It's becoming increasingly clear that the White House and its surrogates are being less than forthcoming about the events that led to the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, administration officials, including most notably U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, continue to insist that security at the Benghazi consulate was adequate.
But was that the case?
Retired U.S. Army Colonel Jack Jacobs, a medal of honor winner and NBC News analyst, disagrees with Rice's assessment. Jacobs stated that, "The level of security in Libya, particularly in Benghazi was woefully low. As a matter of fact, I'd characterize it as no security whatsoever. Shocking and irresponsible." The NBC report went on to say that, "consulate security consisted of a US regional security officer and a local militia."
Assuming this was the case, the localized nature of Stevens' security might answer some of the many questions that remain about that night. How did those responsible know he would be in Benghazi? How did they have the location of his safe-house? Why was Stevens isolated? Why did Sean Smith, a member of the consulate staff, cryptically write "assuming we don't die tonight. We saw one of our 'police' that guard the compound taking pictures" just before the bullets started flying?
The answer could possibly be that Stevens' Libyan security detail sold him out. They murdered the other members of Stevens' team and isolated him in a room where he'd be recovered by the people who broke into the consulate under the pretext of a demonstration. That could explain why Stevens was the only one who succumbed to asphyxiation from smoke inhalation while the others died of gunshot wounds.
This would also make sense of a recent video showing Stevens being pulled from the consulate. In the video the individuals who had stormed the compound were yelling "Allah Akbar! He's alive." Why? Because a gaggle of humanitarians had just pulled a dead or dying US Ambassador from the consulate? Or was it because he was useful to them alive?
A kidnapping would fit the character of al Qaeda's local affiliates in Libya. Last week CNN reported that, "A pro-al Qaeda group responsible for a previous armed assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is the chief suspect in Tuesday’s attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya say." The group had also been responsible for an attack on a Benghazi Red Cross office.
That pro-al Qaeda group, known as the “Imprisoned Omar Abdel Rahman Brigades," has been connected to the terror organization's North African Chapter, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Over the past several years, AQIM has become known for kidnapping foreign aid workers and diplomats, including UN envoy Robert Fowler's abduction from Niger in December of 2008. A US Ambassador would certainly have been a big score for the group and a great bargaining chip for negotiating the release of their namesake Omar Abdel Rahman...the blind sheikh.
So how does the theory stack up? Former Senior Operations Officer for the CIA Clare Lopez joined the Real News table Tuesday to discuss the possibility that Ambassador Stevens was the target of a kidnapping plot rather than an assassination: