US official apologises to EU counterparts for undiplomatic language

EEV: Report contains profanity: Low impact story

Victoria Nuland reportedly said ‘F**k the EU’ speaking of Ukraine crisis, though department didn’t confirm it was her voice on tape

in New York,     Thursday 6 February 2014 18.18 EST

Victoria Nuland and Viktor Yanukovych
Victoria Nuland, right, meeting the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, in Kiev. Photograph: Markiv Mykhailo/Itar-Tass Photo/Corbis

The frustration of the Obama administration at Europe’s hesitant policy over the pro-democracy protests in Ukraine has been laid bare in a leaked phone conversation between two senior US officials, one of whom declares: “F**k the EU”.

Continue reading “US official apologises to EU counterparts for undiplomatic language”

Obama boycott: Major US news outlets refuse to use White House photos

 Published time: November 27, 2013 21:03                                                                            

US President Barack Obama is surrounded by photographers while he eats breakfast. (AFP Photo / Scott Olson)US President Barack Obama is surrounded by photographers while he eats breakfast. (AFP Photo / Scott Olson)

The coalition of major news outlets protesting the White House’s photo policy continues to grow, with McClatchy newspapers adding their name on Wednesday to the list of publications that will no longer print official administration images.

McClatchy’s announcement that it will not be running official  White House images in its papers except in extreme circumstances  follows a similar promise made over the weekend by USA Today amid  growing complaints waged by photojournalists and those in the  news industry who oppose this administration’s tendency to  exclude independent reporters from official events.

Last week, the Associated Press, ABC News, the Washington Post  and Reuters all signed a letter to White House press secretary  Jay Carney imploring the administration of President Barack Obama  to provide photographers with increased access to the  commander-in-chief. According to those outlets, this White House  has more than any other administration prevented credentialed  photographers from shooting images of the president, and instead  has relied on Mr. Obama’s official photography team on a routine  basis to exclusively take pictures to be disseminated among the  press.

The selective nature of the White House’s process of hand-picking  which images to release — as well as its shuttering of a free  press — has raised numerous complaints as of late by news outlets  and media experts. “Journalists are routinely being denied the  right to photograph or videotape the president while he is  performing his official duties,” last week’s letter reads.   “As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s  camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the  public from having an independent view of important functions of  the Executive Branch of government.”

Continue reading “Obama boycott: Major US news outlets refuse to use White House photos”

Journalists: Obama photography policy dangerous, unconstitutional

Journalists: Obama photography policy dangerous, unconstitutional

Posted By Robby Soave On 9:01 AM  11/22/2013 In  |

President Obama’s refusal to allow journalists to photograph him at key events has now drawn the ire of the White House Correspondents’ Association, which joined other media outlets in sending a letter of protest to the president’s press secretary, Jay Carney.

The letter accuses the White House of restricting photojournalists’ access to the president to a degree far greater than any previous administration.

“As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government,” wrote the WHCA.

The letter notes that the White House’s typical excuse — that certain events are “private” — does not hold water, since it often allows a government-employed photographer to take the pictures instead.

“That rationale…is undermined when the White House contemporaneously releases its own photograph of a so-called private event through social media,” wrote the WHCA. “The restrictions imposed by the White House on photographers covering these events, followed by the routine release by the White House of photographs made by government employees of these same events, is an arbitrary restraint and unwarranted interference on legitimate newsgathering activities. You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases.”

Continue reading “Journalists: Obama photography policy dangerous, unconstitutional”

White House admits it was behind rumor that GOP leader told Obama ‘I cannot even stand to look at you’ during tense government shutdown meeting

By  David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor

PUBLISHED: 09:28 EST, 24  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 15:11 EST, 24 October 2013

Senator Dick Durbin claimed that a senior Republican House member blew up at President Obama during tense government-shutdown talks 

Senator Dick Durbin claimed that a senior Republican  House member blew up at President Obama during tense government-shutdown  talks

The White House admitted Thursday that it was  the source of a phony quote attributed to a top House Republican, who had  allegedly told President Obama during a tense Oct. 10 meeting that ‘I cannot  even stand to look at you.’

Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate Majority  Whip,  claimed in a Facebook post on Sunday that an unnamed GOP lawmaker had delivered  the verbal slap in Obama’s face, but everyone involved with the story now says  it never happened.

Eighteen Republicans from Congress attended  that meeting with the president during a 16-day partial shutdown  of the federal  government, with the GOP representatives trying to  negotiate a solution and  Obama insisting that he wouldn’t bargain unless the government was reopened  first.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney  acknowledged Thursday that ‘there was a miscommunication when we read out that  meeting to Senate Democrats and we regret that misunderstanding.’

A ‘read out’ is a brief summary of a meeting  provided to journalists or political allies. While reporters typically get  sanitized versions, read outs between politicians of the same political party  are often more detailed and include some participants’ direct quotes.

The Huffington Post reported Thursday that Senate  Majority Leader Harry Reid relayed portions of the read out to colleagues during  a caucus meeting.

Senate Democrats told the news outlet that  White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors went further, naming Texas  Republican Rep. Pete Sessions as the lawmaker who had allegedly insulted  President Obama.

Durbin ran with it, perhaps not knowing the  episode never occurred.

Never said it: GOP Rep. Pete Sessions was blamed for telling President Obama that he couldn't stand the sight of him, but now Democrats are walking that claim back and admitting that the rumor began in the White House 

Never said it: GOP Rep. Pete Sessions was blamed for  telling President Obama that he couldn’t stand the sight of him, but now  Democrats are walking that claim back and admitting that the rumor began in the  White House


Blindsided? Numerous sources say it never happened, but Senator Dick Durbin's Facebook wall still claims it did 

Blindsided? Numerous sources say it never happened, but  Senator Dick Durbin’s Facebook wall still claims it did


‘Many Republicans searching for something to  say in defense of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just  doesn’t try hard enough to communicate with Republicans,’ he claimed Sunday on  his Facebook page.

‘But in a “negotiation” meeting with the  president, one GOP House Leader  told the president: “I cannot even stand to  look at you.” What are the  chances of an honest conversation with someone who  has just said  something so disrespectful?’

The post was still on Durbin’s Facebook page  three hours after Carney admitted the White House had gotten it wrong.

Asked about the senator’s description of the  exchange on Wednesday, Carney issued a flat denial.

‘I looked into this and spoke with somebody  who was in that meeting, and it did not happen,’ he said during his press  briefing on Wednesday.

And a spokesman for House Speaker John  Boehner, who participated in the meeting, seconded Carney’s early  statement.

