Clinton's secret arms dealing -- and how it led to disaster in Libya.
Hillary Clinton led the charge in the Obama administration to go to war in Libya. Her objective was to overthrow the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Not one to be deterred by opponents in the Pentagon and Congress to her reckless interventionist plans, Hillary decided to end-run them. Her State Department helped facilitate what Andrew P. Napolitano in his scathing article has called “Hillary’s secret war.” When the secret war began to backfire, as arms ended up in the hands of anti-American jihadists, Hillary Clinton and other senior members of the Obama administration engaged in lies, obstructions of congressional investigations and scapegoating to cover their tracks.
An e-mail from Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan, dated August 21, 2011, to one of Hillary Clinton’s close associates, Cheryl Mills, and to then State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, described Hillary’s central role involving Libya in these words:
“Secretary Clinton's leadership on Libya
HRC has been a critical voice on Libya in administration deliberations, at NATO, and in contact group meetings — as well as the public face of the U.S. effort in Libya. She was instrumental in securing the authorization, building the coalition, and tightening the noose around Qadhafi and his regime”
Hillary Clinton was not averse to using private parties to facilitate secret arms shipments to rebel forces in Libya. For example, she wrote an e-mail to Jake Sullivan on April 8, 2011, attaching an intelligence report from her confidante Sidney Blumenthal concerning Libya, in which she stated: “The idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered."
An American arms dealer by the name of Marc Turi was the type of person that Hillary may have had in mind. On April 6, 2011. Mr. Turi e-mailed Christopher Stevens, who was at that time the special representative to the Libyan rebel alliance, later becoming the fallen ambassador to Libya after the Qaddafi regime was overthrown. Turi was looking for assistance from Mr. Stevens with regard to his application for a license to sell weapons directly to the rebels in Libya, which Turi had filed the previous month. Mr. Stevens responded with interest to Turi’s e-mail, saying that he would share Turi’s information with “my colleagues in Washington.”
Turi’s license to sell arms directly to the rebels was rejected. However, his subsequent application for a license to sell arms instead to Qatar, a supposed ally of the United States which had its own direct channels to Islamist rebel forces in Libya as well as in Syria, was granted by the State Department and Treasury Department in May 2011. As quoted by the New York Times, Mr. Turi said in an interview that, while he wanted to get weapons to Qatar, what “the U.S. government and Qatar allowed from there was between them.”
Qatar, as it turns out, donated money to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation while Hillary was serving as Secretary of State. At that same time, Qatar was seeking and obtaining State Department approvals for receiving arms shipments. Hillary’s State Department ignored a stipulation put into effect by her husband in 1995 requiring the State Department to take into account human rights abuses when evaluating whether to approve a country’s purchase of arms from U.S. companies. In short, Qatar donated money to the Clinton Foundation while seeking approvals from Hillary Clinton’s State Department for arms purchases, which could in turn be shipped to the Libyan rebels whom Hillary was so intent on helping.
The problem with Qatar serving as an indirect conduit for shipment of arms supplied by private arms dealers such as Mr. Turi to Libyan or Syrian rebels was that Qatar could not be trusted to get the arms to so-called “moderate” rebel forces seen as friendly to the West. Qatar promoted a jihadist ideology shared by anti-Western Islamists in Libya to whom arms evidently were flowing from Qatar.
“The Qataris are supposedly good allies, but the Islamists they support are not in our interest,” as a former defense official quoted by the New York Times put it.
Yet, Qatar was receiving weapons from various American sources, presumably including the type of “private security experts” whom Hillary had urged be considered for arming “the opposition” in Libya.
As Andrew Napolitano explained, based on his review of State Department e-mails and other documentary materials: “Many of the rebels Mrs. Clinton armed, using the weapons lawfully sold to Qatar by Mr. Turi and others, were terrorist groups who are our sworn enemies.”
Some of the weapons that fell into the hands of jihadists in Libya were possibly used in in the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack against the U.S. diplomatic and intelligence compounds, resulting in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Steven’s last diary entry contained this foreboding : “Never ending security threats…”
What was Ambassador Stevens doing on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, a hotbed of Islamic jihadists, in the first place? Was he involved in a covert program for shipping arms out of Libya to Syrian rebels, with Turkey being used as an intermediary? Circumstantial evidence points in that direction. On September 11, according to his diary passages, Stevens met with Mahmoud Mufti, a shipping company owner, and Ali Akin, the Turkish Consul General. Stevens may also have been involved in efforts to buy American-made weapons back from jihadists involved in the war against Qaddafi. They were among the rebels whom may have previously received the arms through the Qatar channel. The purpose of such a buy-back program would have been to remove any finger-prints of U.S. involvement in arming them in the first place.
