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Federal Court Orders State Department to Conduct a Search of Benghazi Emails of Hillary Clinton’s Closest Advisors


AUGUST 10, 2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Washington DC in what can only be considered a major victory for Judicial Watch, Thursday they announced that on August 8, 2017, D.C. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta ordered the State Department “to search the e-mail accounts of Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and Jacob Sullivan,” former aides of Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State. The State Department is ordered to search in those accounts “for records responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] March 4, 2015, FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request.” (A separate Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit first broke open the Clinton email scandal.)

Judge Mehta described Judicial Watch’s Clinton Benghazi FOIA lawsuit as “a far cry from a typical FOIA case. Secretary Clinton used a private e-mail server, located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenure as Secretary of State.” Further:

[I]f an e-mail did not involve any user, the message would have passed through only the Secretary’s private server and, therefore, would be beyond the immediate reach of State. Because of this circumstance, unlike the ordinary case, State could not look solely to its own records systems to adequately respond to [Judicial Watch’s] demand.


[The State Department] has not, however, searched the one records system over which it has always had control and that is almost certain to contain some responsive records: the e-mail server. If Secretary Clinton sent an e-mail about Benghazi to Abedin, Mills, or Sullivan at his or her e-mail address, or if one of them sent an e-mail to Secretary Clinton using his or her account, then State’s server presumably would have captured and stored such an e-mail. Therefore, State has an obligation to search its own server for responsive records.


State has offered no assurance that the three record compilations it received [from Secretary Clinton and her aides], taken together, constitute the entirety of Secretary Clinton’s e-mails during the time period relevant to Plaintiff’s FOIA Request. Absent such assurance, the court is unconvinced “beyond material doubt” that a search of the accounts of Abedin, Mills and Sullivan is “unlikely to produce any marginal return.”


Accordingly, the court finds that State has not met its burden of establishing it performed an adequate search in response to Plaintiff’s FOIA Request and orders State to conduct a supplemental search of the e-mail accounts of Abedin, Mills, and Sullivan.

“This major court ruling may finally result in more answers about the Benghazi scandal – and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in it – as we approach the attack’s fifth anniversary,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is remarkable that we had to battle both the Obama and Trump administrations to break through the State Department’s Benghazi stonewall. Why are Secretary Tillerson and Attorney General Sessions wasting taxpayer dollars protecting Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration?”

Judicial Watch asked a federal court to compel the Trump State Department to undertake a thorough search of all emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the terrorist attack on Benghazi, including those of Clinton’s closest advisors. Judicial Watch also specifically asked the court to compel the agency to produce all records of communications between Clinton and top aide Jake Sullivan relating to Ambassador Susan Rice’s appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the Sunday following the 2012 Benghazi massacre.

The State Department has until September 22, 2017, to update the court on the status of the supplemental search and production of additional emails to Judicial Watch.

On May 6, 2015, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit when the State Department failed to respond to a March 4, 2015, FOIA request (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00692)), seeking:

All emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton relating to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The timeframe for this request is September 11, 2012 to January 31, 2013.

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Court Rules State Department Must Release Clinton Emails Detailing Obama Response to Benghazi


May 5,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Washinton DC, Judicial Watch today announced that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has ordered the U.S. Department of State to turn over to Judicial Watch “eight identical paragraphs” of previously redact material in two September 13, 2012, Hillary Clinton emails regarding phone calls made by President Barack Obama to Egyptian and Libyan leaders immediately following the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Both emails had the subject line “Quick Summary of POTUS Calls to Presidents of Libya and Egypt” and were among the emails stored on Clinton’s unofficial email server. Judge Jackson reviewed the documents directly and rejected the government’s contention that the records had been properly withheld under the FOIA B(5) “deliberative process” exemption.

Judge Jackson ruled: “the two records, even if just barely predecisional, are not deliberative. [The State Department] has pointed to very little to support its characterization of these two records as deliberative, and the Court’s in camera review of the documents reveals that they do not fall within that category.”

The full emails may reveal what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama knew about the September 11, 2012, terror attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

Following Judge Jackson’s March 20 ruling, the State Department asked the court to reconsider. The State Department argued that, due to an internal “mistake,” it failed to claim that the emails were classified and, therefore, exempt from production under FOIA Exemption B(1).

In response, Judicial Watch argues that the failure was not a mistake, but instead was part of a deliberate effort by the State Department to protect Clinton and the agency by avoiding identifying emails on Clinton’s unofficial, non-secure email server as classified.

