Archive for the 'Libya' Category



Benghazi: Shit Happens

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

Douglas Kmiec writing for Huffington Post gives us one of the canned progressive responses to the debacle at Benghazi.

First, a reminder: the work of the American foreign service in the Middle- East extending into the Mediterranean is difficult, and often, dangerous. The particular risks of working in Libya were well-reported to the Department of State in cable and in person by Ambassador Stevens, who, readers of this column know, was a fellow diplomat serving in neighboring country. To meet Chris is to instantly like him and I grew ever more admiring. I know from conversation with Chris dating back to spring 2011 that he was well aware of the risks in his assigned mission. Chris understood the primary risk to be the absence of any governmental tradition.

This is a slight more polished response than the one given to me earlier by a Facebook “friend” named Philip Smucker, an independent journalist whom some may know (he has written about Afghanistan).

I listened to his rants as we debated Benghazi, with Philip claiming to be good friends with Ambassador Stevens.  Good friends.  He mentioned it enough times in his Facebook replies that it became rather odd and monotonous.  He then gave me a long winded discussion about the risks associated with being in Libya, told me that Stevens assuredly knew about them, and then said, “What I’m trying to tell you is that shit happens!”

There you have it.  Good friends with Mr. Stevens take the position that shit just simply happens.  At that point I unfriended Philip not because we take different political views, but because I consider that to be one of the creepiest responses I can imagine.

Forget questions of who ordered what and when it was ordered and what assets were available to assist those poor souls at Benghazi.  Smucker, a known and very vocal supporter of Mr. Obama, just thinks that “shit happens.”

It doesn’t work that way with other Presidents, or for those with whom he disagrees.  For instance, he also went off on a diatribe against Mr. Bush for allowing UBL escape Tora Bora.  For Smucker, who wrote a book on the subject, UBL’s escape isn’t about shit happening.

But for the right President, people like Smucker and Kmiec are willing to throw their colleagues and good friends under the bus.  They are just so much collateral damage, and knew all about the risks associated with their job.

For those who have followed my prose, I was as hard on Bush for untimely reinforcement of the troops in Iraq as I have been on Obama for giving the Operation Enduring Freedom less than half of the additional troops requested, and much less than needed.

I also don’t care for the present discussion about why Stevens was at that “special mission” (although the reasons will be important in the future).  When we find out all of the facts, I may disagree with the assignment.  Some Americans disagreed with Operation Iraqi Freedom too.  But when my son was deployed to Fallujah in 2007, I would have expected the 2/6 Marines to move heaven and earth to find my son had he been captured or upon learning that his fire team was under siege.  Once the deployment is decided, America owes the very best to our men, including Mr. Stevens.

“Shit happens” isn’t even nearly an acceptable excuse.  But then again, I suppose that’s the difference between me and Philip.

Trouble With The Benghazi Timeline

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

The distraction has been successful.  For several days now, America (and its horrible main stream media) has been captivated by stories of scandals involving generals and men who have no business being involved in anything other than making the weighty decisions to protect the country.  As one recent commenter said, if you want to play games, get out of the way and let a more serious person make the moves.

There are a number of disparate timelines being floated by various sources (I’ve seen most or all of them), and sooner or later the truth will come out.  Someone will divulge what he knows, and it will differ from some other report, and then the other report can be examined more closely for accuracy, and so on until the investigative work points to all of the culpable actors.  Secrets cannot be kept, and the sooner the truth comes out the better off the innocent actors will fare.

But one such recent report in the midst of the silly focus on tawdry affairs comes to us from Fox News.  Here is the money quote.

The Pentagon says that the European-based team of rescuers landed at Sigonella air base at 7:57 p.m. on Sept. 12, more than 20 hours after the attack began and 40 minutes after the last survivor was flown out of Tripoli on a U.S. C-17 transport plane.

Fox News has learned more details about the European rescue team. More than 30 Special Operations Forces, part of a Commander’s In Extremis Force, or CIF, which is normally on a short tether, are deployed in the event of a terror attack. They are a counterterror SWAT team.

The group ordered toward Libya was from the Charlie 110 Company, based in Stuttgart, Germany, but had been training in Croatia on an exercise known as “Jackal Stone.” The training involved counterterrorism exercises.

Military sources familiar with the orders given to the CIF team tell Fox News the CIF plane headed to Libya — not to first stage at Sigonella as the Pentagon timeline suggests. The Pentagon denies this, saying simply that they were ordered to an intermediate staging base.

What cannot be confirmed is what time that team could have been outside Libyan air space. The Pentagon won’t say when they took off from Croatia.

Multiple defense sources say that the plane did not have permission to enter Libya. That permission would have to be secured from the Libyans by the State Department.

Survivors of the attack at the annex say that they heard over the radio net that night that U.S. military assets were, “feet dry over Libya,” which would refer to assets crossing from sea to land and hovering. The Pentagon denies this.

