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Monday, October 29, 2012

Benghazi's Tough Questions

The story of how the Obama Administration failed to secure a US consulate and then failed to send in support while it was under attack may turn out to be the biggest scandal of this administration. But that will only happen if Benghazigate is the subject of a thorough and rigorous investigation. And that means basing stories on facts or on reliable reports, rather than on speculation and internet rumors that no one would take seriously in any other context.

I have received dozens of emails in the last few days claiming that General Ham was fired for trying to go ahead with a rescue operation. The story appeared in the Washington Times. The source for the Times' story was an anonymous comment on Tiger Droppings, a forum for LSU football fans, from someone in Louisiana working in "Self Employed/Restaurants/Catering" who claimed that the story came "from someone inside the military".

Now for all I know this story is true, but an anonymous comment on a football fan forum is not enough to run with a major story. It's certainly not enough to start treating it as an established fact.

That comment has gone beyond the Washington Times and is being sourced in various outlets all of whom are reporting a story based on an anonymous comment on an internet forum.

On October 20th, Clare Lopez wrote a column raising various questions about Benghazi and suggesting that Ambassador Stevens may have been involved in a weapons smuggling operation moving Libyan weapons into Syria. Lopez's column raised some questions, a lot of them, but provided no proof and no truly credible connection between Stevens and the transfer of Libyan weapons to Syrian Jihadists. Nor did that theory come with a motive for why the consulate was attacked.

Nevertheless large numbers of people have now taken it as a fact that Stevens was involved in running Libyan guns to Syria without any actual evidence to verify that as a fact. Many repeat Lopez's suggestion that the warehouses behind the consulate stored guns meant for Syria as a statement of fact. To many people, it seems "right" and it may be true, it may not be true. The difference between the two is actual evidence.

I am not attacking Lopez, she was doing what many of us were doing in the days and weeks after the attack. I have run plenty of speculative pieces, some that were right, some that were wrong, it's in the nature of the business to do that. The problem only begins when a speculative piece is treated as fact and when speculations begin to be used as evidence when they are only questions, not answers.

Was Stevens being set up to be used in a prisoner exchange for the Blind Sheik? It's an interesting theory, but if Obama had really wanted to release the Blind Sheik, he would extradited him to Egypt and after waiting two months, the Egyptian government would have released him. Furthermore if the goal was to take an American hostage, then there were easier and safer ways to take Stevens than an armed attack on a consulate.

Obama might have personally benefited from a hostage crisis involving a US ambassador, but it's more likely that he would taken a hit and his entire policy on Libya would have become subject to the same scrutiny that the entire Benghazi cover-up has sought to avoid. It would have been a desperate move at a time when he didn't see any reason for desperation and believed that he would easily win the election.

That doesn't mean that it's impossible for all this to have taken place. Logic only takes you so far and often events are the result of bad and stupid decisions. So nothing can really be ruled out, but its plausibility can be challenged. And should be challenged because through those questions and counter-questions we can come closer to the truth.

Was Stevens involved in running guns to Libya? It's possible, but almost somewhat unnecessary. The Saudis, Turks and Qataris had taken the lead in running guns to the groups of Jihadists that they were linked to. They really didn't Stevens to "help" them out in their own backyard. A similar story that claims Stevens was acting as a representative for the Saudis does not make a great deal of sense. The Saudis really didn't need an American ambassador to act as their agent in the Arab world.

The American role in the weapons pipeline was a wink and a nod to the shipments. The diplomats would pretend to see to it that the weapons were going to "moderate" rebels and that nothing too heavy was being shipped to them. Then when it turned out that the Jihadists were getting heavy weapons, there would be some plausible deniability on the table.

To what extent was Stevens playing a role in this remains an open question. But it is unlikely that even the Obama Administration would have approved of weapons transfers to groups that had not, at least formally, repudiated Al Qaeda, the way that the LIFG had. Giving weapons to Al Qaeda would contradict the entire purpose of the Arab Spring which was to weaken Al Qaeda by empowering political Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Such weapons transfers would lead to terrorist attacks and suggesting that such attacks were calculated takes us into a whole other territory.

