by Kenneth R. Timmerman
“Why would they say ‘get over there as quick as you can’ when the British ambassador gets attacked, and say ‘wait’ when it’s our own ambassador?”
Gowdy must (and is) treading carefully as he navigates the labyrinthine minefield constructed by partisan hacks and entrenched bureaucrats to hide the truth.
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood was the commander of the 16-man Special Forces security detail at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, Libya, until the State Department ordered him and his men home on August 5, 2012 and never replaced them.
Despite repeated pleas from Ambassador Chris Stevens and his State Department security officers in Tripoli that they remain in Libya, Washington wouldn’t listen.
Colonel Wood remains perplexed at what happened on the night Ambassador Stevens was murdered, and in a recent conversation, recalled a similar event in June 2012 when the British ambassador came under RPG attack while visiting Benghazi.
“When I went to help the British ambassador, we got to the scene faster than the CIA team did on September 11. I went over to the CIA Annex, waited for the 18 Delta medic to grab his kit, then left immediately,” he told me.
“Why would they say ‘get over there as quick as you can’ when the British ambassador gets attacked, and say ‘wait’ when it’s our own ambassador?” he wondered.
And yet, that’s the behavior former deputy CIA Director Mike Morell told the House intelligence committee was “a very prudent decision.”
Their report was welcomed by the national media as the final nail in the coffin of Republican-led Congressional investigations.
Many conservatives have been pushing for Rep. Trey Gowdy (R, SC) to play his cards, even as his investigators continue to conduct their probe far from the media spotlight.
The Washington Post has already proclaimed Gowdy’s investigation “superfluous,” and last week blasted “unfounded conspiracy theories” propounded by Republicans for distracting from the “big mistake in Libya policy… [which] was President Obama’s refusal to support the new government’s attempt to build security after he helped topple the nation’s longtime dictator.”
In Gruberesque fashion, the Post failed to mention that Ambassador Stephens was still talking to Prime Minister candidates for the “new government” on the day he was brutally murdered, as his Diary shows.
That’s why Gowdy must (and is) treading carefully as he navigates the labyrinthine minefield constructed by partisan hacks and entrenched bureaucrats to hide the truth.
One of the first things Gowdy did was to hire a three-star U.S. Army general as his chief counsel. Lieutenant General Dana Chipman had just stepped down as the Judge Advocate General (JAG) for the United States Army, where in his own words he had led “a legal enterprise consisting of 5,000 personnel in 600 offices in 20 countries.”
Prior to that, General Chipman was the chief lawyer for U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, stepping into that hot seat in June 2003 just as U.S. forces switched from liberators to occupiers in Iraq.
The three stars on Chipman’s shoulderboards give him the authority to candidly question anyone in the military chain of command that night without concerns more junior officers might have about disputing the wisdom of an order from on high.
Many in the military have been asking why reinforcements weren’t flown in from Croatia, where a fifty-man U.S. Army counter-terrorism/hostage-rescue unit known as C-110 was on a military training mission.
C-110 was the Commanders In-Extremis Force (CIF) for European Command, a rapid reaction force capable of getting men and equipment into their C-130s to respond to a crisis in somewhere between two to six hours.
Because C-110 was slated to become the Africom CIF on October 1, Africom commanders were intimately aware of its capabilities, and its current position – roughly two hours flight time from Benghazi. But instead of flying directly to Benghazi, C-110 was told to stage en route at Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily, Italy, where it stopped.
The diversion order was given from the Pentagon, not by Africom headquarters in Stuttgart. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, has claimed in Congressional testimony that the earliest C-110 could have left Croatia was 6 AM the morning of September 12th – a statement disputed by members of the unit who have spoken anonymously to the media.
Were the commanders of this powerful hostage-rescue unit champing at the bit but told to stand down? If so, by who? And why?
We know the official reasons why C-110 was not sent. Africom commander General Carter Ham and his subordinates have all testified that in the “fog of war” they believed they were facing a situation similar to the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis and needed more time to gather intelligence and plan a hostage rescue operation.
But General Ham also told Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who is slated to succeed Rep. Darrell Issa as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, that he never sent boots onto the ground in Benghazi because the State Department “never asked.”
