The other anniversary: One year later, trying to figure out why we were in Benghazi

posted at 6:01 pm on September 11, 2013 by Allahpundit

Via Ace, carve out 10 minutes for John Sexton’s news mosaic of what the CIA was really up to in Benghazi when the jihadis made their move. The two leading theories for months have been that the agency was either trying to round up surface-to-air missiles that had gone loose before Al Qaeda could use them against western airliners or, more relevant to the news this week, that the agency was shipping weapons to the Syrian rebels from its base in Libya — in violation of a UN arms embargo.

This isn’t an either/or proposition, says Sexton:

During the U.S. involvement in overthrowing Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi during 2011, the Obama administration became aware that shipments of weapons were making their way to Qaddafi’s troops, allowing them to resupply themselves and pose a greater threat to civilians. So in February the US and other allied nations including the UK and France pushed for a package of international sanctions which became UN Security Council resolution 1970…

But despite resolution 1970, the NY Times reported in April 2011 that shipments of arms were reaching the Libyan rebels from Qatar. Another in-depth story published in Dec. 2012 describes how the U.S. winked at these shipments despite concerns that some weapons were falling into the hands of extremists…

This pattern of winking at violations of the UN arms embargo of Libya was repeated after Qaddafi’s ouster. With the war in Libya at an end and the one in Syria ramping up, the direction of the arms pipeline simply reversed itself. Whereas weapons had been coming into Libya from Qatar, they now headed out of Libya back to Qatar and from there on to either Mali or to Syria by way of Turkey…

But in late 2011 the Unites States realized its revolution-on-the-cheap in Libya had a worrisome downside. Thousands of dangerous anti-aircraft weapons were loose in Libya, attracting militants who might wish to use them to commit terrorist acts against civilian air traffic. Something had to be done.

Because of the arms embargo against Libya, he argues, and because the White House hadn’t yet decided to arm the Syrian rebels with American weapons, the only way to keep anti-Assad forces well supplied was to do it quietly by sending them foreign weapons that were readily available. That explains why the CIA would choose Libya, of all places, to use as a weapons hub. At first blush, that seems insane: Once Qaddafi was gone, the only thing protecting the American effort there from the militiamen and jihadis roaming the Libya landscape was the weak new central government. You’re not going to use a place like that as your base unless you have a very good reason to do so. But there was a good reason — weapons were easy to come by and a dangerous environment like Benghazi guaranteed that international bodies like the UN and western media outlets wouldn’t be able to sniff around what the CIA was doing without effort. The agency could pursue its twins goals of taking MANPADs out of circulation in Libya so that jihadis couldn’t get hold of them and sending some along to Syria where they could be put to better purpose against Assad’s fleet of Russian helicopters.

Two points to ponder in that case, though. One: If Sexton’s right that the CIA “encouraged the creation of a multi-national arms pipeline, helped shop for weapons to fill it, [and] vetted the groups who would receive those weapons in Syria,” then Syria’s an even bigger U.S. cock-up than we thought. By every account I’ve read, the jihadis in Syria have spent the past year steadily gaining strength at the expense of the “moderate” rebels. Yet if Sexton’s correct, the carefully vetted “moderates” have been supplied all along by the U.S. and its Sunni allies, in part via the illicit Libyan pipeline. Surely the totality of western arms shipments to the rebels didn’t dry up after the Benghazi attack. In which case, if you were worried before that giving arms to the Free Syrian Army would fail to turn the rebel tide against jihadis and maybe even backfire by having those arms fall into jihadi hands, you should be really worried now. Based on the past year of experience, that’s exactly what’s happened — and yet here are John Kerry and his pal John McCain, making the case this week that what we really need to do is “empower” the moderates even further.

Two: But if Sexton’s right, how to explain the curiously thin security at the consulate in Benghazi and the apparent conspicuousness of the nearby CIA annex? Joshua Foust calls those, correctly, the key unanswered questions a year later:

The two CIA contractors who died defending the outpost were part of a rapid response team, which was inadequate. Both the CIA and Ambassador Stevens had placed their lives in the hands of an inadequate American response team and a local militia that simply melted away during the assault.

Perhaps out of deference to the dead, there are few who have raised the question of why Ambassador Stevens had such faith in this unreliable militia. In the months leading up the assault, despite growing violence in Benghazi, Stevens repeatedly refused offers by the U.S. military to place more American security forces nearby….

To take things a step further, the CIA’s heavy presence in Benghazi is probably also why security was so light. Stereotypes to the contrary, in many places CIA facilities have surprisingly light building security; they rely more on obscurity than imposing defenses to stay safely hidden. When that obscurity is blown, so, too is their best line of defense. So why was the CIA station’s location so well known in Benghazi? Was tradecraft there so lax that everyone nearby knew what it was? And if so, who thought that was a good idea?

