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Update (Part II): What We Know About The Benghazi Attack….

As with all complex stories the valuable discoveries come with time.

We now have a pretty good understanding of who, what, where, and why surrounding the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi Libya. We are also better positioned to understand why, or perhaps more importantly why not, certain actions were taken before, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the attack itself.

benghazi4

We know from the Bret Baier interview with Hillary Clinton that she was physically located at her 7th floor office in Washington DC on the night of the attack. Unfortunately we also know during the November 2012 Thanksgiving holiday a mysterious fire took place in that building. Well, actually directly above her exact office - cause undetermined.

A “fire” which preceded an unfortunate slip and fall for the Secretary, resulting in a concussion, which led to the discovery of a blood clot, that ultimately delayed her congressional testimony before a Senate Hearing into the events of the night in question.

We know the Libyan uprising began on February 10th of 2011, and we also know that sometime around the end of February 2011 President Obama signed a presidential directive authorizing the State Dept and CIA to begin a covert operation to arm the Libyan “rebels”.

We know the “rebels” were positioned in two strategic places. Benghazi, and the port city of Darnah, both located in Eastern Libya.

We know this covert operation came to be known as “Operation Zero Footprint“, and fell under the military command authority of NATO not (important to repeat), NOT, the U.S. Military.

We know by the time operation “Zero Footprint” began, AFRICOM commander General Carter Ham was removed from OPSEC oversight in the Libyan campaign and NATO commander Admiral James G. Stavridis was in charge.

Stavridis was the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) at the time of the Libyan uprising. He retired as SACEUR in 2013

In 2011, 57-year-old Stavridis was the perfect pick for NATO Libyan intervention considering he is the son of Turkish immigrants. Turkey played a key role in what might be the most politically dangerous aspect of the events to the White House once the goals changed to redirection of the weapons from Operation Zero Footprint.

We know Operation Zero Footprint was the covert transfer of weapons from the U.S to the Libyan “rebels”. We also know the operation avoided the concerns with congressional funding, and potential for public scrutiny, through financing by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

We also know that officials within the government of Qatar served as the intermediaries for the actual transfer of the weapons, thereby removing the footprint of the U.S. intervention.

We know the entire operation was coordinated and controlled by the State Department and CIA. We also know (from the Senate Foreign Relations Benghazi hearings) that “Zero Footprint” was unknown to the 2011 Pentagon and/or DoD commanders who would have been tasked with any military response to the 9/11/12 attack – namely AFRICOM General Carter Ham.

However, it would be implausible to think that then Defense Secretary Bob Gates or Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral McMullen were completely unaware of the operation, this aspect remains murky.

Both Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair McMullen were in place when Operation Zero Footprint began but retired from their jobs in Sept of 2011, and were replaced by Bob Gates and Martin Dempsey respectively.

Leon Panetta was CIA Director at the beginning of Operation Zero Footprint (March 2011) and was replaced by CIA Director David Petraeus in the fall of 2011 as Panetta replaced Bob Gates and became Secretary of Defense.

However, Panetta (now as Def Sec) and  JC Martin Dempsey were the two who initially briefed President Obama on the night of Sept 11th 2012.   Leon Panetta definitely had knowledge of the intents of the joint State Dept/Cia mission in Benghazi, Dempsey may not have.

We know the White House appears to have followed “The Intelligence Oversight Act of 1980” in informing the congressional “Gang of Eight” of Zero Footprint.

The Gang of Eight in 2011 would have included: Speaker – John Boehner, Minority Leader – Nancy Pelosi; House Permanent Select Committee on Intel Chairman – Mike Rogers, and his Democrat counterpart Charles Ruppersberger; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; along with Senate Intel Chair Diane Feinstein and her Republican counterpart, Saxby Chambliss.

From Hillary interviews we also know the White House liaison for Secretary Clinton and CIA Director Leon Panetta during Operation Zero Footprint was National Security Advisor To the President, Tom Donilon.

With this information we can assemble a cast of people “IN THE KNOW” of Operation Zero Footprint on two specific date blocks. March 2011 through Pre 9/11/12 attack – and – Post 9/11/12 attack forward.

