The underlying story of Benghazi is one that cannot and will not be talked about in any open session of Congress. This means that Thursday’s hearing featuring former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was nothing but an exercise in futility.
It is the story of a covert CIA operation that was operating from a
separate facility in the Benghazi compound that was simply known as the
“Annex.” Some two dozen CIA case officers, analysts, translators and
special staff were a part of this operation and its security was
provided by CIA Global Response Staff (GRS), who had entered the countryunder diplomatic cover.
The CIA’s mission included
arms interdiction — attempting to stop the flow of Soviet-era weapons
to Central Africa — and very possibly the organization of Libyan arms
shipments to vetted insurgent groups on the ground in Syria.
There is also evidence that the mission was working in concert with
military personnel from the Joint Special Operations Group Trans-Sahara.
At the time of the attack, an unarmed American surveillance drone was
in flight over the territory east of Benghazi and Trans-Sahara military
personnel were stationed in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
In contrast, the State Department’s special
diplomatic mission facility, classified as “temporary,” was minimally
staffed with a rotating series of State Department officers sent to and
US Ambassador Christopher Stevens had not been in Benghazi for a
year. When he arrived for a short stay in September 2012, only a single
diplomatic officer was present there, and that officer rotated back to
Tripoli upon the ambassador’s arrival. Stevens was accompanied by a
communications officer and a handful of Diplomatic Service Security
staff. The security personnel provided protection for the ambassador
during his travels and meetings in the city. His presence was intended
to be extremely low key, but it was exposed in the local media shortly
after his arrival.