first major work, is titled “The Erring Republican Majority.” American Theocracy “presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness.”
He identifies three broad and related trends — none of them new to the Bush years but all of them, he believes, exacerbated by this administration’s policies — that together threaten the future of the United States and the world. One is the role of oil in defining and, as Phillips sees it, distorting American foreign and domestic policy. The second is the ominous intrusion of radical Christianity into politics and government. And the third is the astonishing levels of debt — current and prospective — that both the government and the American people have been heedlessly accumulating. If there is a single, if implicit, theme running through the three linked essays that form this book, it is the failure of leaders to look beyond their own and the country’s immediate ambitions and desires so as to plan prudently for a darkening future.
Phillips uses the term financialization to describe how the U.S. economy has been radically restructured from a focus on production, manufacturing and wages, to a focus on speculation, debt, and profits. Since the 1980s, Phillips argues in American Theocracy,
the underlying Washington strategy… was less to give ordinary Americans direct sums than to create a low-interest-rate boom in real estate, thereby raising the percentage of American home ownership, ballooning the prices of homes, and allowing householders to take out some of that increase through low-cost refinancing. This triple play created new wealth to take the place of that destroyed in the 2000-2002 stock-market crash and simultaneously raised consumer confidence.
Nothing similar had ever been engineered before. Instead of a recovery orchestrated by Congress and the White House and aimed at the middle- and bottom-income segments, this one was directed by an appointed central banker, a man whose principal responsibility was to the banking system. His relief, targeted on financial assets and real estate, was principally achieved by monetary stimulus. This in itself confirmed the massive realignment of preferences and priorities within the American system….
Likewise, huge and indisputable but almost never discussed, were the powerful political economics lurking behind the stimulus: the massive rate-cut-driven post-2000 bailout of the FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) sector, with its ever-climbing share of GDP and proximity to power. No longer would Washington concentrate stimulus on wages or public-works employment. The Fed’s policies, however shrewd, were not rooted in an abstraction of the national interest but in pursuit of its statutory mandate to protect the U.S. banking and payments system, now inseparable from the broadly defined financial-services sector.
American Theocracy was reviewed widely. The New York Times Book Review wrote “It is not without polemic, but unlike many of the more glib and strident political commentaries of recent years, it is extensively researched and frighteningly persuasive…”The Chicago Sun-Times wrote “Overall, Phillips’ book is a thoughtful and somber jeremiad, written throughout with a graceful wryness… a capstone to his life’s work.”
Bad Money (2008)
Kevin Phillips examines America’s great shift from manufacturing to financial services. He also discusses America’s petroleum policies and the tying of the dollar to the price of oil. Phillips suggests that the Euro and the Chinese Yuan/Renminbi are favorites to take the dollar’s place in countries hostile towards America, like Iran. He then tackles the lack of regulatory oversight employed in the housing market and how the housing boom was allowed to run free under Alan Greenspan. The book concludes with the proposal that America is employing bad capitalism and extends Gresham’s Law of currency to suggest that our good capitalism will be driven out by the bad.
The Emerging Republican Majority (1969)
Mediacracy: American Parties and Politics in the Communications Age (1974) ISBN 0-385-04945-5
Electoral Reform and Voter Participation (with Paul H. Blackman, 1975)
Post-Conservative America: People, Politics, and Ideology in a Time of Crisis (1982) ISBN 0-394-52212-5
Staying on Top: The Business Case for a National Industrial Strategy (1984) ISBN 0-394-53744-0
The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath (1990) ISBN 0-394-55954-1
Boiling Point: Democrats, Republicans, and the Decline of Middle Class Prosperity (1993) ISBN 0-679-40461-9
Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street and the Frustration of American Politics (1994) ISBN 0-316-70618-3
The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics and the Triumph of Anglo-America (1998) ISBN 0-465-01369-4
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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Ben Carson Holds Press Conference On West Point Scholarship False Claims (11-6-15)
November 6, 2015: GOP Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson addressed the media this evening on the alleged false claims he made in his book, “Gifted Hands”, including that he received a full scholarship offer to West Point and that he allegedly tried to stab a friend and hit his mother with a hammer.
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Carson: Egypt’s Pyramids Built To Store Grain
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson stood by his belief that Egypt’s great pyramids were built by the Biblical figure Joseph to store grain, an assertion dismissed by experts. (Nov. 5)
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Carson Campaign: Politico Story About West Point Acceptance Not True
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audio 11/6/15 RUSH LIMBAUGH: POLITICO & MEDIA TRYING TO TAKEDOWN BEN CARSON
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RUSH LIMBAUGH NAILS IT ABOUT BEN CARSON
“There is not a single person in the media today that could wear Dr. Benjamin Carson’s uniform, whatever uniform he puts on in a day, a business suit, if it’s surgical scrubs, there’s not a single member of the media that could do anything close to what Ben Carson has done with his life. ”
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Ben Carson on CNN: Full interview, part 2
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Van Jones: ‘Ben Carson Bewilders, I Think, Most Black Democrats’
Hillary’s Vicious Media Tools Now Getting Brutal On Ben Carson (Limbaugh)
audio 11/6/15 BEN CARSON TO CNN, “ASK HILLARY THE SAME QUESTIONS”
Poll: Ben Carson is 9 points ahead of Hillary! (Limbaugh)
LIMBAUGH: CARSON IS VICTIM OF ‘ELECTRONIC LYNCHING’
Media ‘telling an outright lie’ in ‘an assassination attempt’
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.
