#Benghazi: CIA polygraphing witnesses to keep them from talking?

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

American blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

Late yesterday, CNN and journalist Jake Tapper (1) broke jaw-dropping news about the Benghazi massacre, in which four Americans died. First came the revelation that the consulate and the CIA annex were headquarters for around 35 people, many of them CIA operatives. In addition to the four killed, seven were reported injured, some severely. I don’t know CIA operations, of course, but having 35 people in place sounds like something major was underway. We’ll come back to that.

The head-turner in this, however, is the news of how the CIA is handling its agents involved in Benghazi — polygraphing them to make sure they don’t talk to Congress or the press (Emphases added):

Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret. 

CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings.

The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.

It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.

In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.”

Another says, “You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation.”

“Agency employees typically are polygraphed every three to four years. Never more than that,” said former CIA operative and CNN analyst Robert Baer.

In other words, the rate of the kind of polygraphs alleged by sources is rare.

“If somebody is being polygraphed every month, or every two months it’s called an issue polygraph, and that means that the polygraph division suspects something, or they’re looking for something, or they’re on a fishing expedition. But it’s absolutely not routine at all to be polygraphed monthly, or bi-monthly,” said Baer.

Think about that: the CIA is administering “lie-detector” tests to make sure its employees aren’t telling the truth. Wha…??

Once again, I’m reminded of the immortal words of Vince Lombardi:

Whatever’s going on, it’s clear the CIA doesn’t want anyone to know about it, not even their (supposed) overseers on Capitol Hill. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), whose district includes CIA HQ, noticed a suspicious change in behavior soon after Benghazi:

In the aftermath of the attack, Wolf said he was contacted by people closely tied with CIA operatives and contractors who wanted to talk.

Then suddenly, there was silence.

“Initially they were not afraid to come forward. They wanted the opportunity, and they wanted to be subpoenaed, because if you’re subpoenaed, it sort of protects you, you’re forced to come before Congress. Now that’s all changed,” said Wolf.

Polygraphing and implied threats would tend to do that, no?

Can’t wait to see Jay Carney try to dismiss this as a “phony scandal.”

Back to the question of what all those CIA personnel were doing in Benghazi, in addition to the publicly stated reason of trying to help the Libyan government reacquire weapons lost during their civil war. Thirty-five people would imply a big operation, I should think. What are the other possibilities? One that occurred to me was some sort of operation aimed at al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a formal ally of al Qaeda, and other North African jihad groups. Keep in mind that Obama’s Big Adventure in Libya unleashed thousands of weapons from Qaddafi’s arsenals, along with jihadists who wanted to spread true Islamic government to other lucky countries. Mali was nearly destroyed because of Obama’s blundering. Maybe this station in Benghazi was involved in efforts to contain and eliminate this plague. It would certainly be a good location.

But then why the effort to hide it from Congress? (2)

Analyst Tom Rogan (h/t Adam Baldwin) considers the possibilities and, in addition to AQIM, speculates that the Benghazi outpost (as rumored) was involved in arming Syrian rebels or other covert operations there:

2) Another possibility is that the CIA was using Benghazi as a jump-off point for Special Activities Division (SAD) operations inside Syria. Flying from Benghazi into a forward staging position in Turkey would require a relatively short hop across the Mediterranean. Therefore, from a geo-strategic point of view (and in the context of the operational security concern), it would make a near-ideal staging post for covert deployments. Reliable reporting (see Ambinder and Grady’s The Deep State) indicates that the US Government has deployed covert military/intelligence teams inside Iran on a number of occasions over the past few years. In addition, prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, we know that the US deployed small groups of personnel deep inside Iraq in order to gather targeting intelligence. So, if this possibility is the case, it wouldn’t be something new. In addition, it would make at least some sense. The Obama Administration only announced that they would provide weapons to select Syrian rebels in mid-June. It’s therefore very possible (and quite likely) that CIA officers were on the ground in Syria before that date – gathering intelligence on the best rebel forces to support and developing foundations for the future establishment of a weapons logistical train.

Again, keeping this secret would be rational, if only to keep from provoking a Syrian retaliation and putting our clients in Libya on the spot. Rogan concludes that this Libyan operation, whatever it was, must have required a presidential finding –Obama’s signature–  and notification of senior members of Congress.

