Working through the continuing barrage of excuses, evasions, and lies regarding the events in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, one is baffled by the nature of the rationale behind them. Four American personnel, including our most senior diplomatic official, Ambassador Chris Stevens, were murdered that night, and yet the US government has done next to nothing in response, except to talk. The mind boggles at all the things that went wrong as a result of the recklessness, indecisiveness, politically motivated evasions, and plain incompetence that the Obama administration demonstrated from beginning to end.
What began on the night of September 11 broke in the following morning’s news and has continued to capture headlines on at least one major cable channel, FoxNews, if not in the mainstream news. Catherine Herridge, in particular, has done outstanding work bringing some of the critical information into the public conversation.
This is an important story, and it needs to be heard.
Immediately after the story broke, the first excuses followed: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, White House Spokesman Jay Carney, and Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice all announced that an obscure video insulting Mohammed was responsible for the attack, which was, they said, the outcome of a “spontaneous demonstration” that had gotten out of hand. All the President’s representatives continued to promote that mantra for nearly two weeks following the attack, even though the news coming out of Benghazi was telling quite a different story.
One of the first contradictions to be revealed was that there had not been any demonstration at the consulate that day. Videos confirmed it, as did witnesses in Benghazi. From the beginning, it was clear to those familiar with terrorism that the attack was not random, that the attackers had come well prepared for a serious fire fight, bringing heavy weapons to the scene, and launching a well- organized military action against the consulate, and then later, against the CIA Annex a mile away.
It took nearly two weeks after the event before Carney would admit that it wasn’t actually the video that inspired the attack, it was terrorism. But he qualified his statement that the earlier reports were simply based on the limited information that they had had at the time.
Another question then arose: if the attack lasted for seven hours, why was no military support brought to bear that might have saved the lives of the four Americans? Panetta explained, that there was no “real-time information” at the time . . . . You don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on. . . . (We) felt we could not put forces at risk in that situation.”
But the bits and pieces of information continued to trickle out. And the emerging truth was far more damning than the fabricated story, because it caught the administration in one lie after another.
Reuters acquired the text of a number of e-mails exchanged between the diplomatic mission in Libya and Washington. These revealed multiple requests for security at the consulate, shredding the idea that the 9/11 attacks came as a surprise either to the State Department or to the people on the ground in Libya. This report was supported by others that on June 6, terrorists planted a bomb that blew a six foot hole in the consulate compound’s wall. For those who study terrorist tactics, it was clear that this was a test to see what the US response would be. They may have been surprised to find that there was no response at all, but this told them that they could move their offensive to the next level. The State Department should have known this, as well.
As we continued to get bits of new information, we learned about two heroic ex-SEALs, Tyrone Woods, 41, and Glen Doherty, 42, who were not attached to the Ambassador, and were, at the time of the attack, over a mile away in the CIA Annex when the attack began. Once they became aware of the fighting, however, they sent urgent requests to Washington for military support, not once but three times during that night. Each time, even as the attacks were in full force against their own positions, they were summarily denied and told to “stand down”.
Characteristically, they refused to do so. They went into the fire fight on their own, without the backup they counted on. First they drove to the consulate under heavy fire, and rescued as many people from the burning buildings as they could. Then they defended the CIA Annex against the heavily armed terrorist force, without the support they desperately needed but thought must be coming. They even targeted the terrorists with laser dots so that incoming planes could differentiate the good guys from the bad guys. They died fighting for the America that sent them there, which then refused to come to their aid and left them to die.
With this news out, a new round of excuses, evasions, and lies began. Claims and counterclaims clamored for attention.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the reason there was no support was that there weren’t any military resources close enough to respond in time. Not true. We later learned from confidential sources that Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette, who commanded an aircraft carrier strike group in the Middle East, was standing by in the Mediterranean on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier John C Stennis. On board were two jets and two helicopters loaded with 40 marines, ready and waiting for their orders to deploy to Benghazi to rescue the consulate personnel. The orders never came. Admiral Gaouette is being returned to the United States for temporary reassignment.
The Navy has released a statement saying that it had approved a request to temporarily reassign Gaouette “pending the results of an investigation by the Navy Inspector General.” He is now the subject of an internal investigation into undisclosed allegations of “inappropriate leadership judgment”.
Panetta said that there was no “real-time information” on which to base critical decisions. Also not true. The Situation Room in the White House was full that night and all the participants, including Panetta, were watching the attacks unfold through video transmitted from a drone flying over Benghazi in real time. Panetta – and everyone else in the room – knew what was going on in Benghazi that night, and he had all the information he needed to call in the necessary reinforcements.
Or maybe not. Latest reports today, November 1, say that there was no meeting at all, suggesting that everyone in the positions of responsibility, around and including the President, dropped the ball. This is another piece of the patchwork of intelligence that needs to be clarified to the American people, but the President refuses to do so.
Denials of the denials followed. General Dempsey denied that any orders to stand down were given that night, the Pentagon denied that General Ham had been relieved of his command because of Benghazi, and President Obama denied that he had fallen down on the job, saying that he had given direct orders to do “everything necessary” to save the Americans in Benghazi.
