BBG Watch Commentary

061714 1205 EDT VOA with Benghazi story

This was a significant U.S. news development that came directly from U.S. government sources (first the Pentagon, then the White House), but BBC easily beat the Voice of America (VOA) in reporting on the U.S. capture of Benghazi attack suspect and had it first on its homepage as top breaking news, quoting President Obama’s statement, before the story (short and lacking Obama statement) appeared on the VOA English news homepage as number three news item.

BBC Homepage

061714 1150 EDT BBC Front Page Story - Benghazi

11:50 AM EDT BBC Front Page Story – Benghazi


In fact, as of 1:30 PM EDT Tuesday, June 17, the Voice of America English news website had only one extremely short report on the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah.

As of 1:30 PM EDT, VOA English News had nothing on President Obama’s statement, which was released by the White House more than an hour earlier.

BBC had reported that “President Barack Obama praised the courage and professionalism of the military, law enforcement and intelligence personnel who tracked and captured Mr Abu Khattala, whom the US describes as a ‘key figure’ in the attack, well before VOA even mentioned any comment from Obama.

At 1:30 PM EDT, the Benghazi attack suspect was not even a top news story on the VOA English news website. It was number three. BBC had it as its top news story.

While the initial VOA News report says it was posted at 11:35 AM EDT, the VOA English News website homepage still did not show the story at 11:58 EDT. Anyone going to the VOA English news homepage before noon on Tuesday would not be made aware of this news development. It’s possible that the VOA correspondent filed the story earlier, but it did not appear on the VOA English news homepage before noon EDT.

061714 1158 EDT VOA Front Page (No Benghazi either in Top Stories or front page)
061714 1158 EDT VOA Front Page (No Benghazi either in Top Stories or front page)

11:58 AM EDT VOA Front Page (No Benghazi either in Top Stories or front page)

The BBC report had over 700 words. While this BBC report was already online, the initial VOA report had only 120 words. In this initial report, VOA had only one sentence from a very lengthy briefing by the White House spokesman Jay Carney.


VOA NEWS REPORT, 1:30 PM EDT, Tuesday, June 17, 2014

VOA Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 1.30 PM

US Captures Benghazi Attack Suspect

Jeff Seldin

June 17, 2014 11:35 AM

U.S. officials say that one of the ringleaders of the 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi has been captured.

“I can confirm that on Sunday, June 15, the U.S. military — in cooperation with law enforcement personnel — captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a key figure in the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

Kirby said the suspect is in U.S. custody in “a secure location outside of Libya,” adding that no civilian casualties were incurred during the operation.

“All U.S. personnel involved in the operation have safely departed Libya,” he said.

Aboard Air Force One, White House spokesperson Jay Carney described Khatallah’s capture as “an important milestone”.

Luis Ramirez contributed to this report from the White House.


BBG Watch Commentary

Even though this statement was released by the White House before 12:30 PM EDT, VOA English News had nothing on it at 1:30 PM EDT, and just a few lines after 1:30 PM.

Note that this email obtained by BBG Watch was already sent out by the While House at 12:26 PM EDT.


Date: June 17, 2014, 12:26:16 PM EDT

To: [Removed]

Subject: Statement by the President on the Apprehension of Ahmed Abu Khatallah

Office of the Press Secretary
June 17, 2014

Statement by the President on the Apprehension of Ahmed Abu Khatallah

The United States has an unwavering commitment to bring to justice those responsible for harming Americans. Since the deadly attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, I have made it a priority to find and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of four brave Americans. I recently authorized an operation in Libya to detain an individual charged for his role in these attacks, Ahmed Abu Khatallah. The fact that he is now in U.S. custody is a testament to the painstaking efforts of our military, law enforcement, and intelligence personnel. Because of their courage and professionalism, this individual will now face the full weight of the American justice system.

Even as we welcome the success of this operation, we also pause to remember the four Americans who gave their lives in Benghazi representing their country: Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty. As I said shortly after the attack, they exemplified the values that we stand for as a nation, including a commitment to freedom and justice. All Americans should be grateful for their service, just as we are grateful to all our personnel – civilian and military – who represent our country around the globe. We will continue to honor our fallen by carrying on their efforts in support of the Libyan people’s aspirations to live in a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic society.

