#Benghazi: Did Hillary Clinton staffers have a shredding party?

September 15, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

Oh, man. If this is trueif!– the potential damage to Hillary’s presidential campaign coronation could be immense, if not fatal:

As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to “separate” damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story.

At the time, Maxwell was a leader in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, which was charged with collecting emails and documents relevant to the Benghazi probe.

Maxwell says the weekend document session was held in the basement of the State Department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters in a room underneath the “jogger’s entrance.” He describes it as a large space, outfitted with computers and big screen monitors, intended for emergency planning, and with small offices on the periphery.

When he arrived, Maxwell says he observed boxes and stacks of documents. He says a State Department office director, whom Maxwell described as close to Clinton’s top advisers, was there. Though the office director technically worked for him, Maxwell says he wasn’t consulted about her weekend assignment.

“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,’” says Maxwell. He says “seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisers.

“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’ ”

A few minutes after he arrived, Maxwell says, in walked two high-ranking State Department officials.

The “two high-ranking officials,” per Maxwell, were Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff, and Cheryl Mills, her Chief of Staff. The latter is very significant, as Mills is known for being a hard core Hillary loyalist and her “fixer.” (For more on Cheryl Mills, see here and here.) And here we now have the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs asserting that he stumbled into scrubbing party meant to protect Hillary.

These documents had been demanded by the Accountability Review Board looking into the Benghazi massacre. One wonders, now, if they did see everything, or did they receive a carefully scrubbed “Reader’s Digest” version.

It should be noted that Mr. Maxwell was one of those held accountable by the ARB for Benghazi and was on administrative leave for a year with pay before retiring. Though later cleared and never punished by State, his name was traduced in the press at the time, so a revenge motive has to be kept in mind.

But, that does not make what he claims untrue. Nor does it make it true, but it does most certainly make it something Rep. Trey Gowdy’s Select Committee will want to dig into deeply. As Brut Hume put it:

Oh, yeah.

via Twitchy


#Benghazi: security contractors claim CIA delayed aid

September 5, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

Help delayed is help denied

Here we go again.

One of the enduring questions from the 9/11/12 massacre at the US consulate in Benghazi and the subsequent attack on a CIA annex there has been “Where was the cavalry?”, when we had forces available in the area that might have saved the ambassador and three others who died.

An investigation by the Republican-lead House Armed Services Committee determined that American forces in nearby countries could not have responded in time, though they blamed the White House for not being prepared. (As do I.) They also concluded that there was no stand-down order for the quick reaction force in Tripoli and that it could not have arrived in time to save lives.

Fair enough. But what about the CIA team in the “annex?” There had been earlier reports that a rescue force was delayed for roughly half-an-hour, before deciding to go on their own volition. Now, in an interview to air on Bret Baier’s “Special Report” tonight at 7 PST, three of the contractors at the annex who survived the battle have accused their boss of holding them back:

The security contractors — Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen — spoke exclusively, and at length, to Fox News about what they saw and did that night. Baier, Fox News’ Chief Political Anchor, asked them about one of the most controversial questions arising from the events in Benghazi: Was help delayed?

Word of the attack on the diplomatic compound reached the CIA annex just after 9:30 p.m. Within five minutes, the security team at the annex was geared up for battle, and ready to move to the compound, a mile away.

“Five minutes, we’re ready,” said Paronto, a former Army Ranger. “It was thumbs up, thumbs up, we’re ready to go.”

But the team was held back. According to the security operators, they were delayed from responding to the attack by the top CIA officer in Benghazi, whom they refer to only as “Bob.”

“It had probably been 15 minutes I think, and … I just said, ‘Hey, you know, we gotta– we need to get over there, we’re losing the initiative,’” said Tiegen. “And Bob just looks straight at me and said, ‘Stand down, you need to wait.’”

“We’re starting to get calls from the State Department guys saying, ‘Hey, we’re taking fire, we need you guys here, we need help,’” said Paronto.

After a delay of nearly 30 minutes, the security team headed to the besieged consulate without orders. They asked their CIA superiors to call for armed air support, which never came.

Now, looking back, the security team said they believed that if they had not been delayed for nearly half an hour, or if the air support had come, things might have turned out differently.

“Ambassador Stevens and Sean [Smith], yeah, they would still be alive, my gut is yes,” Paronto said. Tiegen concurred.

“I strongly believe if we’d left immediately, they’d still be alive today,” he added.

An unidentified “intelligence official” denied there was a stand down order, but these three swear those exact words were used to them: “stand down.” The question, if this account is true, is did “Bob” act on his own, or did he have instructions from above?