Story Continued Below
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.
Story 1: Lying Lunatic Left Lame-stream Losers: CNBC — Winners: Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Carson and Trump — Losers: Bush and Kasich — 2016 Republican Candidates Debate — October 28, 2015 — Boulder, Colorado — New House Speaker Paul Ryan — Videos
Lying Lunatic Left Lame-stream Losers
Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and especially John Harwood
Are We Really Talking About Fantasy Football? • Chris Christie • GOP Debate • 10/28/15 •
Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio spar over Rubio’s congressional attendance record
Rand Paul on Raising the Debt Ceiling | Republican Debate
Ben Carson Says PC Culture is Destroying America
Donald Trump Closing Remarks During 3rd Republican Debate
Donald Trump says he negotiated the length of the debate from 3 hours down to 2 hours during his final statement at the end of the 3rd Republican Presidential Debate on CNBC.
The Republican debate
10 28 15 Luntz Focus Group After 3rd GOP Debate Segment 1
Did Marco Rubio Win The 3dr GOP Debate? Full Kelly File Segment.
O’Reilly On Trump: ‘Maybe This Is His New Style A Bit Low Key’
Must-see moments from the CNBC GOP debate (FULL VIDEO)
O’Reilly: ‘Jeb Bush Is Done, But He Has Cool Things To Do’ Post GOP Debate Recap
O’Reilly Recaps GOP Debate With Brit Hume 10.28.15
Paul Ryan Sworn In As New Speaker Of The House
Call It Like It Is: Marco Rubio Is Just Better At This Than Jeb Bush
FULL CNBC GOP DEBATE Part 8: Round 2 Republican Presidential Debate 10/28/2015
Texas Senator Ted Cruz Attacks CNBC Moderators- Presidential Debate
Rand Paul Opening Statement Republican Debate
Rand Paul on Medcaid and Medicare | Republican Debate
GOP presidential debate Highlights October 2015 #GOPDebate
FULL Rand Paul Highlights Republican Debate
Rand Paul Closing Statement | Republican Debate
Donald Trump Closing Statement At GOP Republican Presidential Debate On CNBC October 28, 2015
Donald Trump Interview after 3rd GOP Debate VIDEO CNBC Presidential Debate GOP
Donald Trump vs John Kasich At Gop Debate. Kasich Tears Into Trump, Carson:
Lamestream GOP Moderators’ Total Debate Fail
By Lloyd Grove
When Rand Paul asked for the rules about who was allowed to respond to a rival candidate’s statement, Quick informed him, “It’s at the discretion of the moderators.”
It was not an answer guaranteed to instill the participants’—or, for that matter, the viewers’—confidence in the fairness and balance of the occasion.
Speaking of which, Fox News, unsurprisingly, had a field day with CNBC’s treatment of the candidates.
“This is the most appalling performance by the moderators,” Charles Krauthammer opined, “that I can ever remember seeing.”
Republican talking point virtuoso Sean Hannity declared: “The candidates combined beat the moderators, who were taking the Democratic Party line.”
“This a horrible night for the news media,” Hannity added—and, for once, I agreed with him.
The trouble started with the very first question, Quintanilla cutely asked each candidate, as though they were in a job interview, to admit to a weakness of character or somesuch.
It was a gimmicky and rather puerile inquiry, of course, and predictably few of the contenders even bothered to address it. Bush conceded he was probably a little too impatient. Trump claimed he was a little too trusting, and then bitterly unforgiving when betrayed. Carly Fiorina—grinning winsomely for laughs—revealed she was advised to smile more during debates.
Quick, meanwhile, got blindsided when she asked Trump about something he supposedly said about Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration policies, and Trump told her he never said it.
“So where did that come from?” Quick pleaded lamely.
“I don’t know. You people write this stuff,” Trump retorted, to laughter.
Harwood, who also writes for The New York Times, came in for particular criticism from the candidates—and with justice. He came across as a sort of grand inquisitor and took on the severe and scolding tone of an irritated headmaster with candidates who spoke beyond their 60-second allotment.
“John, do you want me to answer or do you want to answer?” Christie chided after Harwood interrupted him. “Gotta tell ya, even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called ‘rude.’”
Toward the end, when each contender was invited to deliver a 30-second closing pitch, Trump used his time to congratulate himself and Ben Carson for negotiating with CNBC to pare down the debate from 3½ hours to 2 hours “so we can all get the hell out of here.”
Trump argued that it’s just those sorts of negotiating skills that he’ll employ as president to make America great again.
“Just for the record,” Harwood felt compelled to chime in, “it was always going to be two hours.”
“That is not right,” Trump shot back, basically calling Harwood a liar. “You know that is not right.”
All in all, the night offered a harsh lesson for future debate moderators: Go ahead and pose tough questions, but get your facts straight, don’t be snarky, and don’t, on any account, debate the pros
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
How Will History Judge U.S., Coalition Intervention in Libya?
Did the Military Intervention in Libya Succeed? (Benjamin Friedman)
Life After Qaddafi — Libya: A Broken State
Libya War: What They Don’t Want You to Know
OBAMA CONFRONTED ON BENGHAZI – Stutters Through Response
Where is All the Worlds Gold?(full documentary) HD
Ex-CIA officer: Obama fools himself, Muslims see US bombing Libya
U.S. Intelligence knew in 2012: Rise of ISIS, Arms shipments from Libya to Syria
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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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.
