February 11, 2013

“CIA Nominee John Brennan’s ‘Secret War’ And What Really Happened In Benghazi”

Is it special prosecutor time yet, or is Obama still too historic and popular for the GOP to bother doing the right thing and get definitive answers?

From the NYPost:

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the US consulate because of a secret low-level war in which American hit squads took out leaders of al Qaeda militias, which retaliated in Benghazi. There was never a protest at the consulate over the infamous anti-Islamist YouTube video.

So says the new 80-page e-book, “Benghazi: The Definitive Report” (William Morrow) by Jack Murphy and Brandon Webb, two military veterans who specialize in reporting about clandestine operations at the website SOFREP.com. Their book, which they say is based on interviews with well-placed security types but contains virtually no checkable sourcing, is loaded with explosive allegations.

The fall of Moammar Khadafy presented a tricky situation for us: Khadafy, though a despot to his own people, had nevertheless been cooperating with the US, which among other favors was granted the right to use Libyan territory for CIA black sites.

Moreover, the opposition to Khadafy wasn’t exactly led by a gang of Libyan George Washingtons. Many of the rebel leaders were sharia-loving members of al Qaeda who had come from jihadist strongholds in the cities of Derna and Benghazi, which are so tied up in Islamist fundamentalism that they were major exporters of guerilla warriors who fought the US in Iraq.

Having helped to engineer the ouster of Khadafy with air strikes left Obama with the problem of a revitalized al Qaeda springing up to fill the void.

Obama gave his chief counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, who is now the nominee to be the next leader of the CIA, a blank check. Brennan could do just about whatever he needed to do in North Africa and the Mideast, contend Murphy and Webb. Brennan chose to conduct a dangerous classified war without looping in Stevens, who paid with his life for his ignorance, according to the book.

The Joint Special Operations Command, which Brennan controls, is a collection of special forces outside of the regular military command originally formed as a hostage-rescue team. But in the middle of last summer, say Murphy and Webb, troops operating clandestinely under JSOC began infiltrating Libya.

“With the first phase of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) all but over,” say Murphy and Webb, “JSOC was starting in on ‘GWOT Season 2,’ as it were, where North Africa was seen as the most dangerous hub of terrorist activity.”

Murphy and Webb go on to make a shocking charge: “The nature of these operations remains highly classified. They were never intended to be known to anyone outside a very small circle in the Special Operations community and within Obama’s National Security Council. Ambassador Stevens, the CIA chief of station in Tripoli and then-director of the CIA, Gen. [David] Petraeus, had little if any knowledge about these JSOC missions.”

Secret missions being conducted behind the back of the nation’s spymaster? The fog of war is one thing. Blindfolding members of your own team is something else. Especially if some of those who were kept ignorant wound up dead.

With the tacit backing of a minimally involved Obama, Brennan conducted paramilitary operations that were “ ‘off the books’ in the sense that they were not coordinated through the Pentagon or other governmental agencies, including the CIA,” contend Murphy and Webb.

Brennan’s hit squads were assigned to take out individual al Qaeda chiefs within Libya without drawing too much attention to themselves. The Benghazi attack was “blowback” from these covert operations, say Murphy and Webb. Stevens and the others were pawns in a mini-war they didn’t even know was happening.

The authors present a detailed account of the events of the night of Sept. 11, 2012 that they say they got from unidentified people with first-hand knowledge.

Ambassador Chris Stevens, as he revealed in his diary, was well aware of jihadist dangers in the area: Some 50 “security incidents” ranging from failed homemade bomb attacks to rocket-propelled grenade strikes on Western institutions had taken place in the city between mid-2011 and mid-2012.

But Stevens was unaware of the extent to which Brennan’s secret campaign had stirred up the al Qaeda militias, the book alleges.

The defenses at the consulate (actually a temporary mission facility, the authors point out, meaning it wasn’t meant to be a permanent diplomatic home) were light, considering the long string of violent incidents that had taken place in the area that year.