You’ve got two options if you’re running a top-secret international weapons pipeline to two different rebel factions from a war-torn Islamic country. Either arm it to the teeth with trustworthy security professionals so that it can repel the inevitable jihadi attack, or do it so secretly that not even the locals know what’s going on. The White House chose door number three — doing it basically out in the open and with the locals themselves providing most of the “security.” Why? Is this gross negligence or is there something else going on?


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If even a fraction of what happened and why was there is true, it would be enough to devastate Clinton and the left.

rob verdi on September 11, 2013 at 6:04 PM

We’ll never find out what happened because the Republicans are neutered and don’t want to be called racist.

Decoski on September 11, 2013 at 6:07 PM

And door number four…cover up door number three. Blame it all on a youtube video.

d1carter on September 11, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Petraeus knows the answers to all those questions, but he ain’t talking…

d1carter on September 11, 2013 at 6:11 PM

But according to juan williams nothing is going on and its all in our heads!

Jack_Burton on September 11, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Why Benghazi happened? Gun Running.

Why Syria ALMOST happened? The next step in the cover-up of said Gun Running.

Meople on September 11, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Just ask Susan Rice.

patman77 on September 11, 2013 at 6:16 PM

I think everything was going Obama’s way until they realized they were helping al-Qaeda shoot Putin’s helicopters out of Syria’s skies.

I think Bambi just saw his dead mother.

DanMan on September 11, 2013 at 6:19 PM

d1carter on September 11, 2013 at 6:11 PM

yep, he’s the biggest loser in this fish barrel so far and there have been several

DanMan on September 11, 2013 at 6:20 PM

obamd/Hillary/Petraeus have lots of blood on their hands.

Schadenfreude on September 11, 2013 at 6:20 PM

It was due to a video. A damned video. Are you stupid?

/or what

Paul-Cincy on September 11, 2013 at 6:25 PM

It was due to a video. A damned video. Are you stupid?

/or what

Paul-Cincy on September 11, 2013 at 6:25 PM

What difference does it make?
/

Racist.

CW on September 11, 2013 at 6:27 PM

The problem with the stuff these folks do is that it generally is so stupid, you tend not to want to see it as it happened. The actions, at least for me, make me feel a bit like a conspiracy nut. Of course trying to understand the tangled web weaved is at best a poor art form. To your point Allah, gross negligence or intent? Near impossible for the average viewer to tell. Brilliant? Deceptive? Sly? Corrupt? Which of course could be an additional reason for not being able to think as they do. Criminal? On top of all this is our lack of info. The info we do have does not bode well for their sides case. I’ll go with Criminally Incompetent.

Bmore on September 11, 2013 at 6:30 PM

There has to be more to it than theory number one or two. Neither of those is worth the length and depth of coverup from the REB’s administration. Other possibilities:

1. illegal funding, ie Iran-Contra all over again; follow the money.
2. the US was shipping Syrian rebels some of Qhadaphi’s chem weapons to checkmate Assad from using them.
3. far more people died there than the REB would dare admit. This is also why we can’t see ‘survivors’ because there aren’t any.
4. the Benghazi operation was really done by the Iranians, and if that knowledge gets out then the REB will have to hit back at Iran, and he doesn’t want to do that.
5 the muzlim brotherhood; the MoBro seems wrapped up in most every ME decision the REB makes. See also, records of bribes paid by the US to MoBro in Egypt, and claims out of Egypt that the US funded the Benghazi attack via MoBro.

Anyone else?

slickwillie2001 on September 11, 2013 at 6:34 PM

The White House chose door number three — doing it basically out in the open and with the locals themselves providing most of the “security.” Why? Is this gross negligence or is there something else going on?

Good questions AP.

I think it might boil down to something as simple as Hubris on our part.

Taqiyya is what we are dealing with and we deny it to our own peril.

The result is the same…Our people were abandoned to die and those at the top of the chain of command making that call have adopted the Islamic practice of Taqiyya.

workingclass artist on September 11, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Is this gross negligence or is there something else going on?

Yes!

AUINSC on September 11, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Obama doesn’t want ANYTHING coming out about Benghazi. Releasing ANY information will only raise more questions and further demands for information and MORE QUESTIONS.

Ultimately, that process would lead back to the question of exactly what in the Hell Barack Hussein Obama HIMSELF was doing as Americans fought for their lives and died in Benghazi. And that is one question Obama has no intention of answering, EVER.

novaculus on September 11, 2013 at 6:43 PM

The White House chose door number three — doing it basically out in the open and with the locals themselves providing most of the “security.” Why? Is this gross negligence or is there something else going on?

This administration is made up of amateurs and idiots that believe that they know it all. They don’t have a clue and one piece of proof is Samantha Power’s idiotic comment about Iran disowning Syria.

