May 27, 2015


Debunking the Benghazi Myths : It's clear pundits don't understand intelligence work. (MICHAEL MORELL May 25, 2015, Politico)

[T]he only thing that newly released document proves is that the people who trot out these reports do not understand the world of intelligence and do not take the time to ask the right people the right questions before publishing the "news." The DIA report in question was an "Intelligence Information Report" or IIR. It is what we term "raw intelligence." It was not the considered view of DIA analysts. Often from a single source, these bits of information represent one thread that some intelligence collector has picked up. The all source analysts in the Intelligence Community are charged with looking at that snippet of information and every other bit of available information from communications intercepts, human intelligence, open source material and much more to come up with an overall judgment.

Those all source analysts--without any input or pressure from above--looked at all the available information and determined that there was not a significant amount of planning prior to the attacks. You don't have to take my word for it. You can look at the briefing slides produced by the National Counterterrorism Center (which is not part of CIA) and coordinated across the Intelligence Community. These slides were declassified over a year ago and were appended to the report on Benghazi produced by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee. In describing the attacks at the State Department facility, the slides say "attackers moving in multiple directions," "attackers do not appear well coordinated" and "no organized effort to breach every building." Not the words one would expect to see associated with an attack planned well in advance.

Some of the media reporting on the DIA IIR say that they have found another gotcha as well. They say DIA's report was issued on September 16th--the same day that former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday talk shows, so she must have known before she went on the air, right? Wrong. The DIA report was issued hours after her final TV appearance that day. Some accounts, including the first piece written on the DIA report by Judicial Watch, erroneously say that the report was issued on September 12th, four days before Rice was on national television. They simply misread the report.

When I recently asserted my belief in an interview on Fox News that the terrorist attacks in Benghazi were not the result of a carefully planned operation, I was confronted with the Justice Department indictment of Abu Khattala, the lone participant in the attacks in U.S. custody. The indictment says the object and purposes of Khattala and others was to kill U.S. citizens at the mission and the CIA annex and that they "intentionally participated in an act intending lethal force be used." It was alleged that either I was wrong or the indictment was wrong. Not necessarily. What my interviewer failed to share with his viewers were these words from the indictment: "Beginning on a date unknown to the Grand Jury but no later than on or about September 11, 2012...defendant Khatallah did knowingly and intentionally conspire...." (emphasis mine). What does this mean? It means that the grand jury found no evidence of planning before the day of the attack either. Exactly the point of the intelligence community analysts.

Posted by at May 27, 2015 5:22 PM

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