A new email released today by Judicial Watch shows that the Department of Defense was ready to mobilize forces to Benghazi three and a half hours after the attack began.
An email was sent by then-Department of Defense Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash to State Department leadership that offered “forces that could move to Benghazi” during the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
In an email sent to top Department of State officials, at 7:19 p.m. ET, only hours after the attack had begun, Bash says, “we have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak.” The Obama administration redacted the details of the military forces available, oddly citing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption that allows the withholding of “deliberative process” information.
Bash’s email seems to directly contradict testimony given by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2013. Defending the Obama administration’s lack of military response to the nearly six-hour-long attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Panetta claimed that “time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response.”
Panetta said the 130 gunships or fixed wing fighters — which would have required refueling abilities, armaments, targeting and support facilities — “were not in the vicinity of Benghazi.”
But according to Bash, their forces were “spinning up” and ready to deploy about an hour into the second wave of attacks.
The first assault occurred at the main compound at about 9:40 pm local time – 3:40 p.m. EST in Washington, D.C. The second attack on a CIA annex 1.2 miles away began three hours later, at about 12 a.m. local time the following morning – 6 p.m. EST.
At approximately 11:15 EST, former U.S. Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed at the annex in the mortar assault. A DS agent and annex security member were severely wounded in that attack.
The newly released email reads:
From: Bash, Jeremy CIV SD [REDACTED]
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 7:19 PM
To: Sullivan, Jacob J; Sherman, Wendy R; Nides, Thomas R
Cc: Miller, James HON OSD POLICY; Wienefeld, James A ADM JSC VCJCS; Kelly, John LtGen SD; martin, dempsey [REDACTED]
I just tried you on the phone but you were all in with S [apparent reference to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton].
After consulting with General Dempsey, General Ham and the Joint Staff, we have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak. They include a [REDACTED].
Assuming Principals agree to deploy these elements, we will ask State to procure the approval from host nation. Please advise how you wish to convey that approval to us [REDACTED].
Sadly, the approval never came, and it could have made a difference.
According to testimony by Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli Gregory Hicks before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in May of 2013, “if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them.”
The new email came as a result of a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on September 4, 2014.
“The Obama administration and Clinton officials hid this compelling Benghazi email for years,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The email makes readily apparent that the military was prepared to launch immediate assistance that could have made a difference, at least at the CIA Annex. The fact that the Obama Administration withheld this email for so long only worsens the scandal of Benghazi.”
This isn’t the first Benghazi-related bombshell broken by Judicial Watch this year.
Documents obtained by Judicial Watch in May revealed that the Benghazi terror attack “was planned at least 10 days in advance to coincide with 9/11 and was in retaliation for a drone strike that killed an al Qaeda strategist.”
“The intention was to attack the consulate and to kill as many Americans as possible to seek revenge for the [U.S.] killing of Aboyahiye (Alaliby) in Pakistan and in memorial of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings,” the memo said.
Another Defense Intelligence Agency memo, dated Oct. 5, 2012, confirmed that U.S. intelligence agencies knew that weapons were moving from Libya to Syria before the attack that killed four Americans.
Judicial Watch obtained those memos by suing in federal court.