Very, very briefly today, a story came up on Yahoo News about Congress tripping over a CIA site. The story disappeared before I could get it to come up, and it has been hours before the origins of the story have shown up on Google searches.
Behind all the public questions about Benghazi, there were several not being asked or answered, but for this discussion, we’ll just focus on one – how the hell did the terrorists know that Ambassador Chris Stevens was at Benghazi, in an unmanned, non-functioning, barely guarded “consulate” particularly on September 11, when all our embassies are on high security alert?
It now appears they may not have known and that Ambassador Stevens may not have been the target.
During the past two years, there have been a few times when the administration and observers have said that some of the House Oversight Committee’s investigations would be better done by the Intelligence Committee, which holds its hearings behind closed doors. Benghazi is probably one of them.
Guess what world, as if you all don’t know that already, Benghazi was a CIA site with a seven-member rapid response force at the “annex.” During the hearing, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, so beloved of the Tea Party, managed to not only let go of that fact, without actually mentioning the CIA by name, but the committee was flashing a satellite picture of the compound at Benghazi and suddenly both Chaffetz and Chairman Issa “suggested” that what they were showing was classified. There they were, holding these pictures up for C-SPAN and telling the world that this is a secret facility. It didn’t matter if the picture was from Google maps and available to any of us, what mattered was two Congressmen identifying the site as a “classified operation.” And in making a fuss over the pictures, they probably told the world that the base is still operational.
It was The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank who picked up on the word play involved, the way State Department witnesses were talking about not being able to talk about things, the way one said that the facility was not under his control.
So, here’s the alternative explanation of what happened in Benghazi —
Ambassador Stevens and four members of his staff traveled 400 miles to the facility in Benghazi to meet with a Turkish delegation. Their trip was not publicized. Somehow, the terrorist groups operating in the Benghazi area had found out that there was a CIA operation at the unmanned consulate. After dark, they launched a large assault with heavy weapons and rocket propelled grenades. They poured diesel fuel on the buildings to set them on fire. They outnumbered the seven-member CIA rapid response force and the private security force that helicoptered in to rescue the Ambassador. Ten Libyans and four Americans died in the fire and the firefight. And, because it was a CIA site, the State Department did not get any immediate explanation of what happened. In fact, the way the press and locals were able to get into the site indicates that the CIA abandoned it in the aftermath and left no one to guard the site, thereby compromising any attempt by other Federal agencies to investigate the event.
Congress would have had all the answers they could have wanted if the hearings had been held in the Intelligence Committee. But holding them in the Oversight Committee, under the control of a Chairman who vowed when the Republicans gained control of the House that he was going to bury this administration in subpoenas, is rapidly turning into an intelligence disaster.
Because the administration could not immediately satisfy the relentless questions about Benghazi, Chairman Issa hauled his committee back into session during a recess. He smelled blood in the water and was going to use this tragedy to smear the administration. Instead, he has smeared the Republican Party, because he has shown once again that no thought of national security exists in his obsessed little brain.
And just to change the subject from his own stupidity, Issa has announced that he is opening hearings on the jobs numbers for September, because they must have been rigged. The whole right wing has managed in just a couple of weeks to malign an honorable agency that has never caved in to pressure to rig the numbers to benefit the White House, and God knows, a number of presidents have tried.