March 2011 through Pre 9/11/12 attack: Who knew of Operation “Zero Footprint”?:

  • President Obama and Vice President Biden (both Dems)
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Dem)
  • CIA Director Leon Panetta (March 2011 – June 2011)
  • *CIA Director General David Petraeus (?) (Sept 2011 – Nov 2012)
  • NATO Commander, James G Stavridis
  • White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon (Dem)
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (Rep)
  • Minority Leader – Nancy Pelosi (Dem)
  • House Permanent Select Committee on Intel Chairman – Mike Rogers (Rep)
  • Minority House Intel Committee – Charles Ruppersberger (Dem)
  • Senate Minority Leader – Mitch McConnell (Rep)
  • Senate Majority Leader – Harry Reid (Dem)
  • Senate Intel Chair – Diane Feinstein (Dem)
  • Minority Senate Intel Committee – Saxby Chambliss (Rep)
  • [State Dept] U.S. Libyan Ambassador – Chris Stevens
  • [State Dept] U.S. Asst Secretary of State – Andrew Shapiro
  • [State Dept] Senior Head of U.S. Weapons Office – Mark Adams

Along with whomever inside each nation’s state government that was involved in either the finance (UAE), or the logistics (Qatar).

Obviously the “know” crowd would include the ultimate end destination users, “The Libyan Rebel Commanders”:

  • Rebel Leader (Islamic Fighting Group) Abu Sufian Ibriham Ahmed Hamuda Bin Qumu – Darnah Brigade – Ansar Al Sharia
  • Rebel Leader (Islamic Fighting Group) Abu Khattala – Commander of an Islamist militia group called the Abu Obaida bin Jarrah Brigade (17th Feb Brigade) Benghazi – Ansar Al Sharia

*NOTE* Both of these individuals were labeled as officially recognized State Dept. terrorists in December of 2013. Khattala recently having been arrested.

Mustafa-Abdel-Jalil-POTUS

In addition, the “political face” of the Libyan Transitional Government Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil, should also be included in this list of people who knew of operation Zero Footprint while it was underway.

Justice Abdel Jalil served as the international face of, and spokesperson for, “the rebels” in 2011/12. He worked closely with Chris Stevens and highly visibly with Secretary Hillary Clinton – However, in my opinion – after extensive research- Jalil was a total patsy. He was paid well to present a comfortable face of the movement, but once Gaddaffi was killed Jalil was quickly dispatched.

This Brings us to who knew about “Operation Zero Footprint” post Benghazi 9/11/12 attack:

To wit you can easily add:

  • CIA Director General David Petraeus
  • Adjunct, and Interim, CIA Director – Mike Morrel
  • U.S. Attorney General – Eric Holder
  • President Obama Advisor and now Chief of Staff – Denis McDonough
  • President Obama Advisor and now Treasury Sec – Jack Lew
  • President Obama Advisor and now National Security Advisor – Tony Blinkin
  • Former UN Ambassador and now Senior Nat Sec Advisor – Susan Rice
  • Chief White House Communications Director – Ben Rhodes

Focusing on the post 9/11/12 team for a moment:

This photo was taken at 1:28am Benghazi time. [7:28pm DC] Following a one hour phone call between POTUS, V-Potus, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

This photo was taken on 9/11/12 at 1:28am Benghazi time. [7:28pm DC] Following a one hour phone call between POTUS, V-Potus, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Jack Lew (far right) was Obama’s Chief of Staff.   Donilon and McDonough had just left Tommy Vietor in the situation room to update POTUS in the Oval Office.   POTUS and VPOTUS had just hung up the phone.

update-1  PART II – We know McDonough and Donilon were in the immediate loop on the night of 9/11/12 because they were photographed updating President Obama at 7:30pm in the Oval Office along with a curious Jack Lew who was Chief of Staff at the time.

In addition we know from former White House National Security spokesperson Tommy “dude” Vietor, that President Obama was not in the situation room where Vietor and his boss Tom Donilon were keeping up on events.

Here’s where it gets interesting:

Leon Panetta was the CIA Director when Operation Zero Footprint was authorized and began, but he left the CIA about 4 months later (June 30th, 2011) and was replaced by General David Petraeus (August/Sept 2011).

Under this principle you can see that General Petraeus had ZERO liability for the origin of the Benghazi weapons deals - it was a joint State Dept/CIA program already being conducted when Petraeus arrived.  If it blew up, it was not his political problem.

