Benghazigate: The Cover-Up Continues
From the start, almost everything that we were originally and "officially" told by the Obama Administration about the Benghazigate "event" was false (i.e., a lie) or misleading or inadequate. And now that the sole suspect held in the attack has been released, the cover-up is gaining momentum.
The report produced by State's Accountability Review Board (ARB) and released in an unclassified version Dec. 18 (pdf) did little to clear up what was misleading and inadequate in the "official" versions about the happenings during the "event."
The recently-released "Flashing Red: A Special Report On The Terrorist Attack At Benghazi" (pdf) by the Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs is little better.
I write today to: 1) Describe the lies within the contexts of the reports; 2) Reveal the shortcomings of the reports; 3) Discuss the implausibility of the various details of encounters between the intruders, the occupants, and the rescuers; and 4) Examine the pre-"event" operations in Benghazi and the possible reasons the "event" occurred.
The reason that this serial perfidy should be exposed is that the lies -- along with the misleading and inadequate focus on the pre-"event "security situation in Benghazi, the Mohammed video, and the questions about the lack of support during the "event" -- all distract from the main issues:
(1) The pre-"event" purpose of the compound and its Annex (since these operations probably motivated the perpetrators of the "event"); and
(2) Team Obama's failed policies in North Africa, the Middle East, and Afghanistan.
That is, everything that we are "officially" being told is intended to or serves to provide a cover-up both of the gun-running operation that was run out of the compound and its associated Annex and of the fiascoes in Libya, Egypt, and Syria.
The reports reveal little new information, and that is disappointing but not surprising, for the administration has no intention of ever allowing the truth to be known by the public about the pre-"event" operations in Benghazi, the "event" itself, and the aftermath of the "event." Michael Hirsh sums it best in his review of the ARB report: "A real reckoning of Benghazi will have to await further reports.
Neither report discusses pre-"event" operations in Benghazi, nor do the reports investigate possible motivations for the attack. Instead, both reports dwell at length about the pre-"event' security situation in Benghazi and the absence of military responses during and after the "event."
The ARB report is 39 pages of mush -- some say cover-up -- interspersed with purported facts that pretty much follow the substance of earlier "official" descriptions of the "event." It is ironically headed with the quote by Santayana about the past repeating itself, and that, alone, would be cringe-inducing were it not so risible -- since the authors of the report placed it there with apparent serious intent, and it was "included perhaps to add legitimacy and a veneer of integrity to an investigative report unworthy of such a definition, it is an insult to those aware of" the actual circumstances prior to the "event."
The Senate report offers little new insight, but it does go into more detail on pre-"event" circumstances, the "event" itself, the "Mohammed film" lie, and a few other things -- worth the read only if you have nothing else to do!
Both reports dismiss the first lie -- that the intrusion resulted from spontaneous demonstrations in reaction to a "disgusting and reprehensible" video. The ARB report simply states that "there was no protest prior to the attacks, which were unanticipated in their scale and intensity."
The Senate report goes into a little more insignificant detail in its dismissal of the lie by specifically covering the multiple statements by Mr. Carney, Secretary Clinton, Mr. Obama, and others -- most famously during the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's "full Ginsberg" on Sept. 16 -- wherein the administration held to that first lie.
The reports also refute the second lie: The one about the description of the compound, for neither the compound itself nor its main building ever should have been called a "consulate," since neither ever held that formal designation. Furthermore, no "consular" functions were ever carried out in the building or at the compound nor did the American flag ever fly over it.
The ARB report refers to the compound (view overhead here) as the "U.S. Special Mission compound (SMC)," but we do not know if it ever held that formal designation prior to the "event," because "a complete list of All U.S. embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions worldwide" can be found here, and there is nothing at that link that refers to anything in Benghazi.
The compound was:
... a gated-villa, leased by the US State Department from a local man named Mohammad al-Bishari. The villa in Benghazi was not a US Embassy, diplomatic mission or extension of the embassy. In fact, the nearest US Embassy is Tripoli.
