Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Updates on Benghazi

The Obama administration Benghazi narrative is unraveling before our eyes.

Administration fabrications are falling away as more facts become available.

This morning everyone is focusing on the new revelation that the State Department and the White House received real-time information, via email, about the nature of the attack. Link here.

Obama supporters are trying to obscure these revelations. They will be saying that the information was imprecise and required extensive analysis.

If no one understood the information and if it was not communicated quickly to the important decision makers, then the Obama White House is simply incompetent.

This morning, too, Frank Gaffney offers an alternative explanation for the administration’s failure: it has been arming Islamist rebels, in Libya, and eventually in Syria, and has been trying to cover up its operations.

According to Gaffney, Ambassador Stevens was running a Middle Eastern version of Operation Fast and Furious.

I cannot judge whether this is true or false, but the Obama administration certainly wants to help fund the Egyptian government led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Since money is fungible, there is absolutely no reason why Mohamed Morsi would not be use the money to buy the armaments that he says he wants to buy.

Most important, as I, following Col. David Hunt, have been posting, is the fact that senior administration officials watched the attack in real time and did nothing to rescue the victims from an armed contingent of Islamist extremists.

Perhaps Obama cannot wrap his mind around the idea that Islam has bred so many terrorists. Perhaps he sees them as freedom fighters. Whatever the reason, this represents a serious failure to fulfill a basic responsibility.  

Yesterday former Defense Department official Bing West argued a point that I have been emphasizing:

Our diplomats fought for seven hours without any aid from outside the country. Four Americans died while the Obama national-security team and our military passively watched and listened. The administration is being criticized for ignoring security needs before the attack and for falsely attributing the assault to a mob. But the most severe failure has gone unnoticed: namely, a failure to aid the living.

Since West, like Col. Hunt, possesses considerable expertise in these matters and far better sources I defer to his reconstruction of the events in Benghazi.

In West’s words:

By 4:30 p.m. Washington time, the main consulate building was on fire and Ambassador Stevens was missing. In response, the embassy in Tripoli launched an aircraft carrying 22 men. Benghazi was 400 miles away.

At 5 p.m., President Obama met with Vice President Biden and Secretary of Defense Panetta in the Oval Office. The U.S. military base in Sigonella, Sicily, was 480 miles away from Benghazi. Stationed at Sigonella were Special Operations Forces, transport aircraft, and attack aircraft — a much more formidable force than 22 men from the embassy.

In the past, presidents had taken immediate actions to protect Americans. In 1984, President Reagan had ordered U.S. pilots to force an airliner carrying terrorists to land at Sigonella. Reagan had acted inside a 90-minute window while the aircraft with the terrorists was in the air. The Obama national-security team had several hours in which to move forces from Sigonella to Benghazi.

Fighter jets could have been at Benghazi in an hour; the commandos inside three hours. If the attackers were a mob, as intelligence reported, then an F18 in afterburner, roaring like a lion, would unnerve them. This procedure was applied often in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Conversely, if the attackers were terrorists, then the U.S. commandos would eliminate them. But no forces were dispatched from Sigonella.

He continues:

It is bewildering that no U.S. aircraft ever came to the aid of the defenders. If even one F18 had been on station, it would have detected the location of hostiles firing at night and deterred and attacked the mortar sites. For our top leadership, with all the technological and military tools at their disposal, to have done nothing for seven hours was a joint civilian and military failure of initiative and nerve.

Secretary of State Clinton has said the responsibility was hers. But there has been no assertion that the State Department overruled the Pentagon out of concern about the sovereignty of Libyan air space. Instead, it appears passive groupthink prevailed, with the assumption being that a spontaneous mob would quickly run out of steam.

It seems likely that the “groupthink” reflected administration policy not to call Islamic terrorism by its name. If you believe in spontaneous mobs but not organized Islamic terrorists, you adopt different policies to deal with them. If you believe that you can tamp down terrorism by calling it something else, you are not going to be able to deal with it when it arrives.

Finally, as West implies, only the commander-in-chief  can make the final decision about launching or not launching a rescue mission.

No military options could have been considered without the president knowing about them. And no military action could have been taken without his approval. If military action was contemplated and then aborted or delayed, the responsibility is entirely his.

It appears that the man who courageously pulled the trigger on Osama bin Laden became gun-shy in Benghazi.


Jeff Dorsai said...

don't forget that Obama took over 6 months to "pull the trigger" on OBL ... and had to override the objections of Biden and Jarrett to do so ...
to expect him to "pull the trigger" within minutes/hours of the start of the attack is simply impossible ... he at least had to wait for some focus groups and polls to shape his response ...

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Good observation, thank you. In some places it would be called a reversion to the mean.

Dennis said...

There is something that really smells bad and makes Watergate look like small in comparison. I keep hearing that Hilary Clinton, who I have little use, tried a number of times to improve the security, but Obama refused each time. The only reason Hilary took responsibility was to make Obama look small.
The Clintons are far too good at inside the Beltway politics to not have hedged their bets. I suspect that we are going to be none too happy when all of this comes to light. Inquiring minds want to know.

Malcolm said...

Here is an update worth watching