2013 Report From 60 Minutes Said Washington Ignored Warnings of Certain Benghazi Attack

A British security officer employed to protect U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, said he repeatedly warned higher-ups that al-Qaida seemed poised to attack.

His warnings and others were ignored by U.S. officials, and four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.

60 minutes logoA CBS’ “60 Minutes” from October of last year — following a year-long investigation —concluded that the attacks in Benghazi were well-planned, and sophisticated, carried out by al-Qaeda “against a barely protected” American outpost.

The British security officer, who, for security reasons, used the alias Morgan Jones, told “60 Minutes” that on his first drive through Benghazi, he saw black al-Qaeda flags flying openly.

Jones said that on Sept. 11, 2012, Stevens admitted he was worried about security at the U.S. Special Mission Compound.

That night, Stevens was killed by al-Qaeda terrorists.

Army Green Beret Lt. Col. Andrew Wood told “60 Minutes” that intercepted al-Qaeda communications indicated they would attack the Red Cross, the British, then the Americans.

Those messages were passed on to American intelligence in Washington, but even after the Red Cross pulled out over a fear of attack and the British ambassador was attacked,  security was not boosted.

Wood advised that the facilities be moved.

He told “60 Minutes” he repeatedly warned the State Department and Defense Department of impending disaster: “Shut down operations. Move out temporarily. Or change locations within the city. Do something to break up the profile because you are being targeted. They are — they are — they are watching you. The attack cycle is such that they’re in the final planning stages,” he recalled telling superiors.

“Leave Benghazi or you will be killed,” was Wood’s final advice.

Yet a third figure, Stevens’ deputy based in Tripoli, Greg Hicks, told “60 Minutes” he also sent cables — approved by Stevens — back to the State Department specifically mentioning the al-Qaeda menace.

In addition to these warnings, U.S. intelligence discovered that Abu Anas al-Libi, a senior al-Qaeda operative, had established a terror network inside the country.

did-obama-white-house-issue-benghazi-libya-stand-down-order-chris-stevensThere were two assaults the night of Sept. 11, 2012: one on the Special Mission Compound, the other, lasting for seven hours, against a clandestine CIA annex
about a mile away.

When the attacks began, Morgan’s unarmed Libyan guard at the Special Mission Compound could do nothing, and a separate armed Libyan militia, hired by the
State Department to protect the consulate, fled.

A quick-reaction force from the CIA annex arrived at the Special Mission Compound within 30 minutes, shooting its way through Benghazi’s streets just to
get to there, CBS reported.

It was this force which repelled as many some 60 al-Qaeda terrorists, saved five Americans, and recovered the body of Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith.

Back at the annex, the CIA team was joined by a small unit of Americans from Tripoli.

Mortar rounds hit the annex roof three times in the dark, killing former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Wood says the precision showed the attack was planned and coordinated, not part of an impromptu protest as White House officials insisted for days after the attack.

“That’s getting the basketball through the hoop over your shoulder,” Wood told “60 Minutes. “They practiced those things. They knew what they were doing.”

Since the attacks, al-Qaeda has grown in power across Libya and throughout the Middle East and Africa.

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North Korea Fortifies Border with China

N_Korea-Fortifies-Border-with-China-300x169North Korea has been building concrete machine-gun pillboxes along the border with China since December as the Chinese staged massive military drills in the area.

North Korea Reform Radio quoted a North Korean source as saying each platoon of the border guard units stationed at strategic points along the Apnok and Duman Rivers has been ordered to build three concrete machine-gun emplacements. Officers of each brigade and battalion are looking for rebar and cement outside their camps.

The regime is claiming that the aim is to prevent South Korean troops in China from attacking, according to the radio station.

It claims that all South Korean businessmen and workers in the Chinese cities of Dandong and Yanji are camouflaged South Korean soldiers.

Officers are fully aware that the pillboxes are meant as defenses against the Chinese, the station added, but they also realize that they could be pulverized by large artillery in seconds if a war actually broke out.

United States wants to expand its rapid-reaction force based in Spain

United-States-wants-to-expand-its-rapid-reaction-force-based-in-Spain-300x198The United States has asked Spain for permission to expand its 500-strong Marine rapid-reaction force for Africa by at least 50 percent and extend its presence at the Morón de la Frontera base by one more year, government sources said.

