Upping the ante this cycle, Virginia Republicans, for their gubernatorial standard-bearer, have tapped the proudly inflammatory Ken Cuccinelli, who has used his reign as state attorney general to, among other notable hits, crusade against climate change and on behalf of the state’s recently junked anti-sodomy laws. For a party struggling to dispel its reputation as a bastion of right-wing nuttery, putting Cuccinelli front and center is a bit like tapping Mitt Romney to dispel the GOP’s rep as a bastion of rich old white guys.
In short, the Democrats should have had this one.
.....And let the truth be known, Amen.
"...Hoping to funnel into one chronological timeline the rampantly varying accounts of how President Obama's administration responded last Sept. 11 in the wake of an attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday will hear from three "whistleblowers" expected to offer testimony enormously at odds with the administration's characterization of a strike that killed four Americans.
Testifying are Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant Secretary of State for counterterrorism; Greg Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya; and Eric Nordstrom, former regional security officer in Libya. Excerpts of an interview Hicks did with investigators that were released to CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday boomeranged the Benghazi politics back into the spotlight four months after hearings on the issue in the House and Senate.
According to Hicks, "everybody in the mission" believed it was an act of terror "from the get-go." But on Sept. 16 - five days after the attack - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice hit the Sunday show circuit, peddling the theory that the strike began "spontaneously" out of protests in Egypt and was not a premeditated terrorist act. Rice's spot on "Face the Nation" that day was preceded by the new president of Libya, Mohammed al-Magariaf, who said his government had "no doubt that this was pre-planned, predetermined."
- Official: We knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack "from the get-go"
- Issa: "No question" Clinton's circle involved in Benghazi "cover-up"
- Diplomat: U.S. Special Forces told "you can't go" to Benghazi during attacks
"I've never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day," Hicks told investigators of Rice's appearances.
The top official in Libya after Amb. Chris Stevens died in the attack, Hicks said he was never consulted about the administration's talking points that puppeteered Rice's remarks: "I was personally known to one of Rice's staff members," he said. "Even on Sunday morning, I could have been called, and, you know, the phone call could have been, 'Hey, Greg, Amb. Rice is going to say blah, blah, blah,' and I could have said, 'No, that's not the right thing.' That phone call was never made."
Administration officials have staunchly stood by Rice, whose vilification after the attack cost her top billing on the short list to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. At a Tuesday night gala at which Rice was receiving an award, Vice President Joe Biden said she had "the absolute, total, complete confidence of the president."
Critics, though, of the Benghazi "cover-up" have continued to rally attention to the White House's bungled talking points, as well as reports that the State Department deliberately declined requests for additional security in Benghazi.
Issa: "No question" Clinton's circle involved in Benghazi "cover-up"
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who will oversee Wednesday's hearing, told CBS News on Monday that the administration's ever-evolving statements were likely perpetrated by political concerns, three weeks out of a major election. Or, he suggested, "it could be a general want to believe that we're closer to an end of the war on terror than right in the middle of it."
Issa said he expects this week to find someone from Clinton's circle - if not the former secretary of state herself - at the heart of covering tracks after any missteps by the administration. Clinton testified on Benghazi in January before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where she took responsibility but conceded there was no "clear picture" of what happened Sept. 11 as the situation unraveled.
"If Hillary Clinton is not responsible for the before, during and after mistakes... it's somebody close," Issa said. "There certainly are plenty of people close to the former secretary who knew, and apparently were part of the problem."
Those close to Clinton who may have engaged in "deliberately, premeditated lying to the American people," Issa said, could include Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy or Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary for near eastern affairs at the State Department. Hicks said one day after Rice's media blitz, he called Jones to inquire about the source for the ambassador's statements; the tone of her answer - "I don't know," he continued - indicated that "I perhaps asked a question that I should not have asked."
Benghazi investigation: How high are the stakes for Obama?
Earlier this week, Fox News reported that Thompson plans to testify Wednesday that Clinton attempted to cut out the counterterrorism bureau from communications about the attack - a charge that would likely cripple her pristine record as secretary, as well as any chance that she'll mount a presidential bid in 2016.
