The Benghazi Diary, A Hero Ambassador’s Final Thoughts
“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” -Mark Twain
It’s become clear to us that Ambassador Stevens was someone who cared deeply about his work to promote American diplomacy in Libya. He was one of four heroes who perished on September 11th, 2012 in the Benghazi attack.
Stevens’ diary has never been made public, until now. It was first discovered and reported on, in brief, by CNN, but the news network soon caved in to outside pressure, most likely from President Obama’s staff, and ceased reporting on it all together.
When we received a copy of Ambassador Chris Stevens’ Benghazi diary, the Editors of SOFREP made a conscious decision to post it because the professional journal has clear journalistic value and contains important information relating to a clear and intentional cover up. Our bias in all of this is to shed light on the truth with regards to the Benghazi attack.
We desire, as do a lot of good Americans, to finally see some accountability through the smoke and mirrors that have existed to date. Will we hold people accountable and learn from our past mistakes? Or will we continue to repeat mistakes of the past, and promote a culture at the senior levels of State that encourages dodging responsibility over taking a stand for integrity?
Some will be shocked that we’d post U.S. Ambassador Stevens’ journal. However, we’d like to point out that this is not a classified diary; it’s a professional journal kept by an employee of the U.S. government. Any personal thoughts not related to Stevens’ official duties have been redacted out of respect for the late Ambassador and his family.
Ambassador Chris Stevens’ Benghazi Diary
The revelations contained within the last five days of Chris Stevens’ working diary are nothing earth shattering to those of us who have been closely investigating the circumstances around the 9/11/12 Benghazi incident. However, it does shed critical light on Ambassador Stevens’ information on the matter, and his actions in the run up to the attack.
The diary is conjoined at the beginning and the end with information about the security situation in Benghazi. On September 6th, Stevens wrote about the transition of authority that had occurred in the aftermath of the Libyan Civil War, and commented on how shaky the Libyan transitional government was, when a power vacuum remained to be filled after the fall of the Gaddafi regime. Written in the format of short hand notes, he wrote, “Militias the prime power on the ground. Weak state security institutions. As a result, dicey conditions.”
More pressing for Stevens personally, he wrote “Islamist ‘hit list’ in Benghazi. Me targeted…” While few, if any, Americans understood Libya as well as Chris Stevens, in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, we can see that the Ambassador did understand the threats against him. With respect to Stevens’ professionalism, one wonders whether he was not overconfident. Stevens’ local knowledge, strong rapport with many Libyans, and grasp of the Arabic language may have given him a false sense that he could control the situation. On the other hand, and perhaps more realistically, Stevens probably knew the risks and did his job regardless.
On September 9th, Stevens acknowledged that he felt overwhelmed. “Stressful day. Too many things going on everyone wants to bend my ear. Need to pull above the fray.”
September 10th: “Back in Benghazi after 9 months.” Stevens met the new team at the compound, but it is unclear whether he is referencing the CIA annex or the Temporary Mission Facility, commonly called the “consulate.” We do know from other sources that Stevens did receive a brief at the annex from the CIA team between the time he arrived in Benghazi and the September 11th attack. On September 10th, Ambassador Stevens also met with the Mayor of Benghazi and 20 local council members.
The journal entry on September 11th begins, “It is so nice to be back in Benghazi.” On this day he met with Naeem Jabril, an appellate court judge, and afterwards with Mahmoud Mufti, a shipping company owner. Then there was a meeting with Ali Akin, the Turkish Consul General. Frustratingly, the journal does not mention what topics were discussed, but Stevens does note that Ali Akin, “helped me land in Benghazi last year.”
Another meeting is mentioned with Fatih Baja, a Libyan academic with a PhD in Political Science, who represents the Transitional Council for Benghazi. Baja has offered assurances in the past that Libya will not make the same transitional mistakes that other countries have, but this may be wishful thinking as the transitional government appears at the brink and ready to collapse at any moment.
Much has been made about Ambassador Stevens and his meeting with Ali Akin of Turkey, including theories about weapons trafficking from Libyan stockpiles to rebels in Syria. Our sources indicate that non-governmental actors, in this case, are conducting these weapons transfers – a Private Military Company with strong links to the Central Intelligence Agency. However, who is or isn’t authorizing those weapons transfers remains opaque. Furthermore, a Foreign Service Officer like Stevens would not be involved in such matters, and in judging Stevens by his character, he would have been ideologically opposed to such actions in any case.
An alternative thesis is that, rather than trafficking weapons, Ambassador Stevens was in fact training to investigate and gain further situational awareness about the weapons trafficking in Benghazi. This is another explanation, an overlooked one, as to why he would be meeting with Ali Akin. It could also explain why he may have requested a brief at the annex. The CIA’s paramilitary employees, Global Response Staff (or GRS), were not involved in weapons transfers, but we are told that some of them could see the fat man behind the curtain, so to speak.
