Monday, October 28, 2013

Twice to the Sound of the Guns

The government knew that security was poor at Benghazi prior to 11 SEP 12, knew al Qaeda was preparing to attack, and knew their explanations that a video inspired ad hoc attackers was completely inaccurate. Now what about the claims that no American forces could be sent to help?

I am still stunned that no Americans were even moved toward Benghazi from our many forces in Europe just in case we could have done something of use in the 7 hours of the attacks on the consulate and the annex.

60 Minutes looked at the attack. (Tip to Legal Insurrection via Instapundit. Transcript here.)

The idea peddled by the administration that we don't just rush in without advanced planning is nonsense, and shown to be nonsense by the actions of our security forces that night.

The first instance of rushing to the sound of the guns was carried out by CIA security personnel who defied an order to wait in order to run to the consulate:

About 30 minutes into the attack, a quick reaction force from the CIA Annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound, at times running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there. Inside the compound, they repelled a force of as many as 60 armed terrorists and managed to save five American lives and recover the body of Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith. They were forced to fight their way out before they could find the ambassador.

Just a few made a difference. As seemed apparent early on.

And they continued to make a difference at the annex:

The same force that had gone to the compound was now defending the CIA Annex. Hours later, they were joined by a small team of Americans from Tripoli. From defensive positions on these rooftops, the Americans fought back a professional enemy. In a final wave of intense fighting just after 5 a.m., the attackers unleashed a barrage of mortars. Three of them slammed into this roof, killing former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

So there was a second instance of forces rushing to the sound of the guns. This time the State Department's security forces from Tripoli who made it to the annex to join the CIA reaction force. They did not make it in time to save the consulate.

But neither did they just sit in Tripoli, excusing their inaction by saying they couldn't make it to the consulate in time to do any good.

The US military's regional response, following local reserves at the annex and country reserves from Tripoli, never took place. Only 2 American troops (I believe they must have come from Tripoli with the State Department forces) were sent to help:

We have learned there were two Delta Force operators who fought at the Annex and they've since been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross -- two of the military's highest honors. The Americans who rushed to help that night went without asking for permission and the lingering question is why no larger military response ever crossed the border into Libya -- something Greg Hicks realized wasn't going to happen just an hour into the attack.

Lara Logan: You have this conversation with the defense attache. You ask him what military assets are on their way. And he says--

Greg Hicks: Effectively, they're not. And I-- for a moment, I just felt lost. I just couldn't believe the answer. And then I made the call to the Annex chief, and I told him, "Listen, you've gotta tell those guys there may not be any help coming."

(Note: Delta Force is Army. So I'm not sure why a Navy Cross was awarded. Was one actually a SEAL?)

I can't believe the answer either. And I can't believe the notion that we couldn't even begin to move troops and aircraft from Europe to Banghazi in case they were needed.

Our people were abandoned by Washington. The few personnel who rushed to the sound of the guns made a difference in rescuing our people on the ground and preventing a mass slaughter or capture of Americans.

If our military had rushed to the sounds of the guns, we might have held our consulate and annex grounds even after the defeat at the consulate, denying al Qaeda that victory and maybe even engaging them and inflicting enough losses on them to discourage future attacks on our embassies.

Candy Crowley should be made to watch this report about 30 times. From a partisan nothingburger that wasn't even news before the election, we're finally finding out this is a scandal after all.

UPDATE: I guess it isn't a "manufactured scandal" now that Chris Matthews is asking the same questions I've been asking:

“The president is the best security agency, people are sitting in the White House 24/7, there are officers on deck, they are getting an instantaneous report on what’s happening there,” Matthews began. “What were they looking at in forms of assets that could have been sent? Where was the U.S. Cavalry, to use an American image. Where were the people that could’ve come or tried to get there within how many hours it took to save the lives of the people still living? Where were they and why weren’t they called to do it? I’m going to ask that question until I get an answer.”

Tip to Instapundit.

UPDATE: CBS says a source is no longer believable (tip to Instapundit):

In late October, 60 Minutes ran a report featuring the account of British security expert Dylan Davies – though he called himself Morgan Jones – who recounted in detail his actions in the early morning hours during the Benghazi attack.

It was later revealed that Davies told the FBI he did not visit the American diplomatic compound on the night of the attack and had not, as he claimed, seen the body of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

I didn't quote that source, so I don't think this post needs to correct anything. Parts of the story that I do quote really repeat past reporting on local reactions to the attacks.

So the negation of that source does not erase the fact that we had two responses to the attacks. The first from the annex personnel and the second from the State Department reaction force from Tripoli.

Perhaps this explains the odd award of a Navy Cross for a Delta Force soldier that was mentioned.

But have no doubt that this bad source will be used to discredit those who want to know what happened. CBS should have done a better job on this, over a year after the incident. It's not like they rushed to finish this before the 2012 election, after all. God they suck.