The original story board that shows the CIF movement that night is difficult to find, according to those who saw the original timeline. The official brief, according to those familiar with it, simply says that the plane landed at Sigonella at 7:57 p.m. on Sept. 12 — 20 hours after the start of the attack, even though they were just a few hours away in Croatia.

This raises the question: what time did they get their orders and how long did it take the CIF to scramble?

The team was most likely flying on a modified MC-130 P Talon 2. A modified C-130 flying from Croatia about 900 miles from the Libyan coast could have been there under three hours from take-off. Croatia to Libya is the same distance approximately as Washington, D.C., to Miami.

Furthermore, the modified C-130 plane used by Special Operations teams can be refueled in flight, allowing them to extend their range and hover time, if an air refueling plane is available. It can fly for nine hours without being refueled.

Here is the offending part: “The official brief, according to those familiar with it, simply says that the plane landed at Sigonella at 7:57 p.m. on Sept. 12 — 20 hours after the start of the attack, even though they were just a few hours away in Croatia.”

This is simply not believable.  It cannot possibly be correct.  Such forces carry pagers and aren’t allowed to take local tours to get drunk and visit with the local women.  If commanded to deploy to Benghazi to protect American citizens and interests (such as classified documents at the consulate – or “special mission” as the Ambassador called it), they were a few hours away at the most.  This report strains credulity and just doesn’t pass simple tests of acceptability for evidence.  I’ll say it again.  It’s just incorrect, and if the report actually reads that way, the first interrogation should be saved for the author of that report.

On the other hand, it would make better sense if the balance of the Fox News report is accurate and the official statement a lie, with the timeline including a short flight from Croatia to Libya, with the administration showing deference to a non-existent Libyan government and refusing to land in Libya without “permission.”  Short of further data and information, thus far this is the most believable report.

More Benghazi Excuses

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

We’ve discussed the excuses for the failure to respond to the assault on the consulate (or “special mission,” as the Ambassador called it).

  1. The only other assets immediately available were F-16 fighter jets based at Aviano, Italy. These aircraft might have reached Benghazi while the fight at the Annex was still going on, but they would have had difficulty pinpointing hostile mortar positions or distinguishing between friendly and hostile militias in the midst of a confused firefight in a densely populated residential area where there would have been a high likelihood of civilian casualties.
  2. There was no AC-130 within a continent’s range of Benghazi.
  3. “We didn’t have forewarning of this tragic event in Benghazi,” Little said. “The entire U.S. government was starting from a cold start.”
  4. We were preparing for a hostage situation.

We can now add to list of excuses this one.

Sources who have debriefed the team that was at the CIA annex the night of the attack in Benghazi say that the CIA operators from the Global Response Staff, or GRS, were equipped with Mark 48 machine guns and had two types of laser capability. Each weapon had both a “passive” as well as a “visible” laser that could be used against the Libyan attackers.

The presence of laser capability on the roof of the CIA annex confirms what Fox News sources that night in Benghazi originally said, which is that they had laser capability and for 5 hours and 15 minutes were wondering where the usual overhead air support was, especially since, according to this source, they radioed from the annex beginning as early as midnight asking for it.

The presence of lasers raises more questions about why air support was not sent to Benghazi even protectively once it became clear that the fighting had followed the CIA rescue team back to the annex.

U.S. military officials say they “thought the fighting was over” after the team left the consulate and that there was a lull in the fighting.

[ ... ]

A source present the night of the attack says that the GRS team that was defending the annex asked where the air support was at midnight. Former SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed 5 hours and 15 minutes later.

Forget for a moment the inherent contradiction in these excuses (see prior articles).  They didn’t have the assets, but even if they did, they were prepared for something else (i.e., a hostage situation), but even so, we were all caught with our pants down, but even with our pants down, we had moved assets to the area, but then, F-16 fighters in Europe were not on alert (I could be wrong about this, but deployed fighter pilots are able to be reached, just like SEALs are within pager distance), and so on.  It’s the leaky bucket problem, and ten of them still leak even when used together.

Thought the fighting was over.”  There you have it.  What reason could there possibly be for concluding anything whatsoever at this point?  How could military and national security professionals concoct such strange, bizarre tales?

Prior:

So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi, Part II?

So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi?

Benghazi Inconsistencies

False Military Doctrine And The Benghazi Assault

So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi, Part II?

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

Prior: So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi?

The Pentagon has responded to the question of assets available to respond to the debacle at Benghazi.

Among the units ordered by Panetta on the night of the attack to Sicily,  which is less than 500 miles from Libya,were two special operations teams that were moved to  Sigonella.

As previously reported, one of the units came from a U.S. military base in “Central Europe.” And Little disclosed that Panetta also ordered another team from the United States to head to Sigonella.   Little refused to describe what kind of unit was sent from the U.S., though it was presumably a special operations team trained for hostage rescues.

Little said both the units “did not arrive until after the entire sequence of events was complete. … They were in Sigonella many hours after the attacks.”

The Pentagon spokesman said that it can take hours for troops to be organized and transported to where they might be used.  He added that at the time they were ordered to move, policy makers  ”did not know when the attacks would end.”  Little said that, in theory, a hostage situation in Benghazi could have lasted for days.

