Filled Under: Fox News
Emails sent by senior Obama adviser Ben Rhodes to other top regime officials reveal an effort to insulate Obama from the attacks on Benghazi that killed four Americans, and to blame the Youtube video as an excuse. Ben Rhodes also just happens to be the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes. Sharyl Attkisson was recently forced out of CBS for having the audacity for doing investigations into things like Benghazi, Fast and Furious, etc.
Newly released emails on the Benghazi terror attack suggest a senior White House aide played a central role in preparing former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice for her controversial Sunday show appearances — where she wrongly blamed protests over an Internet video.
More than 100 pages of documents were released to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Among them was a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
The Rhodes email, with the subject line: “RE: PREP Call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET,” was sent to a dozen members of the administration’s inner circle, including key members of the White House communications team such as Press Secretary Jay Carney.
In the email, Rhodes specifically draws attention to the anti-Islam Internet video, without distinguishing whether the Benghazi attack was different from protests elsewhere.
The email lists the following two goals, among others:
“To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
“To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”
The email goes on to state that the U.S. government rejected the message of the Internet video. “We find it disgusting and reprehensible. But there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence,” the email stated.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the documents read like a PR strategy, not an effort to provide the best available intelligence to the American people.
“The goal of the White House was to do one thing primarily, which was to make the president look good. Blame it on the video and not [the] president’s policies,” he said.
The Rhodes email was not part of the 100 pages of emails released by the administration last May — after Republicans refused to move forward with the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director until the so-called “talking points” emails were made public.
The email is also significant because in congressional testimony in early April, former deputy CIA director Michael Morell told lawmakers it was Rice, in her Sunday show appearances, who linked the video to the Benghazi attack. Morell said the video was not part of the CIA analysis.
“My reaction was two-fold,” Morell told members of the House Intelligence Committee, regarding her appearances. “One was that what she said about the attacks evolving spontaneously from a protest was exactly what the talking points said, and it was exactly what the intelligence community analysts believed. When she talked about the video, my reaction was, that’s not something that the analysts have attributed this attack to.”
Incidentally, three leading Republicans on Monday night sent letters to the House and Senate foreign affairs committees asking them to compel the administration to explain who briefed Rice in advance of the Sunday talk shows and whether State Department or White House personnel were involved.
“How could former Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, during the five Sunday talk shows on September 16, 2012, claim that the attacks on our compounds were caused by a hateful video when Mr. Morell testified that the CIA never mentioned the video as a causal factor,” said the letter, from Sens. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina; Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire; and John McCain, of Arizona.
The Sept. 14 Rhodes email does not indicate whether there was a “prep call” for Rice, as it suggests. If the call went ahead, it does not indicate who briefed her.
National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan played down the Rhodes email, telling Fox News in a statement: “There were protests taking place across the region in reaction to an offensive internet video, so that’s what these points addressed. There were known protests in Cairo, Sanaa, Khartoum, and Tunis as well as early reports of similar protests in Benghazi, which contributed to questions of how the attack began…. These documents only serve to reinforce what we have long been saying: that in the days after September 11, 2012, we were concerned by unrest occurring across the region and that we provided our best assessment of what was happening at the time.”
The statement did not address Fox News’ specific questions asking whether White House personnel, particularly Rhodes, briefed Rice before the Sunday shows, and what intelligence Rhodes relied on when he referred to the video.
The newly released emails also show that on Sept. 27, 2012 a Fox News report — titled “US officials knew Libya attack was terrorism within 24 hours, sources confirm” — was circulated at the most senior levels of the administration. This included going to then-deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough; then-White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan; Morell; and Rhodes, among others, but the comments were redacted, citing “personal privacy information.”
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.
Powering the ships of the future? Navy develops technology to turn seawater into fuel
Published April 09, 2014
Navy researchers say they have developed a “game changing technology” for creating fuel from seawater – a process that could keep ships out at sea longer.
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Materials Science and Technology Division announced Monday that it had already flown a radio-controlled replica of a World War II plane using hydrocarbon fuel made from seawater.
The fuel is created with the help of an electrolytic cation exchange module, a machine which removes carbon dioxide from seawater while simultaneously producing hydrogen. The gases are then formed into liquid hydrocarbons by a metal catalyst in a reactor system, the lab said in a statement.
“In close collaboration with the Office of Naval Research P38 Naval Reserve program, NRL has developed a game changing technology for extracting, simultaneously, CO2 and H2 from seawater,” said Dr. Heather Willauer, an NRL research chemist. “This is the first time technology of this nature has been demonstrated with the potential for transition, from the laboratory, to full-scale commercial implementation.”
Fuel produced this way would cost an estimated $3-6 per gallon, the NRL says, and could be commercially viable within the next seven to ten years with proper funding and partnerships.
“Pursuing remote land-based options would be the first step towards a future sea-based solution,” the NRL said in a statement.
The laboratory, which is based in Washington, D.C., focuses on overcoming technological challenges that the Navy faces.
