Fox News has just learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. Consulate and subsequent attack several hours later was indeed denied by U.S. officials—who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11. Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. Consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to “stand down.” Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the Consulate, which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The quick reaction force from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the Consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight. At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours—enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.
- Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., an Oklahoma-based evangelical Christian-led company with an estimated 22,500 employees, will present arguments in federal court regarding a preliminary injunction against the Health and Human Services mandate next Thursday. At issue is Hobby Lobby’s owner’s opposition to the HHS mandate, which would compel the business to provide certain medical services considered contrary to the owner’s beliefs. Hobby Lobby, which is owned by the Green family, is being represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. In a statement, the Becket Fund detailed why the arts and crafts chain opposed the mandate. “The Green family has no moral objection to the use of preventive contraceptives and will continue its longstanding practice of covering these preventive contraceptives for its employees,” reads the statement. “However, it is in violation of the Green families’ faith to provide or pay for the ‘morning-after pill’ and the ‘week-after pill,’ believing that life begins at conception, when an egg is fertilized.” In September, Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services over the controversial “preventive services” mandate. While several businesses had filed suit against HHS over the past several months, Hobby Lobby was the first non-Catholic business to do so. David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, explained in a teleconference press meeting why he was suing the federal government. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs and comply with this mandate. We know that we have been blessed by God’s grace and believe it is because we have chosen to live our lives and to operate our business according to His Word and we are very grateful for that. But our faith is being challenged by the federal government,” said Green. Later that month, Hobby Lobby would receive a petition from a religious activist group demanding that they drop the lawsuit against the HHS mandate. About 80,000 signatories were listed. “Don’t use your Christian faith as an excuse to obstruct health care reform and deny women access to birth control. I won’t shop at your store until you drop this lawsuit, and I’ll tell my friends to do the same,” reads the petition from the group “Faithful America.” Becket Fund attorney Kyle Duncan, who is helping represent Hobby Lobby, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that the petition was “misleading.” “It makes it seem as if Hobby Lobby is seeking to exclude birth control from its health plan all together. That’s just not true,” said Duncan. According to the Becket Fund, at present there are a total of 33 different ongoing suits against HHS over the “preventive services” mandate.
- The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has upheld a lower court judge’s ruling that the state of Indiana can’t de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business via the state Medicaid program it runs, reports lifenews.com. The ruling from a three-judge panel indicates Indiana can’t enforce a state law signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels disqualifying Planned Parenthood from participating in family planing program because it does abortions. Indiana became the fist state of several to kick the abortion business out of its program in May 2011. A provision of the law would prevent Medicaid patients from obtaining services at Planned Parenthood and other facilities that provide abortions, with the exception of hospitals and ambulatory care centers. The law prohibits state agencies from providing state or federal funds to “any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed.” “The appeals court upheld the part of Pratt’s order that said Indiana didn’t have authority to exclude a medical provider that qualifies for Medicaid. It said the law violated patients’ right to obtain medical care from the provider of their choice,” according to an AP report. The court wrote, “Although Indiana has broad authority to exclude unqualified providers from its Medicaid program, the State does not have plenary authority to exclude a class of providers for any reason—more particularly, for a reason unrelated to provider qualifications.” Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law, which would cut off anywhere from $2 million to $3 million the Planned Parenthood abortion business receives in federal funds via the Indiana government through Medicaid. Afterwards, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick said the federal Medicaid law stipulates that states can’t exclude providers based on the services they provide. The Obama administration has twice rejected Indiana’s effort to revoke taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business, which has upset Mike Fichter, the president of Indiana Right to Life: “We are deeply troubled by the Obama administration’s continued rejection of Indiana’s right to end Medicaid funding for Indiana’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood, even after expert testimony concluded that ‘there is a significant probability that Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood cross-subsidize its abortion services.’ Once again, the administration is revealing its absolute disdain for states rights while propping up the business of abortion at the expense of Hoosier taxpayers. Fortunately, this is not the final ruling. We remain confident that Indiana will prevail and that Hoosiers will have the confidence of knowing their tax dollars are not paying for abortions.”
- Authorities in Iran’s Fars Province arrested seven Christians in a church raid last Friday, even as five other Christian converts who were detained eight months ago from the same province faced trial, reports The Christian Post. More than 300 Christians have been arbitrarily arrested and detained over the last two years. The latest detentions were part of a “marked upsurge in a campaign of harassment of Christians, with reports of a significant increase in arrests during recent weeks.” “There appears to be an increasing tendency by the Iranian authorities to characterize legitimate religious activities as crimes against the state,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said. “In reality, people are being harassed merely on account of their faith.” Christians have faced a wave of arrests since the disputed presidential elections in June 2009. And persecution of minorities intensified as international pressure began to build over Iran’s secret nuclear enrichment program leading to sanctions in the following months, World Evangelical Alliance’s Religious Liberty Commission notes.