If weapons smuggling were taking place, then Al Qaeda linked militias were not likely in the same weapons pipeline as Islamist militias linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Or weren't supposed to be. Which is to say that there might have been two weapons smuggling pipelines, one that was supposed to go to the Brotherhood's militias and another going to Al Qaeda linked militias and that the mission was supposed to keep an eye on both pipelines only to discover that they were one and the same.

Then I could further speculate that reports from the Benghazi mission about the transfer of weapons to Al Qaeda linked militias were intercepted and passed along by a State Department Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer back to the militias which led to a coordinated attack on the mission to blind the American eye in Benghazi.

But all this is still speculation. It's questions piled on questions, rather than answers. It's a series of assumptions linked to other assumptions with too much distance between known facts and the final narrative. It might be true and it might not be.

The various Benghazi conspiracy theories may be true, in part or in whole, but we have to first look at the fact that the attack was not an isolated event, but part of a series of Islamist attacks on US diplomatic facilities coinciding with September 11. The only reason that Benghazi is unique is because it was in a city run by Islamist militias with little police or military support available making it a soft target.

Claiming that the Benghazi attack was timed to go specifically after Stevens ignores the fact that there was a series of international attacks linked to a defining date. Stevens may have been a target, or he may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again, we don't really know and we can't know until more actual facts come out.

There might have been both a local and a global motive, but for the moment the global motive is fact, the local motive is speculation.

Al Qaeda views American embassies as a natural target. It has been carrying out such attacks since 1998 without the need for extraordinary motives to justify them. That doesn't mean that such motives can't exist, but it means they aren't strictly necessary to explain what happened.

Nor is a coverup of specific wrongdoing involving the Benghazi consulate required to explain the Obama Administration's refusal to intervene in the attack. This is not an administration that is willing to offend Muslims to save American lives. For it to have taken action in Benghazi would have been more extraordinary than not taking action.

Let's go back to the Battle of Ganjgal in 2009.where 5 Americans were killed because they were denied artillery support under the Rules of Engagement. That battle led to Dakota Meyer, a United States Marine, receiving a Medal of Honor. The Battle of Ganjgal in multiple reprimands for the officers who denied support, but it led to no changes in the way that things were done.

Here is a statement from the father of Lance Corporal Hunter Hogan, "The policies of this current administration and the rules of engagement are a huge factor with these casualty reports. The limited air and artillery support our men receive. The limited company level support such as motors, as well as the approval to return fire are hampering and adding to the danger they are in daily."

Here is yet a third letter from a soldier serving in Afghanistan. "The soldiers of the U.S. never engage the enemy unless we know that we have will always have the tactical advantage in defending ourselves, that advantage is the use of close air support and air weapons team. To take those weapons away from us is to level the playing field for the enemy and thus exposing our soldiers to more danger... The very presence of aircraft over our foot patrols has also saved lives and now our chain of command is being told by our political leadership that this is now not allowed."

If this is how our soldiers in a legitimate war zone have been treated, then what reason was there to expect any other outcome in Benghazi?

When all is said and done, we will likely find that the Battle of Benghazi had more in common with the Battle of Ganjgal than it did with any of the conspiracies. And that is one of the most important points that can be made.

The four Americans killed in Benghazi were not the first Americans to die because of a policy of appeasing Muslims. They will not be the last until the entire worldview of the decision makers is forced to change. It is important not to lose sight of that in debating just what happened in Benghazi, because this is much bigger than Benghazi.

Benghazi is one spot of blood in a stain that marks the map of the globe. Countless American soldiers and civilians have died because diplomacy was thought to be a surer way of avoiding war than an aggressive posture. And if we don't learn the lessons of Benghazi, then we will be forced to repeat them.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I heard the author of Into the Fire, the story of the Battle of Ganjgal, Bing West say that General Ham was scheduled to retire. I also read somewhere that Stevens was there because of an opening of a school. I don't think that we will know the truth for weeks. Not before the election.

Anonymous said...

I am lost for words, except perhaps "somebody please pinch me, this must be just a bad dream, this is not really happening!"

From the article challenging "Panetta Doctrine", by Jonah Goldberg:

1 - If having a live video feed and real-time reports from assets on the ground *for hours* doesn't count as real-time information, what does?

2 - If the circumstances in Libya didn't meet the "enough information" threshold for a rescue attempt or some other form of intervention, then what does?

