The Obama administration continues evading important questions about the Islamist assault on the Benghazi mission and its response to it. This in turn has contributed to the erosion of the Obama administration’s credibility and raises further concerns that it denied military assistance to Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other Americans who eventually died in Libya. However, one of the most important questions remaining unanswered is if military leaders refused to help the Americans when they could have done so. If they did fail to assist when they could have done so, then they will have dishonored themselves and shown that they are unfit to command Troops.
Open source reporting offers conflicting information about what occurred at the Benghazi mission on September 11, 2012.
A Fox News article from October 26 reports that some sources say that the CIA officers who died along with Ambassador Stevens at the U.S. mission in Benghazi disregarded repeated orders from their superiors not to render assistance to the ambassador.
The same article states that some level of the Obama administration denied assistance to them even after they requested it while fighting the Islamist terrorists. This reporting is disturbing and if true raises further questions as to who ordered the refusal of assistance.
Yet the same Fox News article cites a CIA spokeswoman who denied that the CIA refused support to the Americans at the Benghazi mission.
Other official statements from the Obama administration claim that the decision to delay military assistance to the Americans at the Benghazi mission was a collaborative decision of the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander.
The bottom line is that accurate information on what happened during the Islamist assault on the Benghazi mission is scarce or non-existent, leaving the public with only reports of varying reliability and an incomplete story. Yet enough information exists to indicate that officials, including military leaders, either refused to send aid when it could have helped or outright denied it when the Americans in Benghazi specifically requested it. This is troubling for all involved but perhaps especially so for American military leaders whose profession demands that they never leave fallen comrades and that they serve the American people. An official investigation is needed and military leaders are obligated to tell the truth of what happened if they hope to retain any sense of honor and ability to lead Troops.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta publicly declared that administration officials didn’t send assistance sooner because they didn’t have enough intelligence on the situation.
However, additional open source reporting indicates that the decision was not as uniform as Secretary Panetta claims.
AFRICOM Commander, General Carter Ham, has apparently testified to Congress that he never received any order to assist the Americans in Benghazi.
If true, this would seem to contradict what Secretary Panetta claimed about the decision to delay sending military assistance.
Additionally, although the statements by General Ham and the CIA state that they did not refuse requests for assistance, they do not make it clear if they could have offered help and instead chose not to do so.
This is extremely important. Two key tenets of the Armed Forces are that Troops should never leave fallen comrades and that they serve the American people. (The Army, “Warrior Ethos,” specifically says as much.)
Thus, General Dempsey, General Ham, retired General Petraeus (now the Director of the CIA), and other relevant military leaders particularly have a burden to explain why they delayed in sending assistance to the Americans in Benghazi.
Current information indicates that they might have failed to aid American citizens, including at least two military veterans, in a timely manner which ultimately would have saved lives.
And if this is true, then not only have they dishonored themselves and demonstrated that they are unfit to command, but they will have also disgraced the United States Armed Forces and permanently damaged its reputation. If it isn’t true, then they still have an obligation to set the record straight regardless of what the Obama administration wants them to do.
There is plenty of additional speculation and rumors about what happened and what decisions were made by whom. And while some of these pieces of information might prove to be accurate, other information is undoubtedly wrong.
Yet all this underscores the need for a thorough investigation of what happened at the Benghazi mission, who knew about it and when, and who issued what orders.
Until an investigation occurs, no one will know for sure what happened (including the President) and the public will continue speculating and relying on unconfirmed reports and sources as to what actually occurred.
The public will not be able to rely on information released by the Obama administration as it has proven to be entirely untrustworthy from the start when it declared that an obscure video caused the attack.