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    Middle East
     Nov 16, 2012


THE ROVING EYE
How sexy is Benghazi?
Pepe Escobar

The Love Pentagon - as in the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen-FBI shirtless torso guy - is the farce that keeps on giving. But this should really not be about sex, lies and emails. This should be about Benghazi.

Scandal or not, General David Petraeus finally accepted to testify, at a still unspecified date, to the Senate Intelligence Committee, about the 9/11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in Libya in which ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed; he may eventually be asked about what the CIA had been up to before, during and after the attack.

As for President Obama, in his first press conference after re-election he has warned Republicans - who have been trying to

 

twist Benghazi to their own purposes for weeks now - to "go after me"; for them to go after UN ambassador Susan Rice, "who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received", and to "besmirch her reputation", that's "outrageous."

More than Republicans having a problem with the President, it's more like Petraeus having a problem with the nation. Deeply in denial Republicans will obviously freak out when Petraeus tells the Senate exactly what he told the White House two months ago. The General - and later Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, plus Susan Rice - they all said the Benghazi attack was to be blamed on that pathetic Prophet Muhammad YouTube video.

By that time Petraeus' steamy affair his Biog Babe, Paula Broadwell, was already history. But he arguably didn't know he was already ensnared by the Tampa socialite Jill Kelley-inspired FBI investigation over Paula's harassing emails. And then, last week, the investigation miraculously surfaced, immediately after Election Day and just as he's scheduled to testify to the Senate. He may have failed in his calculations to save his job. But there's no reason to doubt he will pull off a smooth performance at his Benghazi special.

A lean, mean killing machine
The notion that the now disgraced General will come clean regarding the current CIA modus operandi is as fanciful as Paula Broadwell playing Snow White. Since Petraeus was appointed director of the CIA by Obama, the agency has morphed into a full-blown paramilitary killing machine - not exactly a haven for HUMINT (human intelligence). It's all about secret, shadowy black ops, unmonitored by the Executive, the Legislative, the Judiciary, the media; virtually out of control.

This hardcore militarization of the CIA implies the agency never acknowledging the Drone Wars. Not to mention how its targeted assassinations, from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula and the Pakistani tribal areas, are chosen; and who is lucky enough to live (or die) another day. What makes is even more absurd is that the CIA is also entrusted by the White House to impartially analyze its own shadow war enterprise.

That inevitably brings us back to Benghazi - and that bombshell Fox News report quoting an anonymous Washington source stating that the consulate had a "CIA annex", where three Libyan militia warriors, as in Salafi-jihadis, were being "detained", aka undergoing Dick Cheney-style recreational water activities.

As for the interrogation sessions, that was the responsibility of contractors, a shady collection of "former" Special Ops - as the CIA itself later reminded public opinion that it "has not had detention authority since January 2009, when Executive Order 13491 was issued."

Yet other previous "guests" in Benghazi included fighters from across Northern Africa and the Middle East. To sum it all up; this "annex" was the CIA's top black hole in all of Northern Africa.

So here we have a "secret" CIA safe house attached to a consulate - and obviously not responding to the State Department - staffed with "former" or current Special Forces contractors accepting "renditions" and engaging in "detention" and certainly torture practices that are illegal under American law. They were all there working for Petraeus - and not Hillary Clinton.

And this may not have been the only one of such holiday resorts - as Special Forces keep roaming Northern Africa and the CIA happens to keep a safe house also in Somalia.

Let's bet a cellar full of Chateau Petrus that The General will keep absolutely mum about all this in his upcoming Senate testimony. The General will repeat that the Prophet Muhammad video did it in Benghazi.

And then there's Boobghazi
Boobghazi still beats Benghazi in all the ratings. No wonder; what with Biog Babe Paula and her virtual catfight with steamy Lebanese-American Jill Kelley, aka Jill Khawam, aka Gilberte J Kelley, aka Gigi Khawam, aka Gigi Kelley and her unpaid "social event planning" gig at the CENTCOM base in Tampa, Florida, not to mention the excruciatingly laborious exchange of up to 30 emails a day, everyday, with General John Allen over no less than three years. No wonder Allen could not keep his steady hands on that pesky Taliban problem.

The Tampa Bay Times is having a field day after another describing the morphing of "South Tampa's decades-long reputation for genteel hospitality toward the military"; the paper says that "ground zero" for the new sexy shenanigans "is not the Pentagon, but a mansion on Bayshore Boulevard inhabited by a family with lavish appetites and gigantic debts"; that is, the Kelleys.

With so much salacious turpitude on offer, it's hard to concentrate on foreign policy. Yet Benghazi may be just the hors d'oeuvre to what's brewing in Syria.

Benghazi - as well as the middle of the desert backwater Darnah - fueled the NATO rebel war in Libya with countless Salafi-jihadis, including those directly linked to al-Qaeda via the "former" Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

There is no question that ambassador Chris Stevens was in close contact with this powerful "rebel" strand - including Islamist superstar Abdelhakim Belhadj. After Colonel Gaddafi was captured, sodomized and killed by the "rebels" - with ample previous support of American missiles and Qatari Special Forces on the ground - Libyan Islamists, with Belhaj on the forefront, started to smuggle fully weaponized Salafi-jihadis for the Syrian rebels fighting the Assad government.

It took a while but finally Hillary and the State Department woke up to the potential blowback. This was one of the key reasons why Hillary pressed for a remix of the Syrian opposition leadership, enshrined this past weekend in Doha.

At his press conference, Obama stuck to platitudes on Syria, as in "we have been extensively engaged with the international community" and "constantly consulting with the opposition" as well as Turkey, Jordan and Israel (significantly, Obama did not mention key anti-Assad Gulf Cooperation Council players Saudi Arabia and Qatar). He warned about "extremist elements" within the Syrian opposition, and did not commit to weaponize them. At least on the record.

This Friday a new Syria donors' conference - the follow-up to Hillary's Friends of Syria bash - begins in London. That's when the West will be formally introduced to the new opposition leader, Moaz al-Khatib - which Western corporate media, in unison, is frantically selling as a "moderate", with "impeccable revolutionary credentials", who will, in his own words, lead Syria towards a "civic state".

This is as ridiculous as the Boobghazi farce. Al-Khatib has already said that Syria's problems will be solved with "weapons". France - which under Hollande remains as pathetically neo-colonial as under King Sarko - already recognized him and the new opposition set-up, essentially created under pressure by the US and Qatar compounded with vague promises of cash.

Al-Khatib - the former imam of the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, a position he would have never obtained without being vetted by Syrian intelligence - is known to have called for jihad to rescue the Muslim world (here it is, in Arabic, but nothing Google Translate could not handle). And then the clincher; he is sure that Facebook is a US-Israeli plot.

With frenemies like the US, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, Syria certainly does not need enemies. As for blowback, brace yourselves; what happened in Benghazi is just the hors d'oeuvres to be offered by increasingly rampaging frenemies of the US. Can't count on Petraeus and Allen to defend the homeland? Well, there's always four-star groupie Jill Kelley.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)





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