Tripoli is about 30 minutes flying time to Benghazi. If what this diplomat says is true, the administration is going to be forced by congress to come clean on who gave the order that prevented special forces from coming to the assistance of our embattled diplomats.
Benghazi is not going away.
The account from Gregory Hicks is in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. Hicks gave private testimony to congressional investigators last month in advance of his upcoming appearance at a congressional hearing Wednesday.
According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound "when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, 'you can't go now, you don't have the authority to go now.' And so they missed the flight ... They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it."
No assistance arrived from the U.S. military outside of Libya during the hours that Americans were under attack or trapped inside compounds by hostile forces armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and AK-47 rifles.
Hicks told congressional investigators that if the U.S. had quickly sent a military aircraft over Benghazi, it might have saved American lives. The U.S. Souda Bay Naval Base is an hour's flight from Libya.
"I believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them," Hicks testified. Two Americans died in the morning mortar attack.
Who was minding the store in Washington? We now know that the counterterrorism task force that knew of every military asset that was available was never called to meet. We know that President Obama was nowhere to be found. We assume defense secretary Gates was being informed of what was going on but he and CIA chief David Petraeus both say that there was nothing to be done militarily.
Now we will hear testimony that directly contradicts the brass. Ultimately, of course, Obama is responsible and his story that there was "nothing to be done" continues to unravel.