What’s the real issue over Benghazi?


"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — after a heated debate over the issue within her caucus — officially tapped five Democrats to the special committee charged with investigating the Benghazi attacks. Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.), Adam Smith (Wash.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), Linda Sanchez (Calif.) and Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) will serve on the panel, which is headed by South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy."  politico


When the Benghazi incident began, nobody; in Washington, at JSOC, at Africom, at the JCS or in the Sixth Fleet had any idea how long the problem in Benghazi would last.  They had no idea, none, and nobody did anything.  They did nothing.  The situation rooms at the WH, State, CIA and the JCS all knew the incident was underway and nobody did anything.  JSOC and the other military headquarters all indicated to the WH that they would act as soon as they received guidance from the WH.  None came.  The military cannot deploy into an overseas combat situation without presidential authorization and they never got it.  That is the primary question that should be investigated.  Why were the military not ordered to attempt to reach the area of action in time to do something.  Almost anything would have been prefereable to doing nothing.  There was a company size marine reaction force in Spain.  There were US Army SF troops in the Balkans.  The Ready Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division is always ready at Ft. Bragg with their gear, ammunition and supplies loaded on aircraft.  What's the flying time in jet transports from North Carolina to Benghazi?

In light of this lack of decision in the WH and the concomittant blame that attaches, it is not surprising that HC declined to appear on all those talks shows.   


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33 Responses to What’s the real issue over Benghazi?

  1. Fred says:

    “The situation rooms at the WH, State, CIA and the JCS all knew the incident was underway and nobody did anything.”
    Well the Secretary of State sure doesn’t have command authority, but she should be asked just what the ambassador was doing for months previously. I thought that was brought up on a prior thread at the time?

  2. b says:

    The two real issues with Benghazi:
    1. The bogus claims of an impending “genocide” which was used as cover to start bombing in support of Al-Qaeda and for regime change in Libya.
    2. The illegal weapon deals the CIA was running with Saudi/Qatari money to shift Libyan weapons, ammunition and fighters via Turkey to Syria.
    The reasons why U.S. forces were sent late:
    – Lack of information about the real situation on the ground in Benghazi. That afternoon/evening Al-Qaeda had launched a planned diversion entering the U.S. embassy in Egypt and raising its flag instead of the U.S. flag. That event and how to respond to it was the one that kept everyone busy. Benghazi just did not register.
    – When Banghazi finally registered the lack of resources that would be able to touch down in less than 12-24 hours into a very likely hostile situation and would have the ability to survive in it.
    (82nd Airborne Division has a company on 18h-22h standby, a battalion in 48h and a brigade in 72h. Add flight time and other issues to that. For deployment there would also be the need for air cover. To go in with military in less than battalion strength + backup would have been reckless and probably another black hawk down event.)

  3. kao_hsien_chih says:

    It is worth noting that neither side is acting responsibly on this issue. Republicans have made it too overt a political issue and the Democrats are responding to it as nothing more than politically-motivated mudslinging, which, to be fair, is exactly what the Republicans are doing. The terminology used, “scandal,” reflects exactly that attitude.
    Of course, what happened (and didn’t happen) in association with Benghazi was not a “scandal.” It was a series of significant failures and lapses in judgment, although, to be fair, even the “right” decisions might not have changed things–which I think was the colonel’s view right after the incident took place. Some people should have been held responsible, but without any attempt at scoring cheap political points. But, without opportunity at scoring cheap political points, no one seems to be interested.
    This is a depressing picture.

  4. JohnH says:

    I’d like to know what the CIA was doing in Benghazi. Seymour Hersh and others have reported that they were part of a rat line supplying Syrian jihadis via Turkey. If so, this contravened publicly stated policy. Was it legal? Was it off the books? Did Congress know? Who knew, and when did they know it?
    My hunch is that this is another instance of an administration playing fast and loose with the truth, supplying jihadis while claiming they were not. They took the US to the brink of war and an almost certain quagmire with absolutely no checks and balances.
    Worse, it appears that no one in Congress or in the media cares that the administration and its intelligence services are recklessly ginning up more wars and more quagmires.

  5. Jack says:

    Is it probable that the indecision was related to the stations potential involvement in gun running to the jihadists in Syria?

  6. steve says:

    Ultimately, the ambassador was killed because the US was at war in Libya.
    Critiques of the policy won’t surface.

