by Michael Kelley
At this point it’s clear that the U.S. had something to hide at Benghazi, and that’s why reports coming out of the Libyan city have been so confusing.
Two key details about the the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans cannot be underestimated.
“The U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation,” officials briefed on intelligence told the Wall Street Journal, and there’s evidence that U.S. agents—particularly murdered U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens—were at least aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to Syrian rebels.
WSJ reports that the State Department presence in Benghazi “provided diplomatic cover” for the previously hidden CIA mission, which involved finding and repurchasing heavy weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals. These weapons are presumably from Muammar Gaddafi’s stock of about 20,000 portable heat-seeking missiles, the bulk of which were SA-7 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles.
What’s odd is that a Libyan ship—which reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7s—docked in southern Turkey on Sept. 6 and its cargo ended up in the hands of Syrian rebels. The man who organized that shipment, Tripoli Military Council head Abdelhakim Belhadj, worked directly with Stevens during the Libyan revolution.
Stevens’ last meeting on Sept. 11 was with Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and a source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi “to negotiate a weapons transfer in an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists.”
Since Stevens and his staff served as “diplomatic cover” for the CIA—only seven of more than 30 Americans evacuated from Benghazi worked for the State Department—the spy agency would certainly know about heavy weapons and Libyan jihadists flooding into Syria if Stevens did.
Given that most of the weapons going to hard-line jihadists in Syria are U.S.-made and are being handed out by the CIA, it’s not a stretch to wonder if the CIA is indirectly arming Syrian rebels with heavy weapons as well.
If President Obama’s position is to refrain from arming rebels with heavy weapons, but regime change in Syria is advantageous, then a covert CIA operation with plausible deniability seems to be the only answer. It’s a dicey dance, especially if it’s exposed.
In an article titled “Petraeus’s Quieter Style at C.I.A. Leaves Void on Libya Furor,” Scott Shane of the The New York Times notes that CIA Director David Petraeus has “managed the delicate task of supporting rebels in Syria’s civil war while trying to prevent the arming of anti-American extremists.”
In regards to Benghazi, Petraeus has “stayed away in an effort to conceal the agency’s role in collecting intelligence and providing security,” the WSJ reported, noting that during the attack ”some officials at State and the Pentagon were largely in the dark about the CIA’s role.”