Friday, October 12, 2012

Mother of American killed in Benghazi to President Obama, " you screwed up, you didn't do a good job, I lost my son."

Please read the enclosed transcript from a CNN interview with Fran Smith, Mother of one of the men slain in Benghazi.  She deserves answers about what happened there as do the American people.

Read the whole thing.....  She lays it out bare to those responsible for the deaths of 4 fine US citizens -  The Administration and State Department is more worried about the re-election campaign than telling the Mother of Sean Smith the truth about how they failed to protect the US Ambassador and his staff. 

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks. Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest," with a mother who is now asking the toughest question any mom ever can. Why is my son dead? 

That is all Pat Smith wants to know. Her son, Sean Smith, was one of the four Americans killed on September 11th in that terror attack on American facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Sean Smith, who is one of the computer specialists at the American consulate there. A month later -- a month after she watched her son's casket come off a cargo plane, a month after she says everyone promised her answers, everyone all the way up to the president of the United States. She says she is still waiting to hear. Still waiting for answers. Waiting for a call. 

Congress held hearings today. We'll talk about that shortly, but first, my conversation with Sean Smith's mom, Pat. 

 
COOPER: Pat, I appreciate you being with us. And I'm just so sorry for your loss. What do you want people to know about your son, about Sean? 

PAT SMITH, SON KILLED IN BENGHAZI ATTACK: Well, god. He was my only child. And he was good, he was good at what he did, he'd loved it. 

COOPER: He loved working with computers? 

SMITH: Computers, radios. He was good at what he did. 

COOPER: Was that something he had done as a kid? I mean how did -- did he always -- was he always good with computer? 

SMITH: Well, when he was a kid, computers weren't out yet. And -- 

(LAUGHTER)

And then they were out and he -- I got a computer and he started playing with them and he started showing me how you could build a flame thrower and -- by just watching a computer and then told you how to do it. So that's how it started. 

COOPER: He lived in the Netherlands. Were you able to communicate a lot? I mean he'd served in a lot of very dangerous places. Did you always know where he was? 

SMITH: I always knew where he was when he told me. For example, this time he was in the Hague and that is where he was stationed. He was supposed to be there for about two years. And then he would transfer some place else. I did not know he was going to be in Libya. 

COOPER: Did he ever talk about the dangers that came along with his job? I mean he -- he serve d in Iraq as well. 

SMITH: Yes, in fact, he sent me -- I still have it on my computer where he sent me this thing. He was in working in the palace over there. 

COOPER: In Baghdad. 

SMITH: And they -- yes, in Baghdad, and he says, got to go, and suddenly he just disappeared and I said, well, what's happening over there. And he said listen. And I was listening, and suddenly I heard boom. Where they were shooting at him. 

COOPER: You must have worried a lot. 

SMITH: When that was over. I can't spend my life worrying about it. I accepted what he wanted to do. 

COOPER: I want to play for our viewers some of what President Obama said about your son when he returned home. Let's watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sean Smith, it seems, lived to serve. First in the Air Force, then with you at the State Department. He knew the perils of this calling, from his time in Baghdad. There in Benghazi, far from home, he surely thought of Heather and Samantha and Nathan, and he laid down his life in service to us all. 

Today, Sean is home. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He's mentioning his wife and his children. When you heard the president say that, what did you think? 

SMITH: This is the first time I heard the president say that. 

COOPER: It is really? 

SMITH: Yes, he never told -- didn't tell me that. Sean knew he was in a bunch of scary places. I knew he was in security places. I didn't expect him to get blown up. I didn't expect him to die. COOPER: Do you feel that you know what happened or are you still searching for answers? Have you been in contact with the State Department? Have they reached out to you and given you details of what happened? 

SMITH: That's a funny subject. I begged them to tell me what was -- what happened. I said I want to know all the details, all of the details no matter what it is, and I'll make up my own mind on it. And everyone of them, all the big shots over there told me that -- they promised me, they promised me that they would tell me what happened. As soon as they figure it out. 

No one, not one person has ever, ever gotten back to me other than media people and the gaming people. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Her son was a big video gamer. 

We are going to have more of my conversation with Pat Smith after a quick break. She has some very tough words for this administration who she says has forgotten the promises they made to her the day Sean's body was returned. 

Also tonight, the latest on today's congressional hearings into the attacks. Jill Dougherty and Fran Townsend join us next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're talking tonight with Pat Smith whose son Sean Smith was killed in the Libya terror attack. Former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty was also killed. Today his mother Barbara asked Mitt Romney to stop invoking her son's name on the campaign stump, quote, "I don't trust Romney," she says. "He shouldn't make my son's death part of his political agenda." 

Pat Smith did not speak about anyone's political agenda tonight. She is, however, bitterly, bitterly disappointed with the State Department, the Defense Department and the White House tonight. You're going to hear shortly about how the State Department is going to respond to her charges. 