Judicial Watch’s filing cites an interview of an FBI employee who told federal investigators that top State Department official Patrick Kennedy pressured the FBI to keep Clinton’s emails unclassified. The employee told the FBI he “believes STATE ha[d] an agenda which involves minimizing the classified nature of the CLINTON emails in order to protect STATE interests and those of CLINTON.” [Emphasis in original]

Judicial Watch’s filing also cites an interview of a State Department employee who told the FBI that the State Department’s Office of Legal Counsel interfered with the FOIA processing of email from Secretary Clinton’s server, instructing reviewers to use Exemption B(5) (deliberative process exemption) instead of Exemption B(1) (classified information exemption). According to the FBI interview:

STATE’s Near East Affairs Bureau upgraded several of CLINTON’s emails to a classified level with a B(1) release exemption . [Redacted], along with [Redacted] attorney, Office of Legal Counsel, called STATE’s Near East Affairs Bureau and told them they could use a B(5) exemption on a upgraded email to protect it instead of the B(1) exemption. However, the use of the B(5) exemption, which is usually used for executive privilege-related information, was incorrect as the information actually was classified and related to national security, which would be a B(1) exemption.

Judicial Watch argues:

An agency’s deliberate withholding of a FOIA claim, either to gain a tactical advantage or, as appears to be the case here, to protect the agency’s interests and those of its former head, is “a motive undoubtedly inconsistent with FOIA’s broad remedial purpose …” It “counsels denying the Government’s request.”

The emails in question were sent to then-top administration officials, including Clinton, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, Clinton Deputy Chief of Staff Jacob Sullivan, Special Assistant Robert Russo, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.

“Does President Trump know his State and Justice Departments are still trying to provide cover for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “An extraordinary court ruling that could result in key answers about the Benghazi outrage is being opposed by the Trump administration. This may well be an example of the ‘deep state’ trying to get away with a cover up – if so then the Trump administration must put a stop to it.”

Judicial Watch obtained the original documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01511)). The lawsuit was filed on September 4, 2014, after the State Department failed to respond to a June 13, 2014, FOIA request seeking:

All records related to notes, updates, or reports created in response to the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This request includes, but is not limited to notes taken by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or employees of the Office of the Secretary of State during the attack and its immediate aftermath.
The timeframe for this request is September 11-15, 2012.

Judicial Watch’s numerous FOIA lawsuits have forced the State Department to release hundreds of Benghazi-related documents.

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18 Major Scandals in Obama’s ‘Scandal-Free’ Presidency


by JOHN HAYWARD2 Jan 20174,188

President Obama and his mouthpieces have embarked on a bizarre scheme to hypnotize America into forgetting the many scandals of his presidency. They seem to think that intoning “this administration hasn’t had a scandal” over and over again will make history disappear. It’s the lamest Jedi Mind Trick ever, and is being pushed on people who know Star Wars is just a movie.

Here’s a short list of the many scandals Team Obama thinks it can make America forget:

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Trump to Obama: Do Not Pardon Hillary Clinton “Or Her Co-Conspirators”


Posted By Tim Hains
On Date September 30, 2016

At a campaign rally in Novi, Michigan Friday evening, Donald Trump asked President Barack Obama not to “pardon Clinton and her co-conspirators” if any charges were filed related to the email scandal.

“Mr. President,” Trump said. “Will you pledge not to issue a pardon to Hillary Clinton and her co-conspirators for their many crimes against our country, and against society itself. No one is above the law.”

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DOUBLE STANDARD: Khizr Khan Receives 50x More Coverage Than Pat Smith on ABC, CBS, NBC


By Geoffrey Dickens | August 1, 2016 | 5:36 PM EDT

Two weeks ago at the Republican National Convention (RNC) a grieving mother blasted Hillary Clinton for the debacle of the 2012 Benghazi attack. Last Thursday, at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), grieving parents gave a speech criticizing Donald Trump for his statements against Muslims.

While all the grieving parents deserve sympathy, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network evening and morning shows seemed to only care about the parents that showed up at the Democratic Convention. Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazla’s DNC appearance earned 55 minutes, 13 seconds of Big Three network coverage, nearly 50 times more than Pat Smith, whose RNC speech honoring her son earned just 70 seconds of airtime.

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Rep. Jim Jordan Goes After Hillary: ‘Where’d the False Narrative Start? It Started With You’


by Andrew Husband | 1:40 pm, October 22nd, 2015

Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan took issue with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s comment that protests had erupted in both Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya, citing evidence from the House Select Committee’s investigation stating that no protest of any kind had occurred in Benghazi. He then went on to quote from various State Department spokespersons who, in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, claimed that the incident in Benghazi was linked to the Cairo-based protest, which was a reaction to an offensive online video.

