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#Benghazi News: What did the ARB and Benghazi Committee know about Alamir, Eclipse and Xpand?

Posted: 3:53 am ET

 

Via HuffPo:

A middleman the State Department relied on to hire unarmed guards at the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, previously worked with a company that’s now at the center of a massive international bribery scandal.

The FBI and law enforcement agencies in at least four other countries are investigating allegations ― first published by The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media ― that a Monaco-based company called Unaoil bribed public officials to secure contracts for major corporations in corruption-prone regions. In Libya, Unaoil partnered with a Tripoli-based businessman named Muhannad Alamir. A former Unaoil employee who served as a confidential source for the FBI told investigators that Unaoil and Alamir bribed Libyan officials. Unaoil and Alamir deny they bribed anyone.

Alamir started working with the State Department in early 2012, less than three years after cutting ties with Unaoil. He provided Blue Mountain Group, the small British security firm that won the Benghazi guard contract, with the license it needed to legally operate in Libya.
[…]

Despite the damning internal review and seven prior congressional probes, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly in 2014 to establish a special committee to further investigate the 2012 attack. Two years and $7 million later, the committee released an 800-page report. Democrats dismissed it as a partisan attack on Clinton, by then their expected presidential nominee.

The report echoed earlier criticisms of security lapses, but revealed little substantive information about the contracting process that contributed to the problem. The Benghazi committee report mentioned Blue Mountain 12 times. Alamir, Eclipse and Xpand weren’t mentioned once.

 

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Near, far, wherever you are, Benghazi will go on and on … oh, but do you want to buy a Benghazi thong?

— Domani Spero

The 60Minutes’ Benghazi segment with Lara Logan aired on Oct. 27, 2013 and reignited the Benghazi controversy once again. It included interviews with former US Embassy Libya DCM Gregory Hicks, and Green Beret Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Andy Wood. We’ve heard from Mr. Hicks previously and blogged about it here: “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” Features Former Embassy Tripoli DCM Gregory Hicks and Benghazi Hearing: No Kaboom as Promised, But More Details Fill Up the Dark Space of Sadness.

We’ve also heard from Colonel Wood once before: Benghazi Hearing: Looking for Truth Amidst a Partisan Divide, Outing OGA, Zingers

But we haven’t heard previously from this Morgan Jones fellow. That’s apparently a  pseudonym used by a former British soldier who has been “helping to keep U.S. diplomats and military leaders safe for the last decade.” He was reportedly the “security chief for Blue Mountain Security” in charge of the Libyan guard force.

Shortly after the segment aired, Media Matters cited Fox News correspondent Adam Housley as having said that he had previously spoken to the man “a number of times and then we stopped speaking to him when he asked for money.”

The same day that the 60 Minutes segment aired, Los Angeles Times’ Richard A. Serrano reported that two of theDOJ’s key witnesses in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack were summoned to the Oversight Committee earlier in October and “grilled for hours in separate legal depositions” conducted in “a highly guarded and secret interviews.”  The report identified the Diplomatic Security agents as Alec Henderson, who was stationed in Benghazi, and John Martinec, then based in Tripoli. Henderson was reportedly interviewed on Oct. 8 for eight hours and Martinec was interviewed for five hours on Oct. 10.  The report further says that Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa earlier had also demanded access to a third agent, David Ubben, who was seriously injured in the Benghazi attack. According to LAT, Mr. Issa learned the identities of the three agents from Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya, who testified before the committee in spring.

On a related note, did you hear that Senator Graham is exceptionally pissed about Benghazi and has promised to block “every appointment in the US Senate” until the Benghazi survivors are produced?   Apparently, he did not know that two DS agents were right next door on October 8 for legal depos that lasted for altogether 13 hours.  Pardon me? Is it purely coincidental that there are bad news in the polls, and that a primary is potentially a headache? Well, is it?

Screen Shot 2013-10-28

In any case, on October 28, Julia Frifield, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs responded to Senator Graham’s previous September 24 letter concerning the Benghazi survivors availability.  Read the response here.

On October 29, Mr. Morgan’s book, The Embassy House published by an imprint of Simon & Schuster went on sale; available in hardcover, Kindle and Audible; the cheapest edition via Kindle currently selling at $10.99.

