The Libyan Left Behind Novels

I confess I’m skeptical every time a set of documents gets “left behind” in Libya. First there were the intelligence documents showing how the US and UK collaborated in the rendition and torture of Libyan opposition figures. Then there was Ambassador Chris Stevens’ journal, in apparently undamaged condition. And now there are the documents a WaPo reporter found at the still unsecured compound.

Documents detailing weapons collection efforts, emergency evacuation protocols, the full internal itinerary of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’s trip and the personnel records of Libyans who were contracted to secure the mission were among the items scattered across the floors of the looted compound when a Washington Post reporter and a translator visited Wednesday.

[snip]

At least one document found amid the clutter indicates that Americans at the mission were discussing the possibility of an attack in early September, just two days before the assault took place. The document is a memorandum dated Sept. 9 from the U.S. mission’s security office to the 17th February Martyrs Brigade, the Libyan-government-sanctioned militia that was guarding the compound, making plans for a “quick reaction force,” or QRF, that would provide security.

“In the event of an attack on the U.S. Mission,” the document states, “QRF will request additional support from the 17th February Martyrs Brigade.”

Other the documents detail — with names, photographs, phone numbers and other personal information — the Libyans contracted to provide security for the mission from a British-based private firm, Blue Mountain. Some of those Libyans say they now fear for their lives, and the State Department has said it shares concerns about their safety.

Not only do I find it a remarkable coinkydink that only in Libya do documents have a way of conveniently appearing. But all the documents in question are documents that address a specifically relevant subject matter at a convenient time. Moreover, given earlier reports that documents showing contacts were looted, I’m doubly skeptical an itinerary of Chris Stevens’ meetings would be left lying around, particularly given all the questions about what he was doing in Benghazi. And I’ll come back to my thoughts about the Libyan security contractors in a later post.

Ah well. None of that takes away from the laudable work of the reporters that continue to unearth this stuff.

Which brings me to the real question raised by the discovery of these documents. Thus far, at least 3 media teams have spent significant time at the compound.

And yet the FBI haven’t shown up for a visit once.

Perhaps that’s a factor of the FBI having chased their Arabic Agents out of the Bureau (I haven’t heard of similar problems with Agents of North African descent); it’d be a lot easier to at least do a few evidence collection visits if the FBI officers didn’t look and sound like Ken and Barbie. But in the WaPo’s case, at least, a reporter and a translator made it safely in and out of the compound.

Maybe the FBI can deputize the press to conduct this investigation?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

7 replies
  1. Spell It Out For Us says:

    I confess I’m skeptical every time a set of documents gets “left behind” in Libya. …

    Not only do I find it a remarkable coinkydink that only in Libya do documents have a way of conveniently appearing. But all the documents in question are documents that address a specifically relevant subject matter at a convenient time. Moreover, given earlier reports that documents showing contacts were looted, I’m doubly skeptical an itinerary of Chris Stevens’ meetings would be left lying around, particularly given all the questions about what he was doing in Benghazi.

    well, then where is all of this stuff coming from? do not be so obscure – just spell it out for those of us with less intelligence / insight. i take these reports at face value that the various media outlets are actually finding this stuff – can you prove otherwise? do you have some evidence that this stuff is planted / being handed over after / being fabricated??? please enlighten the less knowing. i know propaganda when i read / see it [i.e., most of the sh*t in the nyt] – but why are these reports from the Benghazi consulate aftermath not so credible???

  2. emptywheel says:

    @Spell It Out For Us: I don’t have a fully formulated theory on what’s going on with the consulate. But I think it highly likely one of our intelligence partners (Moussa Koussa) left the rendition documents behind to discomfort his former friends who were taking him down. There are still other documents I expect are out there showing, among other things, we had Ibn Sheikh al-Libi suicided.

    As to the consulate documents, I can think of several things. But generally, it’s safe to assume there were some insiders who were involved (or former insiders–two Libyans got fired in April). And I think these documents may be appearing to obscure who was behind the attack.

    I also think replacing some of these documents–such as the Stevens itinerary–might leave the impression that the attackers didn’t know the itinerary. I think that’s unlikely, given how the timing of the attack came shortly after Stevens returned to the Consulate the night of the attack.

    In other words, I think these documents may serve some disinformation purposes.

    That’s not to take away from the journalists in the least. It just says that anything can happen with unsecured locations, as these documents have all appeared in.

  3. Frank33 says:

    I guess everyone except the FBI has been sifting through TOP SECRET documents. All those spies and contractors, just ran away, abandoning their posts, and exposing secrets. An American Ambassador abandoned. An American consulate abandoned, and it continues to be abandoned due to security failures of the “Intelligence Community”. All the billions of dollars spent on worthless contractors. And maybe there are some other unsavory secrets remaining to be spilled

    And it is a miracle. TOP SECRET documents just blowing in the wind for anyone to pick up. Even more miraculous, Washington Post reporter discovered something. I blame Michael Hayden.

    TOP SECRET is not that important to the “Intelligence Community”, except, when persecuting American citizens trying to find the truth.

  4. greengiant says:

    Not much media bandwidth on Sean Smiths comment’s that the guards taking pictures made him nervous just hours before his death. His buddies on Eve on line knew where he was. Maybe there is a new 4 letter word,
    kext, as in kexting a picture of someone on a hit list. You would think the great NSA knows exactly from who and to whom those pictures were sent.

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-09-12-us-official-killed-in-syria-was-a-senior-eve-online-player

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/09/vilerat/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/libya-attack-victim-remem_n_1879047.html

    At least the WAPO was covering the flip-flop-flip of the administration’s was this just maybe a “planned attack”.

    Which makes the reason for the Sunday flop to spontaneous blah blah blah even more insidious. Mittens will drop a dime on Obama in a few minutes. Why did they send Rice out on a sure to be caught lying mission? Just so Rummy and Mittens could use her for a punching bag?
    Did Gates dust bomb Obama and the entire West Wing?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/news-agencies-us-ambassador-to-libya-killed-in-attack-outside-consulate/2012/09/12/665de5fc-fcc4-11e1-a31e-804fccb658f9_story.html

  5. greengiant says:

    Yes that maybe it, Obama will fire Gates for “cause” in the next 4 weeks. Chicago politics.

  6. ღℨḉℌїℯḟ says:

    OT–

    Asher Wolf [email protected]_Wolf
    The #CryptoParty hand book, available as a free PDF http://hostb.org/97/download or not-for-profit hardback http://www.lulu.com/shop/the-contributors/the-cryptoparty-handbook/paperback/product-20427875.html
    5:26 PM – 3 Oct 12 · Details

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