The evidence is overwhelming that the United States had several rescue teams ready to go during the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but someone — possibly the president himself — prevented them from acting. So said Emmy Award-winning journalist Sharyl Attkisson to talk show host Steve Malzberg in an interview on Wednesday.
This week on her show, “Full Measure,” Attkisson looked into the aborted rescue mission in an in-depth two-part report, “Rescue Interrupted,” which you can watch here and here. She spoke with a Green Beret commander who told her that there were actually Special Forces on their way to Benghazi who were turned back.
Col. Andrew Wood had once commanded a Special Forces anti-terrorism team protecting Ambassador Chis Stevens and other diplomats in Libya. In October of 2012, Woods told Congress that one month before the attacks in Benghazi, his team had been removed from Libya by the Obama administration, despite the numerous warnings of impending terrorist attacks. Wood told Attkisson that Special Forces (the ones mentioned in the “spinning up” email from Jeremy Bash) were on their way to Benghazi, but were ordered to turn back.
“Those individuals I know loaded aircraft and got on their way to Benghazi to respond to that incident. They were not allowed to cross the border as per protocol until they got approval from the commander in chief,” Wood explained. “That authority has to come from him or they’re not allowed to enter the country.”
Attkisson told Malzberg, “This is something that the president and the White House has steadfastly denied, but there’s now what I would call an overwhelming body of evidence that leads us to believe that somebody stopped a number of teams and potential rescuers from entering Libya or going to Benghazi to help while those attacks were underway.”
“They could have gotten there before the last two Americans died,” Attkisson noted. “Those attacks went on for eight hours.”
The email from Jeremy Bash to Jacob Sullivan, deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, came at 7:19 pm Washington time.
Attkisson notes in Part One of “Rescue Interrupted” that “the White House has refused to detail the involvement of President Obama — the Commander-in-Chief — while Americans were under attack on foreign soil.”
On November 9, 2012, Jake Tapper asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney if and when the White House was going to put out a detailed “tick-tock” surrounding its response to the Benghazi attacks. Instead of answering the question, Carney blathered on about the State Department investigation: “Nobody is more interested than the president in making sure the facts are collected, we find out exactly what happened, that we bring to justice those who killed four Americans and that we take measures to ensure that what happened in Benghazi does not happen again.”
“We’re never going to get a tick-tock,” one of the reporters complained at the time. As Attkisson notes, Obama “virtually disappears from the public narrative.” All we know is he had a fundraiser to attend the next day in Las Vegas. Incredibly, in light of what happened in Benghazi, he didn’t cancel the trip.
At a conference in Maryland last weekend, Benghazi security officer Kris “Tanto” Paronto revealed that two AC-130H “Spectre” gunships were “on call” that night, both within range of Benghazi.
One of them was a six-hour flight away, co-located with a U.S. special operations team in Djibouti. The other was at Naval Air Station Sigonella, in Sicily. “That’s a 45-minute flight,” Paronto said.
The Spectre gunship with its 25mm rapid-fire Gatling guns, its 40mm precision Bofors gun, and its 105mm canon is “good in urban warfare because you have little collateral damage,” Paronto explained.
In fact, it was just what the beleaguered security team needed. They could see the jihadis advancing on the Annex compound throughout the night and lit them up with lasers, which the airborne crew could have used for precision targeting purposes. On-line videos of the Spectre gunship in operation show that it can walk its cannons up narrow streets, killing fighters while leaving the surrounding buildings intact and people inside them unharmed.
“I asked for the Spectre and ISR [an armed Predator drone] at 9:37 pm,” Paronto said, certain that the attacks actually started at 9:32 pm local time, not 9:42 pm as previously reported. “At midnight, they told us they were still working on getting us that Spectre gunship. Not that it was not available, but that they were still working on it.”
And there were more forces immediately available for a rescue effort, in particular, the European Command (EUCOM) Commander’s In-Extremis Force, which was then on a counter-terrorism training mission in Croatia, a three-hour flight from Benghazi.
Paronto knew people in that unit, and remembers calling them after he and his security team got back to the CIA Annex from the diplomatic compound, where they had just rescued the surviving U.S. personnel. “They were loading their gear into their aircraft and ready to go,” he recalled. Later, his friends in the unit told him they had been shut down sometime after midnight.
Author and former Navy Seal Matt Bracken first made the point here at PJ Media in November of 2012. All forces needed to enter Libya was a “cross-border Authority” from the commander in chief. Unfortunately for Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, Obama had probably gone to bed early so he could get his beauty sleep for the big fundraiser the next day.
If the White House doesn’t like that unflattering perception, maybe it should — at long last — pony up that tick-tock.