The deputy of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens has told congressional investigators that a team of Special Forces prepared to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks was forbidden from doing so by U.S. Special Operations Command Africa.
U.S. diplomat contradicts White House on Benghazi
The account from Gregory Hicks is in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. Hicks gave private testimony to congressional investigators last month in advance of his upcoming appearance at a congressional hearing Wednesday.
According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”
No assistance arrived from the U.S. military outside of Libya during the hours that Americans were under attack or trapped inside compounds by hostile forces armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and AK-47 rifles.
Poor management decisions by MF Global’s former CEO Jon Corzine triggered the brokerage firm’s collapse, while lax protections for customer funds contributed to the loss of an estimated $1.6 billion of customer money, congressional investigators have determined.
Evidence unearthed by the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight puts the blame squarely on Corzine, the panel’s chairman Rep. Randy Neugebauer, said in a preview of the report that will be released on Thursday.
“The responsibility for failing to maintain the systems and controls necessary to protect customer funds rests with Corzine,” the report says. “This failure represents a dereliction of his duty as MF Global’s chairman and CEO.”
Corzine, a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs who also served as a U.S. senator and as governor of New Jersey, has denied any wrongdoing.
MF Global filed for bankruptcy more than a year ago, as investors scrambled to pull out funds after revelations the firm bet heavily on European sovereign debt and after credit downgrades.
Regulators, prosecutors and lawmakers have been looking into the estimated $1.6 billion in customer funds revealed to be missing after the firm’s collapse.
A jury found baseball star Roger Clemens not guilty on six charges against. Clemens was accused of lying to Congress in 2008 about his use of performance enhancing drugs.
As NPR’s Nina Totenberg told us, the prosecution contended that Clemens — considered one of the best pitchers professional baseball has ever seen — needed the drugs to keep up with the game as he aged. But the defense struck hard at one of the prosecution’s star witness, trainer Brian McNamee who was the only one who said he witnessed Clemens’ drug use first hand. McNamee testified he injected the pitcher with performance enhancing drugs. The defense used McNamee’s estranged wife to contradict the trainer’s testimony. McNamee also said he had exaggerated and changed his story when he talked to investigators in 2001.
The jury also heard from pitcher Andy Petite who indicated Clemens had told him he used human growth hormone. During cross examination, however, Petite, who was Clemens’ teammate, admitted that he might have misunderstood Clemens.
The AP reports:
“In reaching a verdict, the panel of eight women and four men had to decide whether Clemens’s answers to questions from Congressional investigators and lawmakers were “material” or relevant to the work of committee ‘as distinguished from unimportant or trivial facts,’ according to the lengthy jury instructions.
“To find Clemens guilty of the obstruction charge, for instance, jurors had to unanimously agree that the all-star pitcher made at least one of 13 allegedly false or misleading statements on subjects including his use of vitamin B-12 and the circumstances of his wife’s injection of human growth hormone.”
“YOU don’t lose guns. You don’t walk guns. You don’t let guns get out of your sight,” said Carlos Canino of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in an angry interview with congressional investigators. He was talking about Operation Fast and Furious, a fatally misconceived effort to fight drug-trafficking that had led some of his colleagues to lose guns deliberately.
The operation, outlined in two congressional reports last summer, began in 2009 in the Phoenix, Arizona, field office of the ATF, which is under the Department of Justice. The department was trying to be more active in Mexico’s fight against its drug gangs, and decided that agents would allow known “straw purchasers” to buy guns from American shops. The straw buyers, the ATF reasoned, would bring the guns to the gangs. When the guns turned up again, the agents might be able to use them as evidence to build bigger cases.
A similar effort, Operation Wide Receiver, which ran from 2006 to 2007, was shut down because it was ill-conceived and dangerous. When the idea was revived many field agents in Phoenix were appalled. There might have been more resistance, but the operation was hidden from other border policing agencies, and even from ATF agents in other offices.
The critics got little attention until December 2010, when Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent, was shot dead during a firefight. Two rifles recovered at the scene were part of Operation Fast and Furious. Whistleblowers started to come forward. In January 2011 William Newell, the special agent then in charge of the Phoenix office, announced 20 indictments. Most were of straw buyers who could have been indicted much earlier.
The battle over Operation Fast and Furious has only become more serious since then. There are more troubling questions about how much senior officials in the Justice Department, up to and including Eric Holder, the attorney-general, knew about the operation, and when. Last February the department issued a letter denying the allegations that the ATF had allowed gunwalking. In March Barack Obama told Univision that neither he nor Mr Holder had authorised the operation. Six weeks later, in May, Mr Holder told the House Judiciary Committee that he had “probably” first heard of Operation Fast and Furious “over the past few weeks”.