This is a question that needs answers.  We already have a special select committee investigating Benghazi, and the Chairman has said these new allegations will be part of that investigation.

The victims and their families deserve no less than the truth.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Missing Libyan jets: don’t panic

September 4, 2014
Pentagon, 9/11/2001

Pentagon, 9/11/2001

You’ll recall those missing 11 Libyan airliners I wrote about the other day; a post in The Aviationist, quoting an executive familiar with airline operations**, agrees it’s something to be concerned about, but we shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of launching another 9/11-style attack:

“I agree the risks [of a missing plane] are there but I would be cautious in several regards: aircraft condition, availability of actual pilots and airfield conditions, etc,” says Tom Meyer, who’s worked for over a decade in all areas of the airline’s operations with Top US Air Carrier.

In fact, the missing airliner must be hidden somewhere (an kept away from the indiscreet eyes of satellites and U.S. drones snooping on terrorist bases in the desert) but a difficult-to-find airport is quite unlikely an airport capable to serve an airliner.

“Airline Ground Operations will need to include: Ground Power or APU [Auxiliary Power Unit) Availability, Fueling, Weight & Balance, FOD Free Ramp, Clear Taxiways and Runways…If any of the items is missing or done incorrectly, the whole scenario unravels. Sorry, Airline operations are complex,” Meyer explains.

It should be kept in mind that the 9-11 hijackers were exactly that: terrorists who seized control of the planes after they were already in the air. They just needed enough training to be able to pilot them to their targets. As Meyer mentions, the logistical needs of maintaining the planes and the facilities they need to take off are not inconsiderable, nor easily concealed.

There’s more, including mention of the difficulty of getting past air defenses, at least in Europe, in post-9/11 age.

Still, no one imagined guys armed with box cutters could carry out the biggest terrorist attack in history, either. Panic may not be warranted, but prudent concern and a strong effort to find those planes is.

**(He’s credited as working with “Top US Air Carrier.” I wonder if that’s a placeholder that got left behind.)

via Blogs of War


Oh, yay! Eleven Libyan airliners are missing!

September 3, 2014
"x11?"

“Times 11?”

Obama’s Libya war — it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Or maybe it’s Pandora’s box:

Islamist militias in Libya took control of nearly a dozen commercial jetliners last month, and western intelligence agencies recently issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa.

Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports.

“There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,” said one official. “We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.”

The author, Bill Gertz, cites experts who describe a range of frightening possibilities, from these jet liners being used themselves as guided missiles, as they were on 9/11/01, to being disguised as normal civilian flights, but carrying armed assault teams of terrorists who could then wreak mayhem. That these aren’t likely to be used against the US homeland is hardly any comfort: much of North Africa, the Middle East, and Mediterranean Europe would be in range. Imagine a multi-target strike a la September 11th (the anniversary of which is fast approaching!) that simultaneously aims at a giant Saudi oil refinery, a soccer stadium in Marseilles, and The Vatican.

And, thanks to a miserably conceived, off-the-cuff war launched by Barack Obama that served no US interest whatsoever, but did manage to overthrow a dictator whom we had tamed and who was keeping his country quiet, we may well have helped armed a future Mohammad Atta.

I’m sure our allies in the region are ever-so-grateful.

UPDATE: Snopes gives this a “probably false” rating, but Gertz is a pretty solid national-security reporter, so I’m not ready to write off his work on the say-so of a fact check site, even one with the pedigree of Snopes. Still I’m including it here for completeness’ sake. (h/t MissFuzzball)


#Benghazi: retired Lt. General to head Select Committee legal team

August 20, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

Interesting:

Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman, 55, attended West Point and received his law degree from Stanford Law School in 1986, according to public reports. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies. He will serve as Chief Counsel of the Select Committee.

Chipman retired from the military last year after 33 years of service. His retirement ceremony was hosted by Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, whose actions have come under scrutiny as part of the Congressional investigation into the limited military response to the Benghazi terrorist attacks on Sept. 22, 2012.

General Chipman had most recently served as the Army’s Judge Advocate General, the head of its legal system. Given Congressman Gowdy’s tenacity in pursuing the truth of what happened before, during, and after the Benghazi massacre, I think the appointment shows Chairman Gowdy’s determination to tolerate no stonewalling. I seriously doubt a retired three-star JAG will allow himself to be buffaloed by even Hillary Clinton.

The hearings should start rolling after Congress returns from its break. Be sure to stock up on popcorn in the meantime. smiley popcorn


Okay, which one of you guys bombed Libya?

August 19, 2014

map libya

And how come I wasn’t invited?

Reports The New York Times:

Unidentified warplanes on Monday bombed a small arms depot and other locations in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, that are controlled by Islamist-aligned militias, suggesting that a foreign state had intervened in the escalating battle for control of the city.