Citing in particular Hicks's claim that a team of Special Forces prepared to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi during the attack was forbidden from doing so by U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, CBS News national security analyst Juan Zarate said during a Tuesday edition of "Flash Points" that the reputation of the administration, as a whole, hangs in the lurch.
"The stakes are pretty high," Zarate said. "If it turns out that there's some indication that the White House or others were not only manipulating talking points, framing how Susan Rice was talking about this on the Sunday talk shows, but was actually trying to construe this in a way that demonstrated it wasn't a terror attack, and that actually impacted our response - the fact that perhaps they didn't put things in motion was because it was purposely not being treated or discussed as a terror attack from the get-go, that's a real problem."
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A source with intimate information about the events that happened on the ground in Benghazi the night the U.S. Consulate and the CIA annex was attacked by terrorists told Breitbart News that, ultimately, only the President of the United States, or someone acting on his authority, could have prevented Special Forces either on the ground or nearby from helping those Americans who were under deadly assault.
According to the source, when the attack on the Consulate occurred, a specific chain of command to gain verbal permission to move special-forces in must have occurred. SOCAFRICA commander Lieutenant Col. Gibson would have contacted a desk officer at the time, asking for that permission.
That desk officer would have called Marine Corps Col. George Bristol, then in command of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara. From there, Bristol would have made contact with Rear Admiral Brian Losey, then Commander of Special Operations Command Africa. Losey would have contacted four-star General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. AFRICOM at the time.
“Ham answers directly to the President of the United States,” said the source. It wasn’t a low-level bureaucrat making the call, the source adamantly added.
That call may have been made early in the engagement. Both Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey testified in January that they had no further communication with President Barack Obama after an initial briefing in the early hours of the Benghazi crisis, which continued through the night.
But what about then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
“I have a hard time thinking it was Hillary alone. Hillary may have tried to circumvent the counterterrorism board and deal with this. I think in order for her to tell General Ham, ‘No, you’re not going to get involved,' she would have had to talk to the president. The president would have had to say, ‘No, take your commands from Hillary.’ He would have had said something, because Ham does not work for the Department of State; he works directly for the president,” the source explained.
The lack of clarity surrounding orders given during the Benghazi attacks is a stark contrast to the clarity projected after the successful Osama bin Laden raid in May 2011, when administration officials were keen to attribute responsibility for the orders to the president.
Witnesses with firsthand information about the Benghazi attacks will appear before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
State Department employees Mark Thompson, Gregory Hicks, and Eric Nordstrom are expected to be whistleblower witnesses who will reveal information about State’s reaction to the attacks that has not been released previously.
AWR Hawkins contributed to this report.
Tonight there is a premier showing of "Hating Breitbart" here in the Bay Area. Please go. there are even free ticikets available at KSFO.com
This movie brings Andrew's life into focus and why he fought so hard for truth and vigilance against the dangerousness of liberalism.
I would give anything to have Andrew back with us and his family. But let's honor the legacy he gave us.
|When it first became clear that the CIA’s Benghazi talking points had been altered, many of us viewed the White House as the prime suspect. After all, it served President Obama’s political purposes to claim, at the height of a political campaign in which he was taking credit for the fall of al Qaeda, that the death of a U.S. ambassador was down to spontaneous outrage over a video, rather than pre-planned terrorism. It turns out, however, that the State Department was the prime culprit. It was State that pushed back hard against the original talking points.|
Three girls who were abducted more than a decade ago have been found alive in the basement of a house in Ohio - where they were apparently held captive in chains.
Amanda Berry, 26, and Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, escaped from the Cleveland house just a few miles from the city where they disappeared.
The extraordinary rescue came after a neighbor heard Amanda, who went missing at the age of 16, screaming for help when their captor left the house.
Ariel Castro, 52, has been arrested and is in police custody in connection with the kidnapping case along with his two unnamed brothers, who are 50 and 54.