But, I ask with a raised eyebrow, if that’s the case, if senior members of Congress, which would include the chairmen and ranking members of the intel committees, already knew, and assuming Tapper is right, why is Langley pressuring everyone to shut up — even to Congress?

Good question. There are lots of good questions about Benghazi and, so far, too few answers.

via the Tatler

Footnotes:
(1) That’s right, progressives: not someone you can dismiss as a tool of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Hurts, doesn’t it?
(2) In fairness, I can think of one good reason: Congress leaks like a sieve. If we are conducting operations against AQ/AQIM, admitting to Benghazi might jeopardize other efforts. Of course, bungling and CYA could also explain it.

UPDATE: Hiding witnesses and creating aliases??

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

9-11 Truthers Ed Asner, Martin Sheen urge Oscar voters to shun “Zero Dark Thirty”

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

The NYT’s Carpetbagger blog reports on a growing movement of stuffy, clueless liberal Hollywood elitists who are taking the rare – and controversial – step of urging Oscar voters to not vote for the movie Zero Dark Thirty – which roughly documented how the US eventually found and killed the 9-11 instigator and mastermind Osama bin Laden – in any of the categories for which it was nominated. Why? Because, in their view, the movie condones ‘torture':

“I would like to condemn the movie” for making it appear that torture was effective in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Ed Asner said in a telephone interview on Sunday morning. Mr. Asner said he and fellow actor Martin Sheen planned to join in a letter, drafted by yet another actor, David Clennon, asking fellow members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to factor in matters of conscience when casting awards votes.

“We hope that ‘Zero’ will not be honored by Academy (or Guild) members,” said a draft of the letter, which was provided by Mr. Clennon on Sunday morning.

He had already spoken publicly about the planned campaign at a Friday protest by members of the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.

His remarks prompted a sharp response from Amy Pascal, the co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is releasing “Zero Dark Thirty.” “To punish an artist’s right of expression is abhorrent,” said Ms. Pascal in a statement. She also stressed, as has Kathryn Bigelow, who directed “Zero Dark Thirty,” and Mark Boal, who wrote it, that the film portrays torture, but does not advocate it.

Fox News has more:

Some say it is because Bigelow incorporated controversial scenes of enhanced interrogation. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) member David Clennon, an actor best known for his portrayal of Miles Drentel in the ABC series “thirtysomething,” a role he reprised on “Once and Again,” wrote an op-ed on the Truth-Out.org website announcing his intention not to vote for the film in any Academy Awards category.

“Everyone who contributes skill and energy to a motion picture – including actors – shares responsibility for the impressions the picture makes and the ideas it expresses,” he said. “There’s plenty of ‘Oscar buzz’ around ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’ Several associations of film critics have awarded it their highest honors. I have watched the film (2 hours, 37 minutes). Torture is an appalling crime under any circumstances. ‘Zero’ never acknowledges that torture is immoral and criminal.”

Clennon is apparently not alone. The actor issued a press release that said actor Martin Sheen and the former head of the Screen Actors Guild, Ed Asner, were joining his call to boycott the movie and are encouraging other Academy members to take action as well. Asner also reportedly said in Clennon’s statement that “one of the brightest female directors in the business is in danger of becoming part of the system.”

[…]

But Bigelow wasn’t the only director left out of the Oscar’s Best Director lineup. Ben Affleck too was left off the nominations list for his widely-acclaimed direction of “Argo,” which also told a based-on-true-events story of a secret CIA operation, this one to extract six American diplomats out of Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Despite missing out on the Oscar nod, Affleck won Best Director at both the Golden Globes and last week’s Critics Choice Awards, and both he and Bigelow are up for Director’s Guild of America (DGA) Awards.

Bigelow and Affleck’s twin Oscar snubs have prompted some to wonder whether there is a broader anti-American position at play among Academy voters, and scores of fans have taken to Twitter to weigh in on the debate.

There is no “wondering” about it. There is indeed a widespread anti-American stench amongst far leftists in Hollywood, and has been for quite some time. It’s just that shunning issues like this bring it to the forefront in a way that “low information voter” types can’t ignore.

Too bad Asner, Clennon, and Sheen have their heads too far up their willfully ignorant a**es to be able to admit that enhanced interrogation techniques did indeed lead to the eventual finding and killing of Public Enemy Number One: OBL. And it all started with the water boarding of so-called 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which also stopped the LA Library Tower plot. It’s practically a matter of record, even though anti-EIT Democrats – including a gloating President Obama – desperately tried to avoid probing questions about the issue at the time.

