Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Sleepers wake? Part One of a Different Take on Benghazi

Inquiries and investigations into the Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012 that left four Americans dead, including US Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, are picking up. Many are starting to ask about what I think is one of the key questions in the whole scandal, namely who was it that gave then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and others the talking points about the "YouTube" excuse; that it was the rather badly made anti-Muslim video that spurred on the whole attack and following debacle. Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post's "The Fact Checker" blog is on this angle, as is Ed Morrissey at Hot Air and in his new column for The Week.

Cover-ups rarely are spurred on by the events that directly precipitated the need to cover up, rather their genesis is to be found in keeping under wraps other things that an investigation will likely expose. This was true in both the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, and it's almost certainly true about the aftermath of Benghazi.

I'm a fan of both history and fiction dealing with espionage and international intrigue. You may have read my recent post on the 70th anniversary of Operation Mincemeat, which except for date checks and verifying some minor details, I wrote pretty much from memory. Perhaps I've read too much history and fiction in that genre, as the tack I'm taking here is a bit off the wall, but I think it's the only explanation that begins to fit all the facts. It's also going to take several posts to flesh out the whole story as I see it. So, here goes...

Premise: At least one "principal" in the story is very much not what they seem.

Over and above reading "cerebral" spy and intrigue stories, I also enjoy them on film and television, and will usually pick something like The Ipcress File over say, The Bourne Identity. One of my favorites is the late-1970s British series The Sandbaggers. One particular piece of dialogue from the show has been rolling around in my brain since I started trying to sort what happened in Benghazi before, during, and after out in my own mind. This is taken from Season 3, Episode 1 entitled "All in a Good Cause".

To set the scene, SIS Director of Operations Neil Burnside and his top special agent Willie Caine are discussing their plans to bluff their own service with bureaucratic sleight of hand and prevent one of their foreign stations from being closed. They're also working on a seemingly more sinister plot: someone is following the local CIA station chief, Jeff Ross, whom they're friendly with on both personal and professional bases. They're assuming that Ross is the "good guy" in that circumstance, and that the other party in the case are the enemy. The pair have the following conversation:
Caine: [Speaking about the "bluff" plan] In concentrating so hard on one, they take the other for granted. 
Burnside: Yes, with a bit of... [Pauses, realizes that Caine's statement applies to Ross] 
Caine: Yeah, I thought about that. I dismissed it as ridiculous. 
Burnside: But we have been concentrating on the one and taking the other for granted. 
Caine: I know, but it makes no more sense the other way 'round. 
Burnside: But it would make some sense if we forget that Jeff Ross is a friend.
So, have we taken someone for granted in the Benghazi story? Someone treated like a friend who actually isn't? To me, it's obvious the answer is yes, and it's obvious who it is.

A (un-) Sympathetic Character

On September 15, 2012, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was taken in for questioning by Federal authorities investigating the origin of the YouTube video Innocence of Muslims which was said at the time to have been the spark that set off the Benghazi powder keg. Twelve days later, Mr. Nakoula was arrested on various charges surrounding violation of his federal probation from an earlier conviction.

If you had been paying any attention to new media (and some old media) back then, you'll remember that Nakoula became a cause célèbre for freedom of speech and guaranteed liberties under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Conservatives and libertarians practically fell over themselves running to microphones, cameras, blog posts, and Twitter to rally to the filmmaker's defense on free speech grounds. Fundamentally, they're right - but only if Mr. Nakoula and his lousy video were what they seemed. But, are they?

Mr. Nakoula also had his ticket punched twice more in ways sure to garner popular support:

  1. His video/movie was in opposition to Islamic radicalism - definitely a popular take to have since the original 9/11.
  2. He put himself forward as an Egyptian Coptic Christian, which is certain to garner support from most if not all evangelicals as they're quite well known as one of the most persecuted churches in the world.

That's all well and good, but does Nakoula Basseley Nakoula deserve defense via our support? We actually know very little about the man, and what we do know certainly doesn't put him in the ranks of upstanding citizens.

