Could New Book, Blocked By CIA, Shed Light on Tripoli Escape Mystery?


The CIA is blocking the publication of a book written by a former agency official that could potentially shed light on a lingering mystery related to the dramatic 2014 overland evacuation of U.S. officials from Tripoli, Libya.

S.M. Carlson, who served in the DIA and then the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center before leaving the agency in 2015, is about to file a lawsuit against the CIA after it purportedly revoked twice-given permission to publish her book, according to a report by The Daily Beast.

As The Daily Beast noted, Carlson has previously written publicly about Libya -- pieces that were reportedly approved by the CIA prior to publication -- including one article that referred to a "harrowing, all-out, 26-hour U.S. evacuation" of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya in July 2014. A description for Carlson in another article says she "helped conduct the full-scale U.S. evacuation."

Carlson told The Daily Beast she started writing the book soon after the incident.

While Carlson offered scant details, her book presumably has the potential to answer at least one question about the evacuation operation: What went wrong?

The 2014 ordeal was viewed as a success at the time, but as I noted in an ABC News report in August 2015, investigators with the State Department's Office of Inspector General (OIG) later uncovered "an issue related to the July 2014 evacuation... requiring immediate action by the Department of State."

From the ABC News report

The alert doesn’t describe the ‘issue’ except to say the embassy ‘did not adequately prepare for or execute all aspects of its July 2014 evacuation’ and that the OIG made recommendations ‘intended to promote the development and execution of effective EAPs [Emergency Action Plans) worldwide and to prompt practicable actions to address deficiencies associated with the evacuation of Embassy Tripoli.’

An official with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security declined to explain further, telling ABC News that OIG’s full report is classified and is being reviewed. A representative for the OIG declined to comment.

At the time, ABC News requested that the State Department conduct a declassification review for the full report from which the deficiencies made public were taken, but two months later, the department denied it. The government argued the original report contained too much sensitive information to be released, even in a partially redacted form.

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