Wal-Mart’s Future Fleet of Transformers
By Jennifer Booton
Next in Tech
Published April 04, 2014
AMAZON.COM INC.) drone messengers can step aside — Wal-Mart (WMT) has unveiled its fleet of the future, and it looks a lot like an army of Transformers.
From its sleek sliding doors, centered driver’s seat that bears a liking to a captain’s chair on a spaceship, to the monitors that stick out from both sides of the dashboard like antennas, the fleet has a futuristic feel that is different from the 18-wheelers on the road today.
“We’ve built technology trucks” with “potentially game-changing technologies,” said Elizabeth Fretheim, Wal-Mart’s director of logistics sustainability.
With a trailer for the first time built almost exclusively of carbon fiber, the hybrid-powered aerodynamic prototype designed by truck manufacturer Peterbilt is 4,000 pounds lighter than Wal-Mart’s existing trucks. It also boasts fully-customizable screens, providing drivers the ability to monitor performance gauges in real time.
Yet, truck engineers say this is just the tip of the iceberg. In the future, heavy trucks might even be able to drive themselves.
Stricter federal regulations on emissions and engine innovation have helped improve fuel efficiency over the last decade, but now research is starting to pour into making these massive fleets autonomous.
Ted Scott, director of engineering for the American Truck Association, says there are some emerging technologies coming down the road that could “significantly change this industry.”
Imagine a couple of 18-wheelers driving nose-to-tail on the highway — or “platooning” — braking and accelerating simultaneously in a fluid motion that could help reduce road congestion, optimize fuel efficiency and improve safety and delivery times.
“Heavy trucks don’t have accidents often, but when they do they’re catastrophic.”
– David Bevly, Auburn University Engineering Professor
It is similar to the investments being made by the likes of Google (GOOG) and BMW for passenger cars. And much like how the U.S. Department of Transportation is expecting to one day require all passenger vehicles to have vehicle-to-vehicle communication, David Bevly, a professor in the University of Auburn’s Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, says he expects similar rules to soon apply to trucks.
Under these emerging technologies, semis would be able to virtually communicate with one another without human intervention, possibly cutting out the need for human drivers altogether.
Studies have already proven the feasibility from an engineering perspective, and now the University of Auburn is looking to test the logistics through a multi-layered research project that will culminate next spring with a physical test on the university’s 1.7-mile track.
“We’re specifically focused on the practicality of it all, beyond just the technology,” said Bevly, the lead researcher on Auburn’s platooning project.
Peterbilt, which is being consulted on the project, has been using automatic braking systems for a few years already. It is now investing heavily in driver assist technologies that it says would serve as the first steps to platooning, and perhaps one-day, to completely autonomous semis.
Cost and Safety
The demand from fleet operators is there because of the potential for significant fuel cost savings.
Advanced aerodynamics like the ones debuted in the Wal-Mart prototype are expected to improve fuel economy by “at least” 10%, according to Bill Kahn, Peterbilt Manager of Advanced Concepts. Bevly says platooning could add another 10% or more on top of that.
“A huge amount of innovation in the truck industry has been driven by fuel economy benefits and safety improvements. Truck platooning gives you both,” said Richard Bishop, an industry liaison consultant to Auburn.
Another benefit is its improved safety. Regular people who drive compact cars might shudder at the thought of several 18-wheelers traveling just a few feet apart at 60 miles per hour. However, supporters would argue that some truckers already drive dangerously close together in an effort to reap air drafting benefits. Robotic trucks, they’d say, are safer because they can react much quicker than a human can.
“Heavy trucks don’t have accidents often, but when they do they’re catastrophic,” Bevly said.
Of course, a big challenge remains the cost to make these enormous upgrades.
A tractor is turned over every five to six years, according to Scott, so the return on investment must outweigh the price of ensuring the technology, brakes and accelerators are compatible for platooning.
Scott says he doesn’t think platooning will be widespread in the industry. Rather, it will likely have its place, possibly among big brands like Wal-Mart that ship dozens of trailers at once to the same region.
Wal-Mart, with its 4,700 U.S. retail facilities and whopping $274 billion in worldwide revenues, is hoping its next-generation trucks set a precedent.
While the prototype it unveiled last week does not have autonomous capabilities, the major investment in truck innovation by the world’s largest retailer could trigger a much-needed overhaul of the multi-billion-dollar trucking industry.
“At the prototype level it’s quite mature, it works,” Bishop said.
Follow Jennifer Booton on Twitter at @Jbooton
Texas-based gun company allows customers to make purchases using bitcoin
Published March 30, 2014
Tracking Point has announced that it is now letting customers buy its firearms using bitcoin. (Tracking-Point.com)
A Texas-based gun company has announced that it is now allowing its customers to use bitcoins as payment for its products, which include rifles that it says can hit targets at extreme distances using “jet fighter lock-and-launch technology.”
