NOVEMBER 24, 2014
“From the Annex in Benghazi, the CIA was collecting intelligence about foreign entities that were themselves collecting weapons in Libya and facilitating their passage to Syria. The Benghazi Annex was not itself collecting weapons.”
–Final House Intelligence Report on Benghazi, P. 16
The final House Intelligence Committee Report on Benghazi received its Last Rites on Friday in a classic Washington media play–dump the body right before a holiday weekend, when everyone is too busy to actually take a close look at the corpse. The press reacted predictably, scanning the report for the headlines: no “stand down,” no denial of air support, no bad intel in days and weeks leading up to the attack, no U.S. shipments of arms to Syria, no gambling at Rick’s Café. Conservatives demolished. MSNBC rejoices.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers is now free to take up his duties January 5 as a host of the syndicated radio show, “Something to Talk About,” which the Associated Press tells us will include “humorous, compelling and moving stories about issues including national security.” His wife, Kristi Rogers, has already decamped as CEO of the controversial private security contractor with Libyan interests, Aegis Defense Services.
But Benghazi may prove hard to run away from. We learn from the report that the attackers were “a mixed group” unrelated to a protest over an incendiary video. Oh, okay. We learn that the notorious talking points were “flawed,” but never mind. There is more to be mined on both these points.
The partially declassified report moves the ball on Benghazi in several important ways. First, there is this statement, of “Casablanca”-like hilarity were it not for the deaths of four Americans. From the Executive Summary:
“…the CIA was collecting intelligence about foreign entities that were themselves collecting weapons in Libya and facilitating their passage to Syria. The Benghazi Annex was not itself collecting weapons.”
Mike Morrell, the former acting director of the CIA, expanded on the agency’s activities in Libya in testimony published at Appendix 4, P. 31, of the report:
“So let me first say, no, [the Benghazi Annex was] not facilitating arms going to Syria. I can guarantee you that. They were there doing a number of missions. Number one, they were there to collect intelligence on terrorist organizations that were setting up shop in eastern Libya. REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED. Those were the three main missions for being there.”
In Appendix 4, P. 87, Morrell is again asked about arms to Syria. Rep. Devin Nunes, is questioning Morrell and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
“Mr. Nunes: Are we aware of any arms that are leaving that area and going into Syria?
Mr. Morrell: Yes, sir.
General Clapper: Yes.
Mr. Nunes: And who is coordinating that?
Mr. Morrell: I believe the REDACTED are coordinating that.
Mr. Nunes: They are leaving Benghazi ports and going to Syria?
Mr. Morrell: I don’t know how they are getting the weapons from Libya to Syria. But there are weapons going from Libya to Syria. And there are probably a number of actors involved in that. One of the biggest are the REDACTED.
Mr. Nunes: And were the CIA folks that were there, were they helping to coordinate that, or were they watching it, were they gathering information about it?
Mr. Morrell: Sir, the focus of my officers in Benghazi was REDACTED, to try to penetrate the terrorist groups that were there so we could learn there plans, intentions and capabilities. REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED.”
At this point, Chairman Rogers intervenes in the testimony: “Excuse me. Not everyone in the back is cleared for REDACTED.
Mr. Morrell: Then I will stop there.”
God bless the CIA. They do the dirty work around the globe so we can sit in glorious freedom in America and complain about them. But when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Here, a top CIA official is telling the committee with an apparently straight face that yes, the CIA is monitoring the arms flow in Libya; yes, the CIA is trying to penetrate various bad actors in Benghazi; yes, some of our key regional allies are involved—for those REDACTED “actors” involved, read Qatar and Saudi Arabia—but no, no, no, we have nothing to do with the arms shipments.
“I don’t know how they are getting the weapons from Libya to Syria,” Morrell testified.
But clearly, someone knew. Which raises another question the report failed to address in any depth: what was Christopher Stevens doing in Benghazi?
Ambassador Stevens, as far as we know, did not work for the CIA. He worked for the State Department. That is, he worked for Hillary Clinton. As secretary of state, of course, Mrs. Clinton would play a role in relations with the Saudis and Qatar. And within the Obama administration, Mrs. Clinton was said to be a “hawk” on the question of arming the Syrian rebels. Both Mrs. Clinton and former President Clinton have had a long, beneficial relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Arkansas institutions and various Clinton philanthropies. Saudi intelligence is basically an arm of the CIA. So the question of Mrs. Clinton’s role in the Libyan and Syrian uprisings is not conspiracy mongering and not incidental.
Trey Gowdy, take note.
As for the media, read the report. It is here.
Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne of Fox News raise important questions here.
So does Nancy Youssef of McClatchy, here.
And watch here Senator Lindsey Graham, infuriated by Mike Morrell’s history of “misleading the Congress,” denounce the House report as “crap.”