“We didn’t have forewarning of this tragic event in Benghazi,” Little said. “The entire U.S. government was starting from a cold start.”

[ ... ]

Little reaffirmed that no other American aircraft were involved over Libya the night of the attack beyond the unarmed surveillance drone that arrived 90 minutes into the attack.  As for reports that an AC-130 gunship could have been dispatched over Libya at the time of the attack,  Little was clear that “there was no AC-130 within a continent’s range of Benghazi” that night.

Yet astute commenter Šťoural (Jan Špaček, Czechoslovakia) gives this summary of assets via e-mail.

1) NAS Sigonella: NAS Sigonella supports a rotational VP squadron, an HC squadron, C-2, C-9, and C-130 detachments, shore-based fleet aircraft, transient NATO aircraft and U.S. Air Force transient aircraft.  Look at Google Earth Photo 17th March 2011-four P3C Orion, 37°24’27.89″N,14°54’49.81″E

CTF-67 is a subordinate command to Commander, U.S. SIXTH Fleet and maintains tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons. When assigned to CTF-67, P-3C Orion aircraft provide the Fleet with essential information in the European and African Areas of Responsibility.  The Mediterranean maritime patrol force for these operations included ten P-3Cs, five of the AIP variant, and 14 crews from Patrol Squadrons 1, 4, 5 and 10 from Naval Air Stations Whidbey Island, Barbers Point, Jacksonville, and Brunswick, respectively.

2) P-3C AIP Orion capabilities, Orion is much better then drone Predator and Reaper.

The P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) Hunting terrorists in the peaks of the Hindu Kush? Spotting for special operations troops in Iraq? Not the stereotypical MPA missions.

Not only has the Navy’s front-line MPA been venturing far inland; it has been an indispensable surveillance platform in the global war on terrorism, a sensor and weapon platform that has impressed operational commanders with its high degree of utility and versatility.

3) CIF,probably C-company, 1st Bn, 10thSFG at least be able to make CASEVAC and NEO-non-combatant evacuation operation from Benghazi Airport.

Example operation CIF

I had also mentioned that Marine Force Recon should have been available at Sigonella.  And all of this brings up an important point.  I think I have made a mistake in framing the question so broadly, i.e., what assets were available to the DoD to assist at Benghazi?  One important but easily overlooked exigency in the DoD rebuttal above is this idea of a hostage situation.  It is mentioned at least twice in the ABC News article.

The Department of Defense rebuttal answers nothing, but adds to the list of problems.  The proper way to frame this discussion is this: What assets existed at Sigonella that night (Delta Force, SEAL Teams, Marine Force Recon, MPs, cooks, administrative staff, etc.)?  This report leads to more questions, such as did the National Security Counsel or Pentagon war game this scenario in such a manner that precluded the consideration of assets available at Sigonella because they weren’t specifically related to the scenario being gamed (e.g., a hostage situation)?  Why weren’t forces of any kind sent to relieve the poor souls in Benghazi?

On to the recent and very important Fox News report from the ground in Benghazi.

As details emerge of serious security issues before the attack on Sept. 11, Fox News is also beginning to hear more frustration from sources both on the ground in Benghazi and in the U.S. Multiple British and American sources insist there were other capabilities in the region and are mystified why none were used. Fox News was told there were not only armed drones that monitor Libyan chemical weapon sites in the area, but also F-18′s, AC-130 aircraft and even helicopters that could have been dispatched in a timely fashion.

British intelligence sources said that unarmed drones routinely flew over Benghazi every night in flight patterns and that armed drones which fly over chemical sites, some a short flight from Benghazi, “were always said to be on call.” American sources confirmed this and questioned “why was a drone armed only with a camera dispatched?”

Another source added, “Why would they put a ragtag team together in Tripoli as first responders? This is not even what they do for a living. We had a first responder air base in Italy almost the same distance away.” Despite the team arriving from Tripoli that night, sources said sufficient American back-up never came.

British sources on the ground in Benghazi said they are extremely frustrated by the attack and are still wondering why they weren’t called for help. “We have more people on the ground here than the Americans and I just don’t know why we didn’t get the call?” one said.

Both American and British sources said, at the very least, the security situation on the ground and the lack of proper response were the result of “complete incompetence.” The covert team that came in from Tripoli was held up at the Benghazi airport for more than three hours by Libyan officials. Sources said the team notified officials in Washington that they were being delayed within 30 minutes of their arrival.

They also point out that these questions “don’t even address the military capabilities of our United Nations ally Turkey, who (has) forces available a similarly short flight away.” Fox News has learned that Turkey had a number of embassy staff in town the night of the attack and that the Turkish consul general met with Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi the night he and the three other Americans were killed.

One source asked, “Were the Turks not warned? What forces were available from our ally Turkey? Especially since they had officials there in Benghazi also and had to be concerned … and where was the U.N. in all of this?”

The Pentagon answers don’t even approach closure on this issue.  Their responses have only raised more questions, and much more work needs to be done on this.