The final coalescent point at the tail end of the diary, the final entry on September 11th, is extremely chilling:
“Never ending security threats…”
We should have known. The US State Department should have taken proper precautions, before the attack ever happened, to ensure that American forces were prepared to respond on the anniversary of 9/11. There is also the much-denied but ever-present issue of the Special Operations missions inside Libya in the run up to the attack.
At this point, there can be no doubt.
JSOC has run a fairly extensive targeted killing program inside Libya. In Eastern Libya, particularly, which is under militia control, all sorts of Gaddafi associates have been dropping dead, along with others who may be involved in unseemly activities. Interestingly, the tactics used in these assassinations are very similar to those used by JSOC during some of the worst days of the insurgency in Iraq.
History Repeats Itself
In 1998, the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya was attacked by a truck laden with explosives. Minutes later, the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, was hit with another massive truck bomb. The dual attacks would kill 224 people, including 12 Americans. The coordinated attack would put terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden’s name on the map.
On August 12th, 1998, Patrick Kennedy, then serving as the Assistant Secretary for Administration, gave a formal briefing to reporters.
With me is Patrick Kennedy, Assistant Secretary for Administration, having relinquished his acting capacity in Diplomatic Security, but nevertheless an authoritative spokesman on issues related to security and the recent bombings in East Africa.
–State Department Spokesman, James Foley
The Accountability Review Board for the 1998 bombings points out that Ambassador Bushnell had repeatedly requested increased security measures, specifically stand-off capability for potential terrorist bombings. The requests were denied, explained in a letter from Under Secretary Cohen, because the Nairobi facility was only designated as a medium security threat post for political violence and terrorism.
Threat designation is an important distinction that would leave 2012 Libyan Diplomats scratching their heads with regards to their own lack of security support from Washington. Why were their requests for security falling on deaf ears when their posts’ threat designations put both Tripoli and Benghazi in the top 10 most dangerous posts in the world? They were supposed to be at the top of the list when it came to allocating resources.
As we have always maintained, the true reason for the Benghazi attack was because of these targeted killings. There was one assassination in particular, probably in the first week of September, in which a CIA asset was killed. Imagine the perspective of a Libyan militia – they felt that they were helping out the Americans by talking to the CIA. Then the U.S. military has their guy killed. In response, they launch an assault on the State Department compound which was successful far beyond their hopes because of grossly inadequate security. Emboldened by their success, they rally and bring the fight to the CIA compound, kill two more Americans and critically wound two more agents (one CIA, and one State).
Worse still, is the fact that one of the five principle suspects that the FBI has identified was someone with whom the U.S. government had an interesting quid pro quo relationship. The White House has no desire to bring these suspects to justice. They prefer them dead via drone strike or JSOC hit squad. If the FBI were to capture the Benghazi suspects it would put the White House in a bad situation. These suspects would be sure to talk about their past relationships with clandestine U.S. groups like the CIA, and in a legal setting this would have Washington pundits squirming in their seats. These are dead men walking for the same reasons UBL was certain to be killed, not captured, in Pakistan.
Ambassador Stevens knew full well how dangerous Benghazi was, but he never could have seen the retaliation coming in response to Special Operations strikes that he was unaware of in such a short time on the ground. Think this sort of thing doesn’t happen? The Department of Defense no longer has to notify the CIA or State Department about many of its activities.
The world is a dangerous place, but thankfully it’s filled with great people like Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Ty Woods, and the other Americans who helped that day. They were willing to go into harm’s way and face great danger in order to make a difference for the Free World.
Benghazi is important because it highlights a failed U.S. Foreign Policy strategy, and the failed practice of Limited War. You only have to look to Afghanistan and Somalia to ground this statement.
The obsession with ‘limited war’ began during the Cold War. The fear of nuclear annihilation (often overstated for propaganda purposes) led to a series of proxy wars across Africa, South America and Southeast Asia in lieu of a direct confrontation with the Communist Bloc. Due to the fears of those in power, and the even less informed fears of many of their constituents, the goals of war, most evidently in Vietnam, began to change from victory to… something else. Murky, limited, and ultimately indecisive objectives have been cited, ultimately boiling down to a stalemate at best, defeat at worst.
Commanders are not making battlefield decisions based on combat necessity; they are making them based on the instructions of lawyers who endeavor to make war more ‘humane.’
War is, by its very nature, inhumane. War is violence, death and horror. It is serious business. Unfortunately, we have not engaged in it seriously for a very long time, and the costs of that fact have been largely glossed over.
– from The Cost of Limited War, by Peter Nealen, former USMC Force Recon, and a contributing editor for SOFREP
If our strategies in foreign policy and warfare were effective, the Middle East, North Africa, and the rest of the world would be a more stable and safer place since the September 11th, 2001 attacks. We would also be making more friends than enemies.
It’s time for new leadership at the Department of State, and in Washington. We need new leaders with integrity, leaders who are not afraid to admit their mistakes, leaders who will hold themselves and their subordinates accountable.
For now, all we are left with are the haunting words of a former U.S. Ambassador.
“Never ending security threats…”