POL103-Benghazi-5-The Investigation

To answer the question where was the U.S. military during the attack in the previous episode, we need to find out what are the major mistakes before, during and after the attack.

Mistake 1: The State Department should have assigned additional security personnel to the embassy in Tripoli, instead ordered the temporary security resources to leave in August 2012. Before the attack, the Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lamb, who oversaw the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, opposed keeping the temporary security team at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli. Ms. Lamb had told the embassy’s RSO “not to bother asking for additional help when the security team was sent home [in August].” Gregory H. Hicks, the deputy chief of mission (DCM), Eric Nordstrom, the RSO, and Mark Thompson, the acting deputy assistant secretary of state for counterterrorism (CT), were all testified that the State Department failed to protect Ambassador Stevens.

Mistake 2: The “February 17 Martyrs Brigade” militia should not be hired to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. In the report, they describe hiring the local Islamist militia for protection in Benghazi as “inviting a fox into the henhouse.” The number one suspect, Mr. Abu Khattala, belongs to a militia group called Ansar al-Shariah, the group behind the attack. It is an active rebel group against Gaddafi in 2011. However, the members also embraced an extremist ideology hostile to the West and nursed ambitions to extend it over Libya. Many other brigades who thought to be more accepting of the west tolerance their action, which have declined to take any action against suspects in the Benghazi attack. The February 17 was one of them. After the attack, the leader of February 17, who is actually one of the friends of Abu Khattala, even admitted that some members of their militia also participated in the attack, while the Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA annex in Benghazi were not affiliated with any of the militias the CIA or state department had developed a relationship with during the previous 18 months.

Mistake 3: U.S. military resources nearby should have been notified of Ambassador Stevens travel plans in the event of an emergency, knowing the vulnerability to attacks by the Islamists. The military for its slow response sending resources to the Libyan. Among these were delays imposed on the 50-man Marine Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team, or FAST, which launched from Rota, Spain. The team was held on the ground for three hours because the U.S. government officials were debating whether the soldiers should wear their uniforms and carry weapons. Rep. Martha Roby, the Republican chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations concluded that: “It does not appear that U.S. military forces, units, aircrafts, drones, or specific personnel that could have been readily deployed in the course of the attack in Benghazi were unduly held back, or told to stand down, or refused permission to enter the fight. Rather, we were so badly postured, they could not have made a difference or we were desperately needed elsewhere.”

Several official investigations have been completed regarding the 2012 Benghazi attack, but none of the investigations have found any wrongdoing by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice or any other high-ranking member of the Obama administration. However, after the House Republicans investigation has finished, two members among Republicans on the committee, Jim Jordan, and Mike Pompeo, issued a 48-page supplementary report more forthright in its criticism. It says: “What we did find was a tragic failure of leadership – in the run-up to the attack and the night of – and an administration that, so blinded by politics and its desire to win an election, disregarded a basic duty of government: tell the people the truth. And for those reasons Benghazi is, and always will be, an American tragedy.”

Appendix For Episode 5

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