Prior: So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi?

See also: John Jay

So What Were The Assets Available For Benghazi?

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

Weekly Standard has been busy covering the Benghazi scandal.  I had earlier remarked that:

The notion that we don’t send our forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on is patently absurd and false.  Simply said, it’s a lie.  We deploy Army Rangers to take control of air fields and landing zones in potentially hostile environments, for which we do not know all of the desired information; we deploy Marine infantry into situations of potentially unknown threats all of the time all over the globe; each and every time a patrol left the outpost at the Korengal in Afghanistan, they were deploying into potentially deadly situations without specific and detailed knowledge of the situation.

A reader at Weekly Standard writes in with the following:

… one can find in Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1: Warfighting the following passage on pages 86 and 87:

“We must have the moral courage to make tough decisions in the face of uncertainty–and to accept full responsibility for those decisions–when the natural inclination would be to postpone the decision pending more complete information.  To delay action in an emergency because of incomplete information shows a lack of moral courage.  We do not want to make rash decisions, but we must not squander opportunities while trying to gain more information.  Finally, since all decisions must be made in the face of uncertainty and since every situation is unique, there is no perfect solution to any battlefield problem.  Therefore, we should not agonize over one.”

Just so, and good find, that one.  But on another front, Bill Kristol covers the various finger pointing within the administration, just as do I.  But then there is this pregnant statement along with the link.

In response perhaps to the questions raised by Petraeus and Panetta, there now appears to be an attempt by some defense officials to suggest there really wasn’t much more that could have been done on September 11, given limitations on the assets and capabilities available.

The link takes you to an article at AEI by Paul Wolfowitz.  Now comes the interesting part.  I need to cite at length.

From what I can determine from talking with someone who has spoken directly with key general officers and others involved in the US response to the Benghazi attacks, it would appear that – contrary to Panetta’s “basic principle” – the US did almost everything possible to protect our people once the attacks had started, though not in advance:

The Consulate was overrun in a matter of minutes, before any help was possible.

A team that appears to have been CIA personnel deployed quickly (and bravely) from the Annex to the Consulate and rescued everyone they found alive there. (It’s not clear whether Ambassador Stevens had already been taken by Libyans to the hospital or whether they simply failed to find him.)

A mainly CIA response force deployed quickly from Tripoli to reinforce the Annex and facilitate its successful evacuation.

Decision makers in Washington appear to have been leaning forward, as they should have been. The military’s most capable rescue force, based on the East Coast, was deployed immediately (something that is very rarely done), but – given the distances involved – arrived at Sigonella only after the crisis was over.

Also, the  European command (EUCOM) deployed its number one counter terrorism force, which was training in central Europe, as quickly as possible, but it arrived in Sigonella after the evacuation of the Annex was complete.

Other special forces deployed to Sigonella but arrived on the 12th after it was too late to make a difference in Benghazi.

There was no AC-130 gunship in the region.

The only drone available in Libya was an unarmed surveillance drone which was quickly moved from Darna to Benghazi, but the field of view of these drones is limited and, in any case, this one was not armed.

The only other assets immediately available were F-16 fighter jets based at Aviano, Italy. These aircraft might have reached Benghazi while the fight at the Annex was still going on, but they would have had difficulty pinpointing hostile mortar positions or distinguishing between friendly and hostile militias in the midst of a confused firefight in a densely populated residential area where there would have been a high likelihood of civilian casualties. While two more Americans were tragically killed by a mortar strike on the Annex, it’s not clear that deploying F-16’s would have prevented that. In any case, the decision not to do so was made by the tactical commander, General Ham, as it should have been.

Let’s leave aside my personal feelings towards Wolfowitz (he helped to begin Operation Iraqi Freedom with too few men to tamp down the inevitable insurgency, thus leading to Phase II and III of OIF).  I don’t have much fondness for him.

But back to what he said, this is a remarkable claim.  According to this claim, the Africa command (based in Europe) had no assets to which it could turn.  None.  Contrary to reports (that I have cited), there were no Delta operators at Sigonella.  There was no AC-130, there wasn’t even Marine Force Recon, again, contrary to published reports that I have cited.

They were apparently all in the field, deployed across Africa.  No one was available.  There were no air assets available to assist the poor souls at Benghazi.  Not even an MP or cook could have responded from Sigonella.  The base (the American side of it, anyway) was a ghost town.  The closest asset was … the Eastern coast of the United States.

I don’t believe it.  I’m not saying that I don’t believe Wolfowitz, but I don’t believe his sources.  How the hell does one run Africa command with no assets at your disposal?  Besides, this answer is too easy to produce and then move on after the furor dies down.

This leads me to the final point.  There are so many reports – many of them false by design – that the picture is worse by the day.  What happened at Benghazi happened.  The horrible picture developing before our eyes is one of obfuscation, dishonesty, diversion, lies and excuses.

