Read an Excerpt
People Vs. Barack Obama
Whoever, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to communicate, deliver, or transmit, to any foreign government, or to any faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States, or to any representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen thereof, either directly or indirectly, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, note, instrument, appliance, or information relating to the national defense, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life. . . . If two or more persons conspire to violate this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.
—18 U.S. CODE § 794
Their bodies were carried slowly off an American military jet by stiffly starched Marines in their dress blues. Their coffins were covered in American flags. And as they were loaded into the waiting hearses, which sat underneath an enormous star-spangled banner, the president of the United States and the secretary of state comforted one another. He wore a black suit and a striped tie; she wore a black pantsuit and a three-layered pearl necklace. Both wore solemn faces.
The president spoke first from the podium, flanked by the maternal-looking secretary of state. “Their sacrifice will never be forgotten,” he said. “We will bring justice to those who took them from us.” He continued, “The United States of America will never retreat from the world. We will never stop working for the dignity and freedom that every [person] deserves. . . . That’s the essence of American leadership. . . . That was their work in Benghazi, and that is the work we will carry on.”
“Four Americans, four patriots,” he concluded. “They loved this country. They chose to serve it, and served it well. . . . Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
Then the secretary of state stepped to the microphone. “Today we bring home four Americans who gave their lives for our country and our values,” she said. “To the families of our fallen colleagues, I offer our most heartfelt condolences and deepest gratitude . . . we will wipe away our tears, stiffen our spines, and face the future undaunted.”1
As the bodies of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, State Department employee Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods lay before them, the president and secretary of state were already planning their own futures. President Barack Obama was planning a reelection campaign event in Washington, D.C.2 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was already planning her 2016 run for the presidency.
They were both planning a cover-up. For the people responsible for taking the lives of those four brave Americans were not merely the Islamist terrorists of Benghazi, Libya. They were present in that Andrews Air Force Base hangar. They were speaking from the podium.
The crime of espionage is a difficult one to charge. Historically, the government has reserved espionage charges for agents of foreign countries acting in the interests of those countries. Kenneth Wayne Ford Jr. was sentenced under the Espionage Act for carrying six boxes of National Security Agency papers back to his house. Former CIA agent Jeffrey Alexander Sterling was charged under the Espionage Act for leaking national security information to New York Times reporter James Risen. And most famously, both Private First Class Bradley Manning of WikiLeaks fame and NSA leaker Edward Snowden were charged under the Espionage Act.
But these crimes pale in comparison to the espionage of the Obama administration itself. American law still places us at war with “nations, organizations, or persons [who] planned, authorized, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” Obviously, that would include al-Qaeda and other assorted terrorist groups. But, as we will see, the Obama administration has completely reversed field, not only backing such groups, but supplying them with weaponry. One consequence of that supply chain, which likely ran through Benghazi, Libya: the caskets at Andrews Air Force Base.
That isn’t just illegal under the Espionage Act. Gunrunning is banned under multiple provisions of American law, including the Arms Control Export Act, which calls for a maximum sentence of twenty years.
Failing to protect U.S. diplomats abroad by refusing to arm protective forces—a situation that ended with Ambassador Chris Stevens’s body being carried through the streets of Benghazi—wasn’t just negligence, but part of an overall policy plan. That makes his death involuntary manslaughter, also known as negligent homicide. Typically, negligent homicide is governed by state statute, which is where Obama administration officials would be charged. Conviction for the crime requires three elements: someone was killed, the act leading to the death was inherently dangerous or recklessly disregarded human life, and the defendant knew that the conduct threatened the lives of others. Those elements describe Benghazi to a T.
And then the administration covered all of this up by silencing witnesses and threatening agents. Those are all predicate offenses under the RICO Act.
In contradiction to what you see on Law & Order, motive is not a necessary element to convict someone of a crime. Motive does, however, increase the probability that a jury will find a defendant guilty: it is important to understand just why someone in a position of power would break the law.
In this case, the motive is clear: the Obama administration’s vision of foreign policy required a defenseless presence in Libya, gunrunning to enemies of America, and, by consequence, the death of four brave Americans that fiery night of September 11, 2012.
Shortly after taking office, President Obama traveled to Cairo, Egypt, to tell the Islamic world that the United States was turning over a new leaf. Obama had already made clear to Muslims around the world that he was not merely comfortable with Islam, he had a cultural affinity toward it; in March 2007, sycophant New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof reported, “Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it’ll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as ‘one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.’?” Obama campaigned, at least in part, on the basis of understanding Islam in a way that other candidates could not, given that he had studied the Koran while growing up in Indonesia.3
In Cairo, Obama took that cultural affinity to a whole new level. “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles—principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings,” Obama stated. “There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, ‘Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.’ . . . I know civilization’s debt to Islam. . . . Islam has always been a part of America’s story.” Then he added, “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
In that speech, Obama also called for liberalization of rule in Muslim countries, regardless of who came to power. “America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them,” Obama said.4 To underscore that principle, the Obama administration reportedly coerced the Egyptian government, led by dictator and American ally General Hosni Mubarak, to invite members of the Muslim Brotherhood—the ideologically Islamist group that routinely works with terrorists around the Middle East—to the speech. “I can tell you that invitations have gone out to the full range of actors in Egyptian political society,” said Obama adviser Denis McDonough.5 Middle Eastern news networks reported that the administration actually told the Egyptian government that at least ten Muslim Brotherhood members had to be sitting in the audience for Obama’s rigmarole.6
Obama’s commitment to hitting the reset button with the Muslim world was accompanied by signals of American pullback from strategic alliances. Because he ran as an antiwar candidate, Obama now engaged in a precipitous pullout from Iraq that allowed the Iranian regime to fill the gap. He began making overtures to the Taliban in Afghanistan. “If you talk to Gen. [David] Petraeus, I think he would argue that part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us because they had been completely alienated by the tactics of al Qaeda in Iraq,” Obama said in March 2009 to the New York Times. “There may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”7
When protests broke out in Iran in June 2009 over election fraud in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, resulting in a mass crackdown allegedly including murder and rape, President Obama remained silent for several days before announcing that it was “up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be,” then stated that he believed that the Iranian government would “look into irregularities that have taken place.” Obama added that he was still seeking diplomacy with Iran. Even ten days later, Obama was still repeating that the United States had not decided on a real strategy for dealing with the protests in Iran.8 The United States had spent much of the Bush administration funneling money to antiregime groups in Iran. Obama undercut those groups.
Obama’s strategy of leading from behind while spouting platitudes about democracy culminated in the so-called Arab Spring—a massive Islamist uprising resulting in the overthrow of several pro-American regimes in favor of popular Islamist ones. The Islamist Winter led off with a self-immolation by a fruit vendor in Tunisia, which culminated in an uprising resulting in the ouster of dictator and American ally President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. The United States had provided Ben Ali some $347 million in aid since his rise to power in 1987. Ali had imposed stability and market reforms, despite his repressive regime.9
Initially, the United States said nothing about the protests in Tunisia, with Hillary Clinton announcing just three days before Ben Ali’s ouster, “We are not taking sides, but we are saying we hope that there can be a peaceful resolution.”10 Behind the scenes, though, the United States was signaling that Ben Ali should go. Internal U.S. government documents regarding Ben Ali had been released by WikiLeaks, and they showed that America wasn’t keen on its erstwhile ally. Recognizing the signals, the Tunisian revolutionaries seized their moment.
The left reacted to the news as though Ben Ali’s deposing were an unfettered good. Christopher Alexander of Foreign Policy wrote, “Once it became clear that the Islamists no longer posed a serious threat, many Tunisians became less willing to accept the government’s heavy-handedness.”11 Now the Obama administration responded with sunny optimism; Obama released a statement explaining that Americans “applaud the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people” and called for the new authorities “to respect human rights, and to hold free and fair elections in the near future that reflect the true will and aspirations of the Tunisian people.”12
Tunisia promptly elected an Islamist government led by the Ennahda Party, which had been banned by Ben Ali. Islamists began assassinating opposition leaders.13
The Arab Spring was under way.
