On January 20, 2011, Al Jazeera ran an op-ed which began: “In a country [Tunisia] where officials have little concern for the rights of citizens, there was nothing extraordinary about humiliating a young man trying to sell fruit and vegetables to support his family.
“Yet when Mohamed Bouazizi poured inflammable liquid over his body and set himself alight outside the local municipal office, his act of protest cemented a revolt that would ultimately end President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 23-year-rule.”
Google “How did the Arab Spring start?” and the search engine will return page after page eulogising Bouazizi, the humble street trader whose act of self-immolation sparked a popular revolution across northern Africa and into the Middle East.
In the two years that followed, it was not only the Tunisian government that fell. Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain all either saw their regimes toppled or civil war take hold. Major protests also took place in Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Iranian Khuzestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan. Minor protests took place in Djibouti, Mauritania, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, and the Western Sahara. According to the Huffington Post, the major slogan among the Arabic-speaking nations was ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ an-niẓām: “The people want to bring down the regime.”
The Arab Spring was portrayed throughout the media as a popular uprising of the Arabic-speaking nations against brutal regimes in the hope of gaining freedom and a better standard of living. In truth it was nothing of the sort.
Benghazi: The Difference It Actually Makes
In 2013 the nation watched open mouthed as Hillary Clinton testified about the attack against two United States facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. The attack had left four Americans dead, including the Ambassador, Chris Stevens.
Her testimony is now infamous, as it was during that session that she delivered the immortal line: “What difference at this point does it make?”
As the conservatives sought to make hay out of her remark, the context of her comment got lost in the fray. Here’s what difference, at this point, that makes.
The line was uttered during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 23, 2013. Republican Senator Ron Johnson pressed the former Secretary of State to answer a question about the cause of the attack: a very valid and crucial point which he was right to discuss. Did it arise from protests, or was it a targeted attack? Clinton insisted it was impossible to know.
Senator Johnson said: “A very simple phone call to these individuals [about 25 to 30 personnel who were rescued from the facilities], I think, would’ve ascertained immediately that there was no protest prior to this. This attack started at 9:40 p.m. Benghazi time and it was an assault. I appreciate the fact that you called it an assault. But I’m going back to then-Ambassador [Susan] Rice five days later going on the Sunday shows and, what I would say, is purposefully misleading the American public. Why wasn’t that known? And again, I appreciate the fact that the transparency of this hearing, but why weren’t we transparent to that point in time?”
Clinton blustered, saying that the priority at the time was to treat the rescued personnel for injuries. She waffled, eventually saying: “I just want to say that people have accused Ambassador Rice and the administration of misleading Americans. I can say trying to be in the middle of this and understanding what was going on, nothing could be further from the truth. Was information developing? Was the situation fluid? Would we reach conclusions later that weren’t reached initially? And I appreciate the –”
Sen. Johnson cut her off with: “But, Madame Secretary, do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to those evacuees to determine what happened wouldn’t have ascertained immediately that there was no protest? That was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily obtained?”
After a bit of back and forth, Johnson eventually lays it out: “No, again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and that something sprang out of that — an assault sprang out of that — and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.”
That is when Clinton responded: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”
It makes a big difference.
In order to understand what actually happened in Benghazi, we need to have some context.
Operation Timber Sycamore
As planned by The Muslim Brotherhood, in cooperation with the Obama Administration and with the support of Secretary Hillary Clinton, the Libyan uprising, billed as part of the Arab Spring, began on February 10, 2011. This was 18 months before the attack on Benghazi.
One month later, on March 17, 2011 the United Nations Security Resolution passed Resolution 1973 enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya and sanctioning international military forces to patrol it. Just two days later, on March 19, A multi-state NATO-led coalition which included the US began a military intervention in Libya against the Libyan Military.
So desperate was he for war, Obama signed authorization for a covert weapons operation to arm “rebel forces”, with the intent to overthrow Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, as reported by Reuters. This operation was known as Timber Sycamore.
In interviews at the time, Obama stated that the objective of the allied airstrikes was to force Gaddafi to “ultimately step down” from power. He spoke of applying “steady pressure, not only militarily but also through these other means” to force Gaddafi out.
The same Reuters report noted: “Sending in weapons would arguably violate an arms embargo on Libya by the U.N. Security Council imposed on February 26, although British, U.S. and French officials have suggested there may be a loophole.” It added: “U.S. officials also have said that Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whose leaders despise Gaddafi, have indicated a willingness to supply Libyan rebels with weapons.”
However, it also noted that American Presidents are able to sign orders known as “findings” to authorise covert operations by the CIA, bypassing congressional oversight.
A Voice of America article published in March 2011 by their intelligence correspondent Gary Thomas speculated that Obama could be using covert operations in Libya, noting: “covert action has long been a favourite tool of U.S. presidents.”