It is clear that Asner, Sheen, and other extremist left wing nitwits in Hollywood are against what they call the “torture” of high-value terrorist detainees (even though the water boarding procedure was only used a whopping total of three times), and are in closed-minded denial about how those tactics led to the eventual demise of OBL. But even if they could be convinced that the techniques worked, they’d still be against them on “human rights” grounds – meaning that while they stood on their idiotic high horses, the LA Library Tower plot likely would have been carried out, killing an untold number of innocents in the process, and giving them a chance to do what liberals in Hollywood and outside of it do best: Blame Bush.

Which is, startlingly enough (or perhaps not so startlingly), what they’ve done with 9-11 itself: Blame Bush. Oh, you didn’t know Sheen and Asner were part of a group of Hollywood Truthers? They sure are – to the point both of them, alongside fellow Truther and actor Woody Harrelson – are starring in an upcoming moving called “September Morn” (movie poster here) which they hope will give credence to long discredited conspiracy claims about the US government being behind 9-11:

Sheen, who starred in Apocalypse Now and television’s The West Wing, has long questioned whether Islamist hijackers single-handedly brought down the Twin Towers, killing 2,605 people.

“I did not want to believe that my government could possibly be involved in such a thing, I could not live in a country that I thought could do that – that would be the ultimate betrayal,” he told an interviewer in 2007.

Sheen grew suspicious after his son Charlie, also an actor, alerted him to apparent contradictions, such as how a structure known as “Building 7″ fell.

He said: “However, there have been so many revelations that now I have my doubts, and chief among them is Building 7 – how did they rig that building so that it came down on the evening of the day?”

Asner, who has won seven Emmys, has several times urged a new investigation into 9/11. In 2010, he told an interviewer: “This country – which is the greatest, strongest country that ever existed in the world, in terms of power – supposedly had a defence that could not be penetrated all these years. But all of that was eradicated by 19 Saudi Arabians, supposedly. Some of whom didn’t even know how to fly.”

Let’s sum up: It’s a “matter of conscience” for them as “artists” to spread outright lies involving bullsh*t conspiracy theories involving 9-11 by way of a movie, but on the other hand it’s not for Kathryn Bigelow (nor Ben Affleck, for that matter) as a movie director to include references to “controversial” events that actually happened that led up to our finding and ridding the world of OBL – you know, the actual thug behind 9-11 (not the government, which was not).

The words” absolute moral bankruptcy” don’t even begin to cover these clueless, reprehensible jack asses.

Phineas Butts In: As ST mentions above, Los Angeles (where yours truly lives) was the target of a planned second wave 9/11-style attack, which could have again killed thousands — including me and people I know. The only reason it was averted was the capture and subsequent waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. He wasn’t talking prior to the use of “enhanced interrogation.” Asner and Sheen and all the other nitwits preening themselves over their self-proclaimed moral superiority can go to the Devil as far as I’m concerned. Question for Ed and Martin and the rest: How many of us were you willing to see die to keep your consciences lily-white? Sanctimonious jackasses.

(Related: The Truth About Torture)

Benghazi Consulate Massacre: questions about the CIA’s mission there

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

One of the interesting revelations in all the tawdry news surrounding former CIA Director Petraeus’ affair with Paula Broadwell (1) concerns the mission of the CIA annex in Benghazi, the location to which diplomats were whisked after the consulate was overrun and where two former SEALs lost their lives defending them. According to Petraeus’s former mistress, the CIA was running a secret prison at the site, and the attack may have been a raid to rescue the prisoners. Speaking at an alumni symposium at the university of Denver, she:

…confirmed the reports on Fox News that the CIA annex asked for a special unit, the Commander in Chief’s In Extremis Force, to come and assist it. She also said that the force could indeed have reinforced the consulate, and that Petraeus knew all of this, but was not allowed to talk to the press because of his position in the CIA.

“The challenge has been the fog of war, and the greater challenge is that it’s political hunting season, and so this whole thing has been turned into a very political sort of arena, if you will,” she said. “The fact that came out today is that the ground forces there at the CIA annex, which is different from the consulate, were requesting reinforcements.