A similar scenario played itself out in Egypt, where protests against longtime American ally Mubarak ended in the United States supporting his ouster. After initially doing nothing to support the protesters—Hillary simply called for restraint from “all parties,” and actually called the Egyptian government “stable,” saying it was “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people”14—the United States ended up joyfully celebrating Mubarak’s resignation. Ignoring the rise of the Islamist role in the opposition, the rapes in Tahrir Square, the hints at repressions of Christians, Obama began applauding. “There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place,” Obama cheered. “This is one of those moments; this is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken. Their voices have been heard and Egypt will never be the same. By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change.”15
Mubarak’s government was quickly replaced with an elected Islamist government under the oversight of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, a terrorist supporter and ally. Later, certain reports would link Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood directly to the attacks in Benghazi.16
The Obama administration was finally getting the hang of this thing. And so they helped bring the Islamist traveling road show to Syria, where thug Iranian ally Bashar Assad was in power. Up until the Syrian civil war broke out, the Obama administration had done its best to prop up Assad. Hillary Clinton appeared on national television on March 27, 2011, explaining, “There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.” Two days later, she reversed course, stating, “I referenced opinions of others. That was not speaking either for myself or for the administration.”17
The United States began debating the wisdom of arming the opposition to Assad. Ignoring all the evidence that the Syrian opposition was heavily in league with al-Qaeda, the United States eventually jumped in with one foot, deciding to arm the rebels. And as later events would show, one of the key links in the arms chain to Syria was in Benghazi—in violation of the Arms Control Export Act, and the Espionage Act.
“WE CAME, WE SAW, HE DIED”
If the Obama administration was willing to let allied dictators like Ben Ali and Mubarak fall on behalf of Islamists around the Middle East, it had no qualms about the uprising in Libya against neutered dictator Muammar Qaddafi. After the United States’ invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Qaddafi—a man with a history of ties to terrorism, including the Lockerbie bombing in 1988, and who had been bombed by the Reagan administration—decided to abandon his pursuit of nuclear weapons. He also renounced support for terrorism.18
In February 2011, an uprising against Qaddafi began. Qaddafi cracked down violently, using snipers and helicopter gunships, prompting British prime minister David Cameron to condemn his actions as “appalling and unacceptable.” President Obama waited eight days to say that the violence was outrageous—at which point the United States jumped into the fray with both feet. On February 26, the United Nations imposed sanctions on Qaddafi, and on March 17, voted to authorize a no-fly zone against Qaddafi’s air force. The rebels began gaining ground steadily, until on September 20, Obama called for Qaddafi’s forces to surrender, and announced the return of a U.S. ambassador to Tripoli.19
On October 9, 2011, Hillary visited Tripoli, where she pledged millions to the Libyan opposition. She told the leaders of the National Transitional Council, “I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya. The United States was proud to stand for you in your fight for freedom and we will continue to stand with you as you continue this journey. This is Libya’s moment. This is Libya’s victory and the future belongs to you.”
Two days later, as video broke across the Internet of Qaddafi being sodomized with a knife and then murdered, and written reports hit the Web, Clinton was caught on camera reacting: “Wow!” Later, Hillary appeared laughing hysterically on camera, her thumbs up, crowing, “We came, we saw, he died!” The reporter questioning her laughed along with her.20
Hillary missed a step. The truth was far more sinister than her triumphalist guffawing. America came. We saw. We gave arms to the rebels. Qaddafi died. Then, so did four Americans in Benghazi.
It was all fun and games for Hillary, appearing on national television to chortle over Qaddafi’s demise. But the same actions taken by the Obama administration that resulted in one dead dictator would lead to the deaths of four Americans in Libya, and the deaths of thousands more around the Middle East. For while Qaddafi’s death was undoubtedly good news for the world, those who had opposed him were openly associated with al-Qaeda. And the Obama administration ensured they were armed.
In late February 2011, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released a statement: “We declare our support for the legitimate demands of the Libyan revolution. We assert to our people in Libya that we are with you and will not let you down, God willing. We will give everything we have to support you, with God’s grace.”21
The Libyan rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi told Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore that some members of the core of his jihadist movement sprang from those who had fought American troops in Iraq. His soldiers, he claimed, were “patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” but he also stated that “members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader.” Al-Hasidi said he had fought Americans in Afghanistan, then was captured in Pakistan, handed over to the United States, and held in Libya until his release in 2008. The United States said that al-Hasidi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which is a group cooperative with al-Qaeda.22 Admiral James Stavridis, NATO supreme commander for Europe, said, “We have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al Qaeda, Hezbollah.” Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel said, “There is no question that al Qaeda’s Libyan franchise, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is a part of the opposition. It has always been Qaddafi’s biggest enemy and its stronghold is Benghazi.”23
The rebel leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj, who would eventually become commander of security in the Libyan capitol of Tripoli, was captured by the CIA and given to Qaddafi in 2004. He admitted to Time that he “was a member of the Islamic Fighting Group”—in other words, a jihadist, although he denied that he was a member of al-Qaeda.24 Other reports suggested that Belhadj was lying—he was the “emir” of the LIFG, and reportedly became close to al-Qaeda leader Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. Overall, LIFG members became security leaders in virtually all major Libyan cities, including Tripoli, Benghazi, and Derna.25
While the Obama administration was reaching out to Libyan rebel groups and al-Qaeda affiliates across the Middle East in an attempt to move beyond the Bush presidency, the al-Qaeda-affiliated groups were happy to take the West’s help in ousting Qaddafi in order to consolidate power, weapons, and cash for that war. In essence, the Obama administration began arming America’s enemies in order to get rid of repressive regimes that had historically quashed those enemies.
Many in Congress opposed action on behalf of the Libyan rebels. Obama never bothered to get authorization at all. Democratic representative Jerrold Nadler of New York said, “Briefing Congress is not the same as authorization. Briefing is nice, but authorization is required under law.” Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) added, “I can’t think of a time in our nation’s history where we put our men and women in combat like this without an administration of either party coming to Congress first.” But the Obama administration didn’t really care. Representative Geoff Davis (R-KY) said, “The implication was very strong that they saw no need for any authorization at any time regardless of how long this were to continue.”26
Even President Obama himself, when he was a U.S. senator, opposed attacking foreign forces without congressional authorization: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”27 Libya was no such threat, of course. Congress declared as much when, after sixty days, a bipartisan resolution passed with three-quarters of the House of Representatives condemning Obama for not even bothering to ask for authorization for his action, in direct contravention of the War Powers Act.28
Probably thanks to the public’s tepid original approval of the Libyan action—tepid approval that turned to heavy disapproval over time29—the Obama administration never got specific about defining its public position on arming the Libyan rebels. In testimony before Congress, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the United States would provide communications, surveillance, and nonlethal support to the rebels, but would allow other countries to ship such weapons in. Even that position was arguably illegal under international law, according to NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who told reporters that he believed the UN resolution authorizing an air campaign to help the rebels did not allow weapons shipments directly to the Libyan rebels.30
But behind closed doors, the administration prepared to act alone. On March 30, 2011, ABC News reported that President Obama had secretly signed a presidential finding to send covert aid to the al-Qaeda-linked rebels. This would be a violation of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S. Code § 2780), which specifically prohibits supporting terrorists. Those provisions are waivable by the president, but President Obama did no such thing at the time. He waited until 2013 to do so, and even then, he did so with regard to Syria, not Libyan rebels.31
The same day as the ABC News report, the Washington Post announced that Obama’s secret finding included an authorization to the CIA “to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.” The authorization came in spite of the fact that the Obama administration was still busily sending “teams of CIA operatives into Libya” to find out who exactly the rebels were.32
The White House insisted that such aid was not lethal—“no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya,” said the White House press office. “We’re not ruling it out or ruling it in. We’re assessing and reviewing options for all types of assistance that we could provide to the Libyan people.” Meanwhile, Obama himself told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that he would not rule out providing arms to the al-Qaeda-linked rebels. Hillary was more cautious: “We don’t know as much as we would like to know and as much as we expect we will know.”33
Those cautions didn’t last long. Not only did the United States allow arming of Libyan rebels from abroad, but the Obama administration tasked the CIA with ways of helping to accomplish that goal. If performed without congressional approval, such covert actions amounted to violations of the so-called covert action statute (50 U.S. Code § 413b).
Libyan terrorist groups began receiving arms shipments and money via Qatar. The Obama administration approved such operations. That was due to the administration’s unwillingness to get too involved directly with the Libyan uprising—they recognized that they had no domestic support for such involvement, and instead attempted to find a backdoor way to support Libyan terrorist groups. So the United States green-lit a gunrunning operation via Qatar to those groups. One of the people looking to arm the Libyan terrorists was an American arms dealer in communication with one of the men who would be killed in Benghazi.
