Late yesterday, CNN and journalist Jake Tapper (1) broke jaw-dropping news about the Benghazi massacre, in which four Americans died. First came the revelation that the consulate and the CIA annex were headquarters for around 35 people, many of them CIA operatives. In addition to the four killed, seven were reported injured, some severely. I don’t know CIA operations, of course, but having 35 people in place sounds like something major was underway. We’ll come back to that.
The head-turner in this, however, is the news of how the CIA is handling its agents involved in Benghazi — polygraphing them to make sure they don’t talk to Congress or the press (Emphases added):
Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.
CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.
Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings.
The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.
It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.
In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.”
Another says, “You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation.”
“Agency employees typically are polygraphed every three to four years. Never more than that,” said former CIA operative and CNN analyst Robert Baer.
In other words, the rate of the kind of polygraphs alleged by sources is rare.
“If somebody is being polygraphed every month, or every two months it’s called an issue polygraph, and that means that the polygraph division suspects something, or they’re looking for something, or they’re on a fishing expedition. But it’s absolutely not routine at all to be polygraphed monthly, or bi-monthly,” said Baer.
Think about that: the CIA is administering “lie-detector” tests to make sure its employees aren’t telling the truth. Wha…??
Once again, I’m reminded of the immortal words of Vince Lombardi:
Whatever’s going on, it’s clear the CIA doesn’t want anyone to know about it, not even their (supposed) overseers on Capitol Hill. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), whose district includes CIA HQ, noticed a suspicious change in behavior soon after Benghazi:
In the aftermath of the attack, Wolf said he was contacted by people closely tied with CIA operatives and contractors who wanted to talk.
Then suddenly, there was silence.
“Initially they were not afraid to come forward. They wanted the opportunity, and they wanted to be subpoenaed, because if you’re subpoenaed, it sort of protects you, you’re forced to come before Congress. Now that’s all changed,” said Wolf.
Polygraphing and implied threats would tend to do that, no?
Can’t wait to see Jay Carney try to dismiss this as a “phony scandal.”
Back to the question of what all those CIA personnel were doing in Benghazi, in addition to the publicly stated reason of trying to help the Libyan government reacquire weapons lost during their civil war. Thirty-five people would imply a big operation, I should think. What are the other possibilities? One that occurred to me was some sort of operation aimed at al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a formal ally of al Qaeda, and other North African jihad groups. Keep in mind that Obama’s Big Adventure in Libya unleashed thousands of weapons from Qaddafi’s arsenals, along with jihadists who wanted to spread true Islamic government to other lucky countries. Mali was nearly destroyed because of Obama’s blundering. Maybe this station in Benghazi was involved in efforts to contain and eliminate this plague. It would certainly be a good location.
But then why the effort to hide it from Congress? (2)
Analyst Tom Rogan (h/t Adam Baldwin) considers the possibilities and, in addition to AQIM, speculates that the Benghazi outpost (as rumored) was involved in arming Syrian rebels or other covert operations there:
2) Another possibility is that the CIA was using Benghazi as a jump-off point for Special Activities Division (SAD) operations inside Syria. Flying from Benghazi into a forward staging position in Turkey would require a relatively short hop across the Mediterranean. Therefore, from a geo-strategic point of view (and in the context of the operational security concern), it would make a near-ideal staging post for covert deployments. Reliable reporting (see Ambinder and Grady’s The Deep State) indicates that the US Government has deployed covert military/intelligence teams inside Iran on a number of occasions over the past few years. In addition, prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, we know that the US deployed small groups of personnel deep inside Iraq in order to gather targeting intelligence. So, if this possibility is the case, it wouldn’t be something new. In addition, it would make at least some sense. The Obama Administration only announced that they would provide weapons to select Syrian rebels in mid-June. It’s therefore very possible (and quite likely) that CIA officers were on the ground in Syria before that date – gathering intelligence on the best rebel forces to support and developing foundations for the future establishment of a weapons logistical train.
Again, keeping this secret would be rational, if only to keep from provoking a Syrian retaliation and putting our clients in Libya on the spot. Rogan concludes that this Libyan operation, whatever it was, must have required a presidential finding –Obama’s signature– and notification of senior members of Congress.
But, I ask with a raised eyebrow, if that’s the case, if senior members of Congress, which would include the chairmen and ranking members of the intel committees, already knew, and assuming Tapper is right, why is Langley pressuring everyone to shut up — even to Congress?
Good question. There are lots of good questions about Benghazi and, so far, too few answers.
via the Tatler
(1) That’s right, progressives: not someone you can dismiss as a tool of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Hurts, doesn’t it?
(2) In fairness, I can think of one good reason: Congress leaks like a sieve. If we are conducting operations against AQ/AQIM, admitting to Benghazi might jeopardize other efforts. Of course, bungling and CYA could also explain it.
UPDATE: Hiding witnesses and creating aliases??
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)