Fox’s Jennifer Griffin deserves a Pulitzer for the work she is doing to uncover what really happened during and after the assault at Benghazi. In her latest blockbuster, she reports on how American personnel were left without aid during the battle.
Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that three urgent requests from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. Consulate and subsequent attack nearly seven hours later were denied by officials in the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were part of a small team who were at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. Consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When they heard the shots fired, they radioed to inform their higher-ups to tell them what they were hearing. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. An hour later, they called again to headquarters and were again told to “stand down.”
Who gave those stand-down orders? Was the CIA director, Gen. David Petraeus, aware of them? Did he approve them? Who specifically took any part on this decision?
A Special Operations team, or CIF which stands for Commanders in Extremis Force, operating in Central Europe had been moved to Sigonella, Italy, but they too were told to stand down. A second force that specializes in counterterrorism rescues was on hand at Sigonella, according to senior military and intelligence sources. According to those sources, they could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. They were the same distance to Benghazi as those that were sent from Tripoli. Specter gunships are commonly used by the Special Operations community to provide close air support.
According to sources on the ground, the special operator on the roof of the CIA annex had visual contact and a laser pointing at the Libyan mortar team that was targeting the CIA annex. The operators were calling in coordinates of where the Libyan forces were firing from.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that there was not a clear enough picture of what was occurring on the ground in Benghazi to send help.
“There’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on here,” Panetta said Thursday. “But the basic principle here … is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on.”
“Monday morning quarterbacking”? They had a laser on the target. An F-18 could have reached the scene from Sigonella in about an hour and destroyed it.
The denial of aid is criminal. Whoever gave those multiple stand-down orders may be an accomplice to manslaughter, at least.
The notion that there was nothing they could have done is absurd. The military has binders and binders — note that word — of contingency plans to deal with breaking security issues and attacks. But our troops, according to Sen. John McCain, were not even put on alert, and field operators on the scene were ordered to stand down.
More: When the 3 AM crisis phone call came in, Barack Obama hatched a plot to attack American free speech rights. And then he went to bed.
Update from Bob Owens: There was an AC-130U gunship on the scene in Benghazi, but it was not allowed to fire.
Update: The CIA denies Fox’s report.
CIA spox: “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. ”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 26, 2012
Clearly we need hearings with the president and his relevant cabinet officials either testifying or submitting comments, before the election.