A reporter found the evidence of our folly in the ruins of the American consulate in Benghazi, scattered on the floor where it had been overlooked by looters. Amid the rubble and ashes were documents left there since the attack — clearly State Department correspondence — including “two unsigned draft letters” both dated Sept. 11: the missives “express strong fears about the security situation” and dissatisfaction with the response from higher ups. The Rosetta Stone, so to speak — the key to understanding how and why our ambassador was murdered along with three other Americans — turns up in a letter “written on Sept. 11 and addressed to Mohamed Obeidi, the head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Benghazi,” which says in part:
“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.”
Sean Smith, State Department official (and spy), was playing an online video game when the mob began to coalesce in front of the consulate. He posted this harrowing message to the gaming forum a few hours before he was killed:
“Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”
These documents and other official correspondence were just left there, a month and a half after the attacks, and weeks after a visit from the FBI. Apparently, our G-man stayed a mere three hours, due to the complete lack of security.
As I wrote when the attack occurred:
“In her response to the attacks, Hillary Clinton was clear that this had nothing to do with the Libyan government ‘or the Libyan people.’ How did she know that so soon after the event — before even a preliminary investigation had been launched? Which is to say she didn’t know, but was merely hoping.
“Yet there is evidence of official complicity, at least at some level. When the consulate initially came under attack, the Ambassador and key personnel were moved to another building: when the rioters broke in, they found the place empty. However, the Libyan “security” team assigned to guard the compound helpfully pointed out where the Americans were located: presumably they did this in the process of fleeing. Whether they did it to save their own lives, or out of sympathy for the rioters, is an open question.”
With the discovery that these “policemen” were photographing the inside of the consulate, it looks like the question is closed. Clearly the Libyan “police” actively aided the attackers, both before and during the deadly assault. The CIA had apparently made an agreement with the “February 17 Brigade,” a Libyan militia, to mobilize a “rapid reaction force” in an emergency situation, but when the emergency occurred the Brigade was nowhere to be found — indeed, this blow-by-blow account by retired Gen. Jack Keane indicates they actively obstructed the rescue effort at a militia “checkpoint.”
As for Mr. Obeidi, he denies ever getting such a missive as is cited above, and claims he didn’t even know the ambassador was in Benghazi, and yet the local cops say they received a letter from the Ministry informing them of the visit and requesting additional security — which may have been the problem, since the “security” personnel assigned to them were apparently in league with the attackers.
In short, Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three others were killed with the active complicity of the duly constituted authorities in Benghazi. Whether the conspiracy went all the way up to the national level we don’t yet know, but this fellow Obeidi is definitely on the suspects list. And it doesn’t end there….
The security arrangements for the Benghazi consulate, and indeed for all our operations in Libya, are under scrutiny, and one detail is being seized on: the hiring of a small and little-known outfit, Blue Mountain Security, based in the UK, to guard the Benghazi consulate. This Reuters report couldn’t be more damning:
“Several of Blue Mountain’s Libyan employees told Reuters that they had no prior security training or experience. ‘I was never a revolutionary or a fighter, I have never picked up a weapon during the war or after it,’ said Abdelaziz al-Majbiri, 28, who was shot in the legs during the September 11 assault.
“The Libyan commander in charge of the local guards at the mission was a former English teacher who said he heard about Blue Mountain from a neighbor. ‘I don’t have a background in security, I’ve never held a gun in my life,’ he said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety. When hired, the commander said he was told ‘you have great English and get along with everyone and are punctual; we want you to be a guard commander.’
“The unarmed guards were told to sound the alarm over the radio and then run for cover if there was an attack, a Libyan who acted as a supervisor for the Blue Mountain local guard team at the mission said during an interview with Reuters. He also displayed a medal embossed with ‘Department of State’ and a horseman carrying Libyan and U.S. flags. ‘They thanked us for our help and also gave us this medal as an appreciation,’ he said.”
Unarmed “security” guards — who ever heard of that? How the heck did Blue Mountain get this contract? That’s the really interesting part….
