Aaron Klein, author of a new book on Benghazi, is challenging David Brock, founder of the progressive Media Matters for America activist group, to a public debate regarding information about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack.
Media Matters for America, known for its close ties to the Clintons, has released numerous blog postings attacking Klein, taking particular interest in sections of the book that expose Hillary Clinton's personal role in the Benghazi scandal.
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“I am publicly inviting David Brock to debate me on Benghazi at a time and place of his choosing," Klein said.
"MSNBC, my radio show, the Media Matters headquarters, wherever. Just name the place and I'll be there, David. Debate me on the facts instead of lobbing falsehoods and smears in a clear attempt to discredit the messenger."
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Tuesday, Politico reported Media Matters and Brock are part of a multi-pronged assault by pro-Clinton activists to hit back at the Benghazi hearings that begin Wednesday.
Also responding to the hearings are the pro-Hillary Clinton group Correct the Record and the Democratic research super PAC American Bridge, which allied to launch a new website, aimed at discrediting the Benghazii probe.
Brock is a close Hillary Clinton associate. Clinton reportedly played a central role in helping to secure angel funding for Media Matters.
"Let's have an honest debate on the security posture at the U.S. special mission, Hillary Clinton's personal role in the scandal, why no air support was sent the night of the attack, the 'talking points' controversy and beyond," Klein said.
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Media Matters' initial piece smeared the book while giving no indication it actually reviewed it. Instead, as WND reported, its misinformed claims were based, according to Media Matters’ own report, solely on a four-sentence description regarding the contents of the book published in the Washington Examiner.
Media Matters followed up with a second hit piece, “10 Reasons Nobody Should Take Aaron Klein's New Benghazi Book Seriously.”
Without making the case, the progressive group labels Klein “a conspiracy theorist” who is “utterly devoid of credibility.”
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According to Media Matters, Klein lacks credibility because he authored a book documenting the case for impeaching President Obama.
The group does not inform readers that impeachment calls have gone mainstream within the Republican Party.
Nor does it cite a single example of a single factual error in “Impeachable Offenses: The Case for Removing Barack Obama from Office,” co-authored with Brenda J. Elliott.
The journalistic investigation boasts nearly 1,000 end notes to make its case. The publisher did not issue a single correction or retraction in any subsequent printings.
Media Matters used a speech posted online by Liberty News Network in November 2012 to interpret a statement to mean Klein said Obama could be a Muslim.
However, Klein actually stated he does not know Obama's true faith, while pointing to the president’s self-declared Islamic background.
Klein stated: “A lot of people ask me, 'Is Obama a secret Muslim?' I don't know. Although I do know he went to a black liberation theology church, and black liberation theology is not Christianity. It's closer to Nation of Islam. I don't know if Obama is Muslim or not. He did certainly spend a lot of time in Indonesia as a child, but we can't hold that against him. He was a kid. But what I do know is he's empowering radical Islam around the world.”
Media Matters also takes issue with factual articles penned by Klein regarding the general legal definition of “natural born citizen,” the constitutional requirement to serve as president.
Media Matters wrongly claimed those articles makes Klein a “birther” who doubts Obama’s citizenship.
Klein only cited legal arguments about the constitutional definition of “natural born citizen,” pointing out some mainstream scholars believe both parents must be U.S. born.
Regarding Media Matter’s false “birther” charge, in Klein’s book, "The Manchurian President," he wrote there is "no convincing evidence that Obama was born in Kenya, nor that his birthplace was any place other than Hawaii, his declared state of birth."
Without quoting from the Benghazi book, Media Matters cites a report from the Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard, who said Klein argues Hillary Clinton "was unwilling to provide additional security to the diplomatic outpost and even played a role in sending Stevens to his 'doomed mission.'"
Gertz assumes Klein's contention references what the Media Matters blogger calls “the long-debunked conservative claim that the then-Secretary of State personally signed off on cables rejecting requests for additional security.”
Gertz claimed that contention was debunked because “diplomatic reporters noted that every cable sent to the State Department from overseas facilities is addressed to the secretary … even though the secretary rarely reviews them.”
He further quotes from Clinton’s memoirs, "Hard Choices," in which the former secretary wrote she never saw the cables requesting additional security.
"That's not how it works. It shouldn't. And it didn't,” Clinton writes.
However, Gertz's assumption is wrong. Klein’s book was not simply referring to cables requesting more security.
“The REAL Benghazi Story” documents Clinton personally signed waivers that allowed the facility to be legally occupied, since it did not meet the minimum official security standards set by the State Department.
