Pentagon on Benghazi Troop Movements: ‘Swift Action’ on Night of Attack

ABC – By Luis Martinez

… Among the units ordered by Panetta on the night of the attack to Sicily,  which is less than 500 miles from Libya,were two special operations teams that were moved to  Sigonella.

As previously reported, one of the units came from a U.S. military base in “Central Europe.” And Little disclosed that Panetta also ordered another team from the United States to head to Sigonella.   Little refused to describe what kind of unit was sent from the U.S., though it was presumably a special operations team trained for hostage rescues.

Little said both the units “did not arrive until after the entire sequence of events was complete. … They were in Sigonella many hours after the attacks.”

The Pentagon spokesman said that it can take hours for troops to be organized and transported to where they might be used.  He added that at the time they were ordered to move, policy makers  ”did not know when the attacks would end.”  Little said that, in theory, a hostage situation in Benghazi could have lasted for days.

“We didn’t have forewarning of this tragic event in Benghazi,” Little said. “The entire U.S. government was starting from a cold start.”

Another new detail disclosed Friday was that  Panetta ordered the deployment of not one, but two platoons of specially trained Marines to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya.

Based in Rota, Spain, the platoons headed to Sigonella for possible deployment to Libya.  One platoon was dispatched on Sept. 12 to protect the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.  The other platoon was to have gone to Benghazi to secure the consulate compound, but was never sent after it was determined that all U.S. personnel had been evacuated from Benghazi.

Little reaffirmed that no other American aircraft were involved over Libya the night of the attack beyond the unarmed surveillance drone that arrived 90 minutes into the attack.  As for reports that an AC-130 gunship could have been dispatched over Libya at the time of the attack,  Little was clear that “there was no AC-130 within a continent’s range of Benghazi” that night.

Pentagon: Secret U.S. military commandos deployed to Libya

Washington Free Bacon – By Bill Gertz

..Several Republican House leaders, including McKeon, wrote to Obama Sept. 25 expressing concerns about the administration’s failure to identify the attack as a terrorist strike by claiming initially it was a spontaneous reaction to a mysterious anti-Muslim video.

Earlier this week, McKeon challenged statements by Obama in a recent news interview that he ordered full protection of U.S. personnel.

“There appears to be a discrepancy between your directive and the actions taken by the Department of Defense,” McKeon said in a letter sent Monday.

He noted, “Despite the fact that the military had resources in the area, the military did not deploy any assets to secure U.S. military personnel in Benghazi during the hours the consulate and the annex were under attack.”

Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, the Africa Command commander, stated in his letter to McKeon that no one from his command recommended bolstering military forces in Libya in response “to the threat environment.”

“While the Accountability Review Board continues in its work reviewing any and all requests made by the Department of State, I can state with certainty that U.S. Africa Command did not receive any direction to provide U.S. military forces to augment security for U.S. personnel in Libya beyond the expiration of the Site Security Teams’ mandate through Aug. 3, 2012,” Ham stated in the Oct. 31 letter.

However, the four-star general said all email accounts of U.S. military personnel in Libya after Aug. 4 were frozen “to assess if any informal communications with personal recommendations were sent during that timeframe in which they were under my command and no longer under Chief of Mission authority.”

“To date, our due diligence has revealed no such information,” Ham said.

In this [below] photograph released by the House Oversight Committtee you can see a 3/4 view of the armored SUV used to transport Benghazi Consulate personnel to the CIA Mission Annex. This photo also introduces the tower structure seen behind the Diplomatic Security Agent quarters. The State Department did not include the tower structure in the map they used at the House Oversight Committee hearing on October 10, 2012.

The tower structure is part of the Benghazi story and will be featured in future photo releases. The presence of another building/structure on the Consulate grounds was also omitted during the hearing. A photo of that building will be released this weekend.

There were numerous sandbag force protection structures on the Consulate grounds. This make-shift force protection effort is more reminiscent of a World War II movie than a modern U.S. Consulate compound.

The sandbag structures are a photographic silent scream that speak to the true nature of the known danger and risks present on 9-11-2012 at the Benghazi Consulate compound. No State Department spokesperson can seriously claim America had a “robust” security force at the Benghazi compound when there were more sandbag structures than security officers to use them.

