Benghazi

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  • Select Committee Democrats Identify Fox News As Vector For Benghazi Misinformation

    Benghazi Democrats Highlight Seven Instances Of Misinformation On Fox’s Airwaves

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Democratic members of the Benghazi House Select Committee have released a report that implicitly highlights Fox News as a key vector for perpetuating misinformation about the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya.

    Fox has been obsessed with using the Benghazi attacks as a political weapon to damage first President Obama and then former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After the network pushed for the creation of the select committee, several of its personalities acknowledged its fundamentally political nature following House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) boast that the committee had achieved its goal of damaging Clinton's poll numbers.

    The network’s evening lineup ran nearly 1,100 segments on the attacks and their aftermath during the first 20 months following the attacks, with much of the coverage rife with misinformation about debunked conspiracy theories. Those programs also provided a ready platform for Republican members of Congress to parrot Benghazi misinformation, hosting GOP members 30 times more frequently than they did Democrats.

    Here are seven times the Democratic report highlights false statements pushed in interviews on Fox News’ airwaves:

    Rep. Trey Gowdy’s Claim That The Military’s Posture On Night Of Attacks Was Unclear

    The report highlights Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) false suggestion during a Fox News interview that the deployment of military forces on the night of the attacks had not previously been examined (italics original, citations removed):

    On May 17, 2016, Chairman Gowdy conceded during an interview on Fox News that the military could not have gotten to Benghazi in time to save the lives of the four Americans killed that night. However, he claimed that he did not know the reasons behind the military’s global positioning decisions prior to the attacks. He stated:

    Whether or not they could have gotten there in time, I don’t think there is any issue with respect to that—they couldn’t. The next question is, why could you not? Why were you not positioned to do it?

    In fact, this specific question was investigated extensively in 2013 and 2014 by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

    For example:  

    • On February 7, 2013, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled: “Attack on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya.”  

    • On March 15, 2013, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled: “The Posture of the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command.”  

    • On Sept. 19, 2013, the House Armed Services Committee received a transcribed briefing entitled: “DOD’s Posture for September 11, 2013” (Part IV, Force Posture).  

    • On Oct. 10, 2013, the House Armed Services Committee received a transcribed briefing entitled: “DOD’s Force Posture in Anticipation of September 11, 2012” (Part V, General Dempsey).

    These hearings and briefings highlighted the challenges facing the Department of Defense in responding to crises and operating in Africa given the geography, size, and political environment on the continent. As a result, the report issued by Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee concluded:

    The U.S. military’s response to the Benghazi attack was severely degraded because of the location and readiness posture of U.S. forces, and because of the lack of clarity about how the terrorist action was unfolding.

    Rep. Louie Gohmert’s False Claim That Help Was Deliberately Withheld

    The report highlights Rep. Louie Gohmert’s (R-TX) false claim during a Fox News interview that help was deliberately withheld during the attacks (italics original, citations removed):

    Similarly, Rep. Louie Gohmert told Fox News in September 2014:

    They let those people die at Benghazi, they could have gotten planes there sooner, they could have gotten people there sooner, and anybody that knows anything will disregard what some of these high intelligence people have said and will get straight to the truth.

    In his interview with the Select Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta emphatically rejected these Republican accusations that Secretary Clinton or anyone else ordered him to stand down on the night of the attacks:

    Q: Did the Secretary of State ever tell you to stand down or slow the Department of Defense response?

    A: Not at all. You know, that’s a—that’s a big word, “stand down.” And let me tell you, not only did I never hear that word mentioned, but if somebody had said that, I think, you know, it would not have interfered with my orders to proceed.

    Secretary Panetta explained that no one ever ordered military forces to stand down that night:

    Q: And I just want to be clear. To your knowledge, there was no stand-down—I mean, to your knowledge, any stand-down orders given with regard to this operation on that night?

    A: No. Never, never. It would have been against everything that the military stands for. You know, the military, their whole focus is on being able to protect particularly their own. That’s what they do. To even imply that somehow the military, or someone would have said, maybe we shouldn’t go, it’s too risky, it’s crazy. It’s just not the way our military operates.

    Maj. Eric Stahl’s Claim He Could Have Gotten Plane To Benghazi Faster

    The report quotes a vice admiral rejecting the claim now-retired Air Force Reserve Maj. Eric Stahl made during a Fox News appearance that he could have gotten the military transport plane to Benghazi faster (italics original, citations removed):

    On June 11, 2014, Eric Stahl, a now-retired Air Force Reserve Major, appeared on Fox News and alleged that he could have piloted the C-17 plane from Germany to Benghazi in 4.5 hours. He stated:

    A hurried-up timeline probably would take us [an] hour-and-a-half to get off the ground and three hours and fifteen minutes to get down there. So we could’ve gone down there and gotten them [the survivors] easily.”