  7. Allen Thomson says:

    > The situation rooms at the WH, State, CIA and the JCS all knew the incident was underway and nobody did anything.
    To the vanishingly small extent I understand this affair, it seems that the above is close to the heart of the matter. Da Prez, whatever his many fine qualities might be, isn’t omniscient nor particularly omnipotent. He depends on subordinate echelons to tell him what’s going and give him recommendations on what to do.
    Did the situation rooms really not tell their principals that bad stuff was happening and they needed immediate authorization to Do Something (and provide recommendations as to what Something should be)?

  8. turcopolier says:

    I am sorry but you are not qualified to make military judgments like the ones you are making here. Have you ever fought anyone? Have you ever planned a military operation? I think not. Another “Black Hawk Down?” “Illegal” gunrunning? Who are you to judge the foreign policy of the United States? pl

  9. The Twisted Genius says:

    “Why were the military not ordered to attempt to reach the area of action in time to do something?”
    That’s a damned good question. There’s probably not a damned thing that could have been done to stop the first attack on the “half-assed” consulate, but air support could have made a real difference at the CIA annex hours later. A Canadian blogger asked this a year ago. He suggested that F-16s from Aviano AFB could have made a pitstop at NAS Sigonella and reached Benghazi before the second attack. Could be. Our brass is so risk averse, they are loathe to act so boldly with little prep or intel. However, I guarantee there are AF fighter pilots who would have jumped in their planes in a heartbeat and flew into an uncertain situation. My now roly-poly college roommate flew an A-10 in the first Gulf War and F-16s after that. Now he flies for Spirit Air. He would have squeezed his fat ass into an F-16 in a heartbeat to get to Benghazi.

  10. Tyler says:

    The brush out is the scandal. Let’s not forget a man went to prison for a YouTube video because it “violated his parole” as well.

  11. joe brand says:

    Strange to read in a comment above that Republicans are making the Benghazi incident a “political issue.” Politics is what we have — it’s the process by which we hold government actors accountable. What’s the alternative to this horrible thing called “politics”?

  12. b says:

    I was lucky. I never had to fight in a military conflict only in martial arts tournaments. But I was trained to run military operations at the company and below level in combined arms warfare. We were stationed directly at the east-west border. In case of a red attack the NATO estimated survival time for my battalion was 20 minutes.
    The quantity and quality of weapons and fighters in Benghazi was not well known. U.S. planners were clueless about who they would possibly fight. The CIA team reinforcement ran immediately into trouble when it touched down in Benghazi. There certainly was a chance of something surprising happening had the military gone in.
    The weapon deals the CIA made in Libya to fight Syria were at least against the Leahy amendment and thereby illegal under U.S. law. The likely also broke international law and UNSC resolutions about Libya.
    I am effected by U.S. foreign policy which is exactly why I bother to criticize it. Wrong U.S. foreign policy is costing ME money.
    Ghaddafi held the Jihadi crazies down and kept African economic migrants out of Europe. He sold us oil and bought our industrial goods. Social welfare policy in Libya was excellent. That is all gone. Jihadist rule Libya and export conflict. Migrants are swamping south Europe and the spice does no longer flow.
    That Libya would fall apart without Ghaddafio was obvious.That this would have negative consequences for Europe was obvious too.
    As I wrote in March 2011 (http://www.moonofalabama.org/2011/03/libya-a-tribal-insurrection.html): The “western” media is reporting the crisis in Libya as something similar to what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. But this is not a modern youth movement protesting against a dictatorship, this is a developing civil war between tribal entities – not exactly a novelty in Libya.

    The misrepresentation of this conflict in the media may well lead to military intervention by “western” forces. These would then have to fight those tribes which for whatever reason support Ghadaffi. With “western” intervention the situation on the ground would quickly deteriorate. This would cost a lot more lives than any situation in which the Libyan people fight this out by and for themselves.
    Had the “west” not intervened Ghaddafi would likely have snuffed out the Jihadist Benghazi revolt within a few days. That would have been less bloody and better for everyone than what actually happened.

  13. oofda says:

    What is the difference between this situation and the occasions during other admnistrations when an embassy or consulate had been attacked? Further, since the facility really wasn’t a State Department consulate, but belonged to ‘another Agency’, how much did that play in the no- sending of forces? Could the fact tha the Agency ran this facility have mitigated against sending in forces quickly?