And the ARB report confirmed:
...that the U.S. government mission in Benghazi was "never a consulate," contrary to the incessant claims made in the establishment press. "The unique circumstances surrounding the creation of the mission in Benghazi as a temporary mission outside the realm of permanent diplomatic posts resulted in significant disconnects and support gaps," the report explains, pointing out that the new Libyan regime was not even officially notified about the existence of the compound.
An interesting point is that the Senate report refers to the compound as "Temporary Mission Facility" or simply -- uncapitalized -- as "mission" or "facility."
A third lie unintentionally debunked by the reports was that it was an "attack."
Even though each report uses the term "attack" many times, both make clear that the compound was not actually attacked.
What really happened was that a group of "dozens" of men entered the compound (in the words of the Senate's report -- "a large number of armed people flow[ed] unimpeded") through the front gate, and this entry was accompanied by gunfire and at least one explosion.
None of the compound's inhabitants were ever killed or wounded by the gunfire, and neither the gate nor the wall surrounding the compound nor any of the buildings in the compound were damaged by any of the explosions.
The group used fuel cans stored near a generator to torch a building near the compound's entrance that had been used to house guards and to torch several vehicles parked outside that building (almost all of the photographs and stock footage that are seen in the media are of that building and those vehicles.)
In fact, each and every "official" detail pertaining to the circumstances of the "event" at the compound defies logic -- from the intruders' entry into the compound to the rescuers' return to the Annex -- A series of circumstances that might well be called "The Immaculate Confrontation" since the intruders, the occupants, and the rescuers engaged in firefights for over an hour -- -and nobody got shot!
I have produced below an enhanced and annotated picture of the chart/map that was introduced by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb during her appearance before the House Oversight Committee Hearing on the "Security Failures in Benghazi" on Oct. 10, 2012, and I ask that readers keep it in mind as I proceed to discuss the "official" details of the "event":
I have made countless searches and read countless descriptions of the "event," and I have found that no one -- journalist, blogger, or writer -- has explored or questioned:
How the Blue Mountain guards outside the gate and the armed but poorly skilled Libyan February 17 Martyrs' Brigade militia members inside the gate escaped injury or capture as the firing and exploding began (AP reports that a guard beaten by the intruders has been interviewed, but no details of that interview have surfaced) -- and ARB report said they fled "to points south and east in the compound, towards the Villa B area" but thereafter is silent on all but one them;
How the entry gate escaped damage as the "dozens" of intruders came through it;
Why the intruders did not break into the main building until several minutes after they had entered the compound;
How four of the security agents inside the compound could have escaped injury or capture in several confrontations with a heavily-armed and firing crowd that overwhelmingly outnumbered them;
Why the intruders did not torch or destroy the SUV that was parked near the two secondary buildings during the intruders' assault of those buildings and entry into one of them (the report says the intruders were unable to use empty fuel containers to do this but does not question why no other vandalism was committed on the vehicles);
Why the intruders did not even begin to attempt to break into the main building's secure area;
How the security agents could have escaped injury or capture in several attempts to remove Sean Smith's body and search for Ambassador Stevens' body while confronting a heavily-armed and firing crowd that overwhelmingly outnumbered them:
Why the intruders suddenly withdrew from the compound less than an hour after entering it without, apparently, having achieved any possible objective; and
How CIA agent Tyrone Woods and the other members of his rescue party could have entered the compound through the gate via the single approach from the East (the above-linked AP story said that approach roads were blocked) without encountering and engaging confronting a heavily-armed and firing crowd that overwhelmingly outnumbered them -- a crowd that may or may not have exited through that gate immediately prior to the rescue party's arrival.
Note: The ARB report says the Annex team remained behind whilst the original 5 agents departed, and it describes another immaculate firefight with the returning intruders before the rescue team also leaves through the crowd.
It is extremely unlikely that these questions will ever be answered by anyone in the administration because each of the questions may pertain to the pre-"event" operations in Benghazi and the possible reasons that the "event" occurred.
I have dubbed the pre-"event" operations "Fast and Furious in the Maghreb" and described the operations here and here. The operations were a major part of a gun-running operation (described here) conducted by Team Obama and its various Muslim allies that allowed for the clandestine arming of the rebels in Syria. The reports do not address these operations at all.
