60 Minutes Writes the Final (?) Installment of the Benghazi Left Behind Novels

60 Minutes Left Behind NovelThe very last scene of 60 Minutes’ now-discredited “scoop” on Benghazi — in which the Project Manager (alternately described as the Security Manager) for the project, whom 60 Minutes names Morgan Jones and WaPo names Dylan Davies describes his own heroism that didn’t appear in the official report — features a 60 Minutes cameraman “discovering” Ambassador Chris Stevens’ itinerary for September 12.

The discovery is just the latest in a series of what I call “Left Behind” novels associated with the Benghazi story — the remarkable discovery by media outlets of paper documents left behind the scene of the crime. Other instances are:

And now we’re supposed to believe that over two years a year after the attack on Benghazi, journalists are still finding paper documents that magically survived a fire that killed State IT guy Sean Smith and would lead to the death of Chris Stevens.

WaPo version of Stevens Itinerary What’s interesting is this latest Left Behind novel purports to be one of the very same documents the WaPo found on October 3 — Chris Stevens’ itinerary. Except it differs in content, showing Stevens meeting with the Arabian Gulf Oil Company rather than the Italian Consul.

There’s nothing inherently suspicious about there being two different versions of Stevens’ itinerary. The WaPo version includes hand-written additions, as if it were a draft. But I do find it remarkable that these documents keep appearing in a compound that got devastated by fire and then lay unguarded for years.

Oh. One more thing. Almost every single document that was “found” by these journalists could have been a Blue Mountain Group document. Except, of course, Chris Stevens’ diary.

But I’ll come back to that in a later post.

Meanwhile, something major seems to be missing from the narrative of Dylan Davies AKA Morgan Jones.

In the latest narrative, he’s the one who “trained” security guards at the compound. Elsewhere, his role might better be described as the one who hired locals with zero fighting experience and paid them so little they would be easy to buy off and over five months on the ground never fixed this obvious problem. He’s also the one who hired two guys who earlier in the summer just happened to attack the compound.

Blue Mountain hired about 20 Libyan men – including some who say they had minimal training – to screen visitors and help patrol the mission at Benghazi, according to Reuters interviews.

Some of the guards sustained injuries and said they were ill-prepared to protect themselves or others when heavily armed militants last month stormed the rented villa that was serving as the mission.

They also described being hired by Blue Mountain after a casual recruiting and screening process.

State Department security officials had their own concerns about some of the guards at the mission months before the recent attack, according to emails obtained by Reuters this week. One guard who had been recently fired and another on the company’s payroll were suspected of throwing a homemade bomb into the U.S. compound in April. They were questioned but not charged.

[snip]

Several of Blue Mountain’s Libyan employees told Reuters that they had no prior security training or experience.

“I was never a revolutionary or a fighter, I have never picked up a weapon during the war or after it,” said Abdelaziz al-Majbiri, 28, who was shot in the legs during the September 11 assault.

The Libyan commander in charge of the local guards at the mission was a former English teacher who said he heard about Blue Mountain from a neighbor. “I don’t have a background in security, I’ve never held a gun in my life,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety.

When hired, the commander said he was told “you have great English and get along with everyone and are punctual; we want you to be a guard commander.”

Whatever else Blue Mountain Group was — and I think that remains an active question — it was a contractor that provided guard service that might be tailor made to make this kind of attack on the compound easy as pie. I’m flabbergasted that this hasn’t been a more central part of efforts to figure out who Dylan Davies AKA Morgan Jones is and why he might be coming forward with a dramatically different story now.

One final point, for now.

For no apparent reason, 60 Minutes explains that Dylan Davies AKA Morgan Jones went to the compound the day after the attack and took this picture, which he reportedly gave to the FBI.

Morgan Jones Souvenir Shot

60 Minutes says that one of its team members (whose role it doesn’t elucidate) went to the compound earlier last month and took footage, including this image.

60 Minutes Current View

 

I’m not saying these are the same picture. They differ in some interesting ways, even setting aside time of day.

But these should depict what happens to an unguarded compounded between a time just hours after a brutal attack and a time over two years a year later. Let me know in comments what you think of these pictures.

Update: As a number of people have noted, 60 Minutes pitched Dylan Davies AKA Morgan Jones’ story in conjunction with the publication of his book on the topic. The book was published by Simon and Schuster’s Threshold Edition. Yet not even Media Matters’ coverage of this notes that Threshold is Mary Matalin’s imprint.

Update: Two year/one year problem fixed.

In other words we’re seeing the very same tactics we saw used in the Iraq War coming out of an imprint run by one of Dick Cheney’s top propagandists.

 

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.

19 replies
  1. Noah says:

    Pepsi picked up their machine through what used to be a sliding glass door. The bush in doorway in back is pink in 60min photo, green in recent. All in all, the place looks to be an afterthought. Why are we continuing the practice of contracting shotty security? Are these contractors actually double agents acting on behalf of another state or even MNC?

  2. Frank33 says:

    A secretive British company is hired to protect American Ambassadors. Who got bribes for that outsourced Fail Whale? US Marines previously protected diplomats before the New World Order declared War against the World. Would Marines abandon an Ambassador? I do not think so. Would Marines run away like scared rabbits, as the thirty five CIA agents and contractors ran away from Benghazi? I do not think so.

    We have too many neo-con conspiracies as it is. After 9-11, 2012, the vast right wing echo chamber, from Fox propaganda and Ollie North to Mittens Romney, began Benghazi frenzy to impeach a President. There are many unexplained events, with the Petraeus/Nuland talking points and weird Youtube video. One might speculate that perhaps Stevens was assassinated by his bodyguards as part of another neo-con False Flag Op against Obama.

