In his discussion with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this morning, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky imagined himself as president of the United States. Had he been in that lofty position, he told Clinton, he would have removed her from office:
“I’m glad that you’re accepting responsibility. I think that ultimately, with you leaving, that you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11. And I really mean that. Had I been president at the time and I had found that you had not read the cables from Benghazi, you had not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it’s inexcusable….”
“I think it’s inexcusable that you did not know about this, and that you did not read these cables. I would think by anybody’s estimation Libya has to have been one of the hottest of hot spots around the world. Not to know of the requests for security really, I think, really, cost these people their lives. Their lives could have been saved had someone been more available, had someone been aware of these things, more on top of their jobs.”
Rant concluded, Paul then posed a question (2:21 in the video above):
“Is the US involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey, out of Libya?
“To Turkey?” Clinton responded, her body language suggesting that she found the question bizarre. “I will have to take that question for the record. That’s … Nobody has ever raised that with me.”
“It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya, and that they may have weapons,” Paul responded. “And what I would like to know Is the annex that was close by, were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries, Turkey included.”
“You’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex,” Clinton said pointedly.
The agency that ran the annex is the CIA.
The “news reports” that Rand referred to are anonymously sourced stories on Fox News and on right-wing websites alleging that the CIA was buying up weapons in Libya and shipping them to Turkey and then on to Syrian rebels, including to known jihadist groups. Glenn Beck has been pushing the conspiracy theory as well.
It is not inconceivable that the U.S. has assisted the flow of arms out of Libya and into Syria, although given how spectacularly wrong Fox has been proved to be on other anonymously sourced reports involving Benghazi, I wouldn’t give its reports a lot of credence. Given national security implications, I’m also not sure that Paul acted responsibly by raising the issue in a public hearing.
If he was actually seeking information, rather than playing to the conspiracy crowd, he has more private means of getting answers as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He runs the risk of endangering U.S. lives by doing it in public, without apparently knowing the possible ramifications.
I wonder what President Rand Paul would say about somebody who did that?
– Jay Bookman