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Rand Paul Is Not a Conspiracy Theorist

Hayes Brown thinks Senator Rand Paul is indulging in conspiracy theory mongering because he asked Secretary Clinton about the possibility that the U.S. used its consulate in Libya to funnel weapons into Turkey and eventually Syria:

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.

Look, I do not traffic in "Glenn Beck-inspired conspiracy theories" but this dismissal is just a wee bit threadbare. Is it a self-evidently crackpot idea that the U.S. government would secretly funnel weapons to insurgents in other parts of the world? Um, no. It was a fairly standard American practice throughout the Cold War. In fact, the Obama administration is arming multiple "allies" in both Africa and the Middle East as we speak. It is "coordinating" with Gulf state allies to provide arms to Syria's rebels in their quest to overthrow the Assad regime. Is it really that much of a stretch to think that the U.S. is quietly getting arms to the Syrian rebels directly as well?

The only evidence Hayes musters to dispute the theory is that the Obama administration said it isn't. And we all know that no U.S. administration would lie about this kind of thing.

Seriously, I have no idea what happened in Benghazi any more than Hayes does. I'm not very interested in what the administration's talking points were, or should have been. But if the U.S. was using Libya to smuggle weapons into Syria, it's something the American people should know about.