The State Department has belatedly released dozens of photos of the aftermath of last year’s terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi after The Washington Times inquired about the authenticity of photographs it received from a Welsh security contractor assigned to the doomed American outpost in eastern Libya.
Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, had requested all photos and videos of the besieged diplomatic mission under the Freedom of Information Act in December and February, and the State Department released only seven photographs in June.
But this week, after weeks of inquiries by The Times about photos it received, the State Department released a trove of photographs showing buildings and vehicles ablaze during the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Other photos show ransacked offices, burned-out cars and Arabic graffiti scrawled on walls.
The State Department said it had forwarded the photographs to the FBI for its investigation into the attack and submitted them to the accountability review board, the independent panel that conducted the State Department’s mandatory probe of the Benghazi incident and events leading up to it. The department also shared the photographs with members of Congress looking into the Obama administration’s response to the attack.
“The new photos reveal a level of total devastation thoroughly belying Obama’s original cover story that the carnage was perpetrated by a bunch of random malcontents upset over an unpleasant video,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Wednesday on the group’s website. “The fact that we’ve had to wait nearly a year and file a federal lawsuit for basic documentary material of the attack shows that this administration is still in cover-up mode. And now the Obama administration brings the Benghazi stonewall to a whole new level by withholding video of the attack using frivolous arguments such as ‘privacy.’”
“It’s inexcusable that members of Congress and the press who want to learn the truth about what happened in Benghazi have had to use FOIA requests to obtain answers. Absent the creation of a House select committee that will hold public hearings and have cross-jurisdictional subpoena authority, I don’t think the American people will ever learn the truth,” said Mr. Wolf, who has been calling for a Watergate-style committee to investigate Benghazi.
“To date, there have been too few answers and absolutely no accountability,” he said. “Just what exactly were the State Department and CIA doing in Benghazi that has led the government to go to such great lengths to obstruct requests for information?”