Report: ‘Dozens’ of CIA Operatives in Benghazi During Consulate Attack
As many as 35 Central Intelligence Agency operatives were on the ground in Benghazi, Libya during the militant attack on the US consulate there that killed four Americans last September 11.
CNN has revealed new information about the number of CIA agents in Benghazi, as well as about the “great lengths” the Agency is going to to ensure that whatever those operatives were doing there remains a secret.
One unnamed CIA source calls the Agency’s efforts to silence those who know the truth about Benghazi “unprecedented.” CIA agents operating in Benghazi have been subjected to monthly polygraph exams since January, according to “a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings.” These lie detector tests are being conducted in a bid to discern whether any agents are leaking information to Congress or the media.
“Agency employees typically are polygraphed every three to four years, never more than that,” said Robert Baer, a former CIA agent who now works for CNN. “If somebody is being polygraphed every month, or every two months, it’s called an issue polygraph, and that means that the polygraph division suspects something, or they’re looking for something, or they’re on a fishing expedition. But it’s absolutely not routine at all to be polygraphed monthly, or bi-monthly.”
The CIA’s concerted effort to silence operatives has been described as “pure intimidation,” with the implicit threat that anyone who talks could find themselves out of a job. This has had a chilling effect on CIA employees, who by law are supposed to be allowed to speak with Congress.
“You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation,” one unnamed CIA source said of Benghazi.
A source told CNN that as many as 35 CIA operatives were in Benghazi at the time of the September 11, 2012 attack which killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, foreign service information management officer Sean Smith and security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs. The source told CNN that as many as seven Americans were wounded during the attack and that as many as 21 Americans were working in the building known as ‘the annex,’ which is believed to be run by the CIA.
There has been much speculation that US operatives were covertly running surface-to-air missiles from Libya through Turkey and into the hands of Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime in a bloody civil war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives since 2011.
Of the two US agencies known to be working in Benghazi, the State Department and the CIA, the former says it was only assisting the new Libyan government in the destruction of weapons that were damaged, outdated or unsafe, and that it was not involved in the international transfer of any arms. State Department officials told CNN that they “can’t speak for any other agencies.”
Last October, Fox News reported a “mysterious Libyan ship reportedly carrying weapons and bound for Syria rebels” may be linked to the attack. Fox reported Ambassador Stevens met with Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin an hour before the attack began, allegedly to discuss transferring weapons out of the hands of dangerous Libyan militants. SA-7 surface-to-air missiles were allegedly earmarked for Syrian rebels and could have been among the 400 tons of cargo aboard the ‘mysterious’ ship.
The CIA would not comment about any alleged weapons transfers.
“I think it’s a form of 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,” Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), whose district includes CIA headquarters in Langley, 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.”
Rep. Wolf said that initially, numerous operatives involved in Benghazi came forward with a strong desire to talk.
“Initially they were not afraid to come forward,” Wolf told CNN. “They wanted the opportunity, and they wanted to be subpoenaed, because if you’re subpoenaed, it sort of protects you, you’re forced to come before Congress. Now that’s all changed.”
CIA spokesman Dan Boyd insists the Agency is being straightforward with Congress.
“The CIA has worked closely with its oversight committees to provide them with an extraordinary amount of information related to the attack on US facilities in Benghazi,” Boyd said in a statement.
“CIA employees are always free to talk to Congress if they want, ” the statement continued. “The CIA enabled all officers involved in Benghazi the opportunity to meet with Congress. We are not aware of any CIA employee who has experienced retaliation, including any non-routine security procedures, or who has been prevented from sharing a concern with Congress about the Benghazi incident.”
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