“Where’d the false narrative start? It started with you, Madame Secretary,” said Jordan, adding that a statement released by Clinton the night of the attack suggests as much. “At 10:08, with no evidence. At 10:08, before the attack is over. At 10:08, when Tyrone Woods andGlen Doherty are still on the roof of the annex fighting for their lives, the official statement of the State Department blames a video. Why?”

Clinton proceeded to emphasize her official statement’s use of the phrase “some have sought,” which described the efforts of a small group to use the video as a means of inciting anti-American sentiments in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the region. “I used those words deliberately. Not to ascribe a motive to every attacker, but as a warning to those across the region that there was no justification for further attacks.

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Gowdy Grills Hillary Over Blumenthal Influence on Libya Policy


2:24 PM, OCT 22, 2015 • BY MICHAEL WARREN

Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House’s select committee investigating the Benghazi attacks, spent several minutes at Thursday’s hearing questioning former secretary of state Hillary Clinton over the unusual advisory relationship she had with an old friend who had business interests iin Libya.

Gowdy’s line of questioning, which built on questions from previous Republican members of the committee, explored Clinton’s email exchanges with Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime Clinton friend who was blocked from taking a job at the State Department by Barack Obama. Blumenthal had been passing along information about Libya to Clinton on her personal email address.

In her testimony, Clinton claimed that the advice from Blumenthal was “unsolicited” but later said that the missives were only unsolicited in the beginning of their exchange.

Watch the entire exchange, in two videos, below:

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Judicial Watch: Hillary Clinton is not above the law


July 28,2015

the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, Judicial Watch continues to press Clinton on Various actions taken at the State Department as well as her involvement with the Clinton Foundation .But Hillary Clinton has a demonstrated record of showing contempt for the rule of law.
She refused to tell the truth about the deadly Benghazi terrorist attack that took place on her watch as Secretary of State
She violated the law and avoided accountability by using secret email accounts as Secretary of State
She abused her public office to funnel money to personal accounts – much of which is now sloshing around her vanity “charity” that could be renamed “The Clinton Corruption Foundation.”This is all unacceptable.

In this country our leaders are bound by the rule of law. She must be held accountable for her actions.

Sign the petition now to demand that Hillary Clinton answer for her corruption!

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Why Hillary Can’t Run on Her State Department Record


848 JUN 3, 2015 12:19 PM EDT
By Josh Rogin

Hillary Clinton’s record as secretary of state became a hot-button issue this week after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Bloomberg Television that the Barack Obama administration’s failed “reset” policy with Moscow was her “invention.”

Here’s why it matters: Her campaign chairman, John Podesta, gave an interview to Bloomberg View’s Al Hunt in April in which he said holding up the “major accomplishments” from her State Department tenure would be a centerpiece of her campaign. Podesta may want to reconsider that plan. Running on Clinton’s signature diplomatic initiatives is fraught with risks because, on closer inspection, most that he mentioned don’t hold up to scrutiny.

“She put together that sanctions package that’s led to at least the possibility of having a deal on the Iran nuclear program,” Podesta told Hunt in the interview, which was aired on PBS’s “Charlie Rose” show. “That took very careful and longtime careful diplomacy.”

In fact, the State Department under Clinton vigorously opposed almost all of the Iran sanctions passed by Congress while she was in office. Top officials, including  Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, openly advocated against many bills, including the sanctions on Iran’s central bank, which dealt the true crippling blow to the Tehran regime. The Senate passed that bill 100-0 and Obama reluctantly signed them into law. The State Department did implement them, but was criticized by lawmakers and advocacy groups for using waivers in the law to exempt several countries, including China and our allies Japan and South Korea.

Clinton can also expect to be pressed during the campaign over her involvement in the secret negotiations that led to the controversial Iran nuclear negotiations now nearing completion. Her deputy, William Burns, and her top foreign policy advisor, Jake Sullivan, heldmonths of clandestine meetings with Iranian officials to set up the talks. In the run-up to her campaign announcement, Clinton wascautiously supportive of the nuclear talks; leaving herself some wiggle room by saying she won’t render a final judgment until the deal is done.

Podesta then went on to say that Clinton “restored America’s place in the world, which had been very badly battered through the previous administration.”

