By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – Did an independent panel that just blamed the State Department for major security lapses at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi fail to investigate the main activities transpiring at the facility itself?
Those activities may be relevant in determining why the Benghazi facility was attacked on September 11th.
The panel’s lead investigator into the Benghazi attack, former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, has largely unreported ties to the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa.
Those ties come primarily through his role as a member of the small board of the International Crisis Group, or ICG, one of the main proponents of the international “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine.
The doctrine is the very military protocol used to justify the NATO bombing campaign that brought down Moammar Ghadafi’s regime in Libya.
According to reports, Pickering’s investigation focused on security lapses regarding the protection of the Benghazi mission but not look into the role of the mission itself which could be critical in determining the reasons the facility came under fire.
KleinOnline has published a series of investigations showing the Benghazi mission was highly involved in the rebel-led Mideast revolutions to which Pickering is tied.
WND was first to report the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi actually served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East, according to Middle Eastern security officials.
In September, KleinOnline broke the story that assassinated Ambassador Christopher Stevens himself played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian security officials.
Last month, Middle Eastern security sources further described both the U.S. mission and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi as the main intelligence and planning center for U.S. aid to the rebels that was being coordinated with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Many rebel fighters are openly members of terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida.
Pickering’s panel released some of its finds to the media yesterday. The group reportedly concluded that systematic management and leadership failures at the State Department led to “grossly” inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi.
“Systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place,” the panel said.
The report pointed a finger at State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs, charging a lack of coordination and confusion over protecting the Benghazi mission.
Still, the panel concluded that no officials ignored or violated their duties. It recommended no disciplinary action now but did suggest that poor performance by senior managers in the future should be grounds for disciplinary action.
Pickering’s report seems to make no mention of any of the activities that transpired at either the Benghazi mission or the CIA annex.
According to numerous Middle Eastern security officials speaking to KleinOnline, the U.S. diplomatic mission served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the jihadists fighting insurgencies in the Middle East.
Among the tasks performed inside the building was collaborating with Arab countries on the recruitment of fighters – including jihadists – to target Assad’s regime in Syria.
The distinction may help explain why there was no major public security presence at what has been described as a “consulate.” Such a presence would draw attention to the shabby, nondescript building that was allegedly used for such sensitive purposes.
The security officials divulged the building was routinely used by Stevens and others to coordinate with the Turkish, Saudi and Qatari governments on supporting the insurgencies in the Middle East, most prominently the rebels opposing Assad’s regime in Syria.
The officials said that Stevens played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian security officials.
Stevens served as a key contact with the Saudis to coordinate the recruitment by Saudi Arabia of Islamic fighters from North Africa and Libya. The jihadists were sent to Syria via Turkey to attack Assad’s forces, said the security officials.
The officials said Stevens also worked with the Saudis to send names of potential jihadi recruits to U.S. security organizations for review. Names found to be directly involved in previous attacks against the U.S., including in Iraq and Afghanistan, were ultimately not recruited by the Saudis to fight in Syria, said the officials.
Questions remain about the nature of U.S. support for the revolutions in Egypt and Libya, including reports the U.S.-aided rebels that toppled Muammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya consisted of al-Qaida and jihad groups. The U.S. provided direct assistance, including weapons and finances, to the Libyan rebels.
Similarly, the Obama administration is currently aiding the rebels fighting Assad’s regime in Syria amid widespread reports that al-Qaida jihadists are included in the ranks of the Free Syrian Army.
Read more on Pickering ties
- ‘White Out’ on Benghazi: State Dept. Issues Report (counterjihadreport.com)
- BENGHAZI MISSION VIOLATED INTERNATIONAL LAW? Newly released probe may raise unintended questions about U.S. facility (wnd.com)
- Jihadists Who Fought U.S. in Iraq Were then U.S.-Backed by Obama’s Administration to Topple Gaddafi (spreadlibertynews.com)