Sunday, September 16, 2012

Who, What, How

Today the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, made a Sunday show media blitz to deliver the official unofficial political non-political narrative--the Libya attack was spontaneous, no matter what Libya is saying. 

Trouble is, the Libyans have been saying a lot.  Politico reported today that their president, whom they identified as Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf, said the attack was definitely planned months ago and included 'foreigners'.   But the Daily Beast has a story that quotes a spokesman for the Prime Minister:
Akari says that the Libyan authorities have found no evidence of direct participation in the consulate attack. “So far we really believe that this was a violent demonstration mainly against the movie that swung out of control. The protesters saw on television what was happening in Egypt and decided to have their own protest. We have no evidence at all that this was al Qaeda.”
In the Beast article they call El-Magariaf the president of the Ruling National Assembly, so presumably he's more akin to Boehner.  

So which version is true?   Well, both have incentive to pull a Baghdad Bob.  The Prime Minister doesn't want to tick off Obama, who made it possible for him to drive the fancy car and posses the title; the president of the assembly is more connected to the grassroots so he might not want to leave the impression local militias would kill a friendly ambassador and burn down his quarters while yelling Allahu Akbar due to some goofy movie trailer.  It's those nasty foreigners.

Still, even the PM wasn't willing to take all the blame, choosing to ask why the US ambassador was in Benghazi on 9/11 in the first place, which is actually a decent question.  It's not as if the US had no clue that Ayman al-Zawahiri had just spoken about the death of AQ's number two, a Libyan, a day before on 9/10, right?  Surely someone at Foggy Bottom monitors the web. 
So it's all pretty foggy right now but surely as the specter of American aid comes more clearly into focus the narratives will themselves come into better alignment. 

Meanwhile on a side note, ABC reported early in this event that one of the murdered ex-SEALS (working as a formerly dreaded security contractor) was investigating the proliferation of Gaddafi's former supply of MANPADs anti-aircraft missiles inside the country and had found several.  That story indicated the concern of many US officials that some of those weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.  In today's Beast story they mention something perhaps seminal towards the end:
Meanwhile, Salafists in the eastern Libyan city warned on Friday that they would retaliate against foreigners if they come under attack from either the government or the U.S. On Friday, officials closed the airspace over Benghazi to prevent any civilian airliners from being downed when militants warned that they would fire if they spotted any American surveillance aircraft. Ali al-Shaikhi, spokesman for the Army chief of staff, confirmed that the decision to halt civilian aircraft flying into Benghazi was taken as a precaution.
Now technically they didn't say what the militants would use to down civilian aircraft---doesn't mean they have MANPADs--but it doesn't mean they don't.   If they do it would mean that Salafists, on the government payroll as militia leaders, and who might have been involved in the consulate attack or have ties to AQ, have realized those officials' greatest fear.

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