By Janet Phelan
Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony on Thursday certainly confirmed suspicions that she knew that the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate was not a spontaneous protest by individuals enraged by an anti-Muslim video. Rather, as the emails she fought so fiercely to protect from public disclosure reveal, the attack was a pre-planned operation, involving fore-knowledge by the assailants of the whereabouts of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, among other details.
Clinton and the Obama Administration had attempted to place the blame for the attack, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans, on an unplanned protest, a “spontaneous mob.”
However, knowing that Clinton and other Administration officials lied extensively as to the genesis of the attack raises further questions. According to the Wall Street Journal, Clinton lied in order to “attempt to avoid blame for a terror attack in a presidential re-election year” The WSJ article maintains that the House Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Representative Trey Gowdy, has ferreted out the deception. “What that House committee did Thursday was finally expose the initial deception,” writes WSJ reporter Kimberley Strassel.
But it is hardly credible that Clinton chose to lie in an attempt to keep the Obama Administration from having a “terror attack” in an election year. The Middle East is now roiling in terror attacks and this is not news to anyone. If one looks at the attacks on US Embassies in 2012 alone, one will see that dozens of such attacks took place.
So why the spin on Benghazi?
The evidence at hand may suggest further motives, even less acceptable, for the Obama Administration’s propaganda concerning this deadly attack. It is possible that Clinton’s false statements were an attempt to cover up a US hand in the attacks.
It is known now, through the subsequent email and cable releases, that the responsibility for the attack was claimed by Ansar al Sharia, al Qaeda’s affiliate on the Arabian Peninsula. In an email to her daughter Chelsea, sent at 11:12 pm the night of the attack, Hillary Clinton wrote: “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like group.”
Not by a spontaneous mob, protesting a YouTube video. But by a group which has already been exposed as having deep and covert ties to the United States intelligence agencies.
Questions must be addressed as to why the Benghazi compound was not guarded. US Embassies abroad are known to be protected by an elite corps of US Marines. Known as the MSG (Marine Security Group), this elite group is pledged to protect US information and persons in Embassies and Consulates. According to the US State Department,
the MSG role is essentially defensive in nature. They serve as an in-house deterrent to limited acts of violence, as well as a defense mechanism to large scale riots. The Marines are expected to delay entry by hostile elements long enough to permit destruction of classified material and to assist in protecting lives of the mission staff until host government forces arrive. They are authorized, under the command of the senior Foreign Service officer present, to use weapons to protect their own lives or mission staff from direct and immediate danger. The specific use of force is outlined in the MSG post guard orders.
The MSG was not, we now know, detailed at Benghazi. At the time of the attack, the MSG was apparently guarding the US Embassy in Tripoli.
Given the instability in Libya at that juncture, one has to ask why the Benghazi complex was left unguarded. The US and her allies had invaded Libya barely a year and a half prior, toppling Gaddafi’s government in 2011. The country was in upheaval. To leave Benghazi unguarded in the midst of the resultant turmoil seems like a very poor decision. Indeed, the Benghazi staff was aware of the potential for an attack.
Sean Smith, who died in the attack, had posted earlier in the day this prophetic message: Noticing that there was surveillance on the Embassy, he wrote: “assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”
Other instances of instability in Benghazi in 2012 were culled from Wikipedia, and include the following:
- In April 2012, two former security guards for the consulate threw an IED over the consulate fence; the incident did not cause any casualties. Just four days later, a similar bomb was thrown at a four-vehicle convoy carrying the United Nations Special Envoy to Libya, exploding just 12 feet from the UN envoy’s vehicle without injuring anyone.
- In May 2012, an Al-Qaida affiliate calling itself the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross (ICRC) office in Benghazi. On August 6, the ICRC suspended operations in Benghazi. The head of the ICRC’s delegation in Libya said the aid group was “appalled” by the attack and “extremely concerned” about escalating violence in Libya.
- The Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman (BCOAR) released a video of what it said was its detonation of an explosive device outside the gates of the U.S. consulate on June 5, which caused no casualties but damaged the consulate’s perimeter wall, described by one individual as “big enough for forty men to go through.” The Brigades claimed that the attack was in response to the killing of Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan al-Qaeda leader who had just died in an American drone attack, and was also timed to coincide with the imminent arrival of a U.S. diplomat. There were no injuries, but the group left behind leaflets promising more attacks against the U.S.
- British ambassador to Libya Dominic Asquith survived an assassination attempt in Benghazi on June 10. Two British protection officers were injured in the attack when their convoy was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade 300 yards from their consulate office. The British Foreign Office withdrew all consular staff from Benghazi in late June.
- On June 18, 2012, the Tunisian consulate in Benghazi was stormed by individuals affiliated with Ansar Al-Sharia Libya, allegedly because of “attacks by Tunisian artists against Islam.”
If Benghazi were that hot, and the Obama administration, for reasons that have not been made clear to the public, hung that compound out to dry, Clinton might have a lot more to worry about than simply lying to the public about the attacks in order to protect her President in an election year.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi has more probing to do. Let’s hope the committee members have the courage it takes to complete the job.
Janet C. Phelan, investigative journalist and human rights defender that has traveled pretty extensively over the Asian region, an author of a tell-all book EXILE, (also available as an ebook)exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.