The Republican dominated House Select Committee on Benghazi has released its long awaited final report on the 2012 Benghazi attack which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. And, surprise, the report reveals absolutely nothing of substance that wasn’t already known.
Naturally, Democrats running interference for Hillary Clinton have continually charged that the probe was simply an act of partisan politics designed more to hurt Clinton in the presidential campaign than to uncover the truth about what happened. No doubt there is truth to such an allegation.
But the most important fact about this whole manufactured drama, the one that neither Democrats nor Republicans want to touch, is the simple fact that what happened in Benghazi was perhaps the most complete encapsulation of everything wrong and criminal about the illegal US war against Libya. Moreover, it exposes the uncomfortable truth that the US harnesses terrorism, using it as one of the most potent weapons it has against nations that refuse to submit to the will of Washington and Wall Street. In effect, it was not merely terrorists that killed the four Americans in Benghazi, it was US policy.
The Benghazi Report: 800 Pages of Almost Nothing
Despite the triumphal pronouncements of Republican political opportunists, the new report reveals very little that is new. As the Wall Street Journal noted:
“Congressional Republicans’ most comprehensive report yet on the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, outlined few new criticisms of Hillary Clinton, highlighting more broadly what it called an array of failings by the Obama administration…The report largely confirmed the existing story line—that a group of anti-American Libyan militants stormed U.S. installations in a carefully planned assault, killing four Americans, including Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya…The latest document presented few notable facts not found in earlier investigations…”
As the Wall Street Journal correctly notes, the new report is mostly just a rehashing of prior conclusions reached from previous reports, while doing yeoman’s service for the political establishment by confirming and, consequently, concretizing a completely distorted narrative about what happened. Essentially, the final report amounts to a whitewash that is more about scoring political points than revealing the truth about what happened. Why? Well, put simply, the truth of what happened in Benghazi implicates both wings of the single corporate Republicrat party.
There is mention of the CIA facility near the ‘US diplomatic facility’ in Benghazi, but absolutely no context for what exactly the CIA was involved in there, and how it relates to a much larger set of policies executed by the Obama administration, of which Hillary Clinton was a key player. Indeed, the very fact that this critical piece of the puzzle is conspicuously missing from the Official NarrativeTM demonstrates that the House Select Committee on Benghazi report is more about concealing the truth than revealing it.
Take for instance the fact that the report totally ignores the connection between the CIA facility and mission in Benghazi and the smuggling of arms and fighters from Libya to Syria in an attempt to export to Syria the same sort of regime change that wrought death and destruction on Libya. As Judicial Watch noted in regard to the declassified material it obtained:
Judicial Watch…obtained more than 100 pages of previously classified “Secret” documents from the Department of Defense (DOD)and the Department of State revealing that DOD almost immediately reported that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was committed by the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood-linked “Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman” (BCOAR), and had been planned at least 10 days in advance…The new documents also provide the first official confirmation that shows the U.S. government was aware of arms shipments from Benghazi to Syria. The documents also include an August 2012 analysis warning of the rise of ISIS and the predicted failure of the Obama policy of regime change in Syria.
Just this one small excerpt from a set of publicly available documents sheds more light on the real story of Benghazi and the Obama administration’s disastrous and criminal wars in Libya and Syria than 800 pages of the House report. Were it really the mission of the House committee to expose the truth of what happened, perhaps they could have started with a Google search.
Indeed, the connection goes further. As a Department of Defense memo in 2012 indicated, “During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the [Qaddafi] regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012…weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya, to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria.”
This revelation should be a bombshell; the US and its proxies inside Libya were actively shipping weapons to Syria for the purposes of fomenting war and effecting regime change. Further, it would be shockingly negligent to omit the fact that “early September 2012” is when the shipments stopped – the attack on the CIA annex in Benghazi, not coincidentally, took place on September 11, 2012 – and not connect it to the Benghazi incident. One could almost forgive such an omission if one were naïve enough to believe that it was simply an error, and not a deliberate obfuscation.
A serious analysis of these events would reveal an international network of arms and fighters being smuggled from Libya to Syria, all under the auspices of the Obama administration and the agencies under its control. But of course, the report focuses instead on the utterly irrelevant negligence on the part of the Obama administration which really obscures the far greater crime of deliberate warmongering. But hey, political point scoring is really what the House committee was looking for.