“Neither the President nor anyone in the White House denied any requests for assistance” in Benghazi, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Yahoo News by email.
“No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate,” said a CIA spokesman.
Then, President Obama took his statement one step further. “The minute I found out what was happening,” he said, “I gave three very clear directives.
“Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to.
Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again.
“Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the State Department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that [our] people were safe.”
If what Obama said is true, that he ordered security aid to the trapped Americans, then it must have been Secretary Panetta who never carried out those orders. But that leaves two problems. Either the commander-in-chief lied about his response to the attack, or the Secretary of Defense disobeyed a presidential order. Neither scenario makes the President look very good. Either the President was not, for whatever reason, able to make the decision to send in reinforcements for the Americans in Benghazi, or he is not in control of those who report to him. At the very least, there are far too many contradictions for comfort.
The e-mails and Cables
In mid-October, e-mails were reported to have been acquired by Reuters News Service which revealed that earlier reports of the deteriorating situation in Benghazi and requests for more security had been sent to the State Department and rejected.
Then, on October 31, a new classified cable came to light sent to the State Department, reporting that we were losing control in Benghazi and requesting that the consulate be moved to the CIA Annex, where the final firefight took place. It listed ten terrorist organizations already operating in Benghazi, including al Qaeda and Anwar al Shariah, which were singled out by name. It reported that the 17th February Brigade, a Libyan group that was hired to protect the consulate, had been infiltrated by al Qaeda and could not be trusted. Finally, it said that the militias were everywhere and that the Libyan forces would not be able to protect the Consulate against an organized attack.
The cable, which was dated August 16, requested urgent security support. It was directed to the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as to several other offices, and signed by Ambassador Chris Stevens.
A second cable was sent on September 4, stating that the consulate was on high alert, and that they were losing control in Libya. It reported that al Qaeda flags were flying over government buildings and again requested more security.
Whether the cables were ignored or rejected speaks to the indifference of the people at the State Department to the urgent requests of their personnel in a high risk locations, who asked for enhanced security.
When the attack did occur, the 17th Brigade disappeared and, as predicted, were not on hand to protect the consulate officials. Repeated calls for backup during the attack itself were inexplicably turned down. The report that the Brigade had been infiltrated by al Qaeda gives rise to the logical conjecture that it was the Brigade itself that provided the terrorists with the intelligence they needed to succeed and there were reports immediately afterward that members of the Brigade were showing the terrorists where to go to find their targets, before they themselves fled the scene.
When is a consulate not a consulate?
Finally, another piece of information was reported in World News Daily: “that the building was not a consulate and at no point functioned as one. Instead, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East, according to Middle Eastern security officials.
“Among the tasks performed inside the building was collaborating with Arab countries on the recruitment of fighters – including jihadists – to target Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
“The distinction may help explain why there was no major public security presence at what has been described as a “consulate.” Such a presence would draw attention to the shabby, nondescript building that was allegedly used for such sensitive purposes.
“Since the mission was attacked last month, countless news media reports around the world have referred to the obscure post as a U.S. consulate. That theme continues to permeate the media, with articles daily referencing a “consulate” in Benghazi.
“US officials have been more careful in their rhetoric while not contradicting the media narrative that a consulate was attacked.”
“In his remarks on the attack, Obama has referred to the Benghazi post as a “U.S. mission.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has similarly called the post a “mission.”
What Conclusions Can We Draw from All This?
If you are confused by all the conflicting information and contradictory statements, you are not alone. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that there was, and continues to be, an incredible level of either incompetence or deep deception throughout the ranks of the current administration regarding the events at Benghazi on September 11. The reasons for this are difficult to fathom, since the American public have not been given a straight story from day one. Given the outcome, there is room to conclude that the malfeasance crosses far over any line that is acceptable and goes into areas of criminal negligence or what we may ultimately discover is malicious dereliction of duty.
We have not heard the last of this story, and we are still putting the pieces together in this very ugly puzzle. And new information is emerging every day, creating even more confusion. Even as conflicting stories continue to emerge, the President has refused to answer questions, discuss the issue, hold a press conference to enlighten both the media and the American people, or to take any responsive action in Libya whatever, until an investigation he has set up has made its report – after the election, no doubt. The mainstream media has largely refused to cover this story, and so a significant portion of the US population has not heard most of it. This is a pity because the American people need to be informed about the key issues that define the contest on which they will be voting.
The question for Americans next week will be this: Can the secrecy and the deceptions perpetrated by the administrations, or the confusion created by conflicting reports from various government officials which has permeated this story be considered acceptable? Or is this a demonstration of behavior that is so unacceptable that the elections next week should reflect the dissatisfaction of a nation whose best interests in the international arena are being served badly?
From the Editor: The lack of coverage by the mainstream media of this story is more than just reprehensible. This is an important and defining story that tells more about the current state of our foreign policy than any story in recent years. If you believe this story needs to get out, please forward this article to your e-mailing lists and let as many people as possible decide for themselves once they have more information. This election needs to be decided by people who have taken the trouble to inform themselves. If you think this article is relevant, please pass it on.