One area in which Benghazi: The Definitive Report was lacking was in some of the details of America’s response the night of, and in the aftermath of, the attack on our Temporary Mission Facility/Consulate in Benghazi. We hope to shed some more light on this issue, but first let’s take a look at it from the beginning.
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Benghazi Attack Timeline
- The Special Mission Compound in Benghazi came under attack the evening of Sept. 11, 2012
- Calls for help go out from the State Department compound under attack
- Embassy in Tripoli evacuates to the local CIA base because of poor security posture
- CIA Chief of Base in Benghazi refuses three calls for help. Navy SEAL Ty Woods says his team is going with or without approval. (Three calls and wasted minutes that could have saved Stevens and Smith. Meanwhile, the COB receives a recent award from the CIA.)
- Ty Woods leads a small Global Response Staff (GRS) element and rescues all remaining survivors.
- GRS team returns back to their CIA base and attacking element follows them. Attacks increase throughout the night.
- CIA and JSOC element in Tripoli, including Navy SEAL CIA contractor Glen Doherty, are denied their request to fly up to Benghazi to assist. The team bribes local pilots with $30,000 US funds. Their assistance and addition of the UAV rover hand-held device ultimately plays into the overall evacuation of all CIA and State personnel from Benghazi. Glen and Ty Woods die on the rooftop of the CIA compound from a coordinated mortar attack.
- Everyone evacuated and flown out of Benghazi. Stevens body is recovered by JSOC and delivered to the airport.
- The President departs to Las Vegas on September 12th for a fund raiser. This gets him away from “direct involvement,” but he did give his orders to the SECDEF (see below).
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton begins to discuss the YouTube “video” and denounces the video. (Note: she also attended a viewing of the “Book of Mormon” in NYC. The play, like the YouTube video, mocks Mormon religion. Something to think about.)
- Ambassador Rice goes on five Sunday talk shows to “sell” the video story to the American public. A Presidential election is on the line, and favors are traded at the highest levels. “The veteran diplomat said his “jaw dropped” and he was both “stunned” and “embarrassed” when Rice said the attack was a response to the YouTube video.” -From CNN discussing Hicks response to seeing Rice promote the video.
- A cover up is born and continues to this day. Senior leadership within the State Department have not been held accountable for security oversights. It’s business as usual.
The Presidential Response
For the first time, we have learned a little about what was happening in the White House on the night of the Benghazi attack. When informed of the attack, President Obama talked with his Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta. This is nearly an exact quote from the President to Secretary Panetta: Do whatever you can to save those people. Panetta had a mandate but failed to act on it. The Secretary of Defense did not take the incident seriously enough, and did not put nearly as much priority on launching support to Benghazi as he should have.
The Military Response
Today, we know more, but far from everything that should have been uncovered if there had been a real official investigation into what happened that night. We do know that almost immediately after the State Dept. facility came under attack, they sent up a message to higher. That message was received and a priority coding was sent out to the US military in order to get them ready to conduct mission(s) to Benghazi. The exact priority code cannot be reported because it is classified, but we are assured that it was “very high.”
To give you an idea of how high a priority Benghazi was in military planning cells, we were told that aircraft were having their missions scrubbed and were being re-tasked for operations in Benghazi the night of the attack with verbal orders. This is something that almost never happens, especially in the Air Force, where orders have to be typed up and e-mailed to move aircraft around. When planners were called in the night of 9/11/12, there was some panic as the Benghazi attack came quick and fast, and caught many off guard. However, we are told that both General Ham and General Breedlove were on point that night. The officers involved were about getting the job done and were prepared to blow off waivers that would be required and other formalities in order to evacuate civilians and servicemen from Libya.
Military planners were leaning forward, identifying airfields in Libya which were capable of landing C-130 aircraft, and figuring out primary and alternate routes into country. There were some roadblocks. When an AC-130 gunship was flown in to stage out of Italy, it was denied permission to land by the Italian government and had to divert to England. An AC-130 did arrive in Italy but not until 48 hours after Benghazi was over with. If you remember, the whole incident from start to finish was measured in hours, not days.