Previously, in September 2013, Deadline reported that Thunder Road has acquired The Embassy House to use as the basis for a feature about the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya,

“The film will be written by Taylor Sheridan, whose adaptation of Comancheria has Marc Forster attached. Thunder Road is producing Sheridan’s script Sicario, and they’ve set him to script a look at Benghazi that is one part Black Hawk Down and another Lawrence Of Arabia. //UK-based Luke Speed of the Marjacq Agency repped the book and Gersh’s Bob Hohman and Bayard Maybank and Elevate repped the scribe. Thunder Road used its own resources to buy the book and will fund development, and hasn’t yet enlisted a studio.”

Also in September, The Hollywood Reporter says that HBO has optioned another book, Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, with Jerry Weintraub on board to executive produce.  Under Fire is authored by former DSS Agent and Stratfor VP Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz and is “Based on the exclusive cooperation of eyewitnesses and confidential sources within the intelligence, diplomatic, and military communities” according to the book’s Amazon page.

If they start filming soon, will the movies be ready in time for the 2nd anniversary of the attack or the 2014 election?

On October 31, WaPo’s Karen DeYoung threw some more fuel on the Benghazi fire:

“[I]n a written account that Jones, whose real name was confirmed as Dylan Davies by several officials who worked with him in Benghazi, provided to his employer three days after the attack, he told a different story of his experiences that night.

In Davies’s 2 1 / 2-page incident report to Blue Mountain, the Britain-based contractor hired by the State Department to handle perimeter security at the compound, he wrote that he spent most of that night at his Benghazi beach-side villa. Although he attempted to get to the compound, he wrote in the report, “we could not get anywhere near . . . as roadblocks had been set up.”

On November 1, The Cable’s John Hudson reported that Star Benghazi ‘Witness’ May Not Have Been an Actual Witness:

“In contrast with the 60 Minutes account, which saw him knocking out terrorists with the butt end of his rifle and scaling a 12-foot wall the night of the attack, the Blue Mountain report has Jones at his beach-side villa for the majority of the night. Despite an attempt to make it to the compound, Jones wrote that “we could not get anywhere near … as roadblocks had been set up.”

Further The Cable points out that “the book titled The Embassy House was published by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which is a part of CBS Corporation, which owns 60 Minutes — a fact not disclosed in the 60 Minutes story.

Oh, dear …. is that what’s called cross promotion or something?

On November 2, The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin and Eli Lake reported that Dylan Davies, aka: Morgan Jones denied writing the incident report cited by Karen DeYoung’s report in WaPo.  The Daily Beast had obtained a copy of the Blue Mountain Group 4-page incident report that lists Dylan Davies, “PM” as the “Name of Person Reporting.” The report is dated 13:00 hours, September 14, 2012, unsigned and the published copy does not include any indication whether the report was emailed or faxed to the Blue Mountain Group. See for yourself here via Josh Rogin/ScribD.

The Daily Beast report described Jones/Davies as a “Benghazi Whistleblower” and says that “Davies said he did not know who leaked the report to the Post but said he suspected it was the State Department, an allegation that could not be independently corroborated.” More below:

“A State Department official confirmed it matches the version sent to the U.S. government by Davies’s then-employer Blue Mountain Group, the private security company based in Britain, on Sept. 14, 2012, and subsequently provided to Congressional committees investigating the Benghazi attacks.
[…]
Davies said he believed there was a coordinated campaign to smear him. This week, Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog, sent a public letter to CBS News asking it to retract the 60 Minutes Benghazi piece on the basis of the Washington Post article. On the Fox News Channel, reporter Adam Housley claimed on air this week that Davies asked for money in exchange for an interview. Davies denied this charge. 60 Minutes has stood by its reporting.”

Continue reading  Benghazi Whistleblower Says He Was Smeared.

Media Matters and Fox News in a coordinated smear campaign?  If I were drunk at 10 o’clock in the morning, that still sounds crazy bad.

The Blue Mountain Group was snared early on in the Benghazi controversy. Remember that time when the State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said this three days after the attack: “I can tell you that at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya – at no time.”  That turned out to be false. This was covered by Danger Room in September 2012:  Feds Hired British Security Firm to Protect Benghazi Consulate.

