Whew! I have to ask, can we not have all of these scandals break into the news cycle during finals week?! After finishing final reports and tests last week, I just now finished watching the entire Benghazi hearing, while trying to keep up with the two new scandals. It says a lot about the state of our nation’s government when you have to jump between whichever government scandal has the breaking news coverage.
That kvetching aside, I am honestly a little tired of hearing about talking points on Benghazi. To be certain, it is an important part of the investigation, and answers should be found. Who exactly ordered those changes? Why did Hillary Clinton stand in front of the coffins of the victims and blame the videos, followed by Susan Rice on the Sunday morning shows doing the same, when it was clear that the deaths were the result of a terrorist attack? Americans deserve the truth. But the talking points issue has overtaken what should be the most important aspect of this scandal.
The focus SHOULD be on why readily available help to evacuate the people at the Benghazi compound were never sent. We should be getting answers as to why the President of the United States was briefed at the beginning of the attack, and was so intent on saving lives that that he decided to retire for the evening. According to President Obama’s own words, he ordered that everything be done to save lives in Benghazi. The exact opposite happened. After being briefed, why didn’t “the most powerful man on the planet” immediately get on the phone to the Prime Minister of Libya and open Libyan airspace to get American resources into Benghazi? This story simply doesn’t add up, and the only explanation is that the president was insulated from the situation while his administration minimized the damage. Rep. Chaffetz must have won the raffle to get to ask the most telling question in last Wednesday’s Benghazi hearing: “Did anyone get air space clearance from the Libyan government to get assets to Benghazi?” No. The only request for airspace clearance was made hours after the initial attack for an unarmed drone to perform aerial surveillance. This is the first thing that would have happened if ANY rescue effort was going to be made.
There were Special Operations Forces and air support readily available only 420 miles away at NAS Sigonella, in Sicily. This base is considered the “hub” of naval air operations in the Mediterranean, and an important NATO position. There is no way that a fuel tanker plane wasn’t available. Special Ops teams are trained to enter situations where ground conditions are unknown, including training for specific cases like evacuating embassies. The State Department’s F.E.S.T. team was also ready to deploy. Other assets could have been used from Aviano, or even the Navy carrier group patrolling in the Mediterranean (we always have a carrier group there), with F-18’s that are on 24-hour alert. In short, the explanation that resources were not available is a complete lie.
All of the reinforcements that could have saved lives were withheld or told to stand down. That is the most important aspect of this story. Rep. Boehner needs to get it it together and appoint a Select Committee, with full subpoena powers, because Harry Reid will never allow the Senate to do so. The appropriate commanders of NAS Sigonella, Aviano Air Base, and of the Navy carrier group in the Mediterranean need to be called to testify as to what resources were available that night. Lt. Col. Gibson and General Hamm need to be brought in to find out where the stand-down order originated.
We need to know why it is that the lives of some thirty Americans in Benghazi were not worth sending military assets to rescue. Four of those people didn’t make it through the night, and two might likely still be alive if personnel and resources had not been denied permission to go into action. Answers about talking points and Youtube videos, or what role Hillary Clinton or the White House played in changing the official Benghazi story are important, but not as important as finding out who left the U.S. Ambassador and his support team in the wind.