According to sources talking to CNN, “including those with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings,” 35 CIA agents were on the ground in Benghazi the night ambassador Christopher Stevens, Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and diplomat Sean Smith, were killed in a terrorist attack. As a result, the agency is making an “unprecedented attempt” to keep what they were doing there a secret. “You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation,” revealed one of those sources.
That pressure apparently includes subjecting agents who were on the ground to “frequent, even monthly” polygraph tests to see if they’ve been talking to either Congress or the media. Former CIA operative and CNN analyst Robert Baer puts the number of tests in perspective. “Agency employees typically are polygraphed every three to four years. Never more than that,” he said. “If somebody is being polygraphed every month, or every two months it’s called an issue polygraph, and that means that the polygraph division suspects something, or they’re looking for something, or they’re on a fishing expedition. But it’s absolutely not routine at all to be polygraphed monthly, or bi-monthly,” he added.
Another source described the frequency of testing as pure intimidation, noting that any unauthorized leak could cost someone his career. The source further noted that intimidation was not limited to the individual leaker. “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well,” the source warned.
The CNN story broke last Thursday. Later that evening, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) took it one step further. In an exchange with Greta Van Susteren, Gowdy alleged the Obama administration is “creating aliases” for the Benghazi survivors, as well as “dispersing them” across the nation in an effort to keep them from talking. “So you stop and think what things are most calculated to get at the truth? Talk to people with first-hand knowledge. What creates the appearance or perhaps the reality of a cover-up? Not letting us talk to people who have the most amount of information, dispersing them throughout the country and changing their names,” Gowdy claimed. Susteren agreed, noting that she had also made efforts to interview the survivors, but was unable to do so “because the administration is doing everything it can to hide them.”
Gowdy is not the first congressman to make such claims. On December 12, 2012, Congressman Jason Chaffetz told Breitbart News he had been “thwarted” by the State Department from seeing any of the Benghazi survivors, and the following March he also alleged that one of the survivors who had been hospitalized had his “name changed” on the hospital records to prevent identification.
It was at this juncture that Fox News learned that seven of the survivors had been injured bad enough to warrant hospitalization, one of whom reportedly underwent a partial leg amputation, and another who suffered from smoke inhalation and a possible brain injury. Fox further noted that while some of the survivors work in “clandestine services” and don’t want to be identified, they still wonder why they haven’t been called into closed hearings to testify about the attack.
CNN’s source also put the number of wounded at seven, some seriously, even as it remains unknown how many of them were CIA. (It is important to note that the references to “Benghazi survivors” include both those from the State Department and the CIA, and that both agencies have been involved in keeping them from away from Congress and the public.)
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), whose district includes the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, noted that shortly after the attack he was contacted by people closely tied to CIA operatives and other contractors who wanted to step forward. “Initially they were not afraid to come forward,” said Wolf. “They wanted the opportunity, and they wanted to be subpoenaed, because if you’re subpoenaed, it sort of protects you, you’re forced to come before Congress. Now that’s all changed,” he added.
In a House floor speech on July 18, Wolf revealed one of those changes. “According to trusted sources that have contacted my office, many if not all of the survivors of the Benghazi attacks along with others at the Department of Defense, the CIA have been asked or directed to sign additional non-disclosure agreements about their involvement in the Benghazi attacks,” he claimed. “Some of these new NDAs, as they call them, I have been told were signed as recently as this summer.”
Wolf has made several requests to establish a select committee and probe conducted by intelligence committee investigators to find out what went on. Around 160 Republicans have signed on to Wolf’s request. Last week, eight Republicans also signed a letter written by Chaffetz to FBI Director James Comey, requesting that he brief Congress within 30 days, because the administration’s investigation into the attacks has been “simply unacceptable.” The group wants to know why no suspects have been captured or killed.
Chaffetz was especially incensed by the reality that CNN was able to interview Ahmed Abu Khattala, the Benghazi leader of Ansar al-Sharia. Khattala admitted being at the compound the night of the attack, but said during the interview that he has yet to be contacted by the FBI, despite the fact that he is a “person of interest,” according to officials. “How come the FBI isn’t doing this and yet CNN is?” Chaffetz wondered aloud to reporters.
