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Post-Benghazi Defense Posture: Lives Now Get Same Protection Priority as Intelligence

Officials says changes made in a matter of months, including weekly sit-downs to talk terror, would have changed Benghazi response.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

September 20, 2013 - 8:04 pm
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“All the changes that you’ve made in preparedness, lessons learned, if those had been in place today, would the response have been different in 2012?” Roby asked.

“Yes,” Reid responded. “There are capabilities in place now and in place on the alert status that we had them last week, modulated to the very highest level, would significantly have increased and improved our response capability.”

He clarified that four hours before getting in the air qualifies as a rapid response. “And I think it’s hard for folks to imagine, because we’re used to 911 and police and fire, but that’s not the same thing.”

Reid described today’s relationship between agencies that needed to come together the night of the Benghazi attack as “more robust.”

“The access was always there, but the focus, the intensity, the repetition and the levels at which we do it has been increased significantly over the past year,” he said.

He described their new weekly meetings to review threats like so: “All threats are briefed. All agencies, not just us and Department of State, all agencies are asked, are there any threats that you know about that weren’t mentioned or are there any threats you just heard about for the first time, and do we need to elaborate? That’s one. And the second part of that is, is everybody getting the support and cooperation from the other agencies? The question posed back to us, have we responded to all requests for security?”

“I would say that right now it’s as good as it can be, and we continue to expect that that will be the case for the future,” Roberson added. “So every day we have people very dedicated to the high threat, high risk areas, as well as around the world. And we routinely coordinate. I mean, I pick up the phone weekly if not daily with folks over at the State Department.”

Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) asked if the witnesses believed Ambassador Chris Stevens or the diplomatic facility was the target in Benghazi.

“I believe the United States’s presence was my target. That’s my own personal view,” Reid answered.

“Sir, I believe that there were many people in Libya that truly loved the ambassador,” Roberson said. Still, he added later, “I’ll just say that we were postured as we thought was appropriate, and we were meeting all requirements at the time that Benghazi happened.”

“I’ll tell you, I think the ambassador was the target. I think it was an outright assassination,” Scott said. “I don’t think these guys just got that lucky and — and got — and hit the special mission when the ambassador happened to be there.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) noted that about a third of diplomatic sites around the world are in as vulnerable a setting as Benghazi.

“All facilities are not created equally as a matter of construction standards, and a matter of infrastructure, and a matter of a host nation and the physical environment, we absolutely agree with that,” Reid said. “What we have done in our cooperative assessments with chiefs of mission and with State colleagues back here in Washington is look at each one of these and participate in a dialogue about what could be done, what ought to be done, what should be done.”

Roberson noted that the ultimate approval to send a rescue team onto foreign soil still rests at the White House. “The commander will, you know, depending on the situation, again, when we get indications that we need to move forces, if we’re going to go into another country, then we have to elevate that level of decision all the way up to the president.”

“Launching a military operation into a sovereign country is a decision the president makes,” Reid added. However, “the engine of this dialogue and decision originates with the chief of mission.”

“The chief of mission is the president’s representative in that country.”

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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It is completely unnecessary to spend months planning for future disasters like Benghazi. The rules are all in place. What is needed is a change in the personnel.
A commander-in-chief who knew his job, a Secretary of State who understood the lack of security at a sensitive post. Fire the losers, leave the rules in place.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wonderful, so the went from a fireteam to a full squad of Marines. Extra crowd control weapons? Gee, does that mean they will be issuing nightsticks? I wonder if they will be allowed to carry ammunition?

It's been a long time so correct me if I'm wrong but weren't the security detachment personel in Tehran ordered not to resist when it was over run? As I remember the Ambassador ordered them to not resist. He thought he could talk his way out.

It sure is a comfort that a human life is now worth as much as a classified document.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Rather, we were so badly postured, they could not have made a difference.”

What angers me most with this statement that, taken out of context, or, perhaps even IN context, it mirrors Hiltery's "At this point, what difference does it make?"

In other words, the national socialists have, once again, found someone on the "other side" to agree with them, turning this argument into a farcical adventure in butt-sniffing and tail-wagging.

