Adm. James Lyons in the Washington Times:
Obama needs to come clean on what happened in Benghazi
We now know why Ambassador Christopher Stevens had to be in Benghazi the night of 9/11 to meet a Turkish representative, even though he feared for his safety. According to various reports, one of Stevens’ main missions in Libya was to facilitate the transfer of much of Gadhafi’s military equipment, including the deadly SA-7 – portable SAMs – to Islamists and other al Qaeda-affiliated groups fighting the Assad Regime in Syria. In an excellent article, Aaron Klein states that Stevens routinely used our Benghazi consulate (mission) to coordinate the Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Qatari governments’ support for insurgencies throughout the Middle East. Further, according to Egyptian security sources, Stevens played a “central role in recruiting Islamic jihadists to fight the Assad Regime in Syria.”
In another excellent article, Clare Lopez at RadicalIslam.org noted that there were two large warehouse-type buildings associated with our Benghazi mission. During the terrorist attack, the warehouses were probably looted. We do not know what was there and if it was being administrated by our two former Navy SEALs and the CIA operatives who were in Benghazi. Nonetheless, the equipment was going to hardline jihadis.
Once the attack commenced at 10:00 p.m. Libyan time (4:00 p.m. EST), we know the mission security staff immediately contacted Washington and our embassy in Tripoli. It now appears the White House, Pentagon, State Department, CIA, NDI, JCS and various other military commands monitored the entire battle in real time via frantic phone calls from our compound and video from an overhead drone. The cries for help and support went unanswered.
Our Benghazi mission personnel, including our two former Navy SEALs, fought for seven hours without any assistance other than help from our embassy in Tripoli, which launched within 30 minutes an aircraft carrying six Americans and 16 Libyan security guards. It is understood they were instrumental in helping 22 of our Benghazi mission personnel escape the attack.
Once the attack commenced, Stevens was taken to a “safe room” within the mission. It is not known whether his location was betrayed by the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, the local force providing security to the consulate, which had ties to the Ansar al-Sharia terrorist group conducting the attack, and to al Qaeda. Unbelievably, we still do not know how Ambassador Stevens died.
The Obama national security team, including CIA, DNI, State Department and the Pentagon, watched and listened to the assault but did nothing to answer repeated calls for assistance. It has been reported that President Obama met with Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in the Oval Office, presumably to see what support could be provided. After all, we had very credible military resources within striking distance. At our military base in Sigonella, Sicily, which is slightly over 400 miles from Benghazi, we had a fully equipped Special Forces unit with both transport and jet strike aircraft prepositioned. Certainly this was a force much more capable than the 22-man force from our embassy in Tripoli.
I also understand we had a C-130 gunship available, which would have quickly disposed of the terrorist attackers. This attack went on for seven hours. Our fighter jets could have been at our Benghazi mission within an hour. Our Special Forces out of Sigonella could have been there within a few hours. There is not any doubt that action on our part could have saved the lives of our two former Navy SEALs and possibly the ambassador.
Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.
There was always something strange about the attack on our Benghazi consulate but I couldn’t put my finger on it until now. What I want to know is what was the purpose of the attack?
First of all, the attackers were not highly trained commandos or special forces operatives. A few of them may have had terrorist training from somewhere but that’s still not the same thing as a trained military unit. Handing guns to a mob doesn’t make them an army, it just makes them an armed mob.
That’s why I didn’t find it that strange that the attacks lasted as long as they did. It takes training and discipline to get people to get up and advance in the face of opposing fire. Militia troops are notorious for taking pot-shots from behind cover but otherwise refusing to expose themselves.
But even a poorly trained group should have been able to quickly overwhelm the security at the consulate – and in fact they did. Ambassador Stevens and two others quickly retreated to a safe room in the consulate. So the terrorists set the place on fire. One of the men was able to escape.
Ambassador Stevens and information officer Sean Smith died in the consulate. A quick reaction force from the nearby CIA annex was able to find Smith’s body in the consulate but they could not find Stevens. About 1 am (a little over three hours after the attacks started) some Libyan nationals entered the consulate and found Stevens. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were killed later at the attack on the CIA annex.
So where were the terrorists and what were they doing all this time? The attack on the nearby CIA annex didn’t take place until about 4 am, over six hours after the initial attacks started. The terrorists had to expect that we would respond with air support if not boots on the ground, but they still hung around? Why didn’t they immediately attack the CIA annex? They had to know about it, it was only a couple blocks away and would have been known to the locals.
Admiral Lyons provides the answer to my questions. They were loading up and moving the contents of the warehouses. Obtaining those weapons was the primary purpose of the attack – killing or capturing Americans was secondary. After setting fire to the consulate they turned their attention to completing their primary mission. Then, after the weapons were loaded and moved, the remaining terrorists launched the attack on the CIA annex.
If you want to get really tin foily, consider the possibility that this was a back-door plot to give weapons to the Islamic extremists in Syria. Think of it as “Iran-Contra Meets Fast & Furious on the Road to Benghazi”. Rather than give the weapons to the extremists directly and risk the bad publicity maybe the Obama administration was going to let them appear to “steal” them.
The terrorists sure didn’t seem to be trying very hard to kill or capture anyone. Both Stevens and Smith died from smoke inhalation. Could their deaths have been accidental? Perhaps they thought the consulate was empty when they set it on fire. Maybe the people who found Stevens’ body were actually the terrorists and they rushed him to the hospital trying to save him? None of the Libyan guards was killed. Doherty and Woods were killed when a mortar round landed on their position. The terrorists never pressed home the attack on the CIA annex.
That theory makes as much sense as the official version.
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