Phil Johnson, Ph.D.
June 29, 2016
When our consulate in Benghazi was attacked on September 11, 2012, I was in Cairo, Egypt – watching our embassy being attacked by a large and angry group of Egyptians – who were actually offended by an anti-Muslim video they had seen on YouTube. The building had been defaced with graffiti, the embassy employees had gone to a safer place and just a few Egypt security guys who worked for the embassy and the Egyptian police force remained. The Egyptian police continued to launch teargas grenades at the attackers, trying their best to keep them from taking over the embassy completely. It was a messy situation – as many situations in Egypt were messy during that time.
Meanwhile, there had been another event that had happened next door in Libya – in the city of Benghazi. But this time, the event had breached our mission there and killed our Ambassador, Christopher Stevens and three other Americas. Several months after this event, I visited Benghazi, located the very consulate where the terror attack took place and conducted my own interviews with those who knew more than the U.S. government was willing to admit.
So, it is of great interest to me to see the final Benghazi report after the committee spent two years and 7 millions dollars. What new light was the committee able to shed on what happened that fateful night and who was responsible.
Here are four (at least) of the most important findings by the congressional committee who spent so much time and effort trying to figure out what went wrong, why our government lied to its people about the nature of the attack and why ultimately four Americans died.
1.) According to the report the primary responsibility of the failure to secure the consulate and our people was the fault of the State Department .
The Administration had a very flawed perception that al-Qa-ida was on the decline and that wishful, inaccurate belief played into the lack of protection of the consulate in Benghazi. The failure was certainly not a failure of the intelligence community, who reported about the threats to U.S. and Western interests in Benghazi.
Previous reports reveal that officials at the State Department, including Hillary Clinton received the request for additional security, but did not approve the additional requests. In fact, the requests were not routine requests. Ambassador Chris Stevens’ pleas regarding security made before he was killed, included words such as “urgency,” “lawlessness,” “unpredictable,” “lack of effective security,” “limited success,” “widespread violence,” and “act with increasing impunity.” Clinton, who was in charge of American policy in Libya, chose not to remove Americans from Benghazi or beef up security.
Other countries and organizations had already left Libya, but the US remained. Libya was part of Hillary’s legacy, one of her signature achievements. – she had pushed for the US to intervene in Libya, so she was not about to admit failure and close down the consulate in Benghazi. In this case, it appears politics trumped saving lives.
2. The report attempts to deny that the U.S. had any involvement in transferring weapons from Libya through Benghazi and Turkey, ultimately to Syria (to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria).
The report focuses only on whether or not weapons were being collected at the CIA annex in Benghazi. It does not answer the questions about whether the CIA was involved in the process of collecting weapons in connection with other groups/governments for the purpose of transferring them to Syria.
In 2013, just months after the incident, I was in Benghazi and interviewed Mr. Fateh Younis Elkhashimi, the chief editor of the New Quryna, Libya’s largest Arabic newspaper. It was suggested to me that the CIA was involved in transferring weapons between Libya and Syria through Turkey with the complete knowledge of the president of Turkey and the President of the United States. I don’t believe that the CIA was in Libya to collect human intelligence only, but to provide cover for the transfer of weapons. Editor Elkhashimi made it very clear that everyone in the region was aware of the covert wars and operations that the U.S. was involved in in this region of the world. The U.S., as Elkhashimi said, does what they want, when they want.
3. Even though Hillary Clinton and U.S. officials knew immediately that the attack on Benghazi was a highly coordinated terrorist attack, they purposely misled the public by linking the attack to a protest about an anti-Muslim video.
The question as to why this lie was told is easy to understand. It was 56 days prior to the presidential election and Mr. Obama had assured the American public that al-Qa-ida had been routed and was slinking into the night. An al-Qa-ida affiliate in Libya attacking one of our embassies and killing our ambassadors and three other Americans certainly didn’t fit into his narrative – and certainly didn’t look like the President had a handle on it.
Strangely, Hillary Clinton kept the “it’s all about some anti-Muslim video on YouTube” that caused this disaster, – even to the victim’s families. However, the Benghazi Report reveals that her private chat with the Egyptian prime minister clearly said, “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack- not a protests…Based on the information we saw today, we believe the group that claimed responsibility for this was affiliated with al Qaeda.”
In additional to all of this, the report indicates that no military men or machines were ever sent to help those in dire need, that the terrorists involved were never brought to justice, and that the current administration did whatever it could to obstruct the investigation – and now the reaction is to dismiss it as “nothing new, and it’s time to move on.”
I wonder if the families who lost loved ones are OK with that response.
(Photos from my visit and interviews in Benghazi in 2o13)