A Republican activist, attorney, and key player in the Benghazi hoax accused a former congressional staffer of harassing Benghazi eyewitnesses during congressional testimonies before going to work for Hillary Clinton -- but the staffer in question actually left Congress months before the interviews of those eyewitnesses took place. The false claim is just the latest in a long line of fictions from the Benghazi hoaxster, who has been discredited by Republicans members of the House Intelligence Committee and Benghazi CIA contractors alike.
Victoria Toensing appeared on the September 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends to aid the network in reviving the myth of a "stand down" order in Benghazi. Going even further, Toensing claimed that Michael Allen, former chief of staff for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, orchestrated the harassment of three CIA contractors giving their eyewitness testimony on the Benghazi attacks before Congress, even speculating that Allen purposefully prohibited the Committee from getting answers before leaving to join a "Hillary organization":
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): When these three operators and the others came back and they testified behind closed doors to the House Intel Committee, I understand they were harassed by the House Intel Committee that we thought were trying to get all the answers. What was up with that?
TOENSING: Republicans. And they were told, they were accused that they were not telling the truth. They were threatened with "the committee is not going to pay your travel expenses," which committees always do for witnesses who come in from out of town, "because you're writing a book and you're going to make money, and by the way, you shouldn't be writing a book."
Now you say why would that happen with the Republican-dominated House Intelligence Committee? Well, that chief of staff, the head of that staff that harassed these three brave men, a few months later went to work for Beacon Global Strategies. That is a Hillary organization.
Fox News exploited witnesses to the Benghazi attacks to further its Benghazi hoax just days before a GOP-led select committee holds its first public hearing, even though these witnesses were previously interviewed in congressional investigations that months ago debunked claims made during the Fox News Reporting: 13 Hours at Benghazi special.
The September 5 Fox special featured interviews with three CIA security contractors who were present in Benghazi during the September 2012 attacks, and aimed to answer "Whether or not military assistance was requested by the security team and whether orders from above hindered their response to the violence that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans." The chairman of the Benghazi Select Committee already took notice of the Fox program and used it to justify the establishment of his committee.
The witnesses on Fox mentioned that they requested the support of combat aircraft and insisted, contrary to multiple independent and congressional reports, that they were told to "stand down" by the chief of the CIA base in Benghazi. They later claimed that if there had been no delay, Ambassador Stevens would still be alive:
What Fox failed to mention was that the CIA officers and contractors present in Libya during the attacks were previously interviewed by Congress in private testimony before a House intelligence subcommittee. This testimony destroyed the myths that anyone had been ordered to "stand down" and that a speedier response would have saved more lives.
A December 2013 Associated Press report on this testimony cited Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), "who heads a House intelligence subcommittee that interviewed the employees," to explain that the CIA personnel were fully aware there would be no air support:
He explained that the lack of air support was clear to all CIA employees working in Libya because of a 2011 CIA memorandum sent to employees after NATO forces ended their mission in support of the Libyan revolution.
One contractor testified that he shouted repeatedly over the agency's radio system to his CIA security boss that they should request combat aircraft. But the security chief explained to lawmakers that he ignored his subordinate's demands because he said he knew that no combat aircraft were available for such a mission, Westmoreland said.
The testimony revealed that there was a delay in the CIA response team departing to the aid of those under attack at the diplomatic facility in an attempt to round up additional support for them from a local Libyan militia, and that "[s]ome CIA security contractors disagreed with their bosses and wanted to move more quickly." Westmoreland told AP that "he believes this disagreement was the source of allegations that the CIA ordered security personnel to 'stand down' and not help the people inside the diplomatic mission."
The full report from the GOP-led House Intelligence Committee ultimately found that "There was no 'stand-down order' given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening," according to Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), a member of the committee. The Senate Intelligence Committee and independent Accountability Review Board also found that no orders from above obstructed the rescue operation, despite the suggestion by Fox that this occurred.
The AP report also said of the testimony by the CIA officers and contractors present in Libya during the attack:
None of those who testified said a quicker response would have saved the lives of Stevens and communications specialist Sean Smith at the temporary diplomatic facility.
The statements made by the CIA contractors in this Fox special are ultimately old news and don't match up with their testimony in a congressional investigation that debunked many of the network's narratives about the attacks.
Fox News' upcoming special report on Benghazi, which examines questions that have already been answered repeatedly by multiple congressional and independent investigations, is being used by Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to justify the establishment of his redundant select committee.
