UPDATE: BENGHAZI is the #1 story right now (Friday evening July 5, 2013) on the website at CBS News, courtesy of Sharyl Atkisson:
“Marine Corps Col. George Bristol was in a key position in the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) chain of command the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. As such, he’s high on the list of people that some Republican members of Congress want to interview. But they don’t know where he is and the Pentagon isn’t telling.
Pentagon spokesman Major Robert Firman told CBS News that the Department of Defense “cannot compel retired members to testify before Congress…”They say he’s retired and they can’t reach out to him,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told CBS News. “That’s hogwash…”
Members of Congress in both the House and Senate, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have asked the Pentagon for assistance in locating Bristol so that they can question him about events the night of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi. But those efforts have come up empty.”
(My emphasis above.)
Let me emphasize again: we must never forget our 4 American heroes (most probably) abandoned for political expediency by the current, duplicitous, pusillanimous, and increasingly repugnant resident of the White House.
Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee famously boiled down the Watergate probe to a double-edged question: What did the president know, and when did he know it?
Our question about Benghazi is even simpler: WHO ordered our forces to stand down, rather than attempt a rescue?
Some nice articles about Benghazi are being written, but some tend to orbit around this one simple, salient question, rather than asking it directly.
e.g. Jim Geraghty of National Review Online writes:
You can see what’s going on here. You may not want to see it, or believe it, but you can see it. The federal government made awful, unforgivable wrong decisions about the security for its people in Benghazi. They compounded the error by failing to put together even the beginning of a rescue mission during the seven-hour assault. Perhaps those responsible for making the call had a fear of a “Black Hawk Down” scenario, in which the rescuers find themselves needing rescue, but whatever the reasoning, the net effect was the same: our people were under fire, fighting for their lives, and nobody was coming to help. The decisions made that night make a mockery of the unofficial, but widespread motto of our armed forces: “Nobody gets left behind.”
The decisions made up until this point may or may not have involved the president or then-Secretary of State Clinton, but they sure as hell were involved in the decisions that came afterwards.
My emphasis above, and the emphasized sentence implies that nobody was ready to start a rescue. If so, then how does one explain “stand down” orders to forces not ordered to get ready for a rescue? On that point, we have an interesting statement from a former presidential candidate.
During hearings on February 7, 2013, Senator John McCain said this to General Dempsey:
MCCAIN: “General Dempsey, I was just going over your written statement and I have to admit it is one of the more bizarre statements that I have ever seen in my years in this committee. When you’re talking about the Benghazi issue you say, ‘We positioned our forces in a way that was informed by and consistent with available threat estimates.’ Then you go on to say, ‘Our military was appropriately responsive’ even though seven hours passed and two Americans died at the end of that. Then you go on to say, ‘We did what our posture and capabilities allowed.’ Um, there’s a base at Souda Bay Crete General, there’s a base there – It’s about an hour and a half flight. … For you to say that our posture did not allow or a rapid response — our posture was not there because we didn’t take into account threats to that consulate and that’s why four Americans died. We could have placed forces there. We could have had aircraft and other capabilities a short distance away at Souda Bay Crete. So for you to testify before this committee that they were consistent with available threat estimates is simply false.”
Dempsey goes on to point his growing nose at the State Department as culpable for not asking for support.
Let us recall now the attempt at a rescue by the former Navy Seals present in Benghazi.
From a November 1, 2012 (please note the date!) article in Forbes by Larry Bell:
…former Navy Seals Ty Woods and Glen Doherty (who were later killed), were ordered to stand down three times following calls during the attack. The first two times occurred soon after they heard initial shots fired, informed higher-ups at the CIA annex, and requested permission to go to the consulate to help out. However, they ignored those orders and made their way to the consulate, which by that time was on fire. The rescue team then returned to the CIA annex about midnight after evacuating those who remained at the consulate and retrieving the body of Sean Smith. They had not succeeded in locating Ambassador Stevens.
Woods and Doherty called again for military support as they began to take on gunfire at the annex. Again, the request was denied. According to those present at the compound, there were no communications problems at the annex, and the team was in constant radio contact with headquarters. Ty Woods was manning a machine gun on the annex roof at the time. He painted a targeting laser on the enemy mortar that later killed him after calling for support from a Spectre gunship that never arrived.
The fighting at the CIA annex lasted for more than four hours. That provided plenty of time for American aircraft and commandos based at our Sigonella Air base in Italy 480 miles away to intervene.
Two separate Special Operations forces were instructed to stand down. Senior military and intelligence sources informed Fox News that a force specializing in counterterrorism rescues which was already in place at Sigonella could have reached Benghazi within less than two hours. The other team had previously operated in Central Europe, and was being moved to Sigonella.
My emphasis above. WHO ordered Woods and Doherty to stand down? Who ordered the Special Forces to stand down? So according to this information, in fact teams were ready for a rescue attempt. Again, the article was written on November 1, 2012. Let us link it together with John McCain’s statement and compare it to this (duplicitous) remark from BIG BRObama:
From the Forbes article:
…Clark asked the first and most important part again: “Were they denied requests for help during the attack?” And once again Obama offered a non-answer, saying: “I can tell you as I have said over the last couple of months since this happened, that the minute I found out this was going on, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice.” He continued, “I guarantee you that everybody in the State Department, our military, CIA, you name it, had number-one priority making sure that people were safe. These are our folks. And we’re going to find out exactly what happened.” …So if the president had issued a formal order to “employ all possible means to secure our personnel”, then wouldn’t the correct decision be to deploy aid to save them? And in not doing so, didn’t the defense secretary countermand the alleged direct order? On the other hand, it wouldn’t seem very likely for that to occur when his military superior, the president, was right there in the Oval Office with him.
Let me repeat that very important statement: “…that the minute I found out this was going on, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to.”
Obviously this order was not followed…if it was in fact given! Is there any documentation? And so if the order is to do “whatever we need to do” to secure our personnel, why were orders to stand down given, and where did they come from?
But note The Weasel Words: “…the minute I found out…” When was that? Was it so late that the attack was over, and so the “Number One” order was moot? If it did come late, how was that possible?
No matter: the question remains, and it is a question which must be repeated ad infinitum until the truth answers it: WHO ordered our forces to stand down?
Worrying about talking points and editing and bureaucratic tail-guarding is secondary to this most important question.
The Left is hoping that all of this information is wrong, that all the claims above are wrong, including the testimony of Gregory Hicks. In his testimony before Congress, and specifically to Rep. Turner of Ohio, Hicks said that a Lieutenant Colonel Gibson was ready to board a plane to lead a rescue, but was prevented. When Rep. DeSantis of Florida asked Mr. Hicks who had ordered Lt. Col. Gibson not to leave, he said that the officer did not identify the person giving the order.
Gregory Hicks and the rest of us want to know: WHO ordered our forces to stand down?