FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Benghazi, Petraeus, and the CIA

by HORACE CAMPBELL

Two years after the failed NATO intervention, Libyan society is in chaos. Over 50,000 were killed in a mission that was meant to protect civilians, and there are reportedly more than 1,700 competing militias marauding the streets. One outcome of this chaos was the attack on U.S. mission in Benghazi which led to the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens on September 11, 2012. There have been Congressional hearings on this attack, and on May 8, U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called another inquiry into the September 11, 2012 event. At this inquiry, Greg Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Libya who became the top U.S. diplomat in the country after Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed, testified that the U.S. government did not do enough to intervene to rescue Ambassador Stevens.

What Greg Hicks and Representative Darrell Issa did not probe was the role of the CIA and Petraeus in the use of Benghazi as the largest CIA station in North Africa, where they ran militias into Syria. When the information about the attack on the US ‘facility’ in Benghazi was first brought to light, there was confusion because this information had the potential of putting the vaunted military in its proper perspective. Was the space that was attacked a consulate, a State Department facility, a CIA safe house, or indeed a prison for captured militias? This confusion took attention away from the reality that elements in the military/intelligence hierarchy had formulated a policy to align with certain militia groups in Eastern Libya and that these militias (sometimes called jihadists) had in the past been linked to groups that the U.S. called ‘terrorist organizations.’ France, the CIA, and the U.S. Africa Command had aligned with these jihadists to destabilize Libya, freeze billions of dollars of assets, execute Gaddafi, and use Libya as a rear base in the drive for regime change in Syria.

The Republicans had sought to benefit from the confusion and disinformation that had been spun by the intelligence and the military about the real causes of the death of the Ambassador in Benghazi. The hearings called before the Republican-controlled Congress did reveal that the private military
global natoestablishments had a prime place in the protection of U.S. legations around the world. But these hearings did not come close to the real questions that should be posed to David Petraeus: what role did the use of Benghazi as a CIA station for the training of Jihadists play in the attack?

Now that the conservative media is calling the revelations of the CIA revision of the ‘talking points’ a cover up, it may be instructive to obtain a clearer picture of the role of Petraeus and the CIA in Benghazi. Why did Petraeus travel to Benghazi? What was the nature of his report? These questions have not been properly addressed and although the Accountability and Review Board, which was headed by Thomas Pickering with retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did issue a scathing report about the absence of leadership, the issues of Petraeus and the Jihadists have been buried in the hearings.

Pickering and Mullen’s scathing report released in December found that “systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” of the State Department meant that security was “inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”

What this review and these hearings are obfuscating are the real issues that emanate from the role of the CIA in recruiting Jihadists in Benghazi. On Monday at a press conference, Obama called the continued discussions on Benghazi a “side show.” However, for the millions of persons in North Africa that have been negatively affected by the NATO intervention and the role of the CIA, private
militias and private military contractors, the debates in the USA can be viewed as another diversion to cover up the CIA operations in North Africa. Ethan Chorin, one of the operators in Libya and close ally of Ambassador Stevens, has weighed in with an op-ed piece in the New York Times that stated,

“The biggest American failure wasn’t in the tactical mistakes about security at the diplomatic mission where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died. It lay in thinking that an intervention in Libya would be easier or less costly than it has proved to be — a judgment that led the United States to think it could go in light, get out fast and focus on the capital, Tripoli, without paying enough attention to Libya’s eastern provinces, where the rebellion began as a call for a constitution and increased civil liberties.”

Chorin, who was an insider in Benghazi, continues to insist that the NATO intervention was “inspired and skillfully executed, and had the potential to do more good than harm.”

In my book, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, I have challenged this verdict that the intervention did more good than harm. Some other supporters of the Libya intervention are now calculating the costs as embassies rush to leave the people to the mercy of the militias.  According to the British newspaper the Guardian, “the fear of further violence has led to the British and US embassies withdrawing some staff, the European Union closing its mission in Tripoli and BP announcing it was pulling out non-essential staff.” France had already scaled back its operations after a military attack on its mission in Tripoli. What Daryl Issa and the forces calling the issues of Benghazi a cover-up are refusing to deal with is the deceptions and lies that led to the catastrophic situation in Libya and North Africa today.

Horace Campbell teaches at Syracuse University in New York.  He is the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, Monthly Review Press, 2013. 

Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science, Syracuse University. He is the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, Monthly Review Press, 2013.  Notes.

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail