Judicial Watch Sues Office of Director of National Intelligence
WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwire) -- 02/20/13 -- Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Administration's Office of the Director of National Intelligence seeking access to records detailing the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks a controversial "speaking points" memo indicating that intelligence officials believed from the outset that terrorists were behind the attack despite public statements to the contrary issued by Obama administration officials, including UN Ambassador Susan Rice and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The lawsuit was filed on February 14, 2013 (Judicial Watch v. Office of the Dir. of National Intelligence (No. 13-0198)).
Judicial Watch seeks the following records pursuant to its October 19, 2012, FOIA request:
Any and all memoranda, assessments, analyses, and/or talking points regarding the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and/or the killing of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence between September 11, 2012 and September 20, 2012. This request includes, but is not limited to, the "speaking points" memorandum referred to by Senator Dianne Feinstein during a televised interview on October 17, 2012, (see http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/10/17/feinstein-intelligence-flaw-lax-security-to-blame-for-libyan-terror-attack/).
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged receiving JW's request on October 19, 2012, and was required by law to respond by November 26, 2012. As of the date of Judicial Watch's lawsuit, the agency has failed to produce any records responsive to the request, indicate when any responsive records will be produced, or demonstrated that responsive records are exempt from production.
Regarding the "speaking points" memorandum requested by Judicial Watch, according to the CBS Affiliate in San Francisco: "When asked by CBS 5 if there was an intelligence flaw, the senior California senator [Feinstein] who hails from San Francisco replied: 'I think what happened was the director of intelligence... put out some speaking points on the initial intelligence assessment. I think that was possibly a mistake.'"
Former CIA Director General David Petraeus reportedly testified before Congress that the initial speaking points produced by the CIA "stated there were indications the attack was linked to al Qaeda," and suggested the terrorism reference was removed sometime during an interagency review process.
In the days and weeks following the Benghazi attacks, the Obama administration blamed the incident on a rudimentary Internet video deemed offensive to Muslims. This false claim was repeated by both Ambassador Rice and Secretary Clinton in multiple public statements and press interviews. For example, at a September 14, 2012, event honoring the four victims of the Benghazi attack, Secretary Clinton made the following statement: "We've seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We've seen the rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful video that we had nothing to do with."
Later, when asked about the alleged discrepancy between the intelligence community's assessment and the Obama administration's public statements during congressional testimony, former Secretary of State Clinton shouted, "What difference does it make?" "I personally was not focused on talking points," she stated.
"With all of the Benghazi lies coming out of the Obama administration, the only way to get at the truth is to release these records immediately," stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "From the beginning, the Obama White House has been more concerned with self-protection than to disclosing the truth about Benghazi. The Obama administration's lawless Benghazi cover-up is a disgrace and an insult to the victims of the attacks and their families. The Obama Benghazi scandal makes Iran-Contra seem like patty-cake by comparison."
In December, Judicial Watch released its special report, "The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent." The report closely examined the Obama administration's actions before, during, and after the assault, as well as the State Department's commitment to protect overseas diplomats.
In addition to Judicial Watch's Benghazi investigation, Congress also seeks answers from the Obama administration. Republicans in the Senate have indicated they plan to put a hold on the nomination of John O. Brennan, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, who is President Obama's pick to serve as Director of the CIA, until the Obama White House releases more details on the Benghazi attacks, including the speaking points memos.