CIA’s timeline refutes report of soldiers being told to “stand down” during the Benghazi attack
It has been nearly two months since the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was targeted and attacked by factions of Al-Qaeda on September 11th. The Obama administration’s details of the attack have been slow, contradictory, inconsistent and especially vague. State Department officials testified that the U.S. knew of the attack in real-time. Charlene Lamb, a State Department official, testified that “budget cuts” were not the reason for a reduced security detail at the compound. Within 48 hours of the attack the administration knew with great certainty that this attack was a premeditated terrorist attack.
The administration for nine days stated this was in fact a product of the protesting caused from the despicable anti-Muslim YouTube video posted in June. The president did state the day after in the Rose Garden that he condemned the violence. After talking about the Benghazi attack, 9/11 and other terrorist attacks he said that “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” The president received harsh criticism because after this speech he flew to Las Vegas for a campaign fundraiser. I personally felt that he should have at least delayed his trip a day out of respect to the four dead Americans. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., appeared on several television news programs, and told ABC’s “This Week” that the attack was “a spontaneous–not a premeditated–response to what had transpired in Cairo.” On September 18th, White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, stated the White House “saw no evidence to back up claims by others that this was a preplanned or premeditated attack.”
On Friday, the CIA finally released an outline of the attack. The outline disputes earlier reports from Fox News that the security officers were told to “stand down.” In fact the CIA asserts they had a 6 man squad at the compound within a 25 minute period. The team however was denied heavy artillery from the local Libyan community. They instead risked their lives to save others with smaller, ineffective weapons.
The AP reports: “On Thursday, intelligence officials said they had early information that the attackers had ties to Al-Qaeda-linked groups, but did not make it public immediately because it was based on classified intelligence. And they said the early public comments about the attack and their genesis was cautious and limited, as they routinely are in such incidents.” I don’t understand why the administration needed to blame the attack on a video. We still don’t know who pushed for the video as the reason for the attacks. I don’t understand the harm in stating the attack was caused by terrorist groups. It was obvious to whoever read any details already revealed that this was the case.
Jake Tapper, ABC News Senior White House Correspondent, writes the president was quickly informed of the attack by Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta. He later writes: “But beyond that, the White House has punted, saying the Accountability Review Board established by the State Department is investigating the matter and what went wrong. No detailed tick-tock, no information about the president’s involvement in decision-making. In addition, they’re preparing for a closed-door hearing of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence on November 15.” I think it is a bit convenient this hearing is after the election. Not sure what has taken them so long.
We could argue over the timeline all day. At this point nothing has proven to be definitive. It seems the intelligence presented by some officials is contradicted weeks later by others. Hopefully we have a clear outline of what happened after the hearing. My biggest criticism isn’t on questioning if Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans could have survived the attack had some other military action been taken during the attack. My criticism continues to remain with why the Ambassador wasn’t given additional security; especially in a country that was a known haven for terrorists. Why requests for added security were ignored especially on the anniversary of 9/11. If it wasn’t a budgetary issue then what was it? These questions continue to be ignored.
We know Ambassador Stevens has requested added security. We know Eric Nordstrom’s (regional security official at the Tripoli Embassy until July) requests for added security were ignored. What we don’t know and what I can’t understand is why Americans were put into such a dangerous situation. Why the “safe house” did not have a simple ventilation system to expel smoke; a system that could have potentially saved Ambassador Steven’s life. There are a lot of what ifs in this event.
The one I am most concerned about is: “what if the administration had heeded the requests for added security?”
What do you think? Did the administration do a good job in the aftermath in explaining the attack?
Did they properly secure the consulate on the anniversary of 9/11?
And do you think it is “politicizing” for Governor Romney and Republicans to ask for a detailed account on what transpired that night?
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