Speaker of the House John Boehner's spokesmen both said Durbin was repeating a false rumor on Wednesday 

Speaker of the House John Boehner’s spokesmen both said  Durbin was repeating a false rumor on Wednesday


MEA CULPA: Carney copped to the WHite House 'miscommunicating' with a Democratic Senate leader, which led to the phony quote circulating on Capitol Hill 

MEA CULPA: Carney copped to the WHite House  ‘miscommunicating’ with a Democratic Senate leader, which led to the phony quote  circulating on Capitol Hill


‘Senator Durbin’s accusation is a serious  one, and it appears to have been  invented out of thin air,’ said Boehner flack  Brendan Buck.

Deputy White House Chief of Staff Rob Nabors is allegedly the official who told Sen. Harry Reid about the phony quote and attributed it to Rep. Pete Sessions 

Deputy White House Chief of Staff Rob Nabors is  allegedly the official who told Sen. Harry Reid about the phony quote and  attributed it to Rep. Pete Sessions

‘The senator should disclose who told him  this account of events, retract his reckless allegation immediately, and  apologize.’

Durbin spokesman Max  Gleischman shot back. ‘Senator Durbin  stands by his comments,’ he said Wednesday.

‘The  speaker certainly didn’t say that and does not recall anyone else doing so,’  added another Boehner spokesman, Michael Steel.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee  slammed Durbin, claiming that he, not GOP members of Congress, ‘is at the crux  of the partisan divide in Washington’ as the No. 2 Senate Democrat.

‘How can voters trust anything this man says?  Durbin should either reveal his “source” or retract his partisan attack  immediately and apologize,’ spokeswoman Brook Hougesen told the Chicago Tribune. ‘His credibility is  waning.’

Buck added in a comment to the Huffington Post: ‘This didn’t happen and The  Huffington Post should be looking into who started this false rumor.’


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NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts

• Agency given more than 200 numbers by government official • NSA encourages departments to share their ‘Rolodexes’ • Surveillance produced ‘little intelligence’, memo acknowledges


    • James Ball
    • The Guardian, Thursday 24 October 2013 14.14 EDT
SID_460 View larger picture
The NSA memo suggests that such surveillance was not isolated as the agency routinely monitors world leaders. Photograph: Guardian

The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its “customer” departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their “Rolodexes” so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.

The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA.

The revelation is set to add to mounting diplomatic tensions between the US and its allies, after the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused the US of tapping her mobile phone.

After Merkel’s allegations became public, White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement that said the US “is not monitoring and will not monitor” the German chancellor’s communications. But that failed to quell the row, as officials in Berlin quickly pointed out that the US did not deny monitoring the phone in the past.

The NSA memo obtained by the Guardian suggests that such surveillance was not isolated, as the agency routinely monitors the phone numbers of world leaders – and even asks for the assistance of other US officials to do so.

The memo, dated October 2006 and which was issued to staff in the agency’s Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), was titled “Customers Can Help SID Obtain Targetable Phone Numbers”.

It begins by setting out an example of how US officials who mixed with world leaders and politicians could help agency surveillance.

“In one recent case,” the memo notes, “a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders … Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs [intelligence production centers] have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked.”

The document continues by saying the new phone numbers had helped the agency discover still more new contact details to add to their monitoring: “These numbers have provided lead information to other numbers that have subsequently been tasked.”

But the memo acknowledges that eavesdropping on the numbers had produced “little reportable intelligence”. In the wake of the Merkel row, the US is facing growing international criticism that any intelligence benefit from spying on friendly governments is far outweighed by the potential diplomatic damage.

The memo then asks analysts to think about any customers they currently serve who might similarly be happy to turn over details of their contacts.

“This success leads S2 [signals intelligence] to wonder if there are NSA liaisons whose supported customers may be willing to share their ‘Rolodexes’ or phone lists with NSA as potential sources of intelligence,” it states. “S2 welcomes such information!”

The document suggests that sometimes these offers come unsolicited, with US “customers” spontaneously offering the agency access to their overseas networks.

“From time to time, SID is offered access to the personal contact databases of US officials,” it states. “Such ‘Rolodexes’ may contain contact information for foreign political or military leaders, to include direct line, fax, residence and cellular numbers.”

The Guardian approached the Obama administration for comment on the latest document. Officials declined to respond directly to the new material, instead referring to comments delivered by Carney at Thursday’s daily briefing.

Carney told reporters: “The [NSA] revelations have clearly caused tension in our relationships with some countries, and we are dealing with that through diplomatic channels.

“These are very important relations both economically and for our security, and we will work to maintain the closest possible ties.”

The public accusation of spying on Merkel adds to mounting political tensions in Europe about the scope of US surveillance on the governments of its allies, after a cascade of backlashes and apologetic phone calls with leaders across the continent over the course of the week.

Asked on Wednesday evening if the NSA had in the past tracked the German chancellor’s communications, Caitlin Hayden, the White House’s National Security Council spokeswoman, said: “The United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel. Beyond that, I’m not in a position to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity.”

At the daily briefing on Thursday, Carney again refused to answer repeated questions about whether the US had spied on Merkel’s calls in the past.

The NSA memo seen by the Guardian was written halfway through George W Bush’s second term, when Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state and Donald Rumsfeld was in his final months as defence secretary.

Merkel, who, according to Reuters, suspected the surveillance after finding her mobile phone number written on a US document, is said to have called for US surveillance to be placed on a new legal footing during a phone call to President Obama.

“The [German] federal government, as a close ally and partner of the US, expects in the future a clear contractual basis for the activity of the services and their co-operation,” she told the president.

The leader of Germany’s Green party, Katrin Goring-Eckhart, called the alleged spying an “unprecedented breach of trust” between the two countries.

Earlier in the week, Obama called the French president François Hollande in response to reports in Le Monde that the NSA accessed more than 70m phone records of French citizens in a single 30-day period, while earlier reports in Der Spiegel uncovered NSA activity against the offices and communications of senior officials of the European Union.

The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, this week backed proposals that could require US tech companies to seek permission before handing over EU citizens’ data to US intelligence agencies, while the European parliament voted in favour of suspending a transatlantic bank data sharing agreement after Der Spiegel revealed the agency was monitoring the international bank transfer system Swift.

Suppress the press: The Obama administration’s history of targeting the media

Posted By Jeff Poor and Vince Coglianese On 2:13 AM  05/20/2013 In Politics |

The usually-cocksure Jay Carney has rarely appeared so uncomfortable.

“What I can tell you is that this president believes strongly in the First Amendment and is a strong defender of the First Amendment,” Carney insisted to a packed house of angry reporters last Tuesday afternoon.

