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by GADI ADELMAN
First, the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was blamed on the YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims”. According to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, it caused a demonstration out in front of the U.S. Consulate that “began spontaneously” and “then spun out of control”,
“The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control.”
“But we don’t see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack. Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don’t want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it’s important for the American people to know our best current assessment.”
We all know how it went, everyone from the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to the Press Secretary Jay Carney, to the Director of National Security James Clapper and President Obama himself all were on the YouTube video bandwagon until the wheels fell off.
But as time has gone on, new bits and pieces have emerged. The information on the attack makes the deaths of the four Americans that much more senseless. Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs working under the State Department, were killed alongside information management officer Sean Smith and U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
Emails from Benghazi have surfaced showing that Obama, the FBI, CIA, the State Department, the military, as well as other intelligence offices within the government knew within two hours, that the attack on the Benghazi consulate had been carried out by terrorists.
A live feed of audio and video were being watched at the White House and now we find out from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that the request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate as well as the attack hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA command.
Two times the CIA operatives were told to “stand down” when they requested to go to the aid of the Ambassador and his team.
It has also come out that the 2 former SEALs who were murdered had gone against orders and rescued those who remained at the consulate along with the body of Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack.
Given what can only be called a “cover-up” by the Obama Administration I sat down with one person I know and trust when it comes to matters of the CIA, Clare Lopez, Vice President of the Intelligence Summit.
Clare M. Lopez’s bio is by itself a who’s who of counter-intelligence. She is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, homeland security, national defense, and counterterrorism issues. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving domestically and abroad for 20 years in a variety of assignments, acquiring extensive expertise in counterintelligence, counternarcotics, and counterproliferation issues with a career regional focus on the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. She has served in or visited over two dozen nations worldwide, speaks several languages, including Spanish, Bulgarian, French, German, and Russian, and currently is studying Farsi.
Now a private consultant, Lopez is a Professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre- www.cicentre.com ). Formerly, she was Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee, a Washington, DC think tank, from 2005-2006. She has served as a Senior Scientific Researcher at the Battelle Memorial Institute; a Senior Intelligence Analyst, Subject Matter Expert, and Program Manager at HawkEye Systems, LLC.; and previously produced Technical Threat Assessments for U.S. Embassies at the Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, where she worked as a Senior Intelligence Analyst for Chugach Systems Integration.
Gadi Adelman: Clare, thank you so much for this interview. Let me jump right in to this. You and I pretty much knew, and I say you and I, I mean along with many other people in the counter-terror field, we knew right from the beginning that something wasn’t right and Amb. Susan Rice was out there on 5 TV shows saying that this was a spontaneous riot that erupted from a demonstration.
At what point did you realize that something’s not Kosher here?
Clare Lopez: You mean as far as the Administrations characterization of the attack?
GA: Yes, I uploaded a video less than 24 hours after the attack on YouTube, thank God YouTube has dates, I uploaded a video saying that Al-Qaeda was behind this.
CL: Yes, I wrote an article that night as a matter of fact, which ran the very next day on September the 12th on RadicalIslam.org. I was up late the night of 9/11 writing that article, so it was obvious to me too
GA: I have heard from 3 people and tell me if you are aware of this as well, that The White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and our military monitored the battle in real time starting with the first phone calls directly from Benghazi.
GA: When the CIA annex requested permission to go to the aid of the consulate they were told two times to “stand down.”
GA: Two SEALs went in against orders…
CL: Former SEALs, former SEALs that were on contract to the CIA.
GA: Correct, former SEALs, they went anyway, against orders and died about 4 hours later.
CL: They died at the annex building after they saved everyone that was still alive at the first compound; they went back with all of them to the annex building, it was there that the attack continued; it never stopped. They were fired upon during the entire ride running the gauntlet through the streets back to the annex and the attack then continued at the annex and that’s where they were eventually killed.
GA: Right, so they arrived back at the annex at about midnight which would have been about three hours after the initial attack began.
GA: Okay, that’s important because of some other things that have come out. At that point they again called for military support and help and a third time were denied.
GA: Regardless that they were taking fire at the CIA safe house or annex, that request was denied. There were no communication problems at the annex according to those that were present on the ground.
CL: That’s right.
GA: The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters and in fact at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun while mortars were being fired on them and the CIA compound.
CL: Yes, Woods was up there. Tyrone Woods, he was the one on the roof.
GA: Now Tyrone Woods father has come out and is saying that his son had taken a position with a laser to guide in what would have been planes, drones or missile support. So he was there honed in on a target waiting for back up that never arrived?
GA: The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than 4 hours and now here’s the point, the Sigonella Naval Air base in Italy is only 480 miles away…
CL: Yeah, they could have gotten there in time.
GA: Ok, so by f-18 it’s under an hour but even with a C-130 carrying commandos it’s 2 hours away.
CL: I’d say even less maybe, but yeah. I was thinking a Spectre AC-130 gunship.
GA: Yes, the AC-130 gunship that has the Gatling gun in the side, it’s like a tornado…
CL: Yeah, it’s unbelievably lethal, devastating power and accuracy, I mean pinpoint accuracy, the technology is amazing.
GA: I read yesterday that two Tier One Special Operations groups were at Sigonella including Delta Force which happened to be training in Europe.
CL: Yes, I read that too.
GA: More information has come out that no less than two drones were overhead during the attack and one of those drones was actually ordered in from Tripoli and sending back images in real time.
CL: Yes, my understanding is that the one was replaced by the other, maybe it ran out of fuel and the second one came in and took its place.
GA: Okay, so this battle was sent on video directly to the ‘Situation Room’ at the White House, would that not be a proper assumption?
