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Benghazi Culpability: Walls Closing in on Administration

Cross-border authority, an unusual resignation. The truth is coming out.

by
Bob Owens

Bio

November 1, 2012 - 8:45 pm

The mainstream media is doing all that it can to avoid reporting on the Obama administration’s cover-up of the Benghazi scandal, where President Obama may have abandoned up to 32 Americans to die.

Fox News is the only mainstream media outlet to undertake a concerted effort into sorting through the spin coming from the White House, and they’ve uncovered some maddening claims — including the latest bombshell, a classified cable from the consulate in August wherein the Regional Security Officer (RSO) warned they were understaffed and under-gunned:

“RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound,” the cable said.

According to a review of the cable addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Emergency Action Committee was also briefed “on the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi … these groups ran the spectrum from Islamist militias, such as the QRF Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia, to ‘Takfirist thugs.’” Each U.S. mission has a so-called Emergency Action Committee that is responsible for security measures and emergency planning.

The details in the cable seemed to foreshadow the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. compound, which was a coordinated, commando-style assault using direct and indirect fire. Al-Qaeda in North Africa and Ansar al-Sharia, both mentioned in the cable, have since been implicated in the consulate attack.

When you begin looking at those who bear responsibility for the dead and wounded in Benghazi (four American dead, roughly a dozen wounded, including Libyan allies helping evacuate the consulate staff), there are three separate points of failure:

  • Failing to secure the consulate staff prior to the attack;
  • Failing to protect the consulate staff during the initial attack on the consulate;
  • Failing to protect the combined group of consulate staff, CIA operators, and Libyan allies at the CIA safe house after the consulate rescue and before the eventual extraction the next morning.

Failure to secure the consulate prior to the attack

There can be no mistake about it: the responsibility to provide security to embassy and consulate sites is the responsibility of the secretary of State. Hillary Clinton should be on the proverbial chopping block if the consulate did not have adequate security staff and and weaponry to defend itself, which appears rather obviously to be the case.

The consulate itself was selected because it had several buildings in the compound, and because it could house more than two dozen staff and temporary duty officers. Reports indicate that the actual number of Americans on site was far less than that on the day of the attack. Even after the CIA officers from the safe house a mile away and the eight-man Tripoli-based QRF were included, the total number of Americans extracted was only 24-32.

There are unconfirmed rumors that the White House itself interceded to override State to keep this dangerously low footprint in Benghazi. To date this is just a rumor, and would still not absolve Clinton of her responsibilities to provide adequate protection for diplomatic staff.

Failing to secure the consulate during the initial attack

At roughly 9:40 p.m. local time — after a Turkish delegation left the compound and was apparently allowed thorough Ansar al-Sharia checkpoints with 150 or more armed militants milling around — the attack on the consulate compound began.

According to an earlier Fox News report, the consulate staff immediately called for support (which never came), and the CIA operators at a safe house a mile away were twice denied requests before disobeying orders. They conducted a consulate staff extraction on their own, without military support.

By the time the CIA team from the safe house arrived, Ambassador Stevens had been taken, diplomat Sean Smith was dead, and several other consulate staff were seriously wounded.

The timeline suggests that if the terror cell had begun cutting off roads at 8:00 p.m. with easily recognizable “technicals” — pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns — and if the consulate staff was aware of being isolated prior to an attack, then they would have had enough time to call for military air support and an extraction team. The consulate staff could have become aware of the pending attack from the Turkish delegation that must have gone through one of the checkpoints, or from their own surveillance.

In either event, a flight of fighter jets from Italy could have made it to Benghazi prior to the start of the initial attack if they had been scrambled immediately, and AC-130 or MC-130 gunships could have been on-station within two to three hours. Handled aggressively, there is the slim possibility that a show of force from American airpower could have dissuaded the terrorists from launching their attack. Once the attack had begun, however, these air assets could have broken the attacking force.

Of course, the indications are that these aircraft were not on scene during the initial assault that killed Sean Smith and Ambassador Stevens. Fighter aircraft never arrived, and there is considerable ambiguity on whether a gunship was dispatched. The only known air asset was a Predator drone, which the administration claims was unarmed.

General Ham at AFRICOM in Germany would have been the military leader in charge of launching a support mission, and he had considerable assets at his disposal — from the aforementioned drones, fighter-bombers, and gunships to highly trained quick-reaction forces, including a Delta Force team. In fact, such forces would have had standing orders to start preparing a rescue mission as soon as Ambassador Stevens and his staff warned they were under attack. None of these assets ever made it to Libya.

General Ham is no longer the AFRICOM commander and is said to have suddenly not just left his command, but retired from the military. Some military sources familiar with Ham said it would not have been in his nature to abandon Americans in danger and that he had in fact ignored a White House directive in an earlier, still-classified rescue where the administration had left Americans undefended.

Failing to secure the safe house after the consulate rescue

The State Department failed to provide the consulate with adequate security staffing or weapons in the months and weeks prior to attack. AFRICOM did not launch any known assets as a result of the initial attack. Ultimately, both report to the Obama administration, and this would have been a scandal regardless of whether or not the battle ended there.

Of course, it didn’t end there.

After Ty Woods and his CIA safe house operators had evacuated the consulate staff back to the safe house, and the CIA QRF from Tripoli (which included Glen Doherty) and it’s allied Libyan militia ground force were back at the safe house, a second battle erupted, hours after the initial attack.

There were confirmed American dead, wounded, and missing (Ambassador Stevens) at this point. A large number of jihadi forces had been engaged. There was no question whatsoever that this was anything other than a terrorist attack.

There is no excuse for not having additional military assets deployed at this time, and if the claims that Woods was lasing a mortar team and calling for fire from a Spectre as Jennifer Griffin’s eyewitness claims, then at least a gunship was on-station and someone denied them the permission to fire. The mortar team then killed Woods and Doherty, wounded two more consulate staff, and at least seven of our Libyan allies.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter if the Spectre was on-station and was ordered not to fire, or if it and other air assets were denied permission to take off in a “stand down” ordered from above.

In any event, the buck stops at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in the person of Barack Obama. It does not matter if he watched the attack live via the drone as some allege, or if he went to bed early so he could campaign in Las Vegas the next day, as others have alleged.

What does matter is that once a rescue mission starts spinning up, the president and the president alone has to give the authorization to send troops into another nation.

This is called cross-border authority. Obama declined to give it.

Barack Obama was responsible for abandoning more than two dozen Americans to die. The buck stops with him, and every plea he’s made for “a thorough investigation” is a bald-faced lie, intended to run out the clock until the election.

Bob Owens blogs at Bob-Owens.com.
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