"We said we would get to the bottom of this and by golly, after spending millions of tax dollars on late-night snacks and greasing the political wheels, we did!"

Sickening.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They couldn't have made a difference???
That is ludicris. How could they possibly have been able to decide how long it was going to go on? Did the Benghazi Warlords send them the battle plan and schedule?
Let's hear directly from the Survivors. Those are the only ones we can possibly believe.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Furthermore, if those dispatched from Tripoli had never arrived at all, what sort of outcome would we have had?
Certainly there would be fewer Survivors to keep track of.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who's kidding who here? Adding another 7 Marines, beefing up weapons and defensive measures isn't enough in the midst of thousands of heavily armed militia and soldiers with mortar and artillery and the willingness to sell their lives to kill an Ambassador and those who defend him or her. At best it might buy some time for a rescue, maybe but not without serious loss of life. To have put American State Department and US Military in Benghazi in such instability and then to rely on locals for security is where it all breaks down. To use such a high visibility public figure as an Ambassador to conduct clandestine negotiations in a rebel controlled area like Benghazi over American weaponry secretly given to rebels was grossly fatally and criminally stupid. Like the embarrassment over the Syrian Poisonous Gas Weapons ever moving Red Line non-ultimatum by our "Dear Leader," it's all Amateur night theatrics and token gestures designed to placate the gullible public into thinking that the problem has been solved. Our political leaders really do think we're all just stupid sheep and treat us as such. How much pain, impoverishment, loss of liberty, lying and theft, and yes killing of Americans due to their stupidity and cupidity must we endure from the current crop of politicians before we remove them from office?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who can believe Roby? We all know that the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the US Armed Forces would have volunteered to rescue their fellow countrymen. Now if they say they could not have done anything useful we can believe them. To believe a Washington pol is dopey. We need to ask the military people directly about what happened. Until then the truth is hidden. The Obama administration did not care about the Islamists or the US Govt employees before the attack. To think that on the night of the attack they were suddenly honest, truthful and conscientious is just ridiculous. The Obama Admin teased the Islamists before the attack. Can you imagine a boxer pointing at his chin and telling his opponent "Just here! I'm going to lead with my chin!" That is what Obama did. Then the jihadis attacked and he shut up. He did nothing to save his own people, who he had put in danger. His policy towards China is going down the same path. He is cutting defense spending and increasing the commitment to contain China. The Chinese are humans. One day they will say to themselves "Our diplomats can't win but our soldiers can win." If they think Russia will be neutral or friendly then were will be in big trouble.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
http://nyyrc.com/blog/2013/09/martial-sharia-obamas-politically-correct-military/

What’s shaping up is an unmitigated disaster for the administration and the Democrat Party with Christians, and with western minds in general. Eagerly looking to fill the leadership gap is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Authoring a derisive op-ed in the New York Times, he chided Obama for disregarding international law, and strongly opposed any military intervention that would benefit the murderous rebels. It’s no secret that Russia has emerged from Communism with a renewed Christian faith. For example, the Basic (Orthodox) Church Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom, and Rights is meant to guide legislation in Russia. For many Christian Americans who see their faith under assault, that Russia has taken a pro-active stance must be heartening. For American Jews, who see Israel alone in a region that Obama has helped to ignite into chaos, the stabilizing force of Russia must be reassuring.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of a highly trained, professional military with longstanding traditions to complement a free society. In any society, the military is the vanguard that ultimately keeps rule by preventing the conquering by a foreign culture. The values that they cherish, the ideals that they uphold, both reflect and inform the values of the society protected by them. Loyal first to the Constitution, then to the Commander-in-Chief, the United States Armed Forces are intended to be an institution as far removed from daily politics as can be realistically expected. They stand as our most powerful bulwark against tyranny, protecting the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans every day. An active assault on these traditions, and large scale purging of officers who refuse to silence their beliefs, is tantamount to declaring war on the very institution that wages war on our behalf. It’s a not-so-subtle form of national suicide.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think the public would have been a lot more forgiving if the government had at least TRIED to intervene, even if the rescue effort had to be called back while en route.

"We tried, but we just couldn't get there in time" is a lot better than "meh, we probably can't get there in time, so why bother?"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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