    [...]

    Vice Admiral Charles Leidig, the Deputy to the Commander for Military Operations at AFRICOM, rejected the C-17 pilot’s allegation:

    I’m going to try to answer this as clearly as I can. I don’t know where the major was or what he was doing that night, all right? But to get a C-17 ready, with the medical capability and the configuration required to medevac the type of injuries that we had, we had the most senior people in the military around the globe working on it. For the major to suggest that he could somehow do it better than three significant staffs is incredulous to me. You often find that officers operating at the tactical level have little understanding of the larger requirements to deploy an aircraft. So again, I find his claims to be largely without credibility.

    Donald Trump’s False Claim That Clinton Ignored Hundreds Of Personal Requests For Additional Security

    The report details presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s false claim during a Fox News interview that then-Ambassador Christopher Stevens had sought additional security “500 or 600 times” (italics original, citations removed):

    Nevertheless, since the hearing, Republicans have used the talking point of “600 requests” ignored by Secretary Clinton to lodge unsubstantiated political attacks against her, including as part of the presidential campaign. For example, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stated on Fox News: “Look at Benghazi, our ambassador. He wired her 500 or 600 times asking for help.”

    The Washington Post Fact Checker addressed Trump’s claim, calling it “a whopper” because no requests for additional security went to Secretary Clinton.

    Rep. Trey Gowdy’s Promotion Of The Unsubstantiated Document “Separat[ion]” Story

    The report says  Gowdy used a Fox News interview to promote the report that Raymond Maxwell, the former deputy assistant secretary of state for Maghreb affairs, had claimed that top Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Jacob Sullivan had been “part of an operation to ‘separate’ damaging documents” about Benghazi before they were turned over for review (italics original, citations removed):

    On October 17, 2014, Chairman Gowdy was interviewed on Fox News by Greta Van Susteren, who asked if he believed Mr. Maxwell’s allegation that “documents were tossed out.” In response, the Chairman stated:

    What you would do is what I’m going to do Greta, and that is, give Mr. Maxwell an opportunity to say what he perceived to happen and he’s going to have to give us the names of the other people who were involved and then we’re going to give them an opportunity to say whether or not they have a different perspective. It’s going to be an investigation. And if there is a dispute as to what happened then we’ll let your audience decide who has more credibility.

    By the time Chairman Gowdy made this statement, however, his staff had already interviewed Mr. Maxwell without including, inviting, or even notifying Democratic Members or staff. Mr. Maxwell apparently identified for Republican staff a second witness that he claimed was present during this document review at the State Department. Mr. Maxwell identified this person as someone who could corroborate his allegations and someone he believes is credible.

    Then, on October 16—one day before Chairman Gowdy appeared on Fox News—his staff interviewed this second witness, again without including Democrats. However, this second witness did not substantiate Mr. Maxwell’s claims. To the contrary, he did not recall ever having been in the document review session Mr. Maxwell described, he said he was never instructed to flag information in documents that might be unfavorable to the Department, and he reported that he never engaged in or was aware of any destruction of documents.

    The report goes on to say that in testimony before the committee Maxwell said he was now unsure of the person who could substantiate his claim, was unable to remember if it was a man or woman, and had no evidence that documents were scrubbed. It also includes denials from the deputy office director in the Office of Maghreb Affairs, Mills, and Sullivan.

    Sen. Rand Paul’s False Claim That Ambassador Susan Rice “Deliberately Misled The Public"

    The report includes testimony from Ambassador Susan Rice regarding whether she had, as Sen. Rand Paul claimed during a Fox News interview, “deliberately misled the public” in an interview shortly after the attacks:

    Q: Similarly, on June 5, Ambassador, June 5, 2013, Senator and Presidential candidate Rand Paul appeared on FOX News and stated that you had, I quote, “directly and deliberately misled the public over Benghazi,” end of quote. Did you directly and deliberately mislead the public over Benghazi?

    A: I did not directly or deliberately mislead the public on Benghazi.

    Q: Were you aware of or involved in perpetuating any kind of an intentionally false or misleading narrative about the Benghazi attacks?

    A: No.

    Q: Some have argued that it was false because you should have known by that time that there had not been a protest. How would you respond to those critics?

    A: First of all, I did not know at the time that there had not been a protest. I was going off the best current assessment of the intelligence community. And the intelligence community subsequently made clear that they changed their assessment to conclude that there was not a protest or a demonstration several days after my appearance on the Sunday shows.