“They were requesting the – it’s called the C-in-C’s In Extremis Force – a group of Delta Force operators, our very, most talented guys we have in the military. They could have come and reinforced the consulate and the CIA annex. Now, I don’t know if a lot of you have heard this but the CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner, and they think that the attack on the consulate was an attempt to get these prisoners back. It’s still being vetted.

“The challenging thing for Gen. Petraeus is that in his new position, he’s not allowed to communicate with the press. So he’s known all of this – they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in Libya, within 24 hours they kind of knew what was happening.”

“Commander in Chief’s In Extremis Force” refers, I believe, to a force controlled by the regional commander, in this case the head of Africom, not forces directly controlled by the President. It should also be noted that, later in her talk, Broadwell gave some support to the infamous YouTube video as one source for the disaster: the Libyan jihadis, seeing the disturbances in Cairo and elsewhere, decided this would give them good cover for their real motive.

The CIA denied had earlier denied refusing to render aid to its Benghazi station, and now denies maintaining a secret prison, but Jennifer Griffin, a reporter who’s been doing real journalism on Benghazi, maintains that there was a CIA prison there and that it contained more than just a couple of Libyans:

According to multiple intelligence sources who have served in Benghazi, there were more than just Libyan militia members who were held and interrogated by CIA contractors at the CIA annex in the days prior to the attack. Other prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were brought to this location.

The Libya annex was the largest CIA station in North Africa, and two weeks prior to the attack, the CIA was preparing to shut it down. Most prisoners, according to British and American intelligence sources, had been moved two weeks earlier.

The CIA, though, categorically denied these allegations, saying: “The CIA has not had detention authority since January 2009, when Executive Order 13491 was issued. Any suggestion that the agency is still in the detention business is uninformed and baseless.”

So no we have a massive case of “he said, she said,” only involving much more than marital infidelity. James Taranto quotes Griffin to ask some pertinent questions:

Griffin concludes with the question: “What was the CIA really doing in Benghazi . . ., and who in the White House knew exactly what the CIA was up to?” Did the CIA act in contravention of the executive order, and if so, did the president approve? Did the order create a need to keep up appearances that led to the deaths of Americans in the field?

So now, on top of the Benghazi massacre, we need to know if our CIA Director was sharing highly classified information pertaining to our war with Islamism with his mistress. And, implied in Griffin and Taranto’s questions, did the President even know? Apparently Attorney General Holder, to whom the FBI reports, knew about the investigation for months… but didn’t tell Obama that his CIA chief was potentially severely compromised? Really?

But, then again, people apparently don’t tell Holder about important things, either.

This administration’s talent for being left in the dark is impressive, no?

Maybe it’s time for the relevant committees of Congress to shine some light on that darkness.

Footnote:
(1) I honestly don’t give a rat’s rear-end about Petraeus’ infidelity, other than it disgraces an otherwise stellar career and shows a profound lack of judgment and sense on the part of someone entrusted with a critical role in our nation’s security. We are owed answers here, and I don’t care who Congress has to subpoena to get it.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Holder in hot water yet again thanks to #Petraeus affair scandal

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

Via Fox News:

Attorney General Eric Holder was notified in late summer that then-CIA Director David Petraeus’ name had surfaced in the FBI probe that ultimately uncovered Petraeus’ affair, raising questions about whether Holder would have — or should have — informed President Obama.

According to the administration’s version of events, the president did not find out about the situation until last Thursday. At the time that Holder was notified, months earlier, many details were still unknown. Petraeus himself was not interviewed until the fall. And according to one source, it is long-standing FBI policy for the FBI not to brief Congress or the White House in the middle of a criminal probe that does not involve a security threat.

However, several lawmakers and other officials say the mere fact that Petraeus was flagged in an investigation should have been reason enough to kick the issue up from the Justice Department to the White House.

“He was the director of the CIA, not Fish & Wildlife. The implications are massive,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told FoxNews.com in an email. Chaffetz said the heads of the House and Senate intelligence committees should have been looped in. “Notification should have also gone to the president — immediately,” Chaffetz said.

Top congressional lawmakers, including the leaders of key committees, have raised concerns that they weren’t notified earlier.

But John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under the George W. Bush administration, said the bigger question surrounds whether the White House was notified.

“The idea that the White House didn’t learn of this potential problem until Election Day, I just find incomprehensible. Did the attorney general sit on this information for two months?” he asked. Bolton said it raises the question “of whether the information was suppressed.”

