JERUSALEM – Did an independent panel that just blamed the State Department for major security lapses at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi fail to investigate the main activities transpiring at the facility?
Those activities, the aiding of jihadist rebels battling Middle East regimes, may be relevant in determining why the Benghazi facility was attacked Sept. 11.
The panel’s lead investigator into the Benghazi attack, former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, has largely unreported ties to the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa.
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He's linked primarily through his role as a member of the small board of the International Crisis Group, or ICG, one of the main proponents of the international “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine.
The doctrine is the very military protocol used to justify the NATO bombing campaign that brought down Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.
According to reports, Pickering’s investigation focused on security lapses regarding the protection of the Benghazi mission but did not look into the role of the mission itself, which could be critical in determining the reasons the facility came under fire.
WND has published a series of investigations showing the Benghazi mission was highly involved in the rebel-led Mideast revolutions to which Pickering is tied.
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WND was first to report the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East, according to Middle Eastern security officials.
In September, WND also broke the story that the slain ambassador, Christopher Stevens, played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian security officials.
Last month, Middle Eastern security sources further described both the U.S. mission and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi as the main intelligence and planning center for U.S. aid to the rebels that was being coordinated with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Many rebel fighters are openly members of terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida.
Pickering’s panel released some of its findings to the media yesterday. The group reportedly concluded that systematic management and leadership failures at the State Department led to "grossly" inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi.
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"Systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place," the panel said.
The report pointed a finger at State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs, charging a lack of coordination and confusion over protecting the Benghazi mission.
Still, the panel concluded that no officials ignored or violated their duties. It recommended no disciplinary action now but did suggest that poor performance by senior managers in the future should be grounds for disciplinary action.
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Pickering’s report apparently makes no mention of any of the activities that transpired at either the Benghazi mission or the CIA annex.
According to numerous Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND, the U.S. diplomatic mission served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the jihadists fighting insurgencies in the Middle East.
Among the tasks performed inside the building was collaborating with Arab countries on the recruitment of fighters – including jihadists – to target Assad’s regime in Syria.
The distinction may help explain why there was no major public security presence at what has been described as a “consulate.” Such a presence would draw attention to the shabby, nondescript building that was allegedly used for such sensitive purposes.
The security officials divulged the building was routinely used by Stevens and others to coordinate with the Turkish, Saudi and Qatari governments on supporting the insurgencies in the Middle East, most prominently the rebels opposing Assad’s regime in Syria.
In September, WND reported Stevens played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian security officials.
Stevens served as a key contact with the Saudis to coordinate the recruitment by Saudi Arabia of Islamic fighters from North Africa and Libya. The jihadists were sent to Syria via Turkey to attack Assad’s forces, said the security officials.
The officials said Stevens also worked with the Saudis to send names of potential jihadi recruits to U.S. security organizations for review. Names found to be directly involved in previous attacks against the U.S., including in Iraq and Afghanistan, were ultimately not recruited by the Saudis to fight in Syria, said the officials.
Questions remain about the nature of U.S. support for the revolutions in Egypt and Libya, including reports the U.S.-aided rebels that toppled Gadhafi’s regime in Libya consisted of al-Qaida and jihad groups. The U.S. provided direct assistance, including weapons and finances, to the Libyan rebels.
Similarly, the Obama administration has aide the rebels fighting Assad’s regime in Syria amid widespread reports that al-Qaida jihadists are included in the ranks of the Free Syrian Army.
Pickering serves on the small board of the International Crisis Group, or ICG, one of the main proponents of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, championing the doctrine in its official mission statement.
Gareth Evans, president emeritus of ICG, is the founder and co-author of the doctrine.
Billionaire activist George Soros is on ICG’s executive board. Soros’ Open Society Institute is also one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, the group that devised the doctrine.
The ICG itself has long petitioned for talks with Hamas as well as normalized relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, for years urging the Egyptian government to allow the Brotherhood to establish an Islamist political party, as WND reported.
The crisis group has petitioned for the Algerian government to cease “excessive” military activities against al-Qaida-linked groups and to allow organizations seeking to create an Islamic state to participate in the Algerian government.
Pickering in 2009 held a meeting with Hamas.
At the time, the State Department told the Jerusalem Post the meeting between Pickering and Hamas was not sanctioned by the White House and that official U.S. policy regarding the group remained unchanged: Hamas first must recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements as a precondition for dialogue with the U.S.
