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LYONS: Benghazi was a planned tragedy

The event was no surprise, and the massive cover-up appalls

- - Monday, March 3, 2014

The recent reports by the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Armed Services Committee make clear that no organization in the chain of command, including the White House, should have been surprised by the tragic events that occurred at our Benghazi Special Mission Compound (SMC) on Sept. 11, 2012.

Clearly, there was both strategic and tactical warnings.

The security situation in eastern Libya, particularly Benghazi, was out of control. Trying to explain our failure to protect the SMC as a lack of appreciation of the seriousness of the deteriorating security situation or incompetence does not pass muster. This was a planned event and explains the massive cover-up.

There were numerous hostile acts leading up to the attack on the compound. For example, on April 6, 2012, an attack with improvised explosive devices was conducted on the outer wall of the compound.

On May 22, the Benghazi International Red Cross office was hit by two rocket-propelled grenades. On June 1, a car bomb exploded outside the Benghazi hotel where the British ambassador was staying. On June 6, an IED blew a hole in the compound's perimeter wall. On June 7, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens requested two mobile security teams for his protection but was denied by the State Department.

On June 11, the British ambassador's convoy was hit by RPGs. On June 17, the U.K. closes its Benghazi consulate, and the International Red Cross closes its office. On June 19, the Tunisian Consulate is stormed by the rebel group Ansar al Shariah.

Then on July 9, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli requests continued security support for an additional 60 days, but receives no answer from the State Department.

On Aug. 2, Stevens requests 11 additional personal-security bodyguards. He calls the security situation unpredictable and violent, but his requests are turned down by State. Stevens sent a cable to State on Aug, 16 stating that the compound cannot withstand a coordinated attack.

The State Department's reaction was to withdraw the three Quick Reaction Units at our embassy in Tripoli under the command of Col. Andy Wood over the objection of the embassy and Col. Wood.

At this point, AFRICOM offers to provide additional security, but Stevens feels compelled to turn down the offer owing to State denying all his requests for increased security.

The State Department turning down all of Stevens' requests for increased security as well as drawing down security assets in country is more than puzzling, particularly since an internal State Department analysis completed two months after the compound opened stated that unless security was increased, the compound should be closed. This assessment is buried in the Accountability Review Board (ARB) report.

The question that needs to be answered is, with the out-of-control security situation in eastern Libya, why were there no contingency plans or forces pre-positioned ready to respond to potential attacks on the anniversary of 9/11?

According to one report, the administration was focused on Tunisia, not Libya. Mind-boggling. Nonetheless, if that were the case, where were the forces positioned to respond to an attack on Tunisia?

On the day of the attack, according to a report in The Guardian, the readiness of the ambassador's five-member security detail raises questions. Three of the four agents with Stevens, according to the report, left their rifles, helmets and body armor in another area under orders by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, which was confirmed by the ARB report.

This makes no sense, given that standard operating procedures in a hostile environment require that weapon be kept at the ready all times. Another question that needs to be answered: Why would the secretary of state give such an order?

Based on numerous reports, the Obama administration and every organization in the chain of command knew almost instantly that this was a terrorist attack on the SMC.

Within hours, it was known that the attack was executed by Ansar al Shariah, which is a coalition of Islamic and Salafist rebel groups linked to al Qaeda, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and the February 17th Martyrs Brigade.

It should not be overlooked that the February 17th Martyrs Brigade was tasked with supporting the U.K.-based Blue Mountain Security Group that had the contract from our State Department to provide security for the compound.

According to my source, who is a confidential informant for the FBI, the Blue Mountain Security Group is a cover company for MI-6. My source also told me that the February 17 Martyrs Brigade contract personnel were positioned near the compound the day of the attack and were ready to respond but never received orders to execute. Interesting.

My FBI confidential informant has also confirmed my assessment on the Lou Dobbs TV show in October 2012; namely, that this was an operation that went terribly wrong.

According to my source's in-country contacts, there never was any intention to kill Stevens. He was supposed to be kidnapped and held as a hostage in exchange for the release of the blind sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman. It should be recalled that this was the No. 1 objective of then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in his Washington visit in 2012.

All the unanswered questions and the truth of what actually took place at our Benghazi compound that cost the lives of four Americans can only be resolved by the formation of a special committee with subpoena powers.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, appoint such a committee as called for by Resolution 36 put forth by Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, and restore integrity to the office of the speaker.

James A. Lyons, 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.