Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) used today’s hearing on the Benghazi attack to confront Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about a conspiracy theory involving moving guns from Libya to Syrian rebels.
Paul, a new member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wasted no time in making a mark on the proceedings. After informing Secretary Clinton that he would have fired her for her role in the response to the attack, Paul came seemingly out of nowhere to ask Clinton about Turkey. “Is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?” he asked.
A clearly confused Clinton responded to the best of her ability:
CLINTON: To Turkey? I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody has ever raised that with me.
PAUL: It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that they may have 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?
Watch their exchange here:
Clinton responded that Paul would have to take up his question with “the agency running the annex,” an oblique reference to the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency was operating out of the building in question. Paul’s inquiry about Turkey seems less odd if you’re familiar with Glenn Beck-inspired conspiracy theories that have been circulating among right-wing websites since the attacks in Libya.
The theory goes that Ambassador Chris Stevens — who was killed during the attack — was deeply involved in the CIA project of gathering loose arms in Libya in the aftermath of Moammar Qaddafi’s downfall. Stevens then facilitated the movement of those arms from Libya to Turkey, where they then went on to Syria. The secrecy involved in moving those weapons under the table is part of why the Obama administration covered up the truth of the attack, according to the theory, which even Fox News has helped spread.
The Obama administration has repeatedly said that it will not be providing arms to the rebels in Syria, which this theory claims to counter. While the CIA was involved with helping round up the loose arms that were rampant in Libya, there is no evidence that Stevens or the State Department was involved in the operation, nor that the arms were then shipped to Syria. That Sen. Paul would use his first hearing on the Foreign Relations Committee to push this theory, despite the fact even if it were true it would fall outside of Secretary Clinton’s purview, does not say great things about his future on the body.