The September 11th, 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Benghazi, Libya is important, and should be studied because in the big picture it represents a failed foreign policy that spans across both Bush and Obama Presidencies.
America does not have a clear strategic objective when it comes to foreign diplomacy, and in fact our current foreign affairs are rife with hypocrisy. Two clear examples of this: we are supposedly in a “War on Terror,” yet we clandestinely support terrorists like MEK in Iran, and weapons transfers into Syria. The latter is sure to put weapons into Syria freedom fighters, some who are engaged under the al Qaeda flag. How long will it take for those weapons to be pointed back at US Special Ops forces?
In Libya, Gaddafi was known to be cooperating with the United States behind closed doors. One minute he’s a covert friend, and declared an enemy the next.
“Who in the current administration turned Gaddafi from green to red?”, a senior State Department official said to me. This question and many others still need to be asked.
What message do we send to emerging leaders looking for allies if we continue with our hypocrisy abroad? One minute America is your friend and the next we’re cheering from the sidelines, as your dead body is drug through the streets of Misrata.
The cloudy foreign policy strategy needs to be replaced with one that is clear, and holds firm to the values of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Benghazi is important because it demonstrates all that is wrong in Washington. New leadership is needed because the current usual suspects of the State Department are getting really good at avoiding responsibility and dodging consequences.
The game of political music chairs and finger pointing by career politicians and agency bureaucrats needs to end. Exemplary leadership has become a thing of the past, and needs to become a thing of the future.
As Jack Murphy and I point out in our e-book, Benghazi: The Definitive Report, we seek to name names and hold people accountable. We continue to do so, and it has become apparent in our investigation that the attack, and results achieved, were a result of the following:
- An ambiguous foreign policy with no clear direction
- Former Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan, conducting unilateral actions with regards to JSOC strikes against militia members. He is also tied to weapons transfers out of Libya, and we are learning that this may have included the use of Proxy Private Military Companies like MVM, and other.
- A lack of de-confliction between Military, Agency (State, and CIA), and PMC groups with regards to covert actions on the ground in Libya.
- Incompetent senior State Department leadership who enforced a policy of normalization and reduced security posture in the face of a rising threat level. Benghazi and Tripoli were both classified Critical/High threat by the State’s internal threat assessment document known as the SETL.
A name that has become synonymous with ineptness in many of my conversations with State Department officials is Patrick Kennedy. His is a name we should remember. Kennedy is the current Under Secretary of Management, or “M,” for the agency, also known to insiders as “Black Dragons.” It is well known inside the State Department that a Black Dragon is one of the most powerful positions inside the department.
Ironically, Kennedy was one of the key State Department officials trying to explain away unheeded security requests leading up to the 1998 Embassy bombings in Africa. Ambassador Bushnell sent requests for a year straight at her post in Kenya leading up to the attacks. The lack of security contributed to the deaths of 218 people, including 12 Americans when three near-simultaneous embassy bombs were detonated in Tanzania, Kenya and Nairobi, on August 7th, 1998.
It appears that Kennedy has become somewhat of an expert at explaining away incompetence and sidestepping responsibility in order to maintain his personal standing within the Department of State.
Officials Jack and I have spoken to inside State tell us that press leaks stating that individuals had been separated or resigned from the Department as a result of Benghazi could have only come from Kennedy. The press later learned this was not the case. As far as we know today, everyone associated with Benghazi remains gainfully employed by the Department of State. This seems like the wrong message to send Foreign Service personnel, but appears aligned with Kennedy’s leadership style.
One of the key elements associated with Benghazi is a State Department document called the SETL (Security, Environment, Threat, List). This document is used to determine threat levels at foreign facilities and what level of security is allocated. The four levels are Critical, High, Medium, and Low. Why wasn’t this document discussed or brought up during testimony by Congress or Kennedy? “Out of 264 countries, only 14 are ranked critical/high threat, and Tripoli and Benghazi are both on that list”, a senior State Department official told us.
We also know that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was keenly aware of the threat level in Libya. His very last journal entry, according to a source inside the State Department, hauntingly states, “Never ending security threats…” Interestingly enough, we have just learned that the Embassy in Tripoli was abandoned when Benghazi came under attack. Embassy staff retreated to a more secure CIA facility nearby. While their comrades and Ambassador were fighting for their lives in Benghazi, leadership at the Embassy in Tripoli were running to save their own lives.
What more information do we need to arrive at the conclusion that someone in the State Department was not doing their job? It’s clear to me that all roads lead to Kennedy.
Members of the House and Senate need to reflect on that fact that America’s current foreign policy is like a rudderless super tanker steaming dangerously towards the next collision in the night. This has to change or we will continue to see less and less American diplomatic influence in the World, and more hatred towards the United States. The current lack of strategy is stoking the fires of radicalism towards the US and its allies. We need to hold firm to our constitutional values, and not ignore them when it’s convenient.
It’s time for change, and a foreign policy strategy that makes sense, one that every American citizen can understand. The plan must also include a focus on terrorism prevention. Too long we’ve been in a game of whack-a-mole with regards to killing terrorists. It’s a game with no end unless we effect change within the social and political environments of the World that breed the terrorists of tomorrow. Ignore this and we will continue to prune the tree of radicalism without killing it at its core.
We need to continue to put pressure on Washington to hold those responsible for Benghazi accountable. Carrying on like business as usual will only lead to September 11th, Part Two, coming to a city near you. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not see that episode.
(This article was previously published on TheBlaze.com, under the title “Former SEAL: Time to ‘Name Names and Hold People Accountable’”)