When a U.S. ambassador was murdered six months ago in Libya, the White House found itself in the center of political controversy over who was to blame.
Clearly, as Barack Obama sought re-election, a successful attack by forces tied to al-Qaida threatened foreign-policy bona fides that hinged on having the terrorist network “on the run.”
The White House had the evidence from the beginning, as official communications show, that the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans had nothing to do with a protest over a movie by a right-wing bigot.
Similarly, when U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel Jr., U.S. Charges d’affaires George Curtis Moore and Belgian Guy Eid were murdered March 2, 1973, after being taken hostage, U.S. officials immediately knew who was to blame.
And like the Benghazi affair Sept. 11, 2012, politics got in the way of justice.
If congressional Republicans have become exasperated in their attempts to get to the bottom of the Benghazi attack six months later, think about how former National Security Agency analyst James J. Welsh must feel after 40 years of stonewalling.
As WND reported in 2003, Welsh has irrefutable evidence that Arafat himself planned, directed and ordered the murders of the diplomats at the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, by the Black September Organization.
Black September carried out the infamous operation that killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
After it became clear President Nixon would not give in to the demands of the Palestinian terrorists, the men were lined up against a wall in the basement of the embassy and gunned down.
Welsh at the time was monitoring radio communications between Palestinian leaders in Beirut and the Sudanese capital. Audio tapes made in Cyprus and U.S. embassies in Beirut and Khartoum left no doubt that it was Arafat’s voice directing the operation from Feb. 28, 1973, – the day before the men were kidnapped – to their execution two days later.
Welsh believes the purpose of the initial cover-up was to prevent embarrassment to the State Department and the Richard Nixon White House. After Nixon was gone, the matter was kept quiet to protect the future viability of the NSA’s signals intercepts.
But ultimately, Welsh asserts, the cover-up persisted to protect Arafat’s role as a “peacemaker” and leader of the Palestinian cause.
If transcripts of the tapes had been released, it would have destroyed Arafat, Welsh believes.
“There is no way he could have been rehabilitated in the public’s eye,” Welsh told WND in a 2003 interview. “It would have been the murder of two diplomats. You just can’t push that away.”
Some details actually trickled into the mainstream press just one month after the Khartoum attack.
“Western intelligence sources” leaked to a Washington Post reporter the contents of a cable from Khartoum to the State Department with explicit details of communications between the hostage-takers and Beirut command during the crisis.
David Ottaway wrote April 5, 1973, that “Arafat, leader of Fatah, was in the Black September radio command center in Beirut when the message to execute three Western diplomats being held in Khartoum was sent out.”
The Post reporter said “Arafat’s voice was reportedly monitored and recorded.”
Welsh told WND he “never saw such panic and anger at NSA as when Ottaway broke the story.”
“It was only after it was realized how potentially explosive the tapes were that the history began to be rewritten,” he said.
At the time of the event, Welsh said his strong objections to an obvious cover-up of the Arafat evidence got him into “serious trouble,” resulting in a negative military evaluation.
He finished his Navy service in 1974 and “just left it all,” but in the summer of 2000, the events of early 1973 came rushing back.
Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak were guests of President Bill Clinton, who was engaged in a furious, last-ditch effort to forge a peace agreement before his term ended.
“They were cavorting over at Camp David – that famous shot of them playing around [and gesturing], Who’s going to open the door,” Welsh said. “I’m just looking at the TV and saying, this is ridiculous.”
Not going to go there
After the Camp David talks, Welsh tried to take his case to Congress and nearly everyone associated with the event he could find.
On March 27, 2001, he sent a letter to all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, detailing his charges. He sent another to Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., a few days later after reading of the congressman’s call to re-examine U.S. policy toward the Arafat-led Palestinian Authority.
In his letters, Welsh alleged that an earlier congressional investigation headed by former Sen. Jeremiah Denton, R-Ala., in 1986 was subverted with false and misleading information. He offered to assist further investigations but received no response and came to realize the futility of his efforts.
Welsh at one time was in touch with the office of Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Near the time of the 2000 presidential election, Welsh received a call from Kyl’s office, informing him the senator “has decided that this is not an issue that he wished to bring up at this time.”
In a statement to Congress on Oct. 25, 2000, Welsh charged that all existing copies of warning cables sent belatedly to the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum were ordered at a high-level by either the State Department or White House to be collected and destroyed.
Two independent investigations of the National Archives in 2001 and 2002 back up those charges.
Likewise, Russ Braley, a Middle East correspondent with the New York Daily News who was in Jordan at the time of the event, concluded after spending several days in the National Archives that records on the murders had been purged.
Braley found materials that referred to certain numbered documents, but those documents had been removed.
Welsh noted, however, that Braley began digging deeper and came up with a top-secret cable from Secretary of State Rogers to various American embassies in Europe and Middle East.
The dispatch instructed diplomats to orally brief the governments of the countries in which they served that the United States had evidence Arafat was responsible.
In 2006, a classified State Department document finally was released, titled “The Seizure of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum,” that confirmed the Nixon administration knew the true story.
The report concluded the Khartoum operation “was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and head of Fatah.”
American Spectator contributor Andrew B. Wilson recently interviewed Welsh, now 66 years old and running a grocery store in the coastal resort town of Manzanita, Ore.
Welsh “still seethes with indignation” over what happened inside the Nixon administration 40 years ago, Wilson writes in a story Friday.
Despite the certain knowledge of Arafat’s guilt, Arafat grew in global stature and, as Wilson writes, was “lionized by most of the world media as an Arab ‘Moses’ struggling to lead his people to the promised land.”