The White House had just been freshly stung by news that the Department of Justice had secretly raided the phone records of up to 100 Associated Press reporters, looking to identify the news organization’s private sources.

“He believes strongly in the need for the press to be unfettered in its pursuit of investigative journalism,” Carney continued, contorting his face between looks of concern and annoyance as question after question highlighted the press corps’ newly discovered skepticism.

“How can it be unfettered if you’re worried about having your phones –,” started one reporter.

Carney quickly dodged.

“I am very understanding of the questions on this issue and appreciate the nature of the questions,” he offered.

While this full-frontal assault on the media — and more importantly, news consumers — may suddenly have the press rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, it’s far from the first time Obama and his allies have used the power of the office to try to silence their critics.

It began gently enough.

Back in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama traveled to Manhattan for a special mission: a personal sit-down with Fox News chief Roger Ailes. The goal of the meeting? Obama wanted Sean Hannity to ease up on the criticism.

Columnist and author Zev Chafets recently detailed the exchange for the first time in his book “Roger Ailes: Off Camera”:

“After some pleasantries, Obama got to the point. He was concerned about the way he was being portrayed on Fox, and his real issue wasn’t the news; it was Sean Hannity, who had been battering him every night at nine (and on his radio show, which Fox doesn’t own or control).”

Ailes, of course, wouldn’t change a thing about Hannity’s presentation, consoling the candidate with the reality that his supporters weren’t likely to be Hannity watchers. After a few more minutes, sensing a fruitless battle, Obama’s aide Robert Gibbs abruptly pulled the plug on the meeting.

Then, a single week into his presidency, Obama started what’s become a tradition for the president: blaming Rush Limbaugh.

“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” he told a room full of Republican leaders at the White House while pushing his $787-billion stimulus plan.

A few weeks later, energetic, long-time CNBC reporter Rick Santelli caused waves within the Obama White House when he made his famous “rant heard around the world,” credited with jump starting the tea party movement.

That caused White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to take the unusual step of responding directly to Santelli during an interview on NBC, saying the CNBC host “doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

“I would encourage him to read the president’s plan and understand that it will help millions of people, many of whom he knows,” Gibbs said. “I’d be more than happy to have him come here and read it. I’d be happy to buy him a cup of coffee — decaf.”

A month later, Santelli’s CNBC colleague Jim Cramer would have his own criticisms of Obama’s economic policy, calling the president’s budget agenda “radical.”

“This is the greatest wealth destruction I’ve seen by a president,” Cramer exclaimed.

Gibbs reacted to those criticisms through a question from NBC’s Tom Costello, but in the end, it would be Jon Stewart — a loyal Obama supporter and host of “The Daily Show” — who would famously unload on Cramer a couple weeks later.

Meanwhile, the White House was growing increasingly frustrated with then-Fox News host Glenn Beck.

In October 2008, prior to Obama’s winning the White House, Fox News announced Beck would be taking its 5 p.m. ET time slot. Beck’s first show on the cable news juggernaut aired on Jan. 19, 2009.

Obama was sworn in the next day.

Beck’s show became a huge ratings success in the challenging time slot, with Beck relentlessly hammering the president.

“Beck’s indignant critiques of the Obama administration and gloomy outlook on the nation’s financial health have found near-instant resonance,” Matea Gold wrote for the Los Angeles Times.

“His eponymous 2 p.m. PST program averaged nearly 2.2 million viewers last month — double the number the time slot attracted the previous February and a remarkable amount for the afternoon. That made ‘Glenn Beck’ the third-most-watched program in all of cable news for the month, after Bill O’Reilly’s and Sean Hannity’s evening shows.”

But Beck’s anti-Obama antics put him in the crosshairs of angry liberals. In August 2009, a relatively unknown college student named Angelo Carusone struck the first blow, convincing Kraft Foods to drop any association with Beck’s television show. Other advertisers soon followed.

By the end of 2009, the Obama administration joined in and declared war on Fox News. The White House blocked the network’s access to interviews and communications director Anita Dunn publicly accused the network of being “a wing of the Republican Party.”

“[L]et’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is,” she said.

And Dunn had backup.

As The Daily Caller has previously reported, the left-wing advocacy group Media Matters for America had dreamt up that very campaign to discredit Fox News, and within a month Dunn was echoing the talking points to the world.

It was too much for some members of the press to handle, including Jake Tapper, formerly of ABC News.

“It hasn’t escaped our notice that in the last few weeks the White House has decided to declare war on one of our sister organizations saying it’s not a news organization and tell the rest of the news media to not treat them like a news organization,” Tapper said during a press conference with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

“Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to say one of them is not a news organization and the rest of the media should not treat them like one?” Tapper continued.

“That is our opinion,” Gibbs replied.

Days after that exchange, then-Deputy White House Communications Director Jennifer Psaki threatened to put dead fish in “the fox cubby.” She also called FNC “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier a “lunatic,” in emails obtained by Judicial Watch.

Angelo Carusone’s efforts to help the White House attack Fox didn’t go unnoticed. In December 2010, Media Matters hired him to beef up its efforts to take on Fox News. (He’s now the organization’s vice president.)

Then and now, Media Matters’ attacks have been used by the White House as a subtle way to take on its critics. As The Daily Caller previously reported, Media Matters coordinates — or did for a time — its messaging with the White House in weekly phone calls.

Beck’s show on Fox News would eventually end in June 2011. Media Matters even celebrated the show’s ending with a party.

By early 2012, Rush Limbaugh had captured the president’s attention yet again. In the heat of his re-election campaign, Obama took it upon himself to personally console Sandra Fluke — the contraception activist who Limbaugh had famously mocked as “a slut” and “a prostitute” for, as he put it, wanting to be “paid to have sex” — in a widely-publicized phone call.

Limbaugh ultimately issued an apology to Fluke, but Obama’s call lit a fire under liberal activists, including Carusone, who have long been trying to take down the radio host.

“He encouraged me and supported me and thanked me for speaking out about the concerns of American women,” Fluke relayed on MSNBC. “What was really personal for me was that he said to tell my parents that they should be proud. And that meant a lot because Rush Limbaugh questioned whether or not my family would be proud of me. So I just appreciated that very much.”

Seeing an opportunity, Carusone used Media Matters’ resources to mount a pressure campaign, attempting to scare advertisers away from Limbaugh’s show.

And now, with Limbaugh reportedly at odds with radio distributor Cumulous Media, Carusone and Media Matters are pushing all the harder, hoping Limbaugh’s massive reach is narrowed in the split.

As the election wore on, the White House only became more aggressive with the media.

