We’re a little more than a month away from the one-year anniversary of the attack on our consulate in Benghazi and the deaths of four Americans there, and yet we still have no good answers as to just what was going on there. Why did we have such a poorly secured facility in deeply hostile territory? What was its mission, and what was the mission of the related CIA annex where, we now know, around 35 intelligence operatives and contractors worked? What is the government so desperate to hide that they would baldly lie to the world, the nation, and the surviving family of those killed in the attack? (1)
One of the more widely popular speculations is that Benghazi was a hub for transferring arms to the rebels in Syria. (For example) Remember that many of the rebels in Syria are jihadists sympathetic to al Qaeda. Indeed, the most effective group, the al Nusra front, is for all intents and purposes part of al Qaeda.
But so were the jihadists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi, and therein lies the problem.
Think about it: if we’re supplying weapons to al Qaeda allies in Syria, it make no sense for al Qaeda allies in Libya to attack the headquarters of that operation. It would be stupid, in fact, and, much as I loathe these refugees from a medieval nuthouse, I don’t think they’re stupid. Or, at least, their leaders aren’t. The arms-to-Syria story just doesn’t pass the “sense test.”
So, what was going on in Benghazi?
A couple of days ago, Power Line’s John Hinderaker was wondering along similar lines, and Michael Ledeen wrote to offer his speculations. I think he’s closer to the truth than most. Here’s an excerpt:
I have never believed the rumor that we were sending arms from Libya to Syrian rebels. I was told by Syrian friends that the opposition were furious because they weren’t getting any support. Not from us, and not via Turkey. There was some training, based in Jordan I believe. I think that the Annex was an Intelligence Community hq. Not just CIA, also NSA, FBI, DIA, special forces etc. and I think their major operation was trying to get control of US weaponry that we had sent to anti-Qadaffi forces, now spreading around the Middle East to the usual suspects.
I think the admin was frightened about that story: US weapons end up in enemy hands, ergo we were arming our enemies, replay of the birth of al Qaeda etc. You can’t say you are at war with AQ if you are arming them, right? That plays very badly in the prez campaign. And then of course the total cockup of the non-response to the killing of our men.
And not just US weaponry, but the arms lost from Qaddafi’s arsenals after he was overthrown. That materiel is spreading all over North Africa (Mali, for example), and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it show up in Sinai, where Salafis are carrying on an insurgency against the new military-backed Egyptian government. The public acknowledgement of this would have made a hash of Obama’s claims of foreign policy success.
No, it wouldn’t have done at all for this to come out before the election. The narrative of Obama’s Great Victory over al Qaeda had to be preserved.
Even if it meant lying through his teeth to grieving families.
(1) Other than Clinton and Obama’s incompetence, that is.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)