Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Benghazi Circus: Is There Anything There?

Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi! (to the tune of "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia"). Meme floating around Facebook.

Question: Why has there never been a coup d'etat in Washington, D.C.?
Answer: Because there is no U.S. embassy there.

Not a new joke, but appropriate in the light of this week's congressional hearings into the "terrorist" attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September 11. Republicans are up in arms, trying to implicate President Obama and now former Secretary of State and presumed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in something resembling a scandal. Increasingly shrill, Republican politicians and conservative pundits are claiming that there's something here worse than Watergate, the actual scandal back in the early 1970s that revealed illegal activities in President Nixon's reelection campaign.

It's obvious the primary Republican motivation is "gotcha," a continuation of their base, and often deeply racist, campaign against the country's first black president. We're all used to seeing how when Obama says "yea," they say "nay." It's a tiresome spectacle, especially because Obama's underlying positions are often much closer to those of the Republicans than anyone cares to acknowledge. But it seems to me clear that the Obama administration is indeed engaged in a fairly clumsy attempt to muddy the waters over the Benghazi incident. There's some leaked e-mails showing an attempt to get the administration talking points just so, and an effort to explain the odd spectacle of Obama's sleazy U.N. diplomat Susan Rice being shuttled around the talk show circuit to soft-peddle what was, from their perspective, a minor diplomatic disaster.

Of course there's the standard Republican hypocrisy. One need only recall the unheeded message "Osama Bin Laden determined to strike inside the U.S." from a presidential briefing in August 2001, that George W. Bush was never seriously held responsible for; or the hundreds of large and small attacks on American diplomatic properties that have taken place in the last couple decades. And there's little discussion of Republicans cutting back on the budget for diplomatic protection. So in one sense, scandal, schmandal. This is a routine Washington sideshow. These are all sleazebag politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, looking not for truth but looking to make — or cover up — hay.

But I think it's a fair question to ask why the Obama administration stuck to a trivially unimportant talking point, that the Benghazi consulate was spontaneously attacked during a protest against a crude anti-Islamic American film rather than attacked as part of a planned action by enemies of the United States.

Iranian revolutionaries display captured evidence of CIA spying at the occupied US embassy in Tehran
Question: What do you call the destruction and burning of a U.S. embassy?
Answer: A good start.

I think two things happened in Benghazi that the administration would not care to admit. First, that post-NATO regime change Libya was full of people not so apparently grateful for U.S. intervention; and secondly that the so-called U.S. Benghazi Consulate was something more than just a diplomatic installation. Indeed it seems that one of the objectives of the Benghazi attackers was to liberate prisoners who were being held at the consulate. The question must be asked: Was the Benghazi Consulate actually a CIA black site?

As the exposure of the nest of spies in Tehran back in 1979 by heroic Iranian students revealed, so-called American diplomatic installations are actually and commonly hotbeds of espionage and subversion. For decades and decades all over the world, U.S. embassies were hosts to coup plotters and schemers to manipulate foreign governments to the will and interests of the United States. In the post-911 era of the so-called war on terror, it would surprise noone to learn that the web of CIA black sites — off-the-public-grid facilities where suspected "terrorists" could be held, interrogated, tortured, or worse, often with the assistance of local repressive secret police agencies — would include American facilities in hotspot countries like Libya. There's already a public record of the CIA working with repressive governments, ironically including Libya's Gaddafi who it eventually helped overthrow, and Syria's Assad, to interrogate suspected terrorists. It would seem to me shocking and counter-intuitive to think the Benghazi consulate was NOT such a blood-soaked station of international repression.

The new Libyan government was embarrassed by the attack on Benghazi (the state-department socialists of the North Star blog, big supporters of the NATO intervention, even ran an embarrasing apologia for the attack.) With the establishment of a U.S. drone base in neighboring Niger, one suspects that spying eyes will be quick to foil any future "terrorist" attack against U.S. interests in Libya.

The real lesson of Benghazi is that U.S. imperialism has a proven record of covert and open manipulation of foreign governments. As far as I'm concerned, the destruction of the consulate there was another case of chickens coming home to roost. To me the real outrage is that other U.S. diplomatic facilities elsewhere all over the world are engaged at this very minute in acts of subversion, control and exploitation. That's what imperialism does, and that's not a truth one should expect to come out of the congressional Benghazi circus.

Perhaps there's some perverse pleasure to be taken in watching corrupt, war-mongering politicians in Washington bloody each other: I for one have no interest in choosing between creepy racist Republicans and Hillary Clinton/Susan Rice/Barack Obama. But ultimately scandals like this one are ugly spectacles that demoralize and depoliticize people. One day we'll put all those buildings in Washington, built by forced labor of black slaves, to good use.

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