Benghazi Bungles (A Continuing Series)

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 26, 2012

If this is true, then heads should roll:

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. Consulate and subsequent attack several hours later was denied by U.S. officials — who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. Consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to “stand down.”

Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the Consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The quick reaction force from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the Consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.

At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

Relatedly, while it is increasingly becoming clear why the president doesn’t want us to talk about Benghazi during an election year–it might put his job at risk, after all–stories like this one illustrate why we ought to defy the president and insist on having a discussion regarding this issue. The president of the United States is the most powerful voice by far on foreign affairs, military policy and national security issues. Pretending that these topics should be out of bounds during an election year simply because discussing them might not reflect well on the president is an abdication of duty and responsibility on the part of all involved. We simply cannot make an informed choice the identity of the occupant of the White House for the next four years without having a full and frank national conversation regarding foreign, military and national security affairs.

So despite the fact that Barack Obama wants to hush the rest of the country when it comes to Benghazi and other foreign policy failings, the rest of the country should respond by insisting on a discussing regarding this administration’s full foreign policy record. Barack Obama may lose his job as a consequence of that, but that is the price a president must pay for failing the expectations of the American people during a foreign policy crisis.

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