Benghazi: There’s No “There” There
A year after the fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi, on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012, a U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in the Libyan city of Benghazi were attacked, killing four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. It was the first time since 1979 that a U.S. ambassador was killed in the line of duty.
At 9:40 pm September 11th, unidentified gunmen launch an assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, quickly overwhelming the U.S. and Libyan forces who were providing security. Inside the compound, security forces separated from U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. U.S. personnel who retreat to another building come under siege for two hours before a CIA security team and some Libyan security forces repel the attackers.
At 10:30 pm, militants set fire to the main building within the compound that Stevens and State Department information management officer Sean Smith had taken refuge in. Within minutes, Stevens and Smith are overwhelmed by smoke.
At 11 pm, a U.S. surveillance drone arrives over Benghazi. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meet with President Obama.
At 1 am on September 12, a U.S. rescue team arrives in Benghazi from Tripoli, Libya’s capital. Nearly 30 Americans are rescued from the compound. Shortly thereafter, Stevens is taken to Benghazi Medical Center and pronounced dead on arrival, according to a hospital source. (A Libyan doctor tells the Associated Press that Stevens died of asphyxia, probably caused by smoke inhalation.) At 1:45 am, the AP reports the death of at least one American in the Benghazi assault.
At 4 am, gunmen launch an assault using mortars against the CIA annex. Former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods are killed. Two other Americans are wounded.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. . . . The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
“I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi.” His statement also says: “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.”
The Bad Guy
In October, Ahmed Abu Khattala, a “senior leader” of the Benghazi branch of the militant group Ansar al-Sharia, is identified as one of the ringleaders of the attack on the diplomatic mission. On June 15, 2014, U.S. Special Operations forces captured him.
There were no protesters at the Benghazi consulate prior to the attack, even though the President and administration officials repeatedly said the attackers joined an angry mob that had formed in opposition to the anti-Muslim film that had triggered protests in Egypt and elsewhere. The State Department disclosed this fact Oct. 9 — nearly a month after the attack.
Libya President Mohamed Magariaf insisted on Sept. 16 five days after the attack — that it was a planned terrorist attack, but administration officials continued for days later to say there was no evidence of a planned attack. Magariaf also said the idea that the attack was a “spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous.” This, too, was on Sept. 16. Yet, the President and others continued to describe the incident in exactly those terms — including during the president’s Sept. 18 appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman.”
Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, was the first administration official to call it “a terrorist attack” during a Sept. 19 congressional hearing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did the same on Sept. 20. Even so, the President declined opportunities to call it a terrorist attack when asked at a town hall meeting on Sept. 20 and during a taping of “The View” on Sept. 24.
Obama administration officials initially gave differing explanations, and the ensuing political firestorm over what they knew, and when, is still raging in Washington. In early May, three “whistleblowers” appeared before a congressional committee and gave accounts of the events preceding, during and after the attacks that differed from previous administration responses.
Answering Gowdy‘s questions on Benghazi won’t satisfy partisans, but it will prove to those who care about facts that this isn’t what Gowdy and the select committee on Benghazi are after. Facts and truth have nothing to do with it.
Why Was Stevens In Benghazi?
Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi because that was the work he loved and committed his life to. He felt it was an “adventure.” Foreign service officers are diplomatic soldiers, using interaction instead of guns. Stevens chose to go to Benghazi after Tripoli, and he chose to interact with the people because you cannot move a country forward without building relationships.
Why Was The Last Flag Flying in Benghazi the U.S. Flag?
The U.S. was the “last flag flying in Benghazi,” because we decapitated the president in a policy that Republicans and Democrats in Congress supported, as did our allies, including the Arab League. Whenever these missions are done, going back to the start of NATO, it’s the U.S. that runs them. For the U.S. and allies to oust Gaddafi through military airstrikes, then have the chairman of the select committee on Benghazi expect us not to stay and attempt stabilization of the country in major cities is absurd.
Why Was Additional Security Not Provided?
Additional security wasn’t provided to Ambassador Stevens because he turned it down. Twice. He had a dangerous job, but never gave a specific reason for turning down extra security.
Why Were Additional Assets Not Deployed?
Assets were deployed. Leon Panetta said the initial reports of the attack were given “almost immediately” to the U.S. Embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Within 17 minutes, Panetta said, an unarmed, unmanned surveillance aircraft was dispatched to give U.S. officials a better idea of what was happening. It arrived at the site about 70 minutes after the attack, he said. Soon, Panetta and Dempsey met with President Barack Obama, the secretary told lawmakers. Obama ordered that the Defense Department respond to the attack with “all available DOD assets” and try to protect U.S. personnel, Panetta said.
Additionally, according to General Dempsey, there was no official Department of Defense presence in Libya. In combination with the disparate forces that were in motion, there was no time or space available to be able to respond in time.
Why Did Obama Not Call Our Allies?
We were the only show of diplomatic force in the Libya. The answers given by Mullen, Dempsey, and Panetta, all reveal that if the mightiest military on planet earth had no presence or time to respond how could our allies? Is he talking about Israel getting involved, because of their military power? Turkey?
Why Was Susan Rice Dispatched For Sunday Talk Shows?
Ambassador Susan Rice is a seasoned diplomat with wide knowledge of the world who was appointed by President Obama. When he came calling for a spokesperson, Rice answered the call. Unfortunately, the White House didn’t choose to say they would have a full accounting of what happened when they knew it. We already know politics was at play, as it is in any White House, just before an election.
Where Did The Talking Points Come From?
As for the “origin” of the “mythology” that it was “spawned as a spontaneous reaction to a video,” the talking points originated from the CIA, which has been in evidence for months. Again, Susan Rice did nothing but disseminate talking points by the CIA.
Today, the House Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, has concluded that there was no deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama administration in Benghazi. My previously written conclusion is now just the title of this piece.