5 ‘significant problems’ with GOP’s new Benghazi report

By Aaron Klein


JERUSALEM – A House Intelligence Committee report on the Benghazi attack released Friday makes numerous problematic assertions, a WND review of the 37-page document has found.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Sunday slammed the new House Committee Intelligence report as being “full of crap” and “garbage,” while complaining the committee “is doing a lousy job policing their own.” Graham was speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Graham stated: “I don’t believe that the report is accurate, given the role that Mike Morell (deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time) played in misleading the Congress on two different occasions. Why didn’t the report say that?”

The senator assailed the report’s conclusion that the Obama administration did not lie to cover up what happened in Benghazi.

“That’s a bunch of garbage,” Graham said. “That’s a complete bunch of garbage.”

“I’m going to do a hard review of this,” he added.

WND’s own extensive review found the following five major problems with the new House report.

1) Inaccurate label for U.S. facility

The new House Intelligence Committee report repeatedly refers to the U.S. building in Benghazi as a “Temporary Mission Facility.” However, the State Department has carefully labeled its facility in Benghazi a “U.S. Special Mission.”

Previous government documents from the State Department-sponsored Accountability Review Board (ARB) probe to congressional investigations to documents released by the State Department, White House, Pentagon and Intelligence Community carefully label the facility a “U.S. Special Mission.”

The ARB divulges the mission was so special it possessed a “non-status,” making security provisions to the facility difficult.

2) Previously undisclosed reason for U.S. ambassador’s travel

Within the text of the document, the new House Intelligence Committee report for the first time provides a new reason U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi during the Sep. 11, 2012, attack.

The document states Stevens, murdered during the assault, “traveled to Benghazi from Tripoli on September 10, 2012, to be present at a September 11 ceremony establishing a new American Corner at a local Benghazi school with the Turkish chief of mission in Benghazi.”

“He had other meetings plans that week, during which the CIA was to provide additional security,” added the report.

This is the first such mention of Stevens’ attendance at the ceremony in an unnamed school in Benghazi. No previous public government document on Benghazi, including the State Department’s ARB, ever noted Stevens participated in any such ceremony.

An extensive WND search could find no previous news media coverage reporting Stevens’ attendance at the purported ceremony.

Divining the purpose of Stevens’ trip to Benghazi has been a significant goal of numerous congressional hearings. Yet a WND review of public hearings on Benghazi found no mention of Stevens’ attendance at the ceremony.

Gregory Hicks, the former State Department deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affairs who was in Libya at the time of the attack, was asked in a Benghazi congressional hearing why Stevens went to the compound that day. Hicks never mentioned the school ceremony.

Hicks stated Stevens went to Benghazi in part because Clinton wanted to convert the U.S. complex into a permanent mission in a symbol of the new Libya. Hicks said Clinton wanted to announce the establishment of a permanent U.S. State Department facility during her planned visit there in December 2012. Apparently Stevens was up against a very specific funding deadline to complete an extensive survey of the mission so the compound could be converted.

3) CIA aided weapons transfers to the Mideast rebels?

The new report states the “CIA conducted no unauthorized activity in Benghazi and was not collecting and shipping arms to Syria.”

The report noted multiple media outlets have reported allegations the CIA collected weapons in Benghazi and facilitated weapons from Libya to Syria.

“The eyewitness testimony and thousands of pages of CIA cables and emails that the committee reviewed provide no support for this allegation,” states the report.

As evidence the CIA was not involved in weapons transfers, the report documents that “each witness reported seeing only standard CIA security weapons at the base.”

“No witness testified that non-CIA weapons were brought to the Annex.”

However, most mainstream allegations about weapons transfers did not claim any weapons were stored or transferred through the CIA annex.

The denial of weapons transfers is at odds with numerous major news media accounts of U.S.-aided weapons transfers by Arab countries to Mideast rebels.

The New York Times reported March 25, 2013, that the covert aid to the Syrian rebels started on a small scale and continued intermittently through the fall of 2012, expanding into a steady and much heavier flow later that year, including a large procurement from Croatia.