  14. Allen Thomson says:

    “I’d like to know what the CIA was doing in Benghazi. Seymour Hersh and others have reported that they were part of a rat line supplying Syrian jihadis via Turkey.”
    It’s clear that the incident involved a fairly substantial CIA Base (with a capital B) in Benghazi. Since Benghazi is the second-largest city in Libya, it would be unsurprising if there were a permanent Base there. The usual function of CIA Bases is to provide general support to whatever the CIA might happen to be doing in the host country and general area. I.e., if the Agency were participating in some arms transfer operations in the region, there’s a good likelihood that the Base would have been involved in one way or another — but the Base would have been there in any case doing other things even without such transfers.
    On the Benghazi Base, see
    Review of the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012
    United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
    Jan 15, 2014

  15. no one says:

    TTG, What I don’t understand is why there was no Marine security guard detail at the consulate – it’s not that it was an understrength force…..there was no force at all. Bizarre. Additionally, there is a Marine FAST unit at Rota, Spain. These are anti-terrorist rapid response teams and the Benghazi incident is exactly one of the types of problems they train to solve. They apparently were never given the call. Again, bizarre.

  16. turcopolier says:

    As you may know a presidential finding directing a covert action buying weapons in Libya for use is Syria would be legal notwithstanding the Leahy Amendment.
    Your military credentials consist of peacetime service in the Bundeswehr at company level for a couple of years? What was your rank?
    My major point remains. The WH did not react to military requests for guidance in the midst of the event. It was not clear how long this event would last and the WH did nothing to prepare to move forces to the scene. pl

  17. Fred says:

    “I am effected by U.S. foreign policy which …. Wrong U.S. foreign policy is costing ME money.”
    German foreign policy in aiding Ukraine’s ‘new’ government may result in a nuclear war that may kill me. Glad to know your money is more important.

  18. Okay let’s face it! How long have there been US Embassies in hostile countries [consulates]? About forever. The playbook should long ago have been updated after the Iranian takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in 1979! And the movement of senior US officialdom in hostile territory should also be tracked with response capability planned in advance. This is total incompetence and heads should have rolled long ago and a gutless house should have long ago filed lengthy Articles of Impeachment against many high officials and probably the President also.
    No real accountability in Washington now as the oligarchs and lobbyists want to make sure their corrupt friends stay in power.
    And perhaps if the allegation is true the Ambassador was sodomized to death what is that all about CULTURALLY? Or is it a religious issue?

  19. Bill H says:

    Which raises the question of what was the Ambassador doing there?

  20. jon says:

    I believe that there has already been extensive calculation of the potential for relief military forces to be sent to Benghazi, and that they would have arrived too late and/or in too small a number to be of help. Sadly. This could easily have turned into a greater debacle had we committed too few, unprepared forces, who themselves may have required relief.
    Why available forces weren’t alerted and readied for response is a legitimate question that deserves explanation.
    A larger question is the purpose and functioning of the substantial, co-located CIA station in Benghazi. One might think that part of their task would be to know a great deal about local militias and terrorists, to evaluate those threats and prepare responses.
    Apparently, there had been a demonstration at the consulate – an angry response to a recently released provocative US movie. Terrorists used that demonstration as a screen to launch their attack on the consulate.
    There might also be questions about the inadequate response of local governmental forces, who generally supply the largest security function for consulates. We might ask about that, and why their inability wasn’t properly understood.
    I hope there will also be questions raised about Congress’ prior denial of the State Departments request for additional funds – some of which would have been devoted to the Benghazi consulate, perhaps in time to make some difference.
    Ultimately, the point of this investigation is to destroy Hilary Clinton’s presidential prospects. A collateral benefit would be to provide whatever slender pretext would suffice to lodge impeachment charges on Obama. It will have no effect on the security of our foreign service personnel, or our military adequacy.

  21. turcopolier says:

    “Why available forces weren’t alerted and readied for response is a legitimate question that deserves explanation.” That is exactly what I am talking about. The armed forces asked if they should do that and never got an answer. pl

  22. b says:

    I surely know what German foreign policy is doing in Ukraine and like most Germans do not approve one bit of it.

  23. tv says:

    From community organizer to Commander-In-Chief with a few brief pauses in between.
    And like all non-leaders, he surrounds himself with weaker and sycophantic subordinates.

  24. b says:

    @Pat – “What was your rank?”
    1st Lt with the training and active practice for company command of a tank company.
    Yes my service was in peacetime but at least during Autumn Forge/Reforger/Able Archer 1983 it did not really feel like that. We had packed up, full live ammunition load and were ready to go. Battalion task: Expect armor attack in your sector by several Soviet brigades into the direction of Hamburg. Delay as long as possible.
    NATO simulations said 20 minutes and we would all be dead. We optimistically though we could double that limit.
    What I really learned was to think through military conflicts and their consequences in a way that few civilians will ever do. That has made me (mostly) a pacifist though.

