Lost Lessons of Libya

Exclusive: Despite months of Western diplomatic efforts, Libya remains an object lesson in “regime change” arrogance, a failed state beset by rival militias and becoming a new base for Islamic extremists as the movie “Thirteen Hours” graphically depicts, writes James DiEugenio.

By James DiEugenio

American foreign policy leaders are not great at learning lessons from the past. The cautionary tale about “regime change” from George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 did not even last until 2011 when President Barack Obama at the urging of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plunged into “regime change” in Libya, creating one more failed state and another humanitarian catastrophe.

Different presidents, different parties, very similar results.

A scene from the movie, Thirteen Hours, about the fatal clash between Libyan jihadists and U.S. security personnel around the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

A scene from the movie, “Thirteen Hours,” about the fatal clash between Libyan jihadists and U.S. security personnel around the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

In the case of Libya, many of the failings from that enterprise are recounted in the book, Thirteen Hours, along with one of the tragic consequences of that adventure, the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, an event highlighted in a movie by the same name.

But the failure of Obama and Clinton to heed the warnings from the Iraq disaster has historical precedents in other prescient warnings that were ignored by impetuous leaders, such as early doubts expressed about the gathering storm clouds in Vietnam in the 1950s.

In 1958, William Lederer, a former Navy officer, and Eugene Burdick, a political scientist, submitted their draft of a non-fiction book called The Ugly American to W.W. Norton Company. An editor at Norton suggested it would probably be more dramatically effective if it was rewritten as a roman a clef, that is as a thinly disguised fiction based on actual people and events.

From a marketing standpoint at least, the editor was correct. The Ugly American became a sensational success, spending 76 weeks on the best-seller lists and eventually selling over four million copies. [New York Times, Nov. 29, 2009]

Arrogance and Stupidity

Essentially, the authors were criticizing the arrogance and stupidity of American foreign policy in Indochina. They were particularly hard on the State Department. They pictured its employees as being insensitive and unknowledgeable about the true circumstances and conditions of the cultures they were dealing with. Even the best of their representatives were blinded by the distortions of the Cold War. Their consuming anti-communism kept them from perceiving that they had become their own worst enemies.

Sen. John F. Kennedy, a skeptic about U.S. interventions in Third World conflicts, mailed a copy of The Ugly American to each member of the U.S. Senate, but the United States plunged nonetheless into the Vietnam killing fields, with Kennedy as president deploying the Green Berets and other military advisers to the South Vietnamese army and then after Kennedy’s death President Lyndon Johnson escalating the war dramatically by committing more than a half million U.S. soldiers.

But even the devastating failure in Vietnam did not instill any lasting sense of caution and humility in the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Bristling with boasts about “American exceptionalism,” President George W. Bush rushed off to invade Iraq in 2003 and President Barack Obama launched an air war in Libya in 2011 in support of an uprising against longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Like his predecessors in other U.S. interventions, Obama was either ignorant of or chose to ignore history, since Libya had a long record of suffering under and resisting foreign powers.

For three centuries, the Ottoman Empire had controlled Libya until 1890. In 1912, Italy took over the northern African country, but was cast out eight years later. However, in 1931, Italian fascist Benito Mussolini invaded again. His forces captured and hanged the Moslem leader Omar Mukhtar, who became a martyred hero, especially in eastern Libya.

It was not until after World War II, with Italy and its fascist Axis allies defeated, that Libya became free and independent. In 1951, a constitutional monarchy under the Senussi Moslem leader Idris al-Senussi was formed. At that time, Libya was one of the poorest and most illiterate countries in the world. [Thirteen Hours, by Mitchell Zuckoff, e-book version, p. 11]

Slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

In 1969, the king was overthrown in a bloodless military coup led by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi who then exercised what was essentially one-man rule over Libya for over 40 years during which Libya grew rich from oil fields mostly located in the east around Benghazi, although political power was concentrated in the west around Tripoli, which Gaddafi made the permanent capital and the home for the National Oil Corporation. Most of the improvements Gaddafi made, such as hospitals and schools, were also in the west. [ibid, p. 11]

Backing a Rebellion

So, in 2011, when a rebellion broke out against Gaddafi, it understandably started in east Libya and was partly fueled by the slighting of the east for the west. Once this happened, in the context of other uprisings known as the Arab Spring, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton assisted by then U.S Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and National Security staffer Samantha Power decided to seize the opportunity to eliminate Gaddafi, long considered a thorn in the side of U.S. foreign policy.

But as with Bush in Iraq they did not appear to have asked themselves: 1.) What do we have to replace him? and 2.) Will the situation in Libya be better or worse when he is gone? Some observers cautioned about any American intervention, simply because of the Pandora’s Box effect: Who could possibly predict what would happen afterwards?

The rebellion against Gaddafi began in February 2011 in east Libya, and then spread westward. It included the Islamist organizations, the Libyan Fighting Group and the Obaida Ibn Jarrah Brigade. These organizations appear to have fought Gaddafi because he allowed a secular form of government, including many rights for women.

The anti-Gaddafi opposition also included elements of Al Qaeda, though the rebel groups denied this at the time. The role of Islamic extremists was confirmed by a West Point study of captured Al Qaeda documents called the Sinjar Records, which showed that a disproportionate number of jihadists who flocked to fight American troops in Iraq came from eastern Libya. Also, according to documents released by Wikileaks, one of the rebel leaders had joined the Taliban. [The Daily Telegraph, Oct. 29, 2011]

So, although there were pro-democratic elements in the rebellion against Gaddafi, mainly among the professional classes, there was a real danger that, if the rebels won out, the result could be a hardline Islamist state that would revoke rights for women and create a new stronghold for terrorism.

Secretary Clinton also was made aware of the role of regional rivalries seeking Gaddafi’s demise as well as Western motives that had nothing to do with protecting the lives or improving the lot of Libyans. For instance, among Clinton’s recently declassified emails, private adviser Sidney Blumenthal informed her that Egyptian special operations units were training and arming Libyan militants along the Egypt/Libya border and in Benghazi even before the uprising began. [Brad Hoff, The Levant Report, Jan. 4, 2016]

France’s Motives

France also parachuted weapons to the rebels, including anti-tank rockets. [Le Figaro, June 28, 2011] And, as Blumenthal explained to Clinton, France’s motives were not entirely noble. French President Nicolas Sarkozy wanted a greater share of Libyan oil production than he was getting from Gaddafi. Also, Sarkozy was interested in a new government in Libya because Gaddafi had plans to supplant the French franc with the Libyan golden dinar in Francophone Africa. In other words, Gaddafi wanted to free Africa from the neocolonial interests of the old colonial powers.

