The story keeps getting bigger and bigger - so many outrageous details keep emerging . . . and its difficult to get it straight because the story keeps shifting
I'm going to keep it down to what we know and what I know about how flash message traffic is handled and the subsequent military decision loop; based on my two tours in the CIF and a LOT of time down range working out of embassies.
What happened (and what failed to happen due to inability to make a decision) was disgraceful enough; I'm going to avoid conspiracy theories and speculation . . . here's what we know:
• There were no protesters at the Benghazi consulate prior to the attack, even though Obama and others repeatedly said the attackers joined an angry mob that had formed in opposition to the anti-Muslim film that had triggered protests in Egypt and elsewhere.
• A US security contingent existed within Benghazi at the mission Annex, about a mile from the US Consulate. This unit’s mission was security support to the program dedicated to recovering shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles (man-portable air defense systems or MANPADS) left over from the anti-Gaddafi uprising.
• US direct-action Special Operations Forces were present on Naval Air Station Sigonella. This contingent included the Theater Commanders-In-Extremis force (CIF) and may have included elements from two Tier 1 units, (i.e. Delta or SEAL Team Six).
• Two unarmed drones were overhead during the episode, and an AC-130 Specter gunship was also reportedly overhead. CIA personnel from the Annex were reportedly able to communicate with the gunship, and to ‘paint’ targets around the Consulate with laser target designators.
Timeline of the Sept 11th Attack:
8:30 pm Benghazi time (2:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time): U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens steps outside the consulate to say goodbye to a Turkish diplomat. There are no protesters at this time. (“Everything is calm at 8:30,” a State Department official would later say at an Oct. 9 background briefing for reporters. “There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside.”)
9:00 pm: Ambassador Stevens retires to his bedroom for the evening.
Approximately 9:40 pm: A security officer at the Benghazi compound hears “loud noises” coming from the front gate and “gunfire and an explosion.” A senior State Department official at the Oct. 9 briefing says that “the camera on the main gate reveals a large number of people – a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound.”
10:00 pm: Approximate time of attack given at State Depart briefing on 12 Sept 2012. A “senior administration official one” provides an official timeline of events at the consulate, but only from the time of the attack — not prior to the attack - “The compound ... in Benghazi began taking fire from unidentified Libyan extremists.”
10:04 pm: A State Department email from the Regional Security Officer (RSO) at the US Embassy in Tripoli reports that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi is under attack by approximately 20 armed individuals, explosions heard as well. Ambassador Stevens and personnel are reported within the compound safe haven; security support provided by 17th February militia (a Libyan group that emerged during Ghadaffi’s downfall).
10:15 p.m.: (approximately) “The attackers gained access to the compound and began firing into the main building, setting it on fire. The Libyan guard force and our mission security personnel responded. At that time, there were three people inside the building: Ambassador Stevens, one of our regional security officers, and Information Management Officer Sean Smith.”
10:15 - 10:45 pm: Sean Smith is found dead by a rescue team out of the Annex – a mission support site where approximately 30 CIA personnel are located. The rescue team is unable to locate Ambassador Stevens.
10:45 pm: (approximately) The security team from the Annex tried to regain the main building, but the group took heavy fire and had to return to the Annex.
11:20 pm: (approximately) US and Libyan security personnel regain the main building and are able to secure it.
12:00 midnight: The mission annex comes under fire; this phase of the attack continued for about two hours. This attack includes mortar fire landing within the Annex compound. It was during this time that former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed and two more were wounded during the ongoing attack.
12:07 am: The State Department’s Operations Center sends an email to the White House, Pentagon, FBI and other government agencies stating that an al Qaeda-linked group - Ansar al-Sharia - has claimed credit for the attack on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. (The existence of the email was disclosed on a Reuters report 24 October 2012).
2:00 am: American reinforcements arrive at the Benghazi airport and head to the Annex.
About 02:30 am: Libyan security forces were able to assist in regaining control of the situation. At some point in all of this it is believed that Ambassador Stevens got out of the building and was taken to a hospital in Benghazi. His body was later returned to U.S. personnel at the Benghazi airport.