Amanda's relatives have confirmed that one of the children in the house is her daughter that she gave birth to while being held against her will; the girl is thought to be aged about six.
Scroll down for videos and audio of the 911 call
Discovery: Amanda Berry, 26, (left) and Gina DeJesus (right), 23, were found alive in a house in Cleveland after being missing for 10 years. Berry disappeared aged 16, while DeJesus went missing at 14
Reunited: Amanda Berry (centre) at the Cleveland Hospital alongside her emotional sister (left) and the daughter that she gave birth to during the 10 years she was held against her will
Scene: The women were helped out of this home on Seymour Avenue that belongs to Ariel Castro
Arrested: The prime suspect has been identified as 52-year-old Ariel Castro
The women and child were taken to MetroHealth Medical Center, as they are reportedly suffering from severe dehydration and slightly malnourished but alive.
The disappearances of Amanda and Gina captured the attention of the entire city for the past decade, as their relatives have continually held vigils and kept the story alive in the local press.
The women were kidnapped on the same street and found at the home just three miles away as their alleged kidnappers hid in plain sight.
After 10 years being held against their will, the women were finally freed after neighbor Charles Ramsey, heard screaming from the house as he sat down to eat a meal in his home.
Mr Ramsey, told WEWS-TV he saw Amanda, who he didn't recognize, at a door that would open only enough to fit a hand through screaming, 'Help me get out! I've been in here a long time.'
'We had to kick open the bottom,' he said. 'Lucky on that door it was aluminum. It was cheap. She climbed out with her daughter.'
When Amanda fled the home and ran across the street to call police, she was holding the hand of a young girl.
'Help me I'm Amanda Berry... I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for ten years and I'm here. I'm free now,' Berry is heard saying in the call to police that has been publicly released.
House of horror: Aerial views of a house on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio where the three women were held captive for 10 years
Shocked: Neighbors have voiced their shock at finding out the women were living in the basement of the Ohio home
Prison: Cleveland Police stand outside a home where the trio spent more than a decade in captivity
Combing: Cleveland police and FBI agents search a yard. There were apparently signs that dirt had recently been moved in the backyard of the house
Escape: A neighbor managed to kick down a door at the home, pictured, freeing the women
'HELP ME! I'M AMANDA BERRY!': VICTIM'S FRANTIC 911 CALL
Amanda Berry: Help me, I'm Amanda Berry.
Operator: Do you need police, fire or ambulance?
Berry: I need police.
Operator: OK, and what's going on there?
Berry: I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here. I'm free now.
Operator: OK, and what's your address?
(The operator tries to figure out where she is.)
Berry: I'm across the street. I'm using their phone
Operator: OK, stay there with those neighbors and talk to the police when they get there.
(The operator repeats her instructions several times.)
Berry: OK, are they on their way right now? I need them now.
Operator: We're gonna send them as soon as we get a car open.
Berry: No, I need them now before he gets back.
Operator: All right. We're sending them, OK?
Berry: OK. I mean, like, right now.
Operator: Who is the guy who went out?
Berry: His name is Ariel Castro.
Operator: All right. How old is he?
Berry: He's like 52.
Operator: All right, and a...
Berry: And I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years.
Operator: OK, I got that, dear... what is his name again?
Berry: Uh, Ariel Castro.
Operator: And is he white, black or Hispanic?
Berry: Uh, he's Hispanic.
Operator: What's he wearing?
Berry: I don't know cause he's not here right now. That's how we got away.
Operator: When he left, what was he wearing?
Operator: The police are on the way. Talk to them when they get there.
'I need them now before he gets back!' she said in the frantic phone call to 911, going on to identify her captor as Ariel Castro.
The Plain Dealer reported that Castro was arrested at a nearby McDonald's.
Castro has lived in the house since 1992 and he was arrested for domestic violence in 1993.
Sources close to local station WOIO are telling the station that the women were reportedly tied up during their captivity and police found chains hanging from one of the ceilings
They also reported that there were signs that dirt had recently been moved in the backyard of the house, though police continue to investigate whether or not the dirt will lead to any new evidence in the case.
