And now, perhaps the most intriguing section of today’s Morning Jolt:
Suddenly, Three Big Developments in the Investigation Into the Benghazi Attack
This news cycle has three new developments related to the Benghazi attack you must see and keep handy for the next time you hear a White House press secretary say it was “a long time ago” or a Secretary of State ask “what difference does it make?” whether it was a preplanned terrorist attack or a spontaneous demonstration.
DEVELOPMENT ONE, courtesy CNN’s Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister, Nic Robertson, and Fran Townsend:
Several Yemeni men belonging to al Qaeda took part in the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September, according to several sources who have spoken with CNN.
One senior U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that “three or four members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” or AQAP, took part in the attack.
Another source briefed on the Benghazi investigation said Western intelligence services suspect the men may have been sent by the group specifically to carry out the attack. But it’s not been ruled out that they were already in the city and participated as the opportunity arose.
So, unless these multiple sources are wrong, this can accurately be described as an al-Qaeda attack, either preplanned or a target of opportunity.
DEVELOPMENT TWO, from Adam Housley of Fox News:
On the night of the Benghazi terror attack, special operations put out multiple calls for all available military and other assets to be moved into position to help — but the State Department and White House never gave the military permission to cross into Libya, sources told Fox News.
The disconnect was one example of what sources described as a communication breakdown that left those on the ground without outside help.
“When you are on the ground, you depend on each other — we’re gonna get through this situation. But when you look up and then nothing outside of the stratosphere is coming to help you or rescue you, that’s a bad feeling,” one source said.
Multiple sources spoke to Fox News about what they described as a lack of action in Benghazi on Sept. 11 last year, when four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.
“They had no plan. They had no contingency plan for if this happens, and that’s the problem this is going to face in the future,” one source said. “They’re dealing with more hostile regions, hostile countries. This attack’s going to happen again.”
Under normal circumstances, authorities in Benghazi would have fallen under the chief of mission, one source said — the person in charge of security in the country who in this case was Stevens. But once Stevens was cornered and members of his security detail pushed his distress button, that authority would have been transferred to his deputy. However, that deputy was out of the country.
That meant the authority then reverted directly to the U.S.. State Department, and oversight of the response to the attack that night fell to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, who were calling the shots.
It would be very useful to know more about this source. Perhaps it’s someone with an agenda, or someone whose recollection of that night is inaccurate. But if it was someone within the special-operations community, someone with firsthand knowledge of what happened that night, well . . . then this is explosive; there was a call for help, and IF there were actions that could be taken, and the State Department decided against it. If it really did lead all the way back to Hillary Clinton, this would end her 2016 chances. “She left Americans to die horrible deaths” is pretty much the worst charge a presidential candidate could possibly face.
And while we don’t know it absolute certainty that what this source is saying is true . . . if it is true, it would explain a lot about the third big development:
DEVELOPMENT THREE, courtesy Fox News’ James Rosen:
The State Department’s Office of Inspector General is investigating the special internal panel that probed the Benghazi terror attack for the State Department, Fox News has confirmed.
The IG’s office is said by well-placed sources to be seeking to determine whether the Accountability Review Board, or ARB — led by former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen — failed to interview key witnesses who had asked to provide their accounts of the Benghazi attacks to the panel.
The IG’s office notified the department of the “special review” on March 28, according to Doug Welty, the congressional and public affairs officer of the IG’s office.
This disclosure marks a significant turn in the ongoing Benghazi case, as it calls into question the reliability of the blue-ribbon panel that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton convened to review the entire matter. Until the report was concluded, she and all other senior Obama administration officials regularly refused to answer questions about what happened in Benghazi.
Since the ARB report was issued in December — finding that “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” well below Clinton were to blame for the “inadequate” security at Benghazi — Clinton and other top officials have routinely referred questioners to the conclusions of the board report. Now the methodology and final product of the ARB are themselves coming under the scrutiny of the department’s own top auditor.