Back on October 10, 2012, State Department Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy testified in front of the House Oversight Committee about the attacks in Benghazi one month earlier, on 9/11/12. Now an internal memo from 2011 that shows Kennedy signed off on the staffing levels at the Special Mission Compound (SMC) where Ambassador Christopher Stevens was murdered, has been released.
Via Catherine Herridge at Fox News:
The decision to keep U.S. personnel in Benghazi with substandard security was made at the highest levels of the State Department by officials who have so far escaped blame over the Sept. 11 attack, according to a review of recent congressional testimony and internal State Department memos by Fox News.
Nine months before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, State Department Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy signed off on an internal memo that green-lighted the Benghazi operation.
The December 2011 memo from Jeffrey Feltman — then-Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) — pledged “to rapidly implement a series of corrective security measures.” However, no substantial improvements were made, according to congressional testimony to the House oversight committee from Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom.
There are indications that word games may have been played in order to avoid having to secure the compound:
What’s clear is that Benghazi was not referred to as a consulate in the “Action Memo for Under Secretary Kennedy” by Feltman. The omission may have exempted it from mandatory physical security standards.
In fact, the recently released “talking points” emails show that the State Department was insistent that the White House not refer to Benghazi as a consulate. Instead, policy adviser Jacob Sullivan said it should be called a “mission” or “diplomatic post.”
If the name Jacob Sullivan sounds familiar, it should. At the time of the attacks, he was a Deputy Chief of Staff to Hillary Clinton who was very involved in the changing of Susan Rice’s talking points on September 16th. Here is what the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes reported last month:
Mike Morell, deputy director of the CIA, agreed to work with Jake Sullivan and Rhodes to edit the talking points. At the time, Sullivan was deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department’s director of policy planning; he is now the top national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.
Hayes went on to say that “Sullivan committed to making sure Rice was updated before the Sunday shows.”
This raises two questions relative to Sullivan’s role. First, why did he insist on the SMC being identified as something that does not require “mandatory” security standards? Second, why was he apparently so involved in the crafting of demonstrably false talking points for Susan Rice?
A bit further into Herridge’s report:
While other media reports have made passing references to the action memo signed by Kennedy and Feltman in the context of ongoing security issues, former State Department officials tell Fox News that the document is significant because Kennedy would not set policy on his own. Kennedy was ultimately responsible for overseas building operations deals with building leases and security, which should have followed strict OSPB standards.
“I find it very hard to believe that he (Kennedy) would sign this memo without having talked to Secretary Clinton or at least Deputy Secretary (William) Burns,” former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton told Fox News after examining the December 2011 memo.
Be sure to read Herridge’s entire report. We can’t do it justice without re-posting it in full but we’d like to draw your attention to a very important issue related to the timing of the 2011 memo. Check out the very first sentence under the heading of “Background” on Page one of the four-page document:
The Transitional National Council (TNC) recently declared Libya liberated and moved the center of TNC operations from Benghazi to Tripoli.
Does TNC ring any bells? It should. We released a report about six weeks after 9/11/12 that included the following document, from August of 2011. Shockingly, this document identified an al-Qaeda brother as being the man in charge of the TNC. His name is Abdel Hakim Belhaj and he actually had been placed in charge of keeping the entire city of Tripoli secure at the time that Kennedy signed off on that December memo:
The video of Patrick Kennedy’s opening statement in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee back on October 10, 2012 is below. Keeping the December 27, 2011 memo in mind, pay attention at the 4:27 mark, when Kennedy says the following:
“We must review the security procedures in place, and improve them, asking ourselves if our people had what they needed and how we can reduce the risk of this happening again.”
Based on the memo, signed off on by Kennedy, one of the solutions for reducing future risk would involve the firing of Kennedy, which makes a nice segue to another part of the video.
Take note beginning at about the 6:30 mark, when Kennedy completes his statement. Chairman Darrell Issa asks Kennedy if ’embarrassing’, yet unclassified documents that were only available ‘in camera’ to committee members would be released for the hearing. Using twisted and tortured logic, Kennedy essentially said no. Incidentally, on the bottom of each page of the four-page memo from December 27, 2011, in all caps are the words, SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED.
It can be logically concluded, therefore, that this memo may very well be one of the documents to which Issa was referring.
We also have evidence – courtesy of this video – that Kennedy perjured himself at worst and warrants little credibility at best. Beginning at the 2:20 mark, he said the following:
“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.”
Perhaps it’s time for the Oversight Committee to call Mr. Kennedy back for another few rounds of questions.