The Republicans in Congress have failed at every turn in trying to make Benghazi a huge scandal for President Obama and Hilary Clinton. It’s not for lack of trying, though, with Darrell Issa employing the same crack investigative tools that he used in his IRS investigation debacle. When the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) issued their Benghazi report 4 months ago, it took the wind out of the Republicans sails since it was a bi-partisan, factual assessment of what actually happened and destroyed a number of wingnut conspiracy theories. Some people just don’t give up on their fantasies (see again Darrell Issa) and the “Citizen’s Commission on Benghazi” is comprised of these types of people.

The Citizens Commission on Benghazi (CCB) was put together by Accuracy in Media (AIM), a rabidly right wing group bankrolled by Richard Mellon Scaife, which purports to be a media watchdog. AIM’s biggest claim to fame is their insistence that Vince Foster was murdered, presumably by Bill and Hilary Clinton. AIM follows the Judicial Watch process of investigation, which is to submit a pile of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, then put out a press release claiming everything you say is true because you submitted FOIA requests. In this case they used Scaife’s “Communications Stream of Conspiracy Commerce” strategy identified by the Clinton White in the 1990’s:

This is how the stream works. First, well funded right wing think tanks and individuals underwrite conservative newsletters and newspapers such as the Western Journalism Center, the American Spectator and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Next, the stories are reprinted on the internet where they are bounced all over the world. From the internet, the stories are bounced into the mainstream media through one of two ways: 1) The story will be picked up by the British tabloids and covered as a major story, from which the American right-of-center mainstream media (i.e. the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and New York Post) will then pick the story up; or 2) The story will be bounced directly from the internet to the right-of-center mainstream American media.

Just substitute AIM for Western Journalism Center, The Daily Mail for British tabloids, and Fox News for right-of-center American media and the strategy has been followed to the letter. Other Right wing websites have picked up the story and ran with it, including such shining examples of journalism as WND, Newsmax, PJ Media, Drudge, and FreeRepublic. Now, you have people who hate Obama touting this report as the completely true, while the State Department and SSCI reports are nothing but coverups.

AIM created a “Citizen’s Commission” to investigate Benghazi and they generated a report based entirely on public reporting and interviews with mostly anonymous sources. Their published report came to four Findings:

  1. The United States ignored Muammar Qaddafi’s attempts to surrender.
  2. The United States changed sides in the War on Terror, actively supporting Al Qaida.
  3. US military forces were in position to aid American personnel in Benghazi.
  4. Benghazi is being covered up at all levels of government.

The extremists on the right will accept this report as the truth without digging any deeper than AIM’s press release and the Daily Mail article, and that’s unfortunate. Go below the fold to see just how worthless this “report” is, except to those who only believe the worst about the US government.

The United States ignored Muammar Qaddafi’s attempts to surrender.

The CCB claims that within days of the US announcing its support for the Libyan National Council, Qaddafi attempted to negotiate a surrender with US Africa Command (USAFRICOM), but that the offer was never pursued by the leadership in Washington. This is based off an interview with retired Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic, who said he personally notified USAFRICOM of Qaddafi’s offer. Kubic said he received information that the Libyan government wanted a truce in order to negotiate with USAFRICOM and that he provided that information to an officer in USAFRICOM, who immediately gave the information to General Ham, the USAFRICOM commander. Since the US didn’t act on this information, the CCB concluded that the US government intentionally cost thousands of Libyans their lives by continuing military operations. I don’t doubt Kubic’s story, but I do take issue with the conclusions drawn from it.

By the time the Libyan campaign occurred, Kubick had been retired for several years and was serving as the president of ECC International, a company working in the fields of energy, munitions response, and international development. It would have been in their best interest to have the hostilities end with Kubic playing a role in bringing the two sides to the table. There would have been some very lucrative contracts available for rebuilding what had been destroyed in the bombing. I’m sure Kubic saw the information he received as a credible attempt to surrender by Qaddafi. However, if you read Kubic’s statement, it does not support the CCB’s findings.

