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September 11, 2013

Benghazi, One Year Later: Why We Were There In the First Place

Sexton tipped me that this article was coming and it's as good as promised.

The article collates a lot of previous reportage to suggest that reporters really know more about the Syrian Weapons Pipleline, which starts in Tripoli and Benghazi, than they're letting on. It has long been suggested that that's why the CIA had so many personnel in Benghazi on September 11, 2012; this article pushes that suggestion closer to the category of simple fact.

This isn't a piece with a lot of partisan bite in it-- it's not really clear that we shouldn't have been doing this or we should have been doing even more of this or whatever other sort of political criticism one could immediately mount. But it does suggest reasons for the Administration's strange behavior in pushing out a cover-up storyline almost immediately.

For one thing, UN Resolution 1970, passed in 2011, expressly forbids the shipment of weapons into or out of Libya, and demands that any weapons possessed (by any UN country) be destroyed. Russia brought this matter up with the US earlier, so this was a source of potential embarrassment.

A month later, just three days after the 9/11 attack in Benghazi, the Times of London reported that a Libyan ship carrying 400 tons of weapons including "SAM-7 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles" docked in Turkey. This was the largest known shipment of weapons to Syria at the time. The ship's captain, Omar Mousaeeb, was from Benghazi.

As CNN reported in August, there were 21 people, presumably CIA, at the Annex in Benghazi the night of the attack. It is possible that they missed the surface-to-air missiles being delivered to Syrian rebels. And it is possible that when the shipment arrived in Turkey the CIA agents working there again missed them (as they had the smaller shipment a month earlier).

An alternative explanation is that the CIA was, as the Times has reported, shopping for weapons to fill the pipeline. With the Russians continuing to sell attack helicopters to the Assad regime, surface-to-air missiles would represent a much needed game-changer on the ground.

When asked by CNN the State Department maintained its personnel were there to help the new Libyan government destroy dangerous weapons. However State pointedly refused to speak for "other agencies." In other words, take it up with the CIA. But the CIA did not respond to inquiries.

None of this lets the Obama Administration off the hook for Benghazi. Far from it. If it's true -- as it certainly seems to be -- that the US had a fairly important arms supply line running from Benghazi and Triopli to Syria (via Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey), it at least suggests the White House should have had more security in the area to protect its people.

The main thing I think this article advances is the Phony Scandal Cover-Up motive. That is, why are the media so determined to label Benghazi a "Phony Scandal"? Apart from their reflexive need to praise their Hero God, I mean.

I have long thought that, behind the scenes, the Administration was telling reporters, sotto voce, "Well, you know we had a major CIA operation going on in Benghazi. And those darned Partisan Republicans just want to expose it, Because They Hate America."

And then reporters, feeling all Trusted and Respected by their Boyfriend, dutifully run out to say, "Phony Scandal!"

Well, wrong. I have no objection to this sort of thing. I understand the CIA does some covert work every now and again. (It's Obama's Freedom & Dignity Loving "Friends on the Left" who actually have a difficult time accepting the proposition that a covert operations agency will sometimes agent some covert operations.)

But just because the CIA had a covert operation going on doesn't let the Administration off the hook for negligence in securing its own people.

And it doesn't give them license to lie to the public and claim this was about, for God's sake, a "spontaneous demonstration" spurred by an Unfavorable Movie Review.

The Administration didn't have to offer these politically helpful lines of spin (in an election season) to keep secret the Benghazi arms operation.

What I think happened was that they realized that the covert character of the Benghazi operation gave them a pretext to lie about the thing for domestic electioneering political purposes, because they could always claim later "We were just trying to protect an important US national security secret."

And I think that's the secret story of Benghazi. Under the cover of "protecting a US covert operation" (which practically everyone has known about for a year) they made up a fiction that would help them win an election.

And the media joined in with them.

The "Dark Star:" Mickey Kaus had an interesting metaphor for explaining odd news coverage. He suggested that sometimes one can feel the presence of a "Dark Star," visible only by the gravitational fields it exerts on visible matter. The star itself is dark and therefore invisible, but you can infer it exists by the strange and unexpected pathways other objects (stories) take when they come near the Dark Star.

I think this whole arms operation is the Benghazi Dark Star. I think it's better to just have it out in the open, because, look, it already is out in the open. There is literally no one in the world who cares to know about this who doesn't know about this.

The only people who are being kept in the dark are the American public. And I don't even care if they remain in the dark about this.

But what I do care about is the media's Phony Scandal You Guys treatment of the Administration's -- Obama's, Clinton's, and now Kerry's -- lapses and illegal cover-ups to protect a supposed Dark Star that everyone knows about.

Whatever the CIA was doing in Benghazi is simply not any kind of excuse for failing to take security threats seriously, or for failing to mount a rescue when men could still have been saved, or for perpetrating a ridiculous lie about a YouTube video on the public.


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posted by Ace at 01:15 PM

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