The Libyan government had previously been hostile to the idea of allowing foreign security companies to operate within their borders, but modified the rules by granting access to those who could find a local (presumably Libyan) partner. Blue Mountain, described by UPI as “leading the way” for foreign mercenaries in Libya, found such a partner: the Eclipse Group, according to several news accounts. However, Eclipse isn’t “local,” not by any stretch of the imagination: the Eclipse Group is Duane Clarridge’s “private CIA,” which up until recently had a $6 million DoD contract — withdrawn after Eclipse embarked on a campaign to prove Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s drug addiction. After the cut-off of Pentagon funds, Clarridge — one of the Iran-Contra defendants, indicted and later pardoned — found undisclosed “private donors” to run his gang of international cowboys. His reports, regularly issued to Pentagon insiders and journalists, have been used to target militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan: they have also been utilized by Fox News and others to “leak” information embarrassing to the Obama administration. A New York Times profile described him thusly:
“From his days running secret wars for the C.I.A. in Central America to his consulting work in the 1990s on a plan to insert Special Operations troops in Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, Mr. Clarridge has been an unflinching cheerleader for American intervention overseas.
“Typical of his pugnacious style are his comments, provided in a 2008 interview for a documentary now on YouTube, defending many of the C.I.A.’s most notorious operations, including undermining the Chilean president Salvador Allende, before a coup ousted him 1973.
“’Sometimes, unfortunately, things have to be changed in a rather ugly way,’ said Mr. Clarridge, his New England accent becoming more pronounced the angrier he became. ‘We’ll intervene whenever we decide it’s in our national security interests to intervene. Get used to it, world. We’re not going to put up with nonsense.’”
A former CIA officer, he was the brains behind the mining of Nicaragua’s harbors during the Sandinista era and was deeply involved in recruiting for the “contra” cause. Indicted for perjury and other crimes during the Iran-Contra scandal, he was pardoned by George H. W. Bush on Christmas Eve, 1992, in the midst of his trial. Aside from collecting rumors and packaging them for the delectation of Fox News contributors such as his former Iran-Contra buddy Oliver North, and efforts to collect clippings from Karzai’s beard, Eclipse appears to be doing little that can be called intelligence-gathering — unless denouncing and otherwise undermining the CIA, which Clarridge disdains, can be considered useful.
What is the Eclipse Group doing in Libya? How did they pass muster with the Libyan “government” as a “local” security company? We don’t know, but Reuters reports:
“Blue Mountain and Eclipse parted ways in the spring over problems with Tripoli contracts, several sources familiar with the matter said. The severed relationship may have prevented Blue Mountain from getting additional work in Libya, which required the local affiliation.”
The more one looks into the security arrangements at the Benghazi consulate, the murkier the picture gets: a “security firm” — not even a year old — posting unarmed guards at a US consulate where armed jihadists are roaming the streets, a “local” security company which isn’t local at all and is headed up by a “staunchly interventionist” neocon type and his “private CIA” engaged in what the New York Times described as “schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s ‘Spy vs. Spy’” — what is going on here?
The whole arrangement screams setup.
Fox News has been “investigating” the Benghazi incident, constructing a story line in which the Obama administration supposedly left the consulate in the lurch, and ordered a rescue team to “stand down” when they could have been saved. Gen. Keane, in an interview with National Public Radio, effectively debunked that scenario and the CIA has released a timeline. The neocons’ hope that this would turn the election around and put the Obama administration on the defensive has proved not to be the case, but one can’t help wondering what role Clarridge and his Eclipse Group had in setting the stage for this poisonous narrative.
Was the Benghazi attack an “October surprise” intended to ambush the Obama administration — and what part did the shadowy Eclipse Group play in all this? In this context, Clarridge’s words take on a rather ominous aspect:
“Sometimes, unfortunately, things have to be changed in a rather ugly way.”
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
I would note the curious similarity between the catalyst that supposedly set this whole incident in motion — the Innocence of Muslims video — and “Blue Mountain Security Solutions,” a company that sent unarmed guards who had never held a gun in their lives to stand watch over the US consulate in Benghazi. Both have a curiously haphazard aspect to them, as if they were thrown together at the last minute: in both cases, as Gertrude Stein said of the city of Oakland, “there is no there there.” In short, both schemes look like fronts, cut-outs, to be used and thrown away when they no longer serve the purpose for which they were created.
I would also note that Fox News, in constructing their “Obama-cut-and-ran” narrative, cites anonymous “American intelligence” sources “on the ground” in Libya: given Clarridge’s well-documented links to Fox as a “source,” the question arises: are these “intelligence” sources Clarridge and his dubious outfit?
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