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Adm. Mullen said the board had delved deeply into the question of whether the U.S. military might have been able to launch a rescue mission during the Benghazi attack.

“While we had a lot of forces in Europe, both at sea and on land, it is not reasonable that they could have responded in any kind of timely way,” Adm. Mullen said. “This was over in a matter of about 20 or 30 minutes with respect to the [attack on the diplomatic post] specifically.

“We had no forces ready or tethered, if you will, focused on that mission so that they could respond,” he added. “Nor would I expect that we would have.”