Thursday, December 26, 2013

Benghazi Providing Rich Material For An 'All the President's Men' Sequel?

A picture shows a burnt building at the US con...
A picture shows a burnt building at the US consulate compound in  Benghazi on September 13, 2012. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)
Forbes
  originally published September 20, 2013

By Mary Claire Kendall

It was a scene right out of All the President’s Men (1976).
A Chicago reporter, calling a CIA officer about the Benghazi attack, got this response, said Colonel Ken Benway, USA (Ret.) at the Heritage Foundation this week:  “Who gave you my number?,” after which he slammed down the phone.
Cut to Dustin Hoffman playingWashington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, his stunned expression conveying the realization that Washington is in full cover-up mode.
No, that was Watergate.  This is Benghazi.  The two have distinct similarities, albeit Watergate was a two-bit burglary; Benghazi, in which four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were brutally murdered in a Middle East hot spot, takes it to a whole new level.
“Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya have been subjected to frequent, even monthly, polygraph examinations,” Drew Griffin of CNN Special Investigations Unit reported on August 1. (In the same report, it was revealed that 35 CIA agents were at the Benghazi compound that night.) One source, said Griffin, called this “an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.”  At the same time, some CIA operatives, it was reported elsewhere, were being forced to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA).
“The reports on the non-disclosure agreements are accurate,” Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) told me at the Citizens’ Commission on Benghaziconference, held at Heritage. Additionally, he said, he was called by “a person on the scene in Benghazi, asked to sign another NDA, and he wouldn’t do it, so therefore he has a lawyer downtown to fight this with regard to his career.”
As to the polygraphs, Wolf said they are usually done every 3-5 years, but “we’ve heard that they are polygraphed again every (few) months in order that they not speak to the media… (nor) to Congress” about Benghazi.
Kevin Shipp, a former CIA officer, said these interrogations are grueling and, if they are done to intimidate, are illegal.  In fact, Griffin reported that the frequent polygraph tests were “being described as ‘pure intimidation’ with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.”
Wayne Simmons, another former CIA officer, offered a plausible explanation for why this is happening:
I spent 27 plus years running nothing, and doing nothing, but special operations. I know what they look like. I know how they end… This Benghazi assault, this attack has all, and I mean all of the earmarks of what we call a ‘con op’—Concept of Operation… This did not happen because some guy rented a video… we don’t know who planned it; we don’t know who drew it out—yet… All of the responses by every single person involved and group involved was drawn out, methodically planned and contingencies are so vast and so perfect as to buy, whoever was responsible for this, the time (now, almost 13 months) they needed (post-op)… It is virtually impossible for an operation like this to have happened compartmentalized in one agency… Every day that goes by the accountability of those responsible gets… further and further away. They know this. They know how it works. That’s what everyone involved is counting on…
—Wayne Simmons, Former CIA Officer, Remarks to Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, September 16, 2013
The Accountability Review Board, chaired by Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen, investigated the matter for the State Department, issuing its findings in December 2012. But, it’s not hard-hitting, said Christopher Farrell, Director of Investigations & Research at Judicial Watch, serving as their main representative at United Nations Headquarters in New York.  So, Farrell, a former Military Intelligence Officer, specializing in Counter-Intelligence and Human Intelligence, focusing on unconventional warfare and terrorism, asked a recently retired diplomatic security service agent by the name of Ray Fortier to shed light on ARB’s findings.  Fortier, who served for 30 years as an RSO (Regional Security Officer) and a Chief Security Officer for the State Department in five different embassies around the world, “had knowledge of all practices, procedures, lines of communications, chain of command, all the details, all the functions, all the activities within the State Department,” said Farrell.
Unanswered Questions for Accountability from the Obama Administration” is the fruit of Fortier’s ‘slicing and dicing’ of ARB’s findings. “Instead of the self-serving, I’m going to ask and answer my own questions outline of the ARB, where no one gets their hair mussed,” said Farrell, “Ray goes in and takes apart the report and asks all those inconvenient, awkward questions that, to this day, have not been answered—not adequately, not sufficiently.”
One big elephant in the room is the fact that, as Farrell pointed out, “Special Mission” compound or consulate is “a manufactured term by the State Department in an attempt to do an end-run around Congress… It’s not in the law. It doesn’t exist.”  The reason they created it and insist on calling it that, said Farrell, is “because they need to have an excuse as to what they were doing in Benghazi. Those are details that the Administration would like to airbrush out of the narrative. They don’t want to discuss that there’s no legal standing for what took place in Benghazi because it puts them in a very awkward position.”
Someone else, who is asking hard questions, is Charles Woods, father ofTyrone Woods, one of the four, who tragically died that evening.
“His most important question,” said Roger Aronoff of Accuracy in Media, host of Monday’s meeting, is, who made the decision not to save Ty Woods and the other Americans who died under siege?,” including Glen Doherty and Sean Smith.  The question becomes “more compelling,” he said, because “denial of help came from official sources who knew real time that the attacks were terrorist attacks.  Still military and CIA were ordered to ‘stand down.’”