- Texas has a message for international election observers planning to watch over the Lone Star vote Nov. 6, reports foxnews.com. Attorney General Greg Abbott is now threatening to prosecute any observer who breaks state law by getting too close to any polling site. He went on to remind representatives that they are not allowed to enter a polling place, and cautioned against going within 100 feet of the entrance. “Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the observers to criminal prosecution for violating state law,” he wrote. Gov. Rick Perry praised a statement from Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade, who said in a letter to the international election observers that she was concerned the monitoring program could be “politicized in a manner that could diminish or permanently damage” its credibility. She also said it’s important for Texans to understand the group has no jurisdiction over state elections and is only there to learn. Abbott had expressed concern that the international election monitors met with groups that have filed suit against voter laws in Texas, including the ACORN-tied Project Vote. A number of left-leaning groups have challenged efforts to enact strict photo ID laws in Texas and other Republican-controlled states, claiming they’re an effort to disenfranchise minority voters. Republican lawmakers say they’re merely aimed at cracking down on voter fraud. The Texas law is not yet in effect, having been blocked by a federal court. Abbott has taken his case to the Supreme Court. In related news, cowboybyte.com reports that the Tennessee Court of Appeals has upheld the state’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at polling places and ruled that election officials must accept an ID issued by the Memphis library.
- Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R–WI) made a strong case Thursday for the need to ensure that every child in America has the opportunity to attend a school of choice, reports heritage.org. “If we want to restore the promise of America,” Ryan stated, “then we must reform our broken public-school system.” Millions of children pass through our nation’s broken public schools year after year. Too many of those children have no other choice. Confined by their parents’ zip codes and economic means, they are assigned to government schools, where, in some of our nation’s largest cities, they are just as likely to drop out as they are to graduate. “The special interests that dominate this system always seem to have their own futures lined up pretty nicely. But when you think about the future of the young adults that the system has failed, many will face a lot of grief and disappointment—and their country owes them better than that.” School choice places the interests of children (and parents, teachers, and taxpayers) before the interests of the adults in the antiquated assignment-by-zip-code public education system. Above all, school choice creates freedom in a moribund system stifled by government regulation and based on a monopolistic design that is alien to nearly every other aspect of American life. To improve American education, that has to change. As Ryan concluded, “When you set aside all the obstacles to education reform, you are left with one obvious fact: Every child in America should have this kind of opportunity. Sending your child to a great school should not be a privilege of the well-to-do. . . . I believe that choice should be available to every parent in our country, wherever they live. Education reform is urgent, and freedom is the key.”
- One of America’s leading pastors and broadcasters, Dr. David Jeremiah, has commented on the upcoming election, reports the American Family Association: “This time, vote your values, your beliefs, your convictions. Over the last years I’ve traveled, I’ve been asked this question over and over again: ‘Dr. Jeremiah, do you think God is finished with America?’ But that is the wrong question. The right question is, ‘Is America finished with God?’ Over these next days as we pray . . . and vote, we can send a strong message to the watching world that we are still one nation under God.” Meanwhile, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association launched a major ad campaign last week encouraging Americans to “vote for biblical values” this November, reports Christianity Today. Billy Graham’s message in the ad said, “On November 6, the day before my 94th birthday, our nation will hold one of the most critical elections in my lifetime. We are at a crossroads and there are profound moral issues at stake. I strongly urge you to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and woman, protect the sanctity of life, and defend our religious freedoms. The Bible speaks clearly on these crucial issues. Please join me in praying for America, that we will turn our hearts back toward God.” Some have speculated that Franklin Graham was behind this and other messages. The son has been more outspoken than his father on political matters in recent years. Earlier in the week, the BGEA removed an article listing Mormonism as a cult from its website. Billy Graham recently welcomed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at his home and reportedly promised, “I’ll do all I can to help you.”
- Police are searching for the vandals who apparently torched more than a dozen campaign signs and American flags in a Howey-in-the-Hills veteran’s yard, reports weazelzippers.us. William Overbay said someone ignited the flags and signs, which supported Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, that he had lined along his yard. The vandals also painted a sign on his driveway reading “Obama for life,” at his DuPont Circle home, Overbay said.” The first thing I saw was this sign painted on my driveway,” Overbay said. Howey-in-the-Hills police say no one left any clues behind to identify themselves. Overbay said as a Vietnam-era veteran, the hard feelings caused by the vandalism run deep. “To give that many years for my country and to see it desecrated in such a despicable way angers me,” Overbay said. “We have freedom of speech and to desecrate any kind of signs is absolutely despicable and a violation of the constitution of the United States.” Overbay said he’ll be replacing the destroyed signs and flags in time for the election.