His name was Marc Turi, and he was an arms merchant who lives in Arizona and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. In March 2011, he emailed then-special representative to the Libyan rebel alliance Chris Stevens, applying to help smuggle weapons. Stevens said he would pass the request up the chain. That application was originally turned down because it openly specified desire to ship weapons into Libya. A few months later, he applied again, this time saying he wanted to ship weapons via Qatar. This request was approved. Turi told the New York Times that his only job was to get the weapons to Qatar; what “the U.S. government and Qatar allowed from there was between them.” A few months after the United States okayed Turi’s gun dealing, the Department of Homeland Security raided his home.34
The United States’ policy of winding down the war on terrorism played right into the hands of such terrorists. Take, for example, the case of Sufyan Ben Qumu. Qumu drove a tank in the Libyan army, spent time in prison in that country, and was a known drug addict; he fled Libya in favor of Egypt before heading to Afghanistan and joining Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. Then he moved on up to the Taliban before being captured in Pakistan and sent to the United States, which imprisoned him at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At the time, he was considered a “medium to high risk . . . likely to pose a threat to the United States, its interests and allies.” In 2007, the Bush administration sent Qumu back to Libya to be handled by Qaddafi, on the condition that Libya and the United States could find a “satisfactory agreement . . . that allows access to detainee and/or access to exploited intelligence.” In 2008, Qumu was released as the Qaddafi regime attempted to parley with the burgeoning rebellion.
All of that was on Bush. But it was President Obama who turned Qumu from enemy of the United States into, as the New York Times put it, an “ally of sorts.” What changed? The “remarkable turnabout,” the Times stated, “result[ed] from shifting American policies rather than any obvious change in Mr. Qumu.” Qumu led the Darnah Brigade, which received support from NATO. The Times quoted unnamed Western observers as stating that Qumu wasn’t much of a threat: “We’re more worried about Al Qaeda infiltration from outside than the indigenous ones. . . . Most of them have a local agenda so they don’t present as much of a threat to the West.”35 Giving guns to those folks, the Obama administration believed, wasn’t a problem. Legally, of course, it was: it was a violation of the Espionage Act, given that we were literally handing guns to terrorists without congressional approval. On September 19, 2012, Bret Baier of Fox News reported that intelligence sources believed that one Sufyan Ben Qumu had masterminded the attack on the compound in Benghazi—the same Qumu the United States had released from Guantanamo Bay, then helped attain weapons.36
There was more involved than the United States merely green-lighting other countries’ shipping weapons into Libya to Islamist terrorists. The United States played a direct role in arming such enemies of America. And that role continued long after Qaddafi’s fall, as the United States worked to arm al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria.
The U.S. operation in Benghazi was apparently crucial to American gunrunning into Syria. In January 2013, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton whether she had any knowledge of a CIA gunrunning operation in Benghazi. She responded, “You’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex,” claiming not to know whether such an operation had in fact been in place.37
But according to Joe diGenova, attorney for one of the whistle-blowers in Benghazi, four hundred U.S. missiles were “diverted to Libya” just before the September 11, 2012, attacks; diGenova said that the missiles were stolen and fell into “the hands of some very ugly people.” He said that the U.S. complex in Libya “was somehow involved in the distribution of those missiles,” sourcing his information to a “former intelligence official who stayed in constant contact with people in the special ops and intelligence community.” The British newspaper the Telegraph reported as well that thirty-five CIA operatives were in Benghazi working “on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armories to Syrian rebels.”38
On September 14, 2012, three days after the attack on the Benghazi annex, the Times of London reported that a Libyan ship loaded with the single “largest consignment of weapons for Syria since the uprising began has docked in Turkey and most of its cargo is making its way to rebels on the front lines. Among more than 400 tonnes of cargo the vessel was carrying were SAM-7 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), which Syrian sources said could be a game-changer for the rebels.”39
All of this was allegedly part of a broader operation. In March 2013, the New York Times reported that the CIA had been shipping weapons to Syria for a year or more: “The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi, and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.”40 In June 2012, the Times reported that a coterie of CIA officers was working in southern Turkey, attempting to funnel weapons to particular groups. “The weapons,” the Times reported, “including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.”
The White House continued to claim that all aid was “nonlethal.”41 Ben Swann of Full Disclosure did a one-on-one interview with President Obama. “You mentioned about al Qaeda in your speech,” Swann asked. “Going after al Qaeda in Afghanistan, certainly going after them in Yemen as well. And yet there’s some concern about the U.S. funding the Syrian opposition when there are a lot of reports about al Qaeda heading up that opposition. How do you justify the two?” Obama answered: “I shared that concern, so what we’ve done is said we will provide nonlethal assistance to Syrian opposition leadership that are committed to a political transition, are committed to an observance of human rights. We’re not going to just dive in and get involved in a civil war that in fact involves . . . some folks who would over the long term do the United States harm.”42
Obviously, that wasn’t true.
Arms poured into Egypt, too. In August 2013, after a military coup ousted erstwhile Obama friend Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, the military reported on Muslim Brotherhood terrorist action . . . using U.S. weapons. Jihadists, the military reported, were using U.S. Hellfire missiles against government buildings in the Sinai Peninsula. Pictures showed an AGM-114F Hellfire missile with the label “U.S.” on the side. “Reports of U.S.-made weapons turning up in the Sinai date back to at least January, when six U.S.-made missiles were found in a cache of weapons bound for Gaza,” Fox News reported. Just a few months earlier, Fox News reported that “weapons left over from the revolution in Libya were being sold at clandestine auctions in the Sinai Peninsula.”43
Where did all these weapons end up? With virtually every major affiliate of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Times reported that the administration never could determine where all the weapons from the various programs had gone, although “[s]ome of the arms since have been moved from Libya to militants with ties to Al Qaeda in Mali, where radical jihadi factions have imposed Shariah law in the northern part of the country, the former Defense Department official said. Others have gone to Syria, according to several American and foreign officials and arms traders.”44 As early as March 2011, al-Qaeda, according to the president of Chad, Idriss Déby Itno, had been raiding weapons in the Libyan rebel areas for their own use internationally.45 Hillary admitted as much in her final Senate testimony before leaving as secretary of state: She blamed Libya’s liberated storehouses of weapons for the gun smuggling that had become so common. “Libya was awash in weapons before the revolution,” she said.46 But not quite as awash as after the United States government began violating its own law in order to arm those Libyans.
“THE TALIBAN IS ON THE INSIDE OF THE BUILDING”
The attempt to minimize American involvement in arms smuggling in Libya rested on the secrecy of the mission in Benghazi.
The U.S. operation in Benghazi apparently rested on the CIA gunrunning operation. While initial reports suggested that there was a “consulate” in Benghazi, there was no official consulate—there was merely the CIA annex that was allegedly funneling weapons to the Libyan terrorists. According to reporter Aaron Klein, the U.S. diplomatic mission “actually served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East, according to Middle Eastern security officials.” Both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton called the Benghazi complex a “mission.” As Klein points out, diplomatic missions, unlike consulates, are given a wide variety of responsibilities unrelated to immigration issues. The State Department website did not list Benghazi as a location for a consulate.47 Klein also reports that Ambassador Chris Stevens, who headed up the mission, was an integral spoke in the gunrunning wheel. “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,” Klein wrote.48
Such a gunrunning operation would necessitate high security. After all, funneling thousands of weapons through a heavily terrorist area would seem to require a few guns of your own to protect those shipments. In the months leading up to September 2012, the New York Times reported, “the Obama administration clearly was worried about the consequences of its hidden hand in helping arm Libyan militants.” Within weeks, the United States was receiving reports of arms going to out-and-out terrorist groups. The administration never figured out where within the country the weapons, which included machine guns, automatic rifles, and ammunition, went. This supposedly provoked consternation within the administration.49 But it did not provoke more security for the Benghazi complex.
It should have. As early as July 2011, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph reported that Benghazi’s security situation was controlled by Islamist terrorists—specifically, the Abu Obeida al-Jarrah Brigade, an element of the anti-Qaddafi forces. Abu Obeida was even responsible for killing General Abdel Fattah Younes, one of the leaders of the Libyan opposition who had switched sides from the Qaddafi regime. That assassination came the day after France, the United States, and Britain decided to endorse the Libyan opposition as the legitimate government of Libya. “Unlike the other militias, the Brigade seems to exercise considerable power within the rebel movement,” the Telegraph reported. “[I]t has emerged that the group was in charge of internal security in Benghazi, essentially operating as a secret police force.”50 That’s right—Islamist terrorists ran the security forces in Benghazi.