The special, titled "13 Hours at Benghazi" and hosted by Special Report's Bret Baier on September 5, is slated to explore "Whether or not military assistance was requested by the security team and whether orders from above hindered their response to the violence that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans." A Special Report segment teased the special by highlighting the reaction of congressional lawmakers including Benghazi Select Committee Chair Gowdy, who said in a press release:
[I]n response to recent reports from security personnel on the ground in Benghazi:
"The Committee has heard of these concerns and they go to the heart of why Congress established this Committee--to determine all of the facts of what happened in Benghazi before, during and after the terrorist attack that day. We welcome the opportunity, and expect, to talk to personnel who were on the ground in Benghazi, their superiors, and anyone with relevant information related to the Benghazi terrorist attack. There are still facts to learn about Benghazi and information that needs to be explained in greater detail to the American people. And this Committee will do just that."
As the Daily Beast's Eli Lake explained, on the night of the attacks there was a 23-minute delay between the initial distress call from the diplomatic facility in Benghazi and when the CIA contractors from the nearby CIA Annex departed to rescue the Americans there. Despite suggestions from some in the intelligence community that this delay hindered their rescue effort, repeated investigations found no evidence that the CIA operatives were delayed by "orders from above," as Fox's announcement suggests.
Washington Post columnist George Will deepened his ethically challenged connections to big-money conservative groups by participating in an Americans for Prosperity summit where prominent Republican presidential hopefuls made their pitch to major donors.
Will's attendance at the Koch-backed group's annual convention comes after he spent months promoting Koch-backed candidates for public offices and advancing Koch-backed policy issues in his syndicated column.
On August 31, Politico reported that Will was part of an "exclusive group of major donors and VIPs" who "dined privately" at AFP's eighth annual Defending the American Dream summit. According to Politico, the summit "has become an increasingly important stop for aspiring GOP presidential candidates." In previous years, Will has also spoken at the summit and been given AFP's highest honor, the George Washington Award.
Will's cozy relationship with AFP has not been disclosed in any of his recent columns promoting key Republican candidates for Congress or governorships, who have benefited from AFP's ad spending. Using his platform at The Washington Post, Will has promoted Michigan Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land, suggesting that she is "the GOP's best answer to the so-called war on women" and contrasting her with Sandra Fluke, whom he smeared as "a professional victim and virtuoso whiner." Will argued that by electing Land, Michigan voters would be able "to show what they think of 'war on women' hysterics as a substitute for thought." Like Will, AFP supports Land and, as Will noted, has already spent $5 million on her behalf. Will did not note his connections to the group.
Will has similarly promoted North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis' candidacy for the Senate, parroting his anti-Obamacare campaign advertisements in a May 30 column. Will defended Tillis against charges that he is an "establishment" moderate by praising his conservative credentials: "Tillis has been an enthusiastic enactor and implementer of the conservatism that North Carolinians voted for." Will noted that AFP has spent $8 million on advertising attacking Tillis' opponent, Democrat Kay Hagan. Charles Koch and his family have also maxed out their contributions to Tillis, and he received a $5,000 donation from the Koch Industries PAC.
Will has profiled Republican Bruce Rauner, who is running to be governor of Illinois, framing the election as a choice between Rauner's push for term limits and his "vows to change the state's fundamental affliction --its political culture" and "the acceleration of stagnation" under the Democratic incumbent, Pat Quinn. AFP has spent at least $120,000 attacking Quinn.
Will also supported the candidacy of Monica Wehby in Oregon. In a July 25 column, he argued that since she has spent 17 years as a pediatric neurosurgeon, "She probably can cope with the strains of legislative life." He cited her "two X chromosomes," opposition to abortion rights, and support of marriage equality to claim she "complicates the Democratic Party's continuing accusation that Republicans wage 'war on women.' " Will also suggested that Wehby isn't too extreme for Oregon because she "won 50 percent of the vote in a five-candidate primary in which her rivals accused her of moderation." The Koch-affiliated group Freedom Partners, which Politico called the "Koch brothers' secret bank," plans to spend $3.6 million on Wehby's race.
Organizations that receive large amounts of Koch funding have also been prominently mentioned in Will's recent columns. Will twice hyped the work of the Institute for Justice, which relied on Charles Koch for seed money, and has since received more than $1 million in money from Koch-backed groups. Will dedicated another column to pushing the Goldwater Institute's effort to create a balanced budget amendment. The group has received more than $1.6 million in donations from Koch-affiliated groups.
Will also offered praise for U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa, who halted a criminal investigation into possible illegal coordination between the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and outside groups during a recall election. Walker has benefited from more than $10 million in spending by AFP.