AC-130 Capability Video (a huge advantage)
Our information dovetails with that which was reported by an anonymous source in a Fox News interview. The Special Forces CIF (Commanders In-extremis Force) team in Croatia was postured in a manner that they could have responded to Benghazi. The CIF did have a C-130 aircraft with them, in Croatia, which was assigned to them and their mission. The CIF was, in fact, stood up to go into Benghazi, and then stood down. The reasons why remain unclear.
Worse yet, no After Action Review was conducted after the emergency in Benghazi. Clearly, many at the highest levels of government wanted to sweep it all under the rug and forget about it. Aircraft from Signonella to Rota to Djibouti sat on airfields in a static posture for about a week after Benghazi. A formal stand down order never came, the mission was simply allowed to lapse until it was forgotten about.
The FBI Investigates
Then there was the two-week delay that came in getting the FBI into Benghazi to investigate the attack. The statements made by Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton about how out of control Libya was succeeded in causing diplomatic breakdowns because the Libyans in power became angry over their statements. This went on until John Brennan was able to square things up with the Libyan government.
Our sources close to the FBI investigation continue to complain that the FBI investigation on Benghazi has been stiff-armed by senior leadership within the Department of State, documents received contain pages of redactions, and nearly a year after the attack the FBI hasn’t been granted access to the Predator drone footage from the night of the attacks.
In light of the interagency politics, the FBI and JSOC have developed a suspect and target list. No actions have been taken by senior US government officials to take into custody known suspects held by Egypt, Tunisia, and Pakistan. JSOC knows where the bad men sleep at night, and nothing is being done about it.
And what example and precedent does this set? Is it open season on American ambassadors?
Recommendations Unheeded by Dept. of State
When Kennedy was explaining away denied security requests regarding coordinated US Embassy bombings in Africa back in 1999 the Department contracted with (Snowden’s former employer) Booz Allen Hamilton to conduct an audit of its operations. According to sources within State, most of these recommendations were never implemented, especially the important ones related to security and Diplomatic Security autonomy.
The recently released Independent Panel Report (an ARB recommendation) seems like it contains many of the original recommendations that came from Booz Allen Hamilton. Should State finally make these changes? Will Kennedy wait until another US Ambassador is dead to finally figure it out? Good questions to ask.
Recommendations from the current IPR include
- Diplomatic Security (DS) must be independent of Management and represented by an Undersecretary. *Note: This takes a lot of power away from Kennedy and will be a hard sell.
- DS requires a professional planning capacity
- The Director and DS must have staff
- Establish a foreign affairs training center for security and training
The recommendations by the Independent Panel Report should be implemented this time around. Let’s not let another decade go by, and see more dead Americans, without making these necessary changes.
Benghazi was preventable and the DOS agents on the ground in Libya were failed by senior leadership. Once the attack was underway, a chain of events unfolded and people were either on the right or wrong side the decision matrix. Additional blame can be placed on Panetta for not taking decisive action, the CIA chief-of-base for refusing three calls for help (these precious minutes could have saved Stevens and Smith’s lives), and career military officers and bureaucrats too afraid for their own careers to act.
Political leadership in Washington and the citizens of this country (write your representative) should press for Kennedy to be relieved as Undersecretary of Management. He’s proven himself grossly incompetent, and if anyone had the experience to have known better it was him. He caved under top pressure from Hillary Clinton, and blatantly denied his own staff’s requests for increased security in Libya, one of the most dangerous Dept. of State posts in the world.
After extensive interviews with sources from within the CIA, State Department and FBI, it cannot be clearer to us that the two people who bear the most responsibility for the poor security posture in Benghazi and Tripoli are Undersecretary of Management Patrick Kennedy and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The blood of a US Ambassador and three Americans are on their hands, and this should not be forgotten now or in the coming elections of 2016.
For all of it, there’s the positive to be remembered. The majority of CIA and State Department personnel were evacuated successfully. There are many unsung heroes at the CIA, State Dept., Military, and JSOC who acted honorably that fateful day. The heroic actions of men like Ty Woods, Glen Doherty and the others (some still recovering from their wounds) should be remembered and celebrated.
By: Jack Murphy and Brandon Webb
Main photo: Courtesy ABC News