Obama Admin Approved Arms For Libyan Rebels Ended Up Going to Militants

Evidence has surfaced that weapons approved by the Obama administration, for rebels in Libya, ended up in the hands of Islamic militants. C.I.A. officers in Libya during the tumult of the rebellion, provided little oversight of the arms shipments and within weeks of endorsing Qatar’s plan to send weapons there in spring 2011, there were reports that they were going to Islamic militant groups. Weapons were also shipped from the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar, a tiny nation whose natural gas reserves have made it enormously wealthy, for years has tried to expand its influence in the Arab world. Since 2011, with dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa coming under siege, Qatar has given arms and money to various opposition and militant groups, chiefly Sunni Islamists, in hopes of cementing alliances with the new governments.

“To do this right, you have to have on-the-ground intelligence and you have to have experience,” said Vali Nasr, a former State Department adviser. “If you rely on a country that doesn’t have those things, you are really flying blind. When you have an intermediary, you are going to lose control.”

Mahmoud Jibril, then the prime minister of the Libyan transitional government, expressed frustration to administration officials that the United States was allowing Qatar to arm extremist groups opposed to the new leadership, according to several anonymous American officials. The administration has never determined where all of the weapons went inside Libya, officials said.

Some of the machine guns, automatic rifles, and ammunition are believed to have gone to militants with ties to Al Qaeda in Mali while several American and foreign officials and arms traders say some of the weapons have ended up in Syria.

The United Arab Emirates first asked the Obama administration for permission to ship American built weapons, supplied to the UAE, during the early months of the Libyan uprising. The administration instead urged the emirates to ship weapons to Libya that could not be traced to the United States.

“The U.A.E. was asking for clearance to send U.S. weapons,” said one former official. “We told them it’s O.K. to ship other weapons.”

“Nobody knew exactly who they were,” said one former defense official. The Qataris are “supposedly good allies, but the Islamists they support are not in our interest.”

No evidence has yet surfaced that any weapons went to Ansar al-Shariah, an extremist group blamed for the Benghazi attack.

 

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U.S. Intelligence Agencies Have No Evidence That Iran is Building a Bomb

Recent assessments by U.S. spy agencies have remained consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that found that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years early. Officials say that 2007 assessment was reaffirmed in a 2010National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.

There is agreement among American, Israeli and European intelligence officials that Iran has been enriching nuclear fuel and developing the necessary infrastructure to become a nuclear power. What is supposedly unclear though is whether Iran will resume their program, which was halted in 03, to develop a nuclear warhead. Iranian officials maintain that their nuclear program is for civilian purposes.

In Senate testimony on Jan. 31, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, stated that U.S. officials believe that Iran is preserving its options for a nuclear weapon, but that there was no evidence that it had made a decision one way of the other.

“They are certainly moving on that path, but we don’t believe they have actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Clapper told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have made similar statements in recent television appearances.

Israeli officials have challenged the 2007 intelligence assessment, saying they do not believe that Iran ever fully halted its work on a weapons program.

U.S. analysts acknowledge that these assessments are based on limited information. David A. Kay, who was head of the C.I.A.’s team that searched for Iraq’s weapons programs after the United States invasion, was cautious about the quality of the intelligence of the current American assessment.

“They don’t have evidence that Iran has made a decision to build a bomb, and that reflects a real gap in the intelligence,” Mr. Kay said. “It’s true the evidence hasn’t changed very much” since 2007, he added. “But that reflects a lack of access and a lack of intelligence as much as anything.”

Despite clear evidence of a weapons program Iran’s enrichment activities have raised suspicions, even among skeptics.

“What has been driving the discussion has been the enrichment activity,” said one former intelligence official. “That’s made everybody nervous. So the Iranians continue to contribute to the suspicions about what they are trying to do.”

 

 

 

BIJ Report: U.S. Drones Used to Target Rescuers/Funerals

According to British and Pakistani journalists, the C.I.A. has been using drones to target rescuers who respond to the scene of an initial strike, as well as killing mourners at subsequent funerals.

The report, by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, states that at least 50 civilians have been killed in follow-up strikes after they attempted to help those hit by a drone  missile. The bureau also says that more than 20 civilians have been killed in strikes on funerals.

The bureau interviewed several witnesses to strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, but American officials question the accuracy of such claims. They assert that accounts might be made up by militants or falsely confirmed by residents who fear retaliation; not an admission of guilt nor a statement of denial.

Since President Obama took office, BIJ counted 260 strikes by Predator and Reaper drones in which 282 to 535 civilians had been “credibly reported” killed, including more than 60 children. American officials said that the number was much too high, though acknowledged that at least several dozen civilians have been killed in strikes aimed at militant suspects.

A senior American counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, questioned the report’s findings, saying “targeting decisions are the product of intensive intelligence collection and observation.” The official added: “One must wonder why an effort that has so carefully gone after terrorists who plot to kill civilians has been subjected to so much misinformation. Let’s be under no illusions — there are a number of elements who would like nothing more than to malign these efforts and help Al Qaeda succeed.”

The drone campaign is classified as top secret, and Obama administration officials have refused to make public even the much-disputed legal opinions underpinning it.

But Mr. Obama spoke about the program in an online appearance last week.

“I want to make sure that people understand: actually, drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties,” he said in the forum on YouTube. “For the most part they have been very precise precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates.” He called the strikes “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists.” For the most part.

American officials familiar with the rules governing the strikes and who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that many missiles had been fired at groups of suspected militants who are not on any list. These so-called signature strikes are based on assessments that men carrying weapons or in a militant compound are legitimate targets.

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