Meet the ex-spy behind the Benghazi memos

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A former CIA officer who publicly criticized the Iraq War was the author of emails that Sidney Blumenthal forwarded to Hillary Clinton about Libya and the 2012 siege in Benghazi.

The authorship of Tyler Drumheller was revealed after the House Select Committee on Benghazi conducted a marathon, nine-hour deposition with Blumenthal.

{mosads}Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the leader of the Benghazi panel, confirmed Drumheller was behind the memos and said on Fox News’s “The Kelly File” that Blumenthal “was merely a conduit between somebody who may have had a financial interest in Libya and our nation’s top diplomat.”

Drumheller may be called in to testify before the panel, Gowdy hinted.

“I’m interested in the reliability of the underlying information that was being presented to our top diplomat,” Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, told reporters Tuesday night.

Now a consultant, Drumheller spent decades as a top officer within the CIA, including time as the head of covert actions in Europe. During that time, he claimed to have been skeptical of the Bush administration’s claims that intelligence analysis showed Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction.

Reports about Iraqis buying tons of yellowcake uranium from Niger “didn’t hold together” Drumheller said on CBS’s “60 Minutes” in 2006. He also claimed to have sounded the alarm internally about an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball who gave faulty intelligence to the U.S., though those warnings appear to have been ignored.

Drumheller resigned from the CIA in 2005 and moved to the nebulous world of private intelligence consulting.

He started his own firm, Tyler Drumheller LLC, and has occasionally worked with Alphom Group, a consulting firm based in Virginia. The Alphom Group, which was founded by a 36-year veteran of the CIA, promises “first hand, in-depth intelligence for the business world.”

Drumheller did not respond to an email from The Hill about his work in Libya in 2012.

William Murray, the founder of
Alphom Group, said that Drumheller’s work in Libya was not done with his company, but he nonetheless defended the memos that were forwarded to Clinton.

“We are consultants. We provide consulting services to people,” Murray told The Hill. “I personally am frequently asked by members of Congress, among others, on input about Libya. … I answer those questions if appointed or elected officials ask me.

“I do it as a part of good citizenship, not for business purposes. I think Tyler was doing exactly the same thing,” he added.

Blumenthal was a fan of Drumheller’s, and wrote a 2007 article in Salon praising his criticism of the Bush White House over Iraq. 

The ties between the two extend back for years, according to stolen emails posted on the Internet by the hacker Guccifer in 2013. As far back as 2011, Blumenthal and Drumheller discussed plans to pay $60,000 to send four men to Tunisia for a week, according to a report in ProPublica and Gawker. 

For the Benghazi panel, Drumheller’s involvement opened a new line of inquiry into the 2012 attacks. Democrats say the panel is on a “witch hunt” against Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination next year. 

“We are so far from what this select committee was supposed to be all about. It’s incredible. This can go on forever,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the panel’s ranking member, noting that the more than yearlong probe has already cost around $3.5 million.

“I don’t really see what relevance Mr. Blumenthal’s emails have, nor what reports he was forwarding on to the events that happened in Benghazi on that tragic night,” added Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), a member of the select committee who doubles as the top Democrat on the Intelligence panel. “They may or not be of interest to the Republican National Committee and they should be free to run with it however they want, but this is not an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars.”

On Tuesday night, Gowdy brushed off criticism that the panel’s investigation was straying off course.

“We’re investigating what led to the attacks, including whether our policies had a role in that,” Gowdy said. “We’re not limited to the 24 hours before and after Benghazi.”

Tags Adam Schiff Hillary Clinton Trey Gowdy
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