Benghazi: The ‘Biggest Lie Of The Year’
Information surrounding the September 11 attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi has been so distorted by the Obama administration and so misreported by the news media that the issue has been selected as this column’s “Biggest Lie of the Year.”
Immediately following the attacks, President Obama and other White House officials notoriously blamed supposed anti-American sentiment leading to the violent events on an obscure anti-Muhammad video on YouTube that they claimed was responsible for the supposedly popular civilian protests – protests that devolved into a jihadist onslaught.
However, vivid accounts provided by the State Department and intelligence officials later made clear no such popular demonstrations took place. Instead, video footage from Benghazi reportedly shows an organized group of armed men attacking the compound, the officials said.
Media coverage of the events has been so dismal that even the most basic understanding of what happened has been distorted. The vast majority of all news media coverage worldwide refer to the U.S. facility that was attacked as a “consulate” even though the government itself has been careful to call it a “mission.”
This journalist has filed numerous reports quoting Middle East security sources describing the mission in Benghazi as serving as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East.
Among the tasks performed inside the building was collaborating with Arab countries on the recruitment of fighters – including jihadists – to target Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, the officials said. In September, this reporter broke the story that the slain ambassador, Christopher Stevens, played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Assad’s regime, according to Egyptian security officials.
Whether the news media report on what was allegedly transpiring at the mission or not, their calling the building a “consulate” is misleading.
A consulate typically refers to the building that officially houses a consul, who is the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another. The U.S. consul in Libya, Jenny Cordell, works out of the embassy in Tripoli.
According to a State Department report released last week, the U.S. facility in Benghazi did not fit the profile of a diplomatic mission, either.
According to the 39-page report released by independent investigators probing the Sept. 11 attacks at the diplomatic facility, the U.S. mission in Benghazi was set up without the knowledge of the new Libyan government.
“Another key driver behind the weak security platform in Benghazi was the decision to treat Benghazi as a temporary, residential facility, not officially notified to the host government, even though it was also a full-time office facility,” the report states.
The report, based on a probe led by former U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering, calls the facility a “Special U.S. Mission,” adding yet another qualifier to the title of the building.
This journalist further exclusively reported the facility may have violated the terms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which governs the establishment of overseas missions. Like most nations, the U.S. is a signatory to the 1961 United Nations convention.
Article 2 of the convention makes clear that the host government must be informed about the establishment of any permanent foreign mission on its soil.
According to the State report, there was a decision “to treat Benghazi as a temporary, residential facility,” likely disqualifying the building from permanent mission status if the mission was indeed temporary.
However, the same sentence in the report notes the host government was not notified about the Benghazi mission “even though it was also a full-time office facility.”
Articles 12 of the Vienna Convention dictates, “The sending State may not, without the prior express consent of the receiving State, establish offices forming part of the mission in localities other than those in which the mission itself is established.”
If the Benghazi mission was a “full-time office facility,” it may violate Article 12 in that the mission most likely was considered an arm of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, which served as the main U.S. mission to Libya.
The news media, meanwhile, may have been implicit in covering up the Benghazi tale. Two days before last month’s presidential election, CBS posted additional portions of a Sept. 12 “60 Minutes” interview in which Obama made statements that contradicted his earlier claims on the attacks.