Those who were in Benghazi understood the threat. According to Eric Nordstrom, former regional security officer at the U.S. embassy in Libya, in the full year before September 11, there were fifty violent incidents against American targets in Benghazi alone.51 On May 22, 2012, terrorists launched a rocket-propelled grenade at the Red Cross building; the Red Cross abandoned Benghazi in July. On June 6, terrorists hit U.S. facilities in Benghazi with an improvised explosive device.52 On June 11, a convoy carrying the British ambassador was attacked in Benghazi. The British abandoned Benghazi, leaving their weapons in the charge of the U.S. mission. The weapons went missing. “We are working with the U.S. to establish what, if anything, has happened to this equipment,” said a Foreign Office spokesman.53 In August, there were attacks on Benghazi military intelligence offices. On August 10, a Libyan army general was assassinated. On August 20, terrorists bombed a car belonging to an Egyptian diplomat.54 Even the United Nations abandoned Benghazi. Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, who handled U.S. military supplementation of diplomatic security, recommended a pullout from Benghazi. “It was apparent to me,” he said, “that we were the last [Western] flag flying in Benghazi. We were the last thing on their target list to remove from Benghazi.”55
But the Obama administration was deeply fearful of offending the locals, especially given the administration’s newfound willingness to work with al-Qaeda across the Middle East. This was part and parcel of the administration’s pusillanimous approach to the Arab Spring: in building a new coterie of supposed Islamist allies, the United States could not afford to offend. The principle of nonoffense was the rationale behind the Obama administration’s befuddling and sickening decision to leave American personnel in Benghazi virtually unprotected.
And so security at the mission was disastrous. Nordstrom told Congress that the State Department had hired Libyan militia members to provide security—they called themselves the “17th of February Martyrs Brigade.” That group is al-Qaeda sympathetic, and for months before September 11, 2012, carried the al-Qaeda black flag on its website. As Newsmax reported, “Several entries on the militia’s Facebook page openly profess sympathy for Ansar al-Sharia, the hardline Islamist extremist group widely blamed for the deadly attack on the mission. . . . Just a few days before Stevens arrived in Benghazi, the Martyrs Brigade informed State Department officials they no longer would provide security as members of the mission, including Stevens, traveled through the city.”56
In the spring of 2012, Nordstrom stated, “we saw and noted an increasing number of attacks and incidents targeting foreign affiliated organizations.” Nonetheless, “because of Libyan political sensitivities, armed private security companies were not allowed to operate in Libya. Therefore, our existing, uniformed static local guard force, both in Tripoli and Benghazi were unarmed. . . .”57 Unarmed guards in the middle of Benghazi, a terrorist haven, thanks to politically correct concerns about Libyan sensitivities.
In his written testimony, Nordstrom expressed confidence in the security plan. But in his spoken testimony, Nordstrom told Congress that security was “inappropriately low” and said that he, along with Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, was worried about the flow of terrorists into Benghazi. Nordstrom worried, too, that he didn’t think he could rely on the “17th of February Martyrs Brigade.” They weren’t experienced and hadn’t been paid in months. According to Nordstrom, he had “no idea if they would respond to an attack.”58
Documents released by the State Department show repeated requests for more security. On November 30, 2011, Nordstrom wrote to Deputy Chief of Mission Joan Polaschik and State Department staffer G. Kathleen Hill, complaining about the security dropping precipitously in Benghazi. “Is there a plan for a closure of operations in Benghazi or will we be at this level for some time? If we have such a small footprint, we could really utilize the armored vehicles that are there,” Nordstrom wrote. Hill wrote back, irked at Nordstrom: “This came up in conversations with Chris Stevens as well. . . . The plan for Benghazi staffing calls for 3 State (PO, IM/Mgmt reporting officer) plus DS (3–5) plus 1–2 TDYs (temporary staffers) at any given time. With that how many cars does Benghazi need?” On February 11, 2012, Shawn P. Crowley, a foreign service officer at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, wrote, “Apologies for being a broken record, but beginning tomorrow Benghazi will be down to two agents. . . . We have no drivers and new local guard contract employees have no experience driving armored vehicles. . . .”
On February 12, 2012, Nordstrom wrote to James Bacigalupo, regional director of the Diplomatic Security Service, expressing frustration that he couldn’t get more security personnel in Benghazi: “I’ve been placed in a very difficult spot when the Ambassador tells me that I need to support Benghazi but can’t direct [Mobile Security Detachment, specially trained to operate in high threat environments] there and been advised that [Diplomatic Security Service, DSS] isn’t going to provide more than 3 DS agents over the long term.”59
Despite Nordstrom’s worries, and the worries of then-ambassador Gene Cretz, Hillary Clinton personally signed a cable in April 2012 approving a drawdown of security assets in Benghazi. Clinton actually asked for a “joint reassessment of the number of DS agents requested from Benghazi”—in other words, Clinton wanted the numbers to drop even more. In May 2012, when Stevens replaced Cretz, he asked for more security, too. The State Department replied that such a request could not be fulfilled.
On June 25, 2012, Ambassador Stevens wrote a cable explaining that rising attacks in Benghazi “were the work of extremists who are opposed to western influence in Libya. A number of local contacts agreed, noting that Islamic extremism appears to be on the rise in eastern Libya and that the Al-Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities in Derna.” The Libyan hesitance to okay a security presence in Benghazi, Stevens wrote in another cable, “has created the security vacuum that a diverse group of independent actors are exploiting for their own purposes.”60
In July 2012, Nordstrom told the diplomatic security (DS) officials in Washington that he wanted to submit a request for an extension of the security teams. Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary for diplomatic security, however, was “reluctant to ask for an SST [Security Support Team] extension, apparently out of concern that it would be embarrassing to the [State Department] to continue to have to rely on [Defense Department] assets to protect our Mission.” Lamb shot back, “NO, I do not [I repeat] not want them to ask for the MSD [Mobile Security Deployment] team to stay!”
On July 9, 2012, Stevens asked for more security. Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy rejected the request.61
On August 16, 2012, Stevens signed a cable and sent it to the State Department. It explained that the Benghazi mission could not stop a “coordinated attack.”62
On September 11, 2012, the day of the attacks, Stevens wrote a cable describing how commander Fawzi Younis, acting principal officer of the Supreme Security Council in Benghazi, had “expressed growing frustration with police and security forces (who were too weak to keep the country secure). . . .”63 Overall, Stevens asked the State Department for more security four times.64 Apparently, Stevens asked the Libyans for more security, too. He didn’t get it.65 His diary, found four days after the attack, reportedly demonstrated his worries about security in Benghazi.66 After the attack, journalists from Foreign Policy found documents lying on the floor of the consulate. One was a letter from September 11, 2012, informing Mohamed Obeidi, head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Benghazi, of the deteriorating security situation (apparently Stevens wanted the Libyans to provide more security, as the State Department hadn’t): “Finally, early this morning at 0643, September 11, 2012, one of our diligent guards made a troubling report. Near our main gate, a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from our compound. It is reported that this person was photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission and furthermore that this person was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission. The police car stationed where this event occurred was number 322.”67
Nordstrom testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about his frustration with lack of security and reliance on local security. Relating a conversation with another State Department staffer, Nordstrom said, “I said, ‘Jim, you know what [is] most frustrating about this assignment? It’s not the hardship, it’s not the gunfire, it’s not the threats. It’s dealing and fighting against the people, programs, and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me. . . . For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”68
Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), both leaders on the House Oversight Committee, said that they had been told that the Obama administration did not just reject requests for extra security, but “systematically decreased existing security to dangerous and ineffective levels . . . to effectuate a policy of ‘normalization’ in Libya after the conclusion of its civil war.”69 This was reckless disregard for human life, an element of involuntary manslaughter. And the manslaughter followed.
September 11, 2012, marked the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks that toppled the World Trade Center towers, tore a gaping hole in the Pentagon, and ended some three thousand American lives. American embassies throughout the New Obama Middle East came under attack.
While the United States mourned, al-Qaeda acted. On September 10, al-Qaeda released a video of leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calling for revenge against America for the drone strike on jihadist Abu Yahya al-Libi. The next day, in Egypt, Mohammed al-Zawahiri, younger brother of Zawahiri, helped organize protests at the American embassy in Cairo; the Egyptians, thoroughly infiltrated by al-Qaeda, stormed the walls. “Obama! Obama! We are all Osama!” they chanted. In Yemen, on September 13, al-Qaeda fighters stormed the U.S. embassy after Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani called for action. In Tunisia, on September 14, al-Qaeda terrorist Seifallah ben Hassine led an assault on the U.S. embassy, storming it and raising the black al-Qaeda flag on top.70
The Wall Street Journal, however, reported that the protests weren’t based on pure terrorism, but on Muslim rage over a ridiculous YouTube video titled “Innocence of Muslims,” which had already been up on the Internet for months, and which had received virtually no attention. The video portrayed the Prophet Muhammad as a homosexual engaging in slavery and extramarital sex. Pastor Terry Jones in Florida, who famously burned the Koran on several occasions, said that he would screen the film on September 11.