Source: Ben G Gates’ photostream

Sources, emails point to communication breakdown in Obama administration during Libya attack

Fox News – By

“The response process was isolated at the most senior level,” according to one intelligence source. “Counterterrorism professionals were not consulted and a decision was taken to send the FBI on its own without the enablers that would have allowed its agents to gain access to the site in Benghazi in a timely manner.” The FBI team did not get on the ground in Benghazi for several weeks after the attack and at that point any “evidence” had been rifled through by looters and journalists…

Further, the Counterterrorism Security Group, or CSG, was never asked to meet that night or in subsequent days, according to two separate counterterrorism officials, as first reported by CBS News. The CSG is composed of experts on terrorism from across government agencies and makes recommendations to the deputies who assist the president’s Cabinet in formulating a response to crises involving terrorism…

Benghazi’s Smoking Gun? Only President Can Give ‘Cross-Border Authority’

PJ Media – by Matt Bracken

The Benghazi debacle boils down to a single key factor — the granting or withholding of “cross-border authority.” This opinion is informed by my experience as a Navy SEAL officer who took a NavSpecWar Detachment to Beirut.

Once the alarm is sent  – in this case, from the consulate in Benghazi — dozens of HQs are notified and are in the planning loop in real time, including AFRICOM and EURCOM, both located in Germany. Without waiting for specific orders from Washington, they begin planning and executing rescue operations, including moving personnel, ships, and aircraft forward toward the location of the crisis. However, there is one thing they can’t do without explicit orders from the president: cross an international border on a hostile mission.

… Ships can loiter on station, but airplanes fall out of the sky, so they must be redirected to an air base (Sigonella, in Sicily) to await the POTUS decision on granting CBA. If the decision to grant CBA never comes, the besieged diplomatic outpost in Benghazi can rely only on assets already “in country” in Libya — such as the Tripoli quick reaction force and the Predator drones. These assets can be put into action on the independent authority of the acting ambassador or CIA station chief in Tripoli. They are already “in country,” so CBA rules do not apply to them.

… We can be 100% certain that cross-border authority was never given. How do I know this? Because if CBA was granted and the rescue mission execute orders were handed down, irrefutable records exist today in at least a dozen involved component commands, and probably many more. No general or admiral will risk being hung out to dry for undertaking a mission-gone-wrong that the POTUS later disavows ordering, and instead blames on “loose cannons” or “rogue officers” exceeding their authority.

No general or admiral will order U.S. armed forces to cross an international border on a hostile mission unless and until he is certain that the National Command Authority, in the person of the POTUS and his chain of command, has clearly and explicitly given that order: verbally at the outset, but thereafter in written orders and official messages. If they exist, they could be produced today.

… We do not know the facts for certain, but we do know that the rescue mission stand-down issue revolves around the granting or withholding of cross-border authority, which belongs only to President Obama. More than one hundred gung-ho Force Recon Marines were waiting on the tarmac in Sigonella, just two hours away for the launch order that never came.

Matt Bracken is a former Navy SEAL officer.

Media discover Benghazi, notice Obama stonewalling

Washington Post – By Jennifer Rubin

Well, it finally happened. The mainstream media have figured out that Benghazi is a big story and potentially a serious national security scandal. After weeks of silence, a plethora of mainstream media news stories have popped.

As he has from the get-go, Eli Lake makes news, writing: “On the night of the 9/11 anniversary assault at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the Americans defending the compound and a nearby CIA annex were severely outmanned. Nonetheless, the State Department never requested military backup that evening, two senior U.S. officials familiar with the details of military planning tell The Daily Beast.”

Lake observes that although assets likely would not have arrived in time to save Ambassador Chris Stevens, “military backup may have made a difference at around five the following morning, when a second wave of attackers assaulted the CIA annex where embassy personnel had taken refuge. It was during this second wave of attacks that two ex-SEALs working for the CIA’s security teams — Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods — were killed in a mortar strike.”

However, Lake is no longer the only reporter hammering away at the case.

CBS News reports: “CBS News has learned that during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Obama Administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG). ‘The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has.

They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies,’ a high-ranking government official told CBS News. ‘They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.’ ”

As conservative critics have pointed out for weeks, the White House cover story didn’t match the information held by intelligence agencies:

In the days after the assault, counterterrorism officials expressed dismay over what they interpreted as the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to acknowledge that the attack was terrorism; and their opinion that resources which could have helped were excluded.

Counterterrorism officials from two agencies said they concluded almost immediately that the attack was by terrorists and was not spontaneous. “I came to this conclusion as soon as I heard the mortar rounds were impacting on top of the building our people were occupying,” says one. “The position of the mortar must be plotted on a map, the target would have to be plotted, computations would be calculated that would result in the proper mortar tube elevation and the correct number of powder bags to be attached to the rounds.”

