Now that Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., has revealed that survivors of last year’s deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, were compelled to sign non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from talking about the attack, the questions are clear: What did the survivors see, and what was the Obama administration’s imperative for silencing them? The answers to the first question may, of course, provide answers to the second.
The evasion, equivocation and outright deceptions proffered by the administration on Benghazi thus far have piqued the suspicions of some and convicted the administration in the eyes of others. Myriad scenarios have been entertained in the minds of the curious and conspiracy theorists alike, but the fact is that the administration, by its actions, has inspired all of these.
So let’s factor this new information into that with which we are already familiar – limited though it may be – and see what shakes out.
There was no doubt a wide assortment of personnel on the ground at the Benghazi compound on the night of Sept. 11, 2012. In addition to military and intelligence assets, such facilities require clerical, information technology, facilities, transportation and even janitorial support personnel. Many of these probably did not have very high security clearance, but given their proximity, they would observe day-to-day occurrences at the compound and would necessarily have a handle on everything that transpired, even if from a casual perspective.
The first thing that occurred to me was the lack of any information whatsoever having come out of Benghazi during the attack from the 30-or-so survivors who were present. During the 2009-2010 election protests in Iran, those in Egypt one year ago and again two weeks ago, the entire world was able to experience what occurred in real time, given the information transmitted by individuals present via computers, cell phones and other mobile devices. I am sure I was not the only one who read tweets, blog posts, or received electronic messages from people on the scene (or those in contact with people who were) prior to any news agency releasing the same information. Even on Sept. 11, 2001, prior to the now ubiquitous social media and instant messages, passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 (which crashed in a Pennsylvania field) managed to get messages out on their cell phones.
No such data came out of Benghazi that night, and it leads one to wonder why, considering that the people there no doubt knew they were in imminent danger. Where were the tweets, Facebook posts, blog entries and emails that any one of us would be doing our level best to get out if had we been at the Benghazi compound that night?
The first logical question, then, becomes what prevented those in the compound from communicating with the outside world? A widespread power outage seems unlikely, given the array of electronic communications devices present in any structure more sophisticated than a mud hut these days. Cell phones, computers, satellite phones and other wireless devices could have been used to contact friendlies within a few hundred miles, if not parties in the U.S. directly.
This raises the question of whether personnel at the base were prohibited from communicating with the outside, and if so, why. Were their cell phones confiscated at the onset of the attack? Were they ordered into a secure area – not necessarily for their safety, but so that they might be effectively monitored? Considering the supposed chaos and lack of personnel on hand to protect the compound, who might have enforced such a directive?
Might these silenced Benghazi survivors have been able to testify that there were American military assets much closer to Benghazi than we have been led to believe? Were there in fact other military personnel present (contrary to what we have been told) who were ordered to stand down? Were military personnel present prior to the attack ordered to evacuate? Were there other CIA operatives there who were ordered not to respond, and whose presence would give rise to even more uncomfortable questions?
Shortly after the attack, Libyan President Mohammed Magarief declared publicly that it had been organized, contrary to the anti-Islam film reaction narrative the White House was advancing at the time. On May 31, Egyptian activist and writer Cynthia Farahat revealed that deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi had been involved in the attack. This was later confirmed by Libyan intelligence. Were there Egyptian troops or Muslim Brotherhood operatives among the attackers?
We know that the attackers utilized military-grade weaponry. Were official military transports observed, and whose insignia might they have borne? There were reportedly dozens of attackers. Were they flown in? Were they Ansar al-Shariah (local Islamist militants known to be operating in the area), al-Qaida, or both?
It had been speculated for some time that the Obama administration was clandestinely running guns to Syrian rebels, and that this was the reason for the assault, at least in part. I have gone as far as to suggest that the president himself either allowed or facilitated the attack in order to destroy evidence of the operation. The revelation of Morsi’s involvement certainly lends credence to this theory, and the arms-smuggling scenario has been reinforced by the testimony of Libyan arms dealer Abdul Basit Haroun, who told Reuters in June that he was behind some of the biggest shipments of weapons from Libya to Syria.
In short, it is now reasonable to speculate – given the deportment of the White House and State Department – that there are things known by these survivors which, if revealed, would be monumentally damaging to the Obama administration. If the principle of justice itself isn’t sufficient motivation for Americans to demand a congressional Select Committee investigation at this point, the harm it could cause this criminal regime ought to be.