He explained: “Covert action is any U.S. government effort to change the economic, military, or political situation overseas in a hidden way. Covert action can encompass many things, including propaganda, electoral manipulation, funding, arming and training insurgents, and even encouraging a coup.”
He concluded: “Some covert operations, such as the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, were disasters. Others, such as backing the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s against Soviet occupation, have been more widely viewed as successful.”
In real-time, our perspectives are very limited as the media chooses what is or what is not served up to us as “news.” In Western minds, when the news discusses “rebels forces,” we tend to assume those rebels are good guys trying to remove a brutal dictator. The truth is that when Obama authorised weapons to enter the hands “the rebels,” he was arming al-Qaeda.
The State Department and US military covered for the operation by making out that the “rebels” were getting their weapons from two sources: Gaddafi himself (inadvertently), and Qatar.
In April 2011, the Head of US Africom, General Carter Ham told the Senate Armed Services Committee: “I’m very concerned about the proliferation of weapons, notably shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles which we assess there were perhaps as many as 20,000 in Libya as the operation began. Many of those we know are now not accounted for, and that’s going to be a concern for some period of time.”
As it happens, he also told the Committee: “We have seen intent expressed by al-Qaeda in the lands of the Islamic Maghreb by the Libyan Islamic fighter group and others to partner with the opposition, if you will, in an anti-Gaddafi regime mode. I think we need to know more about what that means before we were to make a U.S. decision to arm, though I think others are working in that direction.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that Qatar was supplying the “wrong” rebels with weapons, writing, in December 2012: “The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants.
“The Obama administration did not initially raise objections when Qatar began shipping arms to opposition groups in Syria, even if it did not offer encouragement, according to current and former administration officials. But they said the United States has growing concerns that, just as in Libya, the Qataris are equipping some of the wrong militants.
“The United States, which had only small numbers of C.I.A. officers in Libya during the tumult of the rebellion, provided little oversight of the arms shipments. Within weeks of endorsing Qatar’s plan to send weapons there in spring 2011, the White House began receiving reports that they were going to Islamic militant groups.”
It is with no small measure of irony that the Obama administration’s cover story – that Qatar was supplying weapons to the militants – was blown apart by none other than the Taliban themselves, in, of all places, Afghanistan.
The first public sign of Obama’s covert operation going wrong occurred on July 25, 2012. That evening, a Taliban gunner locked onto a US Army CH-47 helicopter and fired his missile. He thought he had a sure fire hit, but he’d failed to load the missile correctly. The pilot was able to bring the Chinook down in a hard landing and the team on board ran clear. Less than 30 seconds later, the Taliban gunner and his comrade were taken out by an American gun ship which had locked onto their position.
The following day, the New York Post reported, an explosive ordnance disposal team arrived and began picking through the wreckage. They found unexploded pieces of a missile casing that could only have come from an American made Stinger missile, and furthermore, they found a fragment that contained a whole serial number.
When tracked back, it revealed that the Stinger had been signed out by the CIA recently, not during the anti-Soviet era.
Sources in the US Special Operations community told the Post that they believed the missile was part of a consignment handed over by the CIA to Qatar in 2011 – weapons that Hillary Clinton’s State Department had intended to be passed on to anti-Gaddafi forces in Libya. It appeared that the Qataris had held back between 50 and 60 missiles, handing them over to the Taliban instead, where – as the above shows, they were used against American forces in Afghanistan.
The incident was hushed up to avoid demoralising American troops, and easily so because no casualties had been suffered on the American side.
This is where Ambassador Chris Stevens enters the picture. The media pundits consistently tell the public that Clinton was exonerated by the multiple hearings on the terror attack at Benghazi. Nothing could be further from the truth. It appears – although it has never been confirmed – that Stevens was sent to Libya by Clinton to recover the weapons, and their tracks.
In October 2015, she all but admitted as much when she testified to the House Committee on Benghazi:
“I was the one who asked Chris to go to Libya as our envoy. I was the one who recommended him to be our ambassador to the president,” she said.
“He knew that eastern Libya was where the revolution had begun and that unrest there could derail the country’s fragile transition to democracy. And if extremists gained a foothold, they would have the chance to destabilize the entire region, including Egypt and Tunisia.
“He also knew how urgent it was to ensure that the weapons Gaddafi had left strewn across the country, including shoulder-fired missiles that could knock an airplane out of the sky, did not fall into the wrong hands. The nearest Israeli airport is just a day’s drive from the Libyan border.”
This was not the only way Clinton and Obama sought to distance themselves from the operation.
Desperate to find a scapegoat for their misdemeanours, the US Department of Justice brought charges against a State Department licenced arms dealer, Marc Turi, and his company, Turi Defense Group, accusing him of illegally supplying the rebels with weapons.