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/331849/panetta-doctrine-jonah-goldberg

americanthinker.com/blog/2012/10/the_panetta_doctrine_americans_on_their_own_if_attacked.html

~Leo

Anonymous said...

It rather seems that the United States military has become another beesterdized organization in order to aid and abet terrorists. Why not exchange the Humvees for crappy dirtbikes and live ammo for beanbags or slingshots and rocks. That'll really "even the playing field."

I'm of the opinion that not many "in the know" will take the high road and speak up because defending themselves will bankrupt them. Keeping it zipped in exchange for the taxpayer footing the legal fees, for as many years as it will take, is a mighty big carrot.

Anonymous said...

One of the only sensible analysis I have read. The all too common military cock up that leads to disaster.
This refusal to use US overwhelming force is contrary to common sense and any lessons fronm history. Any Roman general would have regard it as insane.
Dave S

VA_Rancher said...

Daniel,

Come on man! EVERYTHING on the InterNet is REAL man!

/sarc off

I share your viewpoint. I want a HUGE investigation to find out that elusive truth. But even with such an investigation we will only get something accepted as "Official truth" which will be official and accepted, but not likely the real truth.

I'm not a consipracy nut, I suspect the entire "scandal" is just like you are pointing out, a result of their bias and philosophy of appeasment.

It all goes back to our earlier comment conversation. In the end, we will need either total war, or mutual heavily armed stand-off to resolve this crisis of Islam & its incompatibility with civilized life. Far too many are unwilling to even consider that option.

On top of all that, this admin is chock full of arrogant idiots performing without a net WAY above their paygrades. Criminally ignorant party apparatchiks...

Be well,

Dennis Latham said...

I was a Marine in Vietnam when Johnson stopped the bombing of the North in 1968. We knew we were screwed then and we lost two KIA that day to 122 rockets. The government never seems to learn that the only thing some enemies understand is a bullet to the head, not diplomacy. They keep making the same mistakes over and over and get Americans killed.

Edward Cline said...

I confess I first suspected – or concluded – that the Benghazi attack was a local Islamist outfit expressing its anger at Stevens and the administration for shipping arms to a rival Islamist outfit (say, the Syrian "rebels"), and that Obama sacrificed Stevens and the others as a means to snuff out any witnesses by refusing to send in military support. But that semi-conviction evaporated when I read other credible theories of what actually happened and what motives were behind all the parties, those in the White House and those of the attackers. Combining that with the utterly bizarre behavior of Obama and his spokesmen, I threw up my hands and decided to wait until more evidence surfaced – and that evidence is surfacing just as debris surfaces from a sunken ship, which in this case is Obama's "Arab Spring" policy. Thanks for the cooler head, Daniel.

Adam Greenfield said...

I first saw this story in a Washington Post Blog by James Robbins;


James S. Robbins, PhD, Senior Editorial Writer for Foreign Affairs, was formerly professor of international relations at the National Defense University, associate professor of international relations at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College and special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld. Dr. Robbins is author of the recently released "This Time We ...



Read more: TRR: Is a General losing his job over Benghazi? - Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/robbins-report/2012/oct/28/general-losing-his-job-over-benghazi/#ixzz2AmxzEegv
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

It mentions the "Tiger Droppings" post but then goes on to establish some credibility for it by a high level Foreign Affairs expert.

Adam Greenfield said...

I think one major thing that seems to keep being over looked was the reason why Glen Doherty and Ty Woods were in Benghazi to begin with. It really does say it all. They were reportedly there contracted by the CIA to find weapons that the CIA leant to the "Rebels" to fight Ghaddafi that went missing. They had also reported that several tons of high powered weapons, rockets, and ammunition was being run from Libya to Syria through Turkey and that Ambassador Stevens was supervising this gun running mission at the behest of the administration and State Department.

Anonymous said...

Can I recommend this piece for your consideration:

http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/10/mitts_royal_slam.html

Daniel, not to undervalue your own contribution with your article today - which, as ever, is first-rate - J R Dunn's piece in The American Thinker floats a line of thought on Mitt Romney that I've never seen before. That's not to say that it hasn't been done; I've just never seen it.

Dunn's riff on Romney as Master Strategist fits neatly on my own fascination with Hubris and Nemesis, and, thus, I leave myself vulnerable to the retort that it's self-serving.