Here’s a note to the DoD and State Department.  Listen very carefully.  Wolfowitz says “it would appear.”  That’s not even nearly good enough.  We won’t accept appearances, or anonymous sources.  There is a paper trail of deployments, locations, arming orders, force sizes, and so on and so forth.  There is yet another paper trail of orders, requests, directives and other communications that fateful night.

We won’t stop until it is all public and assessed by all of us.  We will get it, eventually.  We will all see it.  We will know who did what, who said what, what assets were where, who lied, who equivocated, and who came clean.  We will name names.

The players who have any integrity left should come clean now and spill everything.  It will go better for everyone in the long run.  But it won’t change the facts.  And the facts will be found out.  That’s our promise.

UPDATE #1: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.

UPDATE #2: It occurs to me from the comments and from other remarks that I have seen elsewhere that we need to deal with one objection up front, i.e., that there wasn’t time before the fire fight was over to transport assets to Benghazi to assist.  This is an illegitimate objection, since we cannot assume that the decision-makers at that time know what we know now (that is, that the fight would last about a half day).  For all they knew, the fight would have lasted for days on end, with Americans holed up in buildings awaiting relief.  Ex post facto objections like this have no legs.  They constitute excuses, but they don’t explain the decision-making at the time.

Benghazi Inconsistencies

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

President Obama didn’t deny assistance to the poor souls at Benghazi, or so says President Obama.

The White House on Saturday flatly denied that President Barack Obama withheld requests for help from the besieged American compound in Benghazi, Libya, as it came under on attack by suspected terrorists on September 11th.

“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.

On the other hand, the CIA didn’t tell anyone not to help the poor souls in Benghazi either.

Breaking news on Benghazi: the CIA spokesman, presumably at the direction of CIA director David Petraeus, has put out this statement: “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.

The Department of Defense also isn’t responsible.

Following a pair of denials by the CIA and the National Security Council to a Fox News story published Friday, the Pentagon has come under scrutiny for its response to the assault on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. However, in a statement to The Atlantic Wire, a senior defense official says the Pentagon never rejected requests for military intervention in Benghazi. Not only that, the official said no such requests were ever made.

“The Pentagon took action by moving personnel and assets in the region shortly after it learned of the attack on the Benghazi consulate,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There was no request made for military intervention in Benghazi. To be successful, such an operation, if requested, would have required solid information about what was happening on the ground. Such clarity just wasn’t available as the attack was unfolding.”

Oh my.  See the problem?  The response revealed that there is a problem somewhere along the chain of command.  The DoD never received a request for help according to the DoD.  But then the equivocation.  Just to be successful, they say, they would need “solid information,” and that just wasn’t available.  So if they never received any request, why even mention that there wasn’t enough information (according to them) to help the souls in Benghazi?

But then, we also know that the chain of command denied help to the souls at Benghazi.

Citing “sources who were on the ground” in Benghazi, Libya, Fox News is reporting that an urgent request for military help during last month’s terrorist attack on the US consulate there “was denied by the CIA chain of command.”

Among other things reported in some detail, Fox asserts that a Special Operations team had been moved to US military facilities in Sigonella, Italy – approximately two hours away – but were never told to deploy.

“The fighting at the CIA annex [in Benghazi] 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.”

They had access to the most secretive, most well trained, most bad ass operators on the planet.  Delta Force.  And Delta was told to stand down.  It’s breathtaking, really.

So the request for help to the souls at Benghazi was denied multiple times.  Yet the President didn’t do it.  No request for help ever came to the CIA.  The DoD never had any request come in to its offices.  In fact, the fingers of blame are busy ensuring that culpability doesn’t fall on the one pointing.

Kel McClanahan, the executive director of the National Security Counselors and an attorney who specializes in national security law, said he didn’t detect any false or misleading statements in any of the denials but noticed a few things about the words the CIA and the Pentagon used that raise questions. With regard to Jennifer Youngblood’s statement, he said “all she said was that nobody told Woods ‘not to help those in need.’”

“Helping those in need is a very broad term,” said McClanahan. “It ranges from fire-bombing the attackers to providing medical assistance. I have complete confidence that nobody at CIA told their field office not to provide any help to those in need. However, she did not say ‘no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to attack.’” As such, there’s a little bit of wiggle room in how the CIA is defining its terminology. We don’t know exactly what the agency told its operators on the ground. How about the Pentagon?

“DOD, for their part, is probably telling the truth as well, while not telling the whole story,” said McClanahan. He homed in on the Pentagon’s assertion that “There was no request made for military intervention.”

“That doesn’t say to whom or what constitutes a ‘request for military intervention,’” he said. According to the Fox News story, the opportunity to intervene was in the form of a Special Forces team at an air base in Signonella, Italy, which is about two hours from Benghazi. The suggestion in Griffin’s report is that the Special Forces unit could’ve intervened to help Amb. Stevens and the other Americans in a timely manner. (It’s worth noting that U.S. officials told CBS News last week that a fast intervention wasn’t possible because of State Department concerns about violating Libyan sovereignty.)

But we also know that the President’s fingerprints are all over this.  Lies are usually counterproductive, as well as immoral and unethical.  Meanwhile, four souls were left behind.  One cardinal rule for the Marines and Army is that you don’t leave men behind.  Ever.

