President Obama’s Surprise Revelation of Sealed Benghazi Indictment

PHOTO: President Barack Obama gestures during his news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013.ABC News – by Mike Levine

President Obama surprised aides when he revealed today the existence of a sealed indictment in the Benghazi, Libya, attack, leaving some wondering if he crossed a legal line.

At a press conference at the White House, President Obama was asked whether justice would come to those responsible for the terrorist attack nearly a year ago in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.  

“[W]e have informed, I think, the public that there’s a sealed indictment,” the president responded. “It’s sealed for a reason. But we are intent on capturing those who carried out this attack, and we’re going to stay on it until we get them.”

That marked the only official confirmation so far of a sealed indictment in the Benghazi case. For days, officials across the law enforcement and intelligence communities have refused to publicly confirm reports of a sealed indictment.

After all, according to federal law, “no person may disclose [a sealed] indictment’s existence,” and a “knowing violation … may be punished as a contempt of court.” Contempt of court carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.

A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, called the president’s disclosure “crazy.”

“Doesn’t the law apply to the president too?” the official asked, and then jokingly added, “I guess he could pardon himself.”

In fact, though, the president is effectively immune from breaking the law when it comes to a sealed indictment, according to a former prosecutor in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section

“The [president], by virtue of his position, can’t violate any non-disclosure/confidentiality rule,” said Peter Zeidenberg, now in private practice in Washington. “One of the perks of being the head of the executive branch: Nothing he says is technically a leak. If he does it, it is authorized.”

However, Zeidenberg acknowledged “an argument could be made that a sealed matter can only be unsealed by a court.”

Zeidenberg helped lead the investigation into who leaked the secret identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame in 2003 and the subsequent prosecution of vice presidential aide “Scooter” Libby for lying to federal officials about his role in all of it.

After the president’s remarks, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, where the sealed indictment is believed to have been filed, still declined to comment about reports of a sealed indictment in the Benghazi probe. An email asking specifically about the president’s remarks was not immediately returned.

Despite the president’s chosen words, a White House official insisted he “was simply referencing widely reported information and was not asked about, nor did he comment on any specific indictment.”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment,

ABC News’ Mary Bruce contributed to this report

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-obamas-surprise-revelation-sealed-benghazi-indictment/story?id=19920474

2 thoughts on “President Obama’s Surprise Revelation of Sealed Benghazi Indictment

  1. Some writers with sources in the intelligence community were claiming immediately after the Benghazi attack that in the couple of weeks prior to the attack, a number of commando-type men were arriving one at a time in Libya’s airports. The details of the Benghazi attack point to an extremely well-planned, professional operation.

    Known fact: the CIA was running a large weapons gathering and transfer operation out of Libya’s weapons stockpiles and sending them to Syria. Benghazi was the hub for this operation.

    Who would benefit from an attack on this hub? Obviously, Syria. Seen from the viewpoint of an ongoing war in Syria, the CIA weapons transfer operation out of Benghazi was a legitimate military target, and even the US “ambassador” was an enemy combatant for his part in overseeing the operation. Ambassadors are supposed to stick to peaceful diplomatic tasks; this ambassador had crossed a line.

    IMHO the Benghazi “coverup” is just the US trying to hide this embarrassing little military defeat. The original cover story about a spontaneous demonstration against an obscure trailer for a non-existent film that demeaned Islam was just the quickest spin they could dream up. Within days of the attack the blogosphere had shredded that story. We’re still looking for the truth. This “indictment” will not help find it.

  2. “[W]e have informed, I think, the public that there’s a sealed indictment,” the president responded. “It’s sealed for a reason. But we are intent on capturing those who carried out this attack, and we’re going to stay on it until we get them.”

    wow. I just bet you will, Obummer.

    Even if it takes 100 years or more.

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