The timeline below details the ongoing investigation into the September 11, 2012 attack upon the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, in Libya. The attack and the investigation are the subject of much controversy in the American political sphere.
The New York Times reported: “American and European officials said that while many details about the attack remained unclear, the assailants seemed organized, well trained and heavily armed, and they appeared to have at least some level of advance planning.” The article also noted that a senior Obama administration official told reporters that “it was clearly a complex attack,” but provided no details.
CBS News reported that Wanis al-Sharef (also spelled al-Sharif), a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi, said that an angry mob had gathered outside the consulate to protest a U.S.-made film that ridicules Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. According to al-Sharef, the mob stormed the consulate after the U.S. troops who responded fired rounds into the air to try and disperse the crowd.
CBS News later reported that U.S. officials said the attack was not an out-of-control demonstration as first suspected, but a well-executed assault. From the wording of the report it is unclear whether the protesters were a group distinct from the attackers or were the attackers themselves.
The Guardian published a video interview of a local Libyan on the consulate compound right after the attack, who presumed and empathized that the attack was in response to the anti-Islamic film.
The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials and Middle East analysts said that the attack “may have been planned by extremists and inspired by al-Qaeda.”
In a press release, the Qulliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank based in London, stated that the “military assault” was not related to the film but was to “avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-Qaeda’s second in command killed a few months ago.”
Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif of the Libyan government told a news conference in Benghazi that it was likely that the perpetrators had been Gaddafi loyalists, suggesting the attack could have been intended as a revenge for the extradition of Abdullah al-Senoussi (Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief) from Mauritania the previous month.
The FBI opened an investigation into the deaths; a team was sent to investigate, with another team for security. The FBI officials were set to arrive by September 21 in Benghazi to work with Libyan officials.
In a briefing to congressional staffers, State Department Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy said that the attack appeared planned because it was so extensive and because of the “proliferation” of small and medium weapons.
CNN reported that the attackers were part of an Al Qaeda spinoff group. They spoke with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said the killings were possibly linked to the terrorist group blamed for the 9/11 hijackings. According to Sen. Feinstein, “The weapons were somewhat sophisticated, and they blew a big hole in the building and started a big fire.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee was briefed by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta about the response to the situation in Libya. Afterwards, Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) was quoted as saying, “I think it was a planned, premeditated attack.” He added that he did not know the group responsible for the attack.
Talking points prepared by the CIA, stated “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” 
In an interview with NPR in Benghazi, President Mohammed el-Megarif said that foreigners infiltrated Libya over the past few months, planned the attack, and used Libyans to carry it out. According to el-Megarif: “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.” He said the attackers used the protesters outside the consulate as a cover, and there is evidence showing that elements of Ansar al-Sharia, an extremist group in eastern Benghazi, were used by foreign citizens with ties to al-Qaida to attack the consulate.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice appeared on several Sunday morning talk shows and stated, “Putting together the best information that we have available to us today our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of– of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video. What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. They came with heavy weapons which unfortunately are readily available in post revolutionary Libya. And it escalated into a much more violent episode.”
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, voiced suspicion that the attack was planned in advance and not prompted by the furor over the film. He noted that “[m]ost people don’t bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons to demonstrations. That was an act of terror.”
Fox News reported that an “intelligence source on the ground in Libya” said “there was no demonstration outside the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi” before the attack. The source was quoted as saying, “There was no protest and the attacks were not spontaneous.” The source also said that the attack “was planned and had nothing to do with the movie.” The source said the assault came with no warning at about 9:35 p.m. local time and included fire from more than two locations. The information for the time and for multiple directions of the attack corroborates an eyewitness report.
Representative Mike Rogers (R) Michigan, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with Real Clear Politics that there were reports that the Consulate sustained “indirect fire, artillery type fire from mortars. They had direct unit action. It was coordinated in a way that was very unusual. They repulsed a quick reaction force that came to the facility….”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) disagreed with Olsen’s statement that the attack did not appear pre-planned. She said, “Based on the briefings I have had, I’ve come to the opposite conclusion. I just don’t think that people come to protests equipped with RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and other heavy weapons. And the reports of complicity—and they are many—with Libyan guards who were assigned to guard the consulate also suggest to me that this was premeditated.” Olsen told committee members that the U.S. is “looking at indications” that some attackers had connections to al-Qaeda or its North African affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Fox News reported intelligence sources that the attack was tied to Al Qaeda via the involvement of Abu Sufian bin Qumu, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee. However, a US national security official tells Mother Jones that “that report is wrong, there’s no intelligence suggesting that he was leading the attack on the consulate that evening.”
Reuters reported that U.S. authorities are investigating the prospect of collusion between the militants who launched the attack on the consulate and locally hired Libyan personnel guarding the facility. This corroborates earlier statements by U.S. government officials who stated there were multiple accounts of collusion between the attackers and the Libyan security guards.
Secretary Clinton announced the formation of a panel to investigate the attack, which is separate from the FBI investigation.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney for the first time called the event “a terrorist attack.” In the same report CNN noted conflicting reports that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens “believed he was on an al Qaeda hit list.”