The contract is a curious one, of course, since security in the State Department falls under the Worldwide Security Protection (WSP) program which has core funding for the protection of life, property, and information of the agency. WSP funding supports not just domestic facilities but also  worldwide guard force protecting overseas diplomatic missions and residences.  Defense Industry Daily has a list of contractors for the 5-year $10 billion WPS security contract inked in 2010.  The Blue Mountain Group is not on that list.  One wonders, given the presence of OGA in Benghazi, if this was in fact an OGA contract, though  the paperwork does say it is a State contract. Or it is possible that none of the WPS contractors are allowed to operate in Libya, so State had to procure services from another provider?  But then, that does not explain why three days after the attack, the State spokesperson was adamant that “at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-02

A redacted copy of the Blue Mountain Group contract has now been released after a FOIA by Judicial Watch and can be read/downloaded here.

One thing more. On October 14, 2012, UK’s The Telegraph reported about Blue Mountain, described as a small British firm based in south Wales:

“Blue Mountain, which is run by a former member of the SAS, received paper work to operate in Libya last year following the collapse of Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. It worked on short term contacts to guard an expatriate housing compound and a five-star hotel in Tripoli before landing the prestigious US deal.
[…]
But Blue Mountain’s local woes appears to have hampered a coordinated response by the compound’s defenders when the late assault kicked off.

Darryl Davies, the manager of the Benghazi contract for Blue Mountain, flew out of the city hours before the attack was launched. The Daily Telegraph has learned that relations between the firm and its Libyan partner had broken down, leading to the withdrawal of Mr Davies.
[…]
Abdulaziz Majbiri, a Blue Mountain guard at the compound, told the Daily Telegraph that they were effectively abandoned and incapable of defending themselves on the night of the attack.”

So far, no one has gone back to clarify or straighten out that story.

And because the Benghazi controversy simply refuses to die, CNN is reporting that a CIA operatives will testify behind closed doors at a classified Benghazi hearing on the week of November 11.

Then yesterday, Politico reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz  “slammed the source behind a report that revealed the real name of a British security agent in Benghazi, which was published in The Washington Post.”

“I don’t know who did it, but to release a covert agent’s name to endanger his life should be an absolute outrage in this town,” Chaffetz said Monday on Fox New’s “Fox and Friends” when asked if he thought the White House was behind the leak.

I was seriously looking for something like this to pop up because … hey, it’s too attractive to pass up if you want some screen time.  But now Morgan Jones/Dylan Davies is not only a “whistleblower”  he is also a “covert agent”?

Well, I’ll be …. the Oversight Committee hearing is coming soon.

Have you noticed that Benghazi is not only a popular subject with politicians, it has also gained popularity in the Amazon marketplace? The Benghazi tragedy has spawned not just books but also bumper stickers, a Benghazi album from Moon Records, Cover Up (The Benghazi Song), a Benghazi Memorandum Book,a Benghazi Record Book, whatevs.  There are also Benghazi cartoons, mousepads, coffee mugs, coasters, bottles, tshirts, a pinback button, and a Benghazi memorial license plate. There are more Benghazi-branded products available via Cafepress.com including  Benghazi underwear and panties; don’t  miss the Benghazi Blame and Good Riddance classic thongs. Benghazi products are also available at Zazzle.com; don’t miss the doggie clothing line.

If you’re renovating, there is even a Benghazi light switch cover for a 2 plug outlet.

And now my grey matter is seriously hyperventilating and need to drown itself in sorrow.

 

* * *

Issa’s Committee Calls First Hearing On Benghazi Attack, Diplomatic Security to Testify as More Info Drips …

Updated October 5 @ 8:17 PST
CBS News reports that the Committee has issued a subpoena for Lt. Col. Andy Wood, a Utah National Guard Army Green Beret who headed up a Special Forces security team in Libya to appear at the October 10 hearing.  Secretary Clinton is reportedly also scheduled to attend although she is not listed among the Committee’s witnesses.

ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported a couple days ago that the House Oversight and Reform Committee chaired by Darrell Issa (CA-R) has called its first witnesses for the hearing on the Benghazi attack.  The report names the following State Department/Diplomatic Security employees to testify:

  • Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom was stationed in Libya from September 2011 to June 2012. The Department of State provided Mr. Nordstrom to the Committee for a briefing, where he confirmed for the Committee the security incidents cited in the letter, and confirmed that the mission in Libya made security requests.
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs Charlene Lamb is an official in Washington is involved in reviewing security requests.