Around 9 p.m. came an attack that would carry on through the night. The consulate’s first line of defense was four locally hired security guards and another man on the front gate. All five of these rent-a-cops, who were armed only with baseball bats and no firearms, immediately fled when the attack began. One of them, Murphy and Webb say, may even have opened the gates for the dozens of armed al Qaeda fighters who came swarming into the compound.

That left Ambassador Stevens and IT worker Sean Smith defended only by five inexperienced Diplomatic Security Service agents. When Stevens and Smith fled to a safe room, the attackers smoked them out by lighting up diesel fuel. Smith and Stevens eventually choked to death on the smoke.

Meanwhile, DSS agents called for help from the nearest Americans, at a CIA compound defended by much more experienced security men. Team leader Ty Woods, who had spent 20 years in the Navy SEALs, in minutes put together a plan in which he and five others would load up their weapons in a pair of armored Toyota Land Cruisers. Woods had a heated discussion about his rescue mission with his CIA boss, who opposed the idea, though the authors say it’s unclear whether Woods simply ignored orders or persuaded his superior to change his mind.

The plan was to park outside the consulate, climb over the walls and ambush the attackers with a machine gun, rifles and grenades called “golden eggs.” At first, it worked beautifully. Many of the jihadists were killed and others were confused and scrambling for cover. The authors estimate more than 100 attackers were killed in total.

Woods took the opportunity to evacuate the DSS agents at the compound, putting them in a Land Cruiser and directing them back to the local CIA building.

Woods told them to turn right outside the consulate: “Do not go left into bad guy land,” he said. Confused, they turned left anyway and took on heavy gunfire, though the vehicle’s armor held up and they eventually made it to the CIA hideout.

At the consulate, Woods entered the blazing building in which Smith and Stevens had hidden when the terrorists’ assault began. Woods found Smith, who was unconscious and would shortly die.

Al Qaeda forces were regrouping. Rifle shots and rocket-propelled grenades tore into the walls around Woods, so he led his team out without ever finding Stevens. They shot their way back to their other Land Cruiser, then raced out of the compound under fire. “Their tires flattened and windows filled with the spider cracks that come with embedded lead,” the authors write. Woods and company made it back to the CIA building at 11:50 p.m.

The CIA location, unlike the consulate, was well-defended, with fighting positions, heavy weapons, skilled paramilitary personnel, floodlights designed to blind any attackers and high-paid local security. But the al Qaeda militias pressed the battle through the next day. The CIA “would rack up dozens of enemy KIA,” or killed in action, write Webb and Murphy.

“The intensity would never get to the point where the CIA thought they were at risk of being overrun; however, that would change as the sun came up.”

Meanwhile, 400 miles away, in Tripoli, Woods’ old Navy SEAL buddy Glen Doherty was rounding up the cavalry. The authors say that it’s a “media myth” that the diplomats’ cries for help were denied; in fact, at every stage of the game, aid was vigorous.

Doherty gathered up six other hard-charging warriors, found a plane and gave a pilot $30,000 cash to fly them east to Benghazi. When they arrived at the CIA compound, the gates opened for them and Doherty quickly joined Woods on the roof, where the latter was manning the MK46 machine gun with two others. Woods and Doherty “embraced like brothers,” and Woods began referring to Doherty by his call sign, “Bub.”

As Woods was thanking Doherty, though, the attackers were adjusting their mortar fire, and getting closer with each volley. A French 81 mm round ended Woods’ life, though as he fell, his body shielded another security agent, saving his life.

Doherty was killed instantly by a direct hit on his position from another mortar round.

From below, several other agents rushed up to the roof and put themselves in the line of fire while they saved the other two men’s lives. They lowered the bodies down with rope they had cut down from their gym. One JSOC agent strapped a wounded DSS man to his back, then climbed down a ladder under fire.

Everyone at the CIA compound might well have been killed if they had remained, but an unmanned intelligence drone overhead signalled, by tracing heat signatures, that a much larger hostile force was gathering.