Michelle went missing in 2000 when she was 20.
Amanda disappeared on April 21, 2003, a day before her 17th birthday.
A year after Gina, then 14 went missing on April 2, 2004, on her way home from school.
Amanda disappeared shortly after she called her sister to say that she was getting a ride home from her job at Burger King.
Amanda's mother, Louwana Miller, who had been hospitalized for months with pancreatitis and other ailments, died in March 2006.
She had spent the previous three years looking for her daughter, whose disappearance took a toll as her health steadily deteriorated, family and friends said.
In November 2004, she even turned to a psychic, Sylvia Browne, on Montel Williams' television show.
'She's not alive, honey,' Browne told her. 'Your daughter's not the kind who wouldn't call.'
But Councilwoman Dona Brady said she had spent many hours with Miller, who never gave up hope that her daughter was alive.
'She literally died of a broken heart,' Brady said.
At the hospital Amanda with her daughter was photographed with her older sister Beth Serrano, who has maintained the search for her sister since their mother died in 2006.
Beth's husband Ted Serrano told local station WOIO that his wife is overjoyed about her sister's return.
'She said (Amanda)'s okay, she's got a daughter. She said she's okay, she looks good,' Mr Serrano told the station.
Beth has worked closely with the DeJesus family, whose daughter Georgina 'Gina' DeJesus was found in the same home as Amanda.
On Monday evening, DeJesus' cousin Sylvia Colon spoke to CNN, saying that the missing girl's mother Nancy Ruiz confirmed to relatives that Gina is alive and well in hospital.
'What a phenomenal mother's Day gift this is,' Ms Colon told the station.
Earlier in the case, DeJesus' mother Nancy Ruiz raised the alarm that her daughter was the victim of human trafficking.
The search: FBI investigators remove a bag of evidence from the home that belongs to Ariel Castro, the man that Amanda Berry named during her frantic 911 call as being her captor
Horrific: Local reporters say that investigators found chains hanging from the ceiling in the house and the women were believed to have been tied up during their decade-long abduction
Investigation: Police and FBI congregate outside a house on Cleveland's west side
'I always said it from the beginning; she was sold to the highest bidder,' Ms Ruiz said in April 2012.
The disappearance of Knight did not attract the local media attention of the Berry and DeJesus cases.
Her grandmother, Deborah Knight, told the Plain Dealer that some family members had concluded, based in part on suggestions by police and social workers at the time, that she had run away.
But her mother Barbara Knight, who now lives in Florida, told the newspaper she never believed her daughter would have vanished without a trace on her own and that she kept searching long after police gave up looking for her.
'I'm praying that if it is her, she will come back with me, so I can help her recover from what she has been through,' the mother was quoted as saying.
Rescue: Neighbour Charles Ramsey said he had seen a woman screaming for help at the front door of the house and broke the door down
'So much has happened in these 10 years. She has a younger sister she still has not met.'
Relatives were emotional throughout the night on Monday, with some unable to speak through their tears.
Before the kidnapping: Gina was 14 when she vanished on the way home from school in 2004
'I'm going to hold her, and I'm going to squeeze her and I probably won't let her go,' Amanda's cousin Tesheena Mitchell told The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
A childhood friend of Gina, Kayla Rogers, said she couldn't wait to hug her.
'I've been praying, never forgot about her, ever,' Rogers told The Plain Dealer newspaper.
Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson was the first public official to speak out about the case, confirming the identities of the three women.
'I am thankful that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have been found alive. We have many unanswered questions regarding this case and the investigation will be ongoing. Again, I am thankful that these three young ladies are found and alive,' he said.
Charles Ramsey, the neighbor who rescued the girls, said that he was shocked about the discovery because the man who owns the home - who is thought to be the kidnapper- did not stay hidden from those around him.
'I've been here a year. I barbeque with this dude, we eat ribs and what not and listen to salsa music.
Not a clue that that girl was in that house or that anyone else was in there with,' Mr Ramsey said of Castro.