Why the Obama administration is stonewalling this investigation in general remains the key question. It has long been speculated that the State Department and the CIA were involved in an international version of Fast and Furious, moving surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels. Three days after the Benghazi attack, British newspaper The Times reported that a Libyan ship “carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria…has docked in Turkey.” In an email sent to CNN, the State Department claimed all it was doing in Libya was helping the post-Gadaffi government get rid of weapons that had were “damaged, aged or too unsafe retain,” and were not involved in any weapons transfer.
But the State Department also told the network they “can’t speak for any other agencies.” This corroborates testimony offered by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Senate hearing on the subject in January. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) asked Clinton if the CIA was running guns, and if she could explain what a CIA annex was doing in Benghazi in the first place. Clinton told Paul he would have to ask “the agency running the annex.” At the time, Paul was ridiculed as a conspiracy theorist for asking the question.
Times have changed, a reality amplified by the fact that the CIA refused to comment when asked by CNN about the weapons transfer allegation.
Nonetheless, CIA spokesman Dean Boyd insisted in a statement that the CIA has been forthcoming with Congress. “The CIA has worked closely with its oversight committees to provide them with an extraordinary amount of information related to the attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi,” the statement said. “CIA employees are always free to speak to Congress if they want. The CIA enabled all officers involved in Benghazi the opportunity to meet with Congress. We are not aware of any CIA employee who has experienced retaliation, including any non-routine security procedures, or who has been prevented from sharing a concern with Congress about the Benghazi incident.”
Wolf wasn’t buying it. He believes the frequent polygraph tests are a “form of coverup,” and that the “American people are feeling the same way.” His solution is simple. “We should have the people who were on the scene come in, testify under oath, do it publicly, and lay it out. And there really isn’t any national security issue involved with regards to that,” he explained.
Remarkably, Wolf and company are being stymied by House Speaker John Boehner, who, along with ally Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), has left Wolf’s resolution languishing in the Rules Committee since January. Boehner and other GOP leaders contend the current investigation, consisting of four “heavily involved committees,” according to Boehner, is sufficient. Conservative Republicans are pressuring Boehner to change his mind and create a select committee.
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) has taken it one step further. On July 27, he filed a “discharge petition” that would get around the scheduling process for bills, currently controlled by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), and force GOP leadership to allow a House vote. “If I can get 218 Congressional Republicans to back me, a majority of the House, we will break through the D.C. stonewall and there will finally be a vote on creating the Select Committee to investigate Benghazi,” Stockman wrote at his website. He also explained his rationale for doing so. “You see, Congress just canceled a hearing in which we were supposed to hear from Benghazi survivors,” he wrote. “Why? Because someone in a Democrat office leaked the names of the witnesses, who were then targeted for intimidation.”
One thing is certain here. The positions of CIA spokesman Dean Boyd and the statements by CNN’s CIA sources cannot be reconciled. Someone is lying. The Obama administration has already demonstrated it was more than willing to orchestrate the lie about the Benghazi attack being catalyzed by an Internet video, even as the president continues to insist this scandal, as well as others plaguing his administration, are “phony.”
It is critical to remember why Obama and company thought it was necessary to lie. The Benghazi attack occurred during the homestretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, during which the president assured us on several occasions that al Qaeda was “on the run,” “decimated,” and “on the path to defeat.”
The past month alone revealed the staggering level of deceit those statements encapsulated. Al Qaeda has been linked to, or coordinated, a series of prison breaks, freeing more than 500 hardcore terrorists from Abu Ghraib and Taji in Iraq, nearly 250 more from the prison in the town of Dera Ismail Khan in Paistan, and 1,100 in Benghazi.
Interpol has issued a global security alert to nine nations as a result. That warning followed an announcement by the Obama administration that American embassies located in the Middle East and North Africa would be closed yesterday, due to “a potential threat occurring in, or emanating from, the Arabian Peninsula.” It is based on “specific credible information,” and the team tasked with carrying it out is “already in place.” Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security is boosting domestic security efforts as well.
All this in response to a decimated, on-the-run terrorist organization? A comprehensive, Watergate-style investigation of what occurred in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 can’t happen soon enough.
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