The Justice Department declined to comment for this story.

And rest assured that they’ll continue to “decline comment” and stonewall on this as it relates to Congressional inquiries long as they can,  just like they have on the Benghazi murders.  Of course, the issues of the Broadwell/Petraeus affair and Benghazi intersect, and many of the questions Congress should have about both are similar in nature. Who knew what and when, and why was it kept from the public?

It’s interesting that in 2008, then-Senator Obama campaigned heavily on how he would preside over the most “open and accountable” administration in US history.  Notice how we didn’t hear much on that at all this campaign season.  No oft-repeated promises of  “transparency and responsibility” to the American people he has now been elected twice to lead.

And we know why most of the movers and shakers in this administration have not been very forthcoming with on-the-record answers, don’t we?  They weren’t BEFORE the election for obvious reasons.  But in the coming months, with the stress of an election year  and having to “stand by their guy”, perhaps a few brave souls will have the guts to speak out and the truth will once and for all be told.

I wouldn’t hold my breath on it, though.

Demand accountability now.  Contact your House rep and Senate reps and let them know how you feel.

Benghazi Consulate Massacre: lawmakers briefed on al Qaeda role two days after the attack

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

US Consulate, Benghazi

And yet the White House and its spokespeople maintained for weeks afterward that the attack on September 11th was the result of a mob demonstrating against a video, a spontaneous “happening,” like a 60s love-in. They went so far as to have our UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, proclaim this on all five Sunday shows the week after the attack. Secretary Clinton swore to get the maker of the video. And Obama himself repeatedly blamed the video in his speech before the UN General Assembly on September 25th.

So why, then, were the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) telling lawmakers it was likely an al Qaeda operation on September 13th, just two days after the massacre?

Two days after the deadly Libya terror attack, representatives of the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center gave Capitol Hill briefings in which they said the evidence supported an Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-affiliated attack, Fox News has learned.

The description of the attack by those in the Sept. 13 briefings stands in stark contrast to the now controversial briefing on Capitol Hill by CIA Director David Petraeus the following day — and raises even more questions about why Petraeus described the attack as tied to a demonstration.

The Sept. 13 assessment was based on intercepts that included individuals, believed to have participated in the attack, who were celebratory — as well as a claim of responsibility.

FBI and NCTC also briefed that there were a series of Al Qaeda training camps just outside of Benghazi, where the attack occurred and resulted in the deaths of four Americans. The area was described as a hotbed for the militant Ansar al-Sharia as well as Al Qaeda in North Africa.

Fox News is told there was no mention of a demonstration or any significant emphasis on the anti-Islam video that for days was cited by administration officials as a motivating factor.

The FBI and NCTC did not immediately respond to a request from Fox News for comment.

(Emphasis added)

This raises several troubling issues, including the recurrent question of why the administration stuck to its ludicrous story about an obscure video being at fault for weeks after the event, even when their own counter-terrorism people were saying otherwise. Remember, the only target of this… “fable spinning” was us, the American people. Everyone else, including al Qaeda, knew the truth.

My own guess is that the Obama administration, facing a tight election and having promoted itself as the slayers of bin Laden and the team that beat al Qaeda, now found themselves facing proof that not only were they wrong, but fatally so. In a panic they latched onto some reports about this video, which had been mentioned in jihadist forums in the weeks preceding the attack, and decided that would be their scapegoat, so they could avoid blame for their incompetence. And once the lie was told, they couldn’t abandon it without looking even more foolish, until they were finally forced to, and then lied about having lied.

The main issue raised by this report, though, is the role of CIA Director Petraeus, who apparently insisted to Congress that fault had to lie with the video and its maker, and that the deaths of our people were the result of demonstrations that got out of hand. We have to ask ourselves, and Congress must ask Director Petraeus, why he…

…characterized the attack as more consistent with a flash mob, where the militants showed up spontaneously with RPGs. Petraeus downplayed to lawmakers the skill needed to fire mortars, which also were used in the attack and to some were seen as evidence of significant pre-planning. As Fox News previously reported, four mortars were fired — two missed the annex, but the mortar team re-calibrated and the next two mortars were direct hits.

Fox News is told that Petraeus seemed wedded to the narrative that the attack was linked to a demonstration and was spontaneous as opposed to pre-meditated.

