Touted by Fox News as a “possible smoking gun,” the email from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s chief of staff shows that special operations teams within a few hours flight from Benghazi were preparing to deploy as early as 7 PM Washington time on the night of the attacks, well within the time needed to get to Benghazi before the deadly mortar strike that killed U.S. Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Ty Woods.
You would think such a key piece of evidence would have been the first thing the State Department turned over to Congressional investigators. After all, it establishes that help was “on the way” to our diplomats and special operators and intelligence officers under siege.
Panetta aide Jeremy Bash emailed Mrs. Clinton’s top aides at 7:09 PM, to let them know that quick reaction forces, then stationed in Europe, were “spinning up as we speak” to deploy to Benghazi.
“Assuming Principals agree to deploy these elements, we will ask State to secure the approval from host nation,” Bash wrote. Please advise how you wish to convey that approval to us.”
Bash said he had just tried to call them at State, but that they were all in a meeting with Secretary Clinton, hence the email.
We know from the timeline submitted to Congress by the Defense Department exactly which forces Bash was referring to. They included a Delta Force hostage rescue team based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina that was on call 24/7, two Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons based in Rota, Spain, and the Commander’s In Extremis Force (CIF) for European Command, also known as C-110.
C-110 was a fifty-man team of Special Operations troops with their own airlift, specially composed to be able to respond to precisely the type of emergency that was then occurring in Benghazi.
They were trained in hostage rescue operations and “hot” extractions. This was the unit most suitable for Benghazi. When they got word to start “spinning up,” they were in Croatia on a training mission, just a two-to-three hour flight from Benghazi.
As Bash sent his email, General Carter Ham, commander of Africa Command (Africom), initiated the process to transfer them from Eucom to Africom, temporarily placing them under his direct orders. The unit commander ordered his men to begin loading their gear into their C-130s. All they needed was the go-ahead from State.
And that’s where it died. Hillary Clinton did not want U.S. Special Operations forces coming into Libya with “guns ablazing.” Instead of flying directly to Benghazi, C-110 was told to “stage” in Sigonella, Italy. Meanwhile, Panetta counter-manded General Ham’s order, and returned C-110 to the authority of EUCOM.
This is the key piece of information Mrs. Clinton and her protectors have fought tooth and nail to keep from Congress and the U.S. public until now. Why? Because it contradicts all the earlier timelines presented by the State Department, the CIA, and the Department of Defense, and shows that U.S. forces could have rescued our men in Benghazi before the fateful 5 AM mortar strike, if only Mrs. Clinton had given the go-ahead. Only a lawsuit by Judicial Watch forced its release.
I investigated this timeline and Mrs. Clinton’s role in blocking military assets from reaching Benghazi in my book Dark Forces: the Truth About What Happened in Benghazi. I interviewed senior Africom commanders, unit commanders, spec-ops officers and others with direct knowledge of the U.S. Forces available for deployment that night.
In the redacted version of his testimony that was ultimately released by the House Armed Services Committee, General Ham said the main reason he didn’t go balls to the wall to get forces to Benghazi was simple. “We were never asked,” he said.
Pathetic, but true.
The Bash email shows that the Pentagon was asking – two hours earlier than previous timelines have revealed. So far, the State Department has not released the response that Mrs. Clinton’s minions sent back to Bash. But we know what it was: stand down.
Glen Doherty and Ty Woods soon found out what it was as well.