The Times reported that from offices at “secret locations,” American intelligence officers “helped the Arab governments shop for weapons … and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive.”

In March 2011, Reuters exclusively reported Obama had signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for the rebel forces in Libya seeking to oust Gaddafi, quoting U.S. government officials.

Also that month, the London Independent reported “the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi.”

4) Misleads about weapons collection?

The new report utilizes specific phraseology to deny the CIA was involved in collecting any weapons in Benghazi. It states the CIA “was not collecting and shipping arms to Syria.”

However, the use of the word “and” leaves open the possibility the intelligence community was collecting weapons that were not shipped to Syria.

The report further states: “The Benghazi Annex was not itself collecting weapons. The Committee has not seen any credible information to dispute these facts.”

This phraseology, particularly the use of the word “itself,” leaves open the possibility another facility was involved in a weapons-procurement effort.

The report hints the State Department, not the CIA, may have been leading a weapons collection effort.

It states: “This report does not assess State Department or Defense Department activities other than where those activities impact, or were impacted by, the work of the intelligence community.”

The report fails to mention a top State Department official publically described an unprecedented multi-million-dollar U.S. effort to secure anti-aircraft weapons in Libya after the fall of Muammar Gadhafi’s regime.

The official, Andrew J. Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, explained that U.S. experts were fully coordinating the collection efforts with the Libyan opposition.

He said the efforts were taking place in Benghazi, where a leading U.S. expert was deployed.

Shapiro conceded that the Western-backed rebels did not want to give up the weapons, particularly Man-Portable-Air-Defense-Systems, or MANPADS, which were the focus of the weapons collection efforts.

In his speech seven months before the Benghazi attack, Shapiro stated that “currently in Libya we are engaged in the most extensive effort to combat the proliferation of MANPADS in U.S. history.”

Shapiro was addressing a forum at the Stimson Center, a non-profit think tank that describes itself as seeking “pragmatic solutions for some of the most important peace and security challenges around the world.”

Shapiro explained Libya had “accumulated the largest stockpile of MANPADS of any non-MANPADS producing country in the world.” Shapiro related how then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton committed to providing $40 million dollars to assist Libya’s efforts to secure and recover its weapons stockpiles.

Of that funding, $3 million went to unspecified nongovernmental organizations that specialize in conventional weapons destruction and stockpile security.

The NGOs and a U.S. team coordinated all efforts with Libya’s Transitional National Council, or TNC, said Shapiro. The U.S. team was led by Mark Adams, a State Department expert from the MANPADS Task Force.

Tellingly, Shapiro stated Adams was deployed in August 2011, not to Tripoli where the U.S. maintained an embassy, but to Benghazi. The only official U.S. diplomatic presence in Benghazi consisted of the CIA annex and nearby U.S. facility that were the targets of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack.

5) No air support available

The report states matter-of-factly the “CIA received all military support that was available.”

“Neither the CIA nor DOD denied requests for air support.”

That blanket statement came with a brief disclaimer stating, “This review did not set out to assess the Defense Department’s activities during the attacks.”

Unmentioned in the report are questions raised about command of the Special Forces – known as C-110, or the EUCOM CIF – which was transferred in the middle of the attacks from the military’s European command to AFRICOM, or the United States Africa Command.

The C-110 is a 40-man Special Ops force maintained for rapid response to emergencies like the Benghazi attack.

Fox News aired a report with a C-110 operator who stated his forces could have deployed to Benghazi but were instead told to return to their normal operating base in Germany.

“I know for a fact that C-110, the EUCOM CIF, was doing a training exercise in … not in the region of North Africa, but in Europe,” the special operator told the Fox News Channel’s Adam Housley.

“And they had the ability to act and to respond.”

The operator told Fox News the C-110 forces were training in Croatia. The distance between Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, and Benghazi is about 925 miles. Fox News reported the forces were stationed just three and a half hours away.

“We had the ability to load out, get on birds and fly there, at a minimum stage,” the operator told Fox News. “C-110 had the ability to be there, in my opinion, in a matter of about four hours … four to six hours.”

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