The request was formulated during Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s visit to the White House last week.

President Obama referred to this obliquely when he said that “we thanked the Prime Minister and his government as well as the opposition in Spain for the support they have for our work together, including hosting some of our military operations and facilities. […] And we pledged to continue to try to improve and deepen what is already a very strong defense relationship.”

A bilateral agreement between both nations allows the US to temporarily station its Marines in the southern airbase, which provides fast access to the Mediterranean region. Because of this temporary nature, the Spanish government could approve the increase to anywhere between 750 and 900 Marines without modifying the agreement, and thus without consulting Congress first.

The Spanish Cabinet first authorized the deployment of 500 Marines and eight aircraft to the Morón airbase in April 2013 as part of a rapid-reaction strategy against crisis situations in Africa. The initiative was triggered by the September 2012 attacks against the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

But the request raises the issue of what “temporary” really means, with regard to a military presence that will last at least two years. Diplomatic sources admit this agreement was meant to cover specific situations lasting no more than a few months.

First-grader Told to Stop Talking About Bible

Brynn Williams
Brynn Williams

The parents of a 6-year-old girl said their daughter was humiliated when a teacher interrupted the child’s one-minute speech and told her to sit down because she’s “not allowed to talk about the Bible in school,” attorneys for the California family allege.

The incident occurred Dec. 19 inside a first grade classroom at Helen Hunt-Jackson Elementary School in Temecula, Calif. The previous day the teacher instructed boys and girls to find something at home that represented a family Christmas tradition. They were supposed to bring the item to school and share the item in a classroom presentation.

Brynn Williams decided to bring the Star of Bethlehem that adorned the top of her family’s Christmas tree. She also worked on a one minute presentation to explain that her family’s tradition is to remember the birth of Jesus at Christmas time.

“Our Christmas tradition is to put a star on top of our tree,” the little girl said. “The star is named the Star of Bethlehem. The three kings followed the star to find baby Jesus, the Savior of the world.”

Before the child could utter another word, the teacher intervened, according to Robert Tyler, the general counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom – the law firm representing the Williams family.

“Brynn’s teacher said, ‘Stop right there! Go take your seat,’” Tyler said. “Brynn was not allowed to finish her presentation by reciting the Bible verse, John 3:16.”

Tyler said the little girl was the only student in the class not allowed to finish her presentation.

“After Brynn took her seat, the teacher explained to Brynn in front of all the other students that she was not allowed to talk about the Bible or share its verses,” Tyler said.

Gina Williams learned about the incident after she picked her daughter up from school.

“She thought she had done something wrong,” she told me. “She thought she was in trouble. I told her she was not in trouble and I was proud of her. I tried to comfort her on the way home.”

The following day Williams met with the principal.

“The principal confirmed that Brynn’s teacher did the appropriate thing by stopping her mid-presentation and there are specific education codes that protect the school,” Williams said. “

The principal then asked Brynn, who had tears in her eyes, to come into her office and deliver the same presentation that was censored in the classroom. Afterwards, the principal stood by her decision.

“She confirmed there was no way Brynn could finish that presentation,” the disappointed mom told me. It was to protect the other students from being offended by Brynn’s presentation.”

The principal reportedly told her that Brynn could write about her beliefs in a journal but she was not allowed to share her beliefs aloud to any other student.

Tyler sent a letter to the school district demanding they apologize to Brynn and change their policies limiting religious liberty.

“The disapproval and hostility that Christian students have come to experience in our nation’s public schools has become epidemic,” he said, warning that should the school district ignore their concerns, they will file a lawsuit.

The school district provided the following statement:

“The Temecula Valley Unified School District respects all students’ rights under the Constitution and takes very seriously any allegation of discrimination. Due to the fact that District officials are currently investigating the allegations, it would be inappropriate to provide further comment at this time.”

It’s not the first time the school district has found itself in hot water over religious liberty violations. Last October, a seventh grade student was publicly ridiculed by a teacher for reading the Bible. The classroom assignment had been to read a non-fiction book. The teacher told the student in front of the class that the Bible was fiction and refused to give him credit for the assignment.