At least six people were killed, The Associated Press reported. The origin of the planes remained a mystery.

The airstrikes were beyond the capacity of the limited Libyan Air Force, and Libyan authorities said the planes had come from a foreign state. The United States, France, Italy and Egypt all denied responsibility.

“The United States was not involved whatsoever in these events,” said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman.

But the targets indicated the intent of the strikes. Although the month-old conflict in Tripoli is largely a contest for power between rival coalitions of cities and tribes, one side is considered to be allied with the forces of political Islam, while the other portrays itself as fighting an Islamist takeover. The strikes on Monday all hit the Islamist side.

Frankly, it could have been anyone, because almost everyone has reason to drop ordnance on these refugees from a medieval lunatic asylum: the US might be trying to support its clients in the rump Libyan government; the Europeans might have gotten word about a planned terrorist strike in their countries; the Egyptians  might have learned that high-ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood were hiding in the area. There are any number of possible reasons, and every single one of the actors named would of course deny doing it.

But I’m really curious to know who did. And why.

via Legal Insurrection


#Benghazi massacre an Iranian operation?

June 23, 2014
Qassem Suleymani

Qassem Suleymani

That’s the assertion of journalist Kenneth Timmerman in a forthcoming book, “Dark Forces.” In a summary article in the New York Post, Timmerman discusses Qassem Suleymani, the head of Quds Force, Iran’s external special operations forces that have conducted operations against us in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped establish Hizbullah, and carried out terrorist strikes around the world. He then talks about Iran’s concern over our presence in Benghazi, where we were monitoring jihadist groups (and, according to rumor, shipping guns to the Syrian rebels, who were fighting Iran’s client, President Assad), groups that Iran, per Timmerman’s sources, had a hand in creating and supporting. The Iranians were so concerned, in fact, that Suleymani set up an operation in which a Quds Force hit team, disguised as Red Crescent workers, were to kidnap Ambassador Stevens and destroy the CIA annex in Benghazi. The idea was to hit us hard to prove to Washington that there was no safe place for American personnel in the Middle East.

Trouble was, from the Iranian point of view, we were intercepting their communications, knew when the hit team arrived, and had them followed by Libyan militia members in our pay. That’s when things got weird:

Then at 1 in the morning, it happened.

All of a sudden, the deputy chief jumped up from where he had been dozing off. His guys were going nuts.

The ruckus got the chief’s attention. “What’s going on? What are they saying?” he asked.

The deputy translated the excited shrieks from the trackers. It seemed the Red Crescent team had been headed back to the Tibesti Hotel when they were ambushed by a half dozen Toyota pickups with .50-caliber machine guns mounted on the beds.

The militia guys forced the Iranians to get out, cuffed them, then bundled them into a pair of Jeep Cherokees and sped off.

Our guys decided it was more prudent not to follow them, he said.

So they’re gone, the chief said. That’s it. Kidnapped.

Based on information that came in later, the station chief and his deputy assumed the Iranians had been kidnapped in some Sunni-Shia dispute and were being held until they could be shipped back to Tehran.

But, what they didn’t know, per Timmerman’s sources, is that the Iranians were intercepting the CIA annex’s communications and knew we were on to them, so they staged the kidnapping of their team as a bluff, to make us think their operation was thwarted by sectarian rivalries. And it worked; the CIA station chief and his deputy bought it. In other words, we knew what the Iranians were up to, they knew we knew, but we didn’t know that they knew we knew. And that allowed them to play us for suckers, get us off our guard, and for their proxies in Ansar al Sharia (again, per Timmerman) to carry out the attacks on September, 2012. Which, by the way, the Iranians had changed to a straight “kill the ambassador” operation, since we had blown the cover of their original kidnapping squad.

Is it true? The trouble with Timmerman’s account is that it relies on anonymous sources. That’s not surprising in intelligence work, but it makes it impossible for the average person to verify.

On the other hand, I do find it at least plausible. The Iranians have considered themselves at war with us since 1979, a war we’ve only fitfully recognized. They were responsible for the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and there’s widespread opinion that they were somehow involved in the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 (1). Iran has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, via the IEDs they supplied their proxies in both places. That a commander as daring and dedicated to his cause as Qassem Suleymani appears to be might order a hit on his enemy’s embassy is not outside the bounds of reason, however.

I suppose, until and if the Iranian government falls and their records become available, this will remain one of the mysteries of the shadow war between the US and Iran.

Footnote:
(1) This was later also attributed to al Qaeda, but there’s nothing that says Iran and bin Laden couldn’t have been working together.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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