New information in the just released book, Blood Feud, by Edward Klein, puts President Barack Obama directly in the middle of creating the cover-up of Benghazi. It is that cover-up that led to the creation last month of a Special Select Committee in the House of Representatives to investigate the Administration’s handling of the security failure in Benghazi, Libya. As in the 1970s Watergate Hearings into the crimes of Richard Nixon, the question being asked in Washington is “what did the President know, and when did he know it.”
According to Blood Feud, President Obama personally ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to cover up the known facts about the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks, which resulted in the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American officials. The book portrays deep personal divisions between the Clinton and Obama families.
The most dramatic revelation in the book concerned the Benghazi attacks. According to attorneys and close aides to then-Secretary of State Clinton, she received a personal telephone call from President Barack Obama at 10 P.M. on the night of the Benghazi attacks, ordering her to prepare a State Department press release, claiming that the attack on the U.S. mission was a “spontaneous” response to the circulation of a video slandering the Prophet Mohammed.
According to an account provided to the author by Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills, by 6 P.M. on September 11, 2012, all top Administration officials had received an intelligence briefing that the specific building where Ambassador Stevens was hiding had been “set on fire by Ansar al-Sharia, an al-Qaeda-linked terror group that had claimed credit for the attack.” Long before the 10 P.M. call by President Obama to Secretary Clinton, it was clear to top Administration national security officials that the assault in Benghazi was a pre-planned and well-armed paramilitary attack carried out by a known al-Qaeda affiliate. There were no demonstrations at the site.
Hillary Clinton received detailed updates from Cheryl Mills, obtained from the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department’s own Intelligence and Research Bureau (INR), the book recounts. “In addition,” Klein reported, “Mills asked Tom Donilon, the president’s national security adviser, to give Hillary periodic updates. Donilon told Hillary that the National Security Agency had intercepted electronic communications between Ansar al-Sharia, the main Libyan militia behind the consulate attack, and AQIM [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb]. Ansar al-Sharia was claiming on Twitter that it was responsible for the assault.”
At 5:45 P.M., Hillary Clinton had spoken personally to General David Petraeus, the Director of the CIA, to confer on the unfolding attacks in Benghazi. Both Clinton and Petraeus knew that of the 40 American officials in Benghazi, only seven were actual State Department personnel. The rest were CIA. “The consulate’s primary purpose was to provide cover for the thirty-plus Americans who worked for the CIA,” Klein explained. The CIA team in Benghazi was involved in clandestine funneling of arms purchased from Libyan militias to Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
As MEB has reported for the last three weeks, at the time of the Benghazi assault, which took place on the eleventh anniversary of the original 9/11 attacks, the Obama Administration policy was to support the Muslim Brotherhood and Brotherhood-linked Islamic factions as part of a policy that had been spelled out in two Presidential Directives in August 2010 and February 2011. In Libya, according to MEB sources, the Muslim Brotherhood was closely allied with militias, including Ansar al-Sharia. Yet, none of the Muslim Brotherhood members in close contact with U.S. officials gave any advance warning about the pending Benghazi attacks, according to one senior U.S. intelligence source who spoke to MEB on condition of anonymity.
At 8 P.M. on the night of the attacks, Secretary Clinton held a conference call with Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Tripoli, Libya, who informed Hillary Clinton and her team that Ambassador Stevens was dead, but that the body could not be recovered from a Benghazi hospital because it was surrounded “by the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia militia that had mounted the consular attack.”
Despite all of this intelligence, when the President contacted Secretary Clinton at 10 P.M., he ordered her to issue a press release claiming the “spontaneous protest against the video” rather than the already-known intelligence assessment that an al-Qaeda offshoot had conducted an attack on a vulnerable American target on the anniversary of 9/11.
According to the Klein account, provided by a close Clinton aide and a personal attorney for the Secretary, she consulted with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, briefly considered resigning in protest over the false account, and then decided to follow the President’s order. At 10:30 P.M., she issued a short press statement, linking the attacks to the “inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
The publication of the Klein account has two potentially significant ramifications. First, the recently impaneled House Select Committee on Benghazi will now proceed to investigate the President’s personal role in what author Klein labeled “the Benghazi deception.” Given the publicity surrounding the release of the Klein book, this is now unavoidable. Up until the book’s publication, the most detailed evidence of White House involvement in the manufacturing of the falsified account was an email from National Security Council deputy Ben Rhodes to Dr. Susan Rice, instructing her on how to discuss the Benghazi attack in television interviews scheduled for the morning of Sunday, September 16. Now the President is personally implicated for the first time.
Second, the fact that close Hillary Clinton aides were primary sources for the Klein account will have repercussions inside the Democratic Party in the United States, reviving conflicts between the Clinton and Obama wings of the party that were last seen during the 2008 primary elections, which directly pitted Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama for the nomination.