CL: Yes, yes it was.
GA: Just the other day, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said,
There was no “real-time information” to be able to act on, “and you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on. We felt we could not put forces at risk in that situation”.
Isn’t that what the military does?
CL: That’s what their supposed to do. And that’s one of the things that the military does, everywhere, everywhere around the world, whether they be land based or on a ship, whatever it may be, they practice over and over again repeatedly the rescue of civilians and the rescue of embassy personnel in each area wherever it is that they’re posted. They have drills, they have plans, they have practice situations, and they have role players that play the part of attackers or assault teams, the bad guys basically. And they practice this over and over and over again.
GA: And that makes me wonder and this is conjecture on my part, but knowing what I do about the SEAL teams, how many of those guys were on submarines or ships right off the coast of Libya?
CL: They were there. I mean in different places, there were loads of assets and every one of them had practiced just exactly this scenario repeatedly. I don’t mean to say Benghazi, but I mean a rescue situation where an American mission is under attack.
GA: Now it turns out that around 5 pm eastern time, which would have been only about an hour and a half in to the attack, that President Obama met with Vice President Biden and Secretary of Defense Panetta in the White House for over an hour…
CL: Yes, this is all in the press, right.
GA: So would you go so far as to say that it would be pretty clear that Obama watched in real time and did nothing while 4 Americans were murdered?
CL: Yeah, that’s very clear, yes.
GA: Then, at some point later President Obama went to bed. Whether it was before or after everyone had died we’ll probably never know, but he had that super important fund raising trip in Las Vegas the next day and here’s what gets me. He gets up the next day and he skips, yet again, his National security briefing.
CL: Yes, that’s right.
GA: Here are some questions for you, from your 20 years with the CIA, why do you think that Hillary Clinton has been so absent since all this has started to come out?
CL: I don’t know, I really don’t know, she was there early on putting out the false narrative story about the video and obviously she was the one that gave the orders to Amb. Susan Rice to go on the Sunday talk shows and give the same story. I don’t know. I don’t even know what to say.
GA: The silence on her part has been deafening. I heard that she has proof that would clear her of all this and her husband, former President Clinton wants her to come forward and she refuses.
CL: I don’t lend much credence to that at all, because, number one, throughout the months of 2012 requests were made repeatedly for additional security for Benghazi, the site security team that had been there up until August was withdrawn against everybody’s wishes, including the team itself which would have stayed, and the other thing is, that within the Department of State there is the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, sometimes called just DS – Diplomatic Security or DSS- Diplomatic Security Service and these are her people, she can order them anywhere in the world whenever she wants to. They are specifically security people, many of them former military, to go to any American diplomatic post in the world as she so chooses. That’s her propagative as Secretary of State.
GA: Would she need to clear that with Obama or would she have just done that?
CL: No, these are her people, her assets if you will, this is her department, her chain of command, all she had to do was say “DSS, send some more people to Benghazi” and they would have been gone. It would be different if she wanted to assign a Marine Security Guard Detachment because that has to go in coordination through DOD (Department of Defense), so those things you can understand have to have different approvals, but her own people, her own department, her own security service which exists for the purpose of defending American missions abroad, she had total authority of those people. She could have sent them anytime and she didn’t have to ask anyone to do it.
GA: Lt. Colonel Andy Wood was the head of one of those fast security teams…
CL: Yes, he testified before Congress…
GA: He requested as the leader of that group to stay in Benghazi…
CL: Yes, they were there from February to August. That was the period of time that they were assigned, that was the extent of their mission, it’s not that they were pulled out early, that was the end of it as it was planned. But at that point everybody said security demands more support and his team wanted to stay, Chris Stevens wanted them to stay in Benghazi, everyone wanted them to stay. But Secretary of State Clinton pulled them out.
GA: So that would have been Clinton’s call there?
GA: Is there any chance that Obama told her “pull them out” if she had gone and discussed it with him or she would have just made that decision on her own?
CL: Yes, it could have come from the White House, but we don’t know.
GA: Why do you think that media, for the most part, is ignoring something this huge?
CL: It’s a good question isn’t it? That’s a really good question. Political? I have no idea. It boggles the mind, I don’t know.
GA: Do you believe that this was a cover up from the very beginning?
CL: Oh yes, the gun running of course, that was the thing.
GA: That was my next question; do you believe that this administration is smuggling weapons to Al-Qaeda?
CL: Well, not… I mean… The short answer is yes. They were working with the very same Al-Qaeda linked relationships in Libya to gather up and buy back and collect weapons from Gaddafi’s stock pile that were missing from the revolution in Libya last year and what it looks like is that they were shipping them onwards to Syria.
GA: Some of those weapons have already shown up in the Sinai on the southern border of Israel.
CL: Yes, they’ve gone to the Sinai and they’ve also gone to Mali and to other places in western Africa and they’ve also gone to Syria. That was the operation, that’s what they were doing.
GA: If the truth of all this ever does come out, what do you think should happen to all those involved? And when I say involved that includes President Obama.
CL: A complete investigation. Congressional hearings and an investigation.
GA: With what we know, as far as sitting there and watching four Americans, including an ambassador die, does that not fall under the grounds of treason?
CL: Well, that’s what an investigation would be needed to look at. There are a number of Congressmen now who are talking about calling for hearings.
GA: Clare I really appreciate you taking the time for this.
CL: Thank you for covering this Gadi, very good.
I must remind everyone of the opening statement given by President Obama in the last debate that was moderated by Bob Schieffer. The President stated,
“Well, my first job as commander in chief, Bob, is to keep the American people safe, and that’s what we’ve done over the last four years.”
Somehow I doubt that the families of Christopher Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods or Sean Smith believes that.