Her official bio says that Ms. Lamb is:

“a key member of the DS management team, responsible for providing strategic planning, management support, and establishing budget priorities to senior DS management. Ms. Lamb manages more than $1.2 billion in security assets and programs and thousands of personnel dedicated to that purpose. She is also responsible for the safety and security of over 285 overseas Embassies and Consulates and oversees the 550 special agent/security professionals posted at those locations.

Ms. Lamb joined Diplomatic Security in 1987, serving her first assignment as a Special Agent in the San Francisco Field Office. In 1989, Ms. Lamb volunteered for duty in Beirut, where she managed a 500-person guard force at the height of the civil war in Lebanon.”

The letter that the Committee sent to Secretary Clinton includes a list of about a dozen security incidents in the lead up to the Benghazi attack.  The Committee said that the information it cites is based on those “provided to the Committee by individuals with direct knowledge of events in Libya.” It also said that “multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the Committee that, prior to the September 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi.  The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in Washington.”

Can’t say who provided the list to the Committee, but who closely tracks these incidents, anyways? In any case, it appears that the Regional Security Officer in Libya has already confirmed these incidents during a private appearance at the Committee.

Here is the list of security incidents.

  • April 6, 2012, BENGHAZI – Two Libyans who had been fired from a contractor providing unarmed static security for Consulate Benghazi, threw a small IED over the Consulate fence.  There were no casualties or damage and the suspects were arrested but not prosecuted.
  • April 11, 2012, BENGHAZI – A gun battle between an unidentified armed group and forces loyal to the Transitional National Council (TNC) occurred about 4km from Consulate Benghazi.  The unidentified armed group attacked a Ministry of the Interior building in an attempt to seize a fleet of vehicles that had belonged to the Gaddafi regime.   The gun battle included use of antiaircraft guns and RPGs.
  • April 25, 2012, TRIPOLI – A US Embassy Local Guard Force officer traveling in a diplomatically-plated vehicle was detained and his Embassy-issued radio seized at a militia checkpoint.  He was released without further incident.
  • April 26, 2012, BENGHAZI – While a Foreign Service officer stationed at Consulate Benghazi was attending a trade-related event at the International Medical University, a fistfight escalated to gunfire between security forces for the trade delegation and militia providing security for the University.  A US Foreign Service officer was evacuated by members of the 17th of February Martyrs Brigade, a Libyan militia, stationed at Consulate Benghazi.
  • April 27, 2012, BENGHAZI – Two South African contractors were kidnapped by armed men while walking through a residential area of Benghazi.  After a brief interrogation about their nationality and purpose in Libya, they were released unharmed.
  • May 1, 2012, TRIPOLI – The Deputy Commander of Embassy Tripoli’s Local Guard Force was carjacked, beaten and detained by a group of armed youth.  He escaped by climbing over a fence and notifying the Embassy by phone.  Libyan security forces fought a gun battle with the assailants in order to recover a number of stolen vehicles and release other detainees.
  • May 22, 2012, BENGHAZI – Two RPG rounds were fired at the Benghazi office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), approximately 1 km from Consulate Benghazi.  The attack occurred during the early morning hours and there were no casualties.  A Facebook posting that claimed responsibility for the attack said: “After we confirmed that the ICRC were giving out the Bible to the refugees of Tuwerga in Benghazi, a group of Mujaheddin attacked the HQ of the ICRC with an RPG and it targeted the meeting room inside the building. We didn’t want to hurt the Christians it is just a warning, we also didn’t want to hurt any Muslims working there. We recorded it on video and will publish it soon – so the ICRC must take down their flag with the red cross and close its offices in Libya. We announce that Libya is an Islamic State. We did not attack the Sahara Bank.  Finally, now we are preparing a message for the Americans for disturbing the skies over Derna.”
  • June 2012 – Ambassador Stevens was in the habit of taking early morning runs around Tripoli along with members of his security detail.  According to sources, sometime in June 2012, a posting on a pro-Gaddafi Facebook page trumpeted these runs and directed a threat against Ambassador Stevens along with a stock photo of him.  It is reported that, after stopping these morning runs for about a week, the Ambassador resumed them.
  • June 6, 2012, BENGHAZI – Under cover of darkness, assailants placed an IED on the north gate of Consulate Benghazi, blowing a hole in the security perimeter that was described by one individual as, “big enough for forty men to go through.”
  • June 10, 2012, BENGHAZI – On or about June 10, 2012, a two-car convoy carrying the British Ambassador to Libya from a conference on reforming Libyan military law was attacked in broad daylight by a militant with an RPG.  This attack was an important escalation in the violence against Western targets in Benghazi, as prior attacks had been at night and were often preceded by warnings from the attackers.  Photos from the aftermath of the attack are attached.
  • Late June 2012, BENGHAZI – The ICRC building was attacked again, this time in broad daylight while people were inside.  Once the ICRC pulled out, the US Consulate was the last Western flag flying in Benghazi, making it an ideal target for militants.
  • August 6, 2012, TRIPOLI – Armed assailants attempted to carjack a vehicle bearing diplomatic plates operated by U.S. security personnel.
  • WEEKS BEFORE September 11, 2012, BENGHAZI – The unarmed Libyan guards employed by British contractor Blue Mountain Group were being warned by their family members to quit their jobs guarding Consulate Benghazi because there were rumors in the community of an impending attack.