Fox News is told that Petraeus was “absolute” in his description with few, if any, caveats. 

Petraeus, of course, is the architect of our victory in Iraq in 2007-08, literally saving was was becoming a losing effort, and so he has a lot of credit banked with Congress. One can understand their anger at being given such a faulty, even nonsensical, report by someone they trusted, presented as fact when it flew in the face of information being reported by other intelligence agencies.  It calls into doubt his judgment, and perhaps his integrity.

There are many, many questions unanswered about the massacre in Benghazi, from the decisions leading up to it, to the events and decisions made that night and the evident coverup that’s taken place since.

To that list of questions we now have to add the role of the CIA Director.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#Benghazi Consulate Massacre: Petraeus throws Obama under the bus

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

I’ve said before the intelligence community will not play the sap for Obama. And now The Weekly Standard reports (via JWF) that CIA Director Petraeus has thrown his boss under the bus:

Breaking news on Benghazi: the CIA spokesman, presumably at the direction of CIA director David Petraeus, has put out this statement: “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. ”

As Bill Kristol writes, the decision to do nothing in Benghazi had to have been a presidential decision. (If not, that has its own scary implications.)

This is unraveling fast. You can bet more will come out before the election.

The spooks won’t play the sap.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#Benghazi Consulate Massacre: CIA refused help?

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

“You’re on your own.”

Message from the Obama Administration to all overseas personnel: If you get into a jam, the cavalry isn’t coming:

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. Consulate and subsequent attack several hours later was denied by U.S. officials — who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. Consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to “stand down.”

Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the Consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The quick reaction force from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the Consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.

At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

(Emphases added)

And why were they denied help? From the Los Angeles Times:

U.S. military commanders decided against sending a rescue mission to Benghazi during the attack against the American diplomatic mission last month because they didn’t have enough clear intelligence to justify the risk to the troops, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Thursday.

Panetta, in his fullest comments yet on the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, said Pentagon officials were aware of the assault by armed militants soon after it began Sept. 11. But he said they never had more than fragmentary information during the course of the attack.

The “basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s taking place,” Panetta told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. “This happened within a few hours, and it was really over before we had the opportunity to really know what was happening.

He said he, Army Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all believed“very strongly that we could not put troops at risk in that situation.

(Emphases added, h/t The Anchoress)

I have a one-word response to Secretary Panetta, but I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination.

No opportunity to know what was happening? Go read that FOX article, again. They were in constant radio contact with the CIA annex, from which the brass in DC were told at least twice that they needed help — and I bet they got plenty of detail about what was going on. They knew enough to move a Special Forces team from Central Europe to Sigonella — and then told them to stand down?

Remember, the attack started at 9:24 PM local time. Woods and Dougherty, the former Navy SEALs who defied orders in order to rescue their fellow Americans, weren’t killed until 4 AM, when they were taken out by a mortar round. That’s more than seven hours after the fighting started, yet Panetta says they didn’t know enough?

This is disgraceful. My father was in the US Navy in China in the 1930s. The place was a bigger mess than Libya: weak government, bandits everywhere, civil war. It regularly happened, he would tell me me, that Americans and other foreigners would find themselves in danger, so his ship’s CO would form an armed shore party to go deal with it.

No hesitations over not having enough intelligence, no qualms about risks. American lives and property were in danger, you’re the military and you go protect them.

And don’t tell me Panetta and Ham made these decisions on their own. We know the White House was in the loop. On something this big, the decision to intervene would have gone to Obama. Maybe he was getting warnings from the DoD about not risking “another Mogadishu,”, which, yes, is something he would have to take into account, but that was his moment to exercise leadership and say “find a way.”

But he didn’t. While our consulate burned and our people begged for help before dying, our forces were told to stand down.

Imagine what those people were thinking. Did they hold out hope that help would yet come? Or had they resigned themselves to their fates and decided to sell their lives dearly, knowing they had been disowned by their own government?

At the memorial service on the return of our dead to America, Vice President Joe Biden asked the father of Tyrone Woods, one of the SEALs killed in Benghazi, “Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?”

I don’t know, Joe. But I do know your boss and his administration have none.

LINKS: More at Hot Air (and here), Pirate’s Cove, Q and O, and Power Line. Legal Insurrection thinks this revelation came from the CIA, which is refusing to take the fall. Earlier on Public Secrets, “Where was the military help?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Special Ops and Intelligence professionals to Obama: “Shut up!”

