NYT on Benghazi: It's Bush's Fault
Okay, that headline is a bit of an exaggeration...but not by much.
The New York Times finally published a rare story addressing security failures in Benghazi -- on the Sunday before the election. The story, titled "Libya Attack Shows Pentagon's Limits in Region" -- no mention of Obama's limits -- appeared below the fold on the front page of the Sunday paper. On nytimes.com it gets a single line under "More News," below a human interest story on how "Young Runners Draw Cheers and Concerns" regarding two 12-year-old girls in Texas. Clicking on this link brings you to the global edition's Africa desk. See, it's a story with relevance to Africa, not Tuesday's presidential election.
The story posits a new narrative to explain the Benghazi fiasco:
At the heart of the issue is the Africa Command, established in 2007, well before the Arab Spring uprisings and before an affiliate of Al Qaeda became a major regional threat. It did not have on hand what every other regional combatant command has: its own force able to respond rapidly to emergencies -- a Commanders' In-Extremis Force, or C.I.F.
Two thousand seven? Wasn't that...? Why yes, George W. Bush was president in 2007!
According to the Times, the Pentagon and Obama were on top of the situation from the beginning, but our brave commander-in-chief couldn't bring in military support because Bush had failed to set up a quick response team:
As officials in the White House and Pentagon scrambled to respond to the torrent of reports pouring out from Libya -- with Mr. Stevens missing and officials worried that he might have been taken hostage -- they took the extraordinary step of sending elite Delta Force commandos, with their own helicopters and ground vehicles, from their base at Fort Bragg, N.C., to Sicily. Those troops also arrived too late.
"Torrent of reports"? What about Biden's assertion in the VP debate that he and Obama weren't given any intelligence? What about the lies propagated for weeks by Obama and his team about spontaneous uprisings in response to an offensive video?
"Fort Bragg, NC"? What about the security forces on the ground told to stand down? What about the F-16s sitting in Sicily at the time? Oh, apparently "American F-16 fighters in Europe were not on alert, and General Ham concluded they would not have been useful in a confused fight in a major Arab city."
Not on alert? What kind of excuse is that? How long does it take for a pilot to get out of bed and into the cockpit? Haven't we read that the sonic boom of a low-flying F-16 is effective at dispersing crowds? And how can General Ham call it a "confused fight" if Tyrone Woods was painting a laser dot on the mortar location, saying "bad guys here"?
Regarding the laser painting: military people who know their stuff find this highly significant. This post on the military site Blackfive.com was quoted by Rush Limbaugh:
One of the former SEALs was actively painting the target. That means that Specter WAS ON STATION! Probably an AC130U. A ground laser designator is not a briefing pointer laser. You do not "paint" a target until the weapons system/designator is synched; which means that the AC130 was on station.
According to CBS News:
Sigonella is just an hour's flight from Libya. Other nearby bases include Aviano and Souda Bay. Military sources tell CBS News that resources at the three bases include fighter jets and Specter AC-130 gunships.
The Times dismisses these allegations with a quote from an anonymous "senior official": "The closest AC-130 gunship, a devastating and accurate weapon against insurgents in urban areas, was in Afghanistan." Seems like this wouldn't be that hard to verify.
And the real importance of the story for the Times:
An examination of these tumultuous events undercuts the criticism leveled by some Republicans that the Obama administration did not try to respond militarily to the crisis. The attack was not a running eight-hour firefight as some critics have contended, questioning how an adequate response could not be mustered in that time, but rather two relatively short, intense assaults separated by a lull of four hours.
I haven't heard anyone claim that it was a "running eight-hour firefight," and the four-hour lull does not change the fact that rescuers had eight hours to arrive, and yet no one showed up.
Even if you accept that Obama's team was scrambling into action, the story makes the significant admission that a "major worry was that a hostage-rescue mission might be needed." While mortar rounds and bullets were flying, the White House was planning for a repeat of the Iran hostage crisis, sending help from North Carolina that they knew wouldn't arrive in time to stop the initial attack. They were preparing a rescue mission in the days and weeks to come rather than trying to protect their people on the ground in the next hours.
This New York Times story is an attempt to excuse Obama's incompetence and mendacity in the crucial time period before the election. How many different excuses do Obama's praetorian guards in the media think the country will swallow?