Finally, the House Armed Services Committee released transcripts from a classified briefing titled “DOD’s preparation for the terrorist attacks in Benghazi.”
Unfortunately for Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, and Sean Smith, the Obama-Panetta Pentagon was anything but prepared to help defend the Benghazi compound when it came under attack.
This lack of preparation reflected poorly on a President running for reelection and a Secretary of State with presidential ambitions, which is one major reason for the cover-up that followed the attack.
According to a Fox News report:
“… no attack aircraft were placed on high alert on Sept. 11, and the closest F-16 fighter planes to any of the trouble spots in North Africa were in Aviano, Italy. None were armed, and the closest air refuellers were positioned 10 hours away at a base in Great Britain.”
“No Defense Department AC-130 gunships were within a 10-hour flight to Libya, according to committee members who heard commanders’ testimony over the past 15 months. And the commander’s in-extremis force, which included a unit of 23 special operators who are used at the commander’s discretion, were training in Croatia that day. They did not make it to a staging base in Sigonella, Italy, for another 19 hours after the attack began.”
The transcripts reveal that the Pentagon “did an analysis” of attacks since 9/11/2001 and concluded, given that only one attack had occurred since then, “we were postured appropriately.”
Postured appropriately? Such a posture may have made sense to a president claiming al-Qaeda was “decimated” and “on the run,” but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary Clinton should have never let such a conclusion be drawn.
I served on the George W. Bush White House Homeland Security Council staff for three years. Under Bush, the only acceptable posture on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks included the words “we are maxed out” and “we can’t physically do more.”
On the 9/11 anniversary, President Bush’s orders were clear: leave no stone unturned, review all the intelligence, examine all security measures, prepare contingency plans, and review response actions. Ensure everything was protected, from the most remote outpost in the farthest part of the world, to our malls, airports, and bridges here at home. And as Vice President Cheney said last year, we were always ready on the anniversary of 9/11. That obviously wasn’t the case with the Obama-Clinton team.
For a president who was portraying himself as strong on national security in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, and a Secretary of State planning to run for President, this was a major management and intelligence failure. It’s also motive to cover-up the truth.