The "event" itself was almost certainly directed at those operations in a fashion that will probably never be known, and that fact explains the shortcomings of the various descriptions of the details of the "event" itself.
Doug Hagmann has produced a number of pieces at CFP here, here, here, and here exploring the operations in Benghazi and on the probable identities and motives of the intruders (some of the conjecture by his contacts approach "black helicopter" territory, but it is well worth the time needed to read them all).
The reports confirm Senator Dianne Feinstein's press conference comments that the "dozens" of intruders came through an open gate, but neither addresses when the gatekeepers and near-by Libyan security personnel left their posts nor do they address if the gatekeepers and security personnel were connected to the intruders or if they joined the intruders or simply absconded.
The major unanswered question arising from the several "official" versions is the "why" question -- Why did the intruders intrude, i.e., what was their motive? It could not just have been to set the "mission" on fire, but that seems to have been all that they did during the "event."
As noted above, the intruders did not initially make the 100-yard charge at Villa C, the compound's main building, where Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, and four Diplomatic Security (DS) agents were located. Instead, some of the intruders gathered up containers holding fuel for generators and set fires, and others made a rather leisurely move towards and surround the various buildings within the compound.
Villas C and B were quite large -- perhaps as big as 10,000 sq. ft. and 5,000 sq. ft. respectively -- much larger than the buildings would need to be to house so few people.
And from one piece in another excellent series of articles, Clare Lopez suggested that they were large warehouse-type buildings that probably contained arms collected by the operation. Adm. James A. Lyons writes about the "event" here, and he agrees with Ms. Lopez and thinks that the buildings were probably looted.
These conjectures are interesting, but there is no evidence that the intruders did any looting during the short period of time that they were in the compound. However, they may have made the intrusion in order to search for the things that they thought were in the buildings.
The difference between branding the Benghazi facility a "mission" or a "consulate" may be crucial in determining what was really going on in the building [.]... [It] was routinely used by Stevens and others to coordinate with the Turkish, Saudi and Qatari governments on supporting the insurgencies in the Middle East, most prominently the rebels opposing Assad's regime in Syria.
Knowing that the "mission" was being used in "aiding the rebels fighting Assad's regime in Syria" gives rise to a very big unanswered question: Who was behind the operation at the "mission"?
It is highly unlikely that Team Obama wants that question asked, and the ongoing dribbling of information is convenient in preventing its being asked.
State, itself, probably was not running the operation -- just facilitating an operation run either by the CIA, itself, or by some other "agent or agency," possibly illegally absent a Presidential Finding authorizing it.
Think of it as a possible modern-day Iran-Contra affair run by a modern-day John Poindexter (John Batchelor has an interesting discussion here [starting at 19:00] of this possibility -- that there was no finding).
Amb. John Bolton writes about the operations at the compound and Team Obama's failed policies here:
Libya was a centerpiece of supposed success in Obama's foreign policy, not some country of small significance and low threat levels. It is important to establish not only the actual paper trail in this case, but even more importantly why, on such a critical foreign-policy issue, it did not automatically come to Clinton's seventh-floor office.
...Obama will hold office for four more years, and Clinton apparently aspires to succeed him. Their worldview and its policy consequences must not be allowed to escape scrutiny as they did in the just-concluded presidential campaign. Most of the media have certainly shown little interest in exposing administration failures. Clinton's testimony may be the last chance to do so for a long time.
And we must not forget that Hillary promised Tyrone Woods' father that "they were going to 'arrest and prosecute the man that made" the Mohammed video, and Mark Bassely Youssef has been in jail since the 7th of November on a one-year sentence for "probation" violations.
Note, too, the opinions of key leader of the intruders who remains free today:
As part of his response to a question about the attack on the US consulate, Boukhtala said, "Let's first ask about the reason for their presence in Benghazi in this suspicious and secret way. The other thing is: what is the nature of work they were doing in Benghazi? What was the role that the consulate was playing and who gave it permission to violate Libya's sovereignty and intervene in Libyan politics?"