On June 15, 2012, as The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro strolled back to this publication’s Washington offices from a sunny event in the White House Rose Garden, press secretary Jay Carney frantically began phoning Daily Caller editors.

Munro had just interrupted President Obama with an ill-timed question about sweeping executive changes to the immigration system and Carney threw a fit.

“It’s utterly disrespectful to interrupt the president of the United States while pretending you’re a journalist,” Carney exclaimed in one call.

“The White House called and bitched us out vigorously,” Munro told the New York Post. “I haven’t been called on since shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed.”

It was a typical reaction from the White House, where officials are well-known for getting aggressive with reporters who fail to toe the administration’s line.

As Bob Woodward was overhyping being threatened by diminutive economic adviser Gene Sperling in early 2013, a host of more legitimate “me-too” stories started to seep out of the press.

The New York Post’s Maureen Callahan captured one of the more perverse anecdotes:

“’I had a young reporter asking tough, important questions of an Obama Cabinet secretary,’ says one DC veteran. ‘She was doing her job, and they were trying to bully her. In an e-mail, they called her the vilest names — bitch, c–t, a–hole.’”

In contrast, media figures who regularly help the White House advance its agenda are rewarded with access.

Regular viewers of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” were occasionally treated with mid-show text messages directly from the White House, as co-host Mika Brzezinski would read the messages from her Blackberry on-air.

Brzezinski’s MSNBC colleague Ed Schultz detailed the arrangement on his radio show in December of 2009:

“So Mika starts looking at her Blackberry and so does Scarborough and obviously the White House is texting them or emailing them or whatever and they didn’t like the show. Because Arianna had been on there, I’m on there, Howard Dean had been on there and they wanted some balance.

“Now think about that — here’s the White House getting in contact with ‘Morning Joe’ because they’re afraid there’s too many lefties on the air! Now if that’s not sensitivity at its highest level, I don’t know what is! I told ya a few days ago they had rabbit ears! They don’t like anything that’s being said right now, they’re getting beat up!”

And MSNBC’s relationship with the White House went beyond exchanging text messages.

As reported by The Daily Caller, while the White House and Media Matters were engaging in weekly conference calls and meetings, the liberal advocacy group was “pretty much writing [MSNBC’s] prime time,” according to a Media Matters employee.

Last Monday, Obama reportedly called out Rush Limbaugh yet again at a New York City party hosted by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, attended by stars like Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.

Obama lamented his inability to overcome Washington gridlock, blaming the radio host.

“I genuinely believe that there are actually Republicans out there who would like to work with us but they’re fearful of their base and they’re concerned about what Rush Limbaugh might say about them,” Obama said. “And, as a consequence, we get the kind of gridlock that makes people cynical about government and inhibits our progress.”

As he always does, Limbaugh reacted to Obama’s remarks on his program.

“Now, let me tell you what he’s doing, folks,” Limbaugh said Tuesday. “He is essentially begging any Republican to denounce me. He is fixated on me. He simply cannot get me off his mind. I live rent free in his head. And he is using me as his convenient excuse for not being able to get anything done.”

“He really thinks the Republicans would work with him if it weren’t for me,” he continued. “So he’s telling these Hollywood people — and you got to understand, they’re sitting there and they’re very sympathetic, and they love Obama, and they want Obama to succeed. I’m the guy who said, ‘I hope he fails.’”

As the Justice Department struggles to contain the fallout over its decision to secretly seize phone records from the media, even The New York Times has begun to publicly criticize the Obama administration’s attempts to intimidate the press.

“This action against The A.P., as the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press outlined in a letter to Mr. Holder, ‘calls into question the very integrity’ of the administration’s policy toward the press,” the Times’ editors wrote last Wednesday.

“These tactics will not scare us,” they wrote.

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White House outrages Benghazi attack victim’s mother as Obama continues to call the deadly assault a ‘phony scandal’

EEV: In her defense, please open up the following category on Benghazi and decide for yourself.



  • Four Americans were killed in the  terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11,  2012
  • White House spokesman Jay Carney said  Wednesday that the president stands by his description of the attack as a ‘phony  scandal’

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 00:58 EST, 1  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 04:16 EST, 1 August 2013

White House spokesman Jay Carney doubled-down  on President Obama’s assertion that the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi,  Libya, was ‘phony scandal’ – just days after the mother of one of the victims of  the brutal attack appeared on Fox News to express how outraged she was that the  president would refer to the attack as ‘phony.’

For the last few weeks, ‘phony scandals’ has  been one of the president’s talking points when talking about the Benghazi  attack as he criss-crosses the country giving speeches in support of his new  economic plan.

‘What we’ve seen, as time has passed and more  facts have become  known, whether it’s about the attacks in Benghazi and the  talking points or revelations about conduct at the IRS, that attempts to turn  this  into a scandal have failed,’ Carney said during a press briefing on  Wednesday.

Phony: President Barack Obama has begun referring to the Benghazi terrorist attack as a 'phony scandal' 

Phony: President Barack Obama has begun referring to the  Benghazi terrorist attack as a ‘phony scandal’



No Regrets: White House spokesman Jay Carney says the president stands by his statement that any scandal about the attack is 'phony' 

No Regrets: White House spokesman Jay Carney says the  president stands by his statement that any scandal about the attack is  ‘phony’


New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte said in an interview with Fox News that  the administration’s latest comments are unacceptable.

‘His recently calling these phony scandals, that, to me, is  incredibly  wrong. It’s misleading to the American people,’ she said.

Frustrated by the glacial pace of the investigation into the September 11,  2012, attack that killed four Americans – including Ambassador Chris Stevens –  eight Republican lawmakers sent a letter to new FBI Director James Comey  demanding he make the Benghazi probe a top priority.


‘Rumors continue to swirl about the whereabouts of suspects involved  in the  attack. The FBI continues to add pictures of potential assailants to its website  and asks the Libyan people to assist with identifying  the alleged perpetrators.  We struggle to understand why we don’t know  more about those who attacked two  U.S. compounds and murdered four brave Americans,’ they wrote.

Terror: Four Americans were killed during the September 11, 2012 attack on the embassy in Benghazi 

Terror: Four Americans were killed during the September  11, 2012 attack on the embassy in Benghazi


Tragedy: U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was killed in the attack on the embassy 

Tragedy: U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was  killed in the attack on the embassy


‘It has been more than 10 months since the attacks. We appear to be  no  closer to knowing who was responsible today than we were in the early weeks  following the attack. This is simply unacceptable. We encourage  you to be  aggressive in your investigation to properly hold accountable  those who  attacked our compounds in Benghazi.’

Last week, the mother of one of the men killed in the attack blasted the  president for describing her son’s death as ‘phony.’