Search: Authorities have been searching for the missing girls for years; pictured are the computer-generated images of what Gina, left, and Amanda, right, were believed to have looked like now
Hope: Felix DeJesus, holding a banner showing his daughter's photograph, standing by a memorial in his living room in Cleveland in 2004
KIDNAPPED CHILDREN FOUND ALIVE
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who have been rescued from a home in Cleveland after a decade in captivity, are not the first American kidnap victims to be found safe long after their abduction.
Jaycee Lee Dugard's case is perhaps the most extreme of all - she was missing for 18 years after being kidnapped aged 11, and bore two daughters to her captor.
The girl was abducted on her way to schoo by Phillip Garrido South Lake Tahoe, California in June 1991. Her identity was revealed when he behaved erratically in public, attracting police attention.
Elizabeth Smart was another high-profile kidnap victim who was eventually rescued after she spent nine months in captivity.
She was taken from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah in June 2002, aged 14 - the abduction was witnessed by her sister Mary Katherine, who shared the room.
Danielle Cramer, who was discovered in June 2007 after being missing for almost a year, was another kidnap victim.
Adam Gault and Ann Murphy hid her at their home in West Bloomfield, Connecticut after she ran away from her family.
She was found locked in a small space under a staircase, but police later suggested that she could have plotted with her kidnappers.
Shawn Hornbeck, from Richwoods, Missouri, was missing for more than four years, from October 2002 to January 2007.
He was abducted aged 11 by paedophile Michael J. Devlin while riding his bicycle, and held at the kidnapper's home nearby.
Devlin tortured him until he agreed to do anything he asked, then used the boy for his own sexual pleasure over the following years.
An earlier high-profile kidnapping was that of Steven Stayner, kidnapped in Merced, California at the age of seven in 1972 and found in March 1980.
Kenneth Parnell pretended to be the boy's father and enrolled him in school, but was secretly molesting him and convinced him he had been abandoned by his parents.
When Steven escaped aged 14, he also managed to rescue another victim of Parnell, five-year-old Timmy White.
'He's somebody you look and then you look away because he's just doing normal stuff.
'You got some big testicles to pull this one off because we see this guy every day,' he told NewsNet5.
Local news reporters told CNN that Castro is said to have worked as a bus driver for the Cleveland Metropolitan schools, though it is unclear whether that was the case when the women were kidnapped.
He was a school bus driver in the Cleveland area and was let go after taking a school bus home, according to local reports.
Only Ariel Castro lived at the home. The brothers lived elsewhere, police told reporters.
Castro's Facebook page depicts a man with a passion for motorcycles and the bass guitar.
His last post to the social networking site on May 2 says: 'Miracles really do happen, God is good :)'
Remarkably, Castro's son - also named Ariel who now goes by 'Anthony' - penned an article for the Cleveland Plain Press about the disappearance of Miss DeJesus back in 2004.
Anthony Castro told WKYC-TV reporter Sara Shookman: This is beyond comprehension… I’m truly stunned right now.
Also struck by the allegations, the suspects' uncle, Julio Castro, told CNN: 'I never want to see them again.'
In January, a prison inmate was sentenced to 4 1/2 years after admitting he provided a false burial tip in the disappearance of Berry.
A judge in Cleveland sentenced Robert Wolford on his guilty plea to obstruction of justice, making a false report and making a false alarm.
Last summer, Wolford tipped authorities to look for Berry's remains in a Cleveland lot. He was taken to the location, which was dug up with backhoes.
Two men arrested for questioning in the disappearance of DeJesus in 2004 were released from the city jail in 2006 after officers didn't find her body during a search of the men's house.
One of the men was transferred to the Cuyahoga County Jail on unrelated charges, while the other was allowed to go free, police said.
In September 2006, police acting on a tip tore up the concrete floor of the garage and used a cadaver dog to search unsuccessfully for DeJesus' body.
Investigators confiscated 19 pieces of evidence during their search but declined to comment on the significance of the items then.