Blumenthal warned Clinton, too, that elements of Al Qaeda were infiltrating upward into the rebel umbrella group called the NTC, the National Transitional Council. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What Hillary Knew about Libya.”]

Retired UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was alerted to the terrorist role directly by Gaddafi. While in power, Blair had visited Gaddafi a number of times and the Libyan leader considered him a friend.

In two phone calls on Feb. 25, 2011, Gaddafi told Blair that the forces he was fighting were similar to Osama Bin Laden. He said, “We are not fighting them, they are attacking us. An organization had laid down sleeping cells in North Africa. Called the Al Qaeda Organization in North Africa. The sleeping cells in Libya are similar to dormant cells in America before 9/11.” [The Telegraph, Jan. 7, 2016] As the author of this story, Robert Mendick noted Gaddafi was prophetic about this considering the later attacks in France.

But the Western leaders ignored these warnings. Following the Lederer-Burdick script from Indochina, France and the U.S., for different reasons, decided to team up again to attack a Third World country, this time in Africa.

While there were covert operations already going on in Libya, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were working more or less out in the open at the United Nations.

Tricking the Russians

In February 2011, the U.S., France, Germany and England teamed up to pass Security Council Resolution 1970. This act condemned Gaddafi for using lethal force against civilians in Tripoli (which, as many commentators have written, probably did not happen.) The UN then passed a series of sanctions against Libya, including freezing some assets and enacting an arms embargo. At the same time Western countries were aiding some of the worst elements of the rebellion.

One month later, the Obama administration returned to the United Nations, wanting to go even further. Resolution 1973 proposed the establishment of “a no-fly zone” over Libya, supposedly for humanitarian purposes. It also contained a clause that allowed all necessary means to protect civilians, short of an occupying force. Russia and China were lobbied not to veto it but rather to abstain from the vote, which they did despite concerns that the use of military force could result in unintended consequences.

President Barack Obama at the White House with National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Samantha Power (right), his U.N. ambassador. (Photo credit: Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama at the White House with National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Samantha Power (right), his U.N. ambassador. (Photo credit: Pete Souza)

The pretense for this intervention was that Gaddafi’s forces, which had isolated the rebels near Benghazi, would inflict a bloodbath. So, soon after the “humanitarian” resolution passed, the Western military operation unleashed fierce attacks against Gaddafi’s army in the east and quickly expanded the intervention into a “regime change” project headed by NATO, bombing a wide range of Libyan government targets and blockading ports.

Codenamed “Operation Unified Protector,” over 9,000 strike sorties were flown and over 400 artillery batteries were destroyed along with 600 tanks or armored vehicles. [Final Mission Stats, published by NATO, Nov. 2, 2011]

Some critics argued at the time that the Obama administration was exaggerating the potential for a bloodbath. For instance, University of Texas professor Alan Kuperman pointed out that neither Amnesty International nor Human Rights Watch warned of any impending massacre in Libya and neither did the U.S. intelligence community.

In March 2011, Kuperman wrote that there was no photographic evidence to support the administration’s claims but rather mostly rebel propaganda transmitted to the White House, which uncritically accepted it. [Foreign Affairs, “Who Lost Libya”, April 21, 2015] Kuperman said the intervention was actually driven by the fact that Gaddafi was close to stifling the rebellion. [“Obama’s Libya Debacle,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2015]

The true aim of the UN/NATO enterprise was not humanitarian relief but “regime change.” Once the rebel forces sensed that, they decided to reject each and every offer of a truce with negotiations that the Libyan government extended.

Call for ‘Regime Change’

Obama signaled U.S. support for the rebel intransigence by announcing on March 3, 2011, that Gaddafi “must step down from power and leave.” (op. cit. “Who Lost Libya”) The State Department then ordered U.S. Africa Command to stop peace negotiations on March 22. Even though Gaddafi made two more offers for a truce, with minimal demands on his side requesting only that his inner circle be allowed to leave the country peacefully and that Libya retain a military force strong enough to fight Al Qaeda and ISIS elements of the rebellion. (ibid)

Former Rear Admiral Charles Kubic, who had a major role in the negotiations, confirmed that Gaddafi was willing to step down and that his military leaders were willing to withdraw their forces from the cities to the outskirts in order to begin a truce process. Kubic was puzzled by the refusal of Western officials to accept, not only this but also the offer to discuss constitutional changes and pay compensation to victims of the fighting.

Kubic came to the conclusion that, “It wasn’t enough to get him out of power; they wanted him dead.” (ibid) Gaddafi’s olive branches were rebuffed, dismissed out of hand.

If Gaddafi’s death was indeed the goal a kind of head-on-a-spike, tough-guy/gal moment of blood lust the goal was achieved. Due to the massive NATO bombing and repeated refusals of a negotiated settlement, Tripoli was taken in the autumn of 2011. Gaddafi retreated to his hometown of Sirte, where he was captured on Oct. 20, 2011, tortured (sodomized with a knife) and then murdered.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

Secretary Clinton could hardly contain her glee. Basking in her “Mission Accomplished” moment, she famously declared to a broadcast reporter, “We came, we saw, he died.”

But as George W. Bush had shown, when proper geopolitical conditions are not considered, a seeming victory can become a disaster. It turned out Gaddafi was correct. There were strong elements of radical Islam incorporated into the rebellion against him. And although an interim government was constructed, it could not control the anarchy that had been unleashed by the civil war. The government simply could not coax or order the guerrillas, militias and Islamists to disarm.

Benghazi Chaos

There was so little order that huge arms bazaars materialized overnight and sold sophisticated weapons on the street. Even before the outbreak of violence against Americans at the State Department compound and the CIA annex in Benghazi, there were two major violent clashes in 2012: the Sabha tribal dispute, resulting in 147 dead and 395 wounded, and the Zuwara conflict between Gaddafi loyalists and local militias, with estimates of more than 50 dead and over 100 wounded.

