American Elephants

Benghazi: The Scandal Grows Even Worse. by The Elephant's Child

What a depressing day. Defense Secretary Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dempsey testified on Benghazi. Oh well, nobody to blame here. Just move along.

Under questioning by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that President Obama knew “generally” what U.S military assets were deployed in the region, but did not ask for specifics. He left the strategy “up to us” meaning Pannetta and military leadership. Panetta said that after the initial briefing, which took place at about 5 pm Washington time, he had no further communications at all with President Obama that night. The president never even called to ask how the attack as progressing. No one from the White House ever called later that night, according to Panetta, to inquire about the attack. President Obama went to bed that night not even knowing whether the Americans under assault had survived the attack.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the assault which went on for six hours. The Obama administration blamed the event on an obscure You Tube video. The video-maker is still in prison.

Senator Graham (R-SC) queried Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey about aircraft available in the area during the attack. “you said the F-16 was not a good platform to defend the consulate. What would have been the appropriate platform?

“The appropriate platform, Senator, would hae been to have boots on the ground ahead of the event. After the event is in conduct, it would be very difficult” Dempsey responded.

Elsewhere it was reported that Dempsey said that they couldn’t respond because they had no request from the State Department. Hillary also, apparently went to bed.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Angus King (I-ME) asked why forces at the Crete base, across the Mediterranean from Benghazi werent employed to help the Americans at the consular mission.

“The bases that we have in southern Europe, in the Mediterranean area are — generally speaking have aircraft,” Dempsey said. {The first point I made is that it wasn’t the right tool for the particular threat we faced. secondly, the aircraft we have in Europe, generally are there in support of NATO and on a different alert posture. That was not among the forces —the aircraft were not among the forces that we had at heightened alert.”

McCain called the written statement submitted by Dempsey “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 and say “We did what our posture and capabilities allowed,” McCain said.

It was reported at the time that General Carter Ham, who was AFRICOM commander, received the same frantic calls for help that went to the White House. He was prepared to send in a special forces team, and was abruptly relieved of command. That situation, as far as I can tell, was never publicly mentioned again.

The behavior of this bunch was disgraceful. The attack went on for seven hours, but we are informed that there just wasn’t time. And nobody was very interested, and  the Secretary of State was unavailable and the President just went off to bed.


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