The Larger Story Completely Ignored
As if it weren’t offensive enough that the House committee report has completely whitewashed the events in Benghazi, the congressional hearings and subsequent report do absolutely nothing to bring clarity to what exactly the US was doing with respect to the arming, financing, and backing of terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda and other well-known terror groups.
There is no discussion of the fact that Washington was knowingly collaborating with some of the nastiest al-Qaeda elements in the region, including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group led by Abdelhakim Belhadj. This terror group, which was in the vanguard of the US-backed effort to topple the government of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Muammar Gaddafi, was a known quantity to all counterterrorism experts specializing in that part of the world. As the New York Times reported in July 2011, in the midst of the war against the Libyan Government:
The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group was formed in 1995 with the goal of ousting Colonel Qaddafi. Driven into the mountains or exile by Libyan security forces, the group’s members were among the first to join the fight against Qaddafi security forces… Officially the fighting group does not exist any longer, but the former members are fighting largely under the leadership of Abu Abdullah Sadik [aka Abdelhakim Belhadj].
Perhaps the enlightened truthseekers of the House committee would have thought it prudent to note that the Benghazi incident was the direct outgrowth of a criminal US policy of collaboration with terrorists, the leader of whom is now, according to some sources, connected to ISIS/Daesh in Libya. But, alas, such explosive information, publicly available to those who seek it out, would have been deeply embarrassing to the undisputed grandmasters of wrongheaded political posturing, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both of whom gleefully posed for pictures with the hardened terrorist leader Belhadj. Oops.
It would also have been nice had the House committee bothered to look at the studies conducted on that part of Libya vis-à-vis terrorist recruitment, to get a sense of the scale of the issue with which they were allegedly dealing. They might have considered examining a 2007 study from the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy at West Point entitled “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records” which explained quite clearly that:
“Almost 19 percent of the fighters in the Sinjar Records came from Libya alone. Furthermore, Libya contributed far more fighters per capita than any other nationality in the Sinjar Records, including Saudi Arabia… The apparent surge in Libyan recruits traveling to Iraq may be linked the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG) increasingly cooperative relationship with al-Qa’ida which culminated in the LIFG officially joining al-Qa’ida on November 3, 2007…The most common cities that the fighters called home were Darnah [Derna], Libya and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with 52 and 51 fighters respectively. Darnah [Derna] with a population just over 80,000 compared to Riyadh’s 4.3 million, has far and away the largest per capita number of fighters in the Sinjar records.”
It certainly might have been useful had the House committee taken even a cursory look at a map to see the Benghazi-Derna-Tobruk triangle (the stronghold of the anti-Gaddafi terrorist forces linked to al-Qaeda) and to understand the broader context of the events of September 11, 2012. The investigators – that term being used rather loosely, and somewhat ironically, in this case – should have been able to discern the larger significance of what they were examining. One could almost assume that, like the proverbial ostriches, House Republicans were busy hiding their heads in the sand, or perhaps in other, more uncomfortable places.
Ultimately, the House Select Committee on Benghazi report will achieve absolutely nothing. It will not even score the political points that the Republicans leading the effort have been after for three years now. Hillary Clinton will continue her presidential bid completely unaffected by the information and, if anything, will likely benefit from this charade as it will lend credence to her endless assertions of a “vast right wing conspiracy” against her. Never mind the fact that she is a right wing neoconservative herself. Never mind the fact that the blood of tens of thousands of Libyans is on her hands. Never mind the fact that, as President, she will undoubtedly unleash more death and destruction on the people of the Middle East and North Africa.
There is only one lasting achievement upon which the House committee can hang its hat: it has done an excellent job of cementing an utterly shallow and superficial narrative about the events of September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, one which will be endlessly repeated by the mouthpieces of corporate media and mainstream historians.
Indeed, a false history will be written, with the US as a victim of incompetence and its own poor planning. Nothing will be said of the blatant criminality of the US effort in Libya. But, as Kurt Vonnegut was fond of saying, “So it goes…”
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.