    Rep. Trey Gowdy’s False Claim That The State Department Hadn’t Provided Any Documents To The Committee

    The report states of Gowdy’s claim on Fox News that the State Department had yet to deliver “a single, solitary scrap of paper” that the committee had requested (italics original, citations removed):

    The following day, on May 15, 2015, Chairman Gowdy appeared on Fox News to argue that the State Department was intentionally obstructing the Select Committee’s investigation:

    It is a conscious decision not to cooperate with a legitimate congressional inquiry… I don’t want the drama. I want the documents. They’ve had half a year and I have not gotten a single, solitary scrap of paper.

    On May 21, 2015, PolitiFact rated Chairman Gowdy’s claim “Mostly False” after noting that the Select Committee’s own interim report in 2015 stated that the State Department provided 850 pages of documents months earlier:

    The House Benghazi Committee’s own report notes that in response to a November 2014 request for emails from Clinton and her top aides, the State Department has produced 850 pages of Clinton’s emails.

    PolitiFact also noted that the State Department “argues that Clinton’s emails were top priority, that many of the staffers’ emails have been provided in previous document requests, and that their response time is limited by department resources.”

    For more information, visit Benghazihoax.com

  • Trump’s Benghazi Lies Came From Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump used his June 22 campaign speech to parrot Fox News’ lies about presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s response to the 2012 attack on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

    In his speech, Trump claimed Ambassador Chris Stevens was a “victim” of Clinton’s actions while she served as secretary of state, claiming that she was asleep throughout the September 11, 2012, attack at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. He later claimed that “to cover her tracks,” she “lied about” whether an anti-Islam YouTube video -- which led to widespread protests throughout the Middle East at the time -- inspired the attack.

    DONALD TRUMP: Among the victims of our late Ambassador Chris Stevens, I mean, she, what she did with him was absolutely horrible. He was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed. That's right. When the phone rang, as per the commercial, at three o’clock in the morning, Hillary Clinton was sleeping. Ambassador Stevens and his staff in Libya made hundreds and hundreds of requests for security. They were desperate. They needed help. Hillary Clinton’s State Department refused them all. She started the war that put them in Libya, denied him the security he asked for, then left him there to die. To cover her tracks, Hillary lied about the video being the cause of death, the famous video, all a lie, another Hillary lie.

    Fox News has long pushed the myth that both Clinton and President Obama were not responsive during the attack. But the fact is, congressional testimony has confirmed that Clinton was in close contact with military officials and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon throughout the night of the attacks. The former deputy chief of mission in Libya testified in 2013 that Clinton called him during the attack to be briefed on developments. Clinton also testified in 2013 that she spoke with administration officials and President Obama from her office at the State Department throughout the night.

    Fox also spent years denying the role the inflammatory anti-Islam YouTube video had in inspiring the attack and suggesting that administrations drawing such a link were politically motivated. But the intelligence community initially indicated that the video played a role in the attack, and interviews with some of the attackers revealed that the attack was “fueled in large part by anger” over the video. Fox News itself even reported -- the night that the attack occurred -- that the attack was “triggered by a movie produced in the United States that … is anti-Muslim.”

  • Benghazi Chairman Contradicts Fox Report, Admits Military Could Not Have Saved Lives In Benghazi Attack

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) directly contradicted claims made by anonymous Fox News sources who argued the military could have done more to prevent loss of life during the 2012 attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya.

    Fox correspondent  Adam Housley cited two anonymous sources in an  attempt to revive a debunked smear against the Obama administration and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton that officials had readily available assets that could have saved lives during the attack. After Housley’s report aired during the May 11 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, Gowdy urged Housley’s two “witnesses” to appear before the select committee he heads and speak.

    On May 17, Fox host Bill Hemmer asked Gowdy about reports that his attorney, Dana Chipman, said nothing more could have been done to save Americans in Benghazi. Gowdy responded, “I don’t think there’s any issue with respect to that -- they couldn’t,” directly contradicting the accounts of the anonymous sources appearing on Special Report on May 11. From the May 17 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

    TREY GOWDY: Dana Chipman is an honorable, good man. He served this country with great distinction and he served our committee with great distinction. That was a transcript from one question he asked Leon Panetta and Jeremy Bash. When you see the full transcript -- and you will -- then you will see that what Dana was talking about was a very small point. The posture of the troops, the order that was given by Panetta and the president, how that order was received -- all of that is what we want to ask people about. Whether or not they could have gotten there in time, I don’t think there’s any issue with respect to that -- they couldn’t. The next question is, why could you not? Why were you not positioned to do it?”

    Fox News has a history of citing anonymous sources, fraudulent “experts, and dishonest sources in its obsessive attempt to find a “smoking gun” to claim the Obama administration lied about the Benghazi attacks, despite multiple investigations that have found no wrongdoing.

  • Benghazi Chairman’s Own Counsel Undercuts Conservative Myth That Benghazi Response Was Willfully Negligent

    Former GOP Counsel To Rep. Trey Gowdy Reportedly Praised Obama Administration Officials For Military Response To Benghazi Attacks

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    The former chief counsel to Benghazi committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) reportedly “repeatedly commended the military’s actions” responding to the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks, undercutting conservative media claims that there were additional assets the military could have deployed to save more lives as the attacks unfolded.

    Conservative media, led by Fox News, have for years attempted to scandalize the Obama administration’s response to the 2012 Benghazi attacks, often claiming -- in the face of numerous investigations and testimony to the contrary -- that CIA and military personnel were prevented from taking actions that could have saved the Americans who were killed during the attacks. As recently as last week, Fox hosted two anonymous witnesses who claimed that there were actions the military could have taken to save more lives.

    On May 16, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, released a letter sent to Gowdy detailing that his “own former Republican Chief Counsel … repeatedly commended the military’s actions” during the attack. The counsel allegedly told Leon Panetta, who was secretary of defense at the time of the attack, “I think you ordered exactly the right forces to move out and to head toward a position where they could reinforce what was occurring in Benghazi,” and, “I don’t mean to suggest that anything could have been done differently to affect the outcome in Benghazi, and I think you would agree with that.” Gowdy’s former counsel also reportedly told the Defense Department’s former chief of staff, Jeremy Bash, “I would posit that from my perspective ... we could not have affected the response to what occurred by 5:15 in the morning on the 12th of September in Benghazi.”

    Cummings noted, “The conclusions of your former Republican Chief Counsel match almost exactly the findings” from previous investigations into the attacks, which found that all available resources were deployed in response to the attack. Cummings also lambasted Gowdy for “damag[ing] the credibility of the Select Committee beyond repair” by “dragging out the investigation so close to the presidential election” and “demanding that the Defense Department waste countless hours and taxpayer funds” in pursuit of a non-existent smoking gun.

  • The Benghazi Pipeline: How Two Anonymous Fox Sources May End Up Speaking To The Benghazi Select Committee

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) is reportedly urging two witnesses to speak to his committee after they made anonymous appearances on Fox News’ Special Report, where they suggested the military did not take all available actions to save lives during the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

    Fox News opened the May 11 edition of Special Report with a report featuring two anonymous witnesses who believe that there were additional assets the military could have deployed during the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Fox correspondent Adam Housley contrasted their statements with claims from the State Department Accountability Review Board and “the claim by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department that nothing more could have been done.” In fact, reports from House and Senate committees, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs at the time of the attack, and some of their predecessors all back up the State Department’s conclusion that no other military response would have yielded better results.

    On the May 12 edition of Special Report, guest host Doug McKelway reported that Gowdy responded to Housley’s report by “urging witnesses who spoke to Fox News to talk to his committee,” despite Housley’s troubled history of citing discredited Benghazi “witness” Dylan Davies. Davies admitted to falsifying statements about his experience during the Benghazi attack after claiming he scaled a wall of the compound, personally struck a terrorist in the face with his rifle butt, and later went to the Benghazi hospital to see Ambassador Chris Stevens' body on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Housley has used unnamed sources before to revive the myth that there were unused military assets that would have been able to affect the outcome of the attack.

    Fox’s obsession with the Benghazi attacks has been well documented. In the first 20 months after the Benghazi attacks, Fox aired 1,098 evening segments about them, many of which suggested a “cover-up” by the Obama administration and Clinton. Fox also spent months pushing for the formation of a select committee to investigate Benghazi.

  • Fox News Resorts To Anonymous Sources In Attempt To Revive Debunked Benghazi Claim

    Network Is Still Trying To Turn Terrorist Attacks Into A Campaign Issue

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Fox News is attempting to revive the 2012 Benghazi attacks as a campaign issue with a new report that contrasts what it describes as statements from Hillary Clinton and the State Department that all possible efforts were made to save lives that night with statements from two anonymous members of the military on duty that night who disagree. In fact, reports from House and Senate committees as well as the secretary of defense and chairman of the joint chiefs at the time of the attack and their predecessors all back up the State conclusion that no other military response would have yielded better results.

  • Trump’s Latest Clinton Attack Comes Straight Out Of Fox News’ Benghazi Playbook

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released an online video accusing Hillary Clinton of lying about the cause of the September 11, 2012, Benghazi, Libya attacks. Trump’s video echoes Fox News’ favorite and oft-repeated smear that Clinton deliberately lied by linking an inflammatory anti-Muslim video to the attacks, and ignores the fact that intelligence reports said initial information about the cause of the attacks was conflicting and that reports have linked the anti-Muslim video to the attacks.