In the face of this escalating violence and the inability of the new government to quell the disorder, several foreign embassies shuttered their windows and closed their doors. However, the United States did not withdraw, even from the anarchic situation surrounding Benghazi.

In Benghazi, the United States had allied itself with a less radical group called the February 17th Martyrs Brigade which supplied hired guards to protect State Department buildings. [Zuckoff, p. 19] But perhaps the most powerful militia in Libya at the time of the Benghazi attack was the Ansar al Sharia Brigade, which translates as Partisans of Islamic Law.

The violence escalated because of the easy availability of weapons, including grenades, mortars, rocket launchers and heavy machine guns. [ibid, p. 20] In June 2012, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the British ambassador, contributing to the United Kingdom’s decision to depart Benghazi. (ibid, p. 22)

In June 2012, Ambassador Christopher Stevens sent a cable to Washington, warning that Al Qaeda influence was spreading in Libya and he had seen their flags flying. Around the same time, Stevens had sent another cable to Washington seeking more bodyguards. He described the security conditions in Libya as being “unpredictable, volatile and violent.” [ibid, p. 63]

This request was denied, as were similar ones. Altogether, Stevens’ requests for added security were denied three times, even though the State Department classified the conditions for staffers there as critical. In late August 2012, the department circulated a travel warning to Libya declaring that “Political violence in the form of assassination and vehicle bombs have increased in both Benghazi and Tripoli. Inter-military conflict can erupt at any time or any place in the country.” [ibid, p. 65]

So the questions become: 1.) If the U.S. was going to stay, why was State not willing to fully protect its own personnel? and 2.) If not willing to fully protect the personnel, why should they stay? Whatever the answer to those questions, one of the main functions of the State Department compound in Benghazi, which did not technically qualify as a consulate, was to gather intelligence on the growing influence of Al Qaeda. (ibid, pgs. 35, 61)

Whenever one of the State Department employees went out to meet with a citizen, whoever it may have been, they were escorted by at least one bodyguard. That guard was either employed by Diplomatic Security (DS) or the CIA’s Global Response Staff (GRS). The former arose after the Beirut bombing in 1983; the latter after 9/11. The GRS is largely staffed by former special operations officers, e.g. Navy Seals. Two of the men who died at Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, were part of the GRS, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

A Fatal Visit 

Ambassador Stevens had arrived for a five-day visit in Benghazi from Tripoli on Sept. 10. He attended a ribbon cutting at a local school, and opened up an “American Corner” on a city street: a place where Libyans could get bilingual books and films and magazines. (ibid, p. 65) He had five DS agents assigned to him, plus a computer technology officer, Sean Smith.

The State Department compound in Benghazi was not secure even from the Libyan guards hired to defend it. A post-incident review stated that the compound “had been vandalized and attacked by some of the same guards who were there to protect it.” [ibid, p. 67] In fact, at the time Stevens was in Benghazi there was a work dispute going on with these very same guards.

For security reasons, Stevens had not planned on leaving the compound on Sept. 11, which was the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. During the day, Stevens heard from an assistant that protesters had stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo over an insulting video about Islam that had been placed on YouTube, called Innocence of Muslim. (p. 76)

A State Department warning was sent out about a danger to local government buildings from Libyans. Stevens was alerted to this but disregarded it. In his last diary entry that night, Stevens wrote about how much he enjoyed being in Benghazi, except for the “Never ending security threats”

U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in Benghazi on Sept. 12, 2012. (State Department photo)

U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in Benghazi on Sept. 12, 2012. (State Department photo)

Shortly after 9 p.m., a Toyota pick-up truck pulled up in front of the compound. The car had police insignia. It stayed awhile, and then left. An explosion rang out. Dozens of men swarmed the gate firing AK-47s into the air. Some had walkie-talkies. To this day, there is a debate about whether the gate was left open or whether the Libyan guards were coerced into opening it. [Zuckoff, pgs. 83-85]

The militia leader who seemed to have organized the attack was Abu Khattala. [New York Times, Dec. 28, 2013] He had been a leader of the Al Jarrah brigade, which had helped depose Gaddafi with extensive American aid. Some witnesses interviewed by David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times said that, during the rioting inside the compound, Innocence of Muslims was mentioned. Yet, whether or not the film was the casus belli of the attack or it was simply a pretense used by the main organizer, perhaps Khattala, has become part of a partisan debate, which has obscured some of the larger questions involved.

As calls went out for help, Stevens took refuge with Smith in a safe room part of his villa, led there by a security officer. The attackers could not get into the room but managed to set fire to most of the area outside. The security officer tried to lead Smith and Stevens to a bathroom with an escape window onto a terrace. But en route, he lost Stevens and Smith. He tried going back several times to find them, but could not. He was later overcome with smoke inhalation and collapsed on the terrace.

After a delay of about 20-30 minutes, six GRS officers left the CIA annex, which was about a mile from the State Department compound. They managed to counter the attackers, and they found the body of Sean Smith who was dead from smoke inhalation. They also tried to find Stevens but could not get into the safe room due to fire and smoke.

After the rescuers returned to the CIA annex, they took positions on the rooftops of the main buildings. Several more men arrived from Tripoli in the middle of the night, with the defenders repulsing an attack on the CIA annex. The attackers regrouped and launched a mortar barrage. In the shelling, Bud Doherty, one of the men who arrived from Tripoli, and Ty Woods, part of the rescue team, were killed.

Stevens’ body was later recovered by locals. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead from smoke inhalation. Stevens was the first American ambassador to die in office in the line of duty since 1988.