The CCB concluded that “Muammar Qaddafi expressed his willingness to abdicate shortly after the beginning of the 2011 Libyan revolt.” According to Kubic’s statement, that is not in any way true. The Libyan offer was:

  • They would call a 72 hour truce in order to negotiate a formal ceasefire
  • Libya would withdraw their forces to the outskirts of the cities
  • Libya would allow international observers into the country to monitor the truce

Libya insisted on two conditions:

  • Qaddafi be allowed to pursue Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
  • Sanctions would be removed against him, his family, and his loyalists

Nowhere did Qaddafi offer to abdicate his leadership in Libya. He wanted the bombing to stop and to be given a green light to pursue the rebels trying to oust them by labeling everyone AQIM. This would hardly have been seen as a credible offer by Washington or the international coalition, so it isn’t surprising in the least that it wasn’t pursued. We also don’t know what other intelligence the US had that may have contradicted what Qaddafi was saying to USAFRICOM. To say that the US was responsible for thousands of deaths because they did not negotiate with Qaddafi shows how the CCB has twisted the facts to meet their conclusions.

The United States changed sides in the War on Terror, actively supporting Al Qaida.

Here, the CCB lays blame on the US government for a program conducted by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar and the UAE supplied small arms to the Libyan rebels during the uprising and there was concern that some of the weapons were getting into the hands of the more radical groups that were fighting with the rebels. Qatar was making the shipments, not the US, and imposed little control as to who was actually receiving the weapons. The US told Qatar about its concern, but there was very little they could do to prevent it. The rebels needed arms and ammunition or they would be crushed. The CCB claims that the US was willingly supporting Al Qaida terrorists because the Libyan rebels were primarily Al Qaida. This is not a secret and hardly news, since it was reported a year and a half ago across the mainstream media. This is just the CCB forming an opinion around their anti-Muslim beliefs and accepting Qaddafi’s spin on the rebel composition. In fact, the rebels were primarily Libyans trying to oust Qaddafi and were joined by some extremist fighters from groups like AQIM, just as AQIM and other groups have joined the Syrians trying to remove Assad from power.

US military forces were in position to aid American personnel in Benghazi.

The CCB revives this conspiracy theory, stating that failure to rescue the Americans in Benghazi amounts to a dereliction of duty. Here is the entirety of their “analysis”:

On the day of the attacks in Benghazi, whether or not there was an official order to stand down, the result was the same. There were military assets, for example, at the U.S. base in Sigonella, in Sicily, Italy that could have been brought to bear, and perhaps could have saved the lives of the two men killed at the CIA Annex, the scene of the second attack that night. The failure to attempt to rescue these Americans amounts to a dereliction of duty.

This section begins with “whether or not there was an official order to stand down” as if there is some dispute about this. There is no dispute. No “stand down” order was given by anyone in the military or the US government. This conspiracy theory was completely debunked in the SSCI Benghazi report, with every person up and down the entire chain of command testifying under oath that no such command was given, but the diehards at AIM refuse to accept anything that doesn’t reinforce their pre-drawn conclusions. The CCB then goes on to say definitively that there were US military assets available at Sigonella, but provide no evidence that the statement is true. All they provide is a list of FOIA requests asking what was at Sigonella, but that is all they need to draw their conclusions.

This is the most despicable “finding” from the CCB. They, like the other wingnut dead-enders, are more than happy to impugn the integrity of the US military when they don’t say what they want to hear. These military officers have dedicated their lives to protecting the personnel under their command and is beyond the pale to accuse them of abandoning their brothers in arms for political reasons. The most disgusting thing about this claim coming in this report is the number of retired military officers who signed on to it.

Benghazi is being covered up at all levels of government.

The last “finding” is that the US government has covered up the truth about what happened in Benghazi. The CCB dismisses the State Department and SSCI reports, saying the “American people are no closer to knowing what happened in Benghazi and why than they were on September 12 2012.” The CCB makes the inflammatory claim that the US government coordinated its cover-up with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation with no evidence. We know exactly what happened in the attack and the aftermath, but the CCB just refuses to believe it. It doesn’t fit their agenda of bringing down the Muslim, Marxist usurper residing in the White House.

 

The Members of the CCB

All you need to judge the value and veracity of this report is an understanding of the people who produced it. Bankrolled by Scaife and AIM, an assortment of Birthers, Anti-Muslim extremists, and conspiracy theorists were assembled to put forth AIM’s message.

