The latest revelations of Obama administration actions in Benghazi make the lack of adequate security there even more appalling and suggest that top officials like Hillary Clinton were “going rogue” while Libya sputtered in disarray.
On Monday, Defense Intelligence Agency documents demanded by Judicial Watch revealed that terrorists planned to attack the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, for multiple symbolic reasons and that the United States government was well aware of weapons transfers taking place from Libya to Syrian rebels.
On January 2013, under intense questioning from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., then-outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected allegations that weapons transfers were taking place between Benghazi and Syrian rebels. At the time, suggested the weapons were being smuggled through Turkey.
The newly revealed documents confirm those suspicions.
“I’m not surprised because this was actually being whispered about by people who were familiar with the situation for quite some time,” said Susan Katz Keating, an investigative reporter who has looked extensively into Benghazi and other national security events like the killing of Osama bin Laden and the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell scandal.
“What’s interesting to me is that people who believed that weapons were being smuggled were dismissed for being nuts. Look what happened. It turned out they were in fact correct. It is significant because it shows there was quite a bit else going on in Benghazi at the time than the administration told us,” she said.
The most staggering implication of the new admissions, according to Keating, is how much worse the administration looks for failing to provide adequate security for the Benghazi consulate.
“It’s significant because if there were weapons being transferred, you’re going to have a hugely increased need for security just based on that alone. When weapons are transferred, people pay attention. People want those weapons, right? What rebel group doesn’t want to get their hands on some weapons. If this is happening, the security need would have been extremely important in addition to the importance that it already had,” said Keating.
Virtually every key player in the Benghazi saga admits security was lacking long before the weapons transfers were revealed. Keating says the diplomatic begging for more help haunts the entire story.
“The security was just not adequate whatsoever. If you read the cables coming out of Benghazi, it was screaming in terms of diplomatic language for more security and it’s wasn’t forthcoming,” she said.
What remains a mystery is whether the United States was actively involved in the weapons transfers or simply aware of what was happening between other groups. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell denies that the U.S. was engaged in the transfers but told the Fox News Channel he could not comment on whether the CIA was tracking the weapons.
Keating the latter is obvious but our role could have been far more direct.
“I would find it very difficult to believe that this was going on without our knowledge. Truth in this field is a constantly moving target. However, I would be surprised if we didn’t at least have some kind of [facilitating] role in this,” said Keating, who says the precise role of the U.S. in these exchanges is not the most pressing question.
“These kinds of things happen frequently. Big countries help little countries. So that in itself I don’t find a particularly nefarious thing. It’s the cover-up and the lying and getting to the purpose of what is actually the motive is what actually interests me,” she said.
Two other related stories have emerged in the past two days.
First, the New York Times reports that longtime Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal was sending “intelligence” on Libya to Secretary Clinton, who passed some of it along to her subordinates. The revelation is significant because Blumenthal was specifically barred from a State Department job by the Obama administration and because Blumenthal’s supposed intelligence was supplied by Libyan businessmen hoping to land contracts with the transitional Libyan government.
“I think it’s absolutely huge,” said Keating. “It just goes to show there was some sort of shadow operation on some level going on. If true, it shows that people were taking themselves out of the normal way you go of conducting government business. People were essentially going rogue, and people at a very high level going rogue.”
On Monday, the State Department announced it would likely be January before any of Secretary Clinton’s emails would be made public. A federal judge has rejected that plan, and Keating agrees that is too long of a wait.
“I think it’s ridiculous for them to make that claim. What that tells me is either they can’t find the emails, which is a huge problem, or they want time to be able to cull through them and sanitize them, which is another problem. It’s completely unacceptable for them to say that they are going to wait until January to turn these over. This has been dragging on for years. It can’t go on until the end of the year,” said Keating.
With that passage of time, however, comes less and less public attention on Benghazi. Will the public really be all that interested when the special House committee releases its findings or other revelations come to light?
“Very good question. I think people perhaps are tired of Benghazi, except for a concentrated group who are significant. But I think the bulk of the American people are probably looking at other issues,” said Keating.