Message from the Obama Administration to all overseas personnel: If you get into a jam, the cavalry isn’t coming:
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.
And why were they denied help? From the Los Angeles Times:
U.S. military commanders decided against sending a rescue mission to Benghazi during the attack against the American diplomatic mission last month because they didn’t have enough clear intelligence to justify the risk to the troops, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Thursday.
Panetta, in his fullest comments yet on the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, said Pentagon officials were aware of the assault by armed militants soon after it began Sept. 11. But he said they never had more than fragmentary information during the course of the attack.
The “basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s taking place,” Panetta told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. “This happened within a few hours, and it was really over before we had the opportunity to really know what was happening.”
He said he, Army Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all believed“very strongly that we could not put troops at risk in that situation.”
(Emphases added, h/t The Anchoress)
I have a one-word response to Secretary Panetta, but I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination.
No opportunity to know what was happening? Go read that FOX article, again. They were in constant radio contact with the CIA annex, from which the brass in DC were told at least twice that they needed help — and I bet they got plenty of detail about what was going on. They knew enough to move a Special Forces team from Central Europe to Sigonella — and then told them to stand down?
Remember, the attack started at 9:24 PM local time. Woods and Dougherty, the former Navy SEALs who defied orders in order to rescue their fellow Americans, weren’t killed until 4 AM, when they were taken out by a mortar round. That’s more than seven hours after the fighting started, yet Panetta says they didn’t know enough?
This is disgraceful. My father was in the US Navy in China in the 1930s. The place was a bigger mess than Libya: weak government, bandits everywhere, civil war. It regularly happened, he would tell me me, that Americans and other foreigners would find themselves in danger, so his ship’s CO would form an armed shore party to go deal with it.
No hesitations over not having enough intelligence, no qualms about risks. American lives and property were in danger, you’re the military and you go protect them.
And don’t tell me Panetta and Ham made these decisions on their own. We know the White House was in the loop. On something this big, the decision to intervene would have gone to Obama. Maybe he was getting warnings from the DoD about not risking “another Mogadishu,”, which, yes, is something he would have to take into account, but that was his moment to exercise leadership and say “find a way.”
But he didn’t. While our consulate burned and our people begged for help before dying, our forces were told to stand down.
Imagine what those people were thinking. Did they hold out hope that help would yet come? Or had they resigned themselves to their fates and decided to sell their lives dearly, knowing they had been disowned by their own government?
At the memorial service on the return of our dead to America, Vice President Joe Biden asked the father of Tyrone Woods, one of the SEALs killed in Benghazi, “Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?”
I don’t know, Joe. But I do know your boss and his administration have none.
LINKS: More at Hot Air (and here), Pirate’s Cove, Q and O, and Power Line. Legal Insurrection thinks this revelation came from the CIA, which is refusing to take the fall. Earlier on Public Secrets, “Where was the military help?”
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)