U.S. officials said that the heavily armed extremists who laid siege to the consulate used “military-style tactics” in what appeared to be a “sophisticated operation”. Intelligence reports indicated that 50 or more people, many of them masked, took part in the attack and used gun trucks and precise mortar fire. Intelligence reports also indicated that the attackers set up a perimeter to control access in and out of the compound.
A report in The New York Times has stated that there were two facilities used by the Americans in Benghazi, one for the American mission and an annex a half-mile away  and that:
Neither was heavily guarded, and the annex was never intended to be a “safe house,” as initial accounts suggested. Two of the mission’s guards — Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty, former members of the Navy SEALs — were killed just outside the villa’s front gate.
U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) sent a letter to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice seeking clarification on statements she made on the five Sunday talk shows on September 16 that the September 11 attack in Benghazi was the result of a “spontaneous reaction.” The senators wrote that the evidence clearly showed the attack was planned and coordinated. Ms. Rice wrote in her reply letter, “I relied solely and squarely on the information the intelligence community provided to me … This information represented the intelligence community’s best, current assessment as of the date of my television appearances.” The four senators replied in a statement: “Elements of the intelligence community apparently told the administration within hours of the attack that militants connected with al Qaeda were involved, yet Ambassador Rice claims her comments five days later reflected the ‘best’ and ‘current’ assessment of the intelligence community. Either the Obama administration is misleading Congress and the American people, or it is blaming the entire failure on the intelligence community.”
The Daily Beast reported that three separate U.S. intelligence officials knew within 24 hours of the attack that it was “planned and the work of al Qaeda affiliates operating in Eastern Libya.”
Libyan president Mohamed Magariefd, in an interview with NBC News, said that there were no protestors at the site before the attack and that the anti-Islam film had “nothing to do with” the attack. “Reaction should have been, if it was genuine, should have been six months earlier. So it was postponed until the 11th of September,” he said. “They chose this date, 11th of September to carry a certain message.”
Eight Republican Representatives on the House Armed Services Committee sent a letter to President Obama asking him to provide answers to questions in a classified format. Their letter reads in part: “While we appreciate your willingness to provide the House of Representatives with an interagency briefing last week, many of the members’ questions were left unanswered. To that end, we are seeking additional information regarding the intelligence leading up to the attack, the security posture of our embassy, the role former Guantanamo Bay detainees may have played, as well as the way forward in Libya and, indeed, the region.”
A statement released by the Director of Public Affairs for the Director of National Intelligence, Shawn Turner, on the intelligence related to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, read in part: “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. However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al-Qa’ida. We continue to make progress, but there remain many unanswered questions. As more information becomes available our analysis will continue to evolve and we will obtain a more complete understanding of the circumstances surrounding the terrorist attack.”
In a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, Darrell Issa (R-CA, chairman of the Committee) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT, chairman of the subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations) write that “the attack that claimed the Ambassador’s life was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012. It was clearly never, as Administration officials once insisted, the result of a popular protest.” The letter goes on to state that the mission in Benghazi was denied increased security they repeatedly requested. Subpoenaed witnesses set to testify before the committee on October 10 are Charlene Lamb, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State; Eric Nordstrom, Regional Security Officer, U.S. Department of State; and Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, Utah National Guard, U.S. Army. According to Lt. Col. Wood, his 16-member team and a six-member State Department elite force called a Mobile Security Deployment team left Libya in August, one month before the assault on the diplomatic mission. Wood says that’s despite the fact that U.S. officials in Libya wanted security increased, not decreased.
In an evening briefing to reporters, the State Department said it never concluded that the consulate attack in Libya stemmed from protests over the video.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Bob Corker (R-TN) met with Libyan officials in Tripoli, and said that investigators are examining video from security cameras at the primary Benghazi compound to help them reconstruct what happened in the attack and identify attack participants.
Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) sent letters to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, asking them to respond to “specific questions regarding the shifting official explanations” about the attack.
The four witnesses called to testify at the October 10, 2012 hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (l to r) were Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, Utah National Guard, U.S. Army; Eric Nordstrom, Regional Security Officer, U.S. Department of State; Charlene Lamb, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State; and Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management, U.S. Department of State. An image of the U.S. compound can be seen behind Ms. Lamb.
In sworn testimony, Mr. Kennedy said, “…if any administration official, including any career official, were on television on Sunday, September 16th, they would have said what Ambassador Rice said. The information she had at that point from the intelligence community is the same that I had at that point.” However, in a briefing to congressional staffers on September 13, Mr. Kennedy said that the attack appeared planned. With regard to the so-called “talking points” memo UN Ambassador Susan Rice relied upon for information during television interviews following the Benghazi attack, The Guardian reports that on 16 November 2012, former CIA Director David Petraeus told congressional hearings, references to al-Queda had been removed from the memo. The references where remove so as not to give up information which could compromise classified sources. Rice was unaware of al-Qaida ties to the Benghazi attack.
During testimony State Department witnesses acknowledged that it rejected appeals for more security at its diplomatic posts in Libya in the months before the attack. The “annex” and “safe house” in the second diplomatic compound was inadvertently revealed to be a U.S. intelligence post.
Charlene Lamb, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Programs, said in her prepared testimony that she had a firm grasp on what happened in Benghazi, starting moments after the assault began. ”When the attack began, a Diplomatic Security agent working in the tactical operations center immediately … alerted the annex U.S. quick reaction security team stationed nearby … and the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington. From that point on, I could follow what was happening in almost real-time.”
