On January 15, 2014, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a bipartisan review of its findings in an investigation of the September 11, 2012, attacks on an American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. Much of the report dispels myths perpetuated by Fox News over the last sixteen months.
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence Releases Bipartisan Review
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence Releases Review On September 11, 2012 Attack On A Diplomatic Facility In Benghazi, Libya. A January 15, 2014 U.S. Senate Select Committee investigation released a review of the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi and made recommendations to prevent future attacks on American interests around the world. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
Fox Benghazi Myth: "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 Matters, 6/27/13]
Senate Review: No Evidence Of A "Stand Down" Order
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: Committee Found No Evidence Of Intentional Delay Or Obstruction By The Chief Of Base Or Any Other Party. A Senate Committee on Intelligence review of the Benghazi attacks found no evidence of a "stand down" order given to responding units during the attack:
The Committee explored claims that there was a "stand down" order given to the security team at the Annex. Although some members of the security team expressed frustration that they were unable to respond more quickly to the Mission compound, 12 the Committee found no evidence of intentional delay or obstruction by the Chief of Base or any other party. The Committee has reviewed the allegations that U.S. personnel, including in the IC (Intelligence Community) or DoD, prevented the mounting of any military relief effort during the attacks, but the Committee has not found any of these allegations to be substantiated.
The Committee has reviewed the allegations that U.S. personnel, including in the IC or DoD, prevented the mounting of any military relief effort during the attacks, but the Committee has not found any of these allegations to be substantiated. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
Fox Benghazi Myth: Obama Administration Ignored Benghazi Threats
Fox's Jennifer Griffin: 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, via Media Matters]
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, co-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 & Friends, 10/28/13, via Media Matters]
Senate Review: No "Tactical Warning" Predicting An Attack
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: "There Was No Singular 'Tactical Warning' In The Intelligence Reporting Leading Up To The Events On September 11, 2012, Predicting An Attack On U.S." The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence review found that no specific warnings predicted the attack in Benghazi (emphasis added):
There was no singular "tactical warning" in the intelligence reporting leading up to the events on September 11, 2012, predicting an attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi on the 9/11 anniversary, although State and the CIA both sent general warning notices to facilities worldwide noting the potential security concerns associated with the anniversary. Such a specific warning should not have been expected, however, given the limited intelligence collection of the Benghazi area at the time.
To date, the Committee has not identified any intelligence or other information received prior to September 11, 2012, by the IC or State Department indicating specific terrorist planning to attack the U.S. facilities in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
Although it did not reach the U.S. Intelligence Community until after the attacks, it is important to note that a former Transitional National Council (TNC) security official in Benghazi, had received information of a possible imminent attack against the Mission facility in advance. The official said that approximately four hours prior to the attack, he attempted to notify the Libyan Intelligence Service (LIS) that an attack was expected, but he was unable to reach two contacts he had in the LIS as they were out of the country. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
Fox Benghazi Myth: Obama Administration Engaged In Cover-Up Over Benghazi
Hannity: "We Are Witnessing A Widespread Cover-Up Based On Flat-Out Lies." Hannity began his September 20, 2012, Fox News show by airing a montage of Obama administration officials speaking about the Benghazi attacks, then said:
HANNITY: All right now, how this event can evolve from an impromptu riot about a YouTube video to a premeditated terrorist attack in the span of a week -- well, that can be explained in one of three ways. Number one, this administration is stupid, simple as that. Number two, this administration is on the receiving end of some of the worst intelligence in American history. Or number three, we are witnessing a widespread cover-up based on flat-out lies, all aimed to protect a president who happens to be running for reelection. I'm going with number three, and in a moment, I'm going to show you the evidence to back it up. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/20/12, via Media Matters]
Van Susteren: "Incompetence, Or Cover-Up, Or Something Else?" On her September 20, 2012, Fox News show, Greta Van Susteren introduced a segment on Benghazi with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich by asking, "Why does the Obama administration keep changing its tune? Incompetence, or cover-up, or something else?" [Fox News, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, 9/20/12, via Media Matters]
Chris Wallace: "Did The Obama Administration Play Down What Happened" In Benghazi? Host Chris Wallace asked then-Obama adviser Robert Gibbs, "Specific question, because this is looking at the bottom line: Did the Obama administration play down what happened in Libya, what happened in Cairo, because it would make Obama foreign policy look better?" [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/23/12, via Media Matters]
Senate Review: No Effort By Obama Administration To Cover-Up Or Alter Facts
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: "There Were No Efforts By The White House Or Any Other Executive Branch Entities To 'Cover-Up' Facts Or Make Alterations For Political Purposes." The Senate Committee on Intelligence review determined there was no effort by the administration to cover-up or alter the facts for political purposes:
