Incompetence. Abandonment. Treason.
It has been a sickening few days for those of us who have closely followed the revelations coming out about the Benghazi terror attack that killed not only Ambassador Chris Stevens and diplomat Sean Smith, but also CIA operators (and former SEALs) Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who died undertaking a rescue mission — unauthorized — to save the rest of the consulate staff.
We’ve learned about the incredible heroism of a CIA force that repeatedly called for help for as it was being attacked. Disturbingly, we learned that this force had been told to “stand down” twice by their chain of command, and that they violated direct orders to conduct this rescue mission. Our consulate staff was left to die.
Let me say that again: our consulate staff was to be abandoned and left to die.
We’ve also heard claims about why Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi to begin with: some sources suggest this was part of an Obama administration plot to arm Syrian rebels.
We should tackle each of these related issues separately.
For starters, we now know that not a single American life should have been lost. Trucks with with the Islamist cell’s logo and with heavy machine guns mounted on them took up blocking positions around the consulate no later than 8:00 p.m., according to Libyan eyewitnesses. These so-called “technicals” did not let anyone in or out for one hour and 40 minutes, until the attack began at 9:40 p.m. local time.
In that time, air assets based in Italy, Sicily, and the Mediterranean Sea could have easily dispatched the forces preparing for an attack, using precision weapons to destroy these logo-identified blocking vehicles. There is every reason to believe that the timely launch of air assets would have destroyed the attacking force as they prepared for their assault, without the loss of a single American life. For reasons as yet unknown, these easily identifiable enemy assets massing for an attack on the U.S. consulate were met with indifference by U.S. forces.
Our CIA assets, which seem to have been composed of former SEALs and other special operations personnel, conducted an unsupported rescue mission under fire. They saved the lives of the remaining consulate staff and recovered the body of Sean Smith, whom they then escorted back to their safehouse a mile away.
Once there, they came under fire again — including fire from a terrorist team armed with mortars. Then something truly extraordinary and troubling took place:
At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according to those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing, and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. special operations forces to provide support to special operation teams on the ground involved in intense firefights.
After reading this, I was simply stunned. According to the article, an American CIA agent had a laser on a target and was attempting to call in close air support — and was denied. While this article never explicitly says so, some have suggested that the “security officer” in the article was Ty Woods, soon to be killed by that same mortar. Let’s unpack this.
In this context, there are two ways to “lase” a target. One is simply using a visible laser designator/laser sight to point out the target’s location. The second is the use of a laser target designator (LTD), which is a far more sophisticated device. An LTD uses coded pulses of a band of light not visible to the human eye, and these pulses communicate and synchronize with an aircraft-mounted module to direct a finite and fairly exclusive family of air-launched guided weapons.