Woods, a retired lawyer, opened his remarks by noting, “It’s been over a year… and we still don’t have the answers, we still don’t have the truth.” Taking the president’s cue, who “had offered to reach out to the families,” Woods addressed a letter to him.  “I am the father of Tyrone Woods, who was killed while heroically defending the American consulate in Benghazi,” he wrote. “In order to bring closure to my family, there are questions that need to be answered.  These are some of the questions:  Who made the decision to stand down?  And when and why was the decision made?”
Only two people, he said, are empowered to give the “stand down” order—the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense.
That all the President’s men are refusing to provide answers to these and other questions, is why, Cong. Wolf said, it’s imperative that Congress convene a select committee to investigate. Watergate occasioned such a body.  Officially known as the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, it convened 40 years ago this past May.  Wolf is sponsoring legislation, HR 36, to establish this committee; it now has 176 co-sponsors, with 42 more needed to pass. The committee should be conducted, Wolf said, in such a way that when Americans watch the hearings, answers to questions are not limited to five minutes so that experts like Cong. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a former U.S. district attorney, and Cong. Jim Jordan (R-OH) have sufficient time to lay out the facts of the case.
The subpoena power of this select committee, Wolf said, would help protect witnesses.  “Those who come forward on their own” have no protection.  “You know what they do in the government,” said Wolf. “They put you in a room, about 12 by 12 with a metal desk. And, there’s a phone, one picture of the agency or something and the walls are green, nobody calls you and a year goes by.  Look what they’ve done to (Gregory) Hicks (former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya),” said Wolf. “Hicks is a hero. And, yet Hicks is being treated” poorly.
All the chatter inside Washington that this committee could discern the truth of, suggests the real story, being covered up, is that the Benghazi compound had warehouses full of Libyan weapons, including many MANPAD surface to air missiles (SAMS), being inventoried by the two former SEALS for shipment to Syrian rebels, including Al Qaeda, via Turkey.  Ambassador Stevens had dinner with the Turkish Consul on September 11, 2012, leaving at 8:30 p.m.  Over dinner, the Consul advised the Americans to leave town immediately because the “gun walking” had been exposed and the locals, as well as the Russians, knew what was going on.  The advice was ignored and we know the rest of the story. The attack began at 9:40 pm.  Sources tell me hundreds of SAMS went missing in the aftermath and their presence that night, without more ground information or support, was the reason military planes were not sent in to try and rescue those fighting for their lives at the embattled mission and that once they realized the ambassador was lost in this CIA operation gone bad, they rescued as many as possible with agency assets sent in from Tripoli.
Is that “Deep Throat” I hear clearing his throat?
One citizen, Mike from Long Island, noting his family’s heroic, humble service in so many wars, including World War II, made an impassioned plea at Monday’s meeting, asking what an ordinary citizen like himself could do to help this effort.
Charles Woods had a ready answer:  Pray.

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