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LYONS: Unanswered questions for Benghazi special committee to ask
A cascade of failures led to the loss of American lives
Question of the Day
Recent exposure of the deliberate lies and the false talking points used by our then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on the Sunday media disinformation campaign is only the tip of the Benghazi iceberg. While lying to the American public in itself is a serious offense, apparently much more serious offenses were committed by the Obama administration leading up to the fatal attack at our Benghazi special mission compound on Sept. 11. 2012.
Shocking new information was revealed by the Citizens Committee on Benghazi at a news conference on April 22. First, the Obama administration was accused of “switching sides” on our global war on terrorism by facilitating the arming of known al Qaeda jihadist militias. How could this happen when U.S. law is quite explicit about providing material support to terrorists? In short, it’s prohibited. However, on March 29, 2011, President Obama announced a “Presidential Finding” for covert operations support to Libyan rebels who were the al Qaeda-affiliated jihadist militias under the political control of the Muslim Brotherhood.
It should be remembered that this is the same Muslim Brotherhood that has infiltrated all our national security agencies and the White House.
The second extraordinary revelation was that on March 20, 2011, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi was willing to discuss abdicating and going into exile. According to retired Rear Adm. Charles R. Kubic, Gen. Abdulgades Yusef Dibri, head of Gadhafi’s personal security, conveyed to him the Libyan leader’s willingness to consider direct talks with the United States under a “white flag of truce.” Gen. Kubic immediately telephoned the U.S. Africa Command with this sensitive information. It should be recalled that as late as March 18, this is what Mr. Obama was insisting Gadhafi do.
Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, immediately responded with interest in setting up a direct military-to-military line of communication with Gen. Dibri. On March 21, Gen. Ahmed Mamud (a senior aide to Gadhafi) called U.S. Africa Command and stated the following:
The Libyans wished to declare a 72-hour truce for the purpose of conducting negotiations on the terms of a formal cease-fire. The talks could be held in Tripoli between the Libyan defense minister, Maj. Gen. Yunis Jahr, and Gen. Ham. If those conditions are acceptable, the Libyans will stop all combat operations immediately and withdraw all military forces to the outskirts of all cities and assume a defense posture. The Libyans recommended observers from the African Union be invited to ensure the truce is honored.
By March 22, Gadhafi verifiably had begun to pull his forces from the rebel-held cities of Benghazi and Misrata. He reportedly sought only two conditions: Permit him to go after the al Qaeda militias in the Maghreb and remove all sanctions against him, his family and those loyal to him.
Regretfully, Gen. Ham was not given authorization to proceed. It is understood that this decision was made well above the Pentagon level. It is interesting to note that the president, who had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, was unwilling to pursue this legitimate peace opportunity. The subsequent war with the loss of tens of thousands of lives, plus the tragic attack on our Benghazi compound, could have all been avoided.
The Citizens Committee on Benghazi also pointed out that there were military assets that could have responded to the attacks. The 130-man Marine Force Recon Team at Sigonella, Italy, was within an hour’s flight time of Benghazi. The F-16s at Aviano that were on “awareness alert” were already loaded with 20-millimeter ammunition should have been able to be airborne within one hour, according to a former vice commander of the U.S. Air Force in Europe.
A confidential informant who had spent several months in Libya prior to the tragic Sept. 11, 2012, attack told me that the normal procedures for dealing with a threat to the U.S. compound in Benghazi were not followed. My informant, who has participated in these rehearsals, said Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was to be taken to the “safe room.” The bars on the safe-room window were to be unlocked from the inside, then the ambassador and his people were to exit through the window and get into a car that was always parked outside the window and speed to a nearby CIA annex. The plan failed the night of the attack because there was no parked car outside the window. We need to know who moved the car and on whose orders.
The denial of all requests for increased security by the State Department and the systematic drawdown of security assets in country starts to fit a pattern. According to a report in The Guardian, even the readiness of the ambassador’s five-man security detail raises questions. Three of the four agents with Stevens left their weapons, helmets and body armor in another area under orders from the secretary of state, which was confirmed by the Accountability Review Board report. It’s shocking, since in that environment, weapons must be kept at the ready all the time.
My informants have confirmed that Stevens was to be kidnapped and held hostage for the release of the Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, currently serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. This needs to be further investigated by the select congressional committee, along with the other issues exposed by the Citizens Committee on Benghazi.
James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy 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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