With this operation, the United States has once again demonstrated that we will do whatever it takes to see that justice is done when people harm Americans. We will continue our efforts to bring to justice those who were responsible for the Benghazi attacks. We will remain vigilant against all acts of terrorism, and we will continue to prioritize the protection of our service-members and civilians overseas. We will also sustain our support for the Libyan people, as they work to overcome years of tyranny and do the difficult work of building a democracy.


Sent: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 12:58 PM
To: [Removed] Subject: Travel Pool Report #4 – Gaggle

Carney talked a bit about the trip to Pittsburgh, saying POTUS is there to help “spur innovation, entrepreneurship and manufacturing.”

On the Libya raid, Carney confirmed the capture, saying that the “United States military, in cooperation with law enforcement personnel, captured Ahmed Abu Khattallah, a key figure in the attacks on US facilities in Benghazi, Libyia, in September of 2012. He is in custody in a secure location outside of Libya. For more details and any questions about the operation, I would refer you to the Department of Defense.”

“More broadly, we have made it clear since that cowardly attack on our facilities that we would go to any lengths to find, apprehend and bring to justice those who perpetrated it and were responsible for the deaths of four Americans. The capture of Abu Khatallah is not the end of that effort, but it marks an important milestone.”

Carney called it an “important development,” but declined to answer most questions.

He declined to call Khatallah a “mastermind” but said that he “obviously was a key figure in the attacks.” He also declined to say whether Khatallah is being held at Guantanamo.

Carney did not provide any details about when the operation took place or where it took place. He said that “more details will be forthcoming later in the day.” He also declined to say why it took until now to capture him.

On the political impact of the capture, Carney said that “I really think this is entirely about the objective that we had as a country in the immediate aftermath and ever since, which is to bring those responsible to justice.”

On Iraq, Carney said that POTUS met with national security team Monday evening, and said that POTUS will “continue to consult with his national security team in the days to come,” and said that there will also be further consultations with members of Congress, including some closed briefings this week.

He said the national security team will continue to develop “a range of options,” and said that work is ongoing.

He said that WH has “been clear that this is not primarily a military challenge” and added that “there is no military solution that will solve Iraq’s problems.”

On ISIL, Carney said that “ISIL is a threat to the Iraq nation and to all Iraqis … The govt and the security forces are working on behalf of all of Iraq’s citizens regardless of their religious and ethnic background.”

Q. What kind of time does the president have before he has to move to protect Baghdad?

“The president asked his national security team to develop options and that effort continues. The president made clear that in his view … there is not a military solution to Iraq’s problems … there is a near-term challenge presented by the movement of ISIL . . . and we are assessing that situation . . . we wsill continue to do that and continue to look at options to assist” the Iraqi security forces.

Carney wouldn’t discuss deadline timeframe.

“The president is also making clear that the medium and long term challenges that Iraq faces cannot be solved militarily . . . They must be solved through actions taken by Iraq’s leaders to govern inclusively” so that it is abundantly clear to Iraq’s citizens that groups like ISIL.

Q. On the war powers letter to Congress, and the 275 military personnel authorized:

A. “At the request of the US State Deaprtment, the Department of Defense continues to provide security assistance for embassy personnel inside of Iraq” … (Over the weekend, a number of teams, about 170 US personnel, began arriving in Baghdad from within the central command area. These personnel will provide assistance to the Department of State in connection with the temp relocation of some staff from the embassy to consulates general in Basra and Irbil, to the Iraq support unit in Amman. These military personnel are entering Iraq with the consent of the government of Iraq. WE have filed similar letters when we needed to augment security at embassies.)

“The safety of personnel serving in diplomatic missions abroad is among our highest priorities.”

(Military has also moved 100 people to airfield management security to provide security if required.)

Q. What about training and advice?

A. (We have an arrangement …. that involves …

“These personnel are focused on security to the embassy personnel.”