According to a former Law Enforcement Officer named Roscoe B Davis who tweeted about the case, Turi is from Phoenix, Arizona, and was a neighbour of John McCain.
McCain sat on the Senate Arms Committee and, Davis said, for years had helped Turi secure billions in arms contracts with the Department of Defence. “Then Clinton and McCain came up with a plan to arm Al-Qaeda to get them to overthrow Gaddafi.”
The CIA was apparently reluctant to go through with the plan, but Clinton insisted because she wanted to overthrow Gaddafi “on the cheap,” Davis said.
Turi told Fox News that he initially filed an application for permission to sell the weapons directly to the Libyan opposition, known as the Transitional National Council. His application was denied.
“It made perfect and very clear sense,” he said, “because the TNC was not a recognised entity, which means they could never have signed an end user statement. That’s where I came up with this zero footprint Arab-Arab supply chain whereby our foreign ally supplies another Arab country.
“If you want to limit the exposure to the US government, what you simply do is outsource it to your allies,” he added.
The Fox News report went on to note that, during Clinton’s term as Secretary of State, U.S. arms dealers were awarded a record number of export licences.
Selina Reyalu, a professor of Security at the National Defence University told Fox News that increasing weapons exports overseas was “a huge policy position of the Obama administration.”
In 2011, the report said, more than 86,000 licences, with a value of $44.3 billion dollars were granted to arms dealers, a value more than $10 billion higher than the previous year.
Nonetheless, when the mission to arm the Libyan rebels with American weapons threatened to become public knowledge, the U.S. Government sought to throw Turi to the wolves by accusing him of illegally trading the weapons. Those charges were quietly dropped just before the 2016 election, when emails sent by Clinton as Secretary of State threatened to expose the CIA’s role in the matter – and her own.
“They don’t want this stuff to come out because it will look really bad for Obama and Clinton just before the election,” an associate of Turi told Politico.
Robert Stryk of the government relations and consulting firm SPG was happy to go on record to accuse the government of trying to scapegoat Turi to cover up Clinton’s mishandling of Libya and her role in Benghazi. “The U.S. government spent millions of dollars, went all over the world to bankrupt him, and destroyed his life — all to protect Hillary Clinton’s crimes,” he said.
So by Turi’s own admission, he was working with the CIA to arm the Transitional National Council in Libya, via Qatar.
The man in charge of the Transnational National Council between March 2011 until its dissolution in August 2012, was a man named Mustafa Abdul Jalil. His governance of the National Council at this time made him the de facto Head of State in Libya after the fall of Gaddafi.
In October 2011, Jalil told a rally in Benghazi that, post-Gaddafi, the country’s legal system would be based on Islamic Sharia law. “Any law that violates Sharia is null and void legally,” he told the crowd, according to CNS News.
Tunisia and Egypt likewise underwent a sharp swing toward Islamic values following the Arab Spring, hardly the sort of thing one would expect from a populist uprising designed to usher in more modern, democratic societies.
Nevertheless, when asked whether the U.S. Government had any concerns over Sharia forming the basis for the Arab countries’ legal systems, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters: “We’ve seen various Islamic-based democracies wrestle with the issue of establishing rule of law within an appropriate cultural context. But the number one thing is that universal human rights, rights for women, rights for minorities, right to due process, right to transparency be fully respected.”
Nuland added, “I would simply say that the term [Sharia] is – has a broad application and is understood differently in different places and by different commentators.”
Sharia law mandates capital punishments for a range of offences, including homosexuality. Under its strictures, the weight of a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s, while in some interpretations a rape victim must present four male witnesses to advocate for her or risk being tried for adultery, which can also carry a death sentence.
And here’s where the Muslim Brotherhood comes in.
The website Conservative Treehouse carries the most detailed account:
“Justice Minister Mustafa Jalil formed a loose coalition of extremist forces within Eastern Libya, but behind Jalil were the Muslim Brotherhood members who were released from the Cairo prisons by Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood head Mohammed Morsi.
“When Morsi opened the prisons and released the Brotherhood, the key person released was Mohammed al-Zawahiri. Mohammed Zawahiri is the brother of al-Qaeda’s #2 guy Ayman al-Zawahiri who was/is running al-Qaeda from Afghanistan.
“After his release from jail, Mohammed al-Zawahiri crossed the border into Eastern Libya (Benghazi) and coordinated with Mustafa Abdel Jalil.”
Jalil played the sympathetic moderate for the West’s media and politicians, the website says, allowing the Western allied coalition to lend the rebels air cover under the aforementioned Resolution 1973, while Obama discretely supplied weapons on the ground via Turi and Qatar.
