Benghazi: If Obama ordered the military to “secure our personnel,” where is the order?
October 29, 2012
Our ambassador to Libya was killed in our own consulate in Benghazi on the night of September 11. For the next six weeks, President Obama repeated the same talking point: The morning after the attack, he ordered increased security in our embassies in the region.
Suddenly, on the campaign trail in Denver on October 26, he changed his story. "The minute I found out what was happening . . . I gave the directive," he said, "to make sure we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to do. I guarantee you everybody in the CIA and military knew the number-one priority was making sure our people are safe."
Notice the repeated use of the present tense, implying that he gave the order during the attack. Mr. Obama met with his national-security team, including the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at 5:00 p.m. Washington time. For over an hour, the consulate staff had been constantly reporting that they were under assault by terrorists and Ambassador Chris Stevens was missing in action. In the White House, group-think leads to the mistaken assumption that the attackers are a spontaneous mob.
An hour after the attack has begun, the president orders the CIA and the military to do "whatever we need to do." Yet the CIA and the military do nothing, except send drones overhead to watch the seven-hour battle. A CIA employee and former Navy SEAL, Tyrone Woods, twice calls for military help. He has a laser rangefinder and is pinpointing enemy targets, radioing the coordinates. The military send no aircraft to attack the designated targets. Special Operations forces standing by, 480 miles away - less than a two-hour plane ride - are not deployed.
Secretary of Defense Panetta later explained that this passivity was in keeping with a rule of warfare. "A basic principle," he said on October 25, "is you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on - without having some real-time information about what's taking place."
Rarely has a spontaneous mob so thoroughly intimidated our nation. And so much for sending our squads out every day in Afghanistan on patrol, when they don't know what's going on. The next time a platoon is told to take an objective, some corporal will say, "SecDef says we don't have to go into harm's way without knowing what's going on."