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This weekend, former CBS reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, referencing the 2012 Benghazi terrorists attacks, revealed White House emails suggest that the Obama administration may have attempted to mislead the American public by placing the blame on an Internet video and not Islamic terrorists, which would have raised questions about Obama's foreign policy strategy.
This week, Congressman Trey Goudy was named to lead a Select Committee to investigate the facts of Benghazi.
More information will be forthcoming, so let's recap what we know so far.
Libya Ambassador Christopher Stevens arrived in Benghazi on September 10th, to prepare for the following day’s meetings. For months prior to his return to Benghazi, the city was home to bombings, an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador and security breaches. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for revenge for the killing of his Libyan deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi, and Stevens believed he was on an AlQaeda hit list. American Sean Smith, the Information Management Officer assigned to Benghazi, asked for additional protection from the State Department, the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as from local police. He received none.
So why was it so important for Stevens to operate in such a dangerous place on 9/11? It is speculated that Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi, instead of Tripoli, just 400 miles away, risking his life, to discuss the flow of arms from Benghazi to Syria via Turkey with Turkish Consul General Ali Akin Sait, among others. The compound where he lived was not a Consulate as reported. According to investigative journalist, Aaron Klein, the mission or compound was the headquarters of Intelligence and the Central Office for planning the strategic flow of arms to AlQaeda to topple Libya and Syria. Meetings are held there to coordinate the efforts of Qatar and Saudi Arabia who are also funding the flow of weapons from Libya to other countries. The meetings, especially with the Turkish Consulate, could only be run from the central office.
The arms in question are ending up in the hands of al Qaeda and even Hamas. There was a ship in a Turkish port that week in September which was believed to have carried weapons that were eventually headed for Syria’s AlQaeda forces. We’ll call it Syria’s Fast and Furious.
Stevens was the official U.S. liaison to the Libyan opposition and was tasked with helping to coordinate U.S. Assistance to the rebels. He coordinated this assistance with top military commander, Abdelhakim Belhadj, the leader of the Al Qaeda affiliate, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Let’s tell it like it is… Stevens was helping to arm AlQaeda fighters against Assad. Syria would be the third country to fall after Egypt and Libya, in a domino effect ,to establish radical Islam with the help of the United States. Belhadj is now in Syria, and the new militia in Libya is Ansar al-Shariah (Supporters of Shariah law).
This was the first time Stevens was in Benghazi since the American Special Security Team left the city in August against the pleas of Regional Security Officer, Eric Nordstrom. Nordstrom felt the city was too dangerous to be abandoned, yet he was told by Charlene Lamb of the State Department that more security was being turned over the local security staffing.
Stevens rented a compound with four buildings. The CIA compound housed Libyan weapons left over from the uprising against Kaddafi . One of the buildings was a large residence with several bedrooms; another had a cantina where the staff ate, and across the way a building was used as a tactical operations center with security staff and phones. An additional building, called the barracks, housed the Libyan Security force.
The outer gate of the compound was reinforced, and a safe room was built within the residence for escape in the event of an attack. It was not a room to hold someone for a long period of time, but it was simply an expanded, gated closet with locks on barred windows. It was a temporary safe haven to hide before local or American help arrived. The security for the compound on 9/11 was 5 agents and 4 members of the Libyan Security Force 17th February, all armed with just pistols. At an annex a mile away, there were 16 members of American security team that had extra skills and capabilities.
That morning, Information Management Officer, Sean Smith, reported to security in Tripoli that around 6:40 a.m., one of the guards saw troubling activity. Near their main gate, a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from the compound, photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission. Even more troubling, the man was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission, and the car number was 322.
In spite of fears, September 11th began as a normal day in the U.S. and in Libya. Early in the day, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama mark the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by observing a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House.
In Benghazi, Stevens’ meetings throughout the day were all held within the confines of the gated compound for security reasons with no problems.
President Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey presided over a ceremony to pay tribute to the people who died at the Pentagon from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Fears started to escalate in Benghazi.
At approximately 6:30, Libyan time, 12:30 pm East Coast time, Ambassador Chris Steven’s team warned Washington that “a Libyan Militia was gathering weapons and gathering steam.” So the U.S. Intelligence knew hours before the attack of a possible emergency.
During the day, the president also addressed the Arab Asset Recovery Conference in Qatar, in which Eric Holder was attending in person, to discuss asset recovery in 3 countries, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. A very odd, indeed, call to make on 9/11.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a memorial in Shanksville, Pa, for the personal tribute to victims of 9/11 aboard Flight 93, headed for Washington, D.C.
Even after a full day of activities, Obama, Biden, Clinton, Panetta and Dempsey scheduled a private 5 p.m. meeting later at the Whitehouse. The reason for the meeting remains unclear.