When will people understand that our culture is not to be used as a basis for making foreign policy decisions? There is good and evil in this world.

Vince on September 11, 2013 at 6:44 PM

We know what was going on although the truth has been shrouded in lies and coverup, and bottled up by lackey journalists for a year. It’s going to take brave people to bring this out fully into the open and demand a reckoning. Once the dam is busted the flood will break loose. But there are very few brave people. That’s why there haven’t been any indictments or resignations yet.

It’s time for courage. You have to take the risk, or risk more Benghazis. These guys have more than three years left to play with their toys. Pick up the flag from the dirt.

spiritof61 on September 11, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Why isn’t Obama outraged that his hand-picked Ambassador was killed by AQIM?

What happened to the MANPADs we sent there?

What happened to the MANPADs that Libya had already constructed?

How come the French sent arms to tribes that would funnel them outside of Libya?

Why weren’t any of the assets of the 6th Fleet offshore to support our personnel with indirect fire or missiles?

Why wasn’t a contingent of Marines accompanying the Ambassador?

Why was Ambassador Stevens meeting with the Turks?

Why have personnel that were on the ground not been available to testify and threatened if they blew the whistle to Congress?

In supporting the ‘rebels’ did anyone have any sort of clue as to which tribes and factions they actually represented and then have a plan to deal with those tribes and factions that were regime supporters so that Libya wouldn’t fall into chaos?

Doesn’t anyone know how to do diplomacy in the West, but particularly in Foggy Bottom?

Why weren’t the sites where the attacks took place sanitized by the military to keep important and classified material from walking out of them and into hostile hands?

Why send the FBI into a war zone?

Just why wasn’t the military allowed to do proper OpSec for our personnel in a war zone?

So many questions.

So few answers.

ajacksonian on September 11, 2013 at 6:46 PM

how to explain the curiously thin security at the consulate in Benghazi and the apparent conspicuousness of the nearby CIA annex?

What abut that theory that the attack on the consulate was diversionary so that the “spontaneous protesters” could get at something like 400 missiles at the annex? Seems to fold into some of this speculation quite well.

One thing is certain, whatever was going on is clearly part of the administration’s continued cover-up, lies, and perjury. Before it is all over, IMO, somebody will be in jail.

Happy Nomad on September 11, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Assad has no choice but to throw himself into the arms of his Russian masters. His military will never lay down their arms, because the civilians they’ve harmed at his behest will never forgive them — so he can’t do as Egypt has done and have the military protect the non-Islamist populations, which could regain him a little legitimacy. So he has to keep taking Russian aid until he can bat back both the pro-democracy protesters and the Islamists, or until he dies.

starboardhelm on September 11, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Petraeus knows the answers to all those questions, but he ain’t talking…

d1carter on September 11, 2013 at 6:11 PM

You see how Petraeus was treated by those college students. Heckling him as a war criminal as he was headed in to teach at The New School. I’m not quite sure I can be fully appalled.

Happy Nomad on September 11, 2013 at 7:22 PM

So he has to keep taking Russian aid until he can bat back both the pro-democracy protesters and the Islamists, or until he dies.

starboardhelm on September 11, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Fortunately for the world, dictators rarely die of old age.

Happy Nomad on September 11, 2013 at 7:24 PM

In the months leading up the assault, despite growing violence in Benghazi, Stevens repeatedly refused offers by the U.S. military to place more American security forces nearby….

I thought I read Stevens had requested additional security and was turned down?

mbs on September 11, 2013 at 9:32 PM

The revalations came a day after it emerged that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens repeatedly pleaded with the State Department to ramp up his security team in Libya — requests that the Pentagon ultimately denied — in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the terrorist attack that killed him and three other Americans, newly released cables have revealed.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2220153/Christopher-Stevens-Ambassador-pleaded-extra-security-Libya-hours-killed.html

mbs on September 11, 2013 at 9:37 PM

…a year!

KOOLAID2 on September 11, 2013 at 10:10 PM

So he has to keep taking Russian aid until he can bat back both the pro-democracy protesters and the Islamists, or until he dies.

starboardhelm on September 11, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Fortunately for the world, dictators rarely die of old age.

Happy Nomad on September 11, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Assad’s father Hafez, both the Norkies, Stalin, Mao, Ho, Khomeini, etc.

slickwillie2001 on September 11, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Why Benghazi happened? Gun Running.

Why Syria ALMOST happened? The next step in the cover-up of said Gun Running.

Meople on September 11, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Nothing like a little legal arms-shipping to cover up illegal same.
However, Obama has delayed sending his promised, approved, arms to the Syrian rebels.
Why??

AesopFan on September 11, 2013 at 11:22 PM