I read the deployment orders (and accompanying PowerPoint presentation to the Battalion) when my son deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, because (then) Lt. Col. William Mullen showed it to me.  The men were issued “die in place” orders.  It is always better if your family has closure, rather than wondering if you’re alive and tortured or dead.  But one simple truth permeated that part of the presentation.

If missing, the Battalion would move mountains to find their men wherever they were.  This simple commitment, so revealing of character and integrity, went with the men throughout their combat tour in 2007.  The poor souls in Benghazi didn’t have the same commitment from their “brothers.”

The Forces Available: What Did President Ben Ghazi Know?

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

The notion has been floated that the Benghazi response is thus far simply a muddled message.  There was actually nothing more that could have been done, but the administration just hasn’t explained that very well to the American people yet.

Wrong …  wrong on all kinds of fronts.  Bing West gives us a little brief on the forces available to the President.  These forces were available in Sigonella, Italy.

The Obama national-security team had several hours in which to move forces from Sigonella to Benghazi.  Fighter jets could have been at Benghazi in an hour; the commandos inside three hours. If the attackers were a mob, as intelligence reported, then an F18 in afterburner, roaring like a lion, would unnerve them. This procedure was applied often in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Conversely, if the attackers were terrorists, then the U.S. commandos would eliminate them. But no forces were dispatched from Sigonella.

Among the forces available to commanders was Delta operators then on station in Sigonella.  Finally, if all else had failed, there were also Marine Force Recon personnel in Sigonella, Italy.  Did the President know what was happening in Benghazi?

Of course he did.  He was watching it all transpire.

I take issue with the notion that only the President could have ordered a response.  Someone else could, and apparently General Ham did because he is a man of integrity.  He was relieved of command shortly thereafter, and thus not only did President Ben Ghazi know what was happening and refuse to order a response, he apparently punished the man who did order a response.

Thus has America lost its heart to remain America.

False Military Doctrine And The Benghazi Assault

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

This Washington Times blog post adds yet another wrinkle to the assault by enemy military forces on our consulate in Benghazi.  Take careful note of what is apparently official, and also what is not.

Is an American General losing his job for trying to save the Americans besieged in Benghazi? This is the latest potential wrinkle in the growing scandal surrounding the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack that left four men dead and President Obama scrambling for a coherent explanation.

On October 18, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appeared unexpectedly at an otherwise unrelated briefing on “Efforts to Enhance the Financial Health of the Force.” News organizations and CSPAN were told beforehand there was no news value to the event and gave it scant coverage. In his brief remarks Mr. Panetta said, “Today I am very pleased to announce that President Obama will nominate General David Rodriguez to succeed General Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command.” This came as a surprise to many, since General Ham had only been in the position for a year and a half. The General is a very well regarded officer who made AFRICOM into a true Combatant Command after the ineffective leadership of his predecessor, General William E. “Kip” Ward. Later, word circulated informally that General Ham was scheduled to rotate out in March 2013 anyway, but according to Joint doctrine, ”the tour length for combatant commanders and Defense agency directors is three years.” Some assumed that he was leaving for unspecified personal reasons.

However on October 26, “Ambassador” posted the following RUMINT on TigerDroppings (h/t Jim Hoft):

I heard a story today from someone inside the military that I trust entirely. The story was in reference to General Ham that Panetta referenced in the quote below.

quote:


“(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 Pentagon reporters. “And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.”


The information I heard today was that General Ham as head of Africom received the same e-mails the White House received requesting help/support as the attack was taking place. General Ham immediately had a rapid response unit ready and communicated to the Pentagon that he had a unit ready.

General Ham then received the order to stand down. His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow. Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.

The story continues that now General Rodiguez would take General Ham’s place as the head of Africom.

This version of events contradicts Mr. Panetta’s October 25 statement that General Ham advised against intervention. But so far there is nothing solid to back it up. Maybe Ham attempted to send a reaction force against orders, or maybe he simply said the wrong thing to the wrong people. Perhaps he gave whomever he was talking to up the chain a piece of his mind about leaving Americans to die when there was a chance of saving them. At the very least U.S. forces might have made those who killed our people pay while they were still on the scene. The Obama White House is famously vindictive against perceived disloyalty – the administration would not let Ham get away with scolding them for failing to show the leadership necessary to save American lives. The Army’s ethos is to leave no man behind, but that is not shared by a president accustomed to leading from that location.

First of all, recall that General Rodriguez is the one whom I called out almost five years ago for spewing the silly propaganda that the Taliban were too weakened to launch a spring offensive, and also the one who wanted to micromanage a Marine Air Ground Task Force in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.  Less than six hours before Marines commenced a major helicopter-borne assault in the town of Marjah, Rodriguez’s headquarters issued an order requiring that his operations center clear any airstrike that was on a housing compound in the area but not sought in self-defense.  This is rules of engagement of the flavor Rodriguez.