This is What I Know:
Since the takedown of the US Embassy compound in Tehran in November 4, 1979, the security of US missions abroad has been a top priority of US security policy. Over the course of two decades in Special Forces, I was directly involved in this mission; there are specific protocols that during an incident such as Benghazi will drive decision-making and actionable orders.
From the moment the first reports went out from Tripoli on the situation Benghazi, a specific sequence of events takes place:
A FLASH message is generated from within the State Department to the Whitehouse Situation Room; the National Command Authority (i.e. the President, the Secretary of Defense and/or the Vice President and the Deputy Secretary of Defense) are notified.
Acknowledgement of this message by Whitehouse communications personnel immediately generates message traffic to the Department of Defense and to the appropriate theater Combatant Command - in this case AFRICOM Headquarters at Kelley Barracks, Germany.
AFRICOM immediately notifies the Commanders In-Extremis Force (CIF) – a US Army Special Forces unit task-organized for Direct Action missions.
The CIF would immediately begin an emergency planning process which continues to take place during movement toward an assembly area within vicinity of the target.
Now this is key: in order for any of the above NOT to happen (i.e. for the CIF or any assets in theater to stand down) the National Command Authority MUST issue a deliberate order.
In other words, the President of the United States and/or his surrogates, specifically directed US forces within striking distance of the situation in Benghazi, to stand down.
A bad decision was made. For whatever reason, the President and his team decided not to send available forces into Benghazi while the US Consulate and the Annex were under attack. Perhaps they feared an ambush at the Benghazi airport; it could have been anything. Hindsight is 20-20 and I am not going to Monday-morning quarterback why that decision was made. It is not illegal to make a bad decision; if it was, nobody would make any decisions at all.
"The basic principle is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on; without having some real-time information about what's taking place. And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation." - Leon Panetta.
There were any number of options, and no shortage of real-time, actionable intelligence available. Fast movers out of Sigonella or from one of our carriers could have flown fifty feet over the compound and sonic boomed the attackers. The Spectre AC-130 gunship would have been on station two hours into the attack, and those things are deadly accurate; they can land a 105mm shell into a dumpster. The CIF could have landed at the airport and made their way to the target, guns a-blazing if necessary.
This is Where it Gets Weird:
Upon notification the attack in Benghazi was taking place, AFRICOM Commander General Ham immediately notified the CIF unit and communicated to the Pentagon that his forces were ready to deploy.
General Ham then received the order to stand down. His alleged response was screw it, he was going to help anyhow. Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.
On October 18 2012, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced:
”President Barack Obama will nominate Army Gen. David Rodriguez to succeed Gen. Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command and Marine Lt. Gen. John Paxton to succeed Gen. Joseph Dunford as assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.”
So far there is nothing solid to backstop this story, although it is very intriguing that Ham is immediately reassigned less than eighteen months into a three year tour. Maybe Ham attempted to send a reaction force against orders, or maybe he simply gave his chain-of-command a piece of his mind about hanging Americans to dry. At the very least the CIF and whatever other forces were available could have made those who killed our people pay while they were still on the scene.
• We know that over 6 hours elapsed form the beginning of the attack to when the CIA operators were killed by mortar fire - from a heavy mortar emplacement they had laser target designators on, and had requested air support hours earlier in neutralizing. They had also given higher HQ 8-digit coordinates on the mortars, as close as it gets in combat targeting.
From CIA: "No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.”
Comments by Robert Scheuer, former CIA chief of Bin Laden unit HERE
A good overall Benghazi timeline HERE
Summary of all facts to date HERE
It is bad enough that they could have done something and instead chose to do nothing.
What makes it worse is the subsequent cover-up deception involving the anti-Mohammed video clip, and the constantly shifting stories we have been subjected to over the past six weeks.
Watergate was the cover-up of a third-rate burglary that was busted by two intrepid reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, and it took down a President. This is far worse, because four Americans are dead, there is no shortage of recorded intelligence material about what happened, and this time the Lamestream Media - playing the role of Woodward and Bernstein - are actively collaborating with the Adminstration to help perpetrate the cover-up.
- STORMBRINGER SENDS