TEL AVIV – Is the fix already in?
In a stunning exchange with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, offered premature final judgments of why Ambassador Chris Stevens went to Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
Gowdy also espoused personal judgments concerning Stevens’ mysterious final meeting with a Turkish diplomat less than two hours before the Benghazi attack. His comments seem ignorant of Stevens’ own description of his personal relationship with the diplomat.
Gowdy’s investigative committee is tasked with investigating the events surrounding the attack and not with issuing early conclusions or predictions, especially during the infancy of the hearings.
Yet Gowdy did just that when he was repeatedly questioned by Van Susteren about the meeting between Stevens and an unnamed Turkish diplomat at the U.S. special mission in Benghazi just prior to the attack.
The meeting ended at about 7:40 p.m. local time. The attack on the mission began at 9:42 p.m.
Asked about the meeting, Gowdy told Van Susteren: “I have seen no evidence that the meeting with the Turkish diplomat was in any way related to what ultimately happened to the ambassador.”
Van Susteren asked whether the meeting was connected to the presence of the CIA in Benghazi.
Gowdy replied, “If there is any evidence to connect the two, I have not seen it, and no one on House intel has told me about it.”
Gowdy’s reliance on the House Intelligence Committee, which could have been briefed on any U.S. weapons transfers in Benghazi, is instructive. Earlier this month, the House committee released a report claiming the CIA did not directly transfer weapons to rebels.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., slammed the House Committee Intelligence report as being “full of crap” and “garbage,” while complaining the committee “is doing a lousy job policing their own.”
Meanwhile, in the interview, Van Susteren persisted.
“Aren’t you curious why he was meeting with the Turkish diplomat?”
Gowdy sidestepped the question and then made personal judgments about what may have happened.
“I am curious why he was there, but I am curious why we as a country were in Benghazi. The ambassador loved Libya, and he particularly loved the people of Benghazi. We may ultimate find out that there is no more nefarious explanation other than the fact that our ambassador loved the people of Benghazi.”
Van Susteren continued pressing.
“I am not even suggesting nefarious. But it seems to me, I’m just suspicious because I haven’t gotten a lot of information, as to whether there is some sort of a covert operation. Because you’ve got a huge presence of the CIA and State Department in that particular place with very limited security. So naturally I am a little suspicious,” she said.
“And he meets with a Turkish diplomat, and we never hear why he meets with a Turkish diplomat before he is killed. I am not suggesting Turkey is up to no good. But I just don’t think that we have all the information.”
Amazingly, Gowdy again gave his personal opinion, indicating a possible bias on the issue.
“I honestly think that at the end of that analysis we are going to find that he and the Turkish diplomat were friends.”
“Just friends? OK,” Van Susteren remarked.
Gowdy said: “I know for you and I live in a world where people want to find something that is harder to understand than just a simple fact that he loved the people there. He was friends with the Turkish diplomat.”
Ambassador’s revealing journal
By characterizing Stevens’ relationship with the Turkish diplomat as merely a friendship, Gowdy seems unaware or uninterested in the U.S. ambassador’s own description of the relationship in his journal.
Sofrep.com published Stevens journal, with an entry on Sept, 11, the day of the attack, that begins, “It is so nice to be back in Benghazi.”
Stevens mentions his meeting with a Turkish diplomat the day of the attack. He writes it was with one Ali Akin, the Turkish Consul General. Stevens revealed Akin “helped me land in Benghazi last year.”
In making his determination of why Stevens went to Benghazi, Gowdy seems to be ignoring numerous key reports and statements.
Graham previously stated that Stevens was in Benghazi to keep weapons caches from falling into the hands of terrorists, as WND reported.
ABC News reported Glen Doherty, one of the Americans killed during the Benghazi attacks, “told ABC News before his death that he was working with the State Department on an intelligence mission to round up dangerous weapons in the war-torn nation.”
Regarding the Turkish connection, numerous establishment news outlets reported the largest procurement of weapons from Libya were shipped from Benghazi to Turkey for the Syrian rebels days before the Benghazi attack.
The House Intelligence report itself documented Mike Morell, then CIA deputy director, stated in testimony that the CIA annex in Benghazi was “collecting intelligence about foreign entities that were themselves collecting weapons in Libya and facilitating their passage to Syria.” He clarified that the annex itself was not collecting weapons.
Speaking of the CIA agents on the ground, Morell further stated, according to the report, “Sir, the focus of my officers in Benghazi was (redacted) to try to penetrate terrorist groups that were there so we could learn their plans, intentions and capabilities.”
With additional research by Joshua Klein.