While Lanny Davis lavishes praise on Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State and her memoir "Hard Choices", the woman who wants to be Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces has a formidable new challenge ahead in the form of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by one of the nation’s leading organizations of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Veterans for a Strong America (VSA) has formally notified the Department of State they are seeking all of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s agency and home (personal) landline, mobile phone and email records, including information on any “alias” accounts, for the 36 hour timeframe surrounding the Benghazi terror attacks.
Joel Arends, who is Chairman of VSA and also serves as a Major in the US Army Reserve, worked with leading national security expert and attorney Mark Zaid to file the request. Zaid represents several of the CIA officers who were on the ground in Benghazi during the attacks, and is renowned as the attorney who won the $2.7 billion dollar judgment against Libya for the 1988 Pan Am/Lockerbie bombing – the largest ever settlement against a foreign government for an act of terror.
The FOIA request states that “To date and to the best of our understanding, no records have been produced publicly reflecting the details of Secretary Clinton’s interactions with other State officials (and/or other parts of the U.S. Government) during the 36 hour timeframe at issue in this request. That timeframe encompasses the entirety of the attacks on U.S. Government facilities and personnel in Benghazi.”
The American people certainly deserve to know how the news of the Benghazi terror attack reached Secretary Clinton and what she did in the hours after.
According to previously published reports, Clinton was informed about the attacks on the US Embassy, Ambassador Chris Stevens, and other personnel, sometime after 10:00pm in Washington, D.C. The FOIA’s request for home phone records for the residence of the Secretary and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, is premised on the timing of the attack and that the subsequent notification would likely place her at home.
The attacks continued through the night until after 2:00am. Assessments of damage and fatalities continued for hours after.
Then came the damage control.
The FOIA is aimed to find information that would answer two central questions: How did government communicate and act in conjunction with the Secretary of State, other agencies, and leadership, to handle the crisis as it played out, and did Secretary Clinton focus her actions on the embassy and it’s personnel, or on political and public relations concerns?
Knowing with whom Clinton communicated during the immediate 36 hour window is central to answering those questions.
The documentation and logs requested in the FOIA would shed light on how quickly the narrative of a little known anti-Islamic film being the catalyst for the Benghazi attack was crafted and what influence the 2016 Democratic frontrunner for President had on it.
A request for home telephone records of a cabinet official will be met with resistance and may be unprecedented. However, when conducting the country’s business at home, it is fair game to request access to all of the phone lines and accounts that the Secretary could have accessed. Especially if some of those lines could have been accessed in order to keep communications off official devices as a way of circumventing FOIA, which we have seen happen.
Recently in the case of Lois Lerner and the IRS, we have emails that show she purposefully tried to evade FOIA. In 2012, it was disclosed that EPA administrator Lisa Jackson had a secondary email account under the alias of “Richard Windsor” and that she used the account to conduct official agency business. That action meant that any FOIA requests for “Lisa Jackson” would not have truly disclosed her daily activities within the agency.
VSA has fought for justice for Benghazi’s victims since the attacks took place in 2012. They created the petition that was circulated to support the creation of the Benghazi Super-Committee in the US House and have called for hearings and accountability without stop. Please make sure to check out their site and follow them on facebook and twitter.
Accountability for Benghazi is not about politics, it’s about justice. But if the response to their FOIA request shows that Hillary Clinton spent the most time-sensitive hours of the attack and its aftermath on the phone with political and PR operatives, rather than national security and defense agency leadership, the biggest fallout may be the political fallout. For that, she’ll have no one to blame but herself, or some random video she finds on youtube.