US Embassy Libya’s Warden Messages for U.S. citizens which normally alerts  American citizen residents of security-related situation is here.  You will note that it released exactly five messages between May and August 2012, and only three coincide with the list provided to the Committee:

And then — just days before the House hearing, somebody leaked a State Department email to ABC News showing the mothership (aka Main State not “State Main”) rejecting a security asset request from US Embassy Tripoli/Security Support Team.

Via ABC News:

The subject line of the email, from Miki Rankin, the post management officer for Libya and Saudi Arabia, reads “Termination of Tripoli DC-3 Support.”

Rankin informs [Ambassador] Stevens and the others on the email, whose names have been redacted, that Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy “has determined that support for Embassy Tripoli using the DC-3 will be terminated immediately. Post’s request to continue use of the plane in support of the SST was considered. However, it was decided that, if needed, NEA will charter a special flight for their departure.”

The email is posted online here.

ABC News reports that an “SST” is a Security Support Team, about 16 Special Forces troops assigned to protect officials from the U.S. State Department. And that this particular SST was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. Also this:

The U.S. government official who provided the email to ABC News – and wanted to remain anonymous because of  the sensitivity of the matter – described the small DC-3 plane as an asset for a security team to more freely and safely move throughout the country, and to more easily transport arms and other security equipment. In short, having the plane allowed the security team to better perform its duties, the official said.
[…]
The State Department official acknowledged that the plane was used to get around Libya, not just to get in and out of the country. But once commercial air service was re-established, the State Department decided that the SST didn’t need the plane anymore. The security team, it would seem, disagreed.

Taken in itself, not sure that a DC-3 would have changed the outcome of what happened in Benghazi. But taken with the rest of what is going on right now, this will add fuel to the charges furiously flying around.

  • The rush, or the wait or whatever with Ambassador to USUN Susan Rice.  Is Libya or Intel/Security her portfolio? No, so whhhhyyy?
  • First CNN’s then WaPo’s reporter walking around and finding things in the unsecured Benghazi compound. CNN reported on Ambassador Steven’s journal, and WaPo has an online scrapbook of Sensitive But Unclassified documents found inside the building.
  • The Local Guard Program appears to terminate the same day the compound was attack. If not, where are the guards?  Wired.com reports that documents recovered from the grounds of the mission show that the guards there were paid an hourly rate of 5.21 Libyan Dinars — the equivalent of $4 per hour and quipped: “Perhaps if the U.S. had spent more than $4 per hour on Benghazi’s security, it wouldn’t need to dispatch quite so many of its most valuable troops.” We don’t yet know if the Blue Mountain contract was awarded based on “best value” or was this awarded based on the “lowest price technically acceptable.”
  • The Government of Libya says it will cooperate with the US on this incident, but is it not still under international obligation to protect whatever is left of the mission in Benghazi? And what’s with those “It’s not our job to stop people from taking things” gardeners anyway; if they re still USG-employed, they should already be fired. Jeez! Can you see me stomping my foot?  They’re “tending the grounds” for what, the next Fourth of July?
  • Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide and personal spokesman getting into a public meltdown with BuzzFeed correspondent Michael Hastings. He’s Hillary’s guy so his job is not going to go on Now Vacancy until the Secretary leaves the building for good, but his demeanor was not at all helpful on this.  That’s why there’s a lockbox for your email when you get mad, dude!
  • The FBI stuck in Tripoli until this week while the crime scene got contaminated by curiosity seekers and journalists rummaging through the rubble; uninvited visitors were not issued CSI suits, gloves, boots.

