General betrayal: the CIA, the murder of Ambassador Stevens and the return of Iran-Contra
By Richard Cottrell
Contributing writer for End the Lie
Note: Don’t forget to read Richard’s latest articles, “So now we know: Hurricane Sandy voted for Obama” and “Good morning Mr. President: Uncle Sam is dead broke and there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it“
Once again we have the same old mix of shunting illegal arms shipments around the world to suit US policies and objectives. Once again, playing both ends against the middle. Once again, convoluted CIA plotting and scheming that was bound to end badly. And yet again, blatant lying to the American people and the Congress to conceal a scandal of multiplying and increasingly dangerous dimensions.
Petraeus resigned precipitately on the eve of testifying to Congress on the circumstances of the bloody assassination of J. Christopher Stevens, US ambassador to Libya, on the 9/11 anniversary this year. Stevens was allegedly attacked by a so-called crowd of maddened jihadists at the embassy’s offshoot consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
This is a contrived smokescreen concocted to conceal the fact that Obama not only knew the truth about the events in Benghazi, he personally refused to order military re-enforcements despite multiple requests from US officials both on the ground and in Washington.
On September 27, 2012, three days after the attack, mainstream media broadcast a report that full-scale military assistance to the embattled consulate had been denied. We also know that commanders of US forces in Tripoli, who could have easily intervened, received orders from the highest levels in the Pentagon to stand down.
There is no great mystery there. The United States goes to great lengths to obscure the presence and strength of US military forces on the ground in Libya.
The ambassador was taken out –‘erased’ in common secret service parlance – because he was the lynchpin of an extraordinary conspiracy to shuttle high-powered arms looted from former Libyan government stockpiles, through the rag tag band of US-backed rebels who overthrew the Gadaffi regime, thence onwards –via Turkey – to America’s stooge freedom fighters struggling to sabotage the Assad regime in Syria.
Benghazi was the nerve center of the entire scheme, and Stevens the controlling spider in the web. Patently, he was hugely and deliberately exposed to danger. The consulate was protected by locally-hired militia belonging to the ‘February 17 Martyrs Brigade’ on the specious bureaucratic grounds it was not an embassy, and so did not qualify for the usual Marine protection.
The ambassador was spending an unusually large amount of time in a region of Libya known to be volatile – yet he didn’t qualify for armed protection.
In all the confusion surrounding Benghazi, the main consistent theme seems to be that the consulate guards – from whatever sources they were drawn – were not armed. When trouble erupted, the ‘Martyrs’ – or whoever they were – promptly bolted off the scene, leaving the ambassador and his team perfectly defenseless. The selectivity here is obvious.
Hillary Clinton was typically lying when she insisted post-attack that security precautions were ‘adequate’ to assure the ambassador’s safety and no-one could reasonably have foreseen the ‘spontaneous’ riot that led to his brutal death. Yet in the days leading up the assault, the State Department was fully briefed on the fast deteriorating situation in Benghazi, not least by Stevens himself. Officials up to the highest level sat on their hands, waiting for a sign to intervene from the Oval Office.
It never came.
Yes, given a nut and bolt or two, this is Iran-Contra all over again. Out of the way Benghazi was the operations center of the CIA-managed plan to shunt Libyan arms (ground-to-air missiles, high powered rocket grenades, artillery shells) to the main Turkish Aegean port of Iskenderun.
From there, convoys under the direct control of the Turkish High Command escorted the weapons to the Syrian border. One documented shipment accounted to 400 tons of crated weapons.
In a moment I will come to the mysterious business of the Turkish military jet supposedly shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire earlier this year, which bears a direct connection to the Benghazi business.
According to various reports (Wall Street Journal, Daily Telegraph, repeated in numerous European media organs), Libyan rebels were paid to steal arms from ex-government dumps. Weapons that did get into the hands of the rebels were re-purchased, using secret CIA slush funds – the ‘black money’ – which is never disclosed to Congress.
We learn that here is a strikingly similar parallel to the Iran-Contra arms-go-round mastermind, the Naval Marine Corps Lt.-Col Oliver North. In that infamous affair of mid-1980s, the US covertly paid the fundamentalist regime of Ayatollah Khomeini – then at war with the current US ally of convenience Iraq – for shipments of weapons, delivered to the Right-wing Contra terrorists engaged in a struggle against the popular Nicaraguan government.
Iran-Contra focused on a CIA network known loosely as ‘The Enterprise,’ weaved by North and composed of hand-picked private brokers, off-screen to the Congress, including arms traders, money launderers and soldiers of fortune (contractors). Daniel Ellsberg, immortalized as the whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers (the military’s best kept Vietnam secrets), famously called Iran-Contra “quite the worst covert operation in US history.” It seems there is now convincing evidence of a rival candidate.