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

Several times in the past, I’ve gone off on the Obama administration for seeking domestic political advantage by revealing military and intelligence secrets: when it comes to our struggles with al Qaeda and Iran, national security takes a back seat to the president’s reelection efforts. Spiking the ball after bin Laden’s assassination was only the most famous (and shameful) example.

But, hey, who am I to be advising the fourth greatest president ever on matters of national security? I’m just a guy behind a keyboard.

But maybe he should listen to those who know the value of keeping secrets and know the harm that can be caused by revealing them. A group of retired military and intelligence professionals have come out into the light to tell Obama to stop acting like a pol and start acting like a commander-in-chief. And if he won’t listen to them, they’ll make sure we know the danger, too, starting with this short video. Twenty-two minutes long, watch the whole thing; it’s powerful:

A few months ago, I wrote the following about keeping secrets secret:

One of the greatest secrets you can have in intelligence work –especially when dealing with a deadly enemy– is that you’ve compromised their security. That you’ve cracked their codes, found their safe houses, planted a bug in their meetings, slipped a mole deep inside… so many things. You want them kept secret because you can exploit the advantage again and again, disrupting and demoralizing your enemy because they can’t figure out how you’re always one step ahead. These are secrets you go to your grave with, because, once blown, they’re useless.

And the same goes for the methods we use and the “rough men” who do the work. Revealing secrets makes future missions riskier and endangers lives — not just those of the special forces soldiers and intelligence operatives, but those of their family and friends, because of the danger of retaliation. To reveal those secrets for personal political gain is incredibly childish, venal, and shortsighted.

I’m sure we’ll be seeing excerpts from this video and others to follow in commercials in battleground states a lot between now and November. Meanwhile, memo to Team The One:

Shut. Up.

LINK: The Opsec Team’s web site.

PS: Romney 2012, because I want an adult in charge of our secrets, not an attention-seeking man-child.

PPS: Eric Boehlert of the leftist, Soros-funded Media Matters for America calls the Navy SEALS in this group “gutless.” Eric, dude, I dare you to say that to a SEAL’s face.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

The foiled bomb plot: great news, but…

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

On the one hand, this is great news: We infiltrated Al Qaeda’s Arabian subsidiary [AQAP] and kept a lot of people from being killed, while at the same time delivering flaming justice to one of the masterminds of the attack on the USS Cole:

The CIA takedown of an Al Qaeda plot to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner involved an international sting operation with a double agent tricking terrorists into handing over a prized possession: a new bomb purportedly designed to slip through airport security.

U.S. officials Tuesday described an operation in which Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, working closely with the CIA, used an informant to pose as a would-be suicide bomber. His job was to persuade Al Qaeda bomb makers in Yemen to give him the bomb.

After weeks operating undercover in Yemen, the double agent arranged to deliver the device and a trove of vital intelligence to U.S. and other authorities waiting in another country, officials said. He is now safely out of Yemen.

Experts are analyzing the device at the FBI’s bomb laboratory at Quantico, Va., to determine whether it could evade current security systems. Officials said it appears to have a more advanced triggering device than that of the so-called underwear bomb that fizzled instead of exploding aboard a packed passenger jet over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

U.S. officials said President Obama was informed of the bomb in early April and was assured that it did not pose a threat to the public. Officials emphasized that the terrorists had not chosen a target or purchased air tickets, and that the plot to blow up an airliner never reached the operational stage.

And, according to the Washington Post:

The most recent strike killed an alleged operations planner wanted in connection with the attack on the USS Cole warship in Yemen in 2000. U.S. officials said that Fahd al-Quso was probably involved in directing the plot but that the drone strike was ordered because of his larger role in AQAP.

So, latest underwear bomb plot foiled, double-agent safe, we got our hands on Al Qaeda’s latest toys, and a terrorist murderer brave jihadi got the payback he so richly deserved. What’s not to like, right?

Well, there’s what’s on that other hand…

Don’t get me wrong; this is great news, and the CIA and Saudi intelligence service deserve pats on the back. But…

Why are we hearing about this at all??