ABC’s Jake Tapper says that the White House is stalling, refusing to come forward with a clear explanation of the president’s role:

In the place of a detailed description from the Obama administration about what happened more than six weeks ago comes the drip-drip-drip of stories about the failures of the Obama administration to provide those Americans on the ground in Libya with all the security assets they needed.

ABC News broke some stories on this, ranging from a security team being denied continued use of an airplane its commander wanted to keep in country to better do his job; to the security team leaving Libya before Ambassador Stevens wanted it to.

Fox News Channel’s Catherine Herridge last night reported on a newly discovered cable indicating that in August, less than a month before the attack, the diplomatic post in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” concerned about local Al Qaeda training camps. Said the cable: “RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound.”

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reveals the heavy presence of the CIA in Benghazi, painting a picture of confusion and lack of coordination between CIA and the State Department. It raised the question of why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, rather than CIA chief David Petraeus, stepped forward to take the blame for the Benghazi fiasco.

The Post’s David Ignatius is out with a similar account and timeline, arguing, “While there were multiple errors that led to the final tragedy, there’s no evidence that the White House or CIA leadership deliberately delayed or impeded rescue efforts.”

TWIN TIMELINE: What was happening in Benghazi and Washington

By Doug ross@Journal

U.S. officials: CIA ran Benghazi consulate

UPI Published: Nov. 2, 2012

The CIA was the real commanding agency at the attacked U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, not the State Department, senior U.S. intelligence officials said.

 … The operatives evacuated mission personnel and took control of an unarmed U.S. military drone to map possible escape routes, the officials said. The MQ-1 Predator drone, used by the CIA for reconnaissance, began providing video surveillance.

In the midst of the assault, the operatives also dispatched an emergency reinforcement team from Tripoli, the capital, and chartered aircraft that ultimately carried surviving U.S. personnel to safety, the officials said.

The militant assault went quiet around 1 a.m., the officials said in a written account that said the pause lasted until almost daybreak and apparently led CIA and State Department officials to think the danger had passed.

But just before dawn — and not long after the CIA-led reinforcement team, including two military commandos, arrived from Tripoli — the militants launched a brief but deadly mortar attack that surprised the Americans, the officials said…

Of the more than 30 U.S. officials evacuated from Benghazi, only seven worked for the State Department, officials briefed on the intelligence told The Wall Street Journal. Nearly all the rest worked for the CIA, under diplomatic cover, which was a principal purpose of the consulate, the Journal said.

‘Troubling’ Surveillance Before Benghazi Attack

Foreign Policy: BY HARALD DOORNBOS, JENAN MOUSSA

More than six weeks after the shocking assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi — and nearly a month after an FBI team arrived to collect evidence about the attack – the battle-scarred, fire-damaged compound where Ambassador Chris Stevens and another Foreign Service officer lost their lives on Sept. 11 still holds sensitive documents and other relics of that traumatic final day, including drafts of two letters worrying that the compound was under “troubling” surveillance and complaining that the Libyan government failed to fulfill requests for additional security.

When we visited on Oct. 26 to prepare a story for Dubai based Al Aan TV, we found not only Stevens’s personal copy of the Aug. 6 New Yorker, lying on remnants of the bed in the safe room where Stevens spent his final hours, but several ash-strewn documents beneath rubble in the looted Tactical Operations Center, one of the four main buildings of the partially destroyed compound.

Some of the documents — such as an email from Stevens to his political officer in Benghazi and a flight itinerary sent to Sean Smith, a U.S. diplomat slain in the attack — are clearly marked as State Department correspondence.Others are unsigned printouts of messages to local and national Libyan authorities.

The two unsigned draft letters are both dated Sept. 11 and express strong fears about the security situation at the compound on what would turn out to be a tragic day. They also indicate that Stevens and his team had officially requested additional security at the Benghazi compound for his visit — and that they apparently did not feel it was being provided.

One letter, written on Sept. 11 and addressed to Mohamed Obeidi, the head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office in Benghazi, reads:

“Finally, early this morning at 0643, September 11, 2012, one of our diligent guards made a troubling report. Near our main gate, a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from our compound. It is reported that this person was photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission and furthermore that this person was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission. The police car stationed where this event occurred was number 322.”