During testimony Representative Issa described the existence of video tape of the attack taken from consulate security cameras; the tape was not available to committee members at the time of the hearing.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation, said that “[t]he intelligence community on the ground in Libya has told Senator Corker and myself that within twenty-four hours, they communicated up to Washington that this was a terrorist attack.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton assumed responsibility for the Benghazi attack, saying that she is in charge of her 60,000-plus staff all over the world and “the president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.” Republican Senator John McCain praised her “laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever” but insisted that either there were drastic failures in the national security operation in not keeping the president aware of ongoing threats, or Obama himself knew of the threats and needed to take responsibility for the shortcomings.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the two Libyan militiamen guarding the consulate denied aiding the attackers. The compound was “lazily quiet” in the hours before the assault, they said. Around 9:30 p.m., the guards heard cries of “Allahu akbar!”—”God is great”—three times from outside the walls, then a voice called out in Arabic “You infidels!” and the attackers raced inside.
The New York Times reported that witnesses of the attack knowledgeable of the circumstances were very convinced that it was carried out by a group of local Islamic militants in response to the video. According to local militia leaders familiar with the militant group, it was capable of carrying out the attack on short notice with only a few hour’s planning.
Libyan officials report that the founder of Libya’s Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia was at the compound during the attack, but that he remains free a week after those allegations were disclosed to Libyan political leaders and U.S. investigators. The militia commander, identified as Ahmed Abu Khattalah, is a former political prisoner whose fighters were also blamed for assassinating a senior military officer after he defected to the opposition during last year’s revolution against Moammar Kadafi.
The New York Times reported that Ahmed Abu Khattala, 41, claimed the Benghazi attack had grown out of a peaceful protest against a video made in the United States that mocked the Prophet Muhammad and Islam. On or about 15 June 2014 American military and law enforcement personnel operating in Libya captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, who had been secretly indicted in the U.S. for his alleged role as a mastermind and/or ring-leader in the Benghazi attack.
Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs made its first request for documents and briefings into the circumstances surrounding the attack. In separate letters to Secretary Hillary Clinton, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the committee requested a classified briefing for members of the committee. The briefing is to address threat assessments before the attack, security needs, requests for security, description and chronology of the attack, and what the Obama administration knew about the attack in the immediate aftermath and “whether any initial public statements issued by members of the Administration in the days following the attack were inaccurate and, if so, why.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, questioned the security at the compound and the initial intelligence surrounding the attack. Feinstein was quoted in an interview: “I think what happened was the director of national intelligence, which we call the DNI, who is a very good individual, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Gen. Jim Clapper, put out some speaking points on the initial intelligence assessment. I think that was possibly a mistake.”
Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and National Security Subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz sent a 10-page letter to President Obama, accompanied by 166 pages of unclassified documents and photos. The committee stated that the “letter requests that the White House respond to questions about its role in the controversial decision to have the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya pursue a course of ‘normalization’ that was intended to help create the perception of success in Libya and contrast it to U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Representative Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to President Obama requesting him to release Intelligence Community (1) reporting that led Obama Administration officials to initially characterize the assault as a “spontaneous reaction” to a film and (2) data and intelligence that led the Administration to change its characterization from a “spontaneous reaction” to a “terrorist attack.”
Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) renewed their request from 10 days ago that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, answer questions regarding “the shifting official explanations surrounding” the attack. The senators wrote, “Our questions should not be hard to answer, and the American people have a right to learn what our intelligence communities knew about the events of September 11, 2012, and when they knew it.”
U.S. officials told The Associated Press that the CIA station chief in Libya compiled intelligence reports within 24 hours of the attack that indicated there was evidence it was carried out by militants, using the pretext of demonstrations against U.S. facilities in Egypt against the film to cover their intent. The report from the station chief was written late Wednesday, Sept. 12, and reached intelligence agencies in Washington the next day. It was not clear how widely the information was circulated.
The Washington Post reported that talking points prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15 stated: “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” 
CBS News reported Congress members have asked why military assistance was not sent. General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta “looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.” An unmanned Predator drone was sent to Benghazi, and the drone observed the final hours of the attack. The Pentagon said it moved a team of special operators from central Europe to Naval Air Station Sigonella; other nearby military forces available were fighter jets and AC-130 gunships. Gary Berntsen stated, “They made zero adjustments in this. They stood and they watched and our people died.”
The New York Times reported that Ms. Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, “has said that the judgments she offered on the five talk shows on Sept. 16 came from talking points prepared by the C.I.A., which reckoned that the attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans had resulted from a spontaneous mob that was angry about an anti-Islamic video that had set off protests elsewhere. That assessment, described to Ms. Rice in briefings the day before her television appearances, was based on intercepted communications, informants’ tips and Libyan press reports, officials said.” 
Media reports indicate that the State Department’s Operations Center sent a “Sensitive but unclassified” email at 4:05 p.m. Washington time (10:05 p.m. Benghazi time) on September 11 titled “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” to the White House Situation Room and other U.S. security units and two hours later sent an email titled “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.” The first email reads in part: “approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM (Chief of Mission/embassy) personnel are in the compound safe haven.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cautioned that those emails are “not in and of itself evidence” that the administration had definitively assessed the assault as a terrorist attack from the beginning. A Tunisian man who was arrested in Turkey earlier this month with reported links to the Benghazi attack has been returned to Tunisia and is facing terrorism charges.
