In a radio interview, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, questioned whether the Obama administration may be covering up the role played by the CIA annex in Benghazi in a possible scheme to run guns to rebels in the Middle East.
The annex was attacked Sept. 11 along with the special U.S. mission in Benghazi.
Charged Paul: “There has been a lot made of the political cover up of President Obama’s administration saying this (Benghazi attack) had something to do with a homemade film from some guy in Los Angeles. But in reality the question is, or the secondary quotation is, why would they do a cover up? What are they covering up?”
Paul said he has “a feeling that it had something to do with the CIA annex.”
“You know, a week before the ambassador was killed in Libya, a ship left Libya and docked in Turkey, and it actually interviewed the captain of that ship who said there were arms on board and that he actually witnessed the rebels taking the arms and disputing over who got what,” he said. “That there were grenade launchers; that there were significant arms being transferred.
Paul said it doesn’t prove the CIA was involved but raised the question of the purpose of the annex.
“The Libyan government is said not to have known that they were there,” he noted. “And is that the reason for the cover up? So there are a lot of unanswered questions.”
Paul was speaking Sunday night on WABC Radio’s “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.”
Any arming of Middle East rebels would be considered highly controversial. Widespread reports have documented that Syrian and Libyan rebels consist in large part of jihadists, including members of several major al-Qaida groups.
It was not the first time Paul publicly raised suspicions on alleged gun running in Benghazi.
In a Senate hearing on the Benghazi attacks last month, Paul asked outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “Is the U. S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?”
“To Turkey?” Clinton asked. “I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody has ever raised that with me.”
Continued Paul: “It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that may have weapons, and what I’d like to know is the annex that was close by, were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons, and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries, any countries, Turkey included?”
Clinton replied, “Well, Senator, you’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex. I will see what information is available.”
“You’re saying you don’t know?” asked Paul.
“I do not know,” Clinton said. “I don’t have any information on that.”
That section of the exchange with Paul was almost entirely ignored by media, which instead focused on the Republican senator’s earlier statement that if he were president he would have relieved Clinton of her post.
The alleged weapons transfers to the rebels in Syria would not be the first time the Obama administration reportedly coordinated weapons shipments to Middle Eastern rebels.
In December, the New York Times reported the Obama administration “secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats.”
The Times reported the weapons and money from Qatar “strengthened militant groups in Libya, allowing them to become a destabilizing force since the fall of the Qaddafi government.”
Last week the U.S. announced $60 million in nonlethal aid to Syrian rebels, while the White House continues to deny it was involved in coordinating arms shipments to Syrian fighters.
Last month, the New York Times reported the White House rebuffed a plan developed last summer by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus to arm and train Syrian rebels.
However, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND, the U.S. has been coordinating Arab arms shipments for months now to the Syrian rebels. At issue is that the rebels consist in large part of al-Qaida-linked jihadists, according to scores of news reports.
The Middle Eastern security officials further described the U.S. mission in Benghazi and nearby CIA annex attacked last September as an intelligence and planning center for U.S. aid to the rebels in the Middle East, particularly those fighting Assad’s regime. The aid, the sources stated, included weapons shipments and was being coordinated with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Days after the Benghazi attacks, WND broke the story that late Ambassador Christopher Stevens himself played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian and other Middle Eastern 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.
This scheme seems to mirror the Petraeus-Clinton plan as described by the New York Times.
Poking further holes in the White House denial of supporting that plan, it was revealed in testimony last month the arms-to-rebels plan had been endorsed by the leaders of the CIA, Pentagon and State Department.
If, indeed, President Obama rejected the arms plan, it would mean the White House went against the recommendations of not only Clinton and Petraeus but also outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey.
During Senate hearings on Benghazi two weeks ago, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked Panetta and Dempsey whether they had supported a plan “that we provide weapons to the resistance in Syria.”
“We do,” Panetta replied.
“You did support that?” McCain asked again.
“We did,” added Dempsey, who was sitting next to Panetta.
Neither Dempsey nor Panetta elaborated on their positions.