Declassified Benghazi Transcripts Debunk Fox's Favorite Myths


Declassified transcripts from House Armed Services Committee hearings on the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks revealed Fox News' highly politicized Benghazi reporting rarely reflected the facts on the ground.

Declassified Transcripts Of Benghazi Briefings Released

Declassified Transcripts Of Benghazi Briefings Released: On January 13, Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) released formerly classified transcripts of committee hearings on the September 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya:

The House Armed Services Committee today released a series of recently declassified transcripts of briefings on the September 11th 2012 attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya. The briefings were conducted by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations then chaired by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), though they were open to all members of the Committee and attended by Members off the Committee. The briefings, which took place over the course of several months, were part of the Committee's examination of the actions of the military chain of command before, during, and after the attack. [Press Release, U.S. House Of Representatives, Armed Services Committee, 1/13/14]

Fox News Personalities Claimed Obama Administration Ignored Benghazi Threats

Fox's Jennifer Griffin Reports: The Declassified Transcripts Show A "Woefully Ill Prepared And Ill Postured Military." On the January 14 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom Fox national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that the declassified transcript of Benghazi hearings revealed that the military was "ill prepared" to respond to the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 1/14/14] 

Fox Host Kilmeade: "The U.S. Government Knew An Attack Was Imminent And Didn't Do A Thing About It." On the October 28 edition of Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade claimed that "the U.S. government knew an attack was imminent [in Benghazi] and didn't do a thing about it." [Fox News, Fox & Friends10/28/13, via Media Matters]

Fox's Rivera Claimed Obama Administration Failed To Heed Warning Of Benghazi Attacks. On the October 17 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox host Geraldo Rivera claimed a press release issued on September 10, 2012 was evidence the Obama administration had notice of a threat to the diplomatic facility in Benghazi but did nothing to prevent the attacks:

RIVERA: What does the press release say the day before the attacks on the Cairo embassy and the consulate in Benghazi and other facilities around the country? The press release on September 10, 2012, says there is a heightened terror alert, be on the lookout, all our people have now been informed. So there was clearly notice, there was an appreciation on September 10, 2012, that our facilities overseas were in peril. [Fox News, Fox & Friends10/18/13, via Media Matters]

Declassified Transcripts: Military Intelligence Did Not Indicate Imminent Attack

Gen. Darryl Roberson: "We Were Postured As Appropriately As We Can Be And We Thought We Should Be Around The World." As CNN reported, Maj. Gen. Darryl Roberson testified before Congress that the military was "postured as appropriately as [they] can be" given intelligence at the time. From CNN:

Maj. Gen. Darryl Roberson, vice director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified that an analysis of how many attacks the U.S. has had on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks since 2001 found "the answer is one, and it was September 11 of 2012. Prior to that event at Benghazi, there had not been an attack on 9/11 that DOD had to respond to in any way. So we were taking in all of the indications and warning. We were postured as appropriately as we can be and we thought we should be around the world." [, 1/14/14]

Gen. Ham: "I Have Not Found The Intelligence That Would Indicate That An Attack In Benghazi Was Imminent And That Subsequent Security Should Have Been Deployed." In his June 26, 2013, testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, General Carter Ham -- commander, United States Africa Command, at the time of the attacks -- stated there was no intelligence indicating an imminent attack in Benghazi prior to the attacks:

HAM: [L]eading up to the events of 11 September, watching the intelligence very carefully as all of us did and post attack having the opportunity to review the intelligence, I still don't find -- I have not found the intelligence that would indicate that an attack in Benghazi was imminent and that subsequent security should have been deployed. [House Of Representatives Hearing Subcommittee On Oversight Investigations, 6/26/13, via Media Matters ]

Fox Claimed "Stand Down" Order Was Given To Benghazi Response Teams

Fox Pushed Myth That Forces In Libya Were Given A "Stand Down" Order At Least 85 Times. In the ten months following the Benghazi attacks, Fox News claimed at least 85 times that troops in Tripoli, Libya, were ordered to "stand down" and not assist those under attack that night in Benghazi. [Media Matters6/27/13

Declassified TranscriptNo Stand Down Order Was Given

LTC. S.E. Gibson:  "I Was Not Ordered To Stand Down" Going To Benghazi Could Have Been "Catastrophic." Testimony from a declassified June 26, 2013, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation hearing soundly debunked the notion that a "stand down" order was given to Tripoli security team leader LTC. S.E. Gibson during the attacks. From Gibson's testimony (emphasis added):

REP. ROBY (R-AL):   At the May 8 hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Gregory Hicks, who was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy in Tripoli that you have referred to, on the day of Benghazi attacks, he was asked by a Member, and I quote, "You believed help was needed in Benghazi, and there was a SOF unit, Special Operations unit, ordered to stand down, correct?" And Mr. Hicks replied "yes" to this question. Do you agree that you and your team were ordered to, quote, "stand down"?