Will has previously had problems with nondisclosure. Will has been criticized by media ethicists and veteran journalists for citing groups that are funded by the Bradley Foundation without disclosing that he is a paid board member of that organization. Tom Fiedler, dean of Boston University's College of Communications and former Miami Herald editor, stated that Will's acceptance of an award from the Bradley Foundation "signaled his alignment with its philosophy." Washington and Lee University journalism professor Ed Wasserman said that Will's failure to disclose the relationship was "[o]f course" a problem, explaining that even though Will is known to be a conservative, readers should know if Will's commentary is "independently arrived at rather than a reflection of a nexus of relationships and entanglements that he is embedded in."
Fox News medical contributor Keith Ablow wrote that there is something wrong in the minds of Ferguson residents who reacted to the shooting death of 18 year-old Michael Brown by a police officer with protests.
In an August 20 opinion piece posted on FoxNews.com, Ablow opined that the psyche of Ferguson needs to be investigated following the unrest that erupted after Brown's killing. Ablow suggested that the community's reactions were racially motivated; accusing the residents of presuming "the moral depravity of whites," which they would not have done if the teen was raped or killed by a black police officer:
The psychology of those who rioted and committed other lawless acts in Ferguson is as suspect at this moment as the psychology of Darren Wilson, because their psychology presumes the moral depravity of whites - at least those in authority.
If a black officer had shot and killed Michael Brown, chances are there would be no protests at all. Perhaps there would be a civil suit. Perhaps there would be criminal charges against the officer involved. But there would be no unrest.
When a woman is raped even if by a police officer, the community does not erupt in violence, with throngs of women breaking windows and threatening to storm the police command station.
Whether or not Officer Darren Wilson is guilty of anything, something is deeply wrong with the psyche of the community in Ferguson, Mo. And understanding and addressing that pathology should be the first order of business of community leaders - even as the work of investigating the Michael Brown shooting is unfolding.
Community leaders and residents in Ferguson have worked to keep demonstrations peaceful, and media reports indicate that many of the people arrested for violence in Ferguson have come from outside the community to confront police. Some Ferguson residents have also worked to protect local businesses from looters.
Ablow continues to use his Fox News platform to make inflammatory claims and attack the Obama administration, most recently coming under fire for his comments calling Michelle Obama too fat to be a credible voice on school nutrition.
President Obama called for healing and police restraint amid protests following the death of a teenager killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. In response, Fox News hosts baselessly accused Obama of inflaming racial tensions and stoking discord by speaking out on the issue.
A Fox News segment displayed a misleading chart based on a poll that appeared to show 110 percent of Americans disapproved of President Obama's job performance.
On the July 30 edition of Special Report, the following chart was shown during a report by Fox News political correspondent Carl Cameron on Obama's popularity in the "twelve states most likely to decide Senate control":
Without showing the number of likely voters who approve of Obama's job performance, viewers are left with the impression that more than 100 percent of respondents disapprove of the president's job performance. Watch:
Fox News host Megyn Kelly misinformed her audience by claiming that that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not issued a travel ban over Ukraine, in order to bash President Obama over Israel. In fact, the FAA has banned commercial travel over Ukraine since April.
CNBC's Closing Bell hid its own conflict of interest and the industry ties of the telecommunications industry front group Broadband for America while providing co-chairs of the group a platform to attack government regulations of the Internet and broadband access.
On the July 14 edition of CNBC's Closing Bell, host Kelly Evans interviewed Harold Ford, Jr. and John Sununu about the FCC's latest proposed regulations, introducing them as "Broadband for America honorary co-chairs," without explaining what Broadband for America was. Both Ford and Sununu insisted that the Internet should not be treated as a public utility and claimed that new regulations would slow Internet speeds and innovation.
Though Evans, to her credit, did pose challenging questions to Ford and Sununu about the possibility of companies paying internet providers to speed up customers' access to their content and the lack of competing broadband providers faced by many Americans, she failed to disclose the interest that Broadband for America and her own network's corporate parent has in limiting government regulation of broadband access.
Broadband for America has, among its members, major national broadband providers such as Comcast, Cox Communications, and Verizon. Its members list includes the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which donated $2 million to Broadband for America in 2012.
And CNBC's parent company NBC is owned by the Comcast Corporation, which prides itself on its Comcast Cable division being "the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider to residential customers."
A Fox News correspondent blamed the Obama administration's tweaks to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) announcement that it would no longer estimate the total cost of the law, and suggested that the changes may increase deficits. In fact, the CBO and budget experts explained that the CBO routinely stops providing budgetary estimates once a law is implemented, and that the CBO's estimate that the ACA would reduce the deficit remains correct.