  25. Edward Amame says:

    The Democrats chosen for the committee were Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking Dem on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; Adam Smith, the ranking Dem on the House Armed Services Committee; Adam B. Schiff, member of the Intelligence Committee; Tammy Duckworth, veteran of the Iraq war; and Linda T. Sánchez, ranking Dem on the Ethics Committee.
    Meanwhile, as the NY Times noted,
    “…The Republican members, by contrast, largely lack foreign policy and military credentials, although with Mr. Gowdy and Representative Susan W. Brooks of Indiana, they have prosecutorial experience…”
    I’m not sure answering Col Lang’s question was what Boehner had in mind.

  26. turcopolier says:

    b I’ll have start addressing you as oberleutnant b. I am not a pacifist but am generally not in favor of interfering in other people’s countries unless they severely provoke us. I would consider the murder of a serving ambassador (no matter what you think of him) would be sufficient cause for a sizeable expedition to occupy the Benghazi area while apprehending/killing the jihadis. BHD is not an apt analogy. TF Ranger was a small force, poorly employed against much of the population of the city in an area solidly loyal to Farah Aideed. In another part of the city was a brigade of the 10th Mountain Division that was assigned to UN duties. That brigade was never committed during the action to support of TF Ranger. Idiocy! I am saying that what should have happened in Benghazi was a JTF run by 18th Airborne Corps, 15 or 20 thousand soldiers, and appropriate air and intelligence components cleaning up the jihadis over a period of several months. The CIA could have collected all the guns they wanted in that period. If you think the citizenry of Benghazi would have been solidly against that, I think you are wrong. In any event the WH did nothing on that fateful day to enable any sizable effort. pl

  27. Will says:

    Well said “b” — including especially point one. Heard this from inside sources soon thereafter, to whom I asked, “please tell us there was real intel to back up the claim the President made on TV, about an impending genocide.” The person responded, point blank, “There was none — and I wrote memos at the time arguing that we shouldn’t use that justification for intervention.” He was… ignored. The President and those neocons (in both parties) pushing for the intervention got away with it at the time because it was presumed that well, “of course, Q is capable” of such dastardly doing.

  28. JK says:

    A failure of security policy would be Frankfurt Airport in March 2011, but no one talks of that, only Benghazi 6 months later. 2 Airmen killed by a jihadi. Benghazi is selective outrage, but COL Lang’s point about WH paralysis is true.

  29. turcopolier says:

    Whichever Will you are, pls start using only one address here. “Well said “b” — including especially point one” Well, well, if this means that you were willing to leave Qathafi in place because he kept the jihadi crazies down, then tell us if you felt the same way about Mubarak, Saddam, the Assads, Salih, the Tunisians, etc. I did. I just happen to have a particular “thing” for Qathafi. Libya will sort itself out and is doing so. Are you going to back the retired general who is intent on killing jihadis? I will. pl

  30. turcopolier says:

    Everyone in the defense of Germany against GSFG was expected to die in a few days in the event of Soviet attack. Brits, Amis, you Germans, the French, the Dutch and Belgians, everyone. After that the expectation was that the war would go nuclear. A terrible prospect but your worst personal problem was a bad schnitzel in the local gasthaus. BTW were you anywhere near Selb? pl

  31. elkern says:

    For me, this is just another reason to hate the US Republican party forever. As Allen Thompson & oofda have observed above, that was not really a “Consulate” (where tourists go to resolve bureaucratic snafus) but a CIA Base. Scoring political points off this falls somewhere between stupid & treasonous.
    There is good reason to find & fix the inter-departmental communication failures, but that’s NOT what the House Committee is going to do. This is a pure witchhunt – with Hillary Clinton cast as the Witch.
    BTW, I’m not a fan of HC. She voted for the invasion of Iraq, so I’ll never vote for her.
    Seems a shame that Pelosi appointed serious Democrats to the committee. It would have been much more fun to watch Alan Grayson run amok (sure, he’s a jerk, but he would have been just the right jerk for the job).

  32. turcopolier says:

    1- She and/or her staff missed the boat on fortifying the ambassador’s cottage. 2- I want to know what she told BHO while the event was underway. pl

  33. Will Reks says:

    There’s really no cost to Paul saying this because the WH hasn’t been very clear on it’s decision-making process.

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