While it’s true that global opinion of the U.S. soared when Barack Obama was first elected president, during Clinton’s State Department tenure of 2009 to 2013 there was no measurable upswing in foreigners’ views of America, according to the Pew Research Center’s polling on global attitudes. In most major countries, approval of the U.S. actually went down by the time Clinton left office, including by 11 percentage points in each of France, Germany and the U.K.

A poll conducted in 33 countries by the BBC World Service just after Clinton stepped down as secretary found that overall world opinion of the U.S. by 2013 was the lowest since the presidency of George W. Bush. If Clinton wants to run on having polished America’s image abroad, she’ll be hard pressed to come up with data to back it up.

“She engineered the so-called ‘pivot to Asia,’ ” Podesta continued. “Her first trip was to China.”

Clinton did lead parts of what the White House now calls the “rebalance” to Asia, but as Governor Scott Walker, a top Republican contender, pointed out last week, that policy has fallen well short of expectations.  With China building fake islands around the South China Sea and threatening to enforce an air-exclusion zone in the area, the pivot policy now looks inadequate.

Along with Treasury Department officials, Clinton initiated a newstrategic dialogue with China, but after several high-level summits, the effort has produced few if any tangible results. The State Department did succeed in creating an opening with Myanmar, an effort led by her top Asia official, Kurt Campbell. Unfortunately, the military junta has not eased up its brutal persecution of Muslim minorities, leading to a vast refugee crisis in Southeast Asia, and political reform has now slowed to a crawl.

“She put some new issues on the table for American diplomacy,” Podesta went on, “including internet freedom, the importance of women’s rights as human rights, of LGBT rights as human rights, as part of our diplomatic package, which I think restored values to the way America projects its power around the world.”

This is hard to square with the fact that, in her first visit to China, Clinton insisted that human rights advocacy “can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis.” Clinton’s State Department repeatedly waived lawsthat would have cut aid to countries guilty of gross human rights violations, such as Egypt. This record won’t be helped by Clinton’s family foundation having taken millions of dollars from foreign governments that systematically abuse their citizens and deny basic liberties to women.

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27 May 2015395

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina argued that “titles are just titles” and Hillary Clinton’s “track record” includes the collapse of the Middle East and the failed Russian reset on Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC.

Fiorina said, “I come from a world where titles are just titles, and talk is just talk. It’s only in politics where titles and words mean a lot. In the rest of the world, it’s actually about what have you done, actions speak louder than words. People want to know are your words and your actions consistent and are they consistent over time. And so, I think when 82% of the American people now believe that there is a professional political class more interested in preserving its own power and privilege than it is in serving the American people, people expect basic questions to be asked of anyone running for president. ‘What have you done, are you trustworthy, are you transparent, will you answer questions?’”

Fiorina said that while Hillary Clinton has said some “wonderful things” as Secretary of State, “it’s also true that as Secretary of State she took women’s rights and human rights off the table for discussion with China. It’s also true as Secretary of State that she called Bashar al-Assad a positive reformer. It’s also true that in 2011, when she was Secretary of State, she said that Iraq was a free, stable, sovereign nation. And now we have a nation falling apart, Iranian influence growing, ISIS growing. It’s true that she said that she could reset our Russia — our relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin is on the march. So, I think all of those things I just named go fundamentally to what is her track record.”

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Emails May Be a Key to Addressing ‘Pay-to-Play’ Whispers at Clinton Foundation



Emails May Be a Key to Addressing ‘Pay-to-Play’ Whispers at Clinton Foundation

There are not two Clinton controversies. There is one big, hairy deal.
By Ron Fournier

March 8, 2015 “Follow the money.” That apocryphal phrase, attributed to Watergate whistle-blower “Deep Throat,” explains why the biggest threat to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential dreams is not her emails. It’s her family foundation. That’s where the money is: corporate money, foreign money, gobs of money sloshing around a vanity charity that could be renamed “Clinton Conflicts of Interest Foundation.”

What about the emails? Hillary Clinton’s secret communications cache is a bombshell deserving of full disclosure because of her assault on government transparency and electronic security. But its greatest relevancy is what the emails might reveal about any nexus between Clinton’s work at State and donations to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation from U.S. corporations and foreign nations.

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Hillary Clinton Only Had a Personal E-Mail Account While She Was Secretary of State; Broke the Law But What Difference Does it Make?



Hillary Clinton Only Had a Personal E-Mail Account While She Was Secretary of State; Broke the Law But What Difference Does it Make?


Breaking the law doesn’t come with the same consequences for government officials as it does for the rest of us.