That explanation was buttressed by testimony from Brigadier General Robert Lovell, the Africom deputy director for intelligence (J2), this past May, where he explained that in the spirit of “expeditionary” diplomacy – a favorite Hillary Clinton term – the military was “waiting for a request for assistance from the State Department” before moving reinforcements into Libya.
The answer to this question could help determine who bears the responsibility for leaving brave four men to die that night.
Did the desire to demonstrate that Obama was “not Bush” drive the administration to abandon any recourse to military action? We know that Hillary Clinton was so obsessed by not deploying boots on the ground in Libya that she ordered Colonel Wood and his 16-man Special Forces unit guarding Ambassador Stevens to never appear in public in uniform, not even their boots, until her underlings told them to leave Libya on August 5, 2012 altogether.
We also know that Mrs. Clinton issued two very specific stand-down orders on the night of September 11, 2012:
• She refused to convene the counterterrorism Security Group (CSG), the only structured, experienced interagency reaction team that could have decided which resources of the government were available for immediate deployment, despite pleas from a top counter-terrorism advisor, Mark Thompson.
• She refused to activate the State Department-led Foreign Emergency “Support Team (FEST), an extraordinary operational unit whose sole purpose was to rescue U.S. diplomats under attack.
Her entire effort that night and ever since has been to draw as little attention as possible to U.S. government activities in Benghazi. What was she trying to hide?
Deeper in the Benghazi labyrinth lies the true mission of the CIA Annex, whose security team ultimately came to the rescue of the besieged diplomats after the CIA Chief of Base in Benghazi told them to “stand down” for a fatal twenty-one minutes – longer than Lt.Col. Andy Wood had to wait for his 18 Delta medic before aiding the British ambassador three months earlier.
In the House intelligence committee report, the cause of recent gloating by Hillary Clinton’s media fans, the discussion of the CIA’s mission in Benghazi is largely redacted, with Members of Congress warned that they are not cleared to know what the CIA was doing there.
The Africom Chief of Operations, Rear Admiral Richard Landolt, told Congressional investigators that he and his fellow Africom commanders “were not aware” of the CIA Annex until the night it was under attack– an extraordinary admission. “I guess it was in their interest to keep it to as few people as necessary,” he told me.
Now, it is just possible that the folks at the CIA Annex were baking brownies for the local Islamic scouts. Or it is possible that they were engaged in activities the administration still finds too embarrassing – or politically too dangerous – to discuss, such as overseeing an arms transfer operation to the Syrian rebels being conducted by “liaison services.”
The American people deserve answers that only Gowdy and his committee are now in a position to provide.
- Was Congress fully and properly briefed on the activities of the CIA in Benghazi? Was the CIA operating under Presidential findings for the Global War on Terror signed by President George W. Bush? Or more recent presidential findings signed by President Obama?
- What was the status of the State Department’s program to collect surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) “missing” from Qaddafi’s arsenal, and what role was the CIA Annex assigned to that program?
- After Ambassador Stevens and his Country team were briefed on Iran’s support for Ansar al-Sharia in June 2012, how many intelligence reports did the CIA or other agencies file warning about the activities of the Iranian Special Forces (Quds Force) officers who were on the ground in Benghazi?
- Was the State Department concerned that exposing Iran’s role in the Benghazi attacks would sabotage ongoing nuclear negotiations?
- Who specifically carried out the precision mortar attack that killed CIA security officers Glen Doherty and Ty Woods and severely wounded Mark Geiss and State Department security officer David Ubben? Where were those individuals trained and by whom?
- Where is the paper trail documenting the initial State Department statement issued at 10:08 pm on the night of September 11, 2012, blaming the attacks on a Youtube video, which was contrary to all reporting from U.S. embassy and CIA sources on the ground?
Until now, the State Department and the CIA have swept all of these questions aside or given answers aimed at blaming the dead, and the sympathetic headline in the national media went something like this: Benghazi “sheep” committed suicide, wolf declares.
It’s time for the truth. Trey Gowdy, press on!
Kenneth R. Timmerman
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