A Political Football

The administration sent UN Ambassador Susan Rice out that weekend to make the circle of talk shows relying on talking points that played up the impact of the YouTube video as provoking the attack. [ibid, New York Times.] The Republicans seized on Rice’s statement, insisting that it was part of an Obama administration cover-up. But as Kirkpatrick noted in his six-part series, the Republicans went overboard in their painting of a conspiracy theory. (ibid)

Yet, there were clearly errors in Secretary Clinton’s and the State Department’s handling of the Libyan conflict and the resulting chaos. Benghazi was one of the most dangerous State Department outposts in the world, perhaps the most dangerous, yet pleas for enhanced security were bureaucratically rebuffed. The other key error was the delay in getting help to the compound sooner.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the four victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Sept. 14, 2012. [State Department photo)

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the four victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Sept. 14, 2012. [State Department photo)

But the question that neither side wants to address is the one that Professor Kuperman confronts head on: Would it have been better for Libya and America if the State Department had negotiated with Gaddafi to ease his ouster and, perhaps, have had his son Saif al-Islam take over Libya? Due to the insistence on “regime change,” Libya is now listed by the State Department as a failed state. In 2014, it descended into its second civil war in three years. And now Al Qaeda and ISIS have operational cells there.

Lederer and Burdick could not have written a more nightmarish scenario to show the arrogance and short sightedness of American foreign policy. Prominent neocon Richard Perle could not have done worse. Yet, the overriding failure of “regime change” strategies was not the focus of Republican investigations. The Republican-controlled Congress insisted instead on focusing on what Secretary Clinton knew and when she knew it.

As the Benghazi political firestorm swept across Washington, author Mitchell Zuckoff got in contact with the surviving GRS officers who rode from the CIA annex to rescue Stevens that night. Zuckoff, a former journalist and author, relied on those accounts in13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened at Benghazi, written as a deliberate attempt to sidestep all of the partisan issues that had enveloped the incident.

The book concentrated on the characters of the six GRS contractors, Ambassador Stevens, computer expert Smith, and the CIA chief of station who was fictionally named Bob. The book details the firefights at both the State Department Compound and the CIA annex in extraordinary detail.

Considering the focus of the book, director-producer Michael Bay was a decent enough choice to transform the book into a movie. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer had hired Bay to direct action films like Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and Bad Boys 2. Bay is strong on technical elements: visuals, sound and editing. He is not so interested in things like story, character development, subtlety, and dramatic structure. But, in truth, Zuckoff’s book is not really interested in those aspects either.

To adapt the book, Bay hired author Chuck Hogan, who wrote novels including Prince of Thieves, which was adapted into the Ben Affleck film The Town in 2010.

Book into Movie 

In comparing the book, Thirteen Hours, with the film by the same name, there seems to me to be only one really exaggerated scene of dramatic license. When a militia at a checkpoint stops two of the GRS agents, the book does not describe any shooting which followed. (Zuckoff, pgs. 23-25) Bay does show an exchange of fire.

There has been some controversy over whether the CIA station chief actually delayed the rescue attempt and resisted the GRS involvement. But this is all in Zuckoff’s book, and he details it profusely. (pgs. 94-102) If it did not happen, then the GRS agents are lying. I suspect the CIA is probably covering for the reluctance of  “Bob” to let the agents leave the station relatively unprotected.

One of the problems with the film is that, although it is an action movie, there is a lot of time between the set pieces of violence. And, the running time of the film is well over two hours. Thus, we have a lot of dialogue and scenes where people at the CIA annex are interacting, not one of Bay’s strengths. He also didn’t seem interested in casting acutely either.

Because of the subject matter, the film spent heavily on the production value and not on performance value. With the exception of Toby Stephens as Bud Doherty, the acting performances are not notable or dynamic. However, with the action scenes, Bay does a decent enough job. They are vividly presented, especially the last mortar attack in which the shells are seen arriving at the CIA annex in super slow motion.

Zuckoff’s book does mention the Internet video in more than one place. But Bay’s film makes very little comment on that topic. At the end, after the last attack, the film takes a nihilistic attitude toward the whole affair. The Arab linguist, who the GRS team employed as a translator on their rescue mission, decides not to go with them to the infirmary. He shakes his head in disgust and says words to the effect, none of this should have ever happened.

Before the end titles roll, the film tells us that Libya is classified as a failed state today. We then learn that the five surviving agents who tried to rescue Stevens all resigned shortly after this mission. This is as close as director Bay gets to any kind of political statement, a reflection of the Lederer-Burdick sense of how U.S. foreign policy ambitions often outstrip American ability to achieve those goals and how the misguided efforts result in grave human catastrophes.

James DiEugenio is a researcher and writer on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and other mysteries of that era. His most recent book is Reclaiming Parkland.

27 comments for “Lost Lessons of Libya

  1. Abe
    February 19, 2016 at 22:02

    Professor Alan J. Kuperman’s article, “A Model Humanitarian Intervention? Reassessing NATO’s Libya Campaign,” appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of International Security, edited by the Belfer Center of the Harvard Kennedy School.

    In September 2013, Kuperman produced a policy brief titled “Lessons from Libya: How Not to Intervene” based on his recent article.

    In “Lessons from Libya”, Kuperman summarized three policy “bottom lines” about the 2011 conflict in Libya:

    “The Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong”.

    Kuperman acknowledged the unconcealable fact that the opposition forces in Libya were armed and violent from the outset, and that the image presented by the media and NATO officials of a peaceful uprising was false.

    Nevertheless, Kuperman promoted the NATO propaganda narrative that its intervention was “inspired by humanitarian impulse”. This remains the central tenet of NATO’s R2P regime change propaganda despite the complete absence of any evidence that it was actually the case.

    “The Intervention Backfired”

    Kuperman acknowledged the unconcealable fact that NATO’s actions in Libya magnified the conflict’s duration, death toll, human rights abuses, humanitarian suffering, Islamic radicalism, and regional weapons proliferation.

    Nevertheless, Kuperman promoted the NATO propaganda narrative that the intervention was a “failure” despite evidence that NATO had cynically calculated the harm inflicted the people of Libya and the intervention succeeded in advancing the Alliance’s long-term strategic goals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

    In fact, the “backfire” problem for NATO was the global public opinion backlash, that necessitated a shift in propaganda tactics used to promote regime change projects already in the pipeline for Syria, Ukraine, and other nations, including Iran.

    “Three Lessons”

    Faced with the unconcealable fact that of NATO’s intervention was a complete catastrophe for the people of Libya and has destabilized the entire MENA region, Kuperman devised three “lessons” of the NATO intervention.

