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Bengazi Compound

Cradle of Libyan Revolution

Benghazi: Unanswered Questions, The Diminishing Reality of Safety and Truth

Phil Johnson, Ph.D., Benghazi, Libya posted April 29, 2013

If you ask a Libyan, he will tell you that Egypt is dangerous and out of control these days. If you ask an Egyptian, he will tell you to steer clear of Libya; it is filled with terrorists.  Different places; different perceptions.


I’ve worked in both locations and at times each perception is correct. And at times each perception is wrong. But perception isn’t truth. And the issue of truth is what keeps nagging at the heart of the Benghazi issue.


It’s been a little more than two years since the Libyan Revolution rid the world of Muammar Gaddafi. Libyans remain optimistic, if a bit more realistic that rebuilding a nation isn’t the same as downloading a file from the Internet. It’s going to take some time. They will also tell you that Libyans are peaceful and have no interest in terrorism. They will tell you that Libya is safe. At times that seems true. Until it isn’t.


On September 11, 2012, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American nationals found out that their world wasn’t safe. An armed groups of militants attacked the diplomatic mission in Benghazi on the evening of the 11th. Their weapons included rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), AK-47s, hand grenades, mortars and heavy machine guns. A second attack, which began just after midnight, occurred on the nearby CIA annex. (Murphy, Webb 2013). In the end, four Americans lay dead: Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Ty Woods and Glen Doherty.


Seven months after their untimely deaths, questions remain: What did the US president and his senior staff know and when did they know it? Was it possible to send help to our citizens in Benghazi? If so, why didn’t we? Who is responsible for these attacks? Was it a spontaneous escalation based on a protest regarding a YouTube video that insulted the Prophet, Mohammed? Or was it a preplanned, calculated assault on Western interests using heavy weapons? Why were previous requests for more security from the Benghazi mission left unfulfilled? After all, there had been several acts of violence prior to September 11th and Ambassador Steven’s diary itself noted the increasing threat of extremism and the growing influence al Qaeda. (CNN, 2012.) And why have we not heard from the survivors of that attack? Where are the answers? Where is the truth? If something is being covered up, for what purpose?


Senator Lindsey Graham is calling for testimony from the survivors and he believes that they are being intimidated into silence. He recently stated this: “[The administration is] refusing to give us the identity of the survivors and allow them to come to Congress to be interviewed. I've talked to a couple and their story is chilling. They’re scared to death to come forward without some institutional support.” ( 2013.) White House press secretary, Jay Carney denies that anyone has been asked to remain silent. So, why aren’t the survivors telling their story?  On April 18, 2014, Speaker of the House, John Boehner, posted from his official website that the five House committees charged with investigating the attack in Benghazi will soon release a progress report. He says, “We are determined to get to the truth regarding the terrorist attack on our Mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans lost their lives.”  

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