The Edmond Sun

Local News

April 29, 2013

Lankford highlights Benghazi report, FAA furloughs

House panel to resume hearings next month

EDMOND — U.S. Rep. James Lankford last week said the Benghazi investigation is not over and the FAA flight-delaying furloughs are politically motivated.

On Thursday, Lankford commented on the release of the Interim Progress Report for House members on the events surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

The United States and NATO supported the Libyan revolution that led to the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in October 2011. The interim Transitional National Council declared the country liberated and began the work of establishing an elected government.

Around that time, the interim leaders relocated their center of operations from Benghazi to Tripoli, according to the congressional report. The deteriorating security environment in Benghazi throughout 2012 mirrored the declining situation in the rest of Libya.

From June 2011 to June 2012, Eric Nordstrom, the regional security officer for Libya, compiled a list of more than 200 security incidents in Libya, 50 of which occurred in Benghazi, according to the report.

These incidents included violent acts directed against diplomats and diplomatic facilities, international organizations and third country nationals as well as large-scale militia clashes.

U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi came under direct fire twice in the months leading up to Sept. 11, first in April 2012 when disgruntled Libyan contract guards allegedly threw a small improvised explosive device over the perimeter wall, and in June 2012 when unknown assailants used an IED to blow a hole in the perimeter wall.

After attacks on each organization, the British Embassy, UN and International Committee of the Red Cross withdrew personnel from Benghazi, leaving the U.S. flag as the last western flag flying in the city.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Benghazi Mission was forced to rely on fewer than the approved number of agents, according to the congressional report. The allotted five agents were on site for only 23 days in 2012, and the mission was typically staffed with only three agents, sometimes as few as one.

Security consisted of the agents, a U.S. military security support team and two mobile security detachment teams provided by the State Department. Local unarmed guards responsible for activating the alarm in the event of an attack were also used.

Four armed members of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, one of the militias that fought against Gadhafi, were also to serve as part of a quick reaction force. Numerous reports indicated the group had extremist connections, and it had been implicated in the kidnapping of American citizens and in threats against U.S. military assets.

On Sept. 8, 2012, days before Ambassador Stevens arrived in Benghazi, the militia told State Department officials they would no longer support U.S. action in Benghazi.

During the night of Sept. 11, 2012, the American diplomatic mission in the city was attacked by a heavily armed group. The attack began at a compound meant to protect  the consulate building.

Early in the morning on the next day, a second assault targeted a nearby CIA annex in a different diplomatic compound. Four people were killed including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Ten others were injured.

The primary preliminary findings in the congressional report are:

• Reductions of security levels prior to the attacks in Benghazi were approved at the highest levels of the State Department up to and including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This contradicts her testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in January.

• In the days following the attacks, White House and senior State Department officials altered accurate talking points drafted by the intelligence community in order to protect the State Department.

• Contrary to Obama administration rhetoric, the talking points were not edited to protect classified information. Concern for classified information is never mentioned in email traffic among senior Obama Administration officials.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has alerted members, which include Lankford, that they will continue their investigation.

“The congressional investigation of the attack on our consulate in Benghazi last year is far from over,” Lankford said Thursday.

To prevent future mistakes, the committee will continue to seek answers and press the Obama Administration for the information they have not supplied, Lankford said.

Earlier in the week, Issa said his committee would resume Benghazi hearings next month. A date is to be announced soon.

On Wednesday, Obama press secretary Jay Carney mentioned a letter that the Democratic members of the same committee sent to House Speaker John Boehner the previous day strongly objecting to what they say is an obviously partisan Republican staff report.

“Now, it seems to me that if these members of Congress were genuinely interested in getting information, they would not have abandoned the customary oversight process and excluded Democratic members from the entire process, which is what they did,” Carney said.

These Republicans sacrificed accuracy in favor of partisanship, Carney said.

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Local News
  • Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage

    Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
    Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
    The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
    The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
    According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
    President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
    Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
    No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
    “It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
    Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
    Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
    “If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
    Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
    “We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
    Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
    “I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
    About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
    The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
    So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
    Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.

    July 24, 2014

  • Forced Entry 1 Firefighters sharpen forced entry skills

    Of all burglaries, 60.5 percent involved forcible entry, according to recent FBI statistics.
    As a result, many home and businesses are installing a greater number of complex mechanisms on their doors and windows. Edmond Fire Maj. Joe Elam said 10 local firefighters recently sharpened their skills during a forcible entry class offered by IRONS and LADDERS, LLC., of Lawrence, Kan.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Preparing for a fall home garden

    Gardening can be a year-around activity for those that have an appreciation for fresh and nutritious vegetables. Some of the best vegetables in Oklahoma are produced and harvested during the cooler weather of fall. Successful fall gardens, however, require some work in the summer growing season. Factors to be considered are location, soil preparation, crops to be grown and how/when to plant.  
    The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure.

    July 24, 2014

  • OBU dance team celebrates National Dance Day

    In 2010, “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe created National Dance Day in an effort to help people embrace dance and combat obesity on the last Saturday in July.
    This year, on July 26, Oklahoma Baptist University’s dance team will host a fundraiser that allows participants to dance all day for $30. The fundraiser will be in the Noble Complex on OBU’s campus.
    Cami Gower, an OBU junior and co-captain/co-founder of the dance team, said the team’s officers have been planning for their upcoming season since April. Gower is a graduate of Deer Creek High School.
    “Since then we have been coming up with better ways to reach the community with dance,” she said. “This day of dance was a great way to do it and help the team raise funds.”

    July 24, 2014

  • Blackmon.jpg Local cops arrest NFL player on marijuana complaint

    The Edmond Police Department has released the incident report related to the arrest of ex-Oklahoma State star and current NFL player Justin Blackmon.
    Blackmon, 24, a product of Plainview High School in Ardmore, is a 6-1, 210-pound wide receiver in his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. At Oklahoma State University, he was a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the country’s best collegiate wide receiver.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Women aided in Afghanistan, Rwanda through AT&T

    AT&T renewed its support for the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program Wednesday by making a $125,000 contribution to the program at Lakeside Women’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.
    AT&T has been a major supporter of Peace through Business since its inception in 2007, said Steve Hahn, the new president of AT&T Oklahoma.

    July 23, 2014

  • Salvation Army pantry closes until September

    Due to an increase of need, The Salvation Army in Oklahoma County has distributed all of its food supply. July 23 was the last day of the food pantry operations. In preparation for the move to the Center of Hope at 1001 N. Pennsylvania, The Salvation Army Client Choice Pantry will not resume operations until September.

    July 23, 2014

  • Payne Co. crash sends Guthrie man to hospital

    A two-vehicle crash in Payne County sent a Guthrie man to a local hospital, a trooper stated.
    Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper James Ritze stated a 2005 Jeep SUV and a 2013 Ford pickup were about a mile east of Perkins headed west on State Highway 33. When the pickup slowed for a truck pulling out of a private drive, the SUV struck the rear of the pickup, Ritze stated.

    July 23, 2014

  • 7-11 Second Street to get new 7-Eleven

    The amended site plan for a new 7-Eleven Convenience Store was approved by the Edmond Planning Commission this week by a vote of 4-0.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Guard adds jobs, revenue to Oklahoma

    During a Wednesday morning press conference at Joint Force Headquarters, members of the Guard touted the findings of an in-depth study addressing impacts the organization has in areas including gross state product, employment and tax revenue.

    July 23, 2014

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If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

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