The Citizens Commission on Benghazi, a self-selected group of former top military officers, CIA insiders and think-tankers, declared Tuesday in Washington that a seven-month review of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack has determined that it could have been prevented – if the U.S. hadn’t been helping to arm al-Qaeda militias throughout Libya a year earlier.
‘The United States switched sides in the war on terror with what we did in Libya, knowingly facilitating the provision of weapons to known al-Qaeda militias and figures,’ Clare Lopez, a member of the commission and a former CIA officer, told MailOnline.
She blamed the Obama administration for failing to stop half of a $1 billion United Arab Emirates arms shipment from reaching al-Qaeda-linked militants.
‘Remember, these weapons that came into Benghazi were permitted to enter by our armed forces who were blockading the approaches from air and sea,’ Lopez claimed. ‘They were permitted to come in. … [They] knew these weapons were coming in, and that was allowed..
‘The intelligence community was part of that, the Department of State was part of that, and certainly that means that the top leadership of the United States, our national security leadership, and potentially Congress – if they were briefed on this – also knew about this.’
The weapons were intended for Gaddafi but allowed by the U.S. to flow to his Islamist opposition.
‘The White House and senior Congressional members,’ the group wrote in an interim report released Tuesday, ‘deliberately and knowingly pursued a policy that provided material support to terrorist organizations in order to topple a ruler [Muammar Gaddafi] who had been working closely with the West actively to suppress al-Qaeda.’
‘Some look at it as treason,’ said Wayne Simmons, a former CIA officer who participated in the commission’s research. Retired Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic, another commission member, told reporters Tuesday that those weapons are now ‘all in Syria.’
‘Gaddafi wasn’t a good guy, but he was being marginalized,’ Kubic recalled. ‘Gaddafi actually offered to abdicate’ shortly after the beginning of a 2011 rebellion.
‘But the U.S. ignored his calls for a truce,’ the commission wrote, ultimately backing the horse that would later help kill a U.S. ambassador. Kubic said that the effort at truce talks fell apart when the White House declined to let the Pentagon pursue it seriously.
‘We had a leader who had won the Nobel Peace Prize,’ Kubic said, ‘but who was unwilling to give peace a chance for 72 hours.’
In March 2011, Kubic said, U.S. Army Africa Commander General Carter told NBC News that the U.S. military was not actively targeting Muammar Gaddafi. That, Kubic revealed, was a signal to the Libyan dictator that there was a chance for a deal. Gaddafi responded by ‘verifiably … pull[ing] his forces back from key rebel-held cities such as Benghazi and Misrata.’
Those groups, the commission noted, ‘all joined in condemnation of the video, and, even more troubling, issued calls for restrictions on Americans’ free speech rights.’
But Simmons, the former CIA officer, criticized the Obama administration on the familiar refrain of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exclaiming in a Senate hearing that it mattered little why the Benghazi facilities were struck.
‘They believed they were going to be saved, that they were going to be rescued, but they weren’t,’ Simmons said of the four Americans who died.
‘I know who made the decision, in my heart of hearts, to leave our war fighters there and be blown up. And then to have one of the most powerful politicians in our country sit there and say, “What difference does it make?” – should be an alarm bell for all Americans.
This is disgusting that our brave men were left hanging in the balance and yet Hillary and Obama remain free.
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