But first, though, more of my conversation with Pat Smith starting with her as yet unfulfilled search for answers. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Who told you that they would give you information? 

SMITH: You'll love this. Obama told me. Hillary promised me. Joe Biden -- Joe Biden is a pressure. He was a real sweetheart. But he also told -- they all told me that -- they promised me. And I told them please, tell me what happened. Just tell me what happened. 

COOPER: So you're still waiting to hear from somebody about what happened to your son? About what they know? Or even what they don't know. 

SMITH: Right. Right. Officially yes. I told them, please don't give me any baloney that comes through with this political stuff. I don't want political stuff. You can keep your political, just tell me the truth. What happened. And I still don't know. In fact, today I just heard something more that he died of smoke inhalation. 

COOPER: So you don't even know the cause of death? 

SMITH: I don't even know if that's true or not. No, I don't. I don't know where. I look at TV and I see bloody hand prints on walls, thinking, my god, is that my son's? I don't know if he was shot. I don't know -- I don't know. They haven't told me anything. They are still studying it. And the things that they are telling me are just outright lies. 

That Susan Rise, what -- she talked to me personally and she said, she said, this is the way it was. It was -- it was because of this film that came out. 

COOPER: So she told you personally that she thought it was a result of that video of the protest? 

SMITH: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. In fact all of them did. All of them did. Leon Panetta actually took my face in his hands like this and he said, trust me. I will tell you what happened. And so far, he's told me nothing. Nothing at all. And I want to know. 

COOPER: It's important for you to know all the details no matter how horrible. 

SMITH: Yes. 

COOPER: Or no matter how tough they are to hear. 

SMITH: Exactly. I told him, if it's such a secret thing, fine, take me in another room, whisper in my ear what happened so that I know, and we'll go from there. But no. No, they -- you know, they treat me like -- at first I was so proud because they were treating me so nice when I went to that reception. They all came up to me and talked to me and everything. I cried on Obama's shoulder. And he -- then he'd kind of looked off into the distance. 

So that was worthless to me. I want to know, for god's sakes. Or for Allah's sake or whoever's sake is there. 

COOPER: You deserve -- you deserve answers. 

SMITH: I think so. I believe I do. I believe it. It's my son. I had him for the first -- I told Obama personally, I said, look, I had him for his first 17 years and then he went into the service, then you got him. And -- I won't say it the way I said it. But I said you screwed up, you didn't do a good job, I lost my son. And they said, we'll get back to you. We -- I promise, I promise you. I will get back to you. COOPER: Some of the administration have said well, you know, we're investigating, we're still trying to find out answers. But you just want -- 

SMITH: They still are. 

COOPER: You would still want them to contact you and at least keep you apprised of the investigation, of where things are. You would think that they would at least do that. 

SMITH: That would be so nice. That would at least acknowledge that I have a right to know something, something other than, we're checking up on it, or trust me. I like that one the best of all. Trust me. I will let you know. 

Well, I don't trust you anymore. I don't trust you anymore. You -- I'm not going to say lied to me, but you didn't tell me and you knew. 

COOPER: Pat Smith, thank you. 

SMITH: OK. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A grieving mother. We are joined now by two women who broke the news on the story right from the start. Former Bush homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, and foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty. 

We should mention, Fran, as always -- as we always mention, serves on the CIA's external advisory committee. She recently traveled to Libya with her employer MacAndrews & Forbes. That was before the attack and actually had met with Ambassador Stevens. 

Obviously Mrs. Smith is very upset and we -- you know, it's very understandable why she would be. What is the procedure, though, for keeping a family informed? I mean she says, they said we will let you know what happened. Is it -- do they wait until the investigation is over? Or you would think somebody would be in contact with her. 

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Right. So there's actually an office in the Justice Department because this is now obviously a criminal investigation, that's responsible. The Office of Victim Witness Assistance. They are supposed to be the advocates inside the apparatus of the U.S. government to get updates, to make sure that the families are kept apprised. But you would -- you also expect and every department has this. If it's an employee that's lost, or it's a member of one of our law enforcement or intelligence services that agency takes ownership of making sure to shepherd the person through the system and around the system to get information. 

So in many respects, Anderson, it's sort of incomprehensible to me these are people, the family members were identified, they met with senior officials, including the president of the United States and the secretary of state. It's not as though they don't know where she is. She's got -- 

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Right. Initially I thought, well, maybe it's -- you know, it's -- maybe they're in contact with Sean Smith's wife who is I guess in the Netherlands. But she was at this reception. They clearly talked to her. 

TOWNSEND: No, that's right. And the fact oftentimes, Anderson, with a family that's lost someone, there's more than one person, right? So you'll have the parents of the victim. 

COOPER: Right. 