If General Rodriguez is in fact taking over the Africa command, I’m not impressed with Panetta’s decision.  Then again, I think Panetta is a weasel and his excuse-making cowardly, so I’m not surprised by the decision.

The notion that we don’t send our forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on is patently absurd and false.  Simply said, it’s a lie.  We deploy Army Rangers to take control of air fields and landing zones in potentially hostile environments, for which we do not know all of the desired information; we deploy Marine infantry into situations of potentially unknown threats all of the time all over the globe; each and every time a patrol left the outpost at the Korengal in Afghanistan, they were deploying into potentially deadly situations without specific and detailed knowledge of the situation.

The counterinsurgency and state-building doctrine that has taken possession of the very souls of our military elite states unequivocally that our forces should be willing to sustain risk – of a potentially unknown quantity and quality – in order to protect the population.  But when it comes to protecting our own forces such as those deployed in Benghazi, the excuse is made that we didn’t have enough intelligence.

Finally, as the final nail in the coffin of this ridiculous prevarication, we deploy Marine Scout Snipers and Force Recon all of the time into situations of completely unknown risk, danger and hazard in order to gather intelligence and lay the groundwork for the Marine infantry.  If we really needed more information on Benghazi, we could have deployed reconnaissance forces.

Thus has one general been given his walking papers, a system apparatchik been promoted, and yet another lie been woven into the horrible web of lies concerning Benghazi.  This is false doctrine being willingly preached by the Secretary of Defense as an attempt to cover the administration.  Make no mistake about it.  Is there any level to which they will not stoop?

UPDATE #1: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention!

UPDATE #2: At NRO’s Corner, David French observes:

His “basic principle” is simply false. We deploy forces all the time in our theaters of war without good real-time information. All. The. Time. If we didn’t, far more men would die. The fog of war never fully clears, and our solution has been to typically go in with sufficient force to deal with virtually any reasonable contingency. But the truly revealing part of the response is here: “General Ham, General Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.” To military ears those are not the words of a man who made a decision; those are the words of a man who made a recommendation. A decision-maker follows his strong feeling with an order: to stand down or decline the request for help. A recommender passes his feeling up the chain of command — in this case, to the president of the United States.

The State Department answered the call with what force it had. The military did not. Either we did not have assets to answer (and that would be a different kind of scandal) or someone made the decision to — in effect — hang up on the 3:00 a.m. caller. Who made that call and why? The military already knows.  So should the American people.

UPDATE #3: CJCS denies:

The top U.S. military officer is denying reports that Army Gen. Carter Ham’s planned departure as head of U.S. Africa Command is linked to the Sept. 11 attack in Libya.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey issued a written statement Monday calling speculation about the reasons for Ham’s move “absolutely false.”

Well, Mr. Dempsey, I don’t believe you.  It’s sad that it has come to that, no?  As for something being absolutely false, Panetta’s claim (see above) remains so.

Prior:

White House Informed Of Militant Claim Two Hours After Benghazi Attack

What’s The Problem With Obama’s Response To Benghazi?

White House Informed Of Militant Claim Two Hours After Benghazi Attack

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

We’ve already discussed how the Obama administration lied about not knowing that the Benghazi attack was an assault by an militant Islamic group.  My own military readers informed us that this was a planned assault with fighters already in position, using a complex ambush with combined arms.  This assessment was made by my readers within 24 hours of the assault using nothing but open source information.  I have been unequivocal in calling the suggestion that the administration waited for information and analysis a lie.  I still do not retract my charge.

Now comes more evidence.

Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.

The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.

The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Benghazi assault, which President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials ultimately acknowledged was a “terrorist” attack carried out by militants with suspected links to al Qaeda affiliates or sympathizers.

Administration spokesmen, including White House spokesman Jay Carney, citing an unclassified assessment prepared by the CIA, maintained for days that the attacks likely were a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film.

[ ... ]

The records obtained by Reuters consist of three emails dispatched by the State Department’s Operations Center to multiple government offices, including addresses at the White House, Pentagon, intelligence community and FBI, on the afternoon of September 11.

The first email, timed at 4:05 p.m. Washington time – or 10:05 p.m. Benghazi time, 20-30 minutes after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission allegedly began – carried the subject line “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” and the notation “SBU”, meaning “Sensitive But Unclassified.”

The text said the State Department’s regional security office had reported that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi was “under attack. Embassy in Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well.”

The message continued: “Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four … personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.”

A second email, headed “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi” and timed 4:54 p.m. Washington time, said that the Embassy in Tripoli had reported that “the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared.” It said a “response team” was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel.

A third email, also marked SBU and sent at 6:07 p.m. Washington time, carried the subject line: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”

The message reported: “Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”

While some information identifying recipients of this message was redacted from copies of the messages obtained by Reuters, a government source said that one of the addresses to which the message was sent was the White House Situation Room, the president’s secure command post.

Other addressees included intelligence and military units as well as one used by the FBI command center, the source said.

And as I had pointed out, some two weeks after the assault Obama went before the U.N. claiming that it was a result of that crackpot video.

