There’s a lot to talk about, especially when it comes to Benghazi, and I’d been trying for weeks to contact my old friend, James Jesus Angleton, the former head of CIA counterintelligence. Since he’s been dead for a long time, it’s not so easy, and I have to rely on my singularly untrusty ouija board, which has been in and out of the repair shop for years. Finally, with lots of static (maybe due to Hurricane Sandy), I got him.
Or, rather, I got his spirit, easily recognizable by his high-pitched gravelly voice (LOTS of cigarettes) and his quizzical tone.
JJA: If you’re calling about the weather, forget it, I don’t do hurricanes. Anyway, the intel on Storm Sandy was excellent. A bad day for mankind, a good day for computer modeling…
ML: No, it’s an intelligence matter. Benghazi and all that.
JJA: One of the most disgusting events I’ve ever seen.
ML: Let’s start with the intel, ok? Did we have enough information to expect the attack on 9/11?
JJA: Listen to me. Carefully. The whole point of “intelligence” is to understand the world we’re in. Sometimes you need secret information to achieve that understanding. You might need to know about foreign leaders’ real intentions, as well as their real capabilities, for example (think Iran, think al Qaeda). You can’t get that sort of information without conducting espionage. You need agents, moles, penetrations, intercepts, the whole panoply of spycraft. But sometimes you don’t need any of that, all you need is to open your eyes, nose, and mind to what is right in front of your face. Benghazi is mostly–not entirely, but mostly–that sort of thing.
ML: Yes. There were two previous assaults on that compound, after all. Ambassador Stevens was constantly asking for increased security, and the date–9/11–was an obvious red flag.
JJA: Indeed. Even the Red Cross had left Benghazi, and the Libyan government had warned about the bad, and worsening, security in the city. So you didn’t need “assets” inside the terrorist groups to worry about an impending attack.
ML: But the State Department says that, after all, there was no “specific” information that warranted greater protection for our guys there:
State Department officials have asserted that there was no specific intelligence that warned of a large-scale attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, which they asserted was unprecedented. The department said it was careful to weigh security with diplomats’ need to meet with Libyan officials and citizens.
JJA: Of course they would say that. It shifts the blame to CIA. In essence State says that CIA did not have assets inside the terror groups, including AQ, and so it was inevitable that Stevens would be insufficiently defended. The implication was that, if only State had known it was coming, they’d have had adequate protection in place.