Complicating the efforts to find out what occurred during the Benghazi attacks is the large role the CIA had in Benghazi, reports the Wall Street Journal today:
The U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation, according to officials briefed on the intelligence. Of the more than 30 American officials evacuated from Benghazi following the deadly assault, only seven worked for the State Department. Nearly all the rest worked for the CIA, under diplomatic cover, which was a principal purpose of the consulate, these officials said.
. . .
Nearly eight weeks after the attacks, a complete accounting hasn’t emerged in public view. The brunt of the public criticism for security lapses has so far been directed at the State Department, rather than the CIA, which, by design, operates largely in the shadows. Critics in Congress say the CIA has used secrecy in part to shield itself from blame—a charge officials close to the agency deny.
This account of the CIA presence in Benghazi sheds new light on the events, and how the essentially covert nature of the U.S. operations there created confusion. Congressional investigators say it appears that the CIA and State Department weren’t on the same page about their respective roles on security, underlining the rift between agencies over taking responsibility and raising questions about whether the security arrangement in Benghazi was flawed.
The CIA’s secret role helps explain why security appeared inadequate at the U.S. diplomatic facility. State Department officials believed that responsibility was set to be shouldered in part by CIA personnel in the city through a series of secret agreements that even some officials in Washington didn’t know about.
Even if the State Department wasn’t communicating well with the CIA on how much security there was in Benghazi, it remains a fact that officials asked the State Department for additional security — and didn’t get it. Now perhaps the State Department had reason to believe the CIA was providing that security, and officials haven’t said so because of concerns about making that known publicly. But the revelations about the CIA’s role simply means that it should join the State Department and the White House in facing congressional scrutiny, not that either of those are off the hook.