Monday, May 13, 2013

More Benghazi Myths

I have previously posted on this topic, , which drew heavily on posts from Juan Cole, noting that many things widely believed by the public and incessantly repeated by much of the media, not just Fox News, is wrong.  The new hearings on this matter have continued to reinforce publicity about these myths, along with introducing some new elements from testimony, with much of the media taking these items seriously, particularly the testimony by late Ambassador Stevens's right hand man in Tripoli, Gregory Hicks.  One would expect him to be serious, and his testimony had drama, particularly about his final phone conversation with Stevens, but unfortunately it also contained some seriously questionable claims, which may have been responsible for him not being treated well by his superiors, but which may yet get him a hefty book contract or a regular and paid speaking gig on Fox News.

Let me begin by cutting to the chase of the hearings and reiterating the main point from my last post: What is claimed to be lies are not.  So, much of this new hearing focuses on the ongoing changes of wording in talking points last fall that went on, apparently due to arguments between the State Department and CIA.  The hearings push the view that all this was part of an attempted coverup of the fact that those attacking the facilities in Benghazi were terrorists, rather than extremists, and in particular that their attack was not motivated by the anti-Muhammed video.  Supposedly key to this is that they did not come out of the ongoing street demonstrations in Benghazi against the video that were being kept back from the consulate by local authorities, this latter apparently correct.

However, CIA has indicated the leaders of Ansar-el-Islam (or el-Sharia) had watched the demonstrations in Cairo against the video at the US Embassy on TV prior to the attack.  No one will ever know whether or not the attack had been long planned, but the video does seem to have provided at least some motivation.  There is and was no contradiction between it being a terrorist attack and being motivated by the video.  It was a terrorist attack motivated by the video.  For support of this position, see , keeping in mind that David Ignatius is a reporter/columnist with some of the best CIA connections in the business.  It remains an uncriticized assumption by nearly all in the hearing and the media that being a terrorist attack and being motivated by the video cannot possibly coexist.

So we come to the ultimately pathetic testimony by Hicks.  His strongest and most egregious claims involve his own half-baked efforts to get military help to those in Benghazi.  Let me say that I fully sympathize that he was upset after hearing his friend and superior on the phone under attack.  He wanted to help and called for the scrambling of jets and for a group of 4 Special Forces personnel to be sent to Benghazi to help.  We have repeatedly heard how one military guy praised him for his "balls" on this latter plea.  However, this all turns out to be a bunch of baloney.  The jets could not have gotten there in time to do anything useful, and the 4 Special Forces people in Tripoli were there on a fact finding mission and were armed with only handguns.  They could have done nothing, and that was why they were not sent.  While Hicks is not outright lying, he is engaging in some sort of shameless and ultimately nauseating self-aggrandizing grandstanding.  For more on this see, .

Which brings us to a greater hypocrisy and bottom line on these hearings, that due to its classified nature, nobody is going to say boo about what the CIA was doing there or what Ambassador Stevens was doing in Benghazi at that time, given how it was well known that the place was not well secured with these various terrorist groups lurking about and making random attacks.  Hicks made much of how requests for more security were turned down, but those requests were for more security at the embassy in Tripoli, not in Benghazi.  The "consulate" in Benghazi was a front for the real operation there, which was the supposedly hidden CIA Annex, which had been established prior to the main building and always had more people in it.  Very likely Stevens was there to deal with problems in the CIA operations, given that basically nothing was going on in the consulate.  What is unclear is if the Ansar people knew he was there or not.  In any case, it remains officially unknown what was going on there, although a few reports claim (with some denials of this from some quarters) that the Annex had been trying to run guns to Syrian rebels, but that a major snafu had happened involving the Turks over which faction in Syria to give them to, and that was what had brought Stevens to Benghazi after a short visit to Turkey just before then.  Needless to say, the current hearings are not going to come close to even mentioning any of this.  See .

Barkley Rosser

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