Although bitcoin is a currency that is notorious for being difficult to trace, buyers still have to undergo background checks before purchasing any firearms, according to TrackingPoint Vice President Oren Schauble. The Austin company is working with payment processor Coinvoice to carry out bitcoin transactions.
“The recent advent and success of cryptocurrency has the potential to redefine our monetary system,” TrackingPoint CEO John Lupher said in a press release.
The rifles are priced beginning at $9,995, which would cost around 22 bitcoins, based off the current exchange rate.
The company says its rifles – which can hit objects 1,000 yards away – tag targets with laser dots and then “calculates an exact firing solution factoring in range, wind, target velocity, shot angle, rifle cant, temperature, barometric pressure and other factors.”
Schauble told Ars Technica that the company is also looking into the possibility of creating a price guarantee to potentially compensate customers who buy rifles during unfavorable fluctuations in the bitcoin exchange rate.
Besides TrackingPoint, another Austin-based gun shop, Central Texas Gun Works, has been accepting bitcoins as payment.
Michael Cargill, the store’s owner, told CNN Money that customers at his store also have to go through background checks before being allowed to purchase firearms, but he has made 20 bitcoin transactions this year alone.
‘Very upset’: CIA sat on Benghazi investigation, US personnel fuming
By Adam Housley
Published March 13, 2014
American personnel on the ground in Benghazi the night of the 2012 terror attack are outraged after learning that the CIA’s inspector general never conducted an investigation into what happened — despite two CIA workers being killed in the attack and despite at least two complaints being filed by CIA employees.
Former Ambassador Chris Stevens, another State official and two ex-Navy SEALs working for the CIA were killed in that attack.
Many in the agency were told, or were under the impression, that an investigation was in the works, but that is not the case.
One person close to the issue told Fox News: “They should be doing an investigation to see what the chief of base in Benghazi and station chief in Tripoli did that night. If they did, they’d find out there were some major mistakes.”
This source claimed an investigation would likely uncover a lot of details the public does not know.
Asked why such a probe has not been launched, a CIA spokesman said: “CIA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) always reviews carefully every matter that is brought to its attention, and takes appropriate action based on a variety of factors.”
Still, at least two complaints were filed by CIA employees concerned about the attack, which began at the U.S. compound and eventually spread to the CIA annex one mile away. There is no question that CIA personnel saved a lot of lives; those on the ground that night continue to herald the heroism of the individuals who responded to try and help Stevens and others under attack.
Yet questions remain about the overall decision-making, possible destruction of evidence and warnings of an impending attack.
“There needs to be a CIA investigation … there was a lot of things done wrong,” one special operator said.
But a CIA spokesman said the OIG has already “explained fully” to the agency’s congressional oversight committees “why it did not open an investigation into Benghazi-related issues.”
“That decision was based on a determination that the concerns raised fell under the purview of the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, and that a separate OIG action could unnecessarily disrupt the FBI’s criminal investigation into the Benghazi attacks,” the spokesman said.
The Accountability Review Board probe was ordered by the State Department, and the board reported its findings in December 2012.
But separate investigations haven’t stopped the OIG from investigating issues before. Why they held back in this instance is a question starting to filter through the agents at the CIA. Fox News has been told some of the investigators initially assigned to review the Benghazi complaints are “very upset and very frustrated” that they were told to stop the process.
Some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee expressed some of these same concerns in their review of the Benghazi attacks. On page 15 of the Republican response on Jan. 15, it states: “… the committee has learned that the CIA Inspector General did not investigate complaints relating to the Benghazi attacks from CIA whistle blowers. Whether these complaints are ultimately substantiated or dismissed is irrelevant. On a matter of this magnitude involving the deaths of four Americans, the Inspector General has a singular obligation to take seriously and fully investigate any allegation of wrongdoing. His failure to do so raises significant questions that we believe the Committee must explore more fully.”
Fox News has also learned that the Senate Committee was told by the CIA that the investigation did not take place because it would interfere with the State Department Accountability Review Board, which was conducted to “examine the facts and circumstances of the attacks.” While that review contained major criticism aimed at State Department officials in Washington, it didn’t directly mention the CIA.
“Since when does the CIA defer to State? The ARB is in a total different agency anyway,” one special operator said.
Former U.S. United Nations spokesman Richard Grenell also is critical of the CIA actions. “It’s puzzling that the Obama administration is so reluctant to do a real investigation of the facts surrounding the Benghazi attack,” he said. “The ARB conveniently never interviewed Hillary Clinton or her political team about what they knew in the lead up or how they reacted during the crisis. And now we learn that the CIA wasn’t interested in conducting a real investigation either.”
The frustration within the agency is building over the fact that many see the CIA inspector general as their last line of defense internally. While the internal complaints are classified, Fox News has learned that besides questioning the actions of the station chief and chief of base, the complaints also question dealings with the Libyan security forces — and include questions about the reliance on a group of local volunteer militiamen called the February 17 Martyrs Brigade for security and their likely participation in the attack.
Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.