The real issue — which is what the CIA, the State Department or anyone in the U.S. government has been doing backing regime change operations across the Middle East and North Africa region in the company of and for the benefit of Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood jihadis — never gets addressed, much less explained by the ARB or anyone else.
by: Clare Lopez
On December 19, 2012, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Chairman of the State Department (DoS) Accountability Review Board (ARB) delivered the ‘White-Out” report on Benghazi that he’d been selected to provide. “White-Out” is the perfect term for this report, as Diana West notes, because the entire senior national security leadership of the U.S. is completely missing from it. There is simply no mention whatsoever of President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper or the disgraced former CIA Director David Petraeus.
According to Pickering, who was hand-picked by the Obama administration to head the ARB, none of these officials had anything to do with the failure to provide the reliable armed, trained security that the Benghazi Mission asked for repeatedly and was denied, or for the catastrophic outcome of the terror assault on the mission the night of September 11, 2012 that took the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith and two former Navy SEAL CIA security contractors, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
Instead, four lower-ranking State Department officials took the fall: Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security; Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security; Raymond Maxwell, the deputy assistant secretary of state for North Africa; and an unidentified official in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security all resigned on December 19, after the Pickering report cited a “grossly inadequate” security posture at the Benghazi mission.
This is very convenient, of course, because none of those truly responsible for what happened at Benghazi that night is called to account in the Pickering White-Out for establishing the policies in the first place that sent Americans to work with treacherous Al-Qaeda militias in Libya that ultimately turned on their long-time comrade-in-arms, Christopher Stevens, and killed him.
It is strange, though, that the report would mention that there were “known gaps…in the intelligence community’s understanding of extremist militias in Libya and the potential threat they posed to U.S. interests, although some threats were known to exist.”
Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s September 10, 2012 video call for revenge for the June 2012 drone killing of his deputy, the Libyan Abu Yahya al-Libi, doesn’t seem to have made the cut for “immediate, specific tactical warning” and the Pickering White-Out doesn’t even mention the possibility that this message from the commander of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) affiliates just possibly could have been the “green light” for the September 11 attack.
In any case, though, the White House, State Department and Intelligence Community should have been extremely familiar with some of these militia characters, having engaged together with them in the jihad struggle against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi for so many months.
There was Abdelhakim Belhadj, for instance. He was the former self-described jihadist leader of the Al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LFG) who, on behalf of the new, liberated Libyan government, later went on to join forces with the similarly Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian Free Army rebels.
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Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at RadicalIslam.org and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez served for 20 years as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).