General on Night of Benghazi Attack Says AFRICOM Left Out of Pre-9/11 Preparations
Congress heard from a long-awaited witness in the Benghazi investigation today that no one in U.S. Africa Command was brought in on the White House preparations to gird against a 9/11 anniversary attack.
Gen. Carter Ham was in charge of AFRICOM on the night of the terrorist attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi. A month after the attack, President Obama nominated a replacement for Ham and the four-star general retired.
The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations met for a classified briefing this morning to hear testimony from three Benghazi figures: Ham; Lieutenant Colonel S.E. Gibson, former commander of the site security team at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli; and Rear Admiral Brian Losey, former commander, Special Operations Command Africa.
A statement from the committee said the witnesses "did clarify several matters with respect to the events of September 11 and 12, 2012" as they described U.S. posture and response.
The White House issued a readout on Sept. 10, 2012, saying that then-counterterrorism adviser John Brennan had led a briefing that was the culmination of “numerous meetings to review security measures in place” and included “steps taken to protect U.S. persons and facilities abroad, as well as force protection.” Brennan has since been appointed CIA director.
Ham "stated that neither he or anyone working for him was consulted as part of the Brennan 9/11 planning process," the committee said.
Gibson told the panel that contrary to news reports he was not told to "stand down" as he sought to take three Special Forces soldiers to aid to the fight in Benghazi but was "ordered to remain in Tripoli to defend Americans there in anticipation of possible additional attacks, and to assist the survivors as they returned from Benghazi."
"Gibson acknowledged that had he deployed to Benghazi he would have left Americans in Tripoli undefended," according to the committee. "He also stated that in hindsight, he would not have been able to get to Benghazi in time to make a difference, and as it turned out his medic was needed to provide urgent assistance to survivors once they arrived in Tripoli."
The committee did not give any indication what Losey told the panel. In April, he was pulled off Special Operations Command Africa and was assigned as commander of Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego.
Earlier this week, after a lack of cooperation from Secretary of State John Kerry, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) issued four deposition subpoenas to State Department officials connected to lax security before the Benghazi attack.