CAPITOL HILL - According to testimony given by whistleblower and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya Gregory Hicks, the hospital where Ambassador Chris Stevens was taken after the Benghazi attack was being operated by Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamic militia group. The terrorists who attacked the U.S. consulate on September 11, 2012 were from Ansar al-Sharia.
The body of Ambassador Stevens was missing for hours during the attack after being dragged out of the consulate. Stevens' cause of death was deemed smoke inhilation and asphyxiation. The fire in the Benghazi consulate was a petroleum fire which produces cyanide gas. One full breathe of this kind of smoke is incapacitating.
CAPITOL HILL - According to testimony given by former Tripoli Regional Officer Eric Nordstrom Wednesday in front of the House Oversight Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waived security requirements for the U.S. consulate in Benghazi despite extremely high risk levels. The security of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and diplomats occupying the building on September 11, 2012 are at the center of questioning by lawmakers.
In written testimony, Nordstrom detailed that the Benghazi consulate was one of the rare locations with high and critical threats in all categories at the time of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2012 which left four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead.
Security standards for diplomatic facilities are established by the Overseas Security Policy Board [OSPB] and the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 [SECCA]. As a result of critical threats in all categories, the Benghazi consulate met none of the standards. The only person who has the authority to waive security standards and approve occupancy with such high threat levels is the Secretary of State, who was Hillary Clinton at the time. This responsibility cannot be delegated to anybody else in the State Department.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), six threat categories inform the SETL: international terrorism, indigenous terrorism, political violence, crime, human intelligence, and technical threat. A rating is then assigned for each category, on a four-level scale.
•Critical: grave impact on American diplomats
•High: serious impact on American diplomats
•Medium: moderate impact on American diplomats
•Low: minor impact on American diplomats
The protective measures for each post are dictated by the post’s overall threat level. At the time of the Benghazi attack, only a small number of the 264 overseas diplomatic posts were rated either HIGH or CRITICAL in all of the threat categories. Our posts in Benghazi and Tripoli were 2 of the 14 posts rated either HIGH or CRITICAL in all of the threat categories on SETL and the only two facilities that met no OSPB or SECCA standards.
"If the Secretary of State did not waive these requirements, who did so by ordering occupancy of the facilities in Benghazi and Tripoli?" Nordstrom wrote.
The Obama administration has argued that the United States was depending on the Libyan government for security, despite knowing about high threat levels, waving security standards and approving diplomat occupancy.
"Benghazi and Tripoli were not located in a country where the Department of State could count on effective support or response from the host nation -- a fact that was clearly and repeatedly reported to policy makers in Washington, DC," Nordstrom wrote.
In addition to contradicting Obama administration accounts about security, Nordstrom revealed people at the top of the ranks in the State Department are being protected as the Benghazi scandal continues to unfold.
Nordstrom charged in his opening statement that the State Department's Accountability Review Board [ARB] has failed to focus attention on Department employees above the Assistant Secretary level, leaving those at the top unaccountable for what happened in Libya on September 11, 2012.
"I found the ARB process that I was involved in to be professional and the unclassified recommendations reasonable and positive. However, it is not what is contained within the report that I take exception to but what is left unexamined," Nordstrom wrote. "Specifically, I’m concerned with the ARB’s decision to focus its attention at the Assistant Secretary level and below, where the ARB felt that “the decision-making in fact takes place.” 1 Based on my personal knowledge of the situation in Libya prior to the attack, I received and reviewed several documents, which included planning documents for operations in both Tripoli and Benghazi, drafted and approved at the Under Secretary of Management level or above."
Nordstrom's description of the ARB's review process are all too familiar in Washington D.C. Those at the lower levels of government are often blamed for mistakes and bad decisions made by those at the top.
"These decisions included the type and quantity of physical security upgrades to be implemented; types and locations of properties to be leased for the facilities in Benghazi and Tripoli; approval of occupancy of facilities that did not meet required Overseas Security Policy Board standards and provisions of Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999; approval for the usage of commercial aircraft into and out of Libya in lieu of a Department of State aircraft; approval of all visitors, temporary duty, and permanent staff at post, as well decisions on all funding and resource needs," Nordstrom wrote.
UPDATE: Near the end of the hearing, Nordstrom said a political decision was made to keep the consulate open despite the risks.
While politicians on Capitol Hill ready their questions for Benghazi whistleblowers ahead of a hearing on the 9/11 attack Wednesday, Pat Smith, the mother of State Department Information Officer Sean Smith who was killed in the attack, is blaming former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the lack of security for the consulate.
"I'm just told lies," she said in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. "She is in charge. Why couldn't she do something about it? I blame her [Clinton]."
Smith also expressed frustration with charges from State Department officials, the Obama administration and Democrats of the Benghazi investigation turning "political."
"They didn't do their job and now they're hiding behind the word political," Smith said.