    1) “beware rebel propaganda that seeks intervention by falsely crying genocide.”

    After the Libyan intervention, in order to avoid the global skepticism generated by “crying wolf” about acts of genocide, NATO adopted a strategy of manufactured “evidence”.

    Bear in mind that Kuperman’s article appeared in the Summer of 2013 when NATO-backed al-Nusra terrorists in Syria launched chemical weapons attacks against civilians near Damascus. NATO blamed the attacks on the Syrian government and the US came very close to bombing Syria.

    2) “avoid intervening on humanitarian grounds in ways that reward rebels and thus endanger civilians, unless the state is already targeting noncombatants.”

    Accusing a targeted nation of killing its own people is a tried and true regime change propaganda tactic.

    Iraqi President Saddam Hussein became notorious for “gassing his own people” with chemical weapons supplied by the United States.

    In March 2011, the terrorist assault against the Syrian state began in Daraa, near the Jordanian border. NATO nations immediately accused Syria of targeting noncombatants and ignored evidence that terrorist snipers were killing both civilians and police.

    The Maidan protests in Kiev started in November 2013. In February 2014, during the height of the turmoil, neo-Nazi militants supported by terrorist snipers killed both protesters and police in Kiev and violently overthrew the elected government of Ukraine. The new NATO-backed regime in Kiev blamed the previous government, but investigations have shown that the deadly shots were fired from buildings occupied by the neo-Nazi militants. The new regime soon launched a bloody Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) armed terror assault on the population of eastern Ukraine.

    Post-Libya NATO propaganda follows an identifiable formula: Using its own manufactured evidence, NATO screams that the targeted state is “already targeting noncombatants” in order to legitimate the “reward” of all manner of aid to its terrorist proxy forces, including weapons and air support. In the case of Ukraine, the “reward” includes participation in the NATO Alliance against Russia.

    3) “resist the tendency of humanitarian intervention to morph into regime change, which amplifies the risk to civilians.”

    Since the Libyan intervention, NATO has simply inverted the order of its propaganda by leading with a direct regime change assault by terrorist proxy forces designed to morph into a humanitarian crisis.

    Al-Qaeda terrorist forces, armed with weapons looted from Libyan military arsenals, financed by the NATO-friendly Gulf Cooperation Council states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, given safe haven and direct support by NATO-member Turkey, have been on a bloody rampage across Syria.

    Every advance by the al-Qaeda terrorist forces in Syria, and every effort by the Syrian state to defend its people from murderous al-Qaeda attacks, has been met with urgent NATO demands for humanitarian intervention.

    So back in September 2013, how did Kuperman account for the direct link between the intervention in Libya and the conflict in Syria?

    In a single paragraph aside, Kuperman acknowledged yet another unconcealable fact:

    “Sophisticated weapons from Qaddafi’s arsenal—including up to 15,000 man-portable, surface-to-air missiles unaccounted for as of 2012—leaked to radical Islamists throughout the region. NATO’s intervention on behalf of Libya’s rebels also encouraged Syria’s formerly peaceful protesters to switch to violence in mid-2011, in hopes of attracting a similar intervention. The resulting escalation in Syria magnified that country’s killing rate by tenfold.”

    In a flawless recitation of NATO’s revised propaganda narrative, Kuperman states that weapons from Libya “leaked” to Syria and “formerly peaceful protesters” in Syria “switched” to terrorist violence.

    The “model humanitarian intervention” that destroyed Libya was inverted to produce a new “intervention model” for NATO-instigated regime change in Syria and Ukraine.

    What to call Kuperman’s view of military intervention?

    Spectacular ignorance at best.

    Utter mendacity at worst.

    Be they fools or liars, Alan J. Kuperman and his fanboy James DiEugenio are promoting propaganda narratives designed to divert attention from the true nature of NATO’s interventions in the Middle East and Europe, military adventures that threaten humanity.

  2. Abe
    February 19, 2016 at 14:10

    James DiEugenio relies much on the wisdom of professor Alan J. Kuperman. DiEugenio rather obviously cribbed the title of his article “Lost Lessons of Libya” from Kuperman’s policy brief “Lessons from Libya.

    However, you may not wish to give the Council of Foreign Relations your email address in exchange for the privilege of professor Kuperman’s sagacious reading of the “failure” of Libya.

    Who is professor Kuperman?

    Kuperman is the coordinator of an organization called the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (NPPP), based at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.

    Kuperman’s published record of advocating military attack on Iran to “disrupt” its alleged nuclear program earned him many admirers and no doubt helped to advance his career.

    In June 2014, Kuperman was a speaker at the 14th Annual Herzliya Conference in Israel.

    Israel’s premier global policy gathering, the Herzliya Conference is hosted by the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS), a leading Israeli military and strategic affairs think tank.

    The annual Herzliya Conference takes place at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC Herzliya), located on the grounds of a former Israeli Air Force base.

    The theme of the 2014 Herzliya Conference was “Israel and the Future of the Middle East”. The Herzliya Roundtable sessions are intended to facilitate in-depth conversations on topical issues involving a limited number of senior-most practitioners and experts. While several sessions were open and on-record; other sessions were invitation only. Kuperman was a panelist for an off-record, invitation only discussion themed “Short-Term Middle East Scenarios: Assessing Key Macro Drivers”.

    In December 2014 the IPS and IDC Herzliya published Kuperman’s paper, “Iran Nuclear Deal Unlikely to Halt Regional Proliferation,” as the lead paper in its conference book, Iran-Ten Days After the Deal: Regional and Global Implications.

    In addition to his participation in Israel’s leading think tank conference, another of professor Kuperman’s notable achievements was serving as a senior fellow at the the US Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC from 2013 to 2014.

    Kuperman’s participation at USIP may seem surprising at first glance, since he’s not exactly known for wanting to “give peace a chance” with Iran. But more than a cursory glance at the name of the Institute reveals that Kuperman and USIP are a perfect match.

    Critics say that the supposed peace research of the USIP “looks more like the study of new and potential means of aggression,” through trade embargoes, austerity programs, and electoral intervention.

    When the USIP was established in 1984, the USIP board looked like a “‘who’s who’ of right-wing ideologues from academia and the Pentagon,” and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency may assign officers and employees to the Institute.

