Ten months after the horrific tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, when terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate and killed four Americans, the administration has given no credible answer to persistent questioning about why units such as the Foreign Emergency Support Team were not activated to save the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, information officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
During my 12 years in the U.S. Secret Service designing and implementing complex security plans for those under our watchful eye, I was always confident that each layer of a plan conferred a responsibility on a group or individuals who would fulfill their duty and answer any call to action.
The military, law enforcement officials and support personnel with whom I partnered in the development of these security plans assuredly believed the same and put themselves at great risk to ensure the safety of the officials we protected. It is this guarantee of action on the part of the many components of a security plan that always allowed me, and my wife and daughter, to sleep peacefully at night, even in the middle of some of the world’s most dangerous environments. The blanket of safety and security provided to our diplomats and elected officials, and paid for daily by the sacrifices and dedication of our military and law enforcement officials, is fully contingent upon this guarantee of action. The fabric of that blanket of security cannot remain intact when public servants do not trust the very government they serve to follow through on the promise of action in the face of imminent danger. The lack of any credible action in Benghazi the night of Sept. 11, 2012, and into the following morning has done irreparable damage to that promise.
The Obama administration still has not explained why the Foreign Emergency Support Team was not activated. The State Department’s own website describes the team as “the U.S. government’s only interagency, on-call, short-notice team poised to respond to terrorist incidents worldwide.” Therein lies the rub: the mention of terrorism. The Foreign Emergency Support Team was available and chartered to respond to incidents such as the Benghazi attack, but was never deployed.
Having incorporated multiagency response teams into security planning on foreign soil for numerous presidential visits during my time in the Secret Service, I am intimately aware of their dedication to their mission and willingness to help. Perhaps the reason the administration did not activate the Foreign Emergency Support Team was because it immediately would have put to rest any question about the cause of the attack and set off a cascade of events that did not fit the administration’s desired political narrative.
Embattled by multiple scandals, the Obama administration has adroitly managed to avoid any substantial political ramifications from what I deem to be its greatest failure: the failure to adequately protect the military and security personnel who swore on their honor to protect you.
Dan Bongino is a Republican candidate for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.