Responsibility to Protect, or Responsibility to Act, as cited by Obama, is a set of principles, now backed by the United Nations, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege but a responsibility that can be revoked if a country is accused of “war crimes,” “genocide,” “crimes against humanity” or “ethnic cleansing.”
The term “war crimes” has at times been indiscriminately used by various U.N.-backed international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, or ICC, which applied it to Israeli anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip. There has been fear the ICC could be used to prosecute U.S. troops.
President Obama’s national security adviser, Samantha Power, helped to found Responsibility to Protect, which was also devised by several controversial characters, including Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, a staunch denier of the Holocaust who long served as the deputy of late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.
Powers, last April, was named the head of the new White House Atrocities Prevention Board.
The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, founded by Power, had a seat on the advisory board of the 2001 commission that original founded Responsibility to Protect.
The commission is called the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. It invented the term “responsibility to protect” while defining its guidelines.
The Carr Center is a research center concerned with human rights located at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Power was Carr’s founding executive director and headed the institute at the time it advised in the founding of Responsibility to Protect.
With Power’s center on the advisory board, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty first defined the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.
The Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect is the world’s leading champion of the military doctrine.
Soros’ Open Society Institute is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect.
Several of the doctrine’s main founders sit on boards with Soros.
The committee that devised the Responsibility to Protect doctrine included Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa as well as Palestinian legislator Ashrawi.
Two of the global group’s advisory board members, Ramesh Thakur and Gareth Evans, are the original founders of the doctrine, with the duo even coining the term “responsibility to protect.”
Thakur and Evans sit on multiple boards with Soros.
The Open Society is one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Government sponsors include Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda and the U.K.
Board members of the group include former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Ireland President Mary Robinson and South African activist Desmond Tutu. Robinson and Tutu have made solidarity visits to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as members of a group called The Elders, which includes former President Jimmy Carter.
Annan once famously stated: “State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined – not least by the forces of globalization and international co-operation. States are … instruments at the service of their peoples and not vice versa.”
Right to ‘penetrate nation-states’ borders’
Soros himself outlined the fundamentals of Responsibility to Protect in a 2004 Foreign Policy magazine article titled “The People’s Sovereignty: How a New Twist on an Old Idea Can Protect the World’s Most Vulnerable Populations.”
In the article, Soros said “true sovereignty belongs to the people, who in turn delegate it to their governments.”
“If governments abuse the authority entrusted to them and citizens have no opportunity to correct such abuses, outside interference is justified,” Soros wrote. “By specifying that sovereignty is based on the people, the international community can penetrate nation-states’ borders to protect the rights of citizens.
“In particular, the principle of the people’s sovereignty can help solve two modern challenges: the obstacles to delivering aid effectively to sovereign states, and the obstacles to global collective action dealing with states experiencing internal conflict.”
More Soros ties
“Responsibility” founders Evans and Thakur served as co-chairmen, with Gregorian on the advisory board of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which invented the term “responsibility to protect.”
In his capacity as co-chairman, Evans also played a pivotal role in initiating the fundamental shift from sovereignty as a right to “sovereignty as responsibility.”
Evans presented Responsibility to Protect at the July 23, 2009, United Nations General Assembly, which was convened to consider the principle.
Thakur is a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, which is in partnership with an economic institute founded by Soros.
Soros is on the executive board of the International Crisis Group, a “crisis management organization” for which Evans serves as president-emeritus.
New world order
Doctrine founder Thakur has advocated a “global rebalancing” and “international redistribution” to create a “New World Order.”
In a piece in March 2011 in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, “Toward a new world order,” Thakur wrote, “Westerners must change lifestyles and support international redistribution.”
He was referring to a United Nations-brokered international climate treaty in which he argued, “Developing countries must reorient growth in cleaner and greener directions.”
In the opinion piece, Thakur then discussed recent military engagements and how the financial crisis has impacted the U.S.
“The West’s bullying approach to developing nations won’t work anymore – global power is shifting to Asia,” he wrote.
“A much-needed global moral rebalancing is in train,” he added.
Thakur continued: “Westerners have lost their previous capacity to set standards and rules of behaviour for the world. Unless they recognize this reality, there is little prospect of making significant progress in deadlocked international negotiations.”
Thakur contended “the demonstration of the limits to U.S. and NATO power in Iraq and Afghanistan has left many less fearful of ‘superior’ western power.”