The House Armed Services Committee has released a report on the Benghazi terrorist attack of September 11th, 2012. Although the results are generally well-founded, there is one finding in particular that purportedly contradicts testimony on the deadly terrorist siege.
Here are the 6 key findings from the report:
- In assessing military posture in anticipation of the September 11 anniversary, White House officials failed to comprehend or ignored the dramatically deteriorating security situation in Libya and the growing threat to U.S. interests in the region. Official public statements seem to have exaggerated the extent and rigor of the security assessment conducted at the time.
- U.S. personnel in Benghazi were woefully vulnerable in September 2012 because a.) the administration did not direct a change in military force posture, b.) there was no intelligence of a specific “imminent” threat in Libya, and c.) the Department of State, which has primary responsibility for diplomatic security, favored a reduction of Department of Defense security personnel in Libya before the attack.
- Defense Department officials believed nearly from the outset of violence in Benghazi that it was a terrorist attack rather than a protest gone awry, and the President subsequently permitted the military to respond with minimal direction.
- The U.S. military’s response to the Benghazi attack was severely degraded because of the location and readiness posture of U.S. forces, and because of lack of clarity about how the terrorist action was unfolding. […]
- There was no “stand down” order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi. […]
- The Department of Defense is working to correct many weaknesses revealed by the Benghazi attack, but the global security situation is still deteriorating and military resources continue to decline.
Before commenting on point 5, it should be noted 2(c), which once again points out that the State Department failed to bolster security prior to the September 11th, 2012 attack, which came after months of terror attacks in Libya and a deteriorating security situation. Any marginal decrease in funding for diplomatic security played no role in leading to the terror attack.
The fifth finding generally cuts across the grain of the compelling testimony of Gregory Hicks, the second in the diplomatic chain of command in Libya. Although activist non-profit Media Matters insists that the GOP report debunks that a stand down order was given, claiming that it refutes the “85 times” Fox has made the statement (according to a Lexis Nexis search), this report is specifically talking about Tripoli, Libya.
Fox News has repeatedly reported on the matter of whether or not Woods and Doherty, the eventually slain security personnel on the ground in Benghazi, were told to “stand down” rather than attempt to rescue the ultimately slain Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the diplomat Sean Smith. For example, Jennifer Griffin’s scoop referred to the denial of requests for help; the “stand down” order was reportedly given by the CIA to Woods and Doherty, not by the military to Tripoli.
Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Gregory Hicks’ testimony, in his exchange with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, makes it painfully clear that the U.S. military assets in Tripoli, Libya were “not authorized to travel” to go to the aid of those under siege in Benghazi. The term “stand down” is thus referring to any order that flies in the face of protocol to rescue service-members in harm’s way. It does not have to contain that exact phrase.
Rep. Jazon Chaffetz: Were any of these U.S. military personnel not permitted to travel on a rescue mission or a relief mission to Benghazi?
Gregory Hicks: They were not authorized to travel.
Furthermore, Hicks describes the military personnel in Benghazi who were told to remain in Tripoli while others were in harm’s way, i.e. being told to “stand down,” as being “furious.” Hicks quotes Lt. Colonel Gibson, who was interviewed for the House report, as having said, “This is the first time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than somebody in the military.”
And this is the entire problem with the entire Benghazi national discussion. It’s not what members of the Obama administration did during the terrorist attack — it’s what they didn’t do.
President Obama didn’t move heaven and earth to protect the diplomatic compound and our servicemen under siege by terrorists, although there were military assets in proximity. Hillary Clinton failed to convene the Counterterrorism Security Group and then failed to launch the In extremis force to come to the aid of Americans in harm’s way.
But then again, what difference does it make?
It makes all the difference in the world. They are lying. The House is ignoring the proof provided by Fox News, and they are ignoring the testimony of Greg Hicks.
Further, and also from IJ Review, this week, watchdog organization Judicial Watch released a map, obtained via a FOIA request, showing the position and distribution of American Naval assets in the region at the time of the terror attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
“Destroyers could have responded to the attack,” says retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Randall R. Schmidt, who submitted the request for the map. He directs specific criticism at the Department of Defense, saying “the point is, there were enough forces to respond.”
Here is the map showing the location of assets at the time:
Judicial Watch reports that Schmidt, who is independently investigating military response in Benghazi, strongly believes a greater military response could have taken place, and would have made a difference. The Congressional report says the military was not in a position to effectively respond. But on one point, both agree: the warnings were there, they were ignored, steps were not taken that should have been, and therefore Americans died.
Despite Obama’s continued objection that this is simply a Fox News controversy, it is clear that the questions about why this incident was allowed to happen remain, and responsibility has yet to be taken by those in our government who failed to act.
“There were enough forces to respond.” It doesn’t get much plainer than that.
Chaffetz asked if military personnel were ‘permitted’ to travel and Hicks said travel was not authorized. In my book, that’s a stand down order.
Some points Fox’s Jennifer Griffin made:
“They could have tapped into the video from the drones to see what was taking place.
Dougherty and Woods were killed at 4:00am by a mortar shell, 6 hours and 20 minutes after the attack began.
One of them was on the roof of the compound with a laser pointer with eyes on the mortar attack team. That laser could have been used to guide in any specter gun ship or any other form of military help if it had been sent.”
So, whose head will we see on the chopping block? Hitlery, obama, or the head of the CIA? Likely the answer is none of the above, and that’s the most loathsome part of all.