- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Congressional testimony from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday provided no new information about the CIA’s covert operation in Benghazi involving weapons shipments.

Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing on the deadly Sept. 11 Benghazi terrorist attack, she sidestepped questions about a CIA operation to send arms from Libya to Turkey or other countries in the region.

The CIA was operating a compound with more than a dozen operatives about a mile from the diplomatic outpost that was attacked by al Qaeda-linked terrorists, who killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stephens. Two contractors from the CIA compound who tried to rescue the ambassador were among the dead.

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, asked Mrs. Clinton if “the U.S. [is] involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?”

A surprised Mrs. Clinton initially responded: “To Turkey?”

“I will have to take that question for the record,” she said. “That’s — I — nobody’s ever raised that with me.”

Mr. Paul said news reports indicated that ships had left Libya that might be carrying weapons.

“And what I’d 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, any countries, Turkey included?” he asked.

Mrs. Clinton said: “Well, senator, you’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex, and I will see what information is available.”

“You’re saying you don’t know?” Mr. Paul asked.

“I do not know. I don’t have any information on that,” she responded.

Details of the CIA operation could not be learned. A U.S. official said the operation was set up last year to try to procure or control weapons that could be used by terrorists that had been taken from the armed forces of the former regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

A U.S. military official said the new Libyan regime was very supportive of Syria’s rebels fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Watching Hagel reaction

U.S. intelligence agencies have been monitoring international reaction to the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense. What the monitoring shows is that Iran and China are favoring a Hagel-led Pentagon, while officials in Israel are viewing the prospect with concern.

Story Continues →