The account accords with a message written by Smith, the IT officer who was killed in the assault, on a gaming forum on Sept. 11. “Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures,” he wrote hours before the assault…

What exactly happened that night is still a mystery. Libyans have pointed fingers at Ansar al-Sharia, a hard-line Islamist group with al Qaeda sympathies, if not ties. Ansar al-Sharia has denied involvement, but some of its members were spotted at the consulate.

The document also suggests that the U.S. consulate had asked Libyan authorities on Sept. 9 for extra security measures in preparation for Stevens’ visit, but that the Libyans had failed to provide promised support.

“On Sunday, September 9, 2012, the U.S. mission requested additional police support at our compound for the duration of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens’ visit. We requested daily, twenty-four hour police protection at the front and rear of the U.S. mission as well as a roving patrol. In addition we requested the services of a police explosive detection dog,” the letter reads.

A second letter is addressed to Benghazi’s police chief and also concerns the police surveillance of the U.S. consulate on the morning of Sept. 11. The letter also requests an investigation of the incident, and states that the consulate “takes this opportunity to renew to the Benghazi Police the assurances of its highest consideration and hopes for increased cooperation.”

Benghazi’s head of police, Brigadier Hussain Abu Hmeidah, was fired by the government in Tripoli one week after the consulate attack. However, Abu Hmeidah refused to step down and is still serving as the head of police. He is currently on sick leave, according to his office manager, Captain Seraj Eddine al-Sheikhi, and was unavailable for comment…

A Letter to My Friend Glen Doherty

NYT By BRANDON WEBB

Glen A. Doherty, a security contractor and former member of the Navy SEALs, was killed in Libya on Sept. 12, 2012, while defending the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya. During a memorial service for Mr. Doherty and the three other Americans killed in the attack — the Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Tyrone S. Woods and Sean Smith — President  Obama said of Mr. Doherty:

“He believed that his life he could make a difference, a calling that he fulfilled as a Navy SEAL…in Benghazi, as he tended to others, he laid down his life, loyal as always, protecting his friends.”

Mr. Doherty’s best friend and former SEAL Team 3 comrade, Brandon Webb, has written a goodbye letter that we are publishing in full. —At War


Left, thousands lined the streets of Boston as Glen Doherty's coffin passed on its way to burial. Right, Mr. Doherty's folded flag.

Glen,

I still can’t believe you punched out early on me, but glad to hear from the guys that you fought like a hero–no surprise there.

You should know, your efforts resulted in the rescue of over 20 Department of State personnel. They are alive today because of yours and Ty’s heroic action.

I know you hate funerals as much as I do but, the service in Winchester was humbling and inspiring. The people of Boston are amazing. I had to choke back the tears as me and the boys rolled through town, and thousands of people lined the streets to honor a hero and our friend and teammate. Seeing American citizens united around a hero, if only for a brief moment, restored my faith in humanity and that there’s other things more important in life than killing each other.

Your family is and was amazing. Their poise, patience and the dignity they displayed was incredible to witness. Your mom, Barbara, stood by stoically for hours to ensure she greeted everyone who came to pay their respects. She was an inspiration to everyone who watched. Seeing your dad, his sadness and how proud he was of you, made me give him a big hug, and reminded me to work harder at patching things up with my own father.

Greg delivered one of the best talks I’ve ever heard under the most difficult of situations. What an amazing brother; I hope to get to know him better. His speech made me reflect on my own life choices and how important our relationship with friends and family are. I’m going to work harder at embracing my friends and family the way you always did.

Katie gave such an awesome toast at the wake with all the Bub lessons to live by, I smirked secretly to myself knowing that I’ve heard them all before and will never forget. “Drive it like it’s stolen!” and “Kids don’t need store-bought toys, get them outdoors!” and all the rest.

Your nephews are amazing and so well-behaved. Great parents of course. F.Y.I., I told them I’d take them flying when they come out west. They were beaming when I described all the crazy flying adventures me and their uncle went on. I told them how you and I would fly with my own kids and take turns letting them sit on our laps to get a few minutes at the controls. I’ll do it up right and let them each have a go at the controls.

Sean has been steadfast in his support role and has handled everything thrown at him. Helping him this last week really showed me why he was such a close friend of yours. He’s solid, and I look forward to his friendship for years to come. You chose well having him execute your will, he’s solid.

We are all dedicated, as you explicitly indicated to us all, to throw you the biggest eff-ing party we can, and to celebrate your life as well as our own. Done deal; Sean and I are on it.

Most of SEAL Team 3 GOLF platoon showed up in Boston. It was great to see how guys like Tommy B. just made stuff happen, no matter what was needed. Things just got handled like men of action handle them, no questions asked and no instructions needed — just get it done in true SEAL fashion.

