A day after the FBI released photos of individuals it says it’s seeking in connection with the Benghazi terrorist attack, I’m still scratching my head. Eight months after an attack that left four Americans dead, this is all the FBI has?
These grainy photos are obviously from security cameras posted at or near the scene of the attack. The images are sufficiently grainy that it’s difficult to discern any close details of the individuals in them. The men have all had eight months to cut or grow their hair, cut or grow their beards, dispose of the clothing they’re wearing, and alter their appearance in other ways. They could have traveled to any place on the globe by now.
Meanwhile, this guy has been clearly celebrating the Benghazi attack on the Internet for months. This photo was taken during the attack, obviously on the scene.
Here he is in another photo of him, attributed to Getty Images. He has been all over the net and cable TV — well, Fox anyway — for months now.
He was obviously involved in the attack. Who is he? What’s happened to him in the eight months since the attack? Beats me. Beats the FBI too. They’re apparently not looking for this clearly seen guy, and are focused on the individuals in the grainy surveillance cams. Maybe they were leaders and this guy was not. But he may know who the leaders were. His clear image started appearing online with a day or two of the attacks. As far as its public communications go, the FBI never sought him. The Bureau didn’t even investigate the attack scene itself until a month after it happened. By then, the media and anyone else who wanted to had had the opportunity to traipse all over the unsecured crime scene and contaminate evidence to their heart’s content.
What else is on those surveillance cameras the FBI pulled its useless stills from? Beats me. The FBI isn’t saying. But surely there’s more evidence on the recordings than nearly useless still frames of three fairly nondescript men who could be anywhere in the world, or dead one way or another, by now. The FBI appears to be sitting on that evidence.
The FBI is part of the Justice Department. Over in the State Department, the bureaucracy is foot dragging. State employees with knowledge of the attack want to talk. At least one will testify in the House next week. But the State Department, all the way up to Secretary of State Kerry, are not helping these employees talk. Instead, from Kerry on down State is saying nothing. The employees have legal counsel, Victoria Toensing. Toensing needs to be granted a security clearance so that she can learn what her client(s) know. But State, all the way up to Kerry, are not granting her that clearance or even beginning the process of granting that clearance, effectively cutting Toensing off from her client(s) and silencing them. If they speak to her before she has the security clearance, they can be charged with mishandling classified information. They face termination and possible prison time.
Toensing is no security risk. She was the first head of the Justice Department’s Terrorism Unit. She has undoubtedly held security clearances in the past. She has supporters and friends on both sides of the aisle.
State’s inertia resembles the FBI’s over in the Justice Department. Neither has acted quickly at all, on the night of the attack or at any point afterward.
I realize that none of this is a revelation to anyone who has followed Benghazi closely. But it is startling to realize that the FBI really may be complicit in the ongoing cover-up. Yesterday’s photos show us a couple of things. One, the FBI apparently hasn’t gotten past square one in its Benghazi investigation, after eight months. Two, the government appears to have a policy of keeping the investigation from ever getting past square one. Why?
Set the effort to blame a YouTube movie aside for the moment. Set whether a “stand down” order was given during the attack or not aside for a moment. Why wouldn’t the U.S. government that pledges to bring the Benghazi terrorists to justice do so little to actually bring those terrorists to justice? What do they know that they’re still not willing to tell about that attack?
We’re going to need a select committee, maybe a special independent prosecutor, to get to the bottom of Benghazi. It will take strong subpoena power and needs to be outside the usual House or Senate committee processes and investigations. What we know or can surmise about Benghazi at this point indicates that the cover-up involves at least two cabinet level departments, Justice and State, a former cabinet official and two current ones, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Eric Holder. This indicates that the intentional failure to investigate is ultimately being ordered and coordinated above both — in the White House. Jay Carney said as much this week when he dismissed Benghazi, saying it happened “a long time ago,” and said that State has told the White House that it knows of no one who has come forward wanting to talk. If they weren’t aware of it before this week, which is implausible, they certainly are now.
But they still have yet to act. The FBI went all the way to Benghazi, and all it got was a few lousy photos. We need to know why the White House wants it this way.