LIGNET Got Benghazi Right; Why Didn’t the CIA?

 In May 2011, I was asked by Christopher Ruddy, Newsmax Media’s President and CEO, to start a commercial intelligence analysis and forecasting service. It was an exciting project and a great opportunity after 25 years working in the national security field.

This project became known as the Langley Intelligence Group Network (LIGNET). Working with other intelligence and national security experts, we launched this project in the fall of 2011. LIGNET produces analysis in the style of the President’s Daily Brief, the classified memo that the U.S. Intelligence Community brings to the president every morning containing analysis of major security issues affecting this country.

benghaziconsulate-Copy_small LIGNET Got Benghazi Right; Why Didn't the CIA?

Of the over 2,400 analyses we’ve posted since the launch of LIGNET, our work on one subject stands out: the September 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

I’m compelled to speak out about this after watching the testimony of former CIA acting Director Michael Morell before the House Intelligence Committee this week. Morell is in hot water because of controversial CIA-drafted talking points that said the attacks on the Benghazi consulate were the result of demonstrations over an anti-Muslim video and not a terrorist attack. These talking points, which were coordinated through several government agencies, were submitted to the White House and Congress on Sept. 15, 2012.

The talking points were politically convenient for the Obama administration in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election and were used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to deny that the attacks on the consulate were related to terrorism during five Sunday morning talk show appearances on Sept. 16, 2012.

Morell said in his testimony about the talking points that he sided with CIA analysts who believed attacks were due to a demonstration over the anti-Muslim video and decided to ignore the views of the CIA Libya station chief who told Morell there was no demonstration and that the attacks were an act of terrorism.

LIGNET took a different view. In consultation with my senior analysts — Lisa Ruth, a former CIA officer; David Wurmser, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst and aide to Vice President Dick Cheney; and Mark Groombridge, a former State Department adviser — we concluded that every aspect of this story added up to a terrorist attack.

We knew for example that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a Sept. 10, 2012, video, called for attacks the next day to avenge the death of his deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi, by a U.S. drone strike in June 2012. We also knew that Zawahiri’s brother and Egyptian radical Islamist, Mohammed al-Zawahiri, was outside the wall of the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012, while angry mobs tried to storm it.

As a result, LIGNET published analysis stating that the violence against the Benghazi consulate was almost certainly a terrorist attack. Our analysis, which bucked the main stream media at the time, proved to be 100 percent correct. We not only assessed the attacks were an act of terrorism, we said the evidence of this was so strong that the Obama administration would be forced to reverse its position on the attacks. Screen shots of the title and first paragraphs of two of our best work on this issue are below.

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We were not the only ones to get this right.  House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers,  R-Mich., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said within days of the attacks that they looked liked a pre-planned act of terrorism and not spontaneous violence. 

McCain said on Sept. 16, 2012:


“Most people don’t bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons to a demonstration. That was an act of terror, and for anyone to disagree with that fundamental fact I think is really ignoring the facts. Now, how long it was planned and who was involved, but there is no doubt there was extremists and there’s no doubt they were using heavy weapons and they used pretty good tactics–indirect fire, direct fire, and obviously they were successful.”

Despite compelling evidence that the attacks on the consulate were an act of terrorism carried out by al-Qaida, the CIA dismissed this evidence and provided the Obama White House with talking points that President Obama used for weeks to claim the embassy violence was due to an anti-Muslim video.  The pro-Obama news media let the president get away with this because it did not want to hurt his reelection chances.

So how did a small outfit like LIGNET, with a handful of analysts, come up with assessments that proved so accurate when the CIA, with its thousands of analysts and multi-billion dollar budget, was dead wrong?

LIGNET’s analysts got Benghazi right because we did our research, spoke to our sources, and produced hard-hitting, objective assessments.  We went where the evidence led us and were not sidetracked by politics and political correctness.

That’s what LIGNET analysts do.  If you’re not a subscriber, I hope you will check us out for similar hard hitting analysis of other vital national security issues.