But it's persuasive, for all that. All your devoted readers would value any insights you might have, boss.

churchill

Anonymous said...

Or anybody else's insights, for that matter.

c

Anonymous said...

A reasoned analysis, but it avoids the central question, which is the policy of appeasement to the Muslim Brotherhood, the fountainhead of Islamic terror, including Hamas and Al Qaeda. How do you explain a shoulder fired missile ending up in the hands of Hamas a mere week later? The nexus of the criminality lies in the decision to expand US assets (human lives) for the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood. That, my friend, is aiding and abetting the enemy.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, what do you believe the significance of the report Stevens was raped and sodomized while he was both alive and dead is?

VA_Rancher said...

Anonymous,

I'll take a stab at it... The significance is that the attackers are sub-human beasts worthy of wholesale slaughter for their pagan inhuman belief system as well as their atrocious behaviors.

Did I get it right?

Anonymous said...

Without any leaps of logic or assumption, you fail to answer a few issues that will prevent this attack from being the same or similar to the Battle of Ganjgal:
1- what was Stevens doing in Bengazi on Sep 11th? He is there after sending repeated requests for additional security, warnings that the situation was untenable and after repeated smaller attacks upon the consulate in Bengazi. Why would he choose Sep 11th to hang out at the most dangerous dilplomatic outpost, and most dangerous city in Libya?
2 - Why did the White House aggresively put out that the attack in Bengazi was a spontaneous riot about some virtually unheard of video for TWO WEEKS after the event when they had realtime data and all the internal memo's show that they knew it was a coordinated terrorist attack within hours of the event?
3 - How was it that it was too dangerous to get an FBI investigation team in there for TWO WEEKS, when a day or two after the attack CNN and other news agenies were poking around the ruins and even able to find the the ambassador's journal.
4 - Now, nearly two months after the attack, what has been done? Has anyone been arrested? Has the Libyan government been strong-armed into coughing up a few of the culprits? Have any leads been made into finding the culprits? Nope.
5 - Why is the film maker still sitting in prison without a trial? What would he be put on trial for? When will he be released?
Something is extremely wrong with this whole scenario. None of the 'official' versions or excuses add up and now the administration has simply stopped answering any questions about it. Hoping to get beyond the election and hoping the American people forget.

Anonymous said...

P.S. The murder of an Ambassador is considered an act of war in most international legal circles.

Anonymous said...

P.P.S. This whole thing stinks from stem to stern of "Fast and Furious". The administration was up to something and got their hand caught in the cookie jar, or more appropriate for this situation, they got the cookie and the hand bit off by the rabid jackal that they were feeding. Once again I get the feeling that Obama and his cronies were up to something that the American people would not have liked and probably was not real good for America, now they are trying to put enough time and distractions between themselves and the events and wait for the American public to forget.

kriskxx said...


Bless your heart Sultan Knish: Seems to me, Ambassador was outside of his job description, what was he doing going into war torn countries under dark of night on cargo ships and riding around in unarmored CIA cars?
Few days ago: Michael Kelley wrote:
Clare Lopez, former CIA operations officer, argues that the key issue is “the relationship of the U.S. government, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya with Al Qaeda.” snip(that is my take, We have been using the organization to stir up trouble for years,and, on the other hand, al Qaeda is our escape goat. Any time the Government whips them out to use " for security reason" excuses to control the citizens. Other words al-qaeda is a useful tool. We all know the example of freedoms we are losing, freedom of expression/speech,road checks, TSA, Wire taps, etc. You don't have to look back to the Carter years when this organization was forming, just look back 12 years. They are useful

kriskxx said...

Continued: The al Qaeda connection or (useful dangerous idiots) Michael Kelly continues
"That relationship, Lopez argues, could be connected to the rise of Islamic brigades in Syria, who recently created a “Front to Liberate "Syria” to wage jihad against the Syrian regime and turn the country into an Islamic state.

That potential connection starts with who Ambassador Stevens worked with during the Libyan revolution and ends with who he hosted on the night of his death.

