Home » FOIAS, U.S. News, World

Benghazi FOIA exclusive: Navy Denies Expedited FOIA Processing … not urgent … whose lives are at stake?

5 September 2013 One Comment

As we near the one-year anniversary of the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Sean Smith my appeal to the Judge Advocate General at the Department of the Navy requesting an expedited Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) processing has been denied. Why? Because as G.E. Lattin, the Director of the General Litigation Division, determined, I didn’t make a strong case when I stated that “standard processing of [my] FOIA request “denies justice and confidence of Americans and those serving in harm’s way in their Government.” I also wasn’t specific enough when I asserted that if “the truth of Benghazi comes to light immediately then perhaps lives may be saved.”

Because I cannot appeal this decision, may I state the obvious and direct your attention to the rotten fruits of the Benghazi that continue to consume casualties which is why all Benghazi FOIA’s should be expedited.  

For starters, look at the plight of the people in Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East, who are paying the price for the Obama administration’s covert weapons operation in Benghazi to Syria to arm “rebels” which has brought us to the brink of war with Syria today.  

This is not a not a secret. Several media outlets reported it including the Wall Street Journal back in November 2012: “The U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation,” and the State Department presence in Benghazi “provided diplomatic cover” to conceal weapon transfers from Libya to Syria. Moreover, FOX News Jennifer Griffin reported EXCLUSIVE: CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say, at that time. May we stop pretending that lives are not at stake? What happened in Benghazi didn’t just take the lives of four Americans.

Soon, it won’t only be the lives of the Syrian people at stake, but the U.S. military and any coalition partners who join President Obama to finish his long desired mission he’s been talking about for over two years. And that’s to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, like he did in Egypt with President Hosni Mubarak, and Col. Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This empowered radical Sunni groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. The next stop Shiite Iran? As Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, points out, U.S. government officials have always known that al Qaeda has been pursuing all kinds of weapons – including chemical weapons. Countless lives are at stake.

For specificity sake, here are some numbers of lives that have been affected by Obama’s weapons operation from Benghazi to Syria to arm “rebels.”

Already there has been a minimum of 130,000 estimated deaths in Syria. That number continues to rise. As the New York Times reported, over two million people have fled war-torn Syria as refugees spill over into Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and now Iraq. Put yourself in their position. Imagine it was you with your children leaving your home and fleeing for your lives.

Christians and people of other faiths and no faith are being persecuted, slaughtered—ethnic cleansing. Indeed perhaps lives could have been saved.

All Benghazi FOIA’s should be expedited because Congress has been wasting time fiddling with the State Department, and making pound-fisting cable TV appearances promising to get to the bottom of the Benghazi attack, even though we know Hillary’s State Department provided diplomatic cover for the CIA covert mission—as UPI reported, the real commanding agency in Benghazi. Incredibly almost a year later, even with Congress’ investigations, and after the White House release of the “talking points” emails, we still don’t know who came up with the fake YouTube story.

To be clear, the decision by the Judge Advocate General doesn’t mean my entire FOIA is denied; it means it will be dumped into the backlog. FOIA is often described as “the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.” While FOIA’s are supposed to be processed in 20 statuary days, instead now they can years. This is not the fault of the FOIA officers. Everyone I have dealt with has been professional. They are limited by their purview, and are doing their jobs the best they can within the bureaucracy.

In addition my expedited FOIA processing denial said that I needed to show how by not getting the FOIA processed quickly would “result in the loss of substantial due process rights.”

Really? Do I need to explain that? Haven’t the families of the fallen in Benghazi been denied their due process rights? What about the survivors no one is allowed to speak too? Last May I reported in Benghazi Exclusive: Libyans Couldn’t Protect Americans they didn’t know were in Libya there were more than could fit in one plane. Something that CNN confirmed on August 1, in Exclusive: Dozens of CIA operatives on the ground during Benghazi attack except their numbers are too low.

They are much higher, and include CIA contractors, as well as the people who worked for the Non-Government Organizations (NGO), who Hillary helped to fund using U.S. taxpayer money back in 2011 after Gaddafi was toppled, as documented in State Department Denies Libya Weapons Buyback Program Exists. What about them?

Excerpted from the letter I received from G.E. Lattin Director General Litigation Division of the Department of the Navy, Office of the Judge Advocate General and copied to DNS-36 Commander, United States Sixth Fleet.

Entire copy at the end.

Dear Ms. Peschmann …

Your appeal is a request for a final determination under the FOIA. For the reasons stated below, I deny your request for expedited processing.

You contend that standard processing of your [Benghazi] FOIA request “denies justice and confidence of Americans and those serving in harm’s way in their government.” You also assert that if your request is expedited and the “truth of Benghazi comes to light immediately”, then “perhaps lives may be saved and confidence restored.”

Per Secretary of the Navy instruction (SECNAVINST) 5720.42F, expedited processing is granted only when a requester can demonstrate a compelling need for the requested information. A compelling need exists under any of these circumstances: (1) when failure to obtain the records could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual; (2) when the information requested concerns a breaking news story of general public interest; or (3) when failure to provide the information will result in loss of substantial due process rights.

Your request attempts to implicate the first circumstance-when the information requested concerns an imminent threat to individuals’ safety.

I find that your request fails to establish that the information is urgently needed. According to SECNAVINST 5720.42F, “urgently needed” means that the information has a “particular value that will be lost if not disseminated quickly.” In your letter you generally assert that “lives may be saved” if the information is sought is released immediately. However, your letter provides no specified information as to the danger a particular individual may be in at this time, nor any specified expectation as to how that danger will be averted through expedited processing of this FOIA request. To the contrary, in your own letter you acknowledge that the events in question took place over 11 months ago. You have provided no facts or detailed explanation to demonstrate how providing documents related to an event occurring almost a year ago would prevent an imminent threat.

Please be aware that I am only denying your request as it relates to expedited processing. My office in in communication with Commander United States Sixth Fleet regarding the overall processing of your FOIA request. I will issue a separate determination regarding their decision to cease processing your request due to lack of specificity …

FOIA Expedited Processing Denial Letter