‘I don’t believe him anymore. He’s wrong. My son is dead. How could that  be  phony?’ Patricia Smith, the mother of Foreign Service member Sean Smith, who was  killed in the attack, said on Fox News’s Your World on Thursday. ‘How can I tell  you? I mean it’s wrong. It’s not phony, it’s not fake. My son is  dead and why  is he dead? And all I’m waiting for, even to this date, is  for someone to get  back to me and tell me what happened.

‘I begged them, please, I must know what happened with my son. How come  this  happened? They all promised me they would get  back to me. And you know, not one  of them, not one of them ever got back to me in any way shape or form, not by a  letter, not by anything other  than I got a memo stating that I didn’t need to  know because I was not  part of the immediate family.’

The eight senators say they expect to be briefed on the investigation into  the attack in 30 days.

RIP: Foreign serviceman Sean Smith also was killed in the attack 

RIP: Foreign serviceman Sean Smith also was killed in  the attack


Outraged: Smith's mother, Patricia, says it's unacceptable that the president would refer to the attack as phony 

Outraged: Smith’s mother, Patricia, says it’s  unacceptable that the president would refer to the attack as  phony

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Senior IRS officials knew in 2011 agents targeted political groups, report says

Inspector general findings seems to contradict public statements that Tea party and others were flagged for additional scrutiny

  • Associated Press in Washington
  •,   Sunday 12 May 2013 11.18 EDT
irs tea party white house

White House spokesman Jay Carney has brushed aside calls for the White House itself to investigate. Photograph: Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

Senior officials at the US tax agency knew agents were targeting conservative political groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general’s report obtained by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.

But on June 29, 2011, Lois G Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog’s report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with “tea party,” ”patriot” or “9/12 project” in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.

Lerner instructed agents to change the criteria for flagging groups “immediately”, the report says.

“Tea party” and “patriot” are favorite terms of the small-government conservative movement that has emerged in recent years and is highly critical of President Barack Obama. The 9-12 Project is a group started by conservative TV personality Glenn Beck.

The revelation that the IRS targeted those groups is becoming a new headache for the Obama administration, which is already confronting a highly polarized, partisan atmosphere in Washington.

On Saturday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement that Obama is concerned that “a small number” of IRS employees may have fallen short of the high level of integrity expected of public servants.

“We understand that the matter is currently under review by the inspector general,” Carney said. “If the inspector general finds that there were any rules broken or that conduct of government officials did not meet the standards required of them, the president expects that swift and appropriate steps will be taken to address any misconduct.”

The Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week. The AP obtained part of the draft report, which has been shared with congressional aides.

Among the other revelations, on August 4, 2011, staffers in the IRS’ Rulings and Agreements office “held a meeting with chief counsel so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.”

On January 25, 2012, the criteria for flagging suspect groups was changed to, “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement,” the report says.

While this was happening, several committees in Congress were writing IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman to express concern because tea party groups were complaining of IRS harassment.

In Shulman’s responses, he did not acknowledge targeting of tea party groups. At a congressional hearing March 22, 2012, Shulman was adamant in his denials.

The portion of the draft report reviewed by the AP does not say whether Shulman or anyone else in the Obama administration outside the IRS was informed of the targeting. It is standard procedure for agency heads to consult with staff before responding to congressional inquiries, but it is unclear how much information Shulman sought.

The IRS has not said when Shulman found out that tea party groups were targeted.

Shulman was appointed by President George W Bush, a Republican. His six-year term ended in November. Obama has yet to nominate a successor. The agency is now run by an acting commissioner.

The IRS said in a statement Saturday that the agency believes the timeline in the IG’s report is correct, and supports what officials said Friday.

“IRS senior leadership was not aware of this level of specific details at the time of the March 2012 hearing,” the statement said. “The timeline does not contradict the commissioner’s testimony. While exempt organizations officials knew of the situation earlier, the timeline reflects that IRS senior leadership did not have this level of detail.”

Lerner’s position is three levels below the commissioner.

Several congressional committees have promised investigations, including the Ways and Means Committee, which plans to hold a hearing.

The group Tea Party Patriots said the revelation was proof that the IRS had lied to Congress and the public when Schulman said there had been no targeting of Tea party groups.

“We must know how many more lies they have been telling and how high up the chain the cover-up goes,” Jenny Beth Martin, the group’s national coordinator, said in a statement Saturday.

“It appears the IRS committed crimes and violated our ability to exercise our First Amendment right to free speech. A simple apology is not sufficient reparation for violating the constitutional rights of United States citizens. Therefore, Tea Party Patriots rejects the apology from the Internal Revenue Service,” Martin said.

On Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration expected the inspector general to conduct a thorough investigation, but he brushed aside calls for the White House itself to investigate.


The Obama administration’s State Department had a direct hand in revising the official story on the 2012 Benghazi terror attack, new documents show

  • State  Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland objected to the CIA’s summary, which  concluded that terrorists killed four Americans
  • Attack came  in the weeks before the 2012 election, as President Obama was campaigning on the  strength of having defeated al Qaeda
  • White House  Press Secretary Jay Carney has denied that the administration had a substantial  hand in changing the official story
  • ABC News  reports that the administration’s line was edited 12  times

By  David Martosko In Washington

PUBLISHED: 12:04 EST, 10 May  2013 |  UPDATED: 12:37  EST, 10 May 2013

The Obama administration rewrote the CIA’s  official story about the Dept. 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in  Benghazi, Libya, judging from 12 different versions of a summary that emerged  Friday.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has  claimed that the intelligence community was solely responsible for drafting and  revising the document – known now as the Benghazi ‘talking points – and that  editing by political appointees in the administration was limited to changing no  more than two words.

But ABC  News reported that the State  Department had direct influence on the edits, and specifically requested the  removal of references to the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group Ansar al-Sharia,  and the deletion of references to CIA warnings in the months before the attack  that terror attacks in the eastern Libyan city were expected.


ABC News uncovered 12 versions of the infamous Benghazi talking points, suggesting that the Obama administration - specifically the State Department - was more involved with editing them than it has admittedABC News uncovered 12 versions of the infamous Benghazi  talking points, suggesting that the Obama administration – specifically the  State Department – was more involved with editing them than it has  admitted

The last version of the talking points, with all references to terrorism removed, shows a final edit - changing 'Consulate' to 'diplomatic outpost - the only edit that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has linked to administration appointeesThe last version of the talking points, with all  references to terrorism removed, shows a final edit – changing ‘Consulate’ to  ‘diplomatic outpost – the only edit that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney  has linked to administration appointees

In one email leaked to ABC, State Department  spokeswoman Victoria Nuland raised a red flag about the CIA-written portion  which warned that ‘The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of  extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya.’