Capt. Larry Bailey, (Ret) – Birther who believes Obama’s birth certificate is forged and Frank Marshall Davis is his father.

Gen. Paul Valley, (Ret.) – Birther who believes the FBI and Library of Congress are covering up the forged birth certificate.

Gen. Thomas McInerney, (Ret.) – Birther who supported an Army officer refusing to deploy because Obama was not a legitimate Commander in Chief.

Col. Allen West – Disgraced former Army officer who was forced out of the service for committing war crimes. Believes Islam is not a religion.

Adm. James Lyons, (Ret.) – Conspiracy theorist who believes Petraeus’ affair was part of the Benghazi cover-up.

These are men who have sacrificed their integrity to push a right wing conspiracy theory with the goal being to remove a duly elected President of the United States. Unfortunately, the radicals on the right will see this report as validating the beliefs that have been fed to them by the right wing noise machine without taking a critical look at what the report actually says. They complain about the left taking everything said by the government at face value, but refuse to acknowledge they are doing that very thing by uncritically accepting anything fed to them by partisan, political sources. They will disregard reports based on in person, under oath interviews and real intelligence data, substituting them for a “report” published by AIM and written by birthers and conspiracy theorists.

Some say the political divide is too great to find common ground between the left and the right. With regard to the people who wrote this report and the lemmings who accept it as fact, I have to agree. Until these right wing extremists are marginalized and eliminated from the Republican Party, there can be no common ground and the battles will continue.

 

 

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Comments
  1. Cluster is hawking Condi Rice for the presidency with, get this, Scott Walker for VP! Oh PLEASE let this ticket happen! Perhaps the worst National security advisor and Secretary of State this country has ever had, Rice ignored specific warnings of Al Qaeda’s desire to attack America which resulted in the death of thousands of Americans. On that fateful day, “Rice was scheduled to outline a new national security policy that included missile defense as a cornerstone and played down the threat of stateless terrorism.” Get that? While Bin Laded was orchestrating 911 Rice was specifically downplaying that threat while pitching Star Wars. And they scream about Benghazi!

    Of course Rice was also subsequently a major architect in the disastrous foreign policy of the Bush administration. She was a big proponent of the Iraq invasion, lying and/or misinformed about everything from yellowcake to mushroom clouds. She also facilitated the administrations barbaric torture program.

    Yep, Rice/Walker in 2016! The woman who gave us both the worst terrorist attack and foreign policy fiasco in U.S. history!

    Cluster also states that her skin color and gender are big pluses for her candidacy. Remind me again, which side is it that plays the race card?

    • Marner says:

      Cluster only wants Rice to run because she is female and black. What he either doesn’t realize or won’t admit is that the Tea Party extremist wing of his party won’t let a black Republican get past the primaries as evidenced by the number of elected black Republicans in Congress: Zero.

  2. BTW, great post Marner.

  3. 02casper says:

    Marner,
    Great job on this.

  4. Marner says:

    Thanks, gentlemen, for the compliments.

  5. 02casper says:

    CSL wants to have a contest to name the mascot of the new Barack Obama College Prep School. I was thinking it would be fun to come up mascots for schools named after Conservatives.

    How about the Palin Half-terms. Their motto “We end all our games at halftime.”

    • I kinda like this game.

      The Palin Eye Winkers.
      The Palin Baptists.
      The Palin Waterboarders.
      Okay, she’s too easy.

      The Boehner Redskins. Okay, too easy, too.
      The Bundy Freeloaders. Alright! I’ll try to get creative.
      The Bush Invaders.
      The Rumsfled Known Unknowns.
      The McAllister Two Timers. (Google it.)
      The Koch Heads.
      The Wilson You Liars.
      The Christie Bridge Closers.
      The Rubio Water Drinkers.
      The Cluster Fu… Oops, let’s not poke fun at Cluster. His delicate sensibilities can’t take it.
      The Amazona Snot Nuggets. (Just read that one at b4v and I’m still laughing. Such a command of the language, she has.)
      The [name any old conservative white guy] Angry Men.

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