Rand Paul says ambassador to Libya killed for gun-running in Benghazi. Right-wing hones Republican Benghazi meme pointed at White House.
Washington has a new meme in town, trying to give fresh impetus to the Benghazi Blowback Bandwagon still circling the White House in hopes of finding something worse than Watergate, or at least as bad as Iran-Contra.
Ever since the terrorist attack of September 11, 2012, that killed four Americans at the Benghazi consulate in Libya, Republicans have searched for any way to turn the Libyan event into an equivalent political calamity for the incumbent Democratic President.
“I’ve actually always suspected that, although I have no evidence, that maybe we were facilitating arms leaving Libya going through Turkey into Syria,” Kentucky’s Republican Senator Ron Paul told CNN on May 9, the same day he said he was “considering” a run for the Presidency in 2016. Â Continuing without evidence, Paul said:
“I never have quite understood the cover-up — if it was intentional or incompetence — but something went on. I mean, they had talking points that they were trying to make it out to be a movie when everybody seemed to be on the ground telling them it had nothing to do with a movie. I don’t know if this was for political reasons”¦. Were they trying to obscure that there was an arms operation going on at the CIA annex?”
Lindsey Graham Hops on Another Bandwagon
South Carolina’s Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, according to Liberty Counsel’s Matthew Staver, again without evidence:
“has publically announced a significant part of what the Obama administration is trying to cover up in Benghazi-gate: The magnitude of gunrunning and fighter recruitment – even involving jihadist organizations – to oppose Syrian government forces through the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya.”Â
The gun-running in Libya scenario was floated early in the fall of 2012, by Rand Paul, among others, but in more speculative form. Â At The Patriot’s Trumpet, a 20-year CIA employee, Clare Lopez, posed a number of provocative questions in October. Without offering supporting evidence, in a conversation with Glen Beck she asked whether the attack in Benghazi was part of:Â Â
“”¦a much-larger gunrunning operation to al Qaida-linked and other Jihadist groups in Libya and, more ominously, Syria?
“Is the Obama Administration running guns into other Jihadist hot spots?
“”¦Â Was Ambassador Stevens our operational officer in a gunrunning operation to al Qaida linked groups that had “gone wrong?Â Â
“Did the Obama Administration set Stevens up and leave him (with former Navy Seals, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods and computer expert, Sean Smith) to die?”Â
If Polite Questions Fail, Try Direct Accusation
Perhaps the clearest, and most vitriolic, expression of the Benghazi gun-running plot comes from rising rightwing celebrity blogger Katie Kieffer of Minnesota. In her April 29 post, Kieffer began:
“Liberals don’t want honest Americans like you to have guns. Liberals just want to arm foreign rebels in crapshoot attempts to “end global violence.” But liberals feign ignorance when the rebels they arm end up being criminals who kill innocent Americans like the late U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.”Â
Katy Kieffer’s thousand-word piece quotes both Senators Graham and Paul, but provides no more documented evidence. Â Her piece was re-published verbatim on other websites such as Free Republic, Town Hall, and Bear Witness.
In contrast to Paul’s saying saying he had no evidence, Kieffer states:
“We now know that President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus were likely behind a mishandled gun-trafficking program that ended up arming the radical jihadist rebels who stormed the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya on that fateful day.”Â
Rhetorically, If Obama’s Not a Murderer, Then Who Is?Â
In other words, the new meme in Washington is that:Â Obama gave weapons to jihadis – the jihadis killed Americans in BanghaziÂ — therefore Obama is a murderer. Â Or as Kieffer put it:
“Â Obama’s gun-running program failed to properly vet the rebels. Clinton most likely launched the gun program, expected Stevens to oversee it and then her weapons likely landed in the hands of al-Qaida affiliates who killed Stevens and three other Americans. Benghazi is a tragic failure of foreign policy and diplomacy under Obama’s watch.”
If this was a serious argument, at least some of its proponents would offer some evidence that any weapons went from American hands to Libyan jihadists in eastern Libya, which has been awash in weapons and jihadis for a decade or more. This region provided more foreign fighters against the American invasion of Iraq than any other comparable part of the world.
And if this was a serious argument, it might explain how weapons for the Syrian rebels managed to remain in Libya, especially since they were on a boat in Benghazi bound for Turkey.
This is an argument that sounds much better if you can say “Fast And Furious II” in Arabic.