The Committee may have a couple or so names to add as possible witnesses for the October 10 hearing:

Miki Rankin, Post Management Officer, Washington, D.C. (now Deputy Executive Director at the Bureau of Administration/EX)

Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management, Washington, D.C.

Blue Mountain UK, Benghazi Office security contractor cited by Wired.com (located in Wales)

 

 

What Really Happened in Consulate Benghazi? The Truths Are Out There, Lots of Them …

Updated 9/25

Patricia Kushlis of WhirledView has her own questions here.

One more question: What role did social media played in this attack?  I am told that Ambassador Stevens was scheduled to open the “American Space” in Benghazi, that’s why he was there. A day before the attack, the Embassy tweeted this:

In late August, Ambassador Stevens opened the Consular Section in Tripoli.  If bad guys were monitoring the embassy’s media digs, one could easily guess that the Amb or someone higher up in the Embassy would be the official to open the new American Center in Benghazi. In fact, the Public Affairs Officer and the Economic Officer were both scheduled to be there with him for the opening. So all the bad guys would have needed was to stay ready and watch for an opportunity to attack. –DS

* * *

In the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack, UK’s The Independent reports that sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack.

An Angry Crowd and Security People Run Away

It also reported that the Benghazi compound perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff.

Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near the compound said: “The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs.”

Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post:  “There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”

Or There Wasn’t a Single Ant and Then There were 125 Armed Men

A Libyan guard at the Consulate in Benghazi (apparently one who did not run away) interviewed by McClatchy News in the hospital where he was being treated for five shrapnel wounds in one leg and two bullet wounds in the other, said that the consulate area was quiet – “there wasn’t a single ant outside,” he said – until about 9:35 p.m., when as many as 125 armed men descended on the compound from all directions.

Mohammad al Bishari who had leased the compound to the USG also said in the same McClatchy report that the attack began with assailants carrying assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and the black flag of Ansar al Shariah moving from two directions against the compound.

How did he know that? Was he an eyewitness?

Ambassador Rice on Spontaneous

On September 16, Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos: “What this began as was a spontaneous, not a premeditated response to what happened in Cairo.”

Really now. This was five days after the attack. Surely Ambassador Rice, said to be in the short list as the next Secretary of State if there is an Obama II term could have waited a while longer. The State Department had already announced that the FBI is investigating; five days after the attack with no official presence on the ground, with the consulate compound not even secured by US or Libyan Forces to protect forensic evidence, how do we know that this attack was spontaneous or premeditated?   (The FBI arrived in Libya on September 18). I wonder what do you gain by going on teevee and saying this when the investigation is ongoing?

Blue Mountain Contracted Guards at Consulate Benghazi

On September 17, Danger Room reported that four months before the Benghazi attack, the State Department signed a contract for ** “security guards and patrol services” at a cost of $387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to $783,284.79. The contract which is for the Local Guard Program lists only “foreign security awardees” as its recipient. But Danger Room has confirmed that the contract recipient was Blue Mountain, a British company that provides “close protection; maritime security; surveillance and investigative services; and high risk static guarding and asset protection.” (** Go to the Federal Procurement Data System and search of Benghazi to view contracts, site does not have permalink)

Libyan Officials on Warnings, Preplanned Attacks

In any case, on September 19, CNN’s Arwa Damon reported that Libyan military officials told her, that just three days before the attacks, the Libyans had a meeting with senior employees from the consulate where they were talking about this rising threat against western interests.  Supposedly , the Libyan officials said the meeting highlighted the point that the Libyan government could not control militias.

As if somehow that was news to the Americans whose compound was previously attacked in June and where one car was almost carjacked in Tripoli just a month ago.