Again, exactly when they used the word “terror” isn’t relevant.  The assault would have inflicted terror regardless of whether it was a result of mob behavior or a planned attack.  The point is that Obama put the blame squarely on a spontaneous mob acting from rage as a result of the video.

He knew better.  And you knew better within 24 hours because my military readers told you so.  In this case, the facts are getting in the way of the narrative.

What’s The Problem With Obama’s Response To Benghazi?

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 1 month ago

Too much focus has been given to whether the administration called the attacks on the American consulate at Benghazi an act of terror.  Parsing the questions is important both to frame our objections to Obama’s behavior after this incident and to point out larger problems with his foreign policy.

It’s well known that the administration rejected requests for increased security at the consulate.  The administration’s assumptions regarding the nature of the world has caused them to be unprepared for the Islamists at every turn over the last four years.  But their refusal to protect Americans, as shameful and loathsome as that is, constitutes a different issue than the one I am addressing.

As I’ve pointed out before, I published an assessment within one day of the attacks in which, despite focusing on issues related mostly to how we move forward with increased security, my own military readers concluded that this was a well-planned, well-coordinated attack with ensconced fighters, involving a complex ambush with the use of combined arms.

Take careful note.  The use of combined arms is deadly to your own fighters if it isn’t a well-rehearsed engagement.  Firing mortars or light [or heavy] machine guns at your own fighters kills them, and you must know where they are and what they’re doing at all times.

My article was well-visited that day by the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, DoD network domains, and others that were in a position to make a difference with the administration.  Glenn Reynolds linked the post, and the traffic his site drives isn’t the only interesting feature of his attention.  The quality of his traffic is even more remarkable.

So within 24 hours everyone knew that this wasn’t the action of an angry mob.  The administration also knew that very quickly from information to which only they would have been aware, as Former Spook points out.

In recent posts, we’ve asked the fundamental question about the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans: what did the  administration know, and when did they know it?

As we’ve noted, there was a steady stream of intelligence reporting on the attack, delivered at the FLASH/CRITIC level.  Messages assigned that priority must be delivered to the President within 10 minutes of receipt.  This traffic captured conversations between the Islamist factions responsible for the attack, before and during the assault on our compound.  That’s why administration claims that incident was some sort of “demonstration gone bad” are nothing more than a lie.

Ditto for Joe Biden’s claim that Benghazi was some sort of intelligence failure.  By all accounts, the spooks did their job, and it was apparent within minutes  that our consulate was under attack by terrorists, not ordinary Libyans incensed over that internet video.  If Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has any shred of integrity remaining, he should resign immediately in protest over how his community is being “used” to conceal leadership failures of the first magnitude.

But terrorist phone traffic wasn’t the only source of information on the night of September 11, 2012.  According to Fox News military analyst Colonel David Hunt (who spent most of his Army career in special forces), various U.S. command centers–in the U.S. and overseas–received a running account of the attack –while it unfolded–from a State Department official inside the consulate.  Hunt detailed who was listening in during a recent interview with Boston radio host Howie Carr.

See his article for a continuation of the discussion.  So as we’ve observed, the administration knew.  But then as I mentioned above, so did you.  It didn’t take weeks or months of review, investigation and field work to know how this transpired.  My military readers told you within 24 hours.

And yet … some two weeks after the attack on the consulate, Obama went before the United Nations and gave that silly, sophomoric speech.

That is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well – for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and religion. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion – we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.

[ ... ]

There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy.

He very clearly blamed the attack on a video and pointed to mob-like behavior and outrage.  This is his lie.

He knew better.  Everyone knew better.  Yes, he and his administration has four deaths for which to answer.  They are on his conscience.  His foreign policy is an abysmal  failure.  Furthermore, as my own readers pointed out within one day of the attack, we lacked an effective QRF (Quick Reaction Force).  We were unprepared.  This is yet another problem.

Those are problems indeed.  But they belong in a different category, and parsing them is necessary when moderators and main stream media types talk about ridiculous things like when the administration used the word “terror.”  The word means nothing.  The attack would have inflicted terror regardless of whether it was a pre-planned attack or the actions of a mob.  In pointing to a video, Obama lied. The lie demands an answer separate from the failures of Obama’s foreign policy.

UPDATE #1: Seeing the problems ahead, it appears that the administration is returning to the lie, as a dog to its own vomit.

UPDATE #2: The CIA is lying for Obama, just as had been predicted.  And it is a lie – make no mistake about it.  Also see Bing West on the CIA-NYT lie.  What, now, does this say about General David Petraeus who currently heads up the CIA?

UPDATE #3: No, Katrina, you’ve accepted the lie too uncritically.

UPDATE #4: Romney’s response apparently can be found here.  Take note, though.  Look carefully at the dates.  Obama’s camp is claiming that the intelligence community didn’t change the briefs until September 22nd.  For the sake of argument, let’s grant the point.  Obama gave his speech to the U.N. on September 25th.  Even if [what I am calling] the lie is true, Obama is caught in yet another lie.  He knew before his U.N. speech.


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