A-Haunting We Will Go
Bill Gertz cites unnamed US intelligence officials as saying the 'spooks were in revolt' over an administration attempt to cover up the extent Iranian influence among jihadi groups in North Africa.
Weeks before the presidential election, President Barack Obama’s administration faces mounting opposition from within the ranks of U.S. intelligence agencies over what career officers say is a “cover up” of intelligence information about terrorism in North Africa.
Intelligence held back from senior officials and the public includes numerous classified reports revealing clear Iranian support for jihadists throughout the tumultuous North Africa and Middle East region, as well as notably widespread al Qaeda penetration into Egypt and Libya in the months before the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Belmont Club readers will probably remember the post Sleight of Hand on Sept 29 in which I argued that the attack on the Benghazi consulate resembled a counter-intelligence operation much more than a mob action against an American installation.
One of the reasons why the administration clung to the story that an anti-Muslim video sparked the attack for so long was because it could not admit to itself the more catastrophic alternative: that the attacks on the embassies were part of a big counterintelligence operation against the US. James Clapper apparently came to the reluctant conclusion some hours after the attack that it was his bailiwick not Hillary’s which was in the crosshairs....
If Benghazi were an offensive counerintelligence operation then Clapper’s admission is is a half-truth at best. The organizations which mastermind such things are other intelligence agencies, only a handful of which would have been capable of carrying out something on this scale. Neither the rag-tag militias nor the remnants of al-Qaeda would have been able to do it. But some Arab intelligence agencies, or Iran’s or the ISI — might. If so then the attack may not have been masterminded by “al-Qaeda”, but it was for the benefit of al-Qaeda.
Bill Gertz continues the report in a vein eerily similar to that Belmont Club post. I wrote then that "The whole thrust of what Roger L. Simon has called “Benghazigate” — an organized pattern of lying to lay the blame on the wave of attacks on an unknown video producer has been designed to avoid answering two questions: 1) who masterminded the attacks; 2) what help did they have from persons inside the United States."
Bill Gertz has tentative answers to both questions. As to 1) Iran and Egypt; and to 2) the Administration itself in the subsequent coverup. He writes
Officials with access to intelligence reports, based on both technical spying and human agents, said specific reporting revealed an alarming surge in clandestine al Qaeda activity months before the attack in Benghazi.
Yet the Obama administration sought to keep the information from becoming public to avoid exposing what the officials say is a Middle East policy failure by Obama.
Officials said that the administration appeared to engage in a disinformation campaign aimed at distancing the president personally during the peak of the presidential election campaign from the disaster in Benghazi, where numerous warning of an attack were ignored, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other officials. ...
The final element of the campaign involved comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was the first to give a partial explanation of the intelligence when she said al Qaeda terrorists operating from Mali were possible culprits in the Benghazi attack.
“What she failed to mention was the cooperation of Iran and Egypt in supporting jihadists in Libya,” the official said, who added the events would be investigated in an apparent effort to stave off internal critics in government.
That has led to delays in getting FBI and other U.S. investigators into Benghazi, raising concerns that some in the White House wanted to delay the FBI’s efforts to uncover evidence about the attack.
Probably the most explosive section of Bill Gertz's report is this:
The administration, in particular, wants to keep hidden solid intelligence showing that the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans is now flourishing under the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
Egypt was among the locations of Obama’s 2009 so-called “apology” tour, when the president criticized past U.S. policies based on what he said was “fear and anger” that prompted actions “contrary to our ideals.” He also promised “a new beginning” for the U.S. and the world’s Muslims and a radical shift in U.S. policy.
In other words Obama in his vanity handed over America's one of America's most important allies in the Middle East to its most deadly enemies. Osama is dead! Al-Qaeda is very much alive.
Gertz's reports do not yet rise to the level of highly probable fact. But they do rise to the level of "let's look under this rock". If even half of what Gertz suggests is true -- and in his defense I anticipated most of it -- then the Obama administration has been either been out to lunch or in cahoots. If this bombshell is true the unnamed "career officers" are effectively in a position to scuttle Barack Obama's presidency. The question is: will the NYT print it?