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Friday, November 02, 2012

Why didn't the US military intervene in Benghazi? The State Department never asked

Eli Lake reports that the State Department never asked for military backup on September 11, the night that its consulate in Benghazi was overrun by terrorists.
In its seventh week, discussion about what happened in Benghazi has begun to focus on why military teams in the region did not respond to the assault on the U.S. mission and the nearby CIA annex. The only security backup that did arrive that evening were former special-operations soldiers under the command of the CIA—one from the nearby annex and another Quick Reaction Force from Tripoli. On Friday, Fox News reported that requests from CIA officers for air support on the evening of the attacks were rejected. (The Daily Beast was not able to confirm that those requests were made, though no U.S. official contacted for this story directly refuted the claim either.)

It’s unlikely any outside military team could have arrived in Benghazi quickly enough to save Ambassador Chris Stevens or his colleague Sean Smith, both of whom died from smoke inhalation after a band of more than 100 men overran the U.S. mission at around 9:30 p.m. that evening and set the buildings inside ablaze.

But 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.

Normally it would be the job of the U.S. ambassador on location to request a military response. But Stevens likely died in the first two hours of the attack. The responsibility for requesting military backup would then have fallen to the deputy chief of mission at Benghazi or officials at the State Department in Washington.

“The State Department is responsible for assessing security at its diplomatic installations and for requesting support from other government agencies if they need it,” a senior U.S. Defense official said. “There was no request from the Department of State to intervene militarily on the night of the attack.”
The president, however, would have the final say as to whether or not to send in the military. By 11 p.m. Benghazi time, 90 minutes after the assault began on the U.S. mission, Obama met with the National Security Council to discuss the attack. NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor said the president “ordered Secretary Panetta and Chairman Dempsey to begin moving assets into the region to prepare for a range of contingencies” at that meeting.
Read the whole thing.

Aside from the fact that the Obama administration's refusal to call for troops brought about the death of four Americans, I think it's important to point out the way that this administration stubbornly sticks to its narrative long after it is proven false.  The Obama administration is so convinced by its own rhetoric that al-Qaeda is 'decimated,' that it is incapable and unwilling to change its narrative even when confronted with stark facts like a consulate 'guarded' by an al-Qaeda operative and surrounded by al-Qaeda training camps. That has a lot of implications for a whole range of domestic and foreign policy issues - from Obamacare to dealing with Iran and just about everything else in between. This administration is unwilling to change course regardless of how wrong its course is proven to be.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

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