It is reported that both Reuters and Fox News obtained copies of an email sent about 2 hours after the attack in which the White House, Pentagon, and other agencies are told that the Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia had “claimed responsibility.”
A suspected Al-Qaeda member who was believed to have been involved in the Consulate attack was shot dead by Egyptian police, after they received a tip that he was staying in an apartment in Madinat Nasr. Egyptian police also arrested a seven-member cell in Cairo, five of whom are Libyans and the other two Egyptians.
Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus, and Attorney General Eric Holder requesting they make public the surveillance video taken at the consulate during the attack.Fox News reported that military back-up was denied by the CIA chain of command, and the annex was instructed twice to “stand down”. Woods, and two others, ignored those instructions and evacuated the consulate. Upon returning to the annex, and after beginning to taking fire, the annex requested fire support as they had a laser targeted on the mortar team that was attacking them. A CIA spokeswoman, Jennifer Youngblood, denied the claims.
The Associated Press published a timeline of the comments by the administration and Libyan officials regarding the Benghazi attack, as well as Libyan witnesses account. The AP article noted that a witness said he militants before the attack gathering around 20 youths from nearby to chant against the anti-Islam film. The article reports that American officials suggest it was a planned militant assault and that the attackers may have used the film controversy as a cover for the attack.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested that “at least two networks have emails from the National Security Adviser’s office telling a counterterrorism group to stand down” in assisting the besieged U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Gingrich said that the bombshell emails could be revealed within the next two days.Fox News reported that a cable marked “SECRET” and addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton summarized an “emergency meeting” convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi on August 15, 2012. In the meeting the State Department’s regional security officer “expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound.” According to Fox News, “The details in the cable seemed to foreshadow the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. compound, which was a coordinated, commando-style assault using direct and indirect fire. Al Qaeda in North Africa and Ansar al-Sharia, both mentioned in the cable, have since been implicated in the consulate attack.”
CBS News reported that during the attack the Obama administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group, (CSG). A high-ranking government official was quoted: “The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies. They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.” The article goes on to state that counterterrorism sources and internal emails reviewed by CBS News expressed frustration that key responders were ready to deploy but were not called upon to help in the attack.
Documents found by reporters for the American magazine Foreign Policy on Oct. 26 amid the wreckage of the U.S. consulate indicate there was concern about security at the compound. One letter dated Sept. 11 and addressed to Mohamed Obeidi, the head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office in Benghazi, reads in part: “Finally, early this morning at 0643, September 11, 2012, one of our diligent guards made a troubling report. Near our main gate, a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from our compound. It is reported that this person was photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission and furthermore that this person was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission.” The article states that this accords with a message written by Smith, the IT officer who was killed in the assault, on a gaming forum on Sept. 11. “Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures,” he wrote hours before the assault.
Washington Post published a detailed CIA timeline of the attack described by a senior intelligence official.
Fifty-three members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary Clinton requesting responses to oversight questions, including questions on the president’s Daily Brief, how the State Department designated the Benghazi compound (and how it affected security requirements), contradictions in the administration’s public statements of the attack as a deliberate terrorist attack or a spontaneous protest, and discrepancies between danger pay increases for mission personnel but denial for additional security.Senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that Woods and Doherty were contracted by the Central Intelligence Agency, not the State Department as originally publicly identified.
Fox News reported that U.S. military intelligence informed senior commanders as early as 7 p.m. ET (that is, less than 4 hours after the attack began) that Ansar al-Sharia carried out the attack. The intelligence was relayed with no caveats, according to a source familiar with the intelligence.
The Pentagon said that two U.S. service members volunteered to join the CIA team that travelled from Tripoli to Benghazi on the rescue mission.
U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) urged the immediate creation of a temporary Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi attack.Fox News reported that the Blue Mountain Security manager (who was in charge of the local force hired to guard the consulate perimeter) made calls on both two-way radios and cell phones to colleagues in Benghazi warning of problems at least an hour earlier than the attack. Allegedly, those calls were to local security contractors, who say that the annex was also notified much earlier than 9:40 p.m., when the attack started. U.S. military intelligence also said that armed militias were gathering up to 3 hours before the attack.
David H. Petraeus resigned his position as CIA Director and admitted to having an extramarital affair; he was scheduled to testify before Congress the week of November 12 on the Benghazi attack. As of then it was not clear that General Petraeus would have to testify, and whether he would be disposed to do so if requested or required by Congress, though Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, indicated that the Congress would need to interview him. On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, it was made known that he had agreed to testify the following day, Thursday, November 15.
The Department of Defense released a press release stating they released a detailed timeline yesterday of the Pentagon’s response to the attack.
Paula Broadwell gave a talk on October 26 at the University of Denver in which she revealed that the CIA annex was used to imprison Libyan militia members. In the same speech, Broadwell speculated that this may have been the motivation behind the attack on the consulate. A Fox News Source confirmed to them that the CIA Annex was used as a detention center for not just militia members, but for prisoners from all parts of Northern Africa and the Middle East. The CIA has denied these allegations.
U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials testified in congressional public and closed hearings today. CNN reported that legislators saw “real-time film (showing) exactly what happened”, starting before the attack began up “through the incident and the exodus,” according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The video was reported to be from “a combination of video from a surveillance camera and a drone.”
Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified in closed hearings to both congressional intelligence committees. Speaking with reporters after the hearing, Representative Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said that Petraeus testified that he knew that the attack was a terrorist attack linked to al-Qaeda affiliates and not sparked by a protest over an anti-Islam video, as White House officials and President Obama had said for days afterwards. “The original talking points put out by the CIA were different from what was later put out,” King said. “Petraeus says his initial assessment was from the start it was a terrorist attack.” King said a CIA analyst specifically told lawmakers that the al-Qaeda affiliates line “was taken out.”
Other House members in attendance at the hearing said that Petraeus made clear that the modifications of the original talking points were not done for political reasons. Petraeus “was adamant there was no politicization of the process, no White House interference or political agenda,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). “He completely debunked that idea.” Regarding Ambassador Susan Rice‘s comments during television interviews after the attack, Schiff went on to say that the, according to Petraeus, the comments “reflected the best intelligence at the time that could be released publicly”. “There was an interagency process to draft it, not a political process,” Schiff said. “They came up with the best assessment without compromising classified information or source or methods. So changes were made to protect classified information.” According to Petraeus’s statements during the hearing, administration officials were concerned that, by publicly disclosing the involvement of Al Qaeda affiliates and sympathizers in the attack, those groups would be tipped off that US government agencies were aware of their involvement.
The Washington Post reported that, since the attack, the CIA and other intelligence analysts have settled on a hybrid view of the attack, suggesting that the Cairo protest sparked militants in Libya, who quickly mobilized the assault on U.S. facilities in Benghazi. Details about possible al-Qaeda links were not in initial talking points used by both Petraeus and UN Ambassador Susan Rice because they were preliminary and based on classified sources, intelligence officials said.
CBS News reported that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) cut specific references to “al Qaeda” and “terrorism” from the unclassified talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice on the attack, with the agreement of the CIA and FBI.
In a White House press briefing to reporters, Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters: “There was no protest outside the Benghazi facility. To this day, it is the assessment of this administration and of our intelligence community and certainly the assessment of your colleagues and the press who have interviewed participants on the ground in the assault on our facilities in Benghazi that they acted at least in part in response to what they saw happening in Cairo and took advantage of that situation.”
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice testified for about an hour in a closed session with Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte. McCain told reporters after the meeting: “We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got, and some that we didn’t get, concerning evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the attack on our consulate…. It is clear that the information that she gave the American people was incorrect when she said that it was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video.” Rice later issued a statement saying: “We explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi…. While, we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved.”
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify, as early as next week, at an open hearing on the Benghazi attack.
Hillary Clinton faints and suffers a concussion. As a result, her aides announce that they no longer expect her to testify at the hearing on the Benghazi attack.
An independent inquiry into the attack sharply criticises State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests for more guards and safety upgrades, and for failing to adapt security procedures to a deteriorating security environment.
A bipartisan SenateHomeland Security Committee report faults the State Department and Pentagon for providing inadequate protection to the U.S. Consulate. It also criticized the Obama Administration’s handling of the attack.
Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on the subject of the attack. She decries the “politicization” of incident, and defends the State Department. Noteworthy highlights from her testimony include her comment, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” in response to questions about why the Benghazi attack occurred and how the controversial talking points were created. She also stated, in response to Senator Rand Paul‘s question about the U.S. transferring weapons to Turkey from Libya, “I do not know. I don’t have any information on that,” further stating, “you’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex.”
Leon Panetta and Martin Dempsey testify before Senate Armed Services Committee on the subject of the attack. Under questioning by Lindsey Graham, Panetta and Dempsey said that they both only talked to President Obama one time on the day of the attack.
The United States has been denied access to individuals who were detained after a raid in the Nasr City neighborhood of Cairo by Egyptian officials. One of these individuals is Muhammad Jamal al Kashef, who is suspected of establishing training camps where attackers of the Benghazi consulate and CIA annex had trained.
House Republicans released a report on the Benghazi attack that was highly critical of the White House and the State Department; the White House dismissed the report, and House Democrats called the report biased.Among dozens of findings, the report states that:
“Senior State Department officials knew that the threat environment in Benghazi was high and that the Benghazi compound was vulnerable and unable to withstand an attack, yet the department continued to systematically withdraw security personnel”
The “[Obama] Administration willfully perpetuated a deliberately misleading and incomplete narrative that the attacks evolved from a political demonstration caused by a YouTube video.”
“… after a White House Deputies Meeting on Saturday, September 15, 2012, the Administration altered the talking points to remove references to the likely participation of Islamic extremists in the attacks. The Administration also removed references to the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya….”
“The Administration deflected responsibility by blaming the IC [intelligence community] for the information it communicated to the public in both the talking points and the subsequent narrative it perpetuated.”
Gregory Hicks, Eric Nordstrom, and Mark Thompson testify before the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and were called “whistleblowers” by the committee chairman. Hicks testified that more assistance from the U.S. military could have been provided, that attempts to send additional forces were told to stand down by another authority, and he was demoted for telling his recollection of events; the Defense Department disputed Hicks’ testimony, and the State Department did not respond. Hicks further stated that since the Libyan government had called the attack a terrorist attack, and the United States did not, complicated the FBI investigation. Thompson testified that a Foreign Emergency Support Team was not sent due to instructions from the State Department, which the State Department said would have taken too long to be effective; Nordstrom criticized the Accountability Review Board, that it did not look into decisions made by those individuals in higher authority. Furthermore, they testified that their previous attempts to increase security leading up to the attacks were denied. Democrats charged that the Republicans were politicizing the investigation.