Tyler said it’s clear that the district violated Brynn’s constitutional rights.

“Any act to suppress a student’s free speech, in this case censorship of Brynn’s presentation of her family traditions, has violated Brynn’s constitutional rights unless the school district can reasonably conclude that Brynn’s speech was going to materially and substantially disrupt the school’s work or discipline,” he wrote in a letter to the school district. “Here, the school district cannot reasonably come to that conclusion.”

What happened inside that classroom is nothing short of un-American. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of my tax dollars being used to pay the salaries of public school teachers who humiliate and bully Christian boys and girls.

Japan drops ‘no-war’ pledge

Japan-drops-no-war-pledge-300x170A longtime no-war pledge has disappeared from Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s annual working policy revealed on Sunday, while the ruling party vowed to continue visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine and push ahead constitutional revision, in another move leading the country in a far-right direction, observers said.

At its 81st LDP annual convention in Tokyo, the party removed the pledge that Japan would “never wage a war”, China Central Television reported on Sunday.

In another change from last year’s policy, the party added a phrase saying it will “bolster veneration for the war dead” – referring to continued shrine visits – and also made clear it will amend the country’s constitution. The changes show that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also the party chief, will intensify efforts step by step to push Japan further into animosity with neighbouring countries, analysts said.

“The changes in the 2014 position indicate that Japan’s rightward inclination is getting increasingly obvious. Removing the pledge of not starting a war is a long-term strategy for Abe,” said Gao Hong, a researcher on Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Wang Xinsheng, a professor of international affairs at Peking University, said it is Abe’s ultimate goal to “normalize” Japan, as indicated when he avoided mentioning the no-war pledge on Aug 15, the 68th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

The convention on Sunday was held after Japan’s neighbouring countries have aired their exacerbated worries over Tokyo’s attempts to change its postwar status and return to militarism.

Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine – where 14 Class-A Japanese war criminals are honoured – on Dec 26. He is the first incumbent Japanese prime minister to pay an official visit since 2006.

Abe then reaffirmed the no-war pledge to soothe international anger over his visit, saying he renewed his “determination before the souls of the war dead to firmly uphold the pledge never to wage war again”.

According to Japanese media, the no-war pledge appeared in an earlier draft for the 2014 LDP working policy. “By removing the pledge, Abe has revealed his true political ambition, which is to reinstall Japan with the right to wage wars,” Gao said.

Under the terms of its surrender in World War II, Japan banned from starting a war, while Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution also forbids Japan from resorting to warfare to settle international disputes.

“Abe has been eyeing a change to the postwar constitution for a long time, and can eventually realise that ambition by writing his intention into the LDP annual working policy,” Gao said.

“However, Abe knows that there are still a lot of obstacles in front of him, so he chooses to push ahead step by step.”

In August, Abe replaced Tsuneyuki Yamamoto, the chief of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, who opposed changes to the Japanese official view on war that stipulates Japan’s military cannot exercise the right of collective self-defence since such an act would exceed the minimum use of force allowed by the Constitution.

The Cabinet Legislation Bureau has for decades maintained that while Japan has the right of collective self-defence, it cannot exercise it. Experts say that has been a major obstacle to lifting the ban on an expanded role for the armed forces.

After the LDP annual working policy was released, opposition parties in Japan immediately expressed discontent over the removal of the no-war pledge, according to the CCTV report.

Banri Kaieda, chief of the Democratic Party of Japan, said the issue needs to be discussed further, while Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the New Komeito Party – Abe’s ally in the coalition – again urged Abe to restore Japan’s deadlocked relations with China.

France to Beef Up Military Presence in Africa

France-to-beef-up-military-presence-in-restive-Africa-300x199France will broaden its military presence in Africa’s turbulent Sahel region with specialized new outposts to better fight the terrorism threat from extremist groups such as al-Qaida, the defense minister said.

Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview that France is moving toward a regional counterterrorism approach in former French colonies such as Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. In a quick air and land campaign, French soldiers largely ousted al-Qaida-linked militants from northern Mali last year.

