For the last month, the media and Congress have been grilling the State Department for the security failures during the deadly assault on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. But what if the State Department is the wrong target of scrutiny?
According to a counter-theory advanced last night by The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, the CIA, not the State Department, bears some responsibility for the security lapse that led to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, but is flying under the radar due to the classified nature of its activities there.
The airing of this theory was prompted by yesterday's House Oversight and Government Reform hearing, in which House Republicans attempted to avoid any mention of CIA activities in Benghazi. As it happened, they failed to avoid veiled disclosures of CIA activities from emerging, and the way Milbank sees it, they "left little doubt" that one of the two U.S. compounds in Benghazi was in fact a CIA base.
In their questioning and in the public testimony they invited, the lawmakers managed to disclose, without ever mentioning [the CIA] directly, that there was a seven-member “rapid response force” in the compound the State Department was calling an annex.
The disclosures came out in a vague sort of way that mostly only Washington experts would realize. For instance, one of the State Department officials revealed that not all of the security personnel in Benghazi "fell under my direct operational control." Who controlled them? An entity members of the hearing described as the "other government agency," which is a typical Washington euphemism for CIA.