An explosive report from The New York Timesreveals that while she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton did not have a government e-mail address. Instead she used her own private e-mail address and her staffers made no effort at the time to retain those e-mails on government servers, a violation of federal law.

The Times reports:

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department.

What difference, at this point, does it make, most transparent administration in history and all that.

Clinton is not the only government official to use her personal email for official business—Lois Lerner was found to have done the same as questions arose over what kind of inappropriate communications the former IRS bureaucrat was engaged in. Using personal email for government business, while it may be against the law, is relatively popularamong government officials who don’t fear repercussions from breaking government laws.

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Top CIA officer in Benghazi delayed response to terrorist attack, US security team members claim


Top CIA officer in Benghazi delayed response to terrorist attack, US security team members claim

Published September 05, 2014

A U.S. security team in Benghazi was held back from immediately responding to the attack on the American diplomatic mission on orders of the top CIA officer there, three of those involved told Fox News’ Bret Baier.

Their account gives a dramatic new turn to what the Obama administration and its allies would like to dismiss as an “old story” – the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.


Speaking out publicly for the first time, the three were security operators at the secret CIA annex in Benghazi – in effect, the first-responders to any attack on the diplomatic compound. Their first-hand account will be told in a Fox News special, airing Friday night at 10 p.m. (EDT).

Based on the new book “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” by Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security Team, the special sets aside the political spin that has freighted the Benghazi issue for the last two years, presenting a vivid, compelling narrative of events from the perspective of the men who wore the “boots on the ground.”

The security contractors — Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen — spoke exclusively, and at length, to Fox News about what they saw and did that night. Baier, Fox News’ Chief Political Anchor, asked them about one of the most controversial questions arising from the events in Benghazi: Was help delayed?

Word of the attack on the diplomatic compound reached the CIA annex just after 9:30 p.m. Within five minutes, the security team at the annex was geared up for battle, and ready to move to the compound, a mile away.

“Five minutes, we’re ready,” said Paronto, a former Army Ranger. “It was thumbs up, thumbs up, we’re ready to go.”

But the team was held back. According to the security operators, they were delayed from responding to the attack by the top CIA officer in Benghazi, whom they refer to only as “Bob.”

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Kerry to testify on Benghazi


Kerry to testify on Benghazi
By Justin Sink

Secretary of State John Kerry has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee about the terror attack in Benghazi after being subpoenaed by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the State Department announced Friday.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Kerry had sent a letter to Issa informing him that he would appear before the panel, but that existing diplomatic responsibilities would prevent him from testifying on May 29, the date requested by the chairman.

Kerry said he would be willing to testify on either June 12 or June 20.

The letter also indicated that the State Department believes that, if Kerry appeared before the Oversight panel, he would not need to testify before a recently created select House committee also investigating the Benghazi attacks.

“We have been clear that we’re willing to work with the committee, despite the fact that the Benghazi oversight has been consolidated under the select committee,” Harf said Friday.

“We believe the secretary’s appearance before HOGR [House Oversight and Government Reform] will eliminate any need for the secretary to appear a second time before the select committee,” she added.

Issa has demanded that Kerry appear before the Oversight panel to discuss recently released emails highlighting the role the White House had a in preparing then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to appear in TV interviews in the days after the attack.

Read more:

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Why was a Suspected Muslim Brotherhood Spy Copied on the Benghazi ‘Smoking Gun’ E-mail?


Why was a Suspected Muslim Brotherhood Spy Copied on the Benghazi ‘Smoking Gun’ E-mail?
By Kevin Boyd 4 hours ago

The Obama Administration was recently caught red-handed trying to push false motives for the Benghazi terrorist attack of September 11th, 2012 – just months prior to that year’s presidential election.

Last month, Judicial Watch obtained a copy of a now- infamous e-mail sent by then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes to various top Obama Administration PR flacks.

The e-mail was part of a series of talking points for administration officials to use when talking about the Benghazi attack. In the email, it instructs Rice not to imply that (the attack) was not reflective of a “broader failure of policy.”

Another one of the key talking points Rice used on the Sunday talkshow circuit following her briefing was to blame the terrorist attack on a non-existent protest of a YouTube video that insulted Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

Interestingly, one of the recipients of the e-mail to Rice was a Mehdi K. Alhassani. According to, Alhassani is an alleged Muslim Brotherhood spy. Alhassani is the Special Assistant to the Office of the Chief of Staff, National Security Council Staff, and the Executive Office of the President.

Alhassani was president of the Muslim Student Association which is analleged Muslim Brotherhood front organization.