Smith will be in the hearing room today on Capitol Hill hoping for answers.
Hardest hit, CNN's Piers Morgan.
A study released Tuesday by the government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that gun-related homicides dropped from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011. That’s a 39 percent reduction.
Another report by the private Pew Research Center found a similar decline by looking at the rate of gun homicides, which compares the number of killings to the size of the country’s population. It found that the number of gun homicides per 100,000 people fell from 7 percent in 1993 to 3.6 percent in 2010, a drop of 49 percent.
Both reports also found the rate of non-fatal crimes involving guns was also down by around 70 percent over that period.
The trend in firearm-related homicides is part of a broad nationwide decline in violent crime over past two decades, including incidents not involving firearms.
Once again more guns do in fact equal less crime. As a reminder, self-reported gun ownership is also as high as it's been since 1993 according to Gallup.
Forty-seven percent of American adults currently report that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. This is up from 41% a year ago and is the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993, albeit marginally above the 44% and 45% highs seen during that period.
MSNBC is on a roll lately. It seems like every host over on that propaganda network has NRA derangement syndrome, which often leads to making arguments on air that make no sense and are totally irrelevant to points made by NRA leaders. This time, it's MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell who dedicated his "rewrite" segment last night to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
At the NRA annual meetings in Houston last weekend, LaPierre asked the question, "How many Bostonions wished they had a gun two weeks ago."
La Pierre was referring to after the Boston Marathon bombing when alleged terrorists Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were freely running around in a Boston neighborhood after killing four Americans and severely injuring hundreds more. There was a high chance the Tsarnaev's would enter a home to take hostages while running from police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was eventually found in a boat parked in a backyard. His brother Tamerlan was killed.
Lawrence O'Donnell, missed this point entirely and apparently thought LaPierre was referring to the moment when the bombs went off at the finish line. O'Donnell also called NRA members a "reality challenged audience."
As a reminder, 69 percent of people said they would have wanted a gun should a terrorist ever be on the loose in their neighborhood.
Sixty-nine percent say if they were in a situation similar to Bostonians, they would want a gun in their house.
That includes a large 88-percent majority of those in gun-owner households, as well as 50 percent of those in non-gun homes.
It turns out the only person who is "reality challenged" is Lawrence O'Donnell as he lives his life in a comfortable, protected bubble surrounded by armed guards.
Despite lawmakers on Capitol Hill vowing to secure the border in exchange for a new pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million illegal immigrants, voters do not believe the federal government will follow through on that promise even if a reform bill passes. From Rasmussen Reports:
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 55% of Likely U.S. Voters still favor the plan that would give legal status to those here now illegally who have otherwise obeyed the law as long as the government really secures the border to prevent future illegal immigration. Thirty percent (30%) oppose the plan even with the guarantee of tougher border security. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.
Support for the plan is down four points since April.
But now just 30% of voters think it’s even somewhat likely that the federal government would actually secure the border and prevent illegal immigration if the reform plan became law. That’s down from 38% in March and 45% in January.
Fifty-seven percent (57%) now believe the government is unlikely to secure the border if the law is passed.
Yesterday on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid called Cruz a "schoolyard bully" after he dared to question Reid over tactics being used to raise the debt ceiling. Cruz responded by saying, "I wasn't aware we were in a schoolyard."
Cruz is concerned about Reid raising the debt ceiling without a proper vote or input. Imagine that.
Cruz said he was concerned that the conference report—which cannot be filibustered—would be used to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. He asked that Reid amend his motion to go to conference to make out of order any provisions raising taxes or raising the debt ceiling.
Reid said Cruz had a chance to amend the Senate budget—which raises $975 billion in new tax revenue from tax reform—when it was considered on the floor.
He said Cruz’s request to eliminate all taxes in a final House-Senate budget was absurd.
As a reminder, the U.S. National Debt is getting pretty darn close to $17 trillion with no end in site.
Mr. Tingles is at it again. Last night on his show while discussing the National Rifle Association, MSNBC host Chris Matthews claimed people who don't want to criminilize the private transfer of firearms, better known as universal background checks, are racist and can't stand that fact we have an African-American president. I'd like to point out that Matthews also said "it is about this war going on in this country." How so vitrilolic! You can watch the video from RealClearPolitics here:
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: To everybody watching, this isn't just about guns -- is about guns. It is about this war in this country, that's gotten more divided, more polarized. And it's about symbols like telling you you can't have certain kinds of gun. You need certain kinds of freedoms with your gun, like no background checks. Or that you have an African-American president.
Now, here's an example, the birther thing. It all ties together. You have to explain to me how they see the overlap of birtherism and guns, because I see it. Here's the new NRA president, Jim Porter. He also doesn't sound like he's willing to go in that middle line there across the aisle. Last year he made a speech not only referring to Civil War as the war of northern aggression, here we go again, but also invoked birther language. Now, I missed this last week. Birther language. Watch him here talk about our fake president.