One of the greatest secrets you can have in intelligence work –especially when dealing with a deadly enemy– is that you’ve compromised their security. That you’ve cracked their codes, found their safe houses, planted a bug in their meetings, slipped a mole deep inside… so many things. You want them kept secret because you can exploit the advantage again and again, disrupting and demoralizing your enemy because they can’t figure out how you’re always one step ahead. These are secrets you go to your grave with, because, once blown, they’re useless.

So, I ask again: Why are we being told this? The LA Times article provides a hint:

U.S. intelligence officials had planned to keep the bomb sting secret, a senior official said, but the Associated Press learned of the operation last week. The AP delayed posting the story at the request of the Obama administration, but then broke the news Monday.

“When the AP got it and started talking about it, it caused all kinds of problems with the operation,” said a U.S. official who would not be quoted by name discussing the classified operation. “The investigation never went to its full conclusion.”

AP spokesman Paul Colford said the news agency held off publishing until U.S. officials told the AP that security concerns were allayed.

“We were told on Monday that the operation was complete and that the White House was planning to announce it Tuesday,” he said.

So we have two different stories. In one, the AP learns about the operation and, with security compromised, the government felt it might as well tell, since the information was going to come out, anyway. It’s a common story.

In the other, AP waited, found out the administration was going to open up on Tuesday, and so decided to get its story out, first.

Call me a cynic, but the second seems much more plausible. Remember that this is the same administration that, after killing bin Laden, didn’t want to be seen “spiking the ball.” Now, a year later and with a difficult reelection campaign underway, the president and his minions are running around doing the “Gutsy Call” end-zone dance like a NFL rookie scoring his first touchdown. With the economy in the crapper and the public mood so bad that even a convicted felon gives Obama a run for his money in a Democratic primary, Obama needs all the good news he can get.

You can bet on it: The One and his team couldn’t wait to brag about this. And all it cost was letting AQAP know just how much we had penetrated them.

Final thought: What was the “opportunity cost” of this latest bit of chest-thumping? Are there any more of these newest bombs out there? Other plots in the offing? How much are we now not going to learn of because AQAP will surely change their security measures?

Sometimes, silence really is golden.

PS: And lest we forget, they’re still trying to kill us.

LINKS: More from Hot Air.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

The mission to get Osama bin Laden

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

Bar none, the most riveting article you’ll read this week. The New Yorker’s Nicholas Schmidle interviewed principals involved in the raid to kill that porn-addicted medieval psychopath bin Laden –including members of SEAL Team 6– and put together an account of the mission from planning stages to aftermath that you won’t be able to put down. An excerpt:

The SEALs’ destination was a house in the small city of Abbottabad, which is about a hundred and twenty miles across the Pakistan border. Situated north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, Abbottabad is in the foothills of the Pir Panjal Range, and is popular in the summertime with families seeking relief from the blistering heat farther south. Founded in 1853 by a British major named James Abbott, the city became the home of a prestigious military academy after the creation of Pakistan, in 1947. According to information gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency, bin Laden was holed up on the third floor of a house in a one-acre compound just off Kakul Road in Bilal Town, a middle-class neighborhood less than a mile from the entrance to the academy. If all went according to plan, the SEALs would drop from the helicopters into the compound, overpower bin Laden’s guards, shoot and kill him at close range, and then take the corpse back to Afghanistan.

In other words, no matter what was said publicly, this was a mission to kill, not capture. Fine by me. I figure anyone objecting to this is either a hopeless pacifist, someone who thinks this a law enforcement matter rather than a war, or a transnationalist who can’t stand the idea of nation-states actually defending themselves by any means more stern than a press conference, a memo of concern, and perhaps sniffing “unacceptable” if the terrorist atrocity is really bad.

(In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have much regard for those types. None at all, actually.)

Anyway, on reading this, here are three things that jumped out at me:

  • After weeks of training, we were this close to having the mission turn into another Eagle Claw. Helicopters are darned difficult to control in restricted areas.
  • I want to meet the guy code-named “Ahmed,” the Pakistani-American who pretended to be a Pakistani cop to keep curious locals away while our guys were inside killing the world’s most wanted man. His assignment prior to this raid: a desk job.
  • As of the article’s writing, the President of the United States does not know who fired the kill shot(s). He didn’t ask, and the SEALs didn’t offer. Probably for security reasons. That secret may well go to the grave.

Anyway, after weeks of wondering if our government can do anything right, here’s something that shows they can, and do it superbly.

Enjoy.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)