This prompted apologetics from the State Department for the First Amendment. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” Hillary Clinton said, adding, “But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”71 Meanwhile, in Egypt, the U.S. embassy began signaling its own sorrow over “Innocence of Muslims.” “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions,” the embassy said in a statement on September 11. “Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”72
The odd focus on a bad trailer for a never-produced Muhammad movie would become the sole basis for an enormous cover-up by the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Chris Stevens was visiting Benghazi. Stevens, who became ambassador to Libya in May 2012, had come to Benghazi on September 10, 2012, for vague reasons—supposedly to connect with contacts. According to the House Oversight Committee, Stevens could also have been visiting to assess the security situation. On September 11, twenty-eight U.S. personnel were present at the mission and at the annex.
That night, Stevens met with the Turkish consul general Ali Sait Akin. He escorted him from the building at approximately 8:35 p.m. It is worth noting again that just three days later, the single biggest shipment of weapons from Libya designated for Syria arrived in Turkey.73
Less than an hour later, armed terrorists breached the front gate of the mission, setting the guard house and diplomatic building on fire. These were members of Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda—the presence of whom the United States government was well aware. A State Department officer at the mission notified the CIA annex nearby, the Tripoli embassy, and the State Department headquarters of the assault.
During the attack, Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and a diplomatic security agent were in the main mission building; within twenty minutes, Stevens, Smith, and the DS agent had been incapacitated by smoke inhalation. They tried to escape by crawling to a window. The DS agent crawled out the window, but realized he’d lost Stevens and Smith. Under heavy fire, he went into the building over and over again searching for them. He also used his radio to request help, which came in the form of security officers from elsewhere in the complex.74
According to Fox News, former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was at the CIA annex when he heard the violence break out at the mission, which was about a mile away. He and others told their superiors and asked for permission to help. They were reportedly told to “stand down” twice. Eventually, Woods and others ignored the orders and headed over to the mission.75
By 10:05 p.m., the CIA team including Woods had left for the mission. The team faced down gunfire and RPG attack while trying to find Stevens and Smith. They found Smith’s body, but couldn’t find Stevens. At 11:15 p.m., they began an evacuation of the remaining staff.
The higher-ups at the American government had to know what was going on at this point. At 10:32 p.m., an officer at the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center relayed a message to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. At 11:00 p.m., Panetta and Dempsey met with President Obama.76
By 11:10, Defense Department drones were monitoring the situation from overhead.77 According to CBS News, Defense Department officials considered sending in troops to help save the Benghazi survivors, but ultimately decided not to; thanks to the drones, U.S. military officials could watch the attack in real-time.78
At midnight, the CIA team reportedly returned to the CIA annex and called for more military support because they were taking fire there, too. Fox News reported, “The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according to 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 Spectre 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 CIA denied Fox News’s report.79
Meanwhile, the State Department was considering whether to send the so-called Foreign Emergency Support Team to Benghazi. FEST, known as “the U.S. Government’s only interagency, on-call, short-notice team poised to respond to terrorist incidents worldwide,” was ready to go. According to officials, Hillary’s deputy, Patrick Kennedy—the same man who had rejected additional security requests in August—said no. FEST was already “packing” to leave when they were “told they were not deploying by Patrick Kennedy’s front office. . . . In hindsight . . . I probably would’ve pushed the button,” the official told CBS News. The National Security Council also failed to convene the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG) to discuss the situation—the CSG likely would have recommended sending FEST. But NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor said that the CSG was unnecessary because “[f]rom the moment [President Obama] was briefed on the Benghazi attack, the response effort was handled by the most senior national security officials in government. Members of the CSG were of course involved in these meetings and discussions to support their bosses.”80
At 12:30 a.m., seven U.S. personnel—six security personnel and a translator—departed Tripoli, arriving in Benghazi at 1:30 a.m. By this point, Panetta was back at the Pentagon meeting with Dempsey and General Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the branch responsible for military activities in Libya. Panetta then ordered deployment of two Marine Corps Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons from Rota, Spain, to Benghazi; a U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Combatant Commander’s in-Extremis Force (CIF) to a staging base in southern Europe, within flight distance of Libya; and a special ops force to a staging base in southern Europe. Only at 2:53 a.m. did the special ops force receive authorization to deploy.
At 5:15 a.m., the seven-man team arrived at the annex, at which point terrorists opened fire with mortars, killing Navy SEALs Woods and Glenn Doherty, and wounding two other Americans. At 6:05 a.m., thirty-one survivors were evacuated.81
During this entire time, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were virtually absent. Neither has spelled out their activities that night. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted that the president met with him and Dempsey once for half an hour that night, then never checked in the rest of the night.82 Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Greg Hicks—the man who became the top State Department official in Libya the moment Stevens was killed—testified that he spoke with Clinton directly at 2 a.m. Benghazi time. He told her about the terrorist attack, and was concerned that Stevens might be in terrorist custody, necessitating a rescue operation. Hicks didn’t yet know that Stevens was dead. At no point was a YouTube video mentioned. That was the last time Hicks spoke with Clinton. She never called him back.83 There is likely a tape of the 2 a.m. call between Hicks and Clinton. It has not been released.
The immediate aftermath of the attack in Benghazi turned to bureaucratic infighting. Defense secretary Panetta blamed the State Department and said that President Obama had ordered that “all available DOD assets” be made available for protection of personnel on the ground. So why weren’t the assets present? According to Panetta, the State Department never asked for them.84 But Hicks testified that he requested that four Green Berets fly to Benghazi for additional protection. “People in Benghazi had been fighting all night,” Hicks explained. “They were tired, exhausted. We wanted to make sure the airport was secure for their withdrawal.” The team leader, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Gibson, called Special Operations Command Africa to tell them that his unit intended to head to Benghazi. Instead, he was told to remain in Tripoli. “Colonel Gibson and his three personnel were—were getting in the cars, he stopped. And he called them off and said—told me that he had not been authorized to go. The vehicles had to go because the flight needed to go to Tripoli—I mean, to Benghazi. Lieutenant Colonel Gibson was furious. I had told him to go bring our people home. That’s what he wanted to do,” Hicks testified.85 The Defense Department claimed “there was nothing this team could have done to assist during the second attack in Benghazi.”86
The fact that no military was deployed to the hot zone during the seven-hour attack was unthinkable. Military assets were just hours away in Italy. Nordstrom testified, “The ferocity and intensity of the attack was nothing that we had seen in Libya, or that I had seen in my time in the Diplomatic Security Service.”87 Yet aside from that one team from Tripoli, which included Glenn Doherty, there was no show of force from outside Benghazi. A special ops whistle-blower told Fox News that the military had a team ready to scramble from Croatia. That would have taken some four to six hours. The attack lasted for seven hours.88
So far, the Obama administration had committed violations of the Espionage Act and the Arms Control Export Act, and had participated in involuntary manslaughter. Now it was time for the cover-up, which would require witness intimidation, among other crimes.
In the aftermath of the death of four Americans, including the first ambassador killed since 1979, the Obama team knew that they had to cover up what had happened. After all, their leader was in the midst of a dogfight with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney—the two were neck and neck in the polls—and one of Obama’s chief talking points was his supposed devastation of al-Qaeda around the globe. Between September 11, 2012, and November 1, 2012, Obama said some thirty-two times that al-Qaeda was “decimated” or “on the path to defeat.” The day after the Benghazi attacks, on September 12, 2012, Obama appeared in Las Vegas at a campaign event, where he triumphantly announced, “A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises about the New York skyline, but al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead.”89
The need to downplay the events in Benghazi led the administration to a fateful decision: they would pretend that what had happened in Benghazi was not the result of American support for al-Qaeda affiliates throughout the Middle East; they would pretend that what had happened was unrelated to the administration’s widespread gunrunning, and use of the Benghazi facility as a go-between for such operations; they would pretend that the Benghazi attacks were not the result of a cowardly foreign policy putting America in league with Islamists. Instead, the administration would play Benghazi as a sort of inexplicable black swan attack—the result of a crazy YouTube video. Then the administration would claim that the buck stopped with the White House, even while they shunted all blame aside.