By her own admission, Hillary Clinton advocated helping to arm the Syrian rebels, just as she did with respect to the Libyan rebels. It is hard to conceive that Ambassador Stevens would have been involved in any activities related to arms flowing into or out of Libya without her knowledge. In any event, Hillary was well aware of Stevens’ presence in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Part of his mission, according to congressional testimony provided months later by Stevens’ top deputy in Libya, Greg Hicks, was to help prepare the way for Clinton’s planned trip to Libya in December 2012 when she hoped to announce the conversion of the Benghazi mission to a permanent post.
What followed the Benghazi attack was a scramble by the Obama administration, including Hillary Clinton’s State Department, to cover its tracks. It started with concocting a false narrative about the cause of the attack. Although senior officials knew within hours of the attack that it was the work of jihadist terrorists, an obscure producer of an anti-Muslim video was made the scapegoat and subsequently jailed. Hillary was at the center of this scapegoating, telling the father of one of the fallen Americans that the administration will “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.”
It is unclear whether Marc Turi actually sold any weapons to Qatar himself. But he too became a convenient scapegoat for the Obama administration. Going after Turi for alleged falsehoods in his application to sell arms to Qatar would help deflect attention from its own covert arms transfers through Qatar to rebel forces in Libya, and possibly through other channels such as Turkey to rebel forces in Syria.
Turi had been investigated and his home searched shortly after his application to sell arms to Qatar was approved in 2011. However, it was not until 2014 that he was indicted for allegedly listing Qatar and the United Arab Emirates falsely as the end users for the arms he was selling that were, according to the indictment, actually intended for individuals in Libya. Of course, even if true, this was the very type of arming of the Libyan opposition by “private security experts” that Hillary had written so positively about in 2011. Turi summed up his own predicament when he said, as quoted by Fox News: "At some point, I may be that internet video excuse."
As part of the Obama administration’s efforts to make Turi the fall guy, it made an all-out effort to block testimony relevant to Turi’s defense from being heard by the grand jury considering Turi’s indictment. The testimony had to do with the U.S. government’s own covert involvement in arming the rebel forces. David Manners, who had served as Central Intelligence Agency Chief of Station in Prague and in Amman, Jordan, and served as executive assistant to the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency, tried multiple times to explain such covert arms transfers to the grand jury. The government’s prosecuting attorney stopped him. Even after being asked by a member of the grand jury whether the United States government, either directly or indirectly, supplied weapons to the Libyan Transitional National Council, Mr. Manners was stopped from providing a full answer. Prosecutors control grand jury proceedings and, in this case, the U.S. prosecutor used his power to obstruct a relevant line of inquiry critical to Turi’s defense.
In furtherance of her own cover up, Hillary Clinton also destroyed thousands of e-mails from her personal account that was used in part for official State Department business. She also wiped her home-installed server clean. Hillary herself and the State Department have withheld two Sept. 29, 2012 emails relating to Libya between Clinton and Jake Sullivan, Cheryl Mills and spokesman Philippe Reines. Sullivan, as mentioned earlier, had written the glowing memo more than a year earlier lauding Hillary’s leadership of the fight to bring down Qaddafi, and received the note from Hillary saying that “The idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered."
Hillary must have forgotten all about this idea of hers by the time of her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 23, 2013. When asked by Republican Senator Rand Paul whether the CIA annex in Benghazi, which it so happens Ambassador Stevens had reportedly visited shortly before the September 11, 2012 attack, was “involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons,” including the transfer of any weapons to other countries such as Turkey, Hillary’s reply was “I do not know.” She referred Senator Paul to the CIA.
The cover up has gone on long enough. Congressional investigators have been too polite to Ms. Clinton. They should demand that she turn over her server immediately and threaten to hold her in contempt if she refuses. She should be required to testify in detail under oath about her entire role regarding Libya both before and after Qaddafi was overthrown. The timing, duration and format of her testimony should not be subject to negotiation. The American people have an absolute right to know whether someone who aspires to be their next president and commander-in-chief can be trusted. The burden of proof is squarely on Hillary’s shoulders alone. Based on what we know so far, even without the e-mails that Hillary wrongfully destroyed, she will have a very tough time meeting that burden.