On February 25, 2013, Judicial Watch sued the State Department seeking "all videos and photographs" depicting the Benghazi, Libya Consulate between September 10 and September 13, 2012, the period leading up to, during, and immediately following the deadly attack.
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks the following records pursuant to its December 19, 2012, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request:
"Any and all videos and photographs depicting U.S. Consulate facilities in Benghazi, Libya (including the Special Mission Compound and the Annex) between September 10, 2012, and September 13, 2012, that were provided to the Accountability Review Board (ARB) for Benghazi and/or to any individual member of the ARB."The State Department acknowledged receiving the Judicial Watch FOIA request on January 4, 2013, and was required by law to respond by February 4, 2013. Now, more than three months later, no documents have been produced. The Obama administration cannot claim it came up empty in trying to locate the records. The records exist for certain because they are referenced by the Accountability Review Board (ARB), convened by then - Secretary of State Clinton last December, in its final report.
In fact, according to ARB Chairman Ambassador Tom Pickering, the Board "reviewed thousands of documents and watched hours of video" (emphasis added) during the course of its investigation. Pickering, it should be noted, refused to testify in the House Benghazi hearings. The Obama administration also reportedly shared Benghazi video with certain members of Congress. The State Department, however, has refused to comply with JW's FOIA seeking access to these materials on behalf of the American people.
I said at the time we filed our fist FOIA lawsuit, "It's an easy guess as to why the Obama administration is refusing to turn these records over. Any video or photos will tell us more about Benghazi - in contrast to the lies and spin coming out of Obama administration officials." With Wednesday's whistleblower revelations, that statement is proving to be more accurate than ever.
Benghazi Lawsuit Number 2: JW Seeks Details Regarding Contract with Foreign Security Company
In a second FOIA lawsuit against the Obama State Department, Judicial Watch seeks access to records concerning a contract totaling nearly $400,000 that was awarded to a foreign firm for "Security Guards and Patrol Services" at the Benghazi Consulate prior to the Benghazi attacks. This contract was signed on February 17, 2012, and May 3, 2012, and at the time was identified only as "Award ID SAQMMA12COO92." Judicial Watch filed itslawsuit on February 25, 2013.
Specifically, Judicial Watch seeks the following pursuant to a November 7, 2012, FOIA request:
Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the $387,413.68 contract awarded by the Department of State to an unidentified foreign awardee for "Security Guards and Patrol Services." According to the record of this expenditure on USASpending.gov, the contract was signed on February 17, 2012, and May 3, 2012, and is identified by Award ID SAQMMA12COO92.The State Department acknowledged receiving the November 7, 2012, Judicial Watch FOIA request on November 12, 2012, and was required by law to respond by December 20, 2012, at the latest. Yet again, as of the date of Judicial Watch's lawsuit, JW has not received a meaningful response.
And what is suspicious about this contract?
According to Breitbart.com, when first questioned about foreign Benghazi security guards on Friday, September 14, 2012, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland emphatically denied that State had hired any private firm to provide security at the American mission in Benghazi:
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the claim was made yesterday that a company that is a spinoff of Blackwater, in fact, proposed or contracted the United States Government for this particular kind of eventuality, and it was caught up in some sort of bureaucratic -
MS. NULAND: Completely untrue with regard to Libya. I checked that this morning. At no time did we plan to hire a private security company for Libya.
QUESTION: Toria [stet], I just want to make sure I understood that, because I didn't understand your first question. You said - your first answer. You said that at no time did you have contracts with private security companies in Libya?
MS. NULAND: Correct.However, on September 17, 2012, WIRED magazine broke the story that Nuland had provided false information in her September 14 press conference, saying: "Contrary to Friday's claim by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that 'at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya,' the department inked a contract for 'security guards and patrol services' on May 3, 2012, for $387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to $783,000. The contract lists only 'foreign security awardees' as its recipient."
In her daily press briefing on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, Nuland admitted that she had made an "error" concerning the State Department's hiring of foreign security firms in Benghazi. "There was a group called Blue Mountain Group, which is a private security company with permits to operate in Libya," Nuland said. "They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening cars, that kind of thing."
Nuland's belated admission that Blue Mountain was chosen by the Clinton State Department because it hired "local Libyan guards" takes on a new, sinister meaning in view of Nordstrom's House committee testimony that, "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."
Add to that the Breitbart.com report that Blue Mountain was specifically selected for the Benghazi security operation because it was willing to sign the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya prohibiting guards from carrying weapons with live ammunition, and it becomes all the more obvious why the Obama administration is stonewalling JW's second Benghazi FOIA. And why we will not let them get away with it.