JAMES "JIM" W. PORTER II, NRA PRESIDENT: The NRA was started 1871 right here in New York state. It was started by some Yankee generals who didn't like the way my Southern boys had the ability to shoot, what we called the war of Northern aggression. Y'all might call it the Civil War, but we call it the war of Northern aggression down South.
I get so sick and tired of all these people with this fake president that we got who wants to say, 'Well, you know, he hasn't done anything bad for gun owners.' I say, let me tell you something bad he's done. His entire administration is anti-gun, anti-freedom, anti-second amendment.
MATTHEWS: I don't know if he's burning books there or not. Let me tell you, Kasie [Hunt], it's a lot that lays on your shoulders. I have to tell you this. I see a far bigger fight than over background checks and gun shows. It's culture war. They don't accept an African-American president or president of color who has some antecedence in Africa. No. It has to be us or him. And our guns or him. And everything is totemic; everything is iconic; everything's fighting words. What was it feeling like down there? Didn't they react when they hear this kind of talk?
Apparently Matthews didn't get the memo that the whole birther thing is so two years ago. Not to mention, Matthews said he can't believe "how far right this country has gotten." Did he miss that Barack Obama, one of the most progressive preidents in history, just got reelected?
Meanwhile, gun control advocates are having a tough time getting anything done after multiple pieces of gun control legislation failed to pass the Senate three weeks ago.
Gun control forces are targeting Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Max Baucus and others as they struggle to persuade five senators to switch their votes and revive the rejected effort to expand background checks to more firearms buyers.
With Congress back from a weeklong recess, the bottom line remains familiar: Advocates of broadened checks lack the new votes they need and Congress has moved on to other issues. A few lawmakers who opposed expanding the checks when the Senate defeated the measure last month say they'd consider changes the sponsors might offer but haven't committed to backing anything, while others show no signs of switching.
"I stand by my vote," one prime target, Ayotte, R-N.H., said Monday.
As Kevin wrote last night, the Heritage study released yesterday that pegs the amnesty portion in the Gang of Eight legislation to a cost of $6.3 is getting a lot of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. But the truth is, the Gang of Eight has failed to give its own estimate of what the legislation would cost taxpayers.
Over a month ago, Senators Sessions, Grassley and Roberts wrote a letter asking for the following:
According to the framework released by your group, illegal aliens would not be eligible for certain benefits during a period of probationary status. The rejection of that principle by the Democrat members of your group during a vote on an amendment to the budget raises significant concern. Moreover, even if the bill does contain strong, loophole-free language to this effect, it will only succeed in delaying—not reducing—the cost to taxpayers. In addition, a work requirement as a condition of amnesty would do little to nothing to protect taxpayers over the long term.
Once the present illegal population receives green cards, they will be eligible under current law for a wide array of federal welfare programs including food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Medicaid. By their very nature, these programs necessarily represent a net fiscal cost to taxpayers. The long-term costs, and the strain on resources for low-income Americans, could be enormous. This was contemplated by lawmakers when crafting and then reaffirming the public charge statute in 1996. These fiscal costs could grow once today’s illegal population is granted citizenship, and could include substantial costs imposed on Medicare and Social Security as low-income former illegal immigrants retire and draw benefits in excess of what they paid into those programs.
Given these concerns and our congressional oversight responsibilities, we therefore ask that you provide the following information regarding the long-term costs of your bill:
1. Please list all federal benefits, means-tested aid, and other assistance programs explicitly denied to illegal immigrants during their probationary status.
2. Please list all federal benefits and aid programs former illegal immigrants become eligible for once granted green cards, or permanent residency.
3. Please provide an estimate of the cost to taxpayers in the first full 10-year window after illegal immigrants are granted green cards and become eligible for federal assistance.
4. Please provide an estimate of the cost to taxpayers in the first full 10 years of citizenship, including the costs of chain migration.
5. Please provide an estimate of the increase in cost to our nation’s long-term unfunded obligations, including Medicare, Social Security, and Obamacare, of a pathway to citizenship for the illegal immigrant population. This should be the recognized 75-year window.
6. Please provide the specific language your legislation includes to ensure enforcement of the currently unenforced section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
7. Please provide our offices, which have the relevant expertise to analyze fiscal effects, any legislative language concerning the aforementioned questions.
These questions still remain unanswered and estimates of how much the Gang of Eight legislation will cost have not been provided by the Gang itself. Grassley, Sessions and Roberts also requested the Gang of Eight send their legislation to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring.
Kathleen Burke says she initially heard a recorded hold message when she called, right after fighting off the intruder and chasing him out of the house.It's not clear what happened with the 911 call. Burke tells NBC 4 that she contacted D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser to follow up on the incident.However, Burke says police did respond quickly once the call went through.