Waving away the Benghazi massacre as a "phony scandal" was vulgar and low class to begin with. Now, it's totally inoperative as a talking point. CNN sends Benghazi-gate into the stratosphere with a striking series of highly sensitive revelations. Wow:
From Jake Tapper's exclusive:
Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret. CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out. Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings. The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress. It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career. In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, "You don't jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well." Another says, "You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation." Agency employees typically are polygraphed every three to four years. Never more than that," said former CIA operative and CNN analyst Robert Baer. In other words, the rate of the kind of polygraphs alleged by sources is rare.
Americans are still in the dark about much of what happened that night. A few more details are now coming to the fore, despite the intelligence community's extraordinary efforts to keep a lid on them:
Among the many secrets still yet to be told about the Benghazi mission, is just how many Americans were there the night of the attack. A source now tells CNN that number was 35, with as many as seven wounded, some seriously. While it is still not known how many of them were CIA, a source tells CNN that 21 Americans were working in the building known as the annex, believed to be run by the agency.
A Virginia Congressman, who recently revealed that Benghazi witnesses were being silence by nondisclosure agreements, is calling this a "cover-up" and demanding more answers:
In the aftermath of the attack, Wolf said he was contacted by people closely tied with CIA operatives and contractors who wanted to talk. Then suddenly, there was silence. "Initially they were not afraid to come forward. They wanted the opportunity, and they wanted to be subpoenaed, because if you're subpoenaed, it sort of protects you, you're forced to come before Congress. Now that's all changed," said Wolf.
This much seems clear: There was more going on in Benghazi than meets the eye. CNN reports that nearly three dozen Americans were caught up in the dual terrorist raids; four were killed, and at least seven were injured. We learned earlier in the week that at least one unidentified US operator (likely CIA) was on that roof with ex-SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. He survived, albeit with a "shredded" leg, yet help didn't arrive for nearly a full day. Now we know he wasn't alone among the injured, and several of his colleagues' wounds were "severe." For the last year, administration critics have advanced a three-pronged line of inquiry regarding Benghazi: (1) Why were security levels so inadequate in an obviously dangerous location, (2) why weren't reinforcements sent during the seven-hour raid? and (3) why did the administration revise and manipulate talking points after the fact in order to mislead the public about what happened? The answer to that last question appears to be political concerns, although it may also have had something to do with the shroud of secrecy that's been draped over the incident. For months, there have been rumblings about the CIA in Northern Africa quietly working to round up sophisticated weapons the US government had provided to radical Libyan rebels, then surreptitiously ship them off to Syria to aid the opposition there. Might there have been a much larger US presence in Benghazi to facilitate these covert dealings? That might explain why our facilities were so poorly protected -- our people didn't want to draw undue attention to a top secret operation. But if that's the case, they were taking a massive risk -- and the risk had deadly consequences. This theory may also reveal why the military seemed paralyzed for hours on end as the attack raged. Should they step in and salvage a busted, previously secret mission? Or let it play out and concoct a back story later?
This is all pure speculation, and none of it would justify the level of opacity with which the administration has treated the raid and its aftermath. Let's say this was a highly classified operation being kept secret for both domestic and international reasons. Once an operation blows up as badly as it did in Benghazi -- an ambassador is murdered, and dozens of Americans are surrounded by the enemy, fending for their lives -- accountability, and some degree of transparency, must follow. If these theories are close to accurate, Americans might be willing to cut the White House some slack -- except they've labeled the catastrophe "phony," deceived the public at every turn, and promoted several key players involved in the political cover-up. Plus, arming hyper-extreme Al Qaeda offshoots in Syria is highly unpopular. Another thing: The weapons-to-Syria theories are half out of the bag already, so what are they still covering-up? It's possible that the administration doesn't want the American people and our foreign allies to know just how heavily involved we've been in arming squads of exceedingly dangerous jihadi forces in two different countries, whose goals happen to align with our fleeting strategic interests. As I said, that course of action would be very, very unpopular. In any case, the CNN report has touched off a feverish guessing game, with theories flying left and right. All we know for sure at this point is that we have no idea what on earth happened that night, or why -- and that this scandal is anything but "phony."