‘Since April,’ the CIA assessment continued,  ‘there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in  Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the  British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously  surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the  attacks.’

Nuland emailed White House and intelligence  officials, warning that the sentences ‘could be abused by members [of Congress]  to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why  would we want to feed that either?’

The words in question did not appear in the  final version that was distributed to members of Congress.

In subsequent emails, the CIA stuck to its  guns, retaining language that said, ‘we do know that Islamic extremists with  ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack,’ naming Ansar al-Sharia. The draft  went on to specifically name the al Qaeda-affiliated group named Ansar  al-Sharia.

After Nuland objected again, saying that  terrorist groups should not be named because the administration did not ‘want to  prejudice the investigation,’ a member of the National Security Council staff  noted that ‘The FBI did not have major concerns with the points and offered only  a couple minor suggestions.’

But Nuland wrote that ‘my building’ – likely  referring to the State Department’s top leadership – was still  unhappy.

Ultimately, according to the emails ABC News  unearthed, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes conceded that the State  Department’s concerns should be considered.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told the press that the administration had a 'nonsubstantive' role in editing the talking points, but new emails suggest otherwiseWhite House press secretary Jay Carney told the press  that the administration had a ‘nonsubstantive’ role in editing the talking  points, but new emails suggest otherwise

UN Ambassador Susan Rice told five different TV audiences one day after the talking points were finalized that the Benghazi attack was the product of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam YouTube videoUN Ambassador Susan Rice told five different TV  audiences one day after the talking points were finalized that the Benghazi  attack was the product of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam YouTube  video. The CIA had already determined, days before, that Islamic terrorists were  to blame

Carney has briefed the press and insisted  that ‘the CIA drafted these talking points and redrafted these talking points.’

‘The fact that there are inputs is always the  case in a process like this, but the only edits made by anyone here at the White  House were stylistic and nonsubstantive. They corrected the description of the  building or the facility in Benghazi from consulate to diplomatic facility and  the like.’

Any input the White House did have likely  came at a meeting of White House deputies four days after the attack. ‘The  significant edits – deleting references to al Qaeda and the CIA’s warnings –  came [that] White House meeting,’ ABC News reported on its blog.

On the day following that meeting, UN  Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five television talk shows and kept to the  resulting line that a spontaneous protest – not a terror attack –  was behind the destruction of the consulate and the loss of life.

Nuland, ABC News adds, was not at the  deputies’ meeting and did not prepare Rice for her interviews.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland's emails show that the agency, then headed by Hillary Clinton, had a direct hand in altering the official story on the Benghazi terror attackState Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland’s emails  show that the agency, then headed by Hillary Clinton, had a direct hand in  altering the official story on the Benghazi terror attack

Inside the White House press briefing room (at right), Jay Carney will brief the press today and is expected to face spiraling allegations that the Obama administration had a hand in editing the now-infamous Benghazi talking pointsInside the White House press briefing room (at right),  Jay Carney will brief the press today and is expected to face spiraling  allegations that the Obama administration had a hand in editing the now-infamous  Benghazi talking points that obscured the cause of a 2012 raid on the U.S.  Consulate in that eastern Libyan city

‘We must make sure that the talking points  reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we  don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation,’ Rhodes emailed the group  reviewing the talking points. ‘We thus will work through the talking points  tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.’

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has  become the focus of post-Benghazi political wrangling, with Republicans on  Capitol Hill accusing her of stonewalling a congressional investigation and  adding accusations of an administration cover-up.

Clinton is likely to run for president in  2016, Democratic political analysts predict, making the performance of her  agency a political football.

The State Department did not respond to  requests for comment.

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens (L) and three other American personnel died in the Benghazi attack, now understood to have been carried out by Ansar al-Sharia and other al-Qaeda-linked groupsU.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens (L) and  three other American personnel died in the Benghazi attack, now understood to  have been carried out by Ansar al-Sharia and other al-Qaeda-linked  groups

The U.S. Consulate was left in ruins after terrorists' pre-set mortars rained down and rocket-propelled grenades caused fires and explosions on Sept. 11, 2012The U.S. Consulate was left in ruins after terrorists’  pre-set mortars rained down and rocket-propelled grenades caused fires and  explosions on Sept. 11, 2012

But Clinton’s tenure at State will continue  to be a source of controversy. A career diplomat who was second-in-command in  Libya on the night of the Benghazi attack testified before Congress on Wednesday  that a commando team was turned back from flying from Tripoli to Benghazi after  the State Department intervened.

Gregory Hicks quoted an Army colonel telling  him over the phone that ‘this is the first time in my career that a diplomat has  more balls than somebody in the military.’

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Hacked AP tweet claiming White House explosion causes Dow dip


Pro-Assad Syrian Electronic Army claims responsibility

By Iain Thomson in San Francisco

Posted in Security, 23rd April 2013 19:27 GMT

Free whitepaper – Hands on with Hyper-V 3.0 and virtual machine movement

A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army is claiming that it successfully hacked the official Twitter account of the Associated Press and is responsible for a tweet that briefly wiped billions off the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday.

The tweet, issued from AP’s main account, warned that there had been two explosions in the White House, one of which had injured Barrack Obama. The Dow dropped over 140 points on the news, before rebounding minutes later after the administration denied the story.

“The president is fine,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney at Tuesday afternoon’s press briefing. “I was just with him.”

AP has since confirmed that its account had been hacked. It has disabled its Twitter accounts for the time being and is warning people to disregard the earlier tweet and to be on their guard against further false messages.

The Syrian Electronic Army, a group of hackers who support the embattled president Assad in the long-running Syrian civil war, claimed responsibility for the attack. Over the last few days it has been targeting the Twitter accounts of Western media organizations [1] and using them to spread misinformation and malware.

“AP Twitter feed was hacked today by the Syrian Electronic Army. SEA published a false news about an explosion in the whitehouse and Obama got injured. This small tweet created some chaos in the United States in addition to a decline in some U.S. stocks,” the group said on their website [2].

This isn’t the first time the stock market has got its panties in a bunch over misinformation released online. In 2008, Apple lost over 5 per cent of its value [3] following a false report [4] that Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack.

But the speed of Tuesday’s drop has caused some to point the finger at the shadowy world of high-frequency traders (HFT), who now account for over 60 per cent of US stock market buy and sell orders. HFT systems will place millions of orders at a time to gain pennies from arbitrage on stock prices, and this type of trading is particularly vulnerable to spoofing.

