Preface & PostScript from Joan Neuhaus Schaan– Fellow in Homeland Security and Terrorism at James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University – During the course of my research, I review information from a wide variety of sources. While many sources attach a significant amount of ‘spin’ to the facts, I do not endorse ‘spin,’ but I am interested in the facts. My goal is to present a set of facts, so that the reader can relate the facts to their own experience and come to their own understanding of what is a contentious issue. Each of us comes to a set of facts with different experiences, and in sharing these experiences we shall all be the wiser.
If you would like more information on a topic, please contact me.
Email: neuhausj at rice.edu
Have you wondered to yourself in the last few weeks about the Benghazi attack that tragically killed four Americans and wounded others? Have you wondered why the Administration doggedly pursued the theme of the video in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Some theorize a cover-up was underway. Others worry about ineptitude. Could there be another factor? Perhaps there is: the Istanbul Process underway in the United Nations.
Start at the beginning. The news broke in the Middle East, with Al Jazeera footage of the attack site as early as the morning of Sept. 12th to international media here and here. Commentary came from one Libyan official and reporters in Qatar and Abu Dhabi. These initial reports gave many erroneous facts, such as there had been a protest of a video had been made by an American Jewish man, but interestingly the media already had photos and/or video from the attack. The point being, the story was orchestrated out of the Middle East and North Africa, and the attack was videotaped. This may indicate that the group attacking may have had a photographer/videographer to capture the attack, much as militants have done in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other facts may have been partially correct, such as the statement “Through the night and this morning there was a dragnet to find the people responsible and the bodies of the Americans.”
Given the statements of the security detail, at least one dragnet appeared aimed at capturing and killing the remaining Americans.
When President Obama first addressed the attack in Benghazi, there was a clear reference to the video. Secretary Clinton also referenced the video in her remarks that day, but she never implied the deaths were the result of a protest that went out of control. The Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security issued warnings of similar protests in the United States. Not even the original Cairo protest on Sept. 10th was about the months-old video, as Americans were led to believe. The Cairo protest on Sept. 11th was for the release of the Blind Sheikh, and the brother of the Blind Sheikh was in attendance along with the brother of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri, as reported here and here. President Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, had called for the release of the Blind Sheikh in his inaugural address. (A poster of the Blind Sheikh can be seen in the background at minute 00:45 of a video several days later here.)
There was no protest in Benghazi. Further, by September 17th, the president of Libya stated the attack was preplanned. he attack came shortly after an internet statement by Zawahiri to avenge the death of his chief deputy Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan. It was not until October 12th or 13th that Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of Al Qaeda, issued a statement that referenced the video as a basis for attacks.
So why on September 16th did U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice give seemingly inexplicable interviews to multiple news channels clearly stating the Benghazi deaths were the result of protests over a video? We now know the intelligence community and the State Department never believed there was a protest over the video. So where did the theory come from? Who in the Middle East with access to the media that wanted to use the tragedy to their advantage, and/or who in the administration who wanted to do the same?
Consider President Obama’s address to the United Nations on September 25th; he commented not only about America’s role in toppling its allied regimes in the nation (i.e. favoring corrupted regime change) and the video, but also on intolerance and that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” (minute 21:12) Why?
–Perhaps the narrative about the video was an attempt to bolster support for the Istanbul Process within the U.N. Perhaps this was the rationale for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations was put on the talk shows two days before the U.N. General Assembly convened. Or,
–perhaps this administration has a preference for pursuing goals through the United Nations, because the House of Representatives can be by-passed.
On Sept. 18th the 67 session of the United Nations General Assembly convened. If operating under the theory that no good crisis should go to waste, the focus on the video could be used to build support for the United Nations’ ‘Istanbul Process,’ a direct affront to the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution. What is the significance? There is an effort, (often referred to as the ‘Istanbul Process’), within the United Nations Human Rights Commission to limit free speech. The Istanbul Process seeks to criminalize blasphemy, particularly as it relates to discussing Islam, and to rewrite history books and other subjects in education. Through an effort called the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations, meetings were held in December 2011 in Doha and in June 2012 in Istanbul.The panelists in Doha included Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. (Note just last week the Muslim Brotherhood called for ‘holy jihad’ against Israel. Similar goals were expressed during election rallies for the presidential candidate Morsi.)
This attack on the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is not a new effort. The Association of World Education has been concerned about this effort for years. Since at least 2007, the Organization of Islamic Conference and Islamic countries have been working on an Islamic Charter of Human Rights following the guidance of the Cairo declaration of 1990 that was adopted in 1999. These documents are in conflict with the Universal Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations in 1948, which establishes that human rights are universal. Specifically, the recent efforts provide a special status for Shariah Law, even though the law does not afford the same rights to woman or persons of other faiths that it affords Muslim men. Therefore it does not fit the definition of ‘universal human rights.’ In the U.N. discussion link above, you will note that Islamic countries found it offensive to even discuss their religion in the United Nations, much less consider how the religion restricts the freedom of religion and freedom of expression. After several objections, the discussion was terminated.
A brief of summary of the Human Rights Council, the human rights weapon and the efforts to hijack the council can be found here. In 2008 the role of the Special Rapporteur for the freedom of expression was set on its head, from ensuring freedom of expression to policing abuses of the freedom of expression.
In 2010 there was a resolution called “Defamation of Religions,” which every Western democracy voted against, but was adopted. The opposition believed the incitement to violence should be criminalized (and are already covered in Article 19.3 and 20 of the ICCPR, but blasphemy should not. (The stance of the opposition to the Istanbul Process is exemplified here.) The resolution, however, only mentioned Islam, and no other religions, as if Islam is the only religion subject to defamation. Egypt stated in the Human Rights Council of September 2010 that the publication of the cartoons of Muhammad showed that freedom of speech may lead to the hurting of religious feelings of more than a billion people. Syria stated that the episode of freedom of opinion was used to insult hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world and to humiliate Islam. “Noting with deep concern the increasing trend in recent years of statements attacking religions, Muslims in particular…”
The religion appears to be given special consideration not afforded to other groups. In the current United Nations General Assembly elements of the Istanbul Process were up for discussion as items 67 and 69 in the September 2012 General Assembly session. (Unfortunately the attack on the 1st Amendment on the U.S. Constitution will be followed by the Arms Trade Treaty discussion (item 97 (b)), which threatens the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. )
This is just another thought to ponder as a nation tries to understand why certain elements of our government have spent so much time and effort trying to prevent the facts from coming to light. The Istanbul Process may well be a motivation. Whether it is a motivation for the administration’s treatment of the Benghazi attack or not, all Americans should be aware of the United Nations’ challenges to freedom of speech.
The nation owes a debt to those in Congress and the media that have worked so hard to see that the truth of our fallen Americans’ deaths is honored.