The Majority concludes that the interagency coordination process on the talking points followed normal, but rushed coordination procedures and that there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to "cover-up" facts or make alterations for political purposes. Indeed, former CIA Director David Petraeus testified to the Committee on November 16, 2012, "They went through the normal process that talking points-unclassified public talking points-go through." In fact, the purpose of the National Security Council (NSC) is to coordinate the many national security agencies of the government, especially when information about a terrorist attack is flowing in and being analyzed quickly-and the NSC used this role appropriately in the case of the talking points coordination. Furthermore, such coordination processes were also standardized, often at the urging of Congress, following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with the explicit goal of reducing information "stovepipes" between and among agencies. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
Fox Benghazi Myth: No Link To Anti-Muslim YouTube Video
Hannity: Anti-Muslim Film Is "Convenient Excuse" To Avoid Admitting Attack Was Terrorism. During the September 17 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity said the Obama administration is blaming the anti-Islam video for attacks on our consulate to avoid admitting it was a terrorist attack. From the segment:
HANNITY: Wasn't that part of the whole spin, that it had to do with the movie trailer? Well, that's a convenient excuse, considering the movie trailer was released back in July. So it's a convenient excuse. It gets them off the hook. Now they had to admit, because the evidence has been overwhelming and incontrovertible -- granted, our media in this country, they don't do their job. So now there's some culpability here. And I think there's some fair questions. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/17/12, via Media Matters]
Megyn Kelly: Susan Rice Linked Benghazi Attacks To Anti-Muslim Video, "Which We Know Now Was Not The Case." America Live host Megyn Kelly said, "I think now all of our viewers know [Rice], because she's the one who went on all the Sunday talk shows and told us that everything that happened in Benghazi was linked to this video, which we now know was not the case. Can she possibly ascend into the Cabinet, into this position in the Cabinet, given that?" [Fox News, America Live, 11/13/12, via Media Matters]
Senate Review: Reports Suggested Link To Inflammatory YouTube Video
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: Intel Reports Linked Inflammatory Video To Benghazi Attack. A Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found that "some intelligence suggests" an inflammatory video linked to violent protests around the region led terror groups to conduct "similar attacks with advanced warning":
It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks or whether extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video, suggesting that these and other terrorist groups could conduct similar attacks with little advance warning. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
Fox Benghazi Myth: Obama Left 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 & Friends, 10/25/12, 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 Live, 10/10/12, via Media Matters]
Senate Review: Response Saved Lives, No Military In Position
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: "The Committee Interviewed U.S. Personnel In Benghazi That Night, And They Credited Their Lives Being Saved To The Personnel Who Responded To The Attacks." The Senate Committee on Intelligence review found that the groups responding to the Benghazi attack were credited with saving lives of the personnel in diplomatic facility:
Although there was no formal written agreement about how security should be handled between the two facilities in Benghazi, there was a common understanding that each group would come to the other's aid if attacked, which is what happened the night of September 11, 2012.102 IC personnel immediately came to the aid of their colleagues at the Temporary Mission Facility, and fought bravely to secure TMF [The Mission Facility] personnel and their own Annex facility. The Committee interviewed U.S. personnel in Benghazi that night, and they credited their lives being saved to the personnel who responded to the attacks. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence: "There Were No U.S. Military Resources In Position To Intervene In Short Order In Benghazi To Help Defend The Temporary Mission Facility." A Senate Committee on Intelligence found that military assets were not in place to respond in time:
According to Major General Darryl Roberson, Vice Director of Operations for the Joint Staff: There were no ships available to provide any support that were anywhere close to the facility at Benghazi. The assets that we had available were Strike Eagles loaded with live weapons that could have responded, but they were located in Djibouti, which is the equivalent of the distance between here [Washington D.C.] and Los Angeles. The other fighters that might have been available were located in Aviano, Italy. They were not loaded with weapons. They were not on an alert status. We would've had to build weapons, load weapons, get tankers to support it, and get it there. There was no way that we were going to be able to do that. Unfortunately, there was not a carrier in the Mediterranean that could have been able to support; the assets that we mobilized immediately were the only assets we had available to try to support.
There have been congressional and public questions about why military assets were not used from the U.S. military base in Souda Bay, Crete. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7, 2013, that (1) the military asset in Souda Bay, Crete, "wasn't the right tool for the particular threat we faced;" (2) " ... the aircraft were not among the forces that we had at heightened alert;" and (3) the "boots-on-the ground capabilities" that DoD deployed would have arrived too late, so they did not deploy to Benghazi. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]