, Salem, MA

August 6, 2013

Our view: Answers needed on Benghazi

The Salem News

---- — It seems there may be a lot more to the story about what happened in Benghazi than President Obama or anyone in his administration cares to admit.

Just Wednesday, Obama said all the controversy over the terrorist attack on our compound in the Libyan city Sept. 11 that left four Americans dead was one of the many “phony scandals” ginned up by political opponents against his administration.

But new information suggests the scandal may not be so phony after all. CNN reported last Thursday that the Benghazi compound was far more than a mere diplomatic outpost and that there is a great effort underway in Washington to cover up that fact.

Citing unnamed sources, CNN reported that there were dozens of CIA personnel in Benghazi the night of the attack and that several of them were wounded. The CIA is now involved in an “unprecedented attempt” to keep the details of the spy agency’s involvement from leaking, CNN said, citing its sources.

Some agency personnel who know of the Benghazi mission are being subjected to monthly polygraph tests, far more frequent than the usual three- to four-year interval between such tests. The purpose, according to CNN, is to be certain that no one has talked to Congress or the media.

“You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation,” a source told CNN.

The CNN report cited speculation on Capitol Hill that the CIA operation involved smuggling surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels. This alleged arms transfer was going on months before the Obama administration announced in June that it would supply weapons to the rebels fighting the Syrian government.

“I think it is a form of a cover up, and I think it’s an attempt to push it under the rug, and I think the American people are feeling the same way,” U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., told CNN. “We should have the people who were on the scene come in, testify under oath, do it publicly, and lay it out. And there really isn’t any national security issue involved with regards to that,” he said.

Indeed, there should be a more focused congressional investigation of the Benghazi incident. The attack and its aftermath were woefully mishandled by the government.

Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed, and apparently, many more were injured than we had been told previously.

The attack came on Sept. 11, the anniversary of the al-Qaida strikes on New York and Washington, yet it seemed to have caught the Obama administration completely by surprise.

The administration’s first, bumbling public response was to claim the attack was a spontaneous public uprising prompted by an amateur, anti-Muslim film. The idea was preposterous from the outset.

And now, 21 embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa closed Sunday due to threats of another al-Qaida attack.

The Benghazi attack last September was another battle in our ongoing war with al-Qaida terrorists. It is a battle we clearly lost.

The American people have a right to know the full story about what happened and what else was going on at the Benghazi compound. Congress should launch a full and complete investigation into this incident.