Republican Claims Not “New”: “Revelation” on Secure Video Tele-Conference Inaccurate

Jun 28, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Republicans are touting as a significant new revelation in their partisan report the claim that a secure video teleconference (SVTC) on the night of the attacks focused overwhelmingly on a YouTube video.  

The Republicans’ “New Revelations” included:

With Ambassador Stevens missing, the White House convened a roughly two-hour meeting at 7:30 p.m., which resulted in action items focused on a YouTube video.  …  Five of the 10 action items from the 7:30 PM White House meeting referenced the video.

During his press conference today, Chairman Gowdy stated:

There’s an email that sticks out in my mind right now that’s a take-out from the SVTC, from the White House meeting, which by the way, if you know about it, nobody reported on it.  So to the Democrats’ claim that there’s no new information, I haven’t heard much about this White House meeting until our report was issued.

However, back in 2014, then-House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa went onto the House floor and made the same point when he read from a then-classified email explaining that it “recounts items discussed in a Secure Video Teleconference attended by senior Administration officials.”  He claimed the email “shows the White House had hurried to settle on a false narrative—one at odds with the conclusions reached by those on the ground.”  Issa’s actions were reported in the press at the time.

Democrats issued their report yesterday along with all the available transcripts so the American people—and reporters—can see the underlying evidence first-hand to ensure the accuracy and integrity of our work.   

These transcripts show that witnesses debunked these allegations and confirmed that the overall focus of the SVTC was—first and foremost—the safety and security of U.S. personnel in Benghazi.  They also show that the decision to request that YouTube take down the video was appropriate given violence across the region.

  • National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen stated:  “That was the key focus of that video conference and of paramount concern, was the safety and security of U.S. personnel in Benghazi.”
  • When asked if it was inappropriate to seek removal of the YouTube video in light of violence across the region, he stated:  “I 100 percent thought that was the right step to be taking at the time.”
  • He concluded:  “[W]e were thinking about what had happened in Cairo, we were thinking, okay, now this seems to be happening again in Benghazi.”
  • Admiral Kurt Tidd, the Director for Operations at the Joint Staff at the Pentagon stated:  “We went down the list of the types of forces that are potentially available. … We talked about the CIF—the FAST, the CIF [redacted] FEST.  And from State, their only position was:  send triggers [sic] pullers.”  He added:  “[W]e came out of that meeting with basically:  send everything.”
  • Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy confirmed:  “[U]ntil the last person was wheels down in Tripoli … the focus was Benghazi first.”
  • He added:  “We did not put constraints.  We did not tell.  We asked the military for assistance, and … appropriate military planners and executors were working through getting people into the scene.”
  • Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Jacob Sullivan stated that Secretary Clinton participated in the SVTC because “[s]he wanted to be there to make sure that we were doing everything we could, that we were providing DOD and the intelligence community with everything we could provide them in terms of information, and that we were getting all the help we needed.”
  • He added:  “I walked away from the SVTCS feeling like the military was doing everything that it could, and I had no concerns about what the military was trying to do.”
  • Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills relayed that Secretary Clintnon stated on the SVTC that “we need to be taking whatever steps we can, to do whatever we can to secure our people” and that her presence “really was communicating that night is, ‘I’m here because I want my team safe.  I’m not here because I’m here for any other reason than trying to get their safety.  And whatever we need to do to do that I want to do
  • When asked if there was a lack of urgency on the SVTC, she stated:  “Quite the opposite.  It was really a conversation about what else can be done, is anything missed, is there any other opportunity, asset, avenue, information we could take or deploy.”
114th Congress