Intelligence on Benghazi shifted after Obama administration described attack as 'spontaneous'
October 19th, 2012
07:33 PM ET

Intelligence on Benghazi shifted after Obama administration described attack as 'spontaneous'

An Obama administration official whose now controversial comment that the attack on the U.S. mission in Libya was "spontaneous" relied on talking points provided by the CIA based on its assessment that an intelligence official said on Friday was updated days later with new information.

The disclosure to CNN appears to offer some clarity around the Obama administration's early stage explanation of the September 11 attack by armed militants that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

But CNN National Security Contributor Fran Townsend injected a new element into the crucial time line on Friday night, reporting on Anderson Cooper 360 that senior intelligence officials had multiple conversations with senior White House officials in the first 24 hours after the attack.

Townsend, a former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush, added that "we don't know" what was said.

"But I can tell you from having lived through these crises, you're getting a constant feed of what the intelligence community understands about what is currently going on and what has happened on the ground," Townsend said.

She added that "they will caveat the information" because in the first hours there "will be all sorts of information, some of it which will turn out not to have been true."

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Ansar al Shariah • Barack Obama • Congress • Libya • Libya • Rep. Mike Rogers • Romney • State Department • Susan Rice
October 19th, 2012
06:47 PM ET

New documents show Benghazi security concerns

Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee released a batch of cables and emails Friday, from Ambassador Chris Stevens and diplomatic security personnel, that paint a picture of a rapidly deteriorating security situation in Benghazi, Libya in the days and months leading up to the September 11 attack that killed Stevens and three others. CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott explains.

October 19th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

Analysis: Five weeks on, confusion and contradictions on Benghazi suspects

By Tim Lister, Chris Lawrence and Paul Cruickshank

Five weeks after terrorists stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, confusion over the nature of the attack, the extent to which it was planned and the identity of the perpetrators seems as pervasive as ever.

The latest in the conflicting reports coming out of the country: the naming of Ahmed Abu Khattala as a suspect in the assault that left four Americans dead.

Abu Khattala was identified in published reports this week as the leader of Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist group widely suspected to be involved in the consulate attack.

Also: How intelligence understanding of Benghazi changed

Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported Wednesday that Abu Khattala was at the consulate while the attack was unfolding.

"Witnesses ... have said they saw Mr. Abu Khattala leading the assault," The New York Times reported.

But some sources in Benghazi say they doubt Abu Khattala had such a role, telling CNN that he is neither the leader of Ansar al-Sharia nor currently connected with other jihadist groups. FULL POST

October 19th, 2012
05:22 AM ET

Investigation revisits Secret Service prostitution scandal

By Greg Seaby and Carol Cratty

Misconduct with prostitutes by U.S. Secret Service agents handling travel security for the president in April was not a one-off episode, according to a media report citing an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued a statement Friday complaining about unfair "selective leaks" and said he will wait for the final report "before making any judgments."

The Homeland Security inspector general's results "contradict" previous testimony before Congress by Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan about the incident during President Obama's trip to Colombia to attend the Summit of the Americas, ABC News reported Thursday.

But a Secret Service official with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Thursday that Sullivan's statements in a hearing in May had been "truthful."

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Filed under: Homeland Security
October 19th, 2012
04:51 AM ET

Drunk contractors cause harm in Afghanistan, lawsuit alleges

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd

The amateur video shows men, shirtless and seeming dangerously drunk, rolling on the ground or staggering near a counter top covered with booze bottles. Another part of the video shows a man babbling incoherently with a syringe nearby.

This is not a scene at a college frat house. It is a video of employees of an American security contractor working in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"It reminded me of times I'd visit my friends going to college that were in fraternities," said John Melson, a former employee of Jorge Scientific who was based at that villa in Kabul on assignment to support efforts to train Afghan security personnel.

The images in this video are now part of a lawsuit by two former employees of Jorge Scientific who allege that contractors with the firm were careless with their guns, abused local staffers, wrecked cars, destroyed furniture, and often could not perform their duties due to drunkenness.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Contractors • Kabul • Lawsuit