The United States Department of Justice filed the first criminal charges in the Benghazi attack against Ahmed Abu Khattala, leader of a Libyan militia. The charges were sealed and their exact nature wasn’t clear, nor was the number of suspects named in the case. The Justice Department declined to comment on specific charges.
Ansar al-Sharia was formed during the Libyan Civil War and rose to prominence after the killing of Muammar Gaddafi. Made up of former rebels from the Abu Obayda Bin Aljarah Brigade, Malik Brigade and February 17th Martyrs Brigade and many more, the Salafist militia initially made their name by posting videos of themselves fighting in the Battle of Sirte, the final battle in the war.
Their first major public appearance occurred on 7 June 2012, when they led a rally of as many as 200 pickup trucks mounted with artillery along Benghazi’s Tahrir Square and demanded the imposition of Sharia law. According to the New York Times, “Western diplomats who watched said they were stunned by the scale and weaponry of the display.”
The leader of Ansar al-Sharia, Sheikh Muhammad al-Zahawi, later gave an interview on a local TV station forbidding participation in Libya’s first post-civil war parliamentary elections on the grounds that they were un-Islamic. The militia went on to provide security to some public property in eastern Libya, including Benghazi’s Al Jala Hospital. The group is reportedly the military arm of Al-Dawa wa Al-Islah, a charitable organization.
Ansar al-Sharia used its online presence to denounce the 2013 capture and removal from Libya of al-Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Libi, by American military forces.
Aside from militant activities, Ansar al-Sharia has attempted to gain local support through Dawah (missionary activities), the provision of social services, ranging from security patrols to garbage collection, and the establishment of medical clinics and religious schools. In January 2015, the group introduced Islamic religious police and a sharia court in parts of Benghazi.
As of 6 August 2013, U.S. officials confirmed that Ahmed Abu Khattala, the Libyan leader of Ansar al-Sharia, has been charged with playing a significant role in last year’s attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. According to NBC, the charges were filed under seal in Washington, D.C. in late July. Khattalah was arrested by U.S. Delta Force special operations personnel in a raid on Libya on 15 June 2014. He is being transported to the United States aboard the USS New York aircraft carrier and is expected to face trial in a U.S. criminal court.
Temporary withdrawal and resurgence
On 21 September 2012, after massive anti-militia protests in Benghazi which largely blamed Ansar al-Sharia for the mission attack, hundreds of protesters stormed the militia headquarters, pulled down flags of the militia and torched a vehicle inside the base. The group was forced out of its bases in Benghazi the next day.
A few hours after the attack, Martyrs of February 17, together with Bou Salim Martyrs brigade, allegedly agreed to disband, however about 150-200 militiamen moved from Benghazi to Jebel Akhdar area.
As of December 2012, the group still existed, although it had adopted a low-key position. By March 2013, the group had returned to Benghazi and began patrolling hospitals and manning checkpoints, as well as providing humanitarian services to residents. By late 2013, the group had opened up a branch in Derna, under the slogan “A step toward building the Islamic state”. The group also established a presence in the Libyan cities of Ajdabiya and Sirte.
Following prolonged tensions between Islamists and non-Islamists in Libya, on 16 May 2014 military forces loyal to General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar launched a large scale air and ground offensive codenamed Operation Dignity on Islamist militia groups in Benghazi including Ansar al-Sharia.
In late 2014, the group’s leader, Mohamed al-Zahawi, died of wounds he had received from the fighting. In the months that followed, many members of Ansar al-Sharia, including the majority of its organisation in Sirte, reportedly defected to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya. On 30 March 2015, the group’s chief Sharia jurist, Abu Abdullah Al-Libi, pledged allegiance to ISIL, and defected with a number of fighters. Ansar al-Sharia quickly announced that Abu Tamim al Libi has been selected as his replacement. While there have been rumors that the group could pledge allegiance to ISIL, it has retained its independence.
Designation as a terrorist organization
The countries and organizations below have officially listed the Ansar Al Sharia as a terrorist organization.
This article is about a particular use of the term connected with military and political organizations. For covert operations in intelligence gathering, organized crime and religious or minor political groups, see Front organization.
“Covert operative” redirects here. For the legal definition of covert agents or operatives, see covert agent.
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2009)
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According to the U.S. 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.
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 United States Intelligence Activities 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.
In a covert operation, the identity of the sponsor is concealed, while in a clandestine operation the operation itself is concealed. Put differently, clandestine means “hidden,” while covert means “deniable.” The term stealth refers both to a broad set of tactics aimed at providing and preserving the element of surprise and reducing enemy resistance and to a set of technologies (stealth technology) to aid in those tactics. While secrecy and stealthiness are often desired in clandestine and covert operations, the terms secret and stealthy are not used to formally describe types of missions.
Covert operations are employed in situations where openly operating against a target would be disadvantageous. These operations are generally illegal in the target state and are frequently in violation of the laws of the sponsoring country. Operations may be directed at or conducted with allies and friends to secure their support for controversial components of foreign policy throughout the world. Covert operations may include sabotage, assassinations, support for coups d’état, or support for