The Obama administration had plenty of warning that something was coming and did nothing. That’s the upshot of this CBS video report that aired last night on 60 Minutes. The men interviewed by reporter Lara Logan, British security specialist “Morgan Jones” (a pseudonym), Green Beret LTC Andy Wood, who was among the top US security official in Libya at the time, and Greg Hicks, who was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya and who testified before Congress about the massacre, absolutely lay waste to the administration’s early claims about Benghazi. Here’s Morgan on security at the American compound:
Contrary to the White House’s public statements, which were still being made a full week later, it’s now well established that the Americans were attacked by al Qaeda in a well-planned assault.
Five months before that night, Morgan Jones first arrived in Benghazi, in eastern Libya about 400 miles from the capital, Tripoli.
He thought this would be an easy assignment compared to Afghanistan and Iraq. But on his first drive through Benghazi, he noticed the black flags of al Qaeda flying openly in the streets and he grew concerned about the guard forces as soon as he pulled up to the U.S. compound.
Morgan Jones: There was nobody there that we could see. And then we realized they were all inside drinking tea, laughing and joking.
Lara Logan: What did you think?
Morgan Jones: Instantly I thought we’re going to have to get rid of all these guys.
Morgan Jones’ job was training the unarmed guards who manned the compound’s gates. A second Libyan force — an armed militia hired by the State Department — was supposed to defend the compound in the event of an attack. Morgan had nothing to do with the militia, but they worried him so much, he could not keep quiet.
Morgan Jones: I was saying, “These guys are no good. You need to– you need to get ‘em out of here.”
Lara Logan: You also kept saying, “If this place is attacked these guys are not going to stand and fight?”
Morgan Jones: Yeah. I used to say it all the time. Yeah, in the end I got quite bored of hearing my own voice saying it.
And lest you doubt Jones’ chops, he sneaked into an al Qaeda-controlled Benghazi hospital to verify that Ambassador Stevens’ corpse was indeed there. So we know that for months people whose job was “security” were warning the ambassador and State about the dangers. Stevens himself sought out Jones, concerned about the safety of the station.
And State and the White House did nothing.
Next was Colonel Wood, who verified Morgan’s account to show everyone knew something was brewing:
The last time he went to Benghazi was in June, just three months before the attack. While he was there, al Qaeda tried to assassinate the British ambassador. Wood says, to him, it came as no surprise because al Qaeda — using a familiar tactic — had stated their intent in an online posting, saying they would attack the Red Cross, the British and then the Americans in Benghazi.
Lara Logan: And you watched as they–
Andy Wood: As they did each one of those.
Lara Logan: –attacked the Red Cross and the British mission. And the only ones left–
Andy Wood: Were us. They made good on two out of the three promises. It was a matter of time till they captured the third one.
Wood repeatedly warned the embassy and Washington, but, in D.C., the warnings went unheeded. Wood also pointed out why this could not have been a spontaneous mob action, the crap story the administration was pushing in the days after the massacre. Discussing the later battle at the CIA annex where two former Navy Seals were killed, Wood spoke of the precision of the enemy attack:
Lara Logan: They hit that roof three times.
Andy Wood: They, they hit those roofs three times.
Lara Logan: In the dark.
Andy Wood: Yea, that’s getting the basketball through the hoop over your shoulder.
Lara Logan: What does it take to pull off an attack like that?
Andy Wood: Coordination, planning, training, experienced personnel. They practice those things. They knew what they were doing. That was a– that was a well-executed attack.
Kind of kills the “a You Tube video caused it” story, too, doesn’t it?
Finally, there is a portion of the testimony of Greg Hicks I want to highlight. Discussing how he felt about the failure to render aid during the battle, he said:
Lara Logan: You have this conversation with the defense attache. You ask him what military assets are on their way. And he says–
Greg Hicks: Effectively, they’re not. And I– for a moment, I just felt lost. I just couldn’t believe the answer. And then I made the call to the Annex chief, and I told him, “Listen, you’ve gotta tell those guys there may not be any help coming.”
Lara Logan: That’s a tough thing to understand. Why?
Greg Hicks: It just is. We–, for us, for the people that go out onto the edge, to represent our country, we believe that if we get in trouble, they’re coming to get us. That our back is covered. To hear that it’s not, it’s a terrible, terrible experience.
And you can bet that same dread went through the minds of every Foreign Service officer and every soldier stationed around the world: “If they didn’t come for Chris Stevens and the others, will they come for me?”
Much of this, of course, is known to those of us who’ve followed this scandal from the beginning. But, thanks to a generally pliant media, the White House and the State Department’s stonewalling has been successful.
The 60 Minutes report isn’t perfect –left uncovered are the myriad questions about Obama and Clinton’s actions that night and the subsequent cover up, as well as the reasons for the lack of a rescue mission– but CBS and Logan are to be commended for finally getting this out in front of the general public.
One wishes this had come out a year ago.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)