North was gleefully circumventing the Boland Amendment which forbade the US to arm the Contras. The Libyan Arms for Syria affair displays a similar false flag stamp, cloaked with the identical conspiracy of secrecy and deception.
Iran-Contra was exposed when a plane loaded with contraband Iranian weapons crashed in the Nicaraguan jungle. Ronald Reagan was able to escape the rap because he invoked the ‘afternoon nap’ escape clause. Benghazi is the new Contra moment. So what are Obama’s expectations in very similar circumstances, even as he celebrates his second triumphant political coronation?
If the word of the ex-Defense Department whistleblower Anthony Schaffer (Able Danger, Operation Dark Heart) can be taken as valid, then potentially not good seems to be the answer – allowing for the memory and significance of Iran-Contra buried so deeply in the memory vaults of most Americans.
According to the former Lieutenant Colonel responsible for a string of embarrassing Pentagon revelations, Obama not only personally countermanded direct military assistance for the besieged consulate, he ghoulishly watched real-time transmissions broadcast by circulating drones of the entire horrifying affair.
But Clinton has significant problems in the truth department as well. Schaffer is supported by the former army colonel David Hunt who insisted on Howie Carr’s Boston Talk Show that private contractors supposedly guarding the embassy were denied ammunition. The highly exposed mission was just a ‘cardboard building, there wasn’t even bullet proof glass.’ He added: ‘If you approve no bullets in guns for the mission security guards and an outhouse for a mission, you’re inviting it.’ The so-called guards were private security. Their ‘rules of engagement were ridiculous.’
A perhaps significant point. Is Hunt talking about other security guards, beyond the aforementioned valiant Martyrs?
This is an appropriate point to note the curious absence in Benghazi of SIMAS (otherwise Security Incident Management Analysis Systems programme), developed by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, a State Department subsidiary. This was established after the deadly attacks on the US embassy in Nairobi (212 killed) and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (11 victims) on August 7, 1998. The key words describing the programme were “expansion of the surveillance perimeter” beyond the strict confines of diplomatic quarters.
A consulate, wherever it happens to be located, even if separated by hundreds of miles from its parent, is defined by the State Department’s own rules, as a branch of the embassy and as such, demands the same levels of protection.
Question: so who exactly were these security guards? If they were just locals, then why cumbrous matters of rules of engagement. Would these not more likely apply to the usual security contractors who function as an arm of the US military? Later reports identified among the victims two ex-Navy SEALS employed as security and intelligence contractors.
But according to Center for Security Policy senior fellow and former career CIA officer Clare Lopez, two large warehouses (‘safe houses’) associated with the consulate were known to store arms in transit to foreign destinations. It seems these were under the direct security of the two SEALs killed along with Stevens.
On the day that he was killed, Stevens sent an urgent diplomatic cable to Washington spelling out his apparent concerns that the security situation in Benghazi was rapidly unraveling. The cable contained the information that two important militias providing security in the city – and by implication, the consulate – were about to withdraw their support for the US.
The obfuscation concerning the nature of the security apparatus deployed at Benghazi suggests subliminal Pentagon counter-briefing against the White House.
If that is the case, then we truly are on the verge of Benghazi-gate that could end with a presidential impeachment. We begin to see the reasons why General Betrayus suddenly fell on his sword at presidential bidding.
If the president of the United States indeed forbade military help for an American ambassador threatened with certain death, then we are speaking of a grand impeachable offense. Hillary Clinton may meet a similar fate.
The precipitate resignation of David Petraeus on the eve of a Congressional inquisition now takes on a dramatically different context. A consummate narcissist like himself would only grovel before the headmaster in such a humiliating fashion in circumstances of some grave peril. His domestic distractions have been unspoken – typical, given the supine state of the US media – for years. Coming on the heels of the Shaffer claims, and given the ambivalence of Americans to questions of sexual mores and infidelities, it must have seemed the perfect cover.
The last time Petraeus was caught testifying on awkward questions before the Congress, he performed a well-rehearsed fainting fit at the mike. The same mirage was unlikely to work a second time around. Yet his sudden resignation actually is another fainting fit, albeit of a different order.
Four power centers of the American state gathered in the storm clouds over Benghazi.
The Libyan Arms for Syria carousel is a CIA show, financed like its Iran-Contra predecessor with deep state secret funds. The Pentagon assists with the military resources to guide the purloined weapons to embarkation points. The State Department – responsible for the security and safety of diplomatic personnel – connived at the assassination of Ambassador Stevens. The White House, the ultimate court of appeal, effectively sentenced Stevens to death.
All four dragged NATO into the bombing and subjugation of Libya, with the useful bonus of sourcing men and materials for the future destruction of Syria and Iran, from sources that could not be traced directly to the US.
