Contributed by Chriss Street. Specialist in corporate reorganizations and turnarounds, former Chairman of two NYSE listed companies. His latest book, The Third Way, describes how to achieve management excellence and financial reward by moving organizations from Conflict and Confrontation to Leadership and Cooperation. Chriss lives in Newport Beach, CA.
We have continuously warned that that the United States’ use of the Central Intelligence Agency to funnel weapons and logistics to jihadi warriors in support of Arab Spring rebellions would lead to a vicious blow-back against the strategic interests of the United States. Clearly that has come to pass with the murder of the first American Ambassador since 1979 and the ejection of American influence across the Middle East. But as Benghazi cover-up continues to unwind, the U.S. is headed for a Constitutional crisis that will have a deep and lasting impact on our nation. President Obama must immediately release the truth about Benghazi for the good of the nation.
In 2011, the United States overseas weapons sales tripled to $66.3 billion, accounting for approximately three quarters of all the foreign weapons sales in the world. Over half of the American sales, $33.4 billion worth of weapons, went to Saudi Arabia. Another $6 billion went to the Persian Gulf nations of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman.
According e-mails from Stratfor Global Intelligence hacked by WikiLeaks, Chief Executive Jamie Smith of “security” firm SCG International stated his organization had been contracted to U.S. intelligence agencies to supply arms to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and was now working with Saudi Arabia and Qatar to provide weapons to hard-liner Islamic jihadists brigades to overthrow Assad in Syria. Smith stated that SCG was also working to recover missing Libyan surface-to-air missiles from Benghazi, Libya.
In March of 2011, Chris Stevens was appointed by Secretary of State Clinton as the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan rebels, working directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Shortly thereafter, a non-fly-zone was declared by the U.S. and Stevens moved into Benghazi, Libya. When Libya was liberated in September, Stevens moved to Tripoli as the U.S. Ambassador.
Libya was ruled by a National Transitional Council until elections were held on July 7, 2012. LIFG formed the al-Umma al-Wasat political party under Sami al-Saadi, who had sent so many warriors to fight in Afghanistan that Taliban leader Mullah Omar called him the “Sheikh of the Arabs”. There was increasing violence leading up to the election. On June 6th an IED blew a hole in the security wall at the Benghazi Consulate “big enough for 40 men to go through”; on June 10th, the British ambassador’s car was attacked in Tripoli; and in late June, the International Red Cross in Benghazi was attacked. After the British and Red Cross withdrew, the U.S. flag over the American Consulate was the last international target in Benghazi. But the environment became much more dangerous when al-Uma al-Wasat only came in third place in the elections.
LIFG had been making great money selling Gaddafi’s estimated stock of about 20,000 portable SA-7 heat-seeking missiles to the Syrian rebels, who used them to shoot down Syrian helicopters and fighter jets. Last month The Times of London reported that a Libyan ship named ‘The Intisaar’ had berthed at the Turkish port of Iskenderun with docking “papers stamped by the port authority by the ship’s captain, Omar Mousaeeb” of Benghazi. The ship reportedly carried 400 tons of weapons for Syrian rebels, including SAM-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. The Times stated that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood movement and Free Army claimed the cargo for themselves, which “delayed the arrival of the weapons in Syria.”
Ambassador Stevens had not visited Benghazi since his large security team was pulled from Libya in August. His visit to meet a Turkish diplomat in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11/2001 had to be connected to gun-running into Turkey to arm the Syrian rebels. He probably met with Consul Ali Sait Akin, who was the Turkish deputy representative to UNCTAD in 2003, and later a trade expert and “Head of Department” Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There were no disturbances when Stevens walked the Turkish diplomat to his compound gate at 8:30 PM.
Around nightfall according to a witness on the ground, 150 bearded gunmen with some wearing the Afghan-style tunics favored by Islamic militants sealed off the streets leading to the U.S. Consulate with pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns. The trucks bore the logo of Ansar al-Shariah, a powerful local group of Islamist militants who worked with the municipal government to manage Benghazi security.
Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a six-man team at the CIA annex located 1.2 miles from the Consulate that were twice told to “stand down” from rushing to the Consulate after gunfire stated at 9:40 PM. According to leaked e-mails to the White House and the entire U.S. intelligence network at 10:05 PM learned the Consulate was under attack from automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and heavy machine guns mounted on trucks.
Woods and at least two others ignored their direct orders and made their way to the consulate, which was now on fire. They did not find the Ambassador, but got into a firefight with the attackers. At midnight they evacuated to the annex those who remained at the Consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. With the CIA annex now taking fire they requested back up, but were twice turned down.
There were two military surveillance drones in the vicinity that were redirected to Benghazi to send real-time visuals back to the White House Situation Room, State Department, CIA, Pentagon and others after the attack on the Consulate began. With Sigonella Air base in Sicily just 480 miles away and continuous fighting going on at the CIA annex for more than four hours, the military could have easily deployed F-18s in 38 minutes and a Specter gunship in 90 minutes.
It has now been confirmed that two separate Tier One Special operations forces, including Delta Force, were mobilized, but told to wait. Based on our contacts, Africa Commander General Hamm launched the Delta Force rescue team on his own authority and was then told to “stand down.” When he argued, he was relieved of his command. Stars and Stripes newspaper confirmed that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced President Obama would nominate Army Gen. David Rodriguez to succeed Gen. Carter Ham as U.S. AFRICOM Commander.
It has been confirmed that a team manning a heavy machine gun on the roof of the CIA annex had a ground Laser Designator “painted” on a mortar site. Since the laser only has two hours of continuous battery life and targets are not “painted” until the weapons system/designator is synched, there must have been an AC130U Specter gunship or an armed drone overhead.
Only two authorities could have called off the weapons launch at that point; the White House situation command on the President’s direction or AFRICOM theater commander. With General Hamm relieved, it had to be the President himself. The President may have believed that Benghazi attack was another trap. Just a year before, the Taliban orchestrated ambush in the mountains of Afghanistan that killed at least 20 of the Seal Team Six unit that killed Osama bin Laden. When the Seal flew into a narrow pass to rescue surrounded U.S. Army soldiers, they were shot down by SAM-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.
Watergate demonstrated that it is not the crime, but the cover-up that is the most damaging to politicians. The White House should immediately release all the drone video tapes, documents and e-mails associated with the Benghazi attack. Real national security details can be confidentially presented to Congressional Intelligence Committees. But this information involves the deaths of Americans and is going to be leaked out over time by their friends and America’s enemies anyway. To prevent a major Constitutional crisis that will have a deep and lasting effect on our nation, the President should lead by releasing the truth immediately.