  3. RexFlex says:

    I dragged both to my desktop and opened them in PS and they are both pngs or simple screen captures. They might be pulled from video. The bottom one is a lot smaller in file size, thus fidelity than the top one which can be determined by several variables, but pngs have no metadata on them so all we really know is that they are pngs. My 2 cents.

  4. liberalrob says:

    “There’s nothing inherently suspicious about there being two different versions of Stevens’ itinerary. The WaPo version includes hand-written additions, as if it were a draft.”

    Entirely possible. Also, note the timestamps on the itineraries. The 60 Minutes one says 17:27, the WaPo one says 22:01. Maybe the Italian Consul backed out on his meeting, or got bumped by AGOCO.

  5. emptywheel says:

    @liberalrob: Thanks for pointing out the timestamps.

    Then the handwritten notes couldn’t reflect draft notes in advance of the 60 Minutes version.

  6. JWL says:

    I asked this question earlier today at C&L’s, and have yet to receive an answer. Does anyone hereabouts know?

    “Why did 60 Minutes see fit to extend this clown an alias? Was that explained on air”?

  7. TGuerrant says:

    About an hour ago, 60 Minutes posted this on its site:

    60 Minutes reviewing account of Morgan Jones on Benghazi

    60 minutes has learned of new information that undercuts the account told to us by Morgan Jones of his actions on the night of the attack on the Benghazi compound.

    We are currently looking into this serious matter to determine if he misled us, and if so, we will make a correction.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57611428/60-minutes-reviewing-account-of-morgan-jones-on-benghazi/

  8. TGuerrant says:

    And the New York Times states tonight:

    Dylan Davies, a security officer hired to help protect the United States Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, told the F.B.I. he did not go there the night terrorists attacked it on Sept. 11, 2012, an account that contradicts a version of events he gave in a recently published book and in an interview to the CBS News program “60 Minutes.”

    The information he provided in an F.B.I. interview was described Thursday by two senior government officials as completely consistent with an incident report by the Blue Mountain security business, which had been hired to protect United States interests in Benghazi. The officials who spoke said they had been briefed on the government investigation.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/business/media/accounts-differ-to-fbi-and-cbs-on-benghazi.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

  9. JWL says:

    T. Guerrant: Thanks for that update.

    By the way, do you know why 60 Minutes saw fit to accord their “source” an alias? I didn’t watch the report, and find it curious they chose to do so in this digital age.

  10. TGuerrant says:

    Regarding the photographs, CBS seems to have shuttered it’s “coverage,” but an image of theirs of what appears to be that room still comes up (note the square, interior column and the flowering bush):

    http://i.i.cbsi.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim2/2013/10/26/Benghazi07%2BMain1920_620x350.jpg

    The Daily Mail has another view of the room taken by an AP photographer at the time of the incident that has a couple of similarities to the Davies shot above – bush isn’t in bloom and the long white strip in the rubble on the floor is in the same spot:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2226160/Benghazi-Murdered-Ambassador-Chris-Stevens-warned-Consulate-withstand-coordinated-attack.html

    Another shot of what looks like the same room around the same time, but the angle is more to the photographer’s left (I found a smaller version of this shot on the Deseret News site attributed to Ibrahim Alaguri, Associated Press):

    http://images.military.com/media/news/conflicts/benghazi-debris-600×400.jpg

    By Mohammed Hannon/AP:

    http://www.cnsnews.com/image/benghazi-12

    Reuters and AFP images here – no similar shots of that room, but showing conditions in the compound soon after the incident:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2201780/Christopher-Stevens-death-US-ambassador-killed-attack-Libya.html

    Gianluigi Guercia, AFP:

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/05/benghazi-hearing.html

    I’d say the Davies shot was made around the same time as the wire service photographers’ – no flowers on the bush, that long white strip in the rubble. Can you point out anything in particular that’s off between the Davies image and the wire service images?

  11. emptywheel says:

    Btw, 60 Minutes has pulled the story after NYT reported that “Morgan Jones” told the same story to the FBI as in the Blue Mountain Group statement.

  12. TGuerrant says:

    @JWL: I haven’t watched the segment and it, ahem, appears to be unavailable just now for some reason.

    But CBS’s publishing arm had printed “Morgan Jones” on the covers of all those books it hoped to sell starting two days after the segment aired, so I suppose 60 Minutes might have felt it was only polite to use the pseudonym of the source its crew had come to admire during the year it dealt with him. From Media Matters:

    Asked in a CBSNews.com Q&A about why Davies (identified by CBS with the pseudonym “Morgan Jones”) had decided to speak with the network, Logan said he “is tortured by guilt that he was not able to save his friends in the U.S. Compound, that he wasn’t able to save Sean Smith’s life or Amb. Stevens’ life.”

    “That may sound ridiculous to people who couldn’t think of anything more insane than rushing towards a burning building that is overrun with al Qaeda terrorists,” Logan continued, “but Morgan Jones is the kind of man who would do that and who did do that. And when he failed the first time, he went back again.”

    See? She knew just what kind of man he was! Can’t have a grand bloke like that offed by some roving jihadist, now can we?

  13. emptywheel says:

    @JWL: He SAID later that he feared for his safety, which was nutty bc 1) he had already been quoted, last year, under the Davies name (which I’m not going to assume is his real name either and 2) his co-workers all gave up the Davis name.

    But I suspect it was done to make it harder to Google him. Not sure whether HE made taht decision or Simon & Schuster (AKA Mary Matalin).

Comments are closed.