Speaking in the Rose Garden on the day after the murders, Obama carefully parsed his language. “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None,” he solemnly intoned. The attack, he was implying, sprang from offensive language used in a YouTube video nobody had seen. Obama never used the word terrorists to describe those who had attacked the mission and annex. His only reference to terrorism came in a vague one-liner: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”90 He made clear later that night in an interview with CBS News’ Steve Kroft that he was unwilling to call Benghazi specifically an act of terrorism—although CBS News didn’t air that footage until nearly two months had passed.91
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, issued a statement repeating the notion that a YouTube video had caused terrorists to murder four Americans. “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation,” the statement read. Hillary cut a video that was distributed in Pakistan condemning the YouTube video. It cost seventy thousand dollars to run on Pakistani television.92 Two days after the attack, according to Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Hillary screamed at members of Congress who suggested that Benghazi had been a terrorist attack.93
When Mitt Romney had the temerity to rip the Obama administration’s response—he called it “disgraceful” that the administration’s “first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks”—the media quickly pounced on him, suggesting that he was politicizing the event. All of this was part and parcel of the Obama campaign’s effort to distract from the real issues at stake in Benghazi.94
The administration went whole hog in pushing the narrative that Benghazi had sprung from the YouTube video. At the event at Andrews Air Force Base greeting the bodies of the slain, Clinton approached Charles Woods, the father of murdered Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods. “She said we will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted,” Woods describes.95 Obama, said Woods, couldn’t look him in the eye. On September 27, the YouTube filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was arrested and labeled a “danger to the community.”96
On the Sunday after the attacks, UN ambassador Susan Rice appeared on all five Sunday morning news shows in place of her unavailable boss, Hillary Clinton. It was one thing for Hillary to sit before the cameras to crow about Qaddafi; it was quite another for her to answer questions about Benghazi. Rice told ABC’s This Week, “[O]ur current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous—not a premeditated—response to what had transpired in Cairo . . . folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to—or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in—in the wake of the revolution in Libya are—are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.” A spontaneous protest that appears in precisely zero of the cables or phone calls from Benghazi suddenly became the source of the terrorist assault.97 Rice repeated this language on CBS’s Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday, NBC’s Meet the Press, and CNN’s State of the Union.98
There was only one big problem for the Obama administration: it was obvious to everyone with half a brain that the terrorist attacks in Benghazi had nothing to do with a YouTube video. Almost immediately, reports began surfacing that there was no spontaneous demonstration, and that this had been a precalibrated terrorist action. So how did Rice end up on television as the mouthpiece for such lies?
The administration manipulated the talking points handed to Rice. More specifically, Hillary Clinton’s State Department changed the talking points. The talking points went through twelve revisions; one version, which contained CIA warnings about mission insecurity, so upset State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that she emailed back that the warnings “could be used by Members [of Congress] to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that? Concerned . . .” After another round of changes, Nuland wrote, “These don’t resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership.” Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs David S. Adams agreed with Nuland: “That last bullet especially will read to members [of Congress] like we had been repeatedly warned.”
All twelve versions of the talking points said that the Benghazi attacks were “spontaneously inspired by protest in Cairo”—that language came from the CIA, the same entity allegedly responsible for administration-approved gunrunning in Libya. But then the administration morphed the talking points further to mislead the American people, removing language stating that Ansar al-Sharia was involved in the attack and that the CIA had warned of the attack. Another line removed from the talking points: “The wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly contributed to the lethality of the attacks.”99 As the House Oversight Committee found, “The Administration’s talking points were developed in an interagency process that focused more on protecting the reputation and credibility of the State Department than on explaining to the American people the facts surrounding the fatal attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel in Libya. . . . This process to alter the talking points can only be construed as a deliberate effort to mislead Congress and the American people.”100 Jay Carney, however, would later label the talking points manipulation apolitical.101
It took more than a week before the administration began calling the attacks in Benghazi terrorist attacks.102 Even then, President Obama continued to blame the YouTube video for what had happened in Benghazi. On September 25, 2012, in an attempt to put a lid on the Benghazi scandal, Obama appeared at the United Nations. He did not label the Benghazi attacks terrorist in nature. He reemphasized America’s new pro-Islamist “lead from behind” strategy—the same strategy that brought about Benghazi in the first place: “Just as we cannot solve every problem in the world, the United States has not and will not seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad. We do not expect other nations to agree with us on every issue, nor do we assume that the violence of the past weeks or the hateful speech by some individuals represent the views of the overwhelming majority of Muslims, any more than the views of the people who produced this video represents those of Americans.” He equated the violence of the Muslim world with the YouTube video: “The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt. . . . The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Over the course of the speech, he mentioned the YouTube video six times.103
In the end, of course, the YouTube video had nothing to do with anything. The administration essentially knew that all along. When push came to shove, however, the administration’s perspective on its lies about the YouTube video was simple: push Benghazi beyond the election, blame it on a YouTube video, then pretend it made no difference anyway. Even before the election, President Obama derided Benghazi as a “bump in the road” to CBS News’ Steve Kroft and deigned to admit that the death of four Americans was “not optimal” in an interview with Jon Stewart.104 The administration truly didn’t care all that much. As Hillary Clinton put it when testifying before a Senate committee in May 2013, “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans. . . .What difference—at this point, what difference does it make?”105
It made a hell of a lot of difference, considering that the nature of the attack meant the difference between involuntary manslaughter and simple negligence: if the attack had been a spontaneous black swan, the administration could credibly claim no one could have stopped it. But the administration knew full well the situation on the ground in Benghazi, and for base political reasons, decided to do nothing.
Hicks told Congress that the administration’s decision to blame everything on the YouTube video—a decision he said made his “jaw hit the floor”—completely undercut relations with the government of Libya. Libya had claimed immediately that this was a terrorist attack. “President [Mohamed] Magariaf was insulted in front of his own people, in front of the world,” Hicks said. “His credibility was reduced. His ability to lead his own country was damaged. . . . He was angry. A friend of mine who ate dinner with him in New York during the UN sessions told me he was still steamed about the talk shows two weeks later.” That anger, Hicks said, led to an eighteen-day delay in the FBI’s access to Benghazi.106
While the Obama administration was trotting out lies about YouTube and obscuring any hint of gunrunning in Libya, they had to keep everyone quiet. They accomplished this in two ways. First, following a pattern established in every major Obama scandal, the administration appointed a group of flunkies to perform an investigation—an investigation that naturally exculpated the administration. Second, the administration actively worked to silence witnesses who knew anything.