One by one the Tridents were firmly pounded into to the mahogany as the guys paid their respect. Mike and I handed the plank to your mom, choked back tears, and kissed her on the cheek. We both told her how much you’ll be missed by us all.

Afterwards, the Team Guys, Elf, Steve, Sean and others tipped a few back in your honor. In good Irish fashion we drank whiskey from Sean’s “What Jesus Wouldn’t Do” flask, hugged each other like brothers and said goodbye, each in our own way.

We are planning the yearly surf trip to Baja in your memory. We share Steve Jobs’s philosophy on religion and tolerance, but if you can arrange it, please talk to whomever and fire up a good south swell for me and the boys.

My kids will miss their Uncle Glen. I told them it’s O.K. to cry (we all had a good one together) and to be sad but not for too long. You wouldn’t want that. They will grow older, and like the rest of us, and be better human beings for having known you.

You definitely lived up to the words of Hunter S. Thompson:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!”

When I skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke myself I’ll expect to see your smiling face handing me a cold beer.

See you on the other side, brother. You are missed by many.

-B.W.


Brandon Webb is a former Navy SEAL, author of a memoir, “The Red Circle,” and editor-in-chief of SOFREP (Special Operations Forces Report). He served with his best friend, Glen Doherty, at SEAL Team 3, where they were sniper students together. They had just completed a book together, “Navy SEAL Sniper,” which is due out in January.

Navy SEAL & Adventure Hound: Glen’s Last Flight

October 26, 2012On Wednesday Oct 24th, 2012 Myself, Elf, and an Anonymous friend took Glen for one last flight. I had secured a Piper Archer (PA28-180) from Palomar airport in Carlsbad, CA through my club connections, and was ready to depart on a beautiful San Diego day.

 Our Mission: Fly “BUB” over the SEAL compound on Coronado and air drop some of his ashes for one last flight and a final goodbye to that chapter of his life. I piloted the plane down the coast at 500′ and it was gorgeous with a slight tail wind. I contacted San Diego International Airport over the La Jolla cove, and requested a class B airspace clearance.

 Once through class B I called up the Navy tower at North Island, and asked for a San Diego Bay arrival, bridge over fly, and clearance back up the coast by the Hotel Del and Pt. Loma at 700′. You could hear the frustration in the controller’s voice as he tried to brush us off because of ongoing air ops, I didn’t blame him. Once I explained the mission, who we were, and that this was one last flight for our friend Glen.

 We were granted access immediately, and thank you again to the gent in the tower.After holding over the Coronado bridge for incoming H-60 helicopter traffic we were cleared for a low fly by past the SEAL compound. “Two minutes out”, I signaled to Elf. I gradually pulled the throttle back and put the plane into a slight descent to lose a few hundred feet. I then trimmed, and set power for 100′ (I swear we didn’t get lower) over water along the beach.

The sun was just starting to set as we blazed past the obstacle course at over a 100 mph. The main BUD/S compound started to come into sight, and I could see a class of fresh SEAL students shuffling into the grinder for some sort of grueling evolution with their combat seasoned SEAL instructors. They would get no mercy from the gate keepers.

A hand full of the students looked skyward as they jogged. None of them could possibly know the significance of the flight, and all the saw was a lone person propping open the door of the Piper, and a slight puff as we gave our friend one last “hop and pop” over the Navy SEAL training compound.BUD/S is the birthplace of the US Navy SEAL teams and one of the places Glen, myself, and all SEALs hold dear to the heart.

 We are born again hard on this small stretch of the Pacific coast. I wondered for a brief moment in time, if any of those students looking skyward, the handful that would make it through training, understood the gravity of their chosen profession.

 The door closed, I moved the throttle to full power, and smiled knowing a piece of Glen had been laid to rest at one of the places he loved greatly. I turned to point the plane towards Pt. Loma, and I was advised by the control tower to hold 400 feet or lower.

 Two AV-8 Harriers would be making a low break over our position. The jets screamed overhead and one broke left leaving the other. This happened as the sun was slowly setting over the gorgeous San Diego skyline, and three brothers bid farewell to one of their own. It was a good day.

 Once back home I paged through his log book and smiled again as I noticed several entries by Glen that included ferrying my kids up the coast to their mom. Then I closed out his log book for the last time.

 See you on the other side Glen.

 

To donate to Glen’s foundation please click here.

Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation Printable Info Flyer

Advertisements