“High-frequency traders cancel their orders on even one little tweet. They provide so much liquidity and don’t have obligations like market makers did in the past. We need other participants to make sure this kind of volatility doesn’t happen and we don’t [have them] anymore,” Dennis Dick, proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC, told [5] Reuters. ®

Mexican shootout that killed beauty queen linked to Fast and Furious

Another gun sent to Mexico under the White House’s “Fast and Furious” program  has been found beside a murdered Mexican, just as the White House prepares to  launch a large-scale political campaign built on the Dec. 14 massacre of 26  Americans in Newtown, Conn.

The dead Mexican, Maria Gamez, was killed in a shootout Nov. 23 shootout between cops and  drug-runners. The incident made headlines because a Mexican beauty queen was  killed in the exchange of fire. Though Maria Susana Flores Gamez reportedly  had a gun in her hand, police said she was likely used as a human shield when  the men in the car she was traveling in pushed her out in front of them.

More than 150 Mexicans have been killed or wounded by the Fast and Furious  guns, according to Humbert Benitez Trevino, a former attorney general of  Mexico.

U.S. officials had allowed the gun — a Romanian-built AK-47-knockoff, dubbed a  WASR-10 — to be bought in the U.S. and illegally transported by criminals  into Mexico, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley told CBS.

Under the Fast and Furious program, Department of Justice officials allowed  more than 1,400 guns to be bought in the U.S. and transported south to  drug-gangs, including the murderous Sinaloa Cartel.

Critics say the program was intended by top-level officials to smear U.S.  gun-sellers as reckless supporters of the cartels, and boost the  administration’s plans for gun-control legislation.

Several mid-level and senior officials in the Justice Department have been  fired or quit following GOP-led investigations of the program.

White House officials deny any role in the scandal. Since the scandal  broke, the White House hadn’t pusheded gun control.

But following the Dec. 14 massacre of 20 children and six unarmed adults in  Newtown, the president decided to focus attention on guns.

There “can’t be an excuse for inaction,” Obama told attendees at a Dec. 16  memorial service for victims of the shooting. “If there is even one step we can  take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief  that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown — and  communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an  obligation to try.”

On Dec. 18, White House spokesman Jay Carney announced that Obama met with  Attorney General Eric Holder on Dec. 17 to plan a political campaign against  gun-related violence.

Along with Holder, Obama met with the secretaries of the education and of  health and human services.

The meeting, Carney said, “underscores the comprehensive way in which the  president views this problem.”

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Brutal ad hits White House on Libya timeline contradictions [VIDEO]

It has been a month since an attack in Libya took the lives of Ambassador  Chris Stevens and three other Americans, and the Obama administration is still  revising its story.

A video from the Heritage Foundation documents the evolution of the  federal government’s explanation of the tragic event and the multiple  contradictions among members of the current administration.


“It appears to me that the situation has been grossly mishandled, and the  American people deserve better,” said Peter Brookes, senior fellow at the  Heritage Foundation. “It’s been my sense that the last thing the administration  wanted was to admit that al-Qaida had attacked.”

The State Department acknowledged that it denied requests for more security  in Benghazi at a heated congressional hearing yesterday. Republicans  accused the Obama administration of using the anti-Islamic video as a scapegoat  to cover up a terrorist attack so that it could avoid political vulnerability,  while Democrats at the hearing accused Republicans of operating a biased  investigation.

The recent unrest in Benghazi can be traced as far back as April 6, when an  IED was tossed over the fence of the U.S. Consulate. Gun battles, kidnappings,  carjackings and attacks on other NATO embassies in late April and early May  elicited a request for a safer means of transportation to and from the U.S.  Embassy in Libya. The State Department denied that request.

Two attacks on the International Committee of the Red Cross building forced  it to close down, leaving the U.S. Consulate as the lone international presence  in Benghazi, the only remaining target for attackers.

On June 6, an IED blew a sizable hole in the security perimeter of the U.S.  Consulate that was reportedly “large enough for 40 men to go through.”

On Oct. 8 a security officer warned American officials about deteriorating  security in the area. And three days later — the attack, for which White House  Press Secretary Jay Carney said the administration had no “actionable  intelligence,” struck the consulate.

A report published on Sept. 26 showed that the intelligence community and the  Obama administration knew within 24 hours that the attack was an act of terror  carried out by an al-Qaida affiliated group. This was affirmed by Carney in an  Oct. 10 press briefing when he also said that the administration had kept its  word to disclose new information as it became available.

However, President Barack Obama and other members of his administration have  since refused to call the attack an act of terror, despite twice receiving word  from Libyan President Mohamed Magarief that the attack was indeed a “pre-planned  act of terrorism directed against American citizens.”

On Sept. 16, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said on a talk show that the attacks  were provoked exclusively by the “Innocence of Muslims” video.

On Sept. 17, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refused to call the  attack on Benghazi an act of terror.

On Sept. 20, President Obama cited insufficient information when refusing to  declare the attack a terrorist act, only to be contradicted by Secretary of  State Hillary Clinton the following day.

“We’re obviously very, very concerned about the apparent insecurity in a very  threatening environment,” Said Brookes. “(Sept. 11) wasn’t the first time they  were threatened.”

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Chinese hackers had infiltrated a secure national security network used to control nuclear codes

WH: attempted hacking ‘not infrequent


10/1/12 6:53 PM EDT

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney downplayed a report that Chinese hackers had infiltrated a secure national security network used to control nuclear codes, saying the perpetrators breached an “unclassified” system.

There is “no indication whatsoever that exfiltration of data” occurred, he told reporters at a gaggle held in the Nevada hotel President Obama is using for debate prep. Such attacks, he added, “are not infrequent.”

The White House confirmed to POLITICO earlier Monday that there was an attempted hack but also tried to downplay the breach.

Now even Democrats demand that Barack Obama comes clean over al-Qaeda and Middle East attacks

By Toby Harnden In Washington

PUBLISHED:14:39 EST, 28  September 2012| UPDATED:17:03 EST, 28 September 2012

Democrats, including Senator John Kerry, a  possible Secretary of State if Barack Obama wins a second term, have joined  Republicans in demanding answers as to why terrorists were able to murder the  U.S. ambassador to Libya.

The new Democratic demands as it emerged  that  no threat assessment was conducted before Chris Stevens, the  late U.S. Ambassador, and his team began ‘taking up residence’ at the  Benghazi compound.

A source told Fox news that the security  lapses were a ‘total failure’ and there was no proper security equipment  installed in the compound’s buildings apart from a small number of video  cameras.


The source said that on a scale of 1 to 10,  with 10 being the worst, the security lapses were a 10.


