Obama’s Handling of Libya Raises Concerns
It makes sense that during the Halloween season we might be treated to more scares than other times of the year. However, the latest news coming out surrounding the attack on our consulate in Benghazi is more than just scary – its political and moral implications are downright horrifying.
“Benghazigate” has become one of the largest political scandals since Iran-Contra or Watergate. The most recent story (which has been amended more than a few times by various officials) coming out of the White House was that there was simply not enough information available as the attack progressed. Many members of the administration, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, have repeated this claim.
However, new information recovered from emails, investigative reporting, and sources close to the administration have begun to reveal quite a bit over the past week. And much of it flies in the face of the administration’s claim that officials simply “didn’t know.”
The first piece of information was high-priority emails that were sent to dozens of email addresses in the White House, the State Department, military security, and other government offices. These emails were sent out as the attack actually happened, and contain very clear status updates and requests for immediate assistance to defend the consulate from the attack.
The mention of mortars in the emails is significant: it puts the final nail in the coffin of the original story that the whole incident was simply a “spontaneous protest” gone wrong. Mortars require organized planning and direction. This indicates that a terrorist organization had to be involved.
These emails, however, were just the tip of the iceberg. More information has been uncovered that paints an even darker picture.
Jennifer Griffin of Fox News reported that, according to sources that were on the ground in Benghazi, agents at the local CIA Annex less than a mile from the consulate heard gunfire and requested military support, but were told multiple times to “stand down” and not rescue Ambassador Chris Stevens and his staff.
Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, the two former SEALS who would die in the attack, ignored the order and went with one other person to help evacuate consulate staff and the already-deceased Sean Smith. They could not locate the Ambassador, however, and returned to the CIA annex. When the annex also came under fire, they were denied a second request for military support.
The team fought back. One specialist operating a heavy machine gun on the roof. They had a laser spotter aimed at the enemy mortar so that a gunship could take out the enemy artillery. Two separate surveillance drones were sent in to monitor the situation, with a live video feed being sent back to major military locations around the world – including the White House situation room. Two special operations teams were also available to go in, and airplanes at Sigonella Air Base were well within launch range.
However, all of these assets were told to wait a third time. When help did finally arrive, Ambassador Stevens, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty were all dead.
It is now clear that there was plenty of information available via the surveillance drones, email updates, and requests for military support. So why didn’t the White House authorize anyone in our military to act? And why did the administration attempt to cover the incident up with their story about the offensive YouTube video?
Frank Gaffney, columnist and president of the Center for Security Policy, wrote in the Washington Times that the answer may have to do with a weapons exchange: “It now appears that Stevens was there… for another priority mission: sending arms recovered from [Muammar Gaddafi]’s stocks to the ‘opposition’ in Syria. As in Libya, the insurgents are known to include al Qaeda and other Shariah-supremacist groups…”
Many details have yet to be fully confirmed. However, if this allegation is accurate, it means that the Obama administration has been actively helping arm al-Qaeda linked organizations in the Middle East. It would also mean that Ambassador Stevens, Smith, Woods, and Doherty all died because the White House didn’t want to intervene and risk revealing the truth about its operations.
It’s very difficult to think of a more scary picture than that of the Obama administration actively arming our enemies. Hopefully more information on Benghazigate will come out, because the American people – and the families of the dead – deserve the truth.
David Giffin is a second year Masters in Theological Studies student at the Candler School of Theology from Charleston, Ill.