Thursday, December 6, 2012

CIA Quickly Sanitized Its Facility in Benghazi

Fox News reports that the CIA moved swiftly to secure and close down its Benghazi annex following the 9-11-2012 attacks. From the story:
Within eight hours of the initial attack on the United States' diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, the CIA decided to scrub and abandon rather than protect its annex, a military intelligence source told Fox News.

. . . The adjoining U.S. consulate, by contrast, has never been secured, even three months after the attack.

. . . As recently as Nov. 1, six weeks after the terrorist attack and nearly a month after an FBI team briefly collected evidence there, Foreign Policy magazine reported its journalists had found sensitive documents at the consulate, which included unsent memos about “troubling” surveillance by Libyan security guards.
As I've discussed in the past, there is some speculation that the consulate was being used to funnel arms to various Middle-Eastern groups; and that the CIA was detaining and questioning prisoners in its annex. As to the former issue, the New York Times reports that the Administration was concerned about arms it had indirectly provided to Libyan rebels. From the story:
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.

. . . But in the months before [the Benghazi attack], the Obama administration clearly was worried about the consequences of its hidden hand in helping arm Libyan militants, concerns that have not previously been 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.

. . . The Obama administration did not initially raise objections when Qatar began shipping arms to opposition groups in Syria, even if it did not offer encouragement, according to current and former administration officials. But they said the United States has growing concerns that, just as in Libya, the Qataris are equipping some of the wrong militants.

The United States, which had only small numbers of C.I.A. officers in Libya during the tumult of the rebellion, provided little oversight of the arms shipments. Within weeks of endorsing Qatar’s plan to send weapons there in spring 2011, the White House began receiving reports that they were going to Islamic militant groups. They were “more antidemocratic, more hard-line, closer to an extreme version of Islam” than the main rebel alliance in Libya, said a former Defense Department official.

. . . The administration has never determined where all of the weapons, paid for by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, went inside Libya, officials said. Qatar is believed to have shipped by air and sea small arms, including machine guns, automatic rifles, and ammunition, for which it has demanded reimbursement from Libya’s new government. Some of the arms since have been moved from Libya to militants with ties to Al Qaeda in Mali, where radical jihadi factions have imposed
Shariah law in the northern part of the country, the former Defense Department official said. Others have gone to Syria, according to several American and foreign officials and arms traders.
The article goes on to note that J. Christopher Stevens, who was the Libyan ambassador at the time of his death, had been involved with the sales to Qatar. So, perhaps he was also involved with trying to track down where or to whom the arms had gone.

In any event, this is beginning to sound like Fast-and-Furious: selling arms to criminals with no plan or capability of tracking or controlling the arms after the sale.

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