Benghazi: Unauthorized Weapons Operation or Congressional Cover-Up?
Dozens of CIA operatives were involved in an arms smuggling operation on the ground in Benghazi, Libya during the deadly attack on the U.S. compound last September, reports CNN and the U.K. Telegraph. According to these outlets, the spy agency has gone out of its way to keep the information from the public through intimidation of CIA personnel.
Four Americans were killed, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens that evening in Benghazi almost one year ago.
In light of this new information, either the Congress’ “Gang of Eight” knew about the operation and misled the public about what they knew, or the Obama administration may have been conducting an unauthorized gun-running operation. Fox News reported in October of 2012 about a Libyan ship, reportedly containing weapons for Syrian Rebels that may have been tied into the attack against the consulate and the CIA annex:
Through shipping records, Fox News has confirmed that the Libyan-flagged vessel Al Entisar, which means "The Victory," was received in the Turkish port of Iskenderun -- 35 miles from the Syrian border -- on Sept. 6, just five days before Ambassador Chris Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith and former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed during an extended assault by more than 100 Islamist militants.
On the night of Sept. 11, in what would become his last known public meeting, Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and escorted him out of the consulate front gate one hour before the assault began at approximately 9:35 p.m. local time.
Although what was discussed at the meeting is not public, a source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi to negotiate a weapons transfer, an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists. And although the negotiation said to have taken place may have had nothing to do with the attack on the consulate later that night or the Libyan mystery ship, it could explain why Stevens was travelling in such a volatile region on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
According to section 503’s Presidential Approval and Reporting of Covert Actions in the 1947 National Security Act, the President may not authorize covert CIA actions without informing the intelligence committees of Congress.
Legislation implemented in 1980 gave the president the authority to limit advance notification of especially sensitive covert actions to eight Members of Congress--the “Gang of Eight”: the chairmen and ranking minority Members of the two congressional intelligence committees, the Speaker and minority leader of the House, and Senate majority and minority leaders. These members are: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).
By law, such a covert weapons operation in Benghazi should have been known by all eight members. The disastrous results from the events of September 11, 2012 have not made it easy to get answers from these lawmakers regarding this point.
Many remember when Pelosi, a "Gang of Eight" member, found herself at odds with the Democratic base in 2009 and ridiculed by Republicans, when it was revealed she was actually briefed in 2002 by the Bush White House about the administration's tactic to water-board terrorism suspects during interrogations. Pelosi denied this fact previously.
Radio host Laura Ingraham asked Boehner on January 24 about Senator Rand Paul’s questioning to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He asked if the secretary was aware of U.S. involvement in the procuring of weapons that were transferred, bought or sold to Turkey out of Libya. Clinton, seemingly confused, told Paul "nobody [had] ever raised" the issue with her before.
Boehner replied to Ingraham, “I’m somewhat familiar with the chatter about this and the fact that these arms were moving towards Turkey, but most of what I know about this came from a classified source and I really can’t elaborate on it.”
Boehner has refuses to appoint a House Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks and previously refused to support a joint Select Committee to do the same late last year.
Four members of the “Gang of Eight” have told Breitbart News over the past six months they knew nothing about any CIA operation in Benghazi involving the smuggling of Libyan weapons into Turkey that may have been shipped to Syrian rebels, some of whom were affiliated to al-Qaeda groups.
“I get to see all of that stuff. I have seen nothing that would allow me to conclude that the U.S. government was in any way shape or form involved in gun running in Libya. I looked at it all,” said Congressman Rogers, Chairman of the House Select Intelligence Committee to Breitbart News in June.
“If it’s there, I have not seen it. I think I would have found it. I think there were some other things that were happening and people got confused, but the United States government was not running guns (from the annex).”
Senator Chambliss, ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, when asked in February if he knew anything about the gunrunning issue Senator Paul asked Clinton about a month earlier replied to Breitbart News, “I’m not familiar with that.”
Senator Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Breitbart News in March she “didn’t know what” Senator Paul was talking about in regards to his questioning of Clinton and the Secretary's knowledge about the gunrunning issue in Benghazi.
Ranking member of the House Intel Committee Rep. Ruppersberger claimed to Breitbart News in May he “didn’t know anything” about U.S. weapons smuggling or if Ambassador Stevens was involved in the operation in anyway, saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Ruppersberger, added, “If I was [privy to such information], I couldn’t talk to you about it. But I have heard no information about what you’re talking about, as far as what [Ambassador Chris Stevens] was there for. I haven’t had briefings on it.”
Ruppersberger also said he knew “nothing about” any U.S. operation to smuggle weapons to Syrian rebels, explaining the secretive “Gang of Eight” briefings from the White House do not go into much detail sometimes.
“I’ve heard nothing about it. When [Stevens] was there. I don’t know. We don’t get to that minutia sometimes. Gang of 8, we get the most sensitive information, that even our own committees can’t [get.]
When asked if the White House would have had to inform the eight members of such an operation in order for it to be legal Ruppersberger responded, “No. The checks and balances is they give us information--very sensitive information. The check and balance issue, they don’t have to tell us everything or we’d be sitting having Gang of Eight briefings all day long. That’s the answer. I don’t know.”