JERUSALEM – Did an independent panel that just blamed the State Department for major security lapses at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi fail to investigate the main activities transpiring at the facility?
Those activities, the aiding of jihadist rebels battling Middle East regimes, may be relevant in determining why the Benghazi facility was attacked Sept. 11.
The panel’s lead investigator into the Benghazi attack, former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, has largely unreported ties to the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa.
He’s linked primarily through his role as a member of the small board of the International Crisis Group, or ICG, one of the main proponents of the international “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine.
The doctrine is the very military protocol used to justify the NATO bombing campaign that brought down Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.
According to reports, Pickering’s investigation focused on security lapses regarding the protection of the Benghazi mission but did not look into the role of the mission itself, which could be critical in determining the reasons the facility came under fire.
WND has published a series of investigations showing the Benghazi mission was highly involved in the rebel-led Mideast revolutions to which Pickering is tied.
WND was first to report the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East, according to Middle Eastern security officials.
In September, WND also broke the story that the slain ambassador, Christopher Stevens, played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian security officials.
Last month, Middle Eastern security sources further described both the U.S. mission and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi as the main intelligence and planning center for U.S. aid to the rebels that was being coordinated with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Many rebel fighters are openly members of terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida.
Pickering’s panel released some of its findings to the media yesterday. The group reportedly concluded that systematic management and leadership failures at the State Department led to “grossly” inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi.
“Systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place,” the panel said.
The report pointed a finger at State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs, charging a lack of coordination and confusion over protecting the Benghazi mission.
Still, the panel concluded that no officials ignored or violated their duties. It recommended no disciplinary action now but did suggest that poor performance by senior managers in the future should be grounds for disciplinary action.