by James A. Lyons
Five committees of the House of Representatives recently issued an interim report on the Benghazi tragedy, which clearly indicated that the highest levels of the State Department were involved in not only denying security resources but reducing them at our facilities in Libya, including the Benghazi Special Mission Compound. These were not “routine” security requests, as some have claimed. They were made by the Regional Security Office and also by Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens as well.
Why these legitimate requests were turned down remains an open question. There remains many other unanswered questions that were not addressed by the Accountability Review Board. For example, we still do not know what business was being conducted at the compound. Also, why was it necessary for Stevens to be in Benghazi with its out-of-control security situation on what should have been a high-security-alert day of Sept. 11? Why did the administration continue to lie to the American public for the better part of two weeks that it was a video that caused the attack when they knew it was a terrorist attack from Day One?
The American public — and certainly the families of the four Americans killed — need to know who gave the “stand-down order” and on whose authority. Former CIA Director David H. Petraeus has stated that no such order came from the CIA.
The lack of a military response remains another important unanswered question. Even though our military resources, particularly those of the U.S. Sixth Fleet have been drawn down to the point at which they’re essentially nonexistent, there were in-theater resources that could have responded and, most likely, would have saved America lives. These included F-16 fighter aircraft from Aviano, Italy, which could have been over the compound in about 90 minutes. There was also a 130-man Marine Force Recon Team at Sigonella, Italy, which could have been deployed to arrive at the compound in a matter of a few hours.
These resources would have made a difference, particularly since the attack went on for more than eight hours with no fear of interference or retaliation. Further, no one has yet been able to interview the 30-odd survivors about what actually happened during the attack. Why not?
Why has there been no effort to retaliate against the al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group Ansar al-Shariah, which carried out the attack? Their leaders today sit in outdoor cafes in Benghazi sipping tea.
Our U.S. Sixth Fleet military posture in the Mediterranean is a disgrace. Since World War II up until 2008, we maintained the dominant military force in the Mediterranean, consisting of at least one carrier battle group and an amphibious Ready Group with an embarked Marine battalion, along with logistic support ships and other units. Today, we have one unarmed command ship — my old flagship — the USS Mt. Whitney (LCC-20). This is symptomatic of President Obama’s relentless effort to disarm our military, which is clearly affecting our national security.
Compounding the disarming of our military forces is Mr. Obama’s destabilizing social engineering. The latest example is a directive promulgated by the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff that all flag and general officers will now be evaluated by the subordinates under their commands. Does this make any sense? Is this to make sure that our military leadership is complying with the president’s “diversity” agenda? Will any member of the Joint Chiefs find the courage to stand up and voice objection?
This politically correct directive by the chairman defies all leadership logic. It will destroy unit integrity and morale. It will destroy the fundamental principles of the chain of command concept, which has served this nation honorably for more than 238 years. The integrity of command is not obtained by running a popularity contest. Currying favors with subordinates is alien to military leadership. This nonsense must be stopped.
Our nonresponse to the attack on our Benghazi facilities is in part reflective of our military leadership’s politically correct mentality as well as the administration’s policies to disarm our military forces. The first action that needs to be taken is to get the facts out to the American public on the Benghazi cover-up. Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, has sponsored a resolution (H. Res. 36) to establish a select committee to investigate and respond on the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. He has been joined by 122 members, at the latest count. The problem has been that House Speaker John A. Boehner has been stonewalling the establishment of such a committee, using the lame excuse that it will cost money and take a lot of time. Nonsense. The systematic causes that brought about the Benghazi debacle need to be unearthed now, as it will affect our national security in the future.
If the president were a Republican and Nancy Pelosi were the speaker, there would have been no hesitation on her part to find the courage to form such a committee. Hopefully, Mr. Boehner can find his.
Adm. James A. Lyonss, U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.
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