Benghazi Blues

What I don’t get about Benghazi could fill a book. Some day it may. But to try to put it down, in something resembling order, is very difficult indeed.

Let’s see:

On September 11th, a significant date to Islamist terrorists and Americans alike, an under-guarded US Consulate in the wild west of Benghazi was set upon by well-armed attackers. We could and should look earlier—what was Chris Stevens doing, why were requests for extra security denied, especially given the date, what was the CIA up to in its own pied-a-terre—but for now, let’s start here:

9:42 p.m. — Armed men begin their assault on the U.S. Consulate.

9:59 p.m. — A surveillance drone is directed to fly over the U.S. compound, but it is unarmed.

10:32 p.m. — The Office of the Secretary Defense and the Joint Staff are notified of the attack by the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon. “The information is quickly passed to Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey.”

11 p.m. — Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey meet with President Obama at the White House where they discuss the unfolding situation and how to respond. The meeting had been previously scheduled.

11:10 p.m. — The surveillance drone arrives over the Benghazi facility.

11:30 p.m. — All surviving U.S. personnel are evacuated from the consulate. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and State Department computer expert Sean Smith were killed in the initial assault.

September 12
Midnight to 2 a.m. — Panetta and other senior leaders discuss possible options for further violence if it were to break out. Panetta gives verbal orders for Marine anti-terrorist teams from Rota, Spain, to prepare to deploy to Tripoli and Benghazi. Panetta also orders a special operations force team training in Croatia and an additional special operations force team in the United States to prepare to deploy to a staging base in southern Italy.

1:30 a.m. — A six-man security team from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli arrives in Benghazi.

2:39 a.m. to 2:53 a.m. — The National Military Command Center gives formal authorization for the deployment of the two special operations force teams from Croatia and the United States.

5:15 a.m. — Attackers launch assault on a second U.S. facility in Benghazi. Two former U.S. Navy SEALs acting as security contractors are killed. They are identified as Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Someone (who?) had the sense almost immediately to send a drone (from where?) over the Consulate, though it took two hours to get there—and was unarmed. Panetta learned of the attack within the hour, Obama a half hour later. What’s not mentioned here is that there was also real-time radio/phone contact (though it’s implied, else why order the drone?).

But nothing else makes sense. Who dispatched the six-man security team from Tripoli, and when? Why did it take five hours from the initial assault just to give the order to deploy special ops? What happened to the Marines from Spain? What did the six security guys from Tripoli actually do in Benghazi?

Let’s see how 9/12 ended:

7:57 p.m. — The U.S. special operations force team based in Croatia arrives at a staging base in Italy.

8:56 p.m. — One of the Marine anti-terrorist teams from Spain arrives in Tripoli.

9:28 p.m. — The U.S.-based special operations force team arrives at its staging base in Italy.

A full 24 hours elapsed, and still no one made it to Benghazi. All four Americans had long since died, and other personnel had been evacuated, but no one arrived to secure the site. The FBI (FBI? FBI??) didn’t get there for weeks and spent less time on the job than my cleaning lady. Heck, a CNN reporter found Chris Stevens’ diary.

And then there’s Susan Rice’s bizarre appearance on five Sunday talkers, parroting an utterly false narrative about an obscure YouTube video prompting spontaneous riots that got out of control. Such a narrative would have been demonstrably false from the first seconds of the original assault: it was an invention. And one doesn’t appear on that many shows unless one asks on, to peddle a story.

It doesn’t matter whether she was duped or was a willing accomplice to a cover-up. Indeed, Obama is right that it shouldn’t be about her at all. Shame on him for sending her out in the first place: his whole administration was hiding behind the skirts of a mere UN Ambassador.

A loyal and brave State Department diplomat was murdered and his corpse defiled on the anniversary of the worst attack on American soil since Gettysburg, and no one resigns. Obama says security wasn’t his department; Hillary shrugs it off. A cover story appears out of thin air, and is broadcast around the world as the gospel truth (with accompanying apologies and condemnation of free, if offensive, speech). Even if Stevens and Smith were dead before they could have been saved, Doherty and Woods weren’t. The lived 7 1/2 hours after the attack began, yet there is no coherent explanation why no one came to their rescue.

Yet the only person to resign is the CIA Director, and not for Benghazi, but banging floozy. And even he said the attack was Al Qaeada-inspired terrorism, only to see his words erased from the record.

Is this more or less correct? Am I missing something? Obama said in defense of Susan Rice’s honor to come after him. Will they? Will anyone?

PS: I realize this is a rather disjointed account, but that’s the nature of this story. The truth would be fairly simple and straightforward: a series of FUBARs and SNAFUs. It’s the cover-up that makes it so byzantine.

The Washington Times has a lengthy, and perhaps more coherent, critique of the story (-ies) so far.

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