The Times’ Attempt to Exonerate Hillary Clinton’s Role in Libya
The Washington Post recently penned a major story on Hillary Clinton’s leadership on the fate of Libya, integrating positive comments from an anonymous source in order to bolster her scandal-ridden reputation. Now The New York Times has followed suit, publishing an autopsy of what went wrong in Libya that extends over 12,000 words between its two parts.
The Times writes that they talked with more than 50 people for the story, including Americans, Libyans and Europeans, virtually all who agreed to speak on the record. “They expressed regret, frustration and in some cases bewilderment about what went wrong and what might have been done differently.”
The Times then asks, “Was the mistake the decision to intervene in the first place, or the mission creep from protecting civilians to ousting a dictator, or the failure to send a peacekeeping force in the aftermath?”
The question remains, however, as to what prompted these columns. After all, both the Post and New York Times articles discuss very little about current events and largely report on Libya’s transformation into a failed state with ISIS strongholds. Clearly, these articles are meant as an attempt to explain how Libya devolved into chaos with neither President Obama, nor Mrs. Clinton, being at fault.
The Times article offers a much more complete story of the lead-up to the intervention when compared to the Post, and it should receive credit for including Retired Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic’s account of the decision not to pursue truce talks with Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. However, the Times treats Kubic’s story superficially and tries to cast doubt upon the idea that these truce talks should have been treated seriously.
“The Americans did not believe that the Libyans purporting to speak for the leader could actually deliver a peaceful transfer of power,” write Jo Becker and Scott Shane for the Times. “Colonel Qaddafi, the Americans thought, would simply use a cease-fire as an opportunity to regroup.” These reporters also quote a source alleging that there was “envoy proliferation.”
However, the strength of Kubic’s account, which was brought to light by the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB), comes from the fact that he helped Qaddafi’s representatives reach the head of AFRICOM, General Carter Ham. This was no theoretical truce attempt—it was a real discussion between the two parties.
“When I then went back to Africa Command, and I told them that the call was going to be set up, again they were doing their own due diligence,” said Kubic at our April, 2014 CCB conference. “They said, ‘We need some proof that this is real. Will he pull back his troops now from the outskirts of Benghazi?’”
“And then Qaddafi began to pull back from Benghazi and Misrata, and we were set to, we had the phone call,” continued Kubic. “However, despite the willingness of Africa Command and how things were set for the 72-hour truce to discuss the ceasefire, the idea was shot down above AFRICOM.”
Another major part of the Benghazi story is that the United States switched sides in the War on Terror when the Obama administration knowingly facilitated the flow of arms to al-Qaeda linked militias in Libya. But the Times casts the arms transfers as Qatar run amok, an ally who could not be curtailed by the United States. “Throughout the spring, the administration had effectively turned a blind eye as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates supplied the rebels with lethal assistance, according to [then Defense Secretary Robert] Gates and others,” they report. “But Mrs. Clinton had grown increasingly concerned that Qatar, in particular, was sending arms only to certain rebel factions: militias from the city of Misrata and select Islamist brigades.”
One need only understand the case of arms dealer Marc Turi to see that the Times is peddling a false narrative.
“Marc Turi was set up and framed for something he didn’t do, while others, who actually did collaborate with Qatar and the UAE to deliver the weapons under U.S. and NATO protection and supervision, are not only not prosecuted like Marc Turi, they’re not even mentioned,” CCB member and former CIA officer Clare Lopez told WorldNetDaily last July.
“During the 2011 Libyan revolution, Mrs. Clinton had successfully pushed the administration to take a direct role in arming opposition groups, hoping that would persuade the Qataris to stop sending weapons to extremist rebel factions,” reports the Times. This account falsely casts the United States as arming moderate rebels, when in fact the “rebels” were linked to al Qaeda.
“Muammar Qaddafi had given up his WMD some years before,” noted Lopez at the CCB’s 2014 conference. “He had also begun to cooperate with the United States, and with the West, to keep al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, down. He had al Qaeda jihadis in his jails.”
In contrast, some of the Libyan rebels were flying the black flags of jihad.
“Officials from Libya’s moderate governing coalition were demanding that the United States stop the wealthy nation of Qatar from sending money and arms to militias aligned with Libya’s Islamist political bloc,” report Becker and Shane. “The Islamists, in turn, were accusing a rival gulf power, the United Arab Emirates, of providing similar patronage to fighters aligned with their political enemies.”
A story about just one shipment of arms explains how these arms deals involved the highest level of Libyan governance. As discussed in our interim report, “During their visit to Tripoli, the [United Arab Emirates] officials discovered that half of the $1 billion worth of weapons it had financed for the rebels had, in fact, been diverted by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the Muslim Brotherhood head of the Libyan TNC, and sold to Qaddafi.”
A reliable source told the commission that Jalil put out a hit job on Major General Abdel Fatah Younis, Qaddafi’s former Minister of the Interior, because Younis had found out that half of the arms ended up in Qaddafi’s hands. The assassination was tasked to none other than Abu Khattala, who is now in U.S. custody because of his part in the Benghazi attacks of September 11 and September 12, 2012.
Clearly, these events contribute to the broader story surrounding the Benghazi scandal. But instead of covering the Benghazi scandal accurately, the Times argues that Hillary Clinton is not responsible. “If the attempt to pin blame for the Benghazi attack on Mrs. Clinton would largely fail,” wrote Becker and Shane, continuing, “the notion that the Libyan intervention was among her successes had become steadily more threadbare.”
If the Times had been interested in telling the truth about the Benghazi scandal, it would have tied the truce talks and the arming of al-Qaeda-linked rebel groups into the story of this scandal. Instead, its over 12,000-word piece steps around the scandal itself as much as possible.
“From the earliest days of the Libya debate, Mrs. Clinton was a diligent student and unrelenting inquisitor, absorbing fat briefing books, inviting dissenting views from subordinates, studying foreign counterparts to learn how to win them over,” write Becker and Shane. “She was a pragmatist, willing to improvise—to try the bank-shot solution.”
Pragmatist or not, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama made distinctly poor—if not disastrous—decisions when intervening in Libya. But the mainstream media are more interested in publishing foreign policy accounts that bolster these leaders’ foreign policy bona fides. With Libya, it just isn’t possible.
Again, the Times asked if the “mistake” was having gone into Libya in the first place, mission creep to remove Qaddafi, or failing to plan for the aftermath of Qaddafi’s removal. The answer is yes to all of the above, but the reason for the “mistakes” is what should be understood. It was Obama administration policy during the so-called Arab Spring to replace strongman allies of the U.S.—such as Qaddafi in Libya and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, who assisted in the war against al Qaeda and other jihadist groups—with Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda-linked groups that wanted to control Northern Africa. The results of the Obama/Clinton policies in the region have mostly been disastrous for the people living there, and for America’s influence in the Middle East.
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