    In 2010, USIP published The Iran Primer, a document authored by notable figures such as Stephen J. Hadley, national security adviser for the George W. Bush administration from 2005 to 2009, assistant secretary of defense for international security policy during the George H.W. Bush administration, and senior adviser on international affairs at USIP.

    A November 2014 examination by researcher Burkely Hermann revealed how USIP is federal institution “mired by connections the foreign policy and military establishments, the intelligence community and the corporate sector” https://zcomm.org/zblogs/questioning-the-us-institute-of-peace-does-it-really-care-about-peace/

    Here is an excerpt from Hermann’s study of USIP:

    David Petraeus called [the USIP] “a great asset in developing stronger unity of effort between civilian and military elements of government” in Afghanistan. They helped convene the Iraq Study Group in 2006, which came out with a final report that urged an immediate pull-out from Iraq and a surge in Afghanistan. So much for peace as this suggestion means that war would decline in one country and increased in another. As Howard Beale said in Network about the “truth” from television, “This is mass madness.” Then, there was the Genocide Prevention Task Force, convened by USIP and other groups, which was co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeline “the price was worth it” Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen who has played a big role in US military actions in Kosovo and Iraq in the 1990s. The 174-page report from this task force, which had thirty-five recommendations for lawmakers and other public officials, echoed the ideas of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), stating in part that: “states have a basic responsibility to protect their citizens from genocide and mass atrocities…As an element of this expression of resolve, the United States should also reaffirm its support for the principle of the ‘responsibil­ity to protect.’” What this report did not note is that R2P has been used to justify the interventions in the Ivory Coast and Libya in 2011 along with one in the Central African Republic in 2013. Binoy Kampmark wrote in 2008 that this report, which was from a task force chaired “by key players in the Clinton administration,” pairs well with “interventionist rhetoric Obama has, at times, articulated” and through his foreign policy advisers, while the “priorities given to genocide prevention may yet again be minimized.”

    […] Then there is the publication of something called “The Iran Primer” which claims to offer a “comprehensive but concise overview of Iran‘s politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program” which is edited by Robin B. Wright who is a scholar who works at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a group where the Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley is the chair of its board of Trustees, which is filled with a number of business-friendly folks. A number of others write for the publication, including a director of a part of the Brookings Institution and a Carnegie Endowment’s policy analyst.

    Sara Diamond in a July/August 1990 issue of Z Magazine brought another critique to the USIP: that it is close with the intelligence establishment. Diamond writes that the Institute has become “a stomping ground for professional war-makers” and has become “a funding conduit and clearinghouse for research on problems inherent to U.S. strategies of ‘low intensity conflict.’ She later writes that the USIP’s board in 1984 looked like a bunch of “right-wing ideologues from academia and the Pentagon” since, as she concludes, by law, “the USIP is an arm of the U.S. intelligence apparatus…[and] intersects heavily with the intelligence establishment.” That isn’t all. Diamond writes that the Institute has a congressionally approved board of directors, its first president worked with the State Department to disseminate anti-Contra propaganda and at the time, of the article’s writing, three of the board members presided over the seemingly defunct U.S. Global Strategy Council which was a “shadowy clique of military intelligence strategists headed by former CIA deputy director Ray Cline.” Furthermore, Diamond noted that most of the USIP’s grant projects “through early 1990 reveals undeniable favoritism toward researchers committed to Cold War paradigms.” And the article continues on.

    The problems with USIP don’t stop here. According to an archived page on USIP’s website, former fellows of the institution include Leon Aron of the American Enterprise Institute, Ray Jennings and Albert Cevallos of USAID, Richard Joseph of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Dana Priest of the Washington Post, and failed Vice Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, Bill Richardson. Lest us forget that the US government’s official position on Syria was “sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace to negotiate disputes among selected elements of the Syrian Opposition,” according to Professor Richard Rubenstein in CounterPunch. On the problems with USIP, Associate Professor Thomas N. Nagy added that Daniel Pipes, who he calls “Dr. Warmonger,” was nominated to the board of USIP by President George W. Bush. This nomination was blocked by angry Democratic senators, but Bush used his authority to appoint Pipes through a recess appointment (he served for two years) while Pipes was endorsed by the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America, a number of senators and other small groups.

  3. jaycee
    February 17, 2016 at 21:02

    Another factor of the Libyan disaster is that Gaddafi had been induced to eliminate his country’s nuclear program in exchange for renewed diplomatic relations during the Bush 2 administration. His ultimate reward for this confidence- building measure was to be overthrown and murdered. Eventually, these types of double-crosses will catch up, even to an “empire”.

  4. David Smith
    February 17, 2016 at 16:13

    I will add that it due to negligence by the DS team that a disruptor attack would be necessary, but their honor as soldiers would have been redeemed. They should not have been in that building and allowed the terrorists to get between them and the Ambassador. They should have assumed positions in the compound that covered all lines of approach to the Ambassador with rifle fire, and a safe line of retreat preplanned. Positions and line of retreat changing as required as the Ambassador moved around the compound. All utterly basic, and the DS team should have been sharper still, making their failure inexplicable.

    • Curious
      February 18, 2016 at 00:54

      A question for David Smith, or anyone else;

      I understand your frustration with the DS team, but I was also wondering about something else. It was often reported that the US building was not a consulate in the proper terminology (which is constantly misrepresented in the Press) but a CIA listening post, and a conduit for arms to whomever.
      I saw a photograph posted the day after the killings of many CIA personnel in the Benghazi airport who were leaving. I don’t know if this photo was accurate, but I’m assuming it was. If true, who are these people and were none of them trained in self-defense? Why did extra CIA personnel not help in this disaster?
      Is anyone privy to this information?

      • David Smith
        February 18, 2016 at 10:30

        Excellent point. There is a dishonest veil thrown over the chronology of events and I believe 13 Hours ( book & movie) is part of that. Despite the deception, I saw DS team negligence as an obvious “clincher” that serves to initiate the unraveling of the cover story.

  5. February 17, 2016 at 16:02

    That is a good point about the DS agents.