Nakoula was born in Egypt sometime in 1957, but information on when he came to the United States, and when he became a naturalized citizen, is sketchy at best. We do know he's been able to run up lots of debts on which he's defaulted, was convicted of intent to produce methamphetamine in the late 1990s, and was convicted of bank fraud in 2010. There's a champion of free speech for you!

Furthermore, his self-identification as a Coptic Christian is, I think, tenuous at best. Yes, he attended church and was slightly known to Coptic clergy in the Los Angeles area, but was hardly a regular church goer.

Now, add to the Nakoula saga how it ended: with his pleading guilty just six weeks after his arrest to four probation violation charges on November 7, 2012 and return to Federal prison. Call me crazy, but if were I really an anti-Islamic extremism crusader, with plenty of folks willing to rise up and defend me on free speech grounds, would I give in so easily? Wouldn't I want the stage and publicity of a trial to further my causes? Would I slip quietly and with as little hassle as possible back to prison?

None of it makes any sense unless Nakoula is just stupid (a definite possibility) or unless Nakoula played exactly the role he was supposed to play.

What if Nakoula, and his video/movie, are part of a larger plot? What if they're both plants? Kind of puts the video and its maker in a different light, yes? Could he have been set up intentionally as an unsympathetic character? Was there supposed to be some domestic backlash from people rising to his defense on free speech grounds that didn't happen?

If they're both plants, it follows that the ready excuse/explanation of the video was also planted inside the State Department, et al. well before September 11, 2012. It was ready and waiting. To me, that makes sense considering how quickly they rolled the meme out.

There are so many questions to ask about Mr. Nakoula that nobody seems to be asking. Why did he use so many aliases? He claimed that the money to produce Innocence of Muslims came from his wife's family in Egypt - are there records of the financial transfers? Certainly post-9/11/2001 with all the new banking regulations, you'd think large sum transfers from Egypt to the USA would have attracted some attention. When did he become a citizen, and was it before or after he started running afoul of the law? Why did he use one of his aliases to claim that the video/film was an Israeli-sponsored project?

Nakoula posted the video on YouTube on July 1, 2012. It then took two months for it to be dubbed into Arabic and reposted? Why? Who created the Arabic version in the first place and saw that excerpts were put on Egyptian television on September 9, 2012?

Whatever you feel about the Benghazi scandal, please, don't give Nakoula Besseley Nakoula the benefit of the doubt. There's nothing about him that should place him on your side. I'm convinced winding up back in prison away from questions is exactly where he was instructed to wind up.

Pulling it Together - Next Directions

So then, if Nakoula is a plant, who planted him? I've got some thoughts on that, but suffice to say it's not an Islamist source. I'm going to write additional parts to this thread, and I'm also interested to see how the upcoming Congressional testimony of "whistle blowers" comes out to see if it meshes with my larger theory. Consider these thoughts; I'm interested to see if you wind up at the same conclusions as I have:

  1. If Nakoula and the video was a plant/set-up, the operational concept had to be written for the overall plan and execution begun well over a year before July 2012. Who is likely to have planned that far ahead?
  2. Who had the most to gain from manufacturing a crisis that close to a US Presidential election?
  3. Did the plan almost fail, not because of actions or failure on the part of perpetrators but inactions on the part of the Obama administration?
  4. Who has the most to gain by keeping the United States' attention focused on Islamic terrorism?
  5. Is it possible that Ambassador Stevens' presence in Benghazi that day was "burned"? 
  6. Accusations of infiltration into the State Department, etc. were leveled last summer. What if they were right as to substance, but wrong as to perpetrator?
  7. Many people in the United States Government were compromised before Benghazi, and a large portion of those who were probably still don't realize they've been played.
  8. Finally, the Petraeus/Broadwell affair is not unrelated in initiation or outcome.

Chew on those, dear readers, pay attention to the testimony before Congress, and I'll be back writing on this soon.

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