“The Brotherhood, via Mohammed Zawahiri, then almost immediately directed many of those CIA weapons from Libya to his brother in Afghanistan and to their ideological brothers in Syria. Within weeks, U.S. aircraft operating in Afghanistan began seeing surface to air missiles used against them for the first time in a decade.”
What Really Happened in Benghazi
The mainstream narrative which the American public were given at the time on what happened that fateful night in Benghazi is not what actually happened.
The official narrative is as follows:
In 2011 there was a popular uprising against the Libyan government. With Western governments giving cover to the rebels, Gaddafi’s regime was toppled. The war was over by September 2012, when the Benghazi attack took place, but much of the country was lawless.
On the day of September 11, 2012, protests took place outside US diplomatic buildings throughout the Muslim world. In Cairo, protestors climbed the walls surrounding the US Embassy. Vox reported that the protests were against an amateur anti-Islam film called The Innocence of Muslims, clips of which had apparently been translated into Arabic by the Egyptian media.
Between 8.30 and 9pm that evening, Vox claimed, “Members of local Islamist militias in Benghazi decide, somewhat spontaneously, to seize on the day’s protests and attack the US diplomatic outpost there, assembling around its gates.”
At 9.42pm they breach the gates, access the building and set fire to it. Over the next three hours, security staff try to evacuate Ambassador Stevens but lose him in the smoke. A CIA team tries to rescue the Ambassador but are unable to find Stevens and are forced to retreat under heavy fire. At around 1am locals find Steven and rush him to hospital, where he dies of smoke inhalation, as does State Department Information Management Officer Sean Smith.
At around 5.15am, the annex is hit by mortar fire for 11 minutes. Diplomatic security agents Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are killed attempting to return fire. The base chief decides that Benghazi must be abandoned. At 6am, local Libyans arrive and protect the Americans as they make good their escape.
Unfortunately for Vox, photos later emerged of Ambassador Stevens being brutally tortured and killed by a rioting mob. He died not by smoke inhalation, but from beating.
Afterwards, Clinton and the Obama administration would claim that nothing could have been done to save Woods and Doherty during the 13 hour standoff at the compound, but this too would turn out to be false.
The night of the attack, a US Army Commando Unit was stationed at Aviano Air Base in northeastern Italy, just over 1,000 miles (1,609 km) away. Hillary’s State Dept. claims they didn’t arrive in Italy until the attack was over. That was a lie.
“There were people everywhere,” an anonymous witness, who was on the ground that night, later told Fox News. “That flight line was full of people, and we were all ready to go” to Benghazi. “The whole night we were told that we are waiting on a call.
“I definitely believe that our aircraft could have taken off and gotten there in a timely manner, maybe three hours at the most, in order to at least stop that second mortar attack … and basically save lives that day.”
Mike, a former team sergeant for a military anti-terror quick reaction force told Fox in the same report: “For some reason they were all shut down, and I think it leads back to a policymaker somewhere because nobody in the military is going to shut down an operation.”
On the night of the attack, Mike was at Delta Force headquarters in the U.S. monitoring the events as they happened, Fox reported. “We had hours and hours and hours to do something … and we did nothing.”
A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit revealed that Department of Defense Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash immediately offered assistance to the State Department as the event was unfolding, but the order never came.
“We could have been there. That’s the worst part,” the anonymous source said.
So where did the order to stand down come from? According to a report published by True Pundit, it came from the then assistant director of anti-terrorism Andrew McCabe.
Robyn Gritz, a decorated FBI agent with 15 years of counter-terrorism experience told the media outlet that when news of the attack in Benghazi reached Langley and the Pentagon, the CIA and Defense Department moved quickly to assemble an elite counter-terrorism team known as the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST).
FEST is the American government’s only inter-agency, short notice terror response team. Gritz recalled that she had already been briefed by her Defense Department contacts, and was told to prepare FBI personnel to be deployed.
“I said I got a call from DOD, people that actually put the FEST plane together and I was offered six slots for FBI but I can probably get eight,” she said. “McCabe said: ‘No, we don’t need your help with that Robyn or help from DOD.
“I explained to him that I was the only SSA (Supervisory Special Agent) sitting in this room that has deployed FBI on a FEST plane to a U.S. Embassy under major attack. In Yemen there were terrorists driving around blowing shit up. And it didn’t stop when we got on the ground. And the same thing happened in Beirut. But McCabe told us all in the meeting the FBI was standing down.”
After that meeting, Gritz says she was barred from attending further Benghazi briefings and from the FBI’s email chain on the attack. She volunteered to help McCabe and FBI Director Robert Mueller, but was told to mind her own business. In the end, fellow FBI agents sought her council on the attack, but did so secretly, away from McCabe and Mueller.
Gritz was eventually hounded out of the FBI by McCabe completely, and ended up working a make-up counter at Macy’s. McCabe went on to become Deputy Director of the FBI.