    Which does not get enough attention. The Republicans should have made a really good issue about Libya. Professor Kuperman’s article in Foreign Affairs is quite telling. It was so pointed that it looks like Samantha Power sent out two NSC staffers to reply. Well, they did, but Kuperman supplied a rebuttal in which he essentially skunked them. You can look it up according to my footnotes.

    And those are the points that the GOP should have asked about. And so should Sanders. Libya is a vulnerable issue for Clinton. Not just in and of itself. But because it sheds light on how misguided the Syria venture is also. There are some Democrats who have actually spoken up on this and used the direct comparison. That is, OK, what happens in Syria is we dislodge Assad? The odds are we will get something even worse– like we did in Libya. I think that is a compelling argument. It shows just how misguided both ventures were and asks the question: Isn’t this similar to what W. did in Iraq? Why are Democrats doing the same? Is that what the Democratic Party should vote for?

    Its a good election issue for Sanders.

    • David Smith
      February 17, 2016 at 16:58

      It is a certainty that CIA/French/Brits/Egypt had hundreds of paid informants in the militia groups. How is it that not a peep about this major attack reached CIA control officers?

    • Abe
      February 18, 2016 at 20:58

      Libya is not merely a “vulnerable issue for Clinton” or a “good election issue for Sanders”.

      Libya is not merely a partisan political plaything, something the “Republicans should have made a really good issue about”.

      The US-NATO attack on Libya, like the attacks on Iraq before it and Syria after it, is a fundamental indictment of the pro-Israel neocon dominated US foreign policy in the Middle East.

      And who does DiEugenio appeal to on this matter?

      Alan J. Kuperman, a pro-Israel hawk and regime change advocate who fervently argued in a 2009 New York Times piece that the US should bomb Iran.


      Kuperman’s claimed, entirely without evidence, that Iran was “aiding America’s opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan” and insisted that the US “can oust regimes in weeks if it wants to”.

      Kuperman manifests spectacular ignorance at best and utter mendacity at worst.

      How are we to view DiEugenio’s article if Kuperman is one of his go-to experts?

      Care to answer that directly, Jim, or do we have to look it up “according to your footnotes”?

      • Abe
        February 19, 2016 at 00:14

        Six years later, Kuperman is still busy peddling Israeli propaganda about Iran.

        In one of his most recent Hasbara cut-and-pastes, Kuperman compared the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), and the European Union, with “the Munich agreement of 1938” http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/251828-appeasing-iran

        In an orgy of Reductio ad Hitlerum as rabid as Netanyahu’s, Kuperman repeatedly declared Iran to be “the adversary” and likened it to “the Nazi war machine”.

        Yes, Professor Kuperman’s articles are quite telling.

  6. David Smith
    February 17, 2016 at 13:20

    Ambassador Stevens had an escort of five DS agents, all armed. It was their duty to sacrifice their lives if necessary to defend him. The DS agents survived, sheltering in a building very near to the one Stevens and Smith died in. It was their duty to launch a disruptor attack against the terrorists, even if they all perished in the action. These cowardly clowns chose personal survival over duty, and guaranteed the Ambassador’s death. This is the real, untold, scandal of Benghazi, aside the CIA failure to detect the attack, an unforgivable incompetence.

    • Abe
      February 18, 2016 at 14:51

      David Smith claims that “the real, untold, scandal of Benghazi” was that a group of “cowardly clowns chose personal survival over duty”.


      The real scandal of Benghazi was the role U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in the terror pipeline to Syria.

      Michael Bay’s 2016 film, Mitchell Zuckoff’s 2014 book and all the other books written about Benghazi (aside from PR for the security industry) strive to divert attention from what was really happening at the U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex.

      Analysis of the “tactical situation” minus the geopolitical context, and focus on a narrow chronology of events, generates a mass of details that ultimately lead nowhere.

      The CIA, the mercenaries, and the politicians are lovin’ it.

  7. Brendan
    February 17, 2016 at 07:27

    Hillary Clinton would have preferred to see a puppet regime installed in Libya, instead of no functioning government at all, but she probably still considers the killing and overthrow of Gaddafi as a success. The fact that she played a major role in destroying a prosperous nation is of no interest to her.

    The disaster of the Iraq war, which she supported, obviously raised no concerns in her mind about what the aftermath of “regime change” in Libya would be.

    And she obviously wasn’t bother by any thoughts of the destruction she caused in Libya when she tried to repeat the Libyan model two years later in Syria. That was another plan by her to overthrow a secular government, by using fabricated allegations of it massacring its own people, and knowing very well that the opposition was dominated by islamic extremists. If that had succeeded, the Islamic State, Al Qaida and other extremists would now be in power in Damascus.

    Despite her liberal image, Hillary Clinton is a pure neo-con who sees the use of military might almost as an end in itself. Her war in Libya was a repeat of that of Ronald Reagan thirty years ago, which also involved a disinformation campaign and an assassination attempt against “mad dog Gaddafi”. The fact that she succeeded where the Reagan adminstation failed would appear as a great achievement to someone with Clinton’s narrow militaristic view. It’s no surprise that someone like her was so jubilant at the news of Gaddaffi’s death.

  8. February 16, 2016 at 21:40

    H. Clinton and Obama did not want a Failed State in Libya.

    Just like LBJ and Nixon did not want a communist takeover in Vietnam.

    This is really bad for HC, especially during primary election time.

    • Berry Friesen
      February 17, 2016 at 14:21

      H. Clinton knew in late March 2011 that the militia being trained and armed by British Special Forces includes significant numbers of fighters associated with al-Qaeda. Nothing she did indicated this information constituted a problem. So we must assume she regarded al-Qaeda’s role as part of the solution.

      Sure, this might be a problem for her now, especially if Sanders would start talking about it (which he hasn’t) or if Trump ends up as her opponent. Time will tell, right?

      As for the comparison with LBJ and Nixon, me thinks the US government’s strategic plan has shifted over the past 50 years. Back then, the context was the Cold War and the US operated under the assumption that national states were the key actors in history. Now, the US leads an empire in which global corporations are the key actors and national states often get in the way and end up increasing the cost of doing business.

      So yes, LBJ and Nixon did not want a communist take-over in Vietnam. But yes, H. Clinton and Obama did want a failed state in Libya, just like they want a failed state in Syria and one in Yemen and one in Ukraine.