Some 30 Americans loaded into vehicles and evacuated the area. They were fired on again during the drive to the airport, but made it and escaped to Tripoli on two flights, at 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. Sept. 12. Stevens’ body was finally recovered when a local was sent to the Benghazi morgue and “there was likely a money exchange,” the authors say, to release the remains, which were on the 8:30 plane.

So, who is to blame for Benghazi? The authors are withering on the subject of John Brennan, our likely next CIA director.

“The overrunning of the consulate and the killing of the two [Navy SEALs] must have come as a shock to” then-CIA chief David Petraeus, Murphy and Webb say. Petraeus had been cut out of the loop as Brennan passed up to Director of Central Intelligence James Clapper “the bare minimum of information needed to keep these secret missions legal.”

Since the CIA didn’t know about the secretive hit squads targeting al Qaeda, the agency and the consulate personnel were caught off guard: “They had no idea that the Special Operations missions would be kicking the hornet’s nest in Libya and therefore could not prepare for the fallout that would result.” Petraeus, the authors say, “was furious about being left in the lurch by the Obama administration.”

And we all know what happened to Petraeus.

The whole thing stinks.  I just wonder how many people are compromised, and how often this Administration has used Chicago-style politics to silence critics and warn off potential whistle blowers.

It ain’t paranoia if they really are out to get you.

(h/t geoff B)


Posted by Jeff G. @ 11:04am

Comments (12)


    Unless, Petraeus.

  2. I think this has a certain ring of truth. Obama appears to like targeted operations (drones, anyone?) rather than operations involving a lot of troops.

    Of course, we will never know what was actually going on here.

    Still, even if our activity “caused” this attack, we still should have done better at providing support.

    Something else: why the rush to blame a video in the first place? The people in question cannot seem to reason the way we do, so why bother trying to explain their latest outrage in any other terms than that they are barbarians?

  3. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the US consulate because of a secret low-level war in which American hit squads took out leaders of al Qaeda militias, which retaliated in Benghazi.

    A minor nit: Can we please take the euphemism “took out” by the scruff of its neck and fling it forcefully from the vocabulary?

    Let’s just stick with the time-tested “killed”, or “assassinated” if you prefer…

  4. Still, even if our activity “caused” this attack, we still should have done better at providing support.

    That might have exposed things that certain people didn’t want exposed. Let’s keep in mind that it took more than 3 weeks to get “official” investigative boots on the ground.

  5. yes I think a special prosecutor needs to look into this but someone with integrity not Patrick Fitzgerald or Colin Powell

  6. So Ollie North, John Poindexter and Robert McFarlane are looking on wistfully imagining what might have been.

  7. So among many other questions; what was the function of the CIA facility?
    Whatever it was, Obama and Co. certainly wanted it to remain hidden. The whole ‘it just was a protest’ line of bullsh*t likely served two purposes.

    1) Ignore that building behind the curtain.

    2) I said that Al Queda was on the run, and by God nothing is going to prove me wrong.

    Of the two the second is more likely.

  8. This account eliminates things that jarred in the timeline[s] that were presented by State/Defense. One of which was that our people left each compound when urged to leave by a Libyan militia group who were portrayed as our saviors. This I take as spin laid on by State to keep relations with Libya from falling even more apart.

    There was also, in the other accounts, the absence of any mention that anyone other than our own forces were killed or wounded which made it seem like some production from “The A Team” where there were many shots and explosions but no one got hurt.

    It looks like these two authors managed to find at least some of the 30 or so people who were there who are being kept under wraps by the administration.

    I have the Kindle version of the book coming tomorrow.

  9. Why was the ambassador in Benghazi in the first place?

    Anyone? Anyone?

  10. We know he was meeting with the Turkish ambassador.

  11. And that the attack didn’t happen till just after the Turkish ambassador left on an apparently very quiet street.

  12. Man, that account has the ring of truth.