The Obama administration is covering up the theft of 400 surface to air missiles by "some very ugly people," the lawyer for a Benghazi whistleblower told WMAL Radio in Washington D.C. last week.
Joe DiGenova, a former U.S. attorney, represents Mark Thompson, who was Deputy Coordinator for Operations in the State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism.
He was referring to MANPADS (man portable air defense systems) such as the American Stinger or the Russian SA-24. They're now in the hands of al Qaida, Mr. DiGenova said.
The theft was the reason why the administration shut down 22 diplomatic missions, he said.
"They were afraid that there was going to be a missile attack on one of the embassies," Mr. DiGenova said.
Fear that U.S. troops coming to the rescue might be shot down may also be why no help was sent during the seven hour siege of our consulate in Benghazi and its annex on 9/11/2012, he said.
"We had troops in Croatia ready to deploy," Mr. DiGenova said.
A former diplomat told him AFRICOM "had special ops assets in place that could have come to the aid of the Benghazi consulate immediately," Roger Simon of PJ Media reported in May.
He didn't know whether the missiles were taken from the CIA annex, but "it's clear" the annex was "somehow involved" in distributing them, Mr. DiGenova said. He didn't say to whom.
MANPADS from Libya have been reported in the hands of Somali pirates, an Islamist militia in Niger, and Syrian rebels.
Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi bought thousands of MANPADS from Russia over the years, which fell into Islamist hands when he was overthrown, Con Coughlin, defense editor for the London Telegraph, wrote in October 2011.
The CIA annex "had been a base for, among other things, collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles," Reuters News Service reported last October.
Rebels had MANPADS before Qaddafi fell. They used them to shoot down Libyan air force aircraft during the civil war.
The rebels got some early in the conflict from raids on regime weapons depots.
Rebels showed him Stinger missiles, a reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Company said in March, 2011. There's an enormous difference in capability between the modern Stinger and the old Soviet SA-7s (first manufactured in 1972) looted from the regime's arsenals.
Perhaps Ben Knight, the Aussie reporter, was using the term to describe MANPADS generally. But rebel leaders specifically requested Stingers. The rebels were getting Stingers from foreign sources, Khadafy's intelligence service suspected.
Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi on 9/11/2012 to buy back from al Qaida groups Stinger missiles "issued to them by the State Department," Mr. Simon said he was told by two former diplomats.
The CIA was against giving missiles to insurgents for fear they would fall into the wrong hands, but Secretary Clinton wanted "to overthrow Khadafy on the cheap," one of his sources told him, Mr. Simon said.
"This left Stevens in the position of having to clean up the scandalous enterprise when it became clear that the 'insurgents' actually were al-Qaeda," he wrote.
Whatever was going on, the administration is going to considerable lengths to conceal it.
There were "dozens" of CIA operatives at the annex on 9/11/2012, CNN reported Aug. 1. Survivors "have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations."
"The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress," CNN said. "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."
The administration is "dispersing" witnesses across the country, and is changing their names to hide the truth from Congress, charged Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, a member of the House Oversight Committee investigating Benghazi, and a former federal prosecutor.
The Obama administration "did not take proper measures to secure the weapons," said Rep. Peter King, R-NY, who heads the Counterterrorism and Intelligence subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee.
"They are now responsible for all the stepchildren of violence that happens as a result of this," Mr. DiGenova said. "That's why they have lied repeatedly about what happened in Benghazi."
Jack Kelly is a columnist for The Press and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. firstname.lastname@example.org, 412 263-1476.mobilehome - jackkelly
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/