First, the investigation. White House press secretary Jay Carney did admit shortly before the election that Obama didn’t care too much about the investigation; Carney said, “He has not participated in the investigation.”107 But the State Department, led by Hillary, quickly announced an Accountability Review Board (ARB) led by Hillary allies. Four were picked directly by Hillary: former UN ambassador Thomas Pickering, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Catherine Bertini, and Richard Shinnick. The fifth was selected by the intelligence community—the CIA. Clinton, needless to say, was never interviewed by the ARB. And the report did not even bother trying to lock down President Obama’s timeline during the attacks.108 Pickering later defended the decision not to interview Hillary by stating that there was no need to do so: “We knew where the responsibility rested.” And they did: anyplace but Hillary.109
Whistle-blowers including Mark Thompson, the deputy assistant secretary in charge of coordinating the deployment of a multiagency team for hostage taking and terrorism attacks, were not interviewed. Even those who were interviewed were not allowed to review their comments afterward, and the interviews were not performed with a stenographer. And those performing the ARB were obviously biased in favor of Hillary—when Hicks was interviewed and informed the ARB that Stevens was in Benghazi at Hillary’s direct behest, Pickering “visibly flinched and said; ‘Does the 7th floor know about this?’?” Hillary’s office was on the seventh floor of the building. The ARB ignored Hicks’s remarks and instead wrote, “The Board found that Ambassador Stevens made the decision to travel to Benghazi independently of Washington, per standard practice. Timing for his trip was driven in part by commitments in Tripoli, as well as a staffing gap . . . in Benghazi.”110
The ARB did find plenty of blame to go around. “Systemic 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 ARB stated. But all of the blame could be relegated to low-level employees. And those low-level employees were not to be punished: “the Board did not find that any individual U.S. Government employee engaged in misconduct or willfully ignored his or her responsibilities, and, therefore did not find reasonable cause to believe that an individual breached his or her duty so as to be the subject of a recommendation for disciplinary action.”111 A congressional report would later find that the ARB report was not independent, and that it was designed to exculpate those in charge: “The ARB blamed systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies within two bureaus, but downplayed the importance of decisions made at senior levels of the Department. Witnesses questioned how much these decisions influenced the weaknesses that led to the inadequate security posture in Benghazi. . . . The ARB’s decision to cite certain officials as accountable for what happened in Benghazi appears to have been based on factors that had little or no connection to the security posture at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya.”112
Nonetheless, Jay Carney said the report was the gold standard in investigations: “The Accountability Review Board which investigated this matter—and I think in no one’s estimation sugarcoated what happened there or pulled any punches when it came to holding accountable individuals that they felt had not successfully executed their responsibilities—heard from everyone and invited everyone. So there was a clear indication there that everyone who had something to say was welcome to provide information to the Accountability Review Board.”113 Mullen and Pickering released a statement: “From the beginning of the ARB process, we had unfettered access to everyone and everything, including all of the documentation we needed. Our marching orders were to get to the bottom of what happened, and that is what we did.”114 The White House continued to refuse to release photos of the Obama team during the Benghazi attack, though the White House had been all too eager to trot out pictures of the entire Obama crew in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden.115
Throughout all of this, Hillary claimed ignorance: ignorance about the security situation, ignorance about what was really going on on the ground. “I have made it very clear that the security cables did not come to my attention or above the assistant secretary level, where the ARB placed responsibility. Where, as I think Ambassador Pickering said, ‘the rubber hit the road,’?” she told Congress. She added, “You know . . . it was very disappointing to me that the ARB concluded there were inadequacies and problems in the responsiveness of our team here in Washington to the security requests that were made by our team in Libya. And I was not aware of that going on, it was not brought to my attention. . . . 1.43 million cables a year come to the State Department. They are all addressed to me. They do not all come to me. They are reported through the bureaucracy.” But she had signed a cable herself approving a drawdown in April, and Stevens had sent her a signed cable in August.116 Perhaps all of this got lost in the shuffle. Or perhaps, and more likely, it was part of an administration policy not to up security lest they offend the locals by doing so.
Senator Rand Paul questions whether Clinton is as ignorant as she claims. He wrote in August 2013, “Does anyone really believe that Hillary Clinton, said to be the leading supporter of arming the Islamic rebels, did not know of the CIA operation?”117
If the administration was not guilty of a cover-up, they certainly did an excellent job looking guilty. On August 1, 2013, CNN reported that “dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground” the night of the Benghazi attack, and that the CIA had been systematically attempting to shut them up ever since. According to CNN sources, “the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.” Those lengths reportedly included polygraph examinations on a monthly basis, with the purpose of finding out if anybody had leaked to the media or Congress. “It is being described as pure intimidation,” CNN observed, “with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.” One CIA insider told CNN, “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.” Naturally, the CIA denied that it had exerted any pressure on agents.118 Meanwhile, in September 2013, one year after the initial attacks, CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson reported that the State Department had decided not to “honor the request to make Benghazi survivors available for questioning.”119
In July 2013, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CBS News that officials within the military and intelligence echelons had been barred from taking action on pursuing leads in the Benghazi case.120 Meanwhile, Hicks was barred for months from speaking with Congress or the media. “I was instructed to allow the RSO [Regional Security Officer], the acting Deputy Chief of Mission, and myself to be interviewed by Congressman [Jason] Chaffetz [of the House Oversight Committee],” Hicks testified. Hicks said that he had never experienced a higher-up telling him not to speak with Congress. Hicks also testified that a State Department lawyer attempted to enter a classified briefing Hicks attended with the congresspeople visiting Libya; Hicks tried to bar the lawyer because the lawyer didn’t have the proper security clearance. That prompted a screaming phone call from Hillary Clinton’s right-hand woman, Cheryl Mills. Hicks said Mills was “very upset” about the lawyers being excluded,” and “demanded a report on the visit.” Hicks wryly concluded, “A phone call from that near a person is generally not considered to be good news.”121 Hicks was called back from Libya. As of September 2013—a year after the attacks—he had not been reassigned to a post in the State Department. “I don’t know why I was punished,” Hicks told ABC News. “I don’t know why I was shunted aside, put in a closet if you will.”122
The administration also attempted to throw White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler under the bus, suggesting to Obama-favored outlet BuzzFeed that Ruemmler had told “senior Obama officials to keep quiet about the attack in Benghazi during the two weeks preceding last year’s November presidential election.”123
Reporters who asked serious questions about Benghazi were castigated by the administration. Hillary henchman Philippe Reines told BuzzFeed reporter Michael Hastings to “f— off” and called him an “unmitigated a—hole” after Hastings emailed him asking about the administration’s angry reaction to release of details about Ambassador Stevens’s diary.124 The rest of the media quickly got the hint. CBS News, which has a habit of reading the Obama administration’s tea leaves (see Steve Kroft’s cut to the Obama interview about Benghazi above), began signaling that intrepid reporter Sharyl Attkisson had sinned against the Obama administration by asking questions about Benghazi. Politico, another favored Obama outlet, reported that CBS News execs had “grown increasingly frustrated with Attkisson’s Benghazi campaign. CBS News executives see Attkisson wading dangerously close to advocacy on the issue.” Politico reported that Attkisson’s increasing marginalization was one reason she might leave before her contract expired.125 Overall, the media’s coverage of Benghazi was so scanty before the election that it can only be labeled shilling for a campaign. Even the New York Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, later recognized the problem: “I agree that The Times seemed to play down the story originally, placing it inside the paper and emphasizing the second-day angle of the [embassy] apology rather than the misconduct itself. . . . Many on the right—as noted last week in my blog posts about Benghazi—do not think they can get a fair shake from The Times. This coverage won’t do anything to dispel that belief.”126
The media allowed the Obama administration to bury Benghazi as an issue for months. By the time it came up again in mid-2013, the Obama administration simply declared it a distraction. White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer informed Fox News Sunday in May 2013 that it was “irrelevant” where Obama was the night of the attacks. He blamed “a series of conspiracy theories Republicans have been spinning about it since the time it happened. . . . The question here is not what happened that night.”127 A few days later, Obama reiterated that “the core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the path to defeat. . . . They did not direct the attacks in Benghazi.” He called Benghazi a “localized threat.”128
With President Obama safely reelected, the entire Democratic establishment came to the aid of their New Great White Hope 2016, Hillary Clinton. Despite the fact that State Department regulations clearly place responsibility for employee security on the secretary of state, it now turned out that Hillary was clean as a whistle, a wronged woman desperately pursued by a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) admitted that the “talking points were wrong,” but called Rand Paul’s attacks on Clinton “nonsense.” Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) suggested that Benghazi hearings in Congress were a “political show” and said that Republicans were going “after Hillary Clinton” to stop her nomination in 2016. He said that the investigation was a “witch hunt.” Former Obama secretary of defense Robert Gates said he didn’t think there was any cover-up at all, defending Ambassador Susan Rice in the process.129 Pfeiffer said that Republicans owed Rice “an apology . . . for accusing her of misleading the country.”130
The media took its cues perfectly. Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central, who plays a parodic right-winger, suggested that the Benghazi scandal was just old news, and right-wing paranoia at that: “Since last September, Fox News has been pursuing this story doggedly. To uncover how the administration blew it, when they blew it, why they blew [it], and how they will continue to have blown it. And, most importantly, how is this car still burning? I mean, it’s been eight months? . . .Well, buckle up, folks, click click, because this story is about to take off like a rocket ship to Planet Scandaltown.”131 The night of May 8, after Hicks and two other whistle-blowers testified before Congress, CNN spent four hours and nine minutes covering the Jodi Arias trial and the Cleveland abduction story. They spent eight minutes on Benghazi. Anderson Cooper ignored the story for two hours. So did Piers Morgan.132 On May 10, just to ensure that the media continued to perform lapdog duty, White House press secretary Jay Carney held a “deep background” briefing for fourteen invited press outlets. Deep background, explained White House spokesman Josh Earnest, meant “that the info presented by the briefers can be used in reporting but the briefers can’t be quoted.” And so the propaganda machine rolled on.133
Throughout the Benghazi events and cover-up, Obama administration officials consistently echoed the same refrain: let’s not focus on what happened, let’s focus on solving the problem. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, on October 12, 2012, Carney said that President Obama was “committed to finding out what happened. He is committed to making sure that those who killed four Americans are brought to justice, and he is committed to ensuring that actions are taken after the Accountability Review Board thoroughly assesses this matter, to make sure that what happened in Benghazi never happens again.”134 Hillary Clinton concluded her disgusting “What difference does it make” routine with a call to fix the issues: “It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.”135
So, what happened to those involved?
