Several stories broke today that aren’t looking good for the Obama administration’s foreign policy or intelligence record. First, whistleblowers have told House Republicans that the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was actually attacked two separate times in the months prior to the 9/11/12 attack that took the life of U.S. Ambassador Stevens and three other embassy staff. Second, at least one prisoner freed during the Arab Spring is now a prime suspect in these attacks. Pat and Stu discussed the breaking news on their show today and wondered how the Obama administration will avoid blame in the death of Ambassador Stevens.
The Daily Beast reported this morning:
In the five months leading up to this year’s 9/11 anniversary, there were two bombings on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and increasing threats to and attacks on the Libyan nationals hired to provide security at the U.S. missions in Tripoli and Benghazi.
Details on these alleged incidents stem in part from the testimony of a handful of whistleblowers who approached the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the days and weeks following the attack on the Benghazi consulate. The incidents are disclosed in a letter to be sent Tuesday to Hillary Clinton from Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the oversight committee’s subcommittee that deals with national security.
The State Department did not offer comment on the record last night.
The new information disclosed in the letter obtained by The Daily Beast strongly suggests the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the late Ambassador Chris Stevens were known by U.S. security personnel to be targets for terrorists. Indeed, the terrorists made their threats openly on Facebook.
After reading the news, Stu pointed out that Glenn has continued to question why Stevens was at the embassy — a question that no one is answering.
“This guy is going to a building that’s already been attacked and threats are coming in on freaking Facebook,” Stu said.
According to the Huffington Post, despite the attacks and threats, ”U.S. officials in Washington turned down repeated pleas from American diplomats in Libya to increase security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where the U.S. ambassador was killed, Republican leaders of a House committee asserted Tuesday.”
“We know that there were attacks in this area. We know that there were threats leading up to this. We know Libya itself requested extra protection and it was denied by Washington,” Stu said.
While both of these news stories are pretty damaging for President Obama and his administration on their own, more negative reports are continuing to roll out with details on the attacks in Libya. There is now evidence that one of the people who took part in the attacks that killed Ambassador Stevens was freed during the Arab Spring.
Fighters linked to one freed militant, Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, took part in the Sept. 11 attack on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya that killed four Americans, U.S. officials believe based on initial reports. Intelligence reports suggest that some of the attackers trained at camps he established in the Libyan Desert, a former U.S. official said. …
Mr. Ahmad, although believed to be one of the most potent of the new militant operatives emerging from the chaos of the Arab Spring, isn’t the only one, according to Western officials. They say others are also trying to exploit weaknesses in newly established governments and develop a capacity for strikes that could go well beyond recent violent protests in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere. …
On returning to Egypt in the 1990s, a former U.S. official said, Mr. Ahmad became head of the operational wing of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was then headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, a physician who is now the chief of al Qaeda. Associates of Mr. Ahmad agree he was part of Egyptian Islamic Jihad but say he wasn’t among its leaders.On returning to Egypt in the 1990s, a former U.S. official said, Mr. Ahmad became head of the operational wing of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was then headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, a physician who is now the chief of al Qaeda. Associates of Mr. Ahmad agree he was part of Egyptian Islamic Jihad but say he wasn’t among its leaders. …
Freed last year, Mr. Ahmad is building his own terror group, say Western officials, who call it the Jamal Network. They say he appears to be trying to tap former fellow inmates such as Murjan Salim, a man who, like Mr. Ahmad, has ties to al Qaeda’s Dr. Zawahiri. Former associates of Mr. Ahmad said Mr. Salim is directing aspiring jihadis to Mr. Ahmad’s camps in Libya.
“This guy was imprisoned in Egypt and was freed, let out of jail, when Mubarak’s regime fell. And then went and killed one of ambassador in Libya. The guy responsible for this attack is a result of this President’s Arab Spring policies in Egypt. He was in jail under Mubarak, freed, went to Libya and killed our ambassador,” Stu explained.
“It’s amazing,” he added.
“That’s pretty damning,” Pat said.