When I heard that there’s a very good chance that the White House as well as other members of the military knew what was going on, and obviously someone had to say, “Don’t go rescue them.” Because every person in the military, their first response is, “We’re going to go rescue them.” We need to find out who it was that gave that command.”
So who gave that command?
Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were part of a small team who were at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. Consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When they heard the shots fired, they radioed to inform their higher-ups to tell them what they were hearing. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. An hour later, they called again to headquarters and were again told to “stand down.”Now we know who is taking responsibility for denying support to the consulate and the safe house.
Woods, Doherty and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the Consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The quick reaction force from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the Consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.
At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.
The photo, which is the official one put out by DOD, from the press conference held by Panetta and General Dempsey is horribly eloquent in terms of body language.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the failure to go in by claiming that the issue was a lack of reliable intel, despite the fact that they had multiple distress calls and a drone overhead.
Although forces were on alert and ready to launch an operation if needed, the US military commander for Africa, General Carter Ham, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, and Panetta all decided against any intervention as they had no clear picture of events unfolding in Benghazi, he said.So the buck has been passed to Panetta and Dempsey and Ham. Dempsey is a soulless administration toady and Ham is deeply invested in Libya. Panetta is a Clintonite who is completely expendable, especially if the charges get pinned to Hillary. But Panetta still seems filled with self-loathing and Dempsey looks disgusted with him.
Not doing something because there is no intel is a common excuse in these circles when they don’t want to do something. Just as with Iran, there would never have been enough intel.
And how much intel was needed really? Benghazi had an extended profile and was the cause of the entire Libyan war. The consulate had an extensive intelligence apparatus and the declassified cables we’ve seen are a fraction of the actual classified cables that would have been at Panetta, Dempsey and Ham’s disposal.
They knew about the Islamist militias and had descriptions of their armament from the RSO’s reports. They didn’t know the exact number of attackers or every single possible detail, but you can never really know everything before going in.
“There’s a basic principle here, and the basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on, without having some real-time information about what’s taking place,” Panetta told a news conference.But there were already forces in harm’s way, who were trying to provide some real time intel from their point of view. What Panetta means is that the decision was made not to send aid to them, and it wasn’t about risking more lives, but about the politics of intervening in Libya and offending the Libyans. It was done for the same reason that US soldiers have at times been abandoned without air support in Afghanistan.
“I feel confident that our forces were alert and responsive to what was a very fluid situation,” General Dempsey said, which is one of those strange statements that leaders issue after a complete screw up.
The full transcript of the conference was fairly well hidden on the site, but turned up here, it shows the full exchanges.
Q: Can I follow up on that? One of the reasons we’ve heard that there wasn’t a more robust response right away is that there wasn’t a clear intelligence picture over Benghazi, to give you the idea of where to put what forces.
But when there was, in fact, a drone over the CIA annex and there were intelligence officials fighting inside the annex, I guess the big question is, with those two combined assets, why there wasn’t a clear intelligence picture that would have given you what you needed to make some moves, for instance, flying, you know, F-16s over the area to disperse fighters or — or dropping more special forces in.
SEC. PANETTA: You know, let me — let me speak to that, because I’m sure there’s going to be — there’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on here.
We — we quickly responded, as General Dempsey said, in terms of deploying forces to the region. We had FAST platoons in the region. We had ships that we had deployed off of Libya. And we were prepared to respond to any contingency and certainly had forces in place to do that.
But — but the basic principle here — basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place. And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, General Ham, General Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.
Q: So the drone, then, and the forces inside the annex weren’t giving enough of a clear picture is what you’re saying.
SEC. PANETTA: This — this happened within a few hours and it was really over before, you know, we had the opportunity to really know what was happening.