"In March 2011 Stevens became the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan opposition and began coordinating U.S. assistance to the rebels." Michael Kelly
Amen to that! We were wondering why all the trips to the White House by radicals and MB and now we know, the Muslim Brotherhood would get sat up in countries we over threw and they would be the go between for the Islamist sharia take over. Thanks McCain,Graham, Rinos all! We have created a Hell Hole that will come back like a boomerang.

kriskxx said...

Look what popped up in fast and furious strategy, I see a connection." Mr. Zambada-Niela says Fast & Furious wasn’t about supplying guns to the Sinaloa Cartel. It was about taking down other drug cartels part of a “divide and conquer” strategy." sound familiar? looks like the same was being tried in Libya

VA_Rancher said...

"P.S. The murder of an Ambassador is considered an act of war in most international legal circles."

BINGO! I said exactly that to my wife on 9/11/12.

Also, I believe the "legal" definition of an embassy is that it is officially considered "Native soil" for the country who is using that embassy. Therefore, the rape & killing of the US Ambassador, on US Soil in our Embassy, is COMPLETELY and an overt act of war.

Somebody (AQ etc...) overtly declared war on the US and Obama not only did nothing, he lied about it and tried to cover it up.

Smells like "High Treason" to me... Where's the yardarm & the rope?

'Nuff said...

VA_Rancher said...

"part of a “divide and conquer” strategy."

Is that not the summation of the entire Democrat/Liberal/Progressive political strategy?

It works so well it delivered the White House to them, why not use that same strategy on every problem?

kriskxx said...

The set up: One of those jihadis may well be Abdelhakim Belhadj, former leader of the Al-Qa’eda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and head of the Tripoli Military Council after Qaddafi’s ouster. During the 2011 revolt in Libya, Belhadj was almost certainly a key contact of the U.S. liaison to the Libyan opposition, Christopher Stevens. via http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2012/10/30/benghazi-the-set-up-and-the-cover-up/

Anonymous said...

Considering everything Obama has said and more importantly, what he has done as president, it isn't too far-fetched to claim he is an Islamic supporter and despises everything about America, particularly our Constitution and capitalist/free-market economy.

His past, influenced strictly by Communists, Marxists, racists, and anti-America radicals, clearly has revealed why he thinks nothing of criminal and corrupt acts, siding with and supporting the Islamic terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood, foments class/sex/racial/generational warfare, touts the Marxist "redistribution of wealth" mantra constantly, refuses to enforce all federal laws he disagrees with, appoints the most radical, extreme left-wing haters of liberty to positions of power and influence in his administration, rewards the Communist-controlled unions, disparages and attacks our Constitutional rights of freedom of worship, freedom of speech, and the right for individual gun ownership, uses taxpayer's money to fund businesses such as Solyandra, already known to be going under, makes a world apology of American exceptionalism one of his first acts after election, and on and on and on.

Clearly, the man is a pathological liar. An extreme narcissist. A supporter of Islam. A hater of liberty and our Constitution. An enemy of America and all American stands for.

kriskxx said...

I'm reposting, as an agreement, b/c there is no 'like' on this site. I and VA_Rancher,seem to have come to the same conclusion on some level: looking at the pattern of behavior domestically and foreign policy, and lately, weapons running by Obama Admin. to those individuals, us citizens would consider our enemies. But, the world is a nasty place and Nations support bad guys to have an outcome. Just swallow and accept, this is not apple pie America of the Norman Rockwell era, perhaps we never were- .posting (VA_Rancher comment)
"part of a “divide and conquer” strategy."

Is that not the summation of the entire Democrat/Liberal/Progressive political strategy?

It works so well it delivered the White House to them, why not use that same strategy on every problem?

VA_Rancher said...

kriskxx,

I am a veteran (twice), and military history buff.

Oftentimes "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" can be a VERY valid strategy.

In the past USA is VERY guilty of propping up petty despots to maintain some semblence of "peace" (yes this is disputable as to it's effectiveness). I've not always been happy with this, but I totally get why it has occurred.

So I would ask you (and Dan, et al.) Given this strategy, Who is Obama's "enemy" if he is clandestinely supporting/arming AQ? This is worth pondering...

I'm nowhere near as tolerant of this tomfoolery at this stage of my life (I have 3 young daughters). I'm a bit more "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius" now.

I am glad we agree in some fashion. Good to know.

Be well.

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