Unfolding Benghazi Disaster Destroying American Confidence
If you are an American warrior, not only do you have to worry about the enemy, but you also need to wonder if the American government will have your back. As more and more details come out about the Benghazi attack, it becomes clear that the president and his advisers had ample notice and time to send in reinforcements. The statement, by the founders of Special Operations Speaks PAC, summarized the feelings of many in the military: "When Obama called the SEALs, they got bin Laden. When the SEALs called Obama, they got denied." American Thinker interviewed some former American warriors to get their opinions on what transpired.
Slain U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, and the security officers there repeatedly reported the intensifying lawlessness and violence in eastern Libya as reasons why more security was requested. It is obvious that the Obama administration was aware of the threat months ago and should have heeded the warnings by putting measures in place. Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, told American Thinker, "Even though the 'fog of war' may have prevented them from knowing what to do during the attack, they should not have been caught off-guard completely, given the deteriorating security. A fundamental question is, what was the plan for security, since an attack like this was always possible? Everyone knew this was a very dangerous place and getting worse. There was no lack of evidence of the threat."
Why did this administration watch passively for seven hours and make no attempt to put people in position to respond to the consulate attack once it began? All interviewed agree with a former CIA operative who said that some sort of help should have been sent. "During a sense of urgency, we should do anything humanely possible to help. Not doing anything is not the way it goes. There should always be an understanding to try to save the lives of Americans when attacked."
Former army veteran and captain in the National Guard Pete Hegseth, who heads Concerned Veterans for America, does not give any credence to the "fog of war" excuse being used by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. He cites all the factors that should have shown this administration what was happening in real time: an aerial drone providing surveillance, a real-time video, mortars being fired, and e-mail requests being sent out. He believes that "the reality is there was no appetite for anyone to be sent there. The job of any commander, including the commander-in-chief, is to cut through uncertainty. In this situation, we had people on the ground relaying what was happening, so how much uncertainty could there have been? We needed a decisive leader who understood his priorities. It is shameful we did not do everything we could have to rescue them. This is no surprise, since President Obama doesn't sit down to get many intelligence briefings." Hegseth went on to say that those serving overseas in dangerous places would wonder if this administration puts American lives first.
Fred Rustmann, a member of OPSEC and a former CIA operative, was appalled by this administration's priorities. The reason this administration did not send out a rescue force and had a "stand down order" is because it is "more concerned about collateral damage than saving CIA and SEAL lives. [Obama] chose not to upset the Arab world instead of saving American lives. There was instantaneous communication from the embassy and the annex. I know how it works. It's not a question that they did not have enough information, because they were getting real-time data from the situation reports. If the president did not know, it is due to the fact he chose not to know. Maybe because he did not want to show Americans how destabilized Libya has become." Rustmann went on to say that he cannot believe that the mass media is giving the president all this press regarding his leadership on Hurricane Sandy but has not questioned his leadership regarding Libya, "which has been deplorable. I am sure that those at the CIA would have done anything to rescue their peers. This has always been our code. Someone violated that code." It's something, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, a former CIA director, obviously never learned.
Rumor has it that Panetta forced General Carter Ham, U.S. African commanding officer, to resign for disobeying the "stand down" order and dissenting from the administration's official line. Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) told American Thinker, "The general's status was not a part of our discussion when I met with Ham in Libya. Yet I did ask him if he could have taken action. He basically told me he was not asked to. I do believe he did have the capabilities. What the president and secretary of defense have said, what actually happened, and what they are doing now don't reconcile."
All interviewed are wondering if the drone was there only for surveillance -- or did it have the capabilities to fire missiles? Scott Taylor, Special Ops OPSEC chairman and a former Navy SEAL, says it would not have mattered, since this president is indecisive and risk-averse. Taylor points out that even an easy decision like getting Osama bin Laden was delayed sixteen hours so that Obama could "sleep on it." There is a pattern of indecisiveness where President Obama is unable to make quick decisions under pressure, which is what is needed when dealing with a hostile environment.
Taylor commented to American Thinker, "If he wasn't the one giving the order to stand down, then he should have been the one giving the go-ahead. This administration should have thought about a follow-up fight after the consulate was attacked, considering we had the annex there." As late as October 26, Jake Tapper reported that while doing an interview with a Denver TV reporter, the president refused to answer questions on whether the Americans in Benghazi were denied requests for help.
Taylor's reaction as a SEAL comes from his experiences, since he has been in harm's way many times. He knows that "when your buddies are in danger, you want to be there to help them. Look at Tyrone Woods, who disobeyed orders and selflessly sacrificed his life to save others. I am sure that if you ask any SEAL, anywhere in the world, and if they could, they would have dropped everything to try and help."
This administration is complaining that those questioning its actions are playing Monday morning quarterback. Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel Dan Hampton, author of Viper Pilot, says it was a no-brainer, that any responsible person in charge should have taken some action. "Either the president and those in his administration knew about what was happening and did nothing, which means they are incompetent, or they didn't know about it, which also means they are incompetent. They left Americans hanging out in the wind, which caused those people at the annex to die. They should have at least made an effort. No one protects Americans like Americans. I have been there, and I know what a lonely feeling it is to be on the ground and to know that by the time they decide, I might be dead." What Hampton would have done is to send a minimum of two to four quick-reaction fighter planes with Special Ops forces to a base that was 450 miles away. Using those jets, flying low over the area "would have made anyone duck and stand down, to delay or negate the situation, until the Special Ops guys arrived."
None of those interviewed has any confidence that the president is able to answer that phone, as described by Hillary Clinton's "3 am" ad against Obama.
Unfortunately, they also do not have confidence in Clinton or Panetta answering the phone. The fact that there are all these leaks means that some American officials are very angry, and they want to let the American public know they do not have confidence in this administration. It appears that the president is more preoccupied with getting re-elected than with defending American interests overseas, so on November 6, Americans should make sure President Obama is not there to take any more "3 am phone calls."
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews and author interviews, and she has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.