Yes, I know I’ve posted on this before but a friend of mine put something on Facebook recently which caused me to take a look at a whole thread of Benghazi comments and I was literally amazed at the number of absolutely false statements still being posted. While that sort of thing could be excused in the early days, at this point in time its clear that history continues to be submerged by politics. Now I’m not naive enough to know that does not routinely happen but this seems to be one of the more egregious examples I’ve come across – and that’s saying a bunch.
One of the reasons I can say that with some confidence is that I spent a considerable amount of time studying Benghazi as a part of my newest book, still tentatively titled “Surprise Attack”. The good news there is that I do have a publisher commitment, it should start into edit this spring and is targeted for publication and availability in Fall, 2015. In doing the research for the Benghazi section of the book (actually not just Benghazi, but a general study of attacks on American diplomatic facilities overseas) I had not only contemporary news coverage as a source but three separate government inquiries, including one which was obviously politically motivated – the House Armed Services Committee inquiry. That effort was clearly devoted to finding as much fault as possible with the administration. Actually for my purposes that was good since it dug and it dug deep, especially into the warnings intelligence and military response that is my focus. It actually contained testimony from the CIA Chief of Station in Benghazi that I was amazed to see in print – the sort of thing that normally is kept far from the public record.
Independently of the government investigations and reports, three of the CIA paramilitary security officers from the Benghazi Annex have recently published their own book, “13 Hours / The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” which gives virtually a minute by minute account not only of the attacks on the two facilities but the deployment of the Annex force, the security personnel from Tripoli, and the final and very well orchestrated mortar attack….long after the rest of the attacks and with the rescue party actually entering or about to enter the Annex itself. It was that final burst of fire that killed the Annex security operatives conducting over-watch from the roof of the complex. I would highly recommend the book and the operators themselves are quite clear and adamant about the delay of their own deployment – based on the Chief of Station’s hope that he could keep cover by relying on the militia for a response other than his own forces.
The point of all this is that we now have an accurate history of the event – but that seems to be making little public impact. Instead, what we see is a total focus on the fact that initial information was obfuscated (as if it were not standard national security operating practice), obviously in an attempt to cover up the CIA mission on the ground in Benghazi. And rather amazingly, despite all the dialog, the CIA operations story is largely being shelved. In Shadow Warfare we discuss our speculation on the CIA Benghazi mission and refer to a good deal of early investigative reporting linking it to covert operations in North Africa and Syria. The discouraging thing is that reporting has faded away in the face of the Benghazi political diatribe and once again it may be 30 years before we learn what was really in play. It seems you either get the real story quickly from the few good investigative journalists or you have to wait for the historians to give it to you decades later – if ever. I suppose I should have titled this rant something like “Opportunity Lost”, but then nobody would have ever looked for that with an online search…grin.