LTC. GIBSON: Madam Chairman, I was not ordered to stand down. I was ordered to remain in place. "Stand down" implies that we cease all operations, cease all activities. We continued to support the team that was in Tripoli. We continued to maintain visibility of the events as they unfolded.

REP. ROBY: And, in hindsight, which we have tried in asking a lot of these questions to make sure that we are looking at this situation based on what you knew at the time, and, of course, looking back on what we know now, should you and your team have gone to Benghazi?

LTC. GIBSON: Madam Chairman, if we would have went to Benghazi, it could have had catastrophic -- are you talking about the first plane or the second plane, Madam Chairman?

REP. ROBY: The second plane, when you were told not to go.

LTC. GIBSON: The Special Forces medic was instrumental in providing the support to the wounded that returned. We would not have been in Tripoli in order to provide that support if we would have got  on the plane. The decision by my higher headquarters to not get on that plane was the correct decision, in hindsight. [House Of Representatives Hearing Subcommittee On Oversight Investigations, 6/26/13, accessed 1/14/14]

Fox Accused Obama Of Abandoning Americans To Die In Benghazi

Fox's Johnson Suggests Obama Admin May Have "Sacrificed Americans" As A "Political Calculation" During Benghazi Attacks. On the October 25 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. asked if there was a "political calculation that was made to sacrifice Americans on the ground so we didn't kill innocents in front of the consulate." [Fox News, Fox & Friends10/25/12,via Media Matters]

Fox's McFarland: "It Was Probably A Political Decision Not To Rescue Them." Fox News national security analyst K.T. McFarland claimed the supposed absence of aid to the consulate was "probably" politically motivated. From America Live:

ALISYN CAMEROTA (guest host): K.T., who is responsible for answering all of these questions?

McFARLAND: Well, that's the question you want to know. I mean, here's what's happened is, bad stuff happened, all right? So what is the administration doing? They're throwing a lot of dust up in the air to try to make sure you're not sure quite what happened, who to blame. Is it the movie's fault? Is it the intelligence community? Is it the security? Is it the State Department diplomats? We don't know the answers to that. I've got a guess that it's something that was a political decision. And not only a political decision not to give them the kind of security they wanted, but it was probably a political decision not to rescue them. And finally, is it a political decision to try to put a lot of blue smoke and mirrors in front of everybody so they don't know what really happened, and they won't know what really happened until after the election? [Fox News, America Live10/10/12via Media Matters]

Fox News' Bill Kristol: President Was "Absent The Whole Night Of The Crisis." During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Fox contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol claimed President Obama was "absent the whole night of the crisis." [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday5/12/13]

Fox Host Guilfoyle: In Benghazi, Obama Administration "Decided" That U.S. Lives Were "Expendable." During the October 24 edition of Fox News' The Five, while discussing the Benghazi attacks, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said of the administration, "[I]n this particular situation, they decided [American lives] were expendable." [Fox News, The Five, 10/24/12, via Media Matters]

Declassified Transcripts: President Obama Instructed "All Available Assets To Respond"

Gen. Martin Dempsy: "The President Instructed Us To Use All Available Assets To Respond To The Attacks To Ensure The Safety Of U.S. Personnel In Libya." During the October 10, 2013 House Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation hearing, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsy explained that President Obama "instructed us to use all available assets to respond to the attacks to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel" after being briefed "soon after" the attacks (emphasis added):  

GEN. DEMPSY:  Soon after I received the initial reports of the Benghazi attack, I discussed the situation with the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and with President Obama in a meeting that we had already scheduled that day on another topic.

The President instructed us to use all available assets to respond to the attacks to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel in Libya and to protect U.S. personnel and interests throughout the region. Because threat streams increased in a number of locations simultaneously) we postured our forces to respond regionally as well as specifically to the events in Libya. In response to events in Benghazi, we deployed a Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security team, or FASJ team as you probably know it. Prepared a second FAS platoon to deploy and moved the special operations force that was training in Croatia to a staging base in Italy. We also deployed a special operations force from the continental United States to an intermediate staging base in southern Europe. [House Of Representatives Hearing Subcommittee On Oversight Investigations, 10/10/13, accessed 1/14/14]

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