Digital Journal, 17 November 2012
The Romney campaign was banking on the Benghazi attack making Obama the next Jimmy Carter, however it has instead blown up in the face of the American right – only problem is, they haven’t realized that yet.
Conservatives thought the September 11th attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was the little engine that could. President Obama was ahead in a majority of polls in swing states, and he was leading former Governor Mitt Romney hands down.
Then came reports that the consulate was under attack, after violent protests over a derisive movie entitled Innocence of Muslims which insulted the Prophet Muhammad and decent minded people the world over. Then the news came that Ambassador Stevens were killed along with two CIA security contractors and an IT specialist. The Romney campaign wasted no time issuing a statement even while the embassy staff was still in harms way. The media seemed surprised at their gung ho attitude on the attacks, why was the campaign using this moment of tragedy on the anniversary of another tragedy to attack their opponent, President Obama?
This was their plan. This was their moment. The Reagan revolution was getting a sequel.
The Stand Down
Michael Morell, the Acting CIA Director testified to the Senate that the CIA in Libya never asked for help. This is important in light of what we already know about the attacks. According to the Daily Beast, two hours after the attack on the consulate began Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had multiple plans in place to respond. The plans included sending in a Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) from Rota, Spain. More plans included two special forces units to deploy to Libya, one from Italy and another from the United States. However the CIA never requested the help, and neither did the State Department.
Phi Beta Iota: The entire article with additional details and links is worth reading and certainly recommended. When Benghazi first broke, there were two competing political narratives. One held that it was the other half of the neo-con CIA (there are many CIAs), complementing the unusually infantile “Innocence of the Muslims, intended to demonstrate the Obama Administration’s naivete and incacity the week-end going into the election. The other held that it was a fake attack arranged by the Obama Administration itself, to result in hostages on the week-end that would be freed on Monday is a heroic Special Operations endeavor that was actually scripted. Reality has its own agenda. As best we can tell from open sources, this was a real attack, perhaps funded by Syria or Russia, intended to shut down the known CIA base that was focused on arming rebels in Syria with weapons from Benghazi; the CIA base did request urgent help, and if CIA is saying they did not ask for help, CIA is lying. We have never understood the reluctance of the Obama Administration to mobilize any of the assets within 1-2 hours of Benghazi, unless the Secretary of Defense was expecting a pre-planned scenario, and he ordered a stand down because he did not want a premature rescue. Assuming this was a real attack sponsored by someone other than the USA, all sources suggest that the Secretary of Defense either floundered out of his depth or managed a life and death incident to political direction instead of moral direction.
Bimbo-Gate is where Benghazi meets the neo-cons from another angle. As best we can tell from the cheap seats, Obama had legitimate reason to fear military flag officer betrayal in the days leading up to the election. The false flag attack to be blamed on Iran as allegedly planned by Admiral Kevin Cosgriff in 2007 could reasonably have led to a precautionary executive order to the FBI to monitor the emails of top right-wing officers (many military by their very nature tend to be right of center), with the unanticipated result that Petraeus was found with his pants down and vulnerable at the right moment. The relief of Admiral Charles Gaouette, who was offshore of Guam not actually near Iran, remains to be explained. The relief of General Carter Ham, not only the Commanding General of Africa Command, but present in Washington on 11 September 2011, appears to be related to his questioning the Secretary of Defense’s decision to not utilize the available assets to mount an armed rescue for fear of further destabilizing the Benghazi region. The Secretary’s ad libing about not sending forces in harm’s way without adequate intelligence instantly made him the butt of jokes among military professionals around the world, particularly since most know that US intelligence is the most expensive least effective enterprise on the planet and generally ignored by all planners, program acquisition managers, and operators, not because they want to ignore intelligence, but because it simply is not there for strategic, operational, tactical, or technical needs.
What we do know at this point is that the White House and the Secretary of Defense knew there was a call for help from the CIA base (there was no consulate and we have posted a copy of the State email alert to the White House), knew that the military had assets that could respond within 1-2 hours (seven hours passed before the first two US citizens were killed), and make a political decision to let the CIA base hang loose. That is the political decision that is being concealed from the public and Congress at this time, as best we can tell. We also suspect a two-track decision cycle — with one face the President ordered all possible steps to be taken, and with the other–and with the active consent of the Secretary of State–he quietly told the Secretary of Defense to stand pat and not send in additional US forces to Benghazi, perhaps even anticipating that Petraeus could be blamed for another Khost Kathy moment. The nuanced truth remains to be known.