A Definite Review of "Benghazi: The Definitive Report" or "The Only Thing Definitive About This, Is The Review"
This is a review of the book titled "Benghazi: The Definitive Report" an Amazon e-book by SOFREP founders Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy
In order to effectively assess the causes of a tragedy like Benghazi, one needs to have deep domain expertise in both Military and Intelligence Community Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), relationships, decision processes, and/or be a skilled investigative reporter with access to real sources in those arenas. To approach this from any other angle is to do a disservice to those who died, and those who had to make tough decisions on the spot. To my understanding, while the authors have experience in the SOF community, it is very apparent that their interaction with the IC at significant levels is lacking.
This review is ONLY meant to convey my disappointment of a book that could have shed light on a horrible event and honored those that were taken from us way too early. This is NOT meant to take anything away from the Great Americans who gave their lives in a shit hole 1000's of miles away doing something they truly cared about. I also want to point out that while I do criticize SOFREP founders Webb and Jack Murphy when they venture into the intelligence community topics acting like experts, I respect their service and their expertise in SOF matters.
Benghazi: The Definitive Report... So after trying 12 times to read this book, I finally got through it. While the first 5 chapters are so full of if this-then-this statements that, when set one after another, creates a imaginary world where the author(s) want the reader to live in. I lost track of how many times I read the phrase "more than likely" or the word "likely" when insinuating they knew exactly what was happening. It was hard to read when the author(s) state something as fact then write "or at the very least" which reveals their "fact" is merely an assumption. The worst part of this whole book is that, aside from some legitimate commentary (mentioned below), the entire "Definitive Report" is based on those "likely" assumptions. Unfortunately there is no coherent trail for their storyline but a guess would be that it can be attributed to a buddy in X agency or office that told them (of which at best had cursory info on the topic) there are a few chapters with relevance to the systemic issue ultimately felt by our people in Benghazi, Libya that night. The most accurate segments of the book are the appendices which cover a history of Libya and the bios of the four great Americans we lost that night.
I covered chapters 1 through 5 so I'll concentrate on chapter 6. In this chapter I found a few coherent and rational insights such as Brennan's use of JSOC and lack of mission read-ins for pertinent parties. I also found an honestly realistic view of how our national news outlets complete disregard for fact-checking in place of headlines and ratings (if you don't see that, stop reading this). Finally, while not explicitly called out, the book touches on, in my opinion, is the major issue affecting the IC and what the DNI was supposed to correct: a clearinghouse/deconfliction administration to ensure that the right agencies have the right intel. Instead, the DNI has been preoccupied with setting up yet another intel agency to pay any attention to checking off the many recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission (jumping down off my soapbox).
All that said, they still fall extremely short on any claim to all encompassing legitimacy... It is very clear that short of a possible "source" within Global Response Staff (GRS) they know shit about actual Agency operations, relationships, and approval processes. Also, the premise that DoD stopped sharing intel with the Agency and vice-versa is as ridiculous as the authors’ delusions of grandeur. With first-hand experience on this specific topic, I believe that we share more now than ever before. The reason for this is not because the Agency has become more paramilitary than before and strayed from their traditional role of intelligence collection, rather the nature of the threat, requires a joint effort. Try to remember one thing... Since it's inception, the CIA has held a 3 part charter - Intelligence Collection, Intelligence Analysis, and COVERT ACTION... Since 1947... Have Agency paramilitary operations increased since the GWOT? I’m sure they have but it happens every time we get into a war such as World War II, The Korean Conflict, Vietnam, etc... Obviously priorities shift with global events and crises which requires that we focus efforts on the primary objective at the time but the Agency doesn't get rid of the office responsible for, say, European Intel because there aren't terrorists there... Those offices always keep their European priorities regardless of what some Abu Douchebag in the Philippines does. That said, will they keep an eye out for possible terrorist connections? Who the hell wouldn't?? If someone wants to lay low they are going to go somewhere that normal people wouldn't look to conduct meetings, etc...
Anyway, back to my review. I do appreciate that they touch on the cause/affect of special mission impact on reg forces. This is very important to point out because every action has consequences. The actions that SOF/Paramilitary forces carry out, cause an enemy response which will impact the closest targets, whether those targets are regular forces or a US compound. I also appreciated their clear implication that, so many times the ambition and absurd rationale of our politicians wastes time, money, and great American lives simply to fulfill their desire to get ahead.
Bottom line: while this is NOT a Definitive Report, it touches a few more topics than the less publicized version. Aside from the obviously blatant assumptions and competitive Agency hating/bashing, the main points have been previously discussed in various outlets. The best recommendation I can give the public is if you buy this book, read it in reverse chapter order. Chapter 6 has some very valid points and in the few pages of rational and coherent text, you can almost see the beginnings of an investigative journalist. Then move to chapter. 5, then 4 and so on... It goes down hill the more chapters you read in that direction but still the best way to go.