November 16, 2013

Rewards of $10 million offered for Benghazi suspects

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The State Department said Friday that it has been quietly offering rewards since January of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any person involved in last year’s attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya.

click image to enlarge

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during an attack by an armed group on Sept. 11, 2012.

Reuters

The announcement ends weeks of Obama administration silence on questions about whether it was using all available means to catch the attackers.

In a letter to lawmakers Friday, the department said the rewards were not publicized on its “Rewards for Justice” website as is normally done because of security issues around the ongoing investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the mission in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

A State Department official familiar with the letter sent to Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, by Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield acknowledged that it’s unusual not to publicize offers of rewards, but said investigators have other ways of making sure the information is known “as needed.” In the course of the probe, investigators have made it known to individuals that cash is available for those coming forward with actionable information.

The official said the rewards have been in place since Jan. 7, while Hillary Rodham Clinton was still secretary of state. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Lawmakers had complained that the department was not using everything at its disposal to catch the perpetrators. McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, had been the lead author of an Oct. 30 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking why rewards were not being offered for the Benghazi attackers. Eighty-two other lawmakers signed that letter. McCaul’s office did not comment on the letter Friday.

The State Department had previously ducked questions about whether rewards for the Benghazi attackers had been offered, citing concerns about identifying possible suspects.

The department’s refusal to discuss the issue had led to criticism from many, mostly conservative, lawmakers who believe that the administration has badly mishandled Benghazi and may have even tried to cover up key details about the attack that occurred on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

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