The minister expects to detail the initiative to U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and national security adviser Susan Rice, during a trip to Washington this week. France has worked closely with U.S. forces to try to fight extremism in Africa.

The counterterrorism plan was presented in detail to President Francois Hollande late last month, and hasn’t been publicly announced yet. It will involve creating specialized posts such as for logistics, intelligence-gathering and fighter planes, Le Drian said.

“We are reorganizing our deployment in Africa to be more reactive about potential crises,” he said. “We will have the same number of soldiers — 3,000 in the Sahel region — but they will be organized differently.

“We are going to reinforce Abidjan as an entry point, a logistical support post,” he said of Cote d’Ivoire’s capital. “And then we’ll boost the intervention capacity on each of the different sites.”

Under the plan, Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, will be a hub of French air power in the region and a base for Rafale and Mirage fighters. A site in Niamey, Niger’s capital, will be equipped with unmanned aircraft such as France’s Harfang and — as of its first official flight on Monday — a U.S.-made Reaper surveillance drone that Le Drian helped authorize France to buy.

The new approach follows strategic recommendations laid out in the last review of the nation’s security and defense operations that put a new focus on Africa.

France flag mapUnder Hollande, a longtime friend and Socialist Party ally of Le Drian, France has flexed its military muscle like rarely before over the last year. Le Drian has overseen what began as near-solo French efforts in Mali and Central African Republic, where some 1,600 French and 4,600 African troops have been deployed since last month to help stem bloodshed between Christians and Muslims.

The U.S. has backed French-led efforts in Central African Republic. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday the U.S. is continuing to provide logistical support such as airlifting for French and African troops heading into the country.

A year ago, French troops swooped into vast northern Mali to halt an advance of al-Qaida-linked militants seen as threatening its weak central government, and French forces have been maintaining a presence since then to help Mali return to stability.

Le Drian, who returned Monday from his seventh trip to Mali in the last 12 months, can hardly contain his contentment about developments there. A new president has been elected, its former coup leader is behind bars, and the al-Qaida-linked militants who remain in its arid north are hiding — their infrastructure obliterated by French firepower.

He noted how soldiers marching in a military parade after the inauguration of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in September had worn sneakers and warm-up suits. On Monday, for an annual military holiday, they all wore uniforms.

Maldives Rejects Military Pact With US

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen

Speaking on a visit to Sri Lanka, the atoll nation’s new President Abdulla Yameen said he did not want to proceed with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that would have given the US a foothold in his archipelago located across the main east-west sea route.

“There have been discussions before… we are not going to pursue it,” he told reporters in Colombo during his second overseas visit since winning elections two months ago.

The US had confirmed early last year discussions on the accord, but had said it had no intention of setting up any bases in the Maldives.

Although the president gave no reason for the decision, Mohamed Shareef, a minister in Yameen’s office, said it had been made over fears that the pact would upset its neighbours, including India.

“We have told them that we can’t do it because both India and Sri Lanka are also not happy with it,” said Shareef, without giving further details.

Maldives-mapShareef said the proposed SOFA would have given the US military access to two atolls in the nation of 1,192 tiny coral islands scattered some 800 kilometres (500 miles) across the equator.

He noted that the US military already had a considerable presence in Diego Garcia, a British territory, about 700 kilometres (437 miles) south of the Maldivian archipelago.

India is the regional super power and is highly sensitive to outside presence in the Indian Ocean area. It has also been recently involved in a diplomatic bust-up with the US over the treatment of one of its diplomats in New York.

Yameen’s first foreign visit after his election was to New Delhi.

On his visit to Colombo, the president also said he was keen to resolve an ongoing commercial dispute with an Indian infrastructure company, GMR, which was kicked out of managing the Male airport in December 2012.

“We want to discuss with GMR and settle the issue outside arbitration,” Yameen said referring to an ongoing case in Singapore where GMR is demanding millions of dollars in compensation after being evicted from the $500-million investment.

Yameen said he was also keen to expand the current airport to cater to increasing tourist traffic to the country which is an upmarket destination for well-healed holiday makers and honeymooners.

The country of 330,000 Sunni Muslims attracted some 1.2 million tourists last year, officials said.