To begin, not a single person was fired from the administration over Benghazi. Eric Boswell, head of the Diplomatic Security Bureau, supposedly resigned in December 2012; Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, was reportedly disciplined, as was Raymond Maxwell, a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. An unnamed fourth person in the Diplomatic Security Bureau was also supposedly disciplined. But a spokeswoman for Senator Paul’s office said that “our staff has confirmed with Legislative Affairs at State that all four individuals called out by the ARB are still on administrative leave, getting paid, and expected to return to work.” The media initially denied those reports.136 But in August 2013, just eight months after the supposed resignations, new secretary of state John Kerry cleared all four State Department employees. They were all placed back in regular duty and all disciplinary action was revoked. According to a State Department official, “[Secretary Kerry] studied their careers and studied the facts. In order to implement the ARB and to continue to turn the page and shift the paradigm inside the Department, the four employees who were put on administrative leave last December pending further review, will be reassigned inside the State Department.”137
Here’s what happened to everyone else involved:
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland: Nuland, who helped manipulate the Benghazi talking points, was promoted to assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.138 Republican senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham lauded her as “knowledgeable and well-versed on the major foreign policy issues as well as respected by foreign policy experts in both parties.”139
UN Ambassador Susan Rice: Rice, who actually trotted out those talking points, was originally considered for secretary of state when Clinton stepped down. After Republicans suggested that her involvement in the Benghazi scandal made her a poor choice, President Obama’s congressional allies suggested that Republicans were racists and sexists.140 President Obama eventually appointed Rice his national security advisor, but only after stating that Republicans should stop picking on Rice, since she was an “easy target.”141
State Department staffer G. Kathleen Hill: Hill, who objected by email to Eric Nordstrom’s requests for more security, was awarded the State Department James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence. The award is given for “leadership, intellectual skills, managerial ability, and personal qualities that most fully exemplify the standards of excellence desired of employees at the mid-career level. The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State.”142 State magazine lauded her for her “courage and vision during the establishment of a new base of operations in Libya and the opening of Embassy Tripoli.”143
Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy: Kennedy, who turned down requests for security and reportedly killed requests for the quick-response FEST team during the attacks, has retained his position. He is currently under investigation by an independent inspector general for allegedly covering up former ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman’s alleged involvement with prostitutes and child sex solicitation.144
CIA director David Petraeus: Petraeus took over the CIA only five days before Benghazi. Petraeus’s CIA drafted the original Benghazi talking points. The CIA ran the annex in Benghazi. The CIA helped run the alleged gunrunning operation. Petraeus was dropped like a hot potato by the administration as soon as the election was over, supposedly over his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell. He quickly told Congress that the events in Benghazi had nothing to do with a YouTube video.145
CIA Director Michael Morell: Morell, who had a chief role in editing the Benghazi talking points, was interim head of the CIA before Petraeus’s appointment and was reappointed interim head of the CIA after Petraeus left. He would eventually leave the administration in June 2013.146
Secretary of Defense and former CIA director Leon Panetta: Panetta, who served as CIA director during the Libya war and during the period in which gunrunning operations allegedly took place, served until February 2013 as secretary of defense. He said he wanted to return to his “walnut farm.” In announcing his resignation, he echoed Obama: “We have . . . decimated al Qaeda’s leadership and weakened their effort to attack this country.”147
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey: Dempsey, who oversaw the military response to Benghazi, is still in place.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Clinton left office as the 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner, and perhaps the most celebrated secretary of state in American history, despite her dramatic failures including Benghazi. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush presented Hillary Clinton with the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in September 2013. “Former Secretary Clinton has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy,” Bush stated.148 In her resignation letter, Clinton stated, “I am more convinced than ever in the strength and staying power of America’s global leadership and our capacity to be a force for good in the world.” The day before her resignation, she told the Associated Press, “I was so unhappy with the way that some people refused to accept the facts, refused to accept the findings of an independent Accountability Review Board, politicized everything about this terrible attack. . . . There are some people in politics and in the press who can’t be confused by the facts. They just will not live in an evidence-based world. And that’s regrettable. It’s regrettable for our political system and for the people who serve our government in very dangerous, difficult circumstances.”149
President Obama: Barack Obama continues to downplay the events in Benghazi. When asked in August 2013 why nobody had been arrested in the Benghazi attacks, Obama sneered, “I also said that we’d get bin Laden, and I didn’t get him in 11 months.” He then added, “Anybody who attacks Americans, anybody who kills, tragically, four Americans who were serving us in a very dangerous place, we’re going to do everything we can to get those who carried out those attacks.”150
Unless, of course, we’re funding them, handing them guns, and then ensuring that our security is too low to protect sovereign U.S. territory overseas.
In August 2013, the week before President Obama made those statements, the United States received word of heightened terror threats from al-Qaeda. The Obama administration promptly shut down twenty-two embassies around the world.
Bin Laden was still dead. But al-Qaeda was very much alive, thanks in no small part to the Obama administration.
In 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were put on trial for smuggling nuclear secrets to the Russians. Technically, the United States and the Soviet Union were not at war, so they could not be tried for treason. Nonetheless, in 1953, they were executed under the Espionage Act of 1917, which prohibited transferring to a foreign government any information “relating to the national defense.” Judge Irving Kaufman said, upon giving sentence:
I consider your crime worse than murder. . . . I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-Bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason. Indeed, by your betrayal you undoubtedly have altered the course of history to the disadvantage of our country.151
On September 14, 2001, three days after the devastating terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Congress of the United States passed by a House vote of 420–1 and a Senate vote of 98–0 the Authorization for Use of Military Force. It authorized the use of force against America’s enemies: “nations, organizations, or persons he [the president] determines planned, authorized, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” The goal: “to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States.”152
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg did not hand over an atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. The Obama administration has authorized a foreign policy of handing over weapons themselves to the very group of people who perpetrated September 11, as well as their Islamist associates. There is little or no evidence that the Obama administration has complied with its duty to receive congressional authorization for such covert acts. By funneling weapons to Libyan terrorists openly associated with al-Qaeda and pushing weapons through Libya to Syrian terrorists openly associated with al-Qaeda, the Obama administration was playing with treasonous fire.
That treasonous fire burned four Americans to death in Benghazi on the eleventh anniversary of September 11. The feckless foreign policy of the Obama administration did not just embolden America’s enemies, it handed guns to them. And then, when our American-funded al-Qaeda enemies turned on us, that feckless foreign policy recommended that we keep security low so as not to offend the terrorists openly working with those who flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Any charges associated with gun smuggling to terrorist groups in violation of American law would not require separate RICO charges. Such charges could spring from the Arms Control Export Act (AECA), which explicitly provides that the United States cannot provide guns or credit to countries supporting terrorism. There is no question that President Obama’s administration did this, and did it repeatedly. In fact, President Obama essentially admitted as much when, in September 2013, he attempted to retroactively justify that gun smuggling by waiving the applicable provision under the AECA.153
But the crimes didn’t stop there.
When it became obvious that revelations about what really happened in Benghazi could undermine President Obama’s bid for reelection, deputies throughout his administration began covering up the evidence: silencing witnesses, threatening agents, and lying to the American people. Then those same lackeys had the temerity to label the entire debacle a distraction from the real issues of the day, and to blame those who wanted the truth for supposed conspiracy-mongering.
This is where RICO comes in. The RICO Act explicitly lists among its predicate crimes obstruction of justice (certainly the highly flawed Accountability Review Board would fall under this provision, as would the Obama administration’s repeated attempts to silence witnesses to the Benghazi events);154 tampering with a witness, victim, or informant; and terrorism-related offenses, among others.
There is no question who designed the strategy of attempting to ingratiate the United States to its enemies overseas—and there is little question that President Obama and Hillary Clinton had an inkling of just what was happening in Benghazi. There is no doubt that Clinton in particular had direct contact with Gregory Hicks, a witness involved in the event, and that her direct operatives tampered with witnesses. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is still staffed by the same men and women who made the despicable decisions that led to Benghazi in the first place.
By their betrayal, the Obama administration has undoubtedly altered the course of history to the disadvantage of our country and is guilty of espionage.