Stevens’ last appointment was at 8 p.m., or 2 p.m. EST, and that meeting was with the Turkish Consul General Ali Akin Sait. More than likely they were talking about the current Libya shipment of weapons headed for Syria but docked in Turkey. The shipment reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. If these weapons were used to defeat Assad, what guarantee is there that they would eventually be used against the United States?
Around the same time as Stevens’ meeting with Ali, according to the AP, which would be 2 p.m. EST, neighbors of the compound in Libya described activists who installed checkpoints around the compound. According to neighbors, these checkpoints were manned by bearded jihadists with trucks equipped with heavy machine guns, and flashing the logo of al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia. The activists sealed off the streets leading to the compound. They set up roadblocks with pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, according to witnesses. Neighbors said that no one could get in or out.
President Obama departed for Walter Reed Military Medical Center, and around 2:15.
The meeting with the Turkish Consul General Ali Akin Sait ended around 8:30 , 2:30 EST, and, afterwards, Stevens escorted the Consul General to the main gate chatting briefly with the guards. All was quiet at the compound. There were no protests or problems, and Stevens was relieved. The heat of the summer day had cooled somewhat, and the Ambassador decided to go to bed after a long, trying day. Also in the residence was Sean Smith and 4 agents, all armed with nothing more than pistols. There was another agent a nearby tactical information center also armed with a pistol.
Suddenly, the Libyan security forces, that were protecting the Ambassador and the compound, quickly fled the compound around 9:40. Within a minute, a well-armed mob, some with foreign accents, broke through the main gate.
Neighbors describe the scene as “150 bearded gunmen, some wearing the Afghan-style tunics favored by Islamic militants. They indicated that the trucks bore the logo of Ansar al-Shariah, a powerful local group of Islamist militants who worked with the municipal government to manage security in Benghazi.
What about Ali? The Turkish Consul General had to go through the blockade of jihadists as he left the vicinity of the ‘consulate.’ Did the Turk call Stevens to warn him of the impending danger? Apparently not. There is no trace of phone call. Moreover, how could the Turk himself have got out of the blockade?
It was well planned. Heavily armed gangs of men charged towards the barracks and immediately torched it. Some were carrying AlQaeda flags. After torching the barracks, others lit the embassy cars. They were yelling and running throughout the compound.
President Obama was still at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.
Upon hearing the gun shots and yelling, a diplomatic security agent in the tactical operations center of the compound immediately activated the diplomatic danger notification system through a Flash call, which alerted (1.) the nearby 17th February brigade, (2.) the embassy in Tripoli and (3.) the diplomatic security command center in Washington.
A flash call is a digital point to point message, like an Instant Message. According to military protocol, a message would be sent directly to the 3 locations sited above. When received in the situation room of the Whitehouse, someone immediately transmits it to an Obama aide who WALKS the information immediately to POTUS and verifies delivery. It doesn't matter where the POTUS is; he always has an aide with him. This wasn’t just an attack, there was a missing Ambassador who has a priority 4-stars rank and is representing the President in Libya. Obama knew about the attack immediately.
Charlene Lamb at the State department also received the call and was able to watch the attacks in real time.
Immediately, a Quick Reaction Force was deployed from the embassy in Tripoli to Benghazi. Glen Doherty, a former Navy Seal, was on his way from Tripoli by helicopter.
In the Benghazi compound, Special Agent David Uben quickly ran to get Stevens from his bedroom and brought Stevens and Sean Smith into the Safe Room. They made sure the gate was locked so no one could enter. They stayed quiet amid the chaos.
By this time, the Libyan security, the Embassy in Tripoli, the state department and the President knew of the attack.
Uben communicates with others in the compound to make sure they understand the situation. He radios the others in the compound that they are fine. Other agents throughout the compound try to gather weapons and body armor to fight the attackers but are forced back into the second residence by the fighters.
The Whitehouse Situation Room and the State Department watched in real time.
The Islamic fighters ransacked the main residence and then ran to the locked gate of the safe room. They looked inside; it’s dark, and they can’t see anything. The three men inside hold their breaths and watch the attackers from the darkness of the safe room. The attackers are unable to open the gate. Agent Uben has a gun trained on them and ready to shoot if necessary.
The fighters, unable to crack open the gate, decide to go outside, pour diesel fuel around the perimeter of the building and light it on fire. Fire and smoke engulfs the main residence, and dark smoke pours into the safe room with the three men waiting to be rescued.
The White House situation room and the State Department watched in real time.
Why was the Obama administration sending weapons to Syria? Why didn't the Turk warn Stevens? Who planned the attacks? Where was Obama on that night? Why didn't Obama issue a CBA to rescue our men?
It was a well-planned attack. Hopefully, Representative Gowdy's investigation will answer our questions. I welcome your comments.