by Colonel David Hunt 29 May 2013
When the American mission in Benghazi, Libya was attacked on September 11th, 2012, only one person had the positional authority, legal mandate, and communications apparatus to give the order to defend our personnel on the ground: the President of the United States.
The President did not give that order, and four Americans died in Benghazi that day. All the rest of the nonsense to which we have been treated–from prepared talking points, congressional hearings, and finally to the outright lies–matter not when compared to the ignominious moments in which the President of the United States refused to do his job.
That same day, two other American embassies in the Middle East were also under attack in Sana, Yemen and Cairo, Egypt. As a result, our intelligence systems were on high alert. When the calls, satellite and drone feeds, faxes, and reports began bombarding every command center from Germany to the United States, our nation, already at war for eleven years, was again under siege. Staffs from Africa Command, European Command, the National Military Command Center, the CIA Operations Center, the State Department Operations Center, and the White House Situation Room were fully operational.
This all means that on September 11, 2012, our national security apparatus was on full alert. It means everyone was briefed. This is how it works; no games, no conjecture, no television and movie looks, just real battle in real time with real lives at risk.
The road to that indecision is littered with policy and leadership failures that culminated in an American mission and clandestine CIA base being attacked and the murder of our Ambassador and three dedicated Americans doing their jobs. However, the one person responsible for it all is the one man who could have, but refused to, even try to stop the carnage... the President of the United States.
All the President had to say within the first two hours while being briefed by the Secretary of Defense was, “Send in a response force.” This command, followed by his signature on a paper called Cross Border Authority, would have ordered the Department of Defense to do everything and anything to save lives in Benghazi, Libya.
Three and a half years earlier, on April 9, 2009, President Obama had done exactly that when pirates hijacked an American flagged merchant ship, Maersk Alabama, sailing off the coast of Somalia. In this earlier incident, the President made the right decision within hours to allow SEAL Team Six the time to plan and go. In the end, we all witnessed a textbook successful rescue operation.
Fast forward to September 11, 2012, and we have a desperate situation with Americans in jeopardy. The same President, instead of deciding how to respond, disappeared for the evening and then went to Las Vegas the following day to raise money for his re-election campaign.
Had the President ordered a rescue, he had everything he needed to mount a prompt and forceful response--from F-16’s in Aviano, Italy, to an armed and fueled plane standing by at C Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, training in Croatia–a mere three hours from Benghazi by air.
When the first shot was fired in Benghazi, no one knew how long the fight would last. Subsequent government claims saying we could not get there within the seven-plus hours that the tragedy lasted are specious at best and an outright lie at worst. We did not even care enough to try; that fact alone should make all Americans who mourn the loss of four of our countrymen very angry.
This ultimate Presidential control—the ability to bring armed American forces to bear anywhere in the world within hours—has existed for over 25 years. It exists precisely because of past mistakes and embarrassing moments brought to us by various governmental agencies, congresses, and presidents.
Since September 11th, 2012, we have been treated to a tractor-trailer load of misdirection, disingenuous speeches, television appearances, and outright lying by public officials at every level of the government of the United States of America. Now with other scandals hitting the news, we are beginning to forget and confuse what is the only important point to know after we acknowledge and pray for the four Americans murdered by terrorists that fateful day.
There is one simple point to be made about Benghazi: the President of the United States is the only human being on the planet that can order a bullet, a missile, a plane, a drone, a boat, a helicopter, a soldier, sailor, spy, or push cart with a squirt gun attached to go into another country and perform an aggressive action.
On September 11, 2012, we know the President failed to give that order. We don’t know where he was, what he was doing, or why he failed to act. But we do know he failed to act, and that inaction cost the lives of four brave Americans.