Death in the Desert
The Congressional Committee hearings on Benghazi yesterday were some of the most riveting since the Reagan era. There was testimony from personnel intimate with the details—who knew those who were killed on a first name basis – who had been in or were in Libya during the attacks—and who came to tell the truth. As one witness put it, “In February 1991, I swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I am here today to honor that oath.” (Full opening statement of Gregory Hicks here.) Here are some highlights if you missed it.
- The first of several waves of attacks caught everyone off-guard, strained as the Benghazi facility’s personnel were. Though security there was rated as one of the worst risks America has in the entire world, inexplicably their security detail had recently been cut by over 50%.
- The attack (not “demonstration”) was reported by the Ambassador himself, calling on cell phone from what was believed to be a safe room in the Benghazi location. No demonstrations, just attacks with small arms and more. Organized hostage taking. En masse. This was going to be a good catch for the attackers.
- Security personnel already nearby, most likely affiliated with the CIA, independently rescued approximately 30 Americans. Two could not be located, including the Ambassador who had fled the sub-spec safe room due to smoke.
- The FEST (Foreign Emergency Support Team) interagency group—designed specifically to intervene rapidly in situations exactly like this one, were told “no”.
- Meanwhile forces, at least the few still available, were preparing to go from Tripoli to Benghazi-a short hour or so away. Supersonic speed fighters were located in Aviano, Italy. At least one aircraft carrier was nearby, parked in the Mediterranean for counter terrorism purposes. At least one drone was overhead, (armed?), viewing all.
- The Special Forces were all told they did not have authorization to rescue the pinned down Americans, something they are uniquely and superbly qualified to do.
- The 2:00 a.m. call to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not helpful.
- It was all blamed by Amb. Susan Rice and others on an obscure internet video and mid-level managers poor judgment, both of which were known to be false when told to the American people and press. The cover-up was in full swing.
- The FBI was delayed 17 days before even arriving on scene to collect evidence, in part due to the false story by Rice, et.al. regarding the internet video.
- A decorated State Department employee was told NOT to talk to an investigating Congressman without another State department attorney present.
- Gregory Hicks has been demoted. A decorated general takes early retirement. A decorated carrier task force admiral is re-assigned.
- The killers have not been brought to justice, nor even identified.
Today some of those career State, DoD, and other security and diplomatic experts started talking to Congress.
But “what difference does it make”?