Petraeus displayed his inept appreciations for the skills and niceties of diplomacy shortly after the murder of Stevens, which we can now appreciate as an initial clumsy attempt to steer the CIA away from the center of the brewing storm. On his direct command, CIA spokespeople were authorized to inform the media that the agency ‘never told anybody not to help those in need in Benghazi.’
Either Petraeus had quite forgotten he was no longer in army uniform, or equally he was determined to avoid exposure of the CIA in a re-run of the Iran-Contra scandal. I opt for the latter.
The CIA, boasting clandestine special forces of its own, does not command the US military, or the State Department, which is responsible for civilian contractors employed in overseas operations. Moreover Petraeus felt an obligation as the most prominent US commander of recent years, to underpin his new loyalties as a fresher civilian commanding the CIA.
I came across some extremely contorted explanations from one Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokesman, who described in an extraordinarily mangled version of Orwellian newspeak English why Hillary Clinton allowed locally-hired contractors to shield the consulate.
In a possibly important and revealing giveaway, she responded to her questioners (reported at Breibart News) with references to a ‘robust American presence inside the compound.’ Composed of whom precisely? This seems like a reference to the term ‘special forces.’ From Ms Nuland, we heard no more, nor from anyone else on this delicate subject.
I suspect I am not alone in detecting some fine distinction between how many contractors were deployed outside (or inside) the mission at any given time, and to whom they owed their respective loyalties. Could she have meant the pair of Navy SEALS who died in the attack? If so ‘robust’ takes on a curious significance. Were there other SEALS who survived?
The 9/11 anniversary and a compromising YouTube video mocking the Prophet Muhammad were presented as arousing angry passions. This seems insubstantial. Was it not the well-proclaimed case that the United States and her NATO allies intervened in Libya in order to protect ordinary citizens from the predations of the dictator Gaddafi, in the wake of a popular rising? Why should they turn against their benefactors, moreover in the eastern quarter of Libya known for its fierce resistance to the government regime?
The sums don’t quite add up, politically or logistically.
Let me turn to what I am now completely sure is a sideshow of Iran-Contra redux. On June 22, 2012, a Turkish Phantom reconnaissance jet flying close to Syrian territory was shot down in circumstances which have never been properly explained. According to the Turkish High Command, the unarmed plane was engaged in a mission to test Syrian air defenses.
The Turkish authorities claimed it was downed by anti-aircraft fire from inside Syrian sovereign airspace. Assad’s spokesman duly claimed a direct hit. A peculiar string of diplomatic pronouncements appeared from US sources declaring they had identified the actual perpetrators, but would say no more, a cautious use of language which rather undermined the Syrian claims of responsibility.
The Russians chimed in on similar grounds. The Turkish authorities performed a delicate minuet. A US-captained seabed reconnaissance vessel which recovered some parts of the downed jet, was suddenly ordered away from the scene. The bodies of the two dead pilots were recovered, but never seen by the grieving relatives. There were no post-mortems. Turkish accounts of the plane’s last moments differed wildly.
It is my contention that the plane was struck by AA fire (probably US-supplied Libyan Stinger missiles) from insurgents inside Syria, armed with gear supplied by the arms trail stretching back to Benghazi. It was a deliberate action designed to drag Turkey into an open confrontation with Syria and thus invoke NATO’s twin articles IV and V, which justify an attack upon one as an attack upon all.
Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now clearly itching for a scrap with the Syrians.
And finally we revert to the judicial murder of Ambassador Stevens.
His attackers came remarkably well prepared with rocket propelled Stinger grenades (derived from the Syrian arms trail) and apparent foreknowledge of secret safe houses employed by US officials. The attack bore signs of careful advance preparation, the noisy protests outside the compound staged as diversionary tactics.
According to the official account, Stevens was found in a coma after suffering a heart attack, allegedly induced by inhaling smoke. But other more convincing reports state he was shot or stabbed.
US officials have never revealed explicitly how the ambassador died.
The telegram that he sent on the day he died made clear that the security situation in the locality was failing as rival groups fell out amongst themselves. He spoke of disputes over US policy. With so much money flowing through the arms trail conduits, Stevens was the umpire finding himself in increasingly hazardous circumstances, caught between rival factions demanding a share of the action.
Clearly, Benghazi was the main center of Stevens’ operations, rather than the official embassy in Tripoli. For that he paid the ultimate price. Time will tell if Obama will himself escape the curse of Benghazi.
Richard Cottrell is a writer, journalist and former European MP (Conservative). His new book Gladio: NATO’s Dagger At The Heart Of Europe is now available from Progressive Press. You may order it using the link below (or by clicking here – Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe: The Pentagon-Nazi-Mafia Terror Axis):
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