Ambassador Stevens's diary. He had a seven page bound diary with him at the mission, which was found by a CNN reporter on September 14th, on the same day the CIA talking points were getting massaged by State and WH political/media peeps, and two days before the infamous Susan Rice TV blitz. The diary contained a reference to the ambassador being on an "AQ hit list' or something similar.
Why is the diary important? Because if Stevens was indeed on an AQ hit list then later killed by the extremists during an attack on the anniversary of 9/11 it works to dilute the idea that the mission was simply overrun by random protesters pissed off at a movie trailer as portrayed by the administration. It also opens the question as to why the mission wasn't fortified beforehand.
So who knew about this beforehand? It certainly appears the State Dept knew. From these pages back in 2013:
CNN said on its website that it notified the Stevens family "within hours" that it had the journal. The Stevens family then reached out to the State Department, which arranged a telephone conference call between members of the family and CNN.
In that call, the family asked the news organization to return the journal and to not publish or broadcast any of its contents, according to a Stevens family member and State Department officials. Family members and State Department officials said CNN agreed during the Sept. 14 conference call to hold off on using the diary until the family had a chance to review its contents.No, it doesn't say "Hillary knew", but one might think such a development would have been passed to the top cat pretty quickly. So if Madam Secretary knew about a diary on the 14th, why did she tell ABC News this on the 20th:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today there is "no information" the American ambassador killed in a brazen attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya was on an al Qaeda hit list. Clinton said she had "no reason to believe that there's any basis for that," apparently referring to a report by CNN in which an unnamed source "familiar with Ambassador [Christopher] Stevens' thinking" said that the ambassador believed he was on such a list.Admittedly, those are weasel words from a lawyer. But to the average person it comes off as a big fat lie.
That denial set off a very weird chain of events. CNN had reported on the hit list the day before without mentioning the diary, as per the agreement. So they knew Hillary knew. This prompted Cooper to take the unprecedented step of defying the White House and announcing on his show the next day that yes dammit, Stevens did say he was on a hit list and we had the diary to prove it.
“This was not broadcasting gossip from the pages of someone’s diary. This was not reporting salacious details of someone’s private life. This was reporting information that could impact the national security of the United States and the safety of U.S. installations in other countries… We think you need to know what happened to U.S. personnel in Benghazi.”This betrayal led to some hard feelings in the nutroots and the State Dept., prompting Hillary's goon Phillipe Reines to blast Cooper and CNN for bad journalism, which led the late Michael Hastings to blast Reines/State for media intimidation, which led Reines to email Hastings to "F off and have a nice life". Except he didn't abbreviate using just the F. About a year later Hastings died in a car crash big coincidence just saying.
This stuff is a little complicated and doesn't fit on a short sound bite, which means it's probably going nowhere. But in summary, here's what appears to have happened:
1. Hillary likely was aware of Stevens' concerns well beforehand. She almost certainly knew he had said he was on AQ hit list on the 14th when the diary came to State's attention. Yet on the 16th she allowed Susan Rice to go on five networks and downplay any ties to a coordinated, organized, pre-planned terrorist attack. Why?
2. After the Sunday shows Anderson Cooper decided the public needed to know a little more (or he just had a scoop he couldn't stand to keep under wraps) and reported on the hit list by confirming it with a few of Stevens' colleagues back in Tripoli. This almost surely raised concerns in certain quarters because it acted to undermine the new narrative just rolled out by Rice. Apparently State thought CNN was just going to cover up the information due to 'privacy'.
3. On the 20th Hillary responded to a question about the hit list by fibbing and claiming she had no information about such a thing. In other words, Anderson Cooper is making stuff up.
4. Steamed because they were being knee-capped, Cooper and CNN reported on the 21st that yes he did say this because they found the diary and read it. So there Hillary--it's your fault we broke our agreement.
5. This set off some ballistics in State, where Hillary aide Reines accused CNN of low-ball journalism for reporting a legitimate news story that Romney may be able to use (paraphrasing).
6. This was followed by Michael Hastings, of Rolling Stone/McChrystal fame, lambasting Reines for media mistreatment, which earned him an email F bomb in reply.
Epilogue: Reines later moved on from State to Beacon Global Strategies, which eventually hired CIA second honcho Mike Morrell, who recently testified that he changed the talking points and favored a view by Langley analysts that the attack stemmed from an out of control protest, despite most of his 'ground truth' reports from Libya telling him otherwise.
Sounds like a fairly big story but almost nobody in the press--including CNN--followed up during the months going forward. McCain danced around it a bit during the January hearings, but questions still remain such as when Hillary knew and why the arrangement was made to suppress information. So, how about some sunshine on the matter.