We know that during the summer of 2012 “a whistleblower” popped up and gave House Republican Leader Eric Cantor a tip about CIA Director General Petraeus being in an extramarital affair with a reporter named Paula Broadwell; along with rumors Petraeus may have shared classified information with Broadwell during pillow talk etc.

We also know that Eric Cantor told AG Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller about the claim and Mueller began an investigation of Petraeus in the Summer of 2012 before the Benghazi attack in September.

However, we also know that neither Holder nor Mueller (nor Cantor) informed anyone in congress this investigation of Petraeus was taking place.    That investigation included Broadwell turning over her computer to the FBI in the same summer, and later a search of her home which did reveal confidential information supposedly leaked from Petraeus.

Sometime in October of 2012 Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had a conversation with Petraeus urging him to leave.

Immediately after the election of 2012 CIA Director David Petraeus resigned (Nov 9th) and interim CIA Director Mike Morrel took over.  This is why Petraeus never testified to the Senate, and Morrel took his place.

General David Petraeus and Paula BroadwellLeon-Panetta-and-Michael-Morell-via-the-Secretary-of-Defense-Public-Domain

We also know this timely switch was beneficial to both the Clinton and Obama camps because Morrel was more politically connected to them than Petraeus.

Given the risks of exposure to both “Operation Zero Footprint”, and worse, the buy-back/redirection to Syria, it’s understandable the risk to Clinton that Petraeus carried.  However, Petraeus was not of any risk himself;  maybe Leon Panetta would be, but not Petraeus - who, it’s important to add, came from the Defense Department to the office of CIA.

Petraeus’s replacement, interim CIA Director Mike Morrel, and White House Communications Director Ben Rhodes, were the two men who constructed the infamous “Susan Rice” talking points.

After Morrel testified to congress about the CIA involvement around Benghazi, and the issues of terrorism vs. Islamic movie (happy squirrel chase) etc.  Morrel was replaced at the CIA by John Brennan.

We know that both Hillary Clinton and CBS immediately hired Mike Morrel.   CBS News President David Rhodes -who hired Morrel- is the brother of the White House’s Ben Rhodes; who Morrel coordinated the Clinton friendly, albeit controversial, talking points with.

While it may seem suspect to jump to conclusions, the fact that Eric Holder did not inform either Intelligence Committee of the FBI Petraeus investigation -which is generally standard procedure- lends plausible suspicion to an outline that the events were used as leverage to remove Petraeus; and all of the subsequent risk he represented.

If you accept that Petraeus’s knowledge of, but non-involvement in,  “Operation Zero Footprint” represented a potential risk to Hillary and Obama; you’d have to admit that Mike Morrel was by far the more White House friendly person talking about the CIA involvement around the joint State Dept/CIA Benghazi objectives.

Also, it would be disingenuous to ignore the fact Morrel’s loyalty therein was rewarded financially.

Lastly, one of the more slippery people to pin down on the Benghazi attack, and subsequent issues, has been Leon Panetta.   If you think about Panetta’s role in the origin of Operation Zero Footprint his comment avoidance makes perfect sense.

Trey Gowdy needs to subpoena Panetta for the Special Committee.

OK, sorry that was more than a moment – but was needed.

Now back to Libya 2011/2012 and the Rift Between State/CIA and DoD/Pentagon over the arming of the “Rebels”.   THIS IS REALLY QUITE IMPORTANT because it explains how far out Hillary Clinton had put herself in this covert op “Zero Footprint”.

Duty - by Robert Gates

A few reminder articles will outline and refresh why the White House kept DoD and The Pentagon at arms length throughout their covert operation:

[...] defense leaders in Washington [March 2011] slammed the brakes on the extent of US help to the rebels.  Top officials said that some country other than the US should perform any future training and equipping of the Libyan opposition groups.   Under withering congressional probing and criticism of what was described as an ill-defined mission to aid a rebel force that officials know little about, Robert Gates, the US defense secretary, sketched out a largely limited role for the US military going forward.

Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told members of the House Armed Services panel that many other countries have the ability to train and support the rebels.   “My view would be, if there is going to be that kind of assistance to the opposition, there are plenty of sources for it other than the United States,” said Gates. “Somebody else should do that.”    Gates and Mullen told Congress that future US participation will be limited and will not involve an active role in airstrikes as time goes on(link)

From a New York Times article about the same hearing -AND- the discussion of the CIA involvement.   Again, remember this is 2011 – you have Secretary Gates, Joint Chiefs Mullen, and CIA Director Panetta:

2011 [...]  Gates and Mullen were testifying before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in the wake of revelations that small teams of CIA operatives are working in Libya.   Gates declined to comment on the CIA activities in Libya.   US officials have acknowledged that the CIA has sent small teams of operatives into Libya and helped rescue a crew member of a US fighter jet that crashed.

The CIA’s precise role in Libya is not clear.   Intelligence experts said the CIA would have sent officials to make contact with the opposition and assess the strength and needs of the rebel forces in the event Barack Obama, the US president, decided to arm them.  (link)

In hindsight we are now fully aware that unknown to both Mullen and Gates -at the time they were speaking- was President Obama having authorized Operation Zero Footprint several weeks earlier, and Panetta carrying it out.

The State Dept (Hillary) and CIA (Panetta) were now in the execution mode of the covert op.

We now know against the March/April 2011 backdrop of growing information about al-Qaeda’s presence within the rebel units – there was a genuine difference of opinion on whether even getting involved was a good idea.

The Defense Department (Gates, Mullen) was saying no, the State Department (Clinton, Rice), was saying yes.

Remember too, this covert operation was going to require NATO Admiral James Stavridis to allow the weapons into Libya.   So lets look at what he was quoted saying around the same timeframe as Mullen and Gates, *knowing Stavridis was one of the actual key figures to make the weapons delivery possible*:

2011 – [...]  Now, as the White House and NATO continue to debate the possible ramifications of arming the Libyan opposition, the Haqqani network-linked Afghan commander says Libyan al Qaeda affiliates seem to be more “enthusiastic” about the war against Gaddafi every day.

And from what the Afghan Taliban commander has seen, there appears to be more than “flickersof al  Qaeda’s presence in Libya, the description given by NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis. (link)

There is Stavridis playing down the possibility of al-Qaeda ideology within the make-up of the Islamic Fighting Group – which is important because by the time this quote was attributed Stavridis was already part of the team coordinating the shipments.

Samantha Power - Susan Rice - President Obama

Also, remember R2P?   This March/April 2011 timeframe is when “Responsibility To Protect” came up as a justification for our engagement.   Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton all wanting to fully support “the rebels”.

Ultimately Obama/Jarrett (The White House) agreed with Hillary Inc (State Dept); hence “Zero Footprint” got the nod – well, let’s be really accurate: it “sort of” got the nod.

Think about it.   President Obama authorized arming the Libyan rebels, but the covert nature of Zero Footprint actually reflects the political filter through which all Obama White House decisions are made.   A White House team that always looks for an escape hatch in case any decision is ever publically wrong.

If the rebels were al-Qaeda, the covert op lends plausible deniability.

Isn’t it strange how in 2014 hindsight you can clearly see exactly what we now know as the “Benghazi narrative”; the use of their exact escape hatch because they were al-Qaeda, and it did go horribly and publically wrong.

patriotThis ongoing research outline is going to extend well beyond several thousand words. In the interests of absorption I will cut it off here and begin again below with the next update in approximately 12 to 24 hour increments.

Readers have shared their preference for this staggered process as the best for being able to read, understand and analyze the complexity within rather challenging research discussions.

The goal of Update #3 will begin to dive into the State Dept. buy back program, and then ultimately the redeployment of weapons from Zero Footprint from Libya to Syria.    The “buy back” effort explains the missing $6 billion in State Dept funds (2011/2012/2013). The unauthorized and illegal redeployment to Syria (via Turkey) explains the political and geo-political risk to then Secretary Clinton and ultimately President Obama. It was during this “buy-back phase” that Ambassador Stevens and three brave Americans were killed. We’ll even be able to name the registration of the Turkish vessel carrying the weapons to Syria – along with dates of interest, the players who were involved, and the amount of cash looted from the safe inside the State/CIA compound where Ambassador Stevens was meeting the Turks. 

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