While some of the required waivers technically could have been issued by lower-level State Department officials, several could only have been approved by Clinton herself, including what is known as the “co-location” requirement.
The “co-location” requirement refers to the unusual housing setup in Benghazi in which intelligence and State Department personnel were kept in two separate locations.
Asks Klein in his book: By signing the waivers, "did Clinton know she was approving a woefully unprotected compound?"
"If not then at the very least she is guilty of dereliction of duty and the diplomatic equivalent of criminal negligence.”
Further, Klein shows Clinton’s top deputies, including officials known to be close to her, were responsible for some major denials of security at the compound.
In one example, it was Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy who canceled the use in Tripoli of a DC-3 aircraft that could have aided in the evacuation of the Benghazi victims.
Kennedy also denied permission to build guard towers at the Benghazi mission and approved the withdrawal of a Security Support Team, or SST, a special U.S. force specifically maintained for counter-attacks on U.S. embassies or threats against diplomatic personnel.
Klein contends it defies logic that Clinton was not informed of the general nature of security at the Benghazi facility, especially since she was known to have taken a particular interest in the compound. She reportedly called for the compound to be converted into a permanent mission before a scheduled trip to Libya in December 2012 that eventually was canceled.
Meanwhile, Media Matters wrongly writes the contention that Clinton "played a role in sending Stevens" to the U.S. special mission in Benghazi was also “debunked.”
Gertz quoted the State Department's Accountability Review Board, which has been criticized as being too soft on the State Department, as reporting Stevens "made the decision to travel to Benghazi independently of Washington, per standard practice."
Media Matters also selectively quoted Gregory Hicks, the former State Department deputy chief of mission and No. 2 under Stevens, as testifying to Congress that Stevens "chose to go" to Benghazi.
Media Matters missed the fact that in his full testimony, Hicks said Stevens went to the compound that day in part because Clinton wanted to convert the shanty complex into a permanent mission in a symbol of the new Libya.
Hicks said Clinton wanted to announce the establishment of a permanent U.S. State Department facility during her planned visit there in December 2012.
Apparently Stevens was up against a very specific funding deadline to complete an extensive survey of the mission so the compound could be converted.
Hicks explained: “According to [Ambassador] Chris [Stevens], Secretary Clinton wanted Benghazi converted into a permanent constituent post. Timing for this decision was important. Chris needed to report before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, on the physical and the political and security environment in Benghazi to support an action memo to convert Benghazi from a temporary facility to a permanent facility.”
Hicks revealed the directive to convert the compound came from the State Department Office of Near Eastern Affairs, headed by acting Assistant Secretary Beth Jones. Money was available to be transferred to Benghazi from a State Department fund set aside for Iraq, provided the transfer had been done by Sept. 30.
He further testified that in May 2012, in a meeting with Clinton, Stevens promised he would give priority to making sure the U.S. facility at Benghazi was transformed into a permanent constituent post. Hicks said Stevens himself wanted to make a symbolic gesture to the people of Benghazi that the United States “stood behind their dream of establishing a new democracy.”
Toward the end of the hearing, the chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked Hicks to summarize his testimony on why Stevens went to Benghazi.
“At least one of the reasons Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi was to further the secretary’s wish that that post become a permanent constituent post and that he was also there because we understood the secretary intended to visit Tripoli later in the year,” Hicks reiterated.
“We hoped that she would be able to announce to the Libyan people the establishment of a permanent constituent post in Benghazi at that time.”
Close Clinton ties
Media Matters is known for its close ties to the Clintons. The group’s founder, David Brock, is a close Hillary Clinton associate. Hillary Clinton reportedly played a central role in helping to secure angel funding for Media Matters.
Last month, it was reported the Clinton machine was gearing up to target Klein’s book.
The Washington Times reported: “Author Aaron Klein’s upcoming book, ‘The REAL Benghazi Story,’ is also reportedly being targeted by the Clinton team and Media Matters."
Politico quoted a publishing source predicting Klein’s Benghazi book “would appeal to a different audience, the publishing source said, a subset of readers deeply interested in the Benghazi attacks and convinced of an administration coverup.”
Klein’s “The REAL Benghazi Story” advertises itself as “a ground-breaking investigative work that finally exposes some of the most significant issues related to the murderous Sept. 11, 2012, attack –information with current national security implications.”
A sampling of what the publisher says is contained in the book:
- From the secretive activities transpiring inside the doomed facility to shocking new details about the withholding of critical protection at the U.S. special mission.
- Information that raises new questions about what really happened to Ambassador Chris Stevens that fated night.
- The central role Hillary Clinton actually played in the scandal.