      They are very smart, very competent, very powerful. And yes, at least in those places, they are getting the kind of world they wanted.

    • Abe
      February 19, 2016 at 14:59

      “H. Clinton and Obama did not want a Failed State in Libya.”

      And the actual evidence to validate that statement is what exactly?

      I thought so.

  9. Zachary Smith
    February 16, 2016 at 20:08

    American foreign policy leaders are not great at learning lessons from the past

    I hate to seem like a nit-picker, but Bush was and still is proud of his record. So is Obama. So far as I know, BHO hasn’t actually fired a single one of his neocons.

    The only ‘failures’ which come to mind are Ukraine and Syria. Ukraine may be ruined, but Russia didn’t get drawn into anything there except an imaginary conflict. Syria may be ruined, but that nation isn’t yet subdivided between Turkey and Israel. Worse, Russia currently is winning on all fronts.

    • Berry Friesen
      February 16, 2016 at 21:01

      I agree. It’s beyond me why so many “critics” persist in characterizing the best and brightest as too stupid to learn the lessons of history. Let’s rather acknowledge they want the results they are causing.

  10. Abe
    February 16, 2016 at 17:01

    For those who attempt to follow the ins and outs of the CIA’s management of its various patsy organizations inside the realm of presumed Islamic terrorism, it may be useful to trace the transformation of the LIFG-AQIM [Libyan Islamic Fighting Group-Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] from deadly enemy to close ally. This phenomenon is closely linked to the general reversal of the ideological fronts of US imperialism that marks the divide between the Bush-Cheney-neocon administrations and the current Obama-Brzezinski-International Crisis Group regime. The Bush approach was to use the alleged presence of Al Qaeda as a reason for direct military attack. The Obama method is to use Al Qaeda to overthrow independent governments, and then either Balkanize and partition the countries in question, or else use them as kamikaze puppets against larger enemies like Russia, China, or Iran. This approach implies a more or less open fraternization with terrorist groups, which was signaled in a general way in Obamas famous Cairo speech of 2009. The links of the Obama campaign to the terrorist organizations deployed by the CIA against Russia were already a matter of public record three years ago.

    But such a reversal of field cannot be improvised overnight; it took several years of preparation. On July 10, 2009, The London Daily Telegraph reported that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group had split with Al Qaeda. This was when the United States had decided to de-emphasize the Iraq war, and also to prepare to use the Sunni Moslem Brotherhood and its Sunni Al Qaeda offshoot for the destabilization of the leading Arab states preparatory to turning them against Shiite Iran.

    The CIA’s Libya Rebels:
    2007 West Point Study Shows Benghazi-Darnah-Tobruk Area was a World Leader in Al Qaeda Suicide Bomber Recruitment
    By Webster G. Tarpley

    • Abe
      February 16, 2016 at 17:47

      The lessons of Libya apparently are lost on DiEugenio.

      He informs us that “in 2011, when a rebellion broke out against Gaddafi”, Obama, Rice and Power “decided to seize the opportunity” to oust the Libyan leader.

      Like the movie it reviews, DiEugenio’s account of Benghazi is largely based in fiction.

      First and foremost, the deployment of terrorist forces in wars against the governments of Libya and Syria was planned years before the events of the so-called “Arab Spring”.

      Any discussion of the CIA operation in Benghazi that fails to begin with the decades-long backing of the world’s most dangerous terrorists by the U.S. and its allies cannot be called research.

      Whatever its virtues as a movie review, DiEugenio’s article tells us next to nothing about what really happened in Libya.

      • David Smith
        February 17, 2016 at 14:12

        An entirely off point comment. The subject of the book, movie, and this article is narrowly the tactical situation of the Consulate attack and the failures of US personnel. I outline two very important unmentioned failures in my comment below.

        • Abe
          February 17, 2016 at 18:39

          The comment is entirely on point.

          Understanding CIA activities in Libya is integral to any meaningful assessment of the “tactical situation”. That includes assessing whether or not the actions of US personnel should be viewed as “failures”.

          As Seymour Hersh noted in “The Red Line and the Rat Line”


          A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

          The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.

          The annex didn’t tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’

          • David Smith
            February 18, 2016 at 10:44

            Everyone knows all this. You are still off topic.

          • Abe
            February 18, 2016 at 13:25

            All this is relevant to unraveling the cover story.

            “Everyone knows all this” is a rhetorical device used to divert attention away from relevant investigation material.

    • Kiza
      February 17, 2016 at 08:27

      Abe, I always considered Guantanamo to be a re-education facility. Firstly, why would the administration which drones and bombs people without a second thought want to assemble “terrorists” and keep spending resources on them? Secondly, all extremists are much more extremists than they are believers in any particular belief. Therefore, if you could turn them around to a purpose useful to you, you would get the best fighters imaginable, with full plausible deniability.

      Therefore, Guantanamo has been envisaged as a terrorist training camp for anti-Syrian, anti-Iranian, anti-Russian and anti-Chinese terrorists. Since Bush administration established Guantanamo, it was already planning for what you call Obama’s tactics. Therefore terrorists-as-tools is a cross-administration thing.

      • Abe
        February 18, 2016 at 15:26

        Terrorists-as-tools is a cherished tradition in American foreign policy.

        I think Gitmo Gulag was about convincing the American people that the US was fighting a War on Terror when the reality is that the US is fighting a War of Terror.

        The US simply invaded a country, “detained” a bunch of people who either did or didn’t resist the invasion, and declared that they were all “terrorists” without any pretense of evidence.

        Certain “detainees” were waterboarded an insane number of times to produce “confessions”.

        All this is standard operating procedure in Israel.

        The US and its allies run numerous terrorist training camps on every continent of the world. Do you have any specific information about Gitmo?

        • Kiza
          February 19, 2016 at 18:46

          No, I do not. But the logic and the USUK pragmatism suggest this. The torture would be a standard conversion tool, the will-breaker. The only real proof would be to track the released from Guantanamo, see where they end up and what they do. Naturally, not all of the interned are terrorist-as-tool material (there are many innocents picked up for the US reward) and not all can be successfully converted. Therefore, some will be droned upon “release”.

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