TOWNSEND: You may have a spouse or an extended family. And it becomes the government's responsibility to care for that family and keep them informed. 

COOPER: Well, Jill, I know you reached out to the State Department tonight about the allegations that Pat Smith has made. What are they saying? 

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's three things they said to me. They're saying they, since the beginning, have made it a priority to be in touched with the families, maintain regular contact, as they say. They say that in the last 24 hours before the congressional hearing they've reached out by phone to at least one member of the family and told them what would be reported at that -- at that congressional hearing. 

And then they also said we're going to make sure that the mother of Sean is contacted by us. So, they won't get into a lot of specifics but they maintain that they have been in contact with the families in some way or another since the beginning. 

COOPER: So you're saying that they are now saying that they will contact Mrs. Smith? 

DOUGHERTY: They'll make sure. Yes, they said, they will make sure that they are. 

COOPER: At this point, though, I mean, a family member, who's -- who are they supposed to believe? I mean there have been so many different stories out there, Fran, and so many different -- and others, you know, lots of political allegations. We had this hearing today and, you know, some saw it as a political hearing. And politics motivating it. 

What do you -- 

TOWNSEND: You know, look, this is really hard. In the first 48 to 72 hours, the first facts are often wrong. 

COOPER: Right. 

TOWNSEND: And so I think the media and the American people understand that and sort of allowed for that. The problem is, tomorrow is a month since the attack. It is hard to imagine that no one has talked to this woman. The autopsy in which -- was done at Dover Air Force base for all of the victims with FBI agents present is a well known fact. The results of that are understood by investigators and there is no excuse for not sharing that information with this victim's mother. 

COOPER: Right. Jill, the hearing -- let's talk about the hearing that happened today. Which the State Department defended the administration's handling the attack. You say it was highly political. Did it accomplish anything? Did it resolve anything? There's certainly a lot of allegations about the political -- 

(CROSSTALK)

DOUGHERTY: Anderson, you know, I didn't hear a lot of really new information at all. I mean I think, I and some others who were watching it at the time were really struck by the fact that it really turned into his sparring, and it was very, very personal between, you know, the Republicans and the Democrats. 

And so it -- I don't think that it accomplished very much when you get down to the nuts and bolts of what was learned. 

COOPER: One of the most contentious moments, Jill, was, I mean, the State Department said that they had -- I don't have the exact phrasing but basically the appropriate number of people on the ground, and there was -- there was a sharp rebuke from the panel saying, how can you say that when -- given four Americans are dead. 

DOUGHERTY: Right. And that's the essential thing. But I think what -- and not to explain away what the State Department is doing, but their view would be based on the information that they had at that particular point which -- was coming from intelligence agencies and others on the ground. They believe that they had the adequate amount of staffing. 

Now they also say that event was so extraordinary that basically nothing a few more people, a few more, let's say, protective measures could not have protected from something that they are describing, really, as combat -- military combat attack. 

COOPER: There is an investigation underway. I mean, a -- at this point, Fran, who is responsible for giving the definitive account of what happened and what cables were sent in doing this investigation? 

TOWNSEND: Well, as we've said and reported, Anderson, there are a number of -- there's accountability review board, there are these congressional hearings. In the end, the definitive version of the facts will come from the FBI who are responsible for putting together the investigation and a potential prosecution. They will be -- they will be the keepers of the evidence. But I must tell you ,you know, the answer on its face if we had adequate security kind of fails the common sense test. I mean, honestly, if you step back from the partisan politics of Washington, and you talk to average Americans who've got no dog in this fight, they sort of say, look, it's obvious we didn't have adequate security. This isn't -- if we're looking to assign blame, the terrorists are to blame for the death. But if we need -- we want accountability because we want to understand how can we make sure the State Department are working in dangerous places, we want to make sure, how do we assess threats, assign security, and -- 

COOPER: What the State Department has said today in this hearing was that no amount of sort of the usual security would have been able to deal with a -- dozens of attackers. They're saying, there were dozens of attackers who are heavily armed. You say? 

TOWNSEND: I say we have forward operating bases in Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of the war. And we protected -- 

COOPER: And certainly -- and the facility itself was not very secured in terms of the actual technological security devices over there. 

TOWNSEND: That's right. But if it's -- so if you're at a facility that you cannot protect, that it is not possible to protect from the threat that is present, then you shouldn't be there. If you are there and you believe you can protect, then you've got to give it adequate resources. It's -- this is less about to me about blame than it is about accountability. What we ought to care about is accountability to protect other diplomats. 

COOPER: Sure. Because you don't want this to happen again. 

TOWNSEND: Right. 

COOPER: And there are other facilities that we have that are like this consulate. That's the bottom line here. 

TOWNSEND: Right. 

COOPER: And also getting answers for the families. 

Jill Dougherty, I appreciate your reporting. Fran Townsend, as well

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