Kerry, the chairman, and all 18 other members  of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have written to the State Department  calling for information about violence in Libya and elsewhere across the Middle  East around the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The involvement of Democrats in raising  pointed questions about the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis, and  particularly the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens, could hand Mitt  Romney a fresh political opportunity.

After initially denying that terrorism was  involved – to much public scepticism from Republicans – the  Obama administration later changed its story, saying that operatives linked  to al-Qaeda were responsible for the attack that killed Stevens and three other  Americans in Benghazi.


The White House’s insistence that the attacks  were a spontaneous reaction to a crude anti-Islam film made in California, has  been widely ridiculed and debunked.

Foremost among the officials insisting the  attacks were not terrorism was Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United  Nations, who went on five Sunday talk  shows to deliver the now-discredited talking points.

On September 16th, Rice told NBC’s ‘Meet The  Press’: ‘First of all, there’s an FBI  investigation which is ongoing and we look to that investigation to give us the  definitive word as to what transpired.

But putting together the best information that  we have available to us today, our current assessment is what happened in  Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just  transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against  our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video.’

Rice is a rival to Kerry for the position of  Secretary of State in succession to Hillary Clinton, who has said she will step  down in January.

With Rice’s reputation severely battered,  Kerry’s case for taking over at the State Department – a position that needs  Senate approval – has been bolstered.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told  reporters on September 14th: ‘These protests were in reaction to a video  that had spread to the region. We have no information to suggest it was a  pre-planned attack.’

As recently late as last week, Obama said:  ‘What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage  over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also  directly harm U.S. interests.’

It recently emerged, however, that  intelligence officials knew within 24 hours that al-Qaeda was linked to the  attacks in Benghazi – prompting Republican accusations of lies and  cover-ups.

In the letter, the Senators posed a number of  questions, asking: ‘Please expand the accounting of the attacks against U.S.  missions in Egypt, Libya and Yemen beginning on September 11 2012, to include  attacks that took place at any U.S. missions from September 11-13  2012.


The letter, obtained by Foreign Policy  magazine’s The Cable blog, also referred to attacks on the U.S. embassies in  Sudan, Tunisia, and Pakistan and elsewhere.

Most pointedly, they ask ‘whether the U.S. or  the host governments had intelligence prior to the attacks on Egypt, Libya or  Yemen’ and whether any intelligence was shared with security  personnel.

Republicans have accused  the White  House of playing down the possibility of terrorism because in an election year  Obama wants voters to believe that al-Qaeda has been routed and is not resurgent  in any way.

ABC News has reported that intelligence  officials in Libya immediately suspected that the attack was not tied to the  movie.

They said the attackers knew where to get  Stevens after he fled to a safe house and used insurgent mortars to hit the  building, indicating a trained and experienced force.

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U.S. intelligence now says Benghazi attack “deliberate and organized”

6:25pm EDT

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. intelligence authority issued an unusual public statement on Friday declaring it now believed the September 11 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, was a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack.”

The statement by the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that it represented a change in the U.S. intelligence assessment of how and why the attack happened. During the attack on two U.S. government compounds in the eastern Libyan city, four U.S. personnel, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed.

Shawn Turner, spokesman for Clapper’s office, said that in the immediate aftermath of the attack, U.S. agencies came to the view that the Benghazi attack had begun spontaneously after protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo against a short film made in California lampooning the Prophet Mohammad.

Turner said that as U.S. intelligence subsequently learned more about the attack, “we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.”

He said it remained “unclear” if any individual or specific group commanded the attack. U.S. agencies nonetheless believe that some of the militants involved in the attack were “linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al-Qaida.”

In an apparent reference to a series of contradictory statements by some top Obama administration officials, Turner said intelligence agencies’ “initial assessment” had been passed on “to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available.”

One U.S. official familiar with the background to the shifting intelligence assessments said the process of figuring out from scraps of intelligence who perpetrated an event like the Benghazi attack was “imprecise” and “evolving.”

Debate over whether militant groups planned the assault or whether the violence resulted from protests against the film insulting Islam has become U.S. election-year fodder. Republican lawmakers have demanded answers about the incident from the Obama administration.

Within hours of the attacks ending, some government sources in Washington were already acknowledging they might well have been planned and organized in advance, and that members of two militant factions, Ansar al Shariah and al Qaeda’s North Africa-based affiliate, known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, may have been involved.

But top administration officials later made public statements that contradicted that assessment.


On September 14, three days after the attacks, President Barack Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, said the United States had no evidence the Benghazi attack was planned.

Two days later, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said preliminary information suggested the attacks were not premeditated and were protests against the anti-Muslim film that provoked demonstrations in Egypt.

On September 19, Carney echoed Rice, saying, “Our belief based on the information we had was that it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo and the video that — and the unrest in Cairo that helped — that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi and elsewhere.”

A day later, on September 19, Carney was still insisting, “Based on the information that we had at the time and have to this day, we do not have evidence that it was premeditated.”

But that same day, one key administration official moved back toward the assessment that the Benghazi assaults had been organized and intentional.

At a congressional hearing, Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, part of the National Intelligence Director’s office, labeled the assaults a “terrorist attack on our embassy” and said the United States was examining information that people involved in the attack had connections to al Qaeda or its North African affiliate.

By the next day, Carney was asserting it was “self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.”

In his statement on Friday, Turner said that while U.S. intelligence agencies now believed the Benghazi attacks were well organized and deliberate, with some involvement of people connected to militant factions, it was not clear if “any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate.”

(Editing by Warren Strobel and Peter Cooney)

White House considers executive order, leaves Internet takeover a possibility

The Daily CallerThe Daily Caller – Mon, Aug 6, 2012

The White House has left open the possibility of enacting its Internet agenda via executive order after the failed effort to bring the Democrat-supported cybersecurity bill to a full vote in the Senate last week.

In response to a question from The Hill, a Washington, D.C. political newspaper, about whether President Obama was considering advancing his party’s cyber-plan through an executive order, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney didn’t rule out the possibility.

“In the wake of Congressional inaction and Republican stall tactics, unfortunately, we will continue to be hamstrung by outdated and inadequate statutory authorities that the legislation would have fixed,” he said via email.

“Moving forward, the President is determined to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyber threats and we will do that,” added Carney.

The failed cyber security bill, which could be revived by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid when the Senate comes back from recess in September, would have given federal agencies in charge of regulating critical infrastructure industries like power companies and utilities the ability to mandate cybersecurity recommendations.

Shortly before the Senate’s August recess, Obama penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he threw his support behind the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.

An executive order would be another action from the Obama administration to extend executive branch authority over a largely free and open Internet