Republicans aiming to expose an alleged “cover-up” by the Obama administration regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya may have instead exposed the identities of Libyans working with the U.S. in that country and placed their lives in danger.
According to Foreign Policy magazine’s “The Cable” blog, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) “posted 166 pages of sensitive but unclassified State Department communications related to Libya on the committee’s website afternoon as part of his effort to investigate security failures and expose contradictions in the administration’s statements regarding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.”
However, “Issa didn’t bother to redact the names of Libyan civilians and local leaders mentioned in the cables, and just as with the WikiLeaks dump of State Department cables last year, the administration says that Issa has done damage to U.S. efforts to work with those Libyans and exposed them to physical danger from the very groups that had an interest in attacking the U.S. consulate.”
An unnamed administration official told Foreign policy that several individuals’ safety has been placed in jeopardy thanks to the revelations, including a Libyan woman who heads an anti-violence campaign. The woman traveled to the U.S. to seek resources and financial backing for her organization.
“She isn’t publicly associated with the U.S. in any other way but she’s now named in this cable. It’s a danger to her life,” said the official.
Other Libyans named in the cables include a port manager who is trying to reopen the port of Benghazi to provide much needed trade to the region. Now because he is publicly associated with the U.S., his life is in danger. Another is a local militia leader who was a source of intelligence regarding the inner workings of the new Libyan government.
Administration officials have accused Issa and his delegation of rushing to get publicity for their investigation in the days before the final presidential debate, which is slated to focus on foreign policy. They told “The Cable” that Issa acted before knowing the facts, and in the process has compromised national security.
“He’s trying to gather all the facts, but he’s blurting out all the evidence before the State Department and FBI investigation is done,” the official said.
Meanwhile, a Washington Post article states that CIA documents unearthed in the investigation are bearing out Ambassador Susan Rice’s version of events, which was the version presented to the public by Obama and his administration.
“The Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attack last month weren’t supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official,” wrote Post scribe David Ignatius. The article goes on to piece together available information from the CIA and measure them against statements by the administration.
Now, not only have U.S. allies in the field been compromised, Ignatius wrote, “The intelligence community obviously feels burned by having its tentative assessments become a political football in this campaign and, in truth, one obvious lesson is that the United States could use much better real-time intelligence from places such as Libya,” real time intelligence that the U.S. is significantly less like to have access to.
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