Then on September 20, WaPo reports that Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf said in an interview on CBS’s “Face The Nation:”

“The way these perpetrators acted, and moved … and they’re choosing the specific date for this so-called demonstration, I think we have no, this leaves us with no doubt that this was preplanned, determined…predetermined.”

GOP Intel Chair on Non-Protest in Benghazi

On September 23, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union: “I have seen no information that shows that there was a protest going on as you have seen around any other embassy at the time.[…] It was clearly designed to be an attack.”

But what did he see? Are they colored?

So of course, there are lots of questions

The office in Benghazi is not an American Presence Post (APP), and not a Consulate, Consulate General or Consular Agency.  It’s called the U.S. Office Benghazi and is not listed in the Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts, or in the State Department list of US embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions. And yet, there were roughly 30 personnel reportedly evacuated from the compound following the attack.  Who was in charged of the office? Other Government Agency?

Who knew about the location of the “safe house” in Benghazi? Who leaked the supposedly secret location?

What happened to the US contracted guards? Did they really run away? What were the nationalities of the US contracted guards? Were they Libyans, UK nationals, third country nationals, what? Who was or who were Ambassador Stevens’ closed in guards? Did he have a US direct hire RSO as one of his closed in guards or not? (WSJ reports that five armed State Department diplomatic security officers were at the consulate during the attack).

What happened to the Libyan guards who were responsible for the outer perimeter? Did they let the attack happen because they “absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate?” If they did not let the attack happen, how long before the Libyan forces reinforcement get to the compound?

How could the Libyan guard interviewed at a hospital tell that there were as many as 125 men attacking the compound? Did he count them while he was down?  Why was he shoot on the legs and not at any other part of his body? Were the militants firing at the ground?

Unidentified Libyan military officials tell CNN that they highlighted the “rising threat against western interests” during a meeting with consulate officials three days before the attack. Why? The rising threat is not a secret if you’re following Libyan news. Is this a CYA line of — we told them, we told them, and they did not do anything? Which consulate officials did they met?

Are people’s recollection of events generally reliable in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic incident like this, or are they generally reliable much later after they have thought about it some more?

Why would someone say there was an angry crowd and that guards put up little defense or ran away if that did not happen?

Why would  the reported commander of Benghazi Police force say that there were some people from the security forces who let the attack happen if that was not true? Did he not realized saying that sounds bad on the news, and makes Libyan forces look bad?

On the night he was killed, Sean Smith AKA Vile Rat was online with his friend The Mittani and wrote this:

(12:54:09 PM) vile_rat: assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures

If the consulate compound was so quiet that “there wasn’t a single ant outside” — why would one of the Libyan police guarding the compound be taking pictures? That would have been quite a boring picture, wouldn’t it?

And if there was already a shooting war with as many as 125 militants descending on the compound, and one of the Libyan police guarding the compound was taking pictures, was he no more than a spectator instead of doing his job of actually protecting the diplomatic compound?

Ansar al-Sharia, a hard-line Islamist militia has been linked to the attack on Benghazi; the group denied it. The Libyan President al-Magarief told Al Jazeera that he think this was Al Qaeda. Of course, his own Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al_Sharif also claimed during a news conference that those who attacked the U.S. consulate were Gaddafi loyalists.

Were the attackers Qaddafi loyalists? Were they Al Qaeda affiliates? If they are the latter, when was the last time an Al Qaeda group or subgroup passed up on a chance to gloat over dead Americans? Like never.  Are members of  Ansar al-Sharia the perpetrators of this horrific attack or are they the scapegoat for a collective national guilt?

I hope that the Accountability Review Board be convened quickly so they can start their work and provide answers to these questions and many more questions surrounding this attack.

Sean Smith died that night. He had no reason to spin what happened either way. But others sure have good enough reasons.

If this was a spontaneous attack, precipitated by the anti-Islam video clip, who gains?

If this was a premeditated, terrorist attack, who gains?

The truth is out there. The Libyan Government’s truth. The Libyan people’s truth. The American Government’s truth. The Dem’s truth, the GOP’s truth, this is an election